Self-defense or murder? Trial begins in shooting death

Explanations as to why a man was shot in the back on a Bothell cul-de-sac are starkly different.

EVERETT — Jurors Wednesday got their first look at the quiet Bothell cul-de-sac where a man was gunned down last year.

Lawyers also revealed their theories about what led to the Dec. 9 gunfire that killed Ryan Osborne, 36. Jurors will be asked to decide whether Osborne’s death was murder or an act of self-defense on the part of the Jesse Ackerman, 23.

Natalie Tarantino, a public defender, called into question the investigation by Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives. She told jurors that evidence will show that Osborne’s girlfriend lied to police on multiple occasions and failed to turn over evidence. Detectives missed opportunities to secure evidence that the woman and others might have hid, Tarantino said.

She also alleged her client was set up for a robbery despite what the woman will claim.

Ackerman had come to the neighborhood to sell drugs to a neighbor, a woman he’d met about a week earlier. The two did drugs in his vehicle and he nodded off or passed out in his car with the engine running. Three hours later Osborne approached the vehicle after learning that his girlfriend’s mother had called police about the strange vehicle on their street.

Prosecutors allege that Osborne tapped on the window to ask Ackerman to move along. He was shot in the back as he was running away from the suspect’s car, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Pittman told jurors. His mother and girlfriend heard a pop and saw Osborne crumple to the ground.

The bullet pierced Osborne’s heart. He died on the slush-covered street.

Pittman played for jurors the 911 call placed by Osborne’s mom. “He was running from him,” she told the emergency dispatcher. Osborne’s girlfriend’s screams could be heard in the background.

Ackerman didn’t have any injuries despite claiming that he was pistol-whipped by Osborne, Pittman said.

It is not disputed that Ackerman killed Osborne, he said. The case will revolve around whether his actions were lawful. This is not a credible claim of self-defense, Pittman said.

Ackerman told a friend and police that Osborne robbed him at gunpoint and clobbered him in the face with his own gun, Tarantino said. He also claimed hearing Osborne pull the slide back on his own handgun.

“He assumed Ryan was going to turn around and shoot him so he shot first. He shot first to protect himself,” Tarantino told jurors during opening statements.

Osborne’s girlfriend told police that after the shooting Ackerman approached the fatally injured man, patted him down and fled.

Tarantino disputed the story, saying the girlfriend pointed Osborne’s gun at Ackerman after the shooting and ordered him to leave.

She also alleged that Osborne’s girlfriend got rid of the gun he was carrying and the cash he robbed from Ackerman. She also alleged that someone in Osborne’s house erased surveillance footage that might have captured the shooting before police found the system. Investigators were initially told the house didn’t have security cameras, Tarantino said.

Police found a gun and drugs inside the room shared by Osborne and his girlfriend.

“It’s not a whodunit,” Tarantino said. “It’s a what happened.”

The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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