Manslaughter verdict stands for Marysville man who shot his daughter

MARYSVILLE — The state Court of Appeals has upheld the manslaughter conviction of a Marysville-area man who fatally shot his 6-year-old daughter after a day of drinking.

For a second time, Richard Peters asked the appellate court to overturn a jury’s verdict. A drunken Peters shot his daughter Stormy in the forehead in 2008 after he told her to bring him his gun. The first-grader died later that night at Children’s Hospital Seattle.

Peters’ wife and two other children, 3 and 8, also were home at the time of the shooting.

Peters maintained that the gunfire was accidental, saying he didn’t know the weapon was loaded.

The Boeing worker was tried for murder in 2009. Prosecutors alleged that Peters intentionally pointed a .45-caliber Colt handgun at his daughter to scare her or get her to shut up. Jurors acquitted Peters of murder but convicted him of first-degree manslaughter, finding that his reckless actions caused Stormy’s death. Peters was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison, the maximum allowed under state guidelines.

The state Court of Appeals overturned the conviction in 2011. It held that the trial judge erred in allowing a jury instruction that lowered the burden of proof for prosecutors.

Peters was retried last year and convicted of second-degree manslaughter with a firearm. Jurors acquitted him of the more serious charge of first-degree manslaughter, concluding that Peters was negligent, not reckless.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Joseph Wilson sentenced Peters to five years and three months in prison, the maximum sentence under the law. Peters already had served about 4½ years behind bars. He was released from prison in May 2013, about a month after Wilson handed down the sentence.

Peters once again asked the state Court of Appeals to overturn his conviction. This time he argued that jurors should not have been told about the 16 guns seized from his home or shown pictures of the firearms and ammunition. Peters argued that Wilson improperly burdened his constitutional right to bear arms when he admitted evidence of guns not actually used in the shooting.

Peters also said the jury shouldn’t have heard from witnesses who testified that Peters had mishandled and unsafely stored firearms in the past.

In its opinion, the appellate court agreed that Peters then had a right to own guns, and that prosecutors cannot use “the fact of gun ownership to draw adverse inferences regarding the defendant’s character.”

However, his cache of guns was relevant to the case and therefore admissable, according to the court’s opinion released earlier this week.

“Evidence of Peters’ ownership of guns and the manner in which he used and stored them was relevant to prove that Peters had knowledge of a substantial risk that his actions may cause the death to occur and that he intentionally disregarded that risk,” the court wrote.

The evidence was essential to prove the element of the crime, the court concluded.

The same reasoning was applied to testimony allowed from one man who testified that Peters had pointed a loaded gun at him and that he’d seen Peters leave a loaded rifle propped against a wall in the house, where the children could reach it. The man testified that he criticized Peters for how he handled guns. Another man testified that two weeks before Stormy was killed Peters accidentally discharged a shotgun at a pumpkin shoot. Peters testified that he wasn’t aware the gun was loaded and failed to check it.

The court found that Wilson did not err in allowing both men’s testimony. It was evidence Peters had been “forewarned of the obvious risk associated with keeping unsecured guns in the reach of children and pointing guns at people whom he did not intend to kill,” the court ruled.

As a convicted felon, Peters is now prohibited from having in his control or owning any guns.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

A car drives by Everett Station where Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin's proposal for its ARPA funds includes funding a child care center at station. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald) 20211118
Council approves lease for Bezos Academy at Everett Station

The preschool will be tuition-free. “I just know how darned important it is,” Councilmember Liz Vogeli said.

Jesse Spitzer (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Wanted man fled from Gold Bar to Idaho, police say

Jesse Spitzer, 30, who has a history of violence against officers, is wanted for felonies in two states.

Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, left, speaks on the floor of the Senate, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., during debate on a measure that would delay implementation of a long-term care program and the payroll tax that pays for it. The Senate passed the measure, which was passed by the House last week, and Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the measure on Friday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Delay of Washington’s long-term-care program signed into law

The bill addresses concerns about the program’s solvency and criticism about elements of the underlying law.

Police: Marysville Pilchuck student arrested for wielding knife

Neither of the students involved in the Wednesday morning fight was injured, police reported.

Police looking for Mukilteo bank robber, seeking tips

The man appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, white, slender, about 5-foot-8, with dark blond hair.

Registered nurse Estella Wilmarth tends to a patient in the acute care unit of Harborview Medical Center, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, in Seattle. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is deploying 100 members of the state National Guard to hospitals across the state amid staff shortages due to an omicron-fueled spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Inslee announced Thursday that teams will be deployed to assist four overcrowded emergency departments at hospitals in Everett, Yakima, Wenatchee and Spokane, and that testing teams will be based at hospitals in Olympia, Richland, Seattle and Tacoma. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Past the omicron peak? Snohomish County’s COVID cases declining

Hospitalizations are still a concern, however, and infections in Eastern Washington and Idaho could have ripple effects here.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
‘White saviorhood’: Mukilteo schools end ‘Mockingbird’ requirement

The book is not banned in the school district. The last book brought before the school board was by Maya Angelou.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Despite Arizona move, Everett leaders expect Funko HQ to stay

The toymaker is closing Everett warehouses. But a recent “HQ2” expansion has the city confident Funko will remain rooted here.

Anthony Boggess
Man charged with first-degree murder for killing of Marysville roommate

Anthony Boggess, 30, reportedly claimed “demons” told him to hurt people. He’s accused of killing James Thrower, 65.

Most Read