Woman gets 2 years for air-rifle death

EVERETT — A Lynnwood woman was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday for killing a man with an air rifle that she used to hunt rats.

The family and friends of Dean Urness, 52, called the sentence an injustice. They believe Michelle Davidson deserves more punishment for taking a human life.

Davidson, 33, initially was charged with second-degree murder under the theory that she intended to assault Urness during an early morning dispute.

Prosecutors agreed to reduce the charge to second-degree manslaughter, saying that once they had received the full investigation in November they concluded that the reduced charge was more appropriate. They also believed some of the witnesses would have been “unreliable and unpredictable,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Francesca Yahyavi wrote in court papers.

Davidson pleaded guilty last week, admitting that she was criminally negligent for Urness’ death. Under the law, the maximum sentence she faced was just over two years.

Witnesses reported seeing Davidson with an air rifle on March 31 while her boyfriend argued with Urness. The two men reportedly were disputing whether Urness’ friend was permitted on the property, where Davidson and her boyfriend were staying.

In the last moments of his life, Urness “was standing up for a friend who he believed was being mistreated,” Yahyavi said Friday.

A witness said Urness fell to the ground at one point. No one reported hearing a gunshot or seeing Davidson fire the air rifle, court papers said.

Urness was shot in the chest and died in the back of an ambulance. A copper BB was later recovered from his right lung. Detectives found a Daisy Powerline 860 air rifle with scope inside Davidson’s motor home.

The defendant’s lawyer told the judge that Davidson didn’t realize that she had fired the gun. She had been trying to break up the fight between Urness and her boyfriend, said Laura Martin, an attorney with the Snohomish County Public Defender Association.

“Whatever was going on, Dean Urness didn’t deserve what happened to him,” Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Michael Downes said.

Downes pointed out that the case was never viewed as an intentional murder. He also said under the law he was limited in the amount of time he could give the defendant.

“It is important for you to know that the sentence imposed in no way or shape or stretch defines who Dean Urness was, or what kind of person he was,” Downes said.

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

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