New trial ordered in manslaughter case against Marysville man who fatally shot 6-year-old daughter

EVERETT — A new trial has been ordered for Richard Peters, the Marysville-area man convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of his 6-year-old daughter, Stormy, in November of 2008.

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

Peters, 45, remains in prison. Prosecutors can ask the appeals court to reconsider its decision or petition the Washington Supreme Court for review.

A jury in 2009 convicted Peters of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm. It found that the Marysville man’s reckless actions caused Stormy’s death. He was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison, the maximum allowed under state guidelines.

He also was charged with second-degree murder but was acquitted of that offense. Jurors weren’t convinced that Peters intentionally pointed a .45-caliber Colt handgun at his daughter to scare her or get her to shut up, as alleged by prosecutors.

The jury agreed that on Nov. 16, 2008, Peters was reckless and deliberately ignored the risks of handling a firearm around his daughter. His disregard for the dangers ended Stormy’s life, jurors decided.

Prosecutors alleged that Peters was drunk on vodka when he had Stormy fetch him the handgun out of his bedroom.

The first-grader was shot between the eyes. She died at a Seattle hospital the next morning.

The Court of Appeals found that Superior Court Judge Michael Downes allowed a jury instruction for first-degree manslaughter that violated Peters’ constitutional rights.

The jury was told that first-degree manslaughter could be proved if Peters knew of and disregarded “a substantial risk that a wrongful act may occur, rather than a substantial risk that death may occur,” according to the written opinion.

“It is not clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the outcome of the trial would have been the same absent the erroneous jury instruction,” said the appellate court decision, which was written by Ann Schindler, the court’s presiding chief judge.

Prosecutors did not immediately return phone calls Friday.

Lila Silverstein, who handled Peters’ appeal, said she argued that the instruction violated her client’s due process rights by “lowering the burden of proof” for proving first-degree manslaughter.

“It’s just very important under our constitution’s due process guarantee that the state’s burden not be lowered,” she said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Julie Copeland, center, with her daughters Lillian, 11, Naomi, 7 and son, Michah, 9 with their dog Pippin, 3, outside of Mary's Place on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 in Burien, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A family of 6 pitched tent in Forest Park — then help arrived

Everett’s innovative team of a police officer and a social worker aided them in their time of greatest need.

A major fire broke out on the Everett waterfront Monday morning in an apparently difficult location. (Sue Misao / The Herald) 20181008
Everett boater gets house arrest for fraud in marina fire

He lost his boat in a 2018 fire. But valuables he claimed were destroyed weren’t burned. He sold them on OfferUp.

Man arrested after allegedly shooting at, fleeing deputies

A homeowner reportedly found the Lake Stevens man, 40, hiding in a garage and called 911.

Auditor: Lack of oversight led to errors in Sultan finances

For a second time, the state auditor’s office urged the city to improve its financial review process.

Port of Everett, state offer new small business grants

Port tenants and companies affected by COVID-19 health restrictions are encouraged to apply.

This series of screenshots taken from an iPhone with COVID-19 exposure notifications turned on for Washington state shows some of the information presented to iPhone users who are considering opting in to a new statewide coronavirus exposure notification program that was launched Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Washington state that uses smartphone technology in the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People with Apple iPhones can now enable the 'exposure notifications' feature that is already in their phone's settings, and Android devices can download the app, called Washington Exposure Notifications. Use of the service is voluntary and users can opt out at any time. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington launches statewide COVID-19 notification app

Modeling predicted significant decreases in infections and deaths if at least 15% of people use the app.

Voters Brie Roberts, 28, and Michael Woods, 30, vote for the first time at the Robert J. Drewel Administration Building on the Snohomsish County Campus on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Voters young and old put this election in the record book

Generations X and Z, and Millennials, showed up and increased their share of votes compared to 2016.

New Snohomish County online guide aims to boost businesses

County officials have launched an online business directory to help shoppers find local food and wares.

Most Read