Aunt behind the wheel gets 6 months in drive-by shooting

EVERETT — A Tulalip woman was sentenced Monday to six months in jail for her part in early morning gunfire that left some Marysville and Arlington neighbors on edge.

Carolyn Cepa avoided a prison sentence after prosecutors agreed to reduce a drive-by shooting charge to second-degree assault and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

Cepa, 40, was behind the wheel when her nephew squeezed off several rounds from an AR-15 in neighborhoods in north Snohomish County last year.

Multiple people called 911 to report gunfire along 140th Place NE in Marysville. The area is residential with homes on both sides of the roadway. Arlington police also had received reports of gunfire about four miles away in the 18500 block of Smokey Point Boulevard.

A Marysville man reported capturing the shooting on his home security system. He told dispatchers the video showed shots coming from the passenger window of a lowered white Chevrolet Tahoe.

Police located four .223-caliber spent shells in the road in front of a house on 140th Place NE and one spent shell in the driveway. Officers were able to get a license plate number of Cepa’s SUV from the video.

A jury convicted Cepa’s nephew earlier this year of drive-by shooting. Hayden Cepa was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He had told detectives he was too intoxicated to remember what he did. There was no indication the bullets were intended for anyone or gang-related.

Defense attorney Tom Cox explained Monday that his client, Carolyn Cepa, likely was under the influence of prescription drugs at the time of the offense. She doesn’t have any prior felony convictions and this behavior was out of character for her.

“This situation ranks up there with dumb. You’ve heard dumb before,” Cox said.

Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas ordered Cepa to undergo an evaluation for substance abuse along with mental illness. He encouraged her to find a provider who could address both issues.

Cepa told the judge she has been trying to get help but it can be hard to find the right kind of assistance. “I’m trying to find my way through this maze,” she said.

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

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