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Man charged with weapons offense, not murder

A 36-year-old man who absconded from Spokane after he killed another man during a robbery in 2012 will not be charged with murder, according to prosecutors. The city prosecutor determined they didn't have enough information to contradict the man's claim that he acted in self-defense after the death of the 33-year-old man, who died on Sept. 13. However, he will face weapons charges because he was a prohibited possessor, or a felony who possessed a weapon.

The city attorney indicated that their office needed to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt in order to pursue murder charges against the man. The man had rented three rooms at a local hotel where the man's death occurred. A witness testified that he went to the location with two other men and a woman to rob a drug dealer there, who was the accused man. Spokane police said that the deceased man, with an accomplice, went in the room and pointed a weapon at the subject, an alleged drug dealer. The accomplice stuffed a pillowcase with drugs and clothes.

According to official documents, the pair fled the room, but the accused man began shooting at them. One of the bullets hit the man as he ran, and he eventually died. The accomplice spoke to police and claimed he had been robbed and assaulted during the incident. He confessed he returned fire with two or three shots from a weapon and later disposed of the gun in a river.

When someone is accused of murder, Washington law enforcement personnel need to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person acted in self-defense. The accused person does not have to prove that they were acting in self-defense, as the burden of proof is on the prosecution. A criminal defense attorney might be able to raise reasonable doubt in this type of case in order to protect the rights of clients.

Source: The Spokesman Review, "No charge in fatal shooting at Spokane motel", Thomas Clouse, July 31, 2013