A Washington state man who shot at a car thief earlier this month is the one who found himself in jail after police suspect one of his stray bullets killed a neighbor in her home.
The incident occurred at about 11:15 p.m. in Bonney Lake, about 40 miles south of Seattle, but the injured 61-year-old woman lay on the floor of her bedroom bleeding for almost another hour until a family member found her. She died at the hospital the next day.
Events unfolded when a car thief stole a Jeep belonging to a 41-year-old man. The man was on his porch when he saw someone pulling out of his driveway with his vehicle. He fired his handgun at the thief until the gun was out of ammunition. Then he chased the thief down the street. The thief got away and has not been identified, but one of the bullets apparently went through the neighbor's bedroom window, striking her in the head.
Neighbors heard at least 10 gunshots and called police. The man's mother, called police as well, reporting that her son had fired multiple rounds at the thief.
As police officers were on the scene investigating the auto theft, a relative of the neighbor found her on the floor and called 911. He told the dispatcher he thought the woman fell and hit her head. When emergency medical personnel arrived at the neighbor's home, the police officers collecting evidence from the car theft went to investigate and found a bullet hole the window facing the gunman's porch hundreds of feet away.
The man initially was arrested and booked the man into jail on suspicion of second-degree assault. After the woman died, the charge was upgraded to manslaughter in the first degree. Bail was set at $200,000.
The prosecutor in the case said use of deadly force has to be reasonable for the circumstances. Citizens cannot use deadly force to stop a nonviolent crime.
A person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when he or she recklessly causes the death of another person or intentionally and unlawfully kills an unborn child by inflicting any injury upon the mother. First-degree manslaughter is a Class A felony, punishable by up to life in prison or a fine of up to $50,000, or both.
Had the neighbor lived, the man could have been charged with the lesser assault in the second degree, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
Regardless of the circumstances of your arrest, if you are facing criminal charges in Washington state, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.