Despite being charged with first-degree murder in the June 15 shooting of Miles Clark at a park behind the Kent YMCA, Elijah A. Cain, 19, awaits trial on electronic home detention at his parents’ house in Puyallup rather than in jail.
King County prosecutors persuaded a judge to set bail at $2 million after Cain’s arrest in July, calling the defendant “a significant danger to the safety of the community and a substantial flight risk,” according to charging papers filed July 15.
Cain is a 2023 graduate of Kentridge High School and earned second-team all-league basketball honors last season for the school.
“The defendant armed himself with a handgun before running up to the victim, who was seated at a bench in a public park in broad daylight, to grab the victim’s handgun from the holster on the victim’s hip,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jason Brookhyser in court documents. “When the victim attempted to resist, the defendant shot the victim in the head. The defendant then retrieved the victim’s handgun and fled the area. Neither the victim’s handgun nor the handgun the defendant used to kill the victim, have yet to be recovered.”
After Cain pleaded not guilty on July 27, his family posted bail to get him released from custody. The family hired Aladdin Bail Bonds, of Tacoma, backed by Seaview Insurance, of Carlsbad, California, to post bond, for a fee of at least $200,000.
How bail works
To offer services in Washington, a bail service provider charges a premium — a percentage of the total bail amount, typically 10%, according to the Aladdin Bail Bonds website. That would be $200,000 on Cain’s $2 million bail.
“The bail bonds company put up a bond agreeing to forfeit $2 million if their client doesn’t appear in court,” said Noah Haglund, spokesperson for the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, in an email referring to court documents. “Upon receipt of this bond, the court ordered the jail to release this person to electronic home detention.”
Brookhyser, the senior deputy prosecuting attorney, wrote to the judge the state’s request if Cain posts bail.
“The state requests that he be placed on electronic home detention with a bracelet equipped with GPS monitoring,” according to court documents.
“Without that request and court order, a defendant could be released without electronic home monitoring by posting the bond amount,” said Casey McNerthney, spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, in an email about the release of Cain.
With the request for electronic home monitoring granted by a judge, Cain is staying with his parents at their home in Puyallup, according to court documents.
The parents of Cain wrote the judge that “it will be our responsibility to get him to all of his court appearances,” according to court documents.
McNerthney said prosecutors could ask a judge for no bail in a murder case, but that rarely happens.
“Ultimately a bail amount is the decision of the court, and anecdotally — with the requirements of (state court rules) in mind — it is rare to see a court hold a defendant be held without bail, even in a first-degree murder case,” McNerthney said.
Prosecutors look at many factors to decide whether to seek no bail or how high of a bail.
“In looking at each case individually, prosecutors look at the allegations of the current offense, an individual’s criminal history, and if there is a history of not following court orders,” McNerthney said. “Prosecutors make an individual bail request decision based on those factors and in line with court rules.”
Typically, $2 million bail keeps most of the people accused of murder in jail.
“Two million dollars is a high amount, even for a murder case, and it’s quite rare to see a court go higher than that amount,” McNerthney said. “Prosecutors argued that the $2 million (for Cain) was justified. Defendants have the ability to post bail in line with court rules, and that process is separate from us.”
Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla agreed with the bail amount.
“The information we have is that the prosecutor asked for a high bail amount ($2 million) and the defendant posted bail,” Padilla said in response to questions about the release of Cain to electronic home detention. “Two million dollars is a high amount, appropriate for this type of charge. We have had instances in which judges have chosen not to set high bail, which is their discretion, but that did not occur in this case.”
Tacoma defense attorney Matthew McGowan, who is representing Cain, declined to answer questions about the release of his client to electronic home detention. Instead, McGowan emailed the following statement:
“The murder in the park is a tragedy,” McGowan said. “There is no excuse for what happened. Elijah and his family wish for swift justice for the victim’s family. My investigative team is working hard to uncover the truth. All we ask is that the public maintains hope and patience as the investigation continues.”
Through a family friend’s statement, the family of victim Miles Clark declined to comment about the release of Cain.
The case will move forward in court, McNerthney said. Next up for Cain is a routine pretrial hearing, at 1 p.m. Nov. 16 in the GA courtroom of the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
Conditions of release
According to court documents, Cain must follow several conditions while on electronic home detention or he will be returned to jail.
• He shall commit no crimes; he shall not use controlled substances without a valid prescription; he cannot drink alcohol; he can work or go to school, but must provide a time sheet for work; his wages must be mailed to a caseworker.
• He must not remove GPS monitoring equipment; he has a curfew on how early he can leave his house and how late he can return (based on job hours); he must be on time when meeting with jail staff; he must have no contact with the friend he was seen with at the Kent park prior to the killing of Miles Clark.
• He is not to leave the state without approval by court order on condition of no new law violations; he must keep his address updated with the court; he must appear at future court hearings; maintain contact with counsel; may not possess or control a firearm; and he must surrender any passport.
The murder case
According to charging papers filed July 14 by King County prosecutors, Cain reportedly was armed with a handgun at about 6:37 p.m. June 15 when he ran up to Clark, who was seated at a bench at Morrill Meadows Park, 10600 SE 248th St. Cain tried to grab Clark’s handgun from the holster on his hip. When Clark resisted, Cain allegedly shot him in the head.
Cain then retrieved Clark’s handgun and fled the area. Neither Clark’s gun nor the gun reportedly used to shoot him have been recovered.
Kent Police detectives reviewed surveillance video that showed Clark park his vehicle in the YMCA parking lot, 10828 SE 248th St. Clark, a tech support specialist for a large Seattle software company, according to court documents, walked to a picnic table and began working on his company laptop.
At that time, YMCA video showed the park filled with people walking and kids playing near the outdoor basketball court.
A witness told detectives that Clark was at the table and took off his jacket, which revealed a holstered pistol on his hip. A fitness instructor moved his outdoor class closer to the YMCA building after seeing the gun.
Detectives also used video surveillance from the YMCA and multiple nearby homes to see a man, later reportedly identified as Cain, walk through the parking lot and into the park and past Clark, still seated at the table. Cain walked over to another man who stood up to greet him.
Cain and that man walked into a nearby neighborhood before Cain returned to the park by himself about six minutes later, according to charging papers.
Cain then sprinted to the bench where Clark was seated, lifted him off the bench and threw him to the ground, according to court documents. Clark fell onto his right hip and elbow. He was partially facing the ground as Cain stood behind and over Clark’s head.
A Ring camera from a house near the park reportedly captured the sound of two gunshots. Video showed Clark then falling to the ground and his body going limp. A witness told detectives Clark and Cain appeared to struggle over Cain’s pistol before seeing Cain reportedly shoot Clark in the back of the head before running away.
Paramedics transported Clark to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but he died the next day.
Detectives tracked down the man seen leaving the park with Cain and used phone records of the man to get a phone number for Cain, according to charging papers. Detectives tracked Cain to a home in Puyallup and later to an apartment in Kent near Morrill Meadows Park and the YMCA.
Those records indicated that Cain was reportedly in the area at the time of the shooting. Phone records showed Cain stayed in the apartment complex routinely since June 1.
Detectives obtained search warrants for the apartment and the Puyallup address. They found distinctive shoes worn by Cain and other clothing seen in videos of the shooting, according to court documents. Kent Police arrested Cain, with the help of Valley SWAT, on July 11 during the search warrant.
“Due to the extreme danger of taking the murder suspect into custody, the detectives requested Valley SWAT to assist with the arrest,” according to a July 12 Kent Police statement.
Cain told detectives he received a call June 15 from a friend about a man in the park with a gun on his hip. Cain said he went to his friend’s house where he retrieved a gun. He returned to the park and asked Clark if he was selling the gun holstered on his hip, according to charging papers.
Cain and Clark then began to wrestle over Cain’s gun before he shot Clark. Cain went to the nearby apartment where he was staying and said an unknown teen arrived a short while later to take the guns, which Cain said he gave to him.
According to court documents, Cain told detectives that his intention had been to grab Clark’s gun off his hip and run away with it, and was going to try to sell it online to make a little money.
Who was Miles Clark?
Clark was listed on police documents as a Bothell resident, but had just recently bought a house in Kent, according to a family friend.
Clark was born in Eugene, Oregon, according to his obituary posted on the website of the Edline-Yahn & Covington Funeral Chapel in Kent. He grew up in Maple Valley and graduated in 2017 from Western Washington University in Bellingham with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He worked at ConnectWise, and most recently at Tableau as a technical support engineer.
“Miles was a vibrant, loving, caring and enthusiastic young man,” according to his obituary. “He and his brother Jameson often enjoyed family dinners and outings together. They would make thoughtful Mother’s Day brunches and Father’s Day barbecues.
“He adored his dog Oliver that he shared with longtime love. He enjoyed airsoft, and in recent years he discovered a passion for rally car racing, as well as working on his Subaru WRX that he used in races.
“He loved to celebrate his family heritage and he loved the opportunity to travel with family to many wonderful places including the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, and around the U.S. He loved good food and was always adventurous in trying new cuisines.
“He was creative and artistic and made special gifts and wrote clever cards for special occasions.
“He was an avid fan of all kinds of music, particularly electronic dance music, as well as anime art. He enjoyed gaming with his computer online and making friends and interacting with people he met from all over the world.
“He had a wonderful smile, a sly wit and sense of humor as well as a kind, caring and compassionate spirit. You could talk with Miles about anything.
“He will be sorely missed by all that had the opportunity to know him. Our family will forever hold him in our hearts and treasure all our memories.”
Clark is survived by his parents, a brother, grandmother, several uncles and aunts and cousins, extended family and many friends. A memorial service was held Aug. 5 in Kent.
Who is Elijah Cain?
Cain is a 2023 graduate of Kentridge High School, according to the school’s graduation program. He was recruited to play basketball at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon.
The college posted a photo of Cain in a Kentridge uniform in a Twitter post in April that he had committed to the school. The post said he was from Puyallup.
Alex Syum, coach of the Mt. Hood men’s basketball team, confirmed in an email that he signed Cain.
“We did sign Mr. Cain in April of this year,” Syum said. “He never enrolled at Mt. Hood Community College so he never became a student.”
Syum declined to comment about the murder charge against Cain.
Cain, a 6-foot-2 guard, earned second-team All North Puget Sound League honors for Kentridge during the 2022-2023 season. During the 2021-2022 season, he played for Graham-Kapowsin High in the 2022 Class 4A state tournament, according to several online media and high school website reports.
Cain was listed as a running back and linebacker on the Graham-Kapowin football roster as a junior in 2022, according to online websites.
A grandmother of Cain wrote in court documents prior to his release that her oldest of 12 grandchildren didn’t commit the murder.
“I know with all of my heart my grandson did not hurt nobody,” she wrote. “He is a loving, caring and respectful young man.”
The grandmother described Cain as “an amazing basketball and football player,” and that he had a scholarship to attend Mt. Hood Community College.
His grandmother added that Cain has done work for the company she owns.
Others released with a high bail amount
A spokesperson for King County Superior Court said the court does not track the number of people released on bail while facing murder charges.
An online search revealed a couple of recent cases.
Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson is on electronic home detention after he posted bail, which was set at $500,000 by a King County Superior Court judge. King County prosecutors did not request bail for Nelson. He was not considered a flight risk or a candidate to commit a new crime, according to court documents.
In 2020, prosecutors charged Nelson, of Graham, with second-degree murder for killing Jesse Sarey after attempting to arrest Sarey for jaywalking.
In another case, King County prosecutors charged William Tolliver and a second man with first-degree murder in the 2020 shooting of Tanya Jackson, 50, in downtown Seattle. A King County judge allowed Tolliver to leave jail in February 2023 to live with his grandmother in Kirkland after his attorneys filed for his release following a jury finding the other man accused of the shooting not guilty, as his attorneys argued it was self-defense.
Prosecutors argued against the release of Tolliver, who pleaded not guilty, but had yet to go to trial. Tolliver didn’t have to post bail, but instead signed a paper that he would return to court.
But in May, Kirkland Police arrested Tolliver for investigation of harassment against his grandmother’s boyfriend, according to the Seattle Times, so he was returned to jail.
In June, about three weeks prior to his scheduled trial, Tolliver pleaded guilty to lesser charges of second-degree manslaughter, third-degree assault, and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, according to the Seattle Times. Tolliver has since been released, according to jail records, as his time previously served covered the length of his sentence.