Attorney explains why he shot fellow lawyer

BELLEVUE – Sally Jung ran out of the courtroom in tears as a former prosecuting attorney explained what he was thinking when he shot her husband in the head.

On the witness stand, Mill Creek attorney William R. Joice spoke softly but clearly with his hands clasped in his lap during his trial for first-degree attempted murder.

“I was telling myself I didn’t have another option,” he explained, facing the jury. “I was aiming as he was getting into his car for his forearm-shoulder area.”

Joice stretched his arm out the driver-side window of a rental car and he fired, he said.

“I could still see Mr. Jung moving around in the car,” Joice continued his testimony.

He shot a second round through the interior of Jung’s car and its windshield. “I shot a third time, and then I stopped,” he said.

“After the third shot, something just finally hit me about what I was doing. I thought, ‘What am I doing?’”

That’s exactly what several defense attorneys have been asking each other while watching the testimony in Joice’s trial.

In opening arguments, his defense attorney cut to the chase, saying Joice did in fact carry out a plan to shoot rival attorney Kevin Y. Jung of Bellevue, but he never intended to kill the man, as charged.

Joice took the stand in his defense Thursday. Testimony in the trial is expected to end next week.

Despite the single bullet that entered just behind Jung’s right ear and exited at his right temple, he survived the shooting. But he is now lives at an assisted-living facility in Seattle and is unable to speak, walk or care for himself.

On Thursday, Joice offered his account of the Nov. 3, 2004, shooting, as well as the weeks of preparation that preceded it.

“It was getting pretty stressful,” he said of his new legal practice in spring and summer 2004. “I was behind. I wasn’t familiar with the rules.”

A former Air Force pilot, Joice had been laid off from his job as a deputy prosecutor in Snohomish County. He was working to maintain his first private practice in Mill Creek. After a couple of years living on the salary of a contracted public defender, he said, he decided to branch out into business law.

He was recommended to a small-business owner who was fighting off allegations of fraud by another businessman, who happened to be Jung’s client.

Over time, Joice said, his inexperience in business law put him behind in the case, and he was responsible for $6,000 in fines imposed by a judge for missed deadlines. Meanwhile, he said, his drinking was out of control.

“It became almost a fantasy for me,” he told jurors. “If Mr. Jung was not on the case for a few months, I could get my clients caught up.”

Each night as he drank, he said, he “obsessed” over shooting and wounding Jung. He conceived a plan, drawing on his legal experience and his years spent in the military and working with police.

“So when I was drinking, I was thinking about this,” Joice said. “When I was sober ,I was thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing?’”

He decided to construct a silencer to muffle the sound of his gun because the parking lot at Jung’s office in Bellevue was visible from the street and office windows.

He bought a fake beard and sunglasses to disguise himself, and located a place to rent a car.

“You actually believed that if you shot Mr. Jung it would buy you more time?” defense attorney Marcus Naylor asked Jung.

“I talked myself into that,” Joice replied. “This wasn’t something I was doing out of vengeance or hatred or something like that.

“I didn’t count on getting caught. I didn’t plan on him having a family. I didn’t know that.”

Still, Joice said in the simplest terms: “I planned to carry out this crime, to shoot Mr. Jung.”

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