Woman charged with murder in air rifle case

EVERETT — A Lynnwood woman now stands charged with murder, accused of killing a man with an air rifle that she used to scare off rats.

Emergency crews found Dean Urness, 52, down on the ground last month. He had been shot in the chest. Urness died in the back of an ambulance before an aid crew could get him to a hospital. A copper BB was later removed from his right lung.

Michelle Davidson, 32, is accused of shooting Urness during an early morning dispute. Prosecutors on Friday charged her with second-degree murder. They allege that Davidson intended to assault Urness and as a result caused his death. She is expected to answer to the charge Monday in Snohomish County Superior Court. Davidson remained in jail on $250,000 bail.

Witnesses reported seeing Davidson with an air rifle on March 31 while her boyfriend argued with Urness. A witness said Urness fell to the ground at one point. He was moaning and bleeding from the mouth and nose. No one reported hearing a gunshot or seeing Davidson fire the air rifle, court papers said.

A homicide detective later interviewed Davidson. She told him a “pump BB gun” was left on the property and she was using it for “rodent control,” according to court papers.

She said she had been holding the gun at the time of the argument, but denied firing any weapon, according to a search warrant.

Detectives located a Daisy Powerline 860 air rifle with scope inside Davidson’s motor home. The gun was loaded with several copper BBs, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Francesca Yahyavi wrote.

Witnesses said problems began brewing the day before the shooting.

The slain man’s girlfriend used to live on the Damson Road property and returned there, uninvited. Davidson’s boyfriend, allegedly armed with a baseball bat, chased her off.

The man told police he was the caretaker there, responsible for keeping problems away. Davidson reportedly told police she and the man were in charge of clearing “all the riffraff out,” court papers said. Police counted more than a dozen vehicles on the property, including motor homes and travel trailers.

Urness and his girlfriend returned to the property early March 31. Davidson’s boyfriend found them sleeping in a Chevy Suburban. He threw cold water on the woman and demanded she leave.

Urness reportedly came to the woman’s defense. He and the man begin to argue. Some witnesses said the men exchanged blows. Urness was unarmed. Davidson’s boyfriend told police Urness head-butted him in the mouth.

He said Urness was a “usually pretty calm, passive guy.” When he told Urness he wanted him to leave, he agreed to go, the man told police. He saw Urness reach out his hand toward a wall. That’s when he collapsed. The man told police he didn’t believe that Davidson needed to protect him, Yahyavi wrote.

Another man staying at the property told detectives he saw Davidson two to three feet away from Urness, holding a rifle. He said he saw her pump the handle. A short time later, while his back was to the commotion, he heard a thud. He turned to see Urness on the floor in the garage.

The defendant said when Urness fell to the ground, she heard him grunting. She said she turned away because she doesn’t “deal with death well,” court papers said. The woman stuck the gun in a closet in her motor home, where police later found it.

The first deputy on scene was told that Urness had hit his head.

Medics advised the deputy that Urness had an obvious gunshot wound. The Snohomish County medical examiner later concluded that Urness died from a BB fired by a powerful air rifle into his chest.

State Department of Health data show only one reported death from an air rifle in Washington between 2007 and 2011.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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