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November 8, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Marysville officer sobs at start of his trial in shooting death of daughter

Marysville police Officer Derek Carlile holds his head listening to testimony about the shooting. (Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

EVERETT — Marysville police Officer Derek Carlile hung his head and sobbed this morning as Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul recounted the moments that led up to his daughter’s death at the hands of his 3-year-old son.

Paul said Carlile, 31, was in a rush to get to a wedding with his family on March 10 when he got into the family’s van, put his off-duty handgun in a cupholder between the front seats and drove to Stanwood to drop off business cards at a friend’s store.

Carlile took the time to engage the car’s child-safety locks when the couple got out of the van at the store, Paul said. But he did not put the gun in his ankle holster, in the glovebox, or in a locking container in the door, she said.

Carlile’s son, Steele, was a curious and active 3-year-old with a fascination with guns and a disdain for car seats, Paul said.

“As you would reasonably expect, Steele got out of his seat, got the gun and shot Jenna,” she said.

Carlile, said Paul, “fully understands and realizes this is all his fault.”

Defense attorney David Allen said Carlile is a dedicated police officer who carried an off-duty weapon so he would be able to “protect the public,” but he was careful to store his gun in a safe and was “very obsessed with gun safety.”

“Derek accepts responsibility, but it will be clear that Derek is not guilty of manslaughter,” said Allen. “He did not act with criminal, gross negligence. This is a terrible accident, but it wasn’t a crime.”

Opening statements this morning marked the start of Carlile’s trial for second-degree manslaughter in the death of his 7-year-old daughter.

According to charging documents, Carlile’s son got out of his booster chair, crawled into the front seat, grabbed the .38-caliber revolver from an open bin and shot his oldest sister once in the abdomen. The girl died later at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Allen had sought to have the second-degree manslaughter charge dismissed, arguing that state laws do not address potential criminal penalties for adults who make it possible for children to get their hands on firearms. Allen argued that prosecutors were “trying to stretch the manslaughter statute” to criminalize Carlile’s actions.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne refused to dismiss the charge.

Carlile, who has been with the Marysville Police Department since 2009, has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting

If convicted, he could face a standard sentence range of one year and nine months to two years and three months in prison.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: accidental shooting, manslaughter, Marysville Police Department

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