A mistrial was declared after jurors were unable to decide whether Derek Carlile was criminally negligent for leaving a loaded handgun in the family van within reach of his son in March. The boy, 3, fired the off-duty weapon once. His sister Jenna Carlile, 7, was struck in the abdomen and later died.
The jury deliberated for a few hours on Friday and again all day Tuesday without success. Seven jurors were convinced that Carlile was not guilty of second-degree manslaughter. Four believed he was guilty of the crime. One juror remained undecided.
Late Tuesday, after the presiding juror said that it was unlikely that the jury would reach a verdict within a reasonable amount of time, Judge Thomas Wynne declared a mistrial.
A new trial date was scheduled for Jan. 29.
Carlile's family and friends who were gathered in the courtroom Tuesday could be heard crying when the judge set the new trial date.
Defense attorney David Allen later told reporters that he hopes prosecutors will drop the charge. He said that prosecutors can try the case 10 more times and best they'll ever get is an undecided jury.
"I think this is a very strong verdict in our favor," Allen said.
Carlile and his family would like to get on with their lives, the attorney said. They are mourning and the trial has taken an emotional toll on all of them.
It would be "cruel" for prosecutors to put the family through another trial, Allen said.
Carlile and his wife clung to each other after Tuesday's development, breaking down in tears as Allen spoke to reporters.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul said no decision has been made about whether to retry the case. She expects a decision in about a week.
"We'll give it all the care and consideration we did when we charged it," Paul said.
She and other senior prosecutors will discuss what she heard from the jury, as well as review the evidence and investigation again. Paul declined to share any details about the discussion she and Allen had with jurors behind closed doors.
"We're of the firm belief that this was the kind of case that needed to be decided by a jury," she said.
Paul had argued that Carlile had engaged in a series of bad decisions, ignoring the risks of leaving a loaded firearm within reach of his young children. No person in his right mind would find his actions reasonable, she said.
Investigators believe that Carlile's son, who was known to be fascinated with guns, grabbed a .38-caliber revolver from a cup holder next to the driver's seat in the family van. Carlile usually kept the gun in a holster on his ankle.
Carlile and his wife had exited the vehicle to speak with a family friend. They were nearby when the fatal shot was fired.
Carlile attempted life-saving efforts until paramedics arrived. Jenna died at the hospital despite emergency surgery.
Paul acknowledged that Carlile is punishing himself, but she also had urged the jury to hold him responsible for his daughter's death.
Allen told jurors that Carlile made a tragic mistake, but did not commit a crime. The shooting was an accident, not negligence, Allen said.
Carlile did not testify during the short trial. Jurors heard the recorded statement he provided to police the day his daughter was shot.
The Camano Island father has been on paid administrative leave from the Marysville Police Department since the shooting. Marysville police have said an internal investigation will wait until the criminal case is resolved.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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