Shooting of intruder was self-defense, prosecutor says

EDMONDS — An Edmonds homeowner will not face criminal charges in the February shooting death of a suspected burglar.

Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe said Monday that the fatal encounter between the homeowner and Kenneth Talley was tragic, but the shooting wasn’t a crime.

Instead, prosecutors are convinced that a jury would conclude that the shooter was acting in self-defense when he fired on Talley, 26.

“We believe he was justified in using deadly force to defend himself against someone who was acting erratically, talking incoherently and kicked his door in,” Roe said.

The investigation revealed that Talley had been drinking heavily in the hours before he was shot. His blood alcohol level was nearly triple the legal driving limit, according to police reports. Friends and relatives reportedly told detectives that Talley didn’t have any mental illness or drug addiction. He could, they said, act irrationally when he was intoxicated.

Detectives believe before the Feb. 7 shooting Talley tried to break into a car before he was chased off. He also got into an argument with a man who was out for a walk in the neighborhood, police reports said.

The Edmonds homeowner told investigators he first heard someone knocking on his sliding glass door about 8 p.m. He briefly spoke with the stranger who was standing outside the door. He said the man appeared “sweaty,” and talked about field mice and something about “this being a game,” according to court papers. The stranger asked to come inside but the homeowner turned him away, shut the door and turned off the porch light.

The homeowner said he then armed himself with a handgun and dialed 911. He heard noises coming from the front part of his house. The man, still on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, told the stranger to leave and warned him that he had a gun, court papers said. He told the dispatcher that the front door had been kicked in. That’s when he fired, the man said.

He can be heard on the recording with the dispatcher yelling, “Shots fired,” followed by, “Oh (expletive), he’s down.”

Police found Talley on the ground inside the entryway. He’d been shot twice. He died at the scene.

Deputies noted that the front door was splintered. They also found Talley’s cell phone in the back yard.

During their investigation, detectives learned that several minutes before the shooting, sheriff’s deputies received reports of a car prowl about a block away. The caller told a dispatcher that someone who was trying to break into a car fled and was possibly running through back yards.

Man trackers later were able to determine that the person who was breaking into the car had run toward the house where the shooting happened, court papers said.

Another witness told investigators that he’d been out for a walk when a stranger, matching Talley’s description, confronted him and then chased after him. That encounter happened about 20 minutes before the shooting.

Talley’s friends told investigators that he’d been drinking beer at home earlier that day. He left with a friend and the two men continued to drink. His friend told investigators that Talley began to walk home, about a couple miles away. His friend said Talley was in good spirits and likely would have taken a path that brought him in the general area of the car prowl and shooting location.

The man called Talley’s cellphone about 7:40 p.m. He said his friend was mumbling and not making sense. One of the slain man’s relatives told detectives that Talley sometimes acted “crazy” when he was drinking. The relative wondered if the Edmonds father may have mistook the shooter’s house for his own, according to police reports.

Prosecutors last week met with Talley’s relatives and fiancee to discuss their decision not to file charges.

He was the second suspected burglar shot and killed by a homeowner earlier this year.

Prosecutors in July announced that they wouldn’t be filing charges in a Jan. 9 fatal shooting in south Everett.

The homeowner, a 54-year-old Boeing worker, said that he was woken up by the sound of breaking glass. He grabbed a .38-caliber revolver before stepping outside his bedroom to investigate. The man said he saw a stranger crawling inside through a broken kitchen window. The burglar had a hammer in his hand, the man said.

The man fired, hitting the burglar several times. Johnny Sok, 22, died at the scene.

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

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