Second suspect in 2018 Kennewick home invasion faces first-degree murder charge

Tri-Cities, Boardman, Yakima, Benton County, Pasco, Kennewick, Richland

KENNEWICK, Wash. — In April, a 23-year-old man was arrested for the 2018 home invasion and murder of a teenager in Kennewick. Several months later, probable cause has been developed to arrest a second suspect who is already lodged in Benton County Jail.

According to a release issued by the Kennewick Police Department, investigators worked with the Benton County Prosecutor to identify 21-year-old Wardell Eniko Joseph Braxton for his role in the fatal home invasion.

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Under Washington state law, multiple people can be charged with first-degree murder when a homicide is committed during a first or second-degree robbery. Braxton, who faces a first-degree murder charge as of June 16, 2022, was already in jail for an unrelated incident.

On October 26, 2018, 18-year-old Hunter Black was murdered by home invaders who barged into his residence to commit a robbery. After roughly three and a half years of investigations, probable cause was established for the arrest of Lawrence Isaiah Groce.

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On April 2, 2022, Groce was involved in a drive-by shooting investigation following an altercation on I-5 in Seattle. He is currently lodged in the King County Jail for separate crimes, but will eventually be transferred to the Benton County Jail to face trial for his involvement in the Kennewick murder.

KPD detectives have been working on this case since they recovered Black’s body at the scene of the incident back in 2018. There have been several developments that haven’t been specified along the way, but each has been a crucial step in solving this dangerous case.


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