No charges in Granite Falls fistfight that led to death

GRANITE FALLS — An angry exchange of words at a Granite Falls gas station in September led to a fist fight that ended in a death.

Snohomish County prosecutors recently declined to file charges.

The fight happened about 6 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Shell station on W. Stanley Street. Jeffrey D. Watson, 55, of Granite Falls, died 10 days later. His death was attributed to head injuries, complicated by existing health problems.

His family had hoped for murder charges, according to a report by Snohomish County sheriff’s detective Kendra Conley. The detectives’ report and the prosecutor’s charging decision recently were obtained by The Daily Herald through public records requests.

About a dozen witnesses gave statements, records show.

Some saw Watson and another man, who was 25, “chest bumping” in the parking lot. The men were the same height. Watson was about 45 pounds heavier but was recovering from surgery and had limited mobility, his family told police.

The younger man said he had flipped off Watson for calling him a tweaker and telling him to leave town. The two men exchanged words and started to walk away from each other but then turned back, according to witnesses.

Watson reportedly drew a .22-caliber pistol. The younger man said Watson pointed it at his chest and he swatted the gun away. Some alleged that Watson pushed the other man, who then started throwing punches. Watson fell to the ground and hit his head.

When Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies arrived, the loaded gun was in Watson’s pants pocket.

The prosecutor’s reasoning on charges was redacted from the disclosed records. The sheriff’s office was told that what happened was largely undisputed, particularly the blows that led to the death, spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.

Watson in 2015 had been accused of pulling a gun during a road rage incident, but charges weren’t filed in that case, according to the records.

The 25-year-old man initially was identified as living in Lynnwood. Other records list an address near Granite Falls but also describe him as homeless. After the initial interview, investigators had a hard time finding the man before he was arrested in late October on an unrelated misdemeanor. He was arrested again in January for trespassing and last month for driving without a valid license.

Several witnesses told Conley they are bothered by what they saw. One witness said it upset him that “someone lost their life over something so senseless.”

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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