Plea for long sentence

Victim denied as judge gives 2-year term in shooting


Herald Writer

The bullet that shattered Mary Peters’ face took her beauty and independence. On Tuesday, the Mill Creek-area woman was helped to the front of a Snohomish County courtroom, where she asked a judge to take the freedom of the man who has admitted responsibility.

Although there is dispute over exactly what happened that night in July 1999, Michael Robert Clary, 48, admitted pointing a .357-caliber handgun at his wife, Peters.

The gun went off, leaving Peters unable to care for herself and sentenced "to living in a dark room of pain for the rest of my life," the woman told Superior Court Judge Linda Krese.

She urged the longest sentence possible for Clary, a felon with a history of drug problems.

The judge sentenced Clary to roughly two years in prison, a standard-range sentence under Washington law. But she also allowed him to serve up to half that time in a residential drug treatment program, if approved by state corrections officials.

Krese said that sentence provides the best chance the community will be protected, because Clary will get treatment for drug problems and be required to live under close supervision for an extended period once he’s freed from prison.

The shooting occurred while the couple sat in their car in Mountlake Terrace. Peters was shot at close range in the face, destroying one of her eyes and leaving her with other disfiguring injuries.

Clary initially was charged with first-degree assault. But he pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of third-degree assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm under an agreement reached with prosecutors.

He entered a so-called Alford plea. In court papers, he said he does not believe he committed the offense, but wanted to take advantage of the prosecution’s offer not to seek exceptional punishment.

The deal was struck after investigation failed to show exactly what happened, defense attorney John Henry Browne said.

Both Peters and Clary were on drugs the night of the shooting, and neither has much memory of what occurred, court papers show.

"I don’t know why this thing happened. I don’t even know how it happened," Clary said Tuesday.

The investigation began when Clary brought his wife to the hospital and told investigators she had been shot by two men whom he’d angered by making a rude gesture. The story did not hold up to scrutiny, however.

Police found the handgun that shot Peters inside Clary’s car, and tests showed it was covered with the woman’s blood and tissues.

Peters initially told detectives that she did not know who shot her, and later said Clary was not her attacker, according to court papers.

She then told investigators she remembered arguing with her husband and him pointing a handgun at her head, but little else.

Clary has a 1992 conviction for domestic violence involving his wife and a history of beating her and pointing guns at her head, prosecutors alleged in court papers.

He also has felony convictions for drugs, bribery, assault and illegally possessing firearms.

Clary called the shooting "the worst thing that ever happened in my life."

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