Guilty plea entered in murder case

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

Andrew Allen Burns stood in Pierce County Superior Court June 22 and pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of 18-year-old Christopher Ballou, according to Pierce County lead prosecutor Terry Lane.

Burns, 19, offered his plea before Judge Brian Tollefson. The charge carries an additional penalty for use of a deadly weapon.

The crime was committed Oct. 15, 2004. Prosecutors alleged Burns and two accomplices, Garold Andrew Fiscus, 18, and Raymond Charles Henick, 20, murdered Ballou in a greenbelt park inside Ponderosa Estates, just west of South Prairie Road.

Fiscus and Henick are scheduled for trial Oct. 31.

Lane said a deal was not struck with Burns prior to his plea.

"He went into court and pled guilty," Lane said. "He will get the sentence the judge imposes for first-degree murder plus an additional two years for use of a deadly weapon."

The sentence range for first-degree murder is 240 to 320 months, Lane said - about 20 to 27 years.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

According to the original police report, Burns and Henick met at Fiscus' home in the 20800 block of Bonanza Drive East in Ponderosa Estates. The three were drinking beer when they decided to call Ballou in an attempt to buy marijuana from him.

Fiscus was reported to be angry with Ballou for allegedly stealing some items from his home. The three men decided they would rob him and beat him when he arrived.

Ballou rode his bike from his mother's residence in Rhododendron Park to Ponderosa Estates at about 8 p.m.

Burns, Fiscus and Henick are alleged to have lured Ballou into the park near Fiscus' home. As the four walked down the trail, Ballou was attacked.

The police report said Ballou was beaten, kicked, hit on the head with a heavy, blunt object and stabbed six times. Three stab wounds were in the front of his torso and three in the back.

Burns was stabbed in the leg during the commission of the crime and was arrested that night at the hospital in Auburn.

Larry Hogsed, a resident of the neighborhood, ran down the trail when he heard yelling and fighting and found a dying Ballou.

Hogsed called 9-1-1. Ballou was treated at the scene and transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. He was pronounced dead at 10 that night.

Dennis Box can be reached at

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