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Investigation of car theft that led to a fatality still underway

Following a Spokane car theft that led to a fatal gunshot that killed the 25-year-old alleged thief, police are investigating second degree murder charges. No criminal charges have yet been filed in the case. The alleged shooter was the owner of the stolen SUV, a 56-year-old man who had a concealed weapons permit.

Using a search warrant, investigators seized the driver's side headrest of the SUV that the bullet went through before striking the alleged thief in the back of the head. Medical examiners later determined that the bullet remained there and that the man died from the gunshot wound. No weapons were found in the vehicle during the search, but officers seized two guns from the vehicle owner, a 9mm and a .38 handgun. The officers also found shaved keys in the vehicle, the type that are typically used in car thefts.

Officers are using the seized evidence to determine if the gun owner was indeed acting in self-defense, as he claimed, or if the fatal shooting occurred after the man was out of danger. The gun owner stated that he shot his firearm when the alleged thief raised his arm and seemed to be aiming a gun at him.

Since charges have not been filed, the long-term consequences of the shooting cannot yet be determined. If the Spokane District Court's prosecutor does decide to file murder or first-degree manslaughter charges against the owner of the SUV, he will need to consult an attorney. Officers have called the investigation "complicated." If you or someone you know is facing misdemeanor or felony charges related to wrongful death, you may also need the advice and representation of an experienced Washington attorney.

Source: KXLY, "Man involved in car theft shooting identified," Jeff Humphrey, March 27, 2013

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