EVERETT — A Lynnwood man serving more than 30 years in prison for executing a high school student in a parking lot has failed to convince a state appeals court that he was wrongly convicted.
Charles Courtney, now 27, fatally shot Anthony Boro on Oct. 6, 2015. He claimed it was self-defense. A Snohomish County Superior Court jury ruled otherwise, convicting Courtney of first-degree murder and heroin possession for the drugs found packaged for sale in his pocket.
Boro, 16, had been a sophomore at Mariner High School. He was among a group of young people who had gathered in the parking lot of the apartment complex where Courtney lived.
The defendant, who later bragged about making his “first confirmed kill,” came out of his home with a .357-caliber handgun and chased the teens. Evidence showed that Boro was running away, at a distance of nearly 80 feet, when Courtney took aim. The bullet snapped Boro’s spine and pierced his heart.
“No reasonable jury could conclude on these facts that Courtney shot Boro in self-defense,” a trio of judges from the Washington State Court of Appeals opined in a ruling published April 23, affirming the conviction.
Attorneys for Courtney had argued that his trial was flawed. A key part of the appeal challenged how detectives from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office obtained two confessions from Courtney.
Courtney initially denied any involvement in the shooting. He agreed to talk with a detective, and sat with him in the cab of the investigator’s four-door pickup truck.
Courtney acknowledged on tape that the doors were unlocked and he understood he was free to leave, the judges found.
The conversation took a turn when another detective got in the truck later and said that witnesses were saying Courtney was the shooter. The detective said another investigator had cause to arrest him for murder.
Courtney realized he was in trouble. He started begging for detectives to wait and to listen, the recording documented.
He then described how he’d been targeted for death by “a guy named 2-0-6” and how he’d grabbed his pistol when he heard somebody rattling his apartment door. He admitted chasing somebody into the night and opening fire.
“I shot him because I didn’t want him to get away and I didn’t want him, I didn’t want it to happen ever again,” he said.
The interview concluded when Courtney started talking about ending his own life with a pill he claimed was in his hand.
The detectives grabbed him. That’s when they discovered he was carrying a handgun. He’d earlier denied being armed, records show.
Courtney kept talking after his arrest and after being advised of his right not to answer questions.
His appellate attorneys argued all of Courtney’s statements should have been excluded from trial because he wasn’t really free to go and had been maneuvered by investigators into an illegal interrogation.
The judges rejected those claims.
The conversation in the pickup truck lasted about 45 minutes and “the police did not attempt to block or restrain Courtney from leaving until he threatened to kill himself with a pill,” they wrote. “At that point, the police had physical contact with Courtney and placed him in handcuffs.”
Moreover, the defendant was repeatedly reminded that he could chose not to talk, they noted.
Courtney had been in the U.S. Army and served a tour in Iraq. His attorney had jurors listen to an expert who suggested the man was living with post-traumatic stress disorder and reacting as he’d been trained in the military.
Judge George Bowden presided over the trial. At sentencing, he said the record of Courtney’s military service did not support his claims of surviving combat, but it did document plenty of trouble, including problems with drugs that led to him leaving the Army.
He called Courtney a “smug and boastful” drug dealer.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.