Shooting death of officer’s daughter goes to jury

EVERETT — A Snohomish County jury on Friday began mulling whether a Marysville police officer was criminally negligent when he left a loaded, off-duty handgun where his 3-year-old son could use it to fatally shoot the boy’s older sister.

The jury at noon began considering the second-degree manslaughter case against Derek Carlile, of Camano Island. No verdict was announced, and they were told to return to continue deliberations on Tuesday, after the Veterans Day holiday.

Carlile, 31, made mistakes that day in March, and he carries the burden of knowing his own responsibility in the death of Jenna, his 7-year-old daughter, Seattle defense attorney David Allen acknowledged. But it was “no more than a momentary lapse,” not a criminal act, when Carlile left his .38-caliber revolver unsecured in the cup holder of the family’s van instead of its usual place, strapped to his leg in an ankle holster, the attorney said.

“Parents make mistakes. Police officers make mistakes. All of us make mistakes,” Allen told jurors in closing arguments.

Deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul said there is no doubt that Carlile is punishing himself, “but that does not absolve him from creating a tragedy, causing the death of a child.”

The prosecutor said evidence showed Carlile had engaged in a series of deadly decisions that day, creating a situation so risky that “no person in their right mind” would find his actions reasonable. That means, she said, that Carlile’s negligence was criminal, a central question in the case.

To underscore her argument, the prosecutor showed jurors a graphic depicting a staircase. She identified each step up as another in a succession of poor choices that led to the loaded firearm winding up in the boy’s hand. For example, one step was Carlile’s decision to leave the weapon in the car with his children without taking the few seconds necessary to engage the handgun’s built-in locking safety.

“This revolver could have been rendered inoperable with the simple twist of a key,” she said.

Carlile did not testify. Allen told jurors there simply was no need. His client had provided police with a recorded statement the day his daughter was shot, and jurors heard that during trial. It was testimony enough, the lawyer said, unvarnished and raw.

Carlile had seemed stunned that day when he realized that the handgun wasn’t strapped to his leg, but instead was left within his son’s reach.

“‘It’s all my fault. What kind of dad am I?’” Allen quoted Carlile as having told police.

Paul characterized Carlile’s statement as a confession. She reminded jurors that they’d taken an oath not to let sympathy cloud how they viewed the evidence.

“Homicide trials are difficult to sit through, this one even more,” she said.

Scott North: 425-339-3431, north@heraldnet.com

More in Local News

Majority of Marysville City Council seats are contested

The most closely watched race is between Mark James and Donna Wright.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

A pot deal between teens leaves them injured, facing charges

Police found out about the incident when both ended up at the same hospital that night.

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Lake Stevens man injured by 50-foot fall near Leavenworth

The rescuers had to tie in to keep from falling due to the steep rugged terrain.

Mill Creek hires Gina Hortillosa as public works director

Hortillosa will be responsible for creating strategic infrastructure plans to promote economic growth.

Most Read