By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — Richard Peters killed his daughter.
He was sitting on his couch, drunk. He had 6-year-old Stormy fetch his .45-caliber Colt. The girl gave her dad the loaded weapon. Peters shot Stormy between the eyes in the family room of their Marysville-area home.
“The ugly truth of this is Mr. Peters failed miserably in his parental responsibilities to keep his child safe,” Judge Michael Downes said Tuesday during a sentencing hearing.
Peters knew he shouldn’t be drinking alcohol and handling a loaded gun, the judge said. He knew the risks of asking a child to retrieve a firearm for him. He made the decision to ignore those facts on Nov. 16, 2008, Downes said.
“This is no accident. This is first-degree manslaughter,” the judge said.
Downes sentenced Peters to more than 13 years in prison, the maximum under the sentencing range.
Peters, 43, declined to speak at Tuesday’s hearing. He had told investigators the gun accidentally discharged as he was removing an ammunition magazine.
Peters plans to appeal his conviction, his Everett attorney Karen Halverson said.
Halverson argued for a shorter sentence. Peters didn’t have any prior criminal history and was living a successful life at the time of the shooting, Halverson said.
Peters’ wife and his mother asked Downes for leniency, saying their family has suffered so much already. The couple’s two other children were taken by Child Protective Services. They’ve lost their home. They continue to mourn the death of Stormy. Peters is a good family man who loves his children, his wife and mother said. He is not a criminal, the women told the judge.
“Our daughter meant the world to us as do our boys,” Kristina Peters said. “No matter how much time you give Rich it’ll never amount to the punishment this family is going through.”
A jury last month convicted Peters of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm. They found that the Marysville man’s reckless actions caused Stormy’s death.
Jurors acquitted Peters of a more serious second-degree murder charge. They didn’t believe the prosecutors’ theory that Peters intentionally pointed the gun at Stormy’s head in an attempt to scare the girl or get her to shut up.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Mona Clarkson on Tuesday argued that Peters deserved the high-end of the sentencing range. Peters hasn’t taken responsibility for his actions, Clarkson said. He still contends that the shooting was an accident, she said.
Stormy never should have been carrying around a loaded gun, especially with two other children in the home, Clarkson said. Peters never should have been handling a weapon while he was drunk, she said.
The girl’s death was avoidable, Clarkson said.
Stormy must have seen the gun that killed her in her father’s hands, Clarkson said.
“Daddies are supposed to protect their children — not leave them in a pool of blood on the family room floor,” she said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.