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

Spikes put end to ride from Seattle to Everett in stolen car

Two men were taken into custody at the bottom of Marine View Drive off I-5.

Two more suspects identified in shooting death of casino winner

The two, who have ties to Everett, Mount Vernon and Bellingham, remain at large.

Water to be shut off for some homes, districts next week

The pipe closing will affect mainly the Snohomish and Monroe areas.

Section of W. Marine View Drive will be closed Saturday

A footbridge is being torn down between Everett Ave. and the Naval Station entrance.

Faith Calendar for Feb. 24 to March 10, 2018

EVENTS Purim banquet: Chabad Jewish Center of Snohomish County holds a “Purim… Continue reading

Everett council defers decision on methadone clinic zoning

Councilmembers asked to see more information on potential options in the weeks ahead.

Front Porch

A main strip of Everett’s waterfront… Continue reading

House passes ban on bump-fire stocks

If the Senate approves, Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign it into law.

Man charged with rape, manslaughter of teen dying from overdose

Brian Roberto Varela’s arraignment is scheduled for Monday.

Most Read