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On July 23, Ondrell Harding allegedly beat 51-year-old Anthony Matthews to death as Matthews' wife and 11-year-old son looked on in horror. Harding was arrested


Ondrell Harding: Suspected Killer Goes Free, Gets Arrested for Bus Stop Assault

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On July 23, Ondrell Harding allegedly beat 51-year-old Anthony Matthews to death as Matthews' wife and 11-year-old son looked on in horror. Harding was arrested for murder but never charged with the crime. Now he's accused of pummeling a man at a bus stop in another senseless act of violence.

According to court documents, just after midnight on October 21 Seattle Police received a report of a prowler on the 9100 block of Rainier Avenue South. They arrived to find the 22-year-old Harding and five other men in the vicinity. With little to go on, Harding and the others were questioned and released.

Roughly half an hour later, police were summoned back to Rainier, this time on the 7600 block, to break up a fight. They discovered Keenan Offord on the ground near a bus stop "badly beaten." Offord told the cops that a group of men walked by and started to "trash talk" him, sparking a confrontation in which Offord was "punched repeatedly and knocked unconscious."

A witness told Police that Offord antagonized his attackers and threw the first punch, at which point Harding -- better known by the street/stage names Baby D and Doe -- retaliated. The witness said he tried to pull Harding away from Offord during the fight, but Harding shoved him aside and continued the assault. Police located Harding a few hours later, and arrested him after a brief foot chase.

Harding is now charged with third-degree assault, and is being held at the King County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail. The last time Harding was behind bars -- when he was arrested for allegedly bludgeoning Matthews to death -- he was allowed to walk without posting bail because he was never charged.

In that incident, Harding had reportedly been living in Matthews' apartment on the 5100 block of South Garden Street for several weeks, but was about to be kicked out for dealing drugs and otherwise wearing out his welcome. Here's how we described the alleged homicide, based on a probable cause statement submitted to the King County Prosecutor's Office by SPD:

[Matthews' wife Renee] Enochs reportedly "observed Harding suddenly 'charge' her husband from behind, grabbing him around the neck." Harding allegedly wrestled Matthews to the ground and choked him. Harding's two friends looked on indifferently, Enochs said, as she pleaded for help and tried to pull Harding off of Matthews. She recounted being able to separate the brawling men, but when Matthews got to his feet, both Enochs and her young son told police that Harding threw a chair at him, knocking him back to the ground.

At that point, both mother and son told police that they watched Harding "pummel the unconscious Matthews repeatedly with closed fists about the face and head." Again, Enochs frantically tried to break up the fight. She told police that Harding eventually relented, saying, "Alright, I'll leave, I'll leave." Harding, she claims, walked away from the motionless body for a moment, then returned and kicked Matthews in the leg, "calling him either 'a fucking punk' or a 'fucking bitch.'" Matthews never regained consciousness.

So why was Harding allowed to walk when multiple witnesses said they saw him commit a coldblooded murder?

Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, says that police are still investigating exactly what happened during the altercation between Harding and Matthews. "It's not a matter of who was there, but who did what and what transpired," Goodhew says. "My understanding is that this is an open investigation. To put it bluntly, it's a case of who acted first, and who did what in terms of the assaultive behavior."

Asked Monday about Harding's on-going homicide investigation, SPD spokeswoman Renee Witt said she'd find out the status of the case. She called back a few minutes later to say that Harding died several months ago.

After some additional research on our part -- simply calling the jail to confirm that Harding is indeed still breathing -- it became clear that Witt had confused Harding with his younger brother Kenneth, a fugitive who was killed in a shootout with San Francisco police on July 16. Kenneth Harding was a "person of interest" in the shooting of Tanaya Gilbert this summer in Seattle. Witt said she'd contact the homicide detectives working the Matthews murder to find out why Harding hasn't yet been charged, but she has yet to follow-up with any additional information.

Court documents state that Harding has "been booked eight times since 2008 with seven warrants" and has convictions for second-degree assault with a deadly weapon (from incident in which he threatened a store clerk with a knife after the man refused to sell him beer), unlawful bus conduct, DUI, and obstruction. He also has convictions in Arizona for disorderly conduct, and malicious mischief third-degree domestic violence.

Far from repentant, Harding has bragged about his exploits in rap songs posted on his MySpace page."When you look me in my eyes you see a coldblooded killer," he sings in one verse. Another track has the ominous title "I Will Kill a Man."

Harding is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow for the latest assault charge. Court records indicate a plea bargain is in the works, with his attorney in "negotiation with the victim about a possible reduction to the charge."

Ondrell Harding Assault

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