Witnesses contradict gunman’s account of killing Monroe prison officer

Dylan Picard, 22, was driving on South Machias Road when Dan Spaeth approached his car to slow it down to avoid hitting a deer.

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SNOHOMISH — Witness accounts contradicted what a suspect told detectives after he reportedly shot Monroe prison worker Dan Spaeth to death near Snohomish, according to new charges filed Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Prosecutors charged Dylan Picard, 22, with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting the Monroe prison employee.

Spaeth, an officer at the Monroe Correctional Complex, had worked at the prison for 18 months, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Around 7:45 p.m. Sept. 7, Spaeth and his wife were in their driveway, trying to slow traffic because of a deer in the 1600 block of South Machias Road, the wife told police. Speeding traffic was common in the area.

The woman reported hearing several cars speed by when she heard a “pop” and saw her husband in the road, wounded by a gunshot, according to the charges. She called 911. Several nearby civilians, including two with medical training, tried to help Spaeth. Paramedics responded to the scene and declared Spaeth dead at 8 p.m. He was 37.

Spaeth’s wife described seeing a Jeep and a sedan passing by at the time. She reported there were two people inside the sedan. Deputies obtained video footage from nearby businesses showing both vehicles. The sedan had extensive rear-end damage and was completely missing its bumper.

Around 2:30 p.m. the next day, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy saw a car matching the sedan’s description near Hartford Drive and 131st Avenue NE in Lake Stevens, according to the police report. The older Lexus had no bumper and the tailpipe was hanging off. The car was registered to Picard.

Investigators pulled the car over and detained Picard.

Police reportedly asked Picard if he knew why they stopped him.

“I shot somebody,” Picard said, according to the charges.

In an interview with detectives, Picard reported he was driving around when a Jeep in front of him slowed. There was a man and woman in the street. The man was yelling and hit the Jeep with his hands, Picard told detectives.

Picard told detectives the man came running toward his car, too. The suspect claimed he grabbed his gun because he was “scared” and fired a shot to scare the man, according to the charges.

On Sept. 20, detectives interviewed the Jeep driver, 19. The teen said he was co-workers with Picard and drank alcohol with him and another co-worker before the encounter, detectives wrote.

After drinking, the Jeep driver rode away with Picard driving behind him. The 19-year-old said he stopped on South Machias Road as a man and a woman were trying to slow traffic. The Jeep driver said his music was turned up so loud he couldn’t hear what the couple was saying to him.

The Jeep driver said, contrary to what Picard reportedly told police, the couple didn’t yell at him, bang on his Jeep or do anything aggressive, court documents said.

The teen reported he didn’t hear the gunfire over the sound of his speakers. The next morning, Picard told him he was going to kill himself rather than go to jail, according to the charges.

Investigators interviewed the other co-worker and learned he was a passenger in Picard’s car. The witness reported that when the man approached the Lexus’ passenger window, Picard grabbed a gun, reached over the witness and shot the man, detectives wrote.

After the shooting, Picard allegedly held up a live bullet or fired casing and said, “I’m a real one, I’m a real one,” the witness told police.

Deputy prosecutor William Doyle wrote in the charges: “These actions paint a different picture than the story the defendant told police, of a man who had simply overreacted in light of a misperceived threat.”

Picard remained behind bars this week in the Snohomish County Jail.

At his arraignment Monday, prosecutors asked for bail to be maintained at $1 million. Judge Marybeth Dingledy agreed.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @snocojon.

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