White Swan murder suspect pleads not guilty to armed carjacking

YAKIMA, Wash. - James Dean Cloud pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court to charges of carjacking and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime; if convicted, those charges together carry a minimum sentence of seven years in prison. 

Cloud is one of the suspects accused of killing five people Saturday in White Swan and robbing a family of their vehicle with a gun to their child’s head, according to court documents.

At his arraignment Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, Cloud appeared in full restraints — leg irons and a belly chain attached to hand restraints — under a court order.

The order described Cloud as a potential safety risk, citing his “extensive and repetitive” criminal background: pointing to his history of escape attempts, obstructing law enforcement, fleeing from officers and putting the community at risk while attempting to evade arrest. 

“[Cloud’s] criminal history reveals a repeated lack of respect for law enforcement directives and authority,” the order said. “Due to this history, the court finds full restraints are necessary to serve the compelling government  interest of ensuring courtroom and community safety.”

The order references a presentence investigation in one of Cloud’s previous cases, which contains a lengthy list of nine criminal cases, at least four of which resulted in convictions, notably:

  • Escape, January 2002: While Cloud was serving time in tribal jail in January 2002, he climbed over the fence of the exercise yard and onto the roof of the jail. Cloud was found the same day hiding in a crawl space at a family member’s house. Cloud was charged with and convicted of escape, which can range from a misdemeanor up to a felony. Source: U.S. District Court records
  • Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle & Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, December 2008: A police officer saw Cloud driving a vehicle that was reported stolen, activated his emergency lights and attempted to stop the vehicle. Cloud failed to stop, tried to make a 90-degree turn at 60 mph and drove off the road into an irrigation canal. He got out of the vehicle and ran from pursuing officers on foot. Clout was apprehended after an officer deployed a Taser. In December 2008, Cloud was convicted of attempting to elude a police vehicle (felony) and possession of a stolen vehicle (felony). While he was incarcerated for this offense, Cloud tried to help another inmate escape by threatening a third inmate into helping him create a hole in the ceiling of the shower area of their unit. Source: U.S. District Court records

Additionally, KAPP-KVEW found a dozen cases filed against Cloud in Yakima County Superior Court from 1997 to 2006 — nine of which resulted in a conviction. 

Added together, Cloud has been arrested and charged with a crime at least 21 times over the past two decades. He's been convicted in a little over half, resulting in a total of 17 charges where Cloud was found guilty, ranging from misdemeanor charges to felonies.


In multiple cases, Cloud was charged with a crime, but those charges were later dismissed. In one case, Cloud allegedly assaulted another inmate and was charged with assault and battery. The case was dismissed when the victim failed to appear at the trial.

Donovan Quinn Carter Cloud is also charged with carjacking and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime in connection with the case. He did not appear Friday, as he’s awaiting extradition in Oregon

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