County prosecutor speaks out on Carlile shooting case

MARYSVILLE — After Snohomish County Sheriff's detectives forwarded their investigation into the March 10 shooting death of a Marysville Police officer's daughter to the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office on April 18 for review, Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe responded to the concerns of citizens who have wondered whether this case will be treated differently because it involves a police officer.

Marysville Police Officer Derek Carlile remains on paid administrative leave, and Snohomish County Sheriff's detectives made no recommendations as to whether charges should be filed in the homicide investigation of his 7-year-old daughter, Jenna. Investigators believe that Jenna Carlile and three other, younger children were in the family van in Stanwood on March 10, while the parents were outside talking with a friend, when one of Jenna's siblings reportedly found a loaded handgun belonging to Derek Carlile and fired it, and Jenna was shot as a result.

Roe explained that it's standard practice for a homicide investigation involving a police officer to be conducted by a law enforcement agency other than that of the officer, and took issue with those who have compared the speed of this homicide investigation unfavorably to that of the recent investigation of a similar shooting in Tacoma.

"We had seasoned homicide detectives who actually investigated this pretty quickly," Roe said. "I've seen the blog posts and heard the phone calls asking what's taken so long, but it hasn't taken long. I would decline to compare this investigation to that of the Tacoma case, because it's a different case involving other people that's not relevant to this case, and because I don't know all the details of that other case."

Roe described it as a typical practice of the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office to assign such a case to an experienced deputy prosecutor, and he touted senior Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Paul's credentials as head of the Special Assault Unit, which deals with crimes against children, as well as her membership on the Child Fatality Review Board.

"I've been a prosecutor for 25 years and handled dozens of murder cases," Roe said. "We're not handling this one differently from any other case. We've received letters and messages suggesting that we should skip the investigation and go straight to the hanging, and saying that if we don't, it shows that we're biased in this case. In so many other cases, everyone involved has asked us to take our time, to not rush things and to hear both sides, so it's odd when we're asked not to do so when it involves a police officer. Who's showing their bias then?"

Roe noted that the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office has charged officers before, as recently as a couple of years ago, but just as Paul cited the possible need for follow-up interviews or other additional investigation, so too did Roe estimate that it could take two or three weeks, or perhaps even more, to determine whether criminal charges will be filed in connection with the Carlile shooting.

"Regardless of the decision we make, people will be upset, because emotions are high surrounding this case and what happened was horrible," said Roe, who does not intend to discuss the facts of the case.

Washington state law states that "children under the age of eight years are incapable of committing crime," so the age of Jenna Carlile's sibling is significant to the case. By contrast, there is no state law which specifically addresses the criminal penalties for adults who make guns available to children by leaving them unattended.

According to Marysville Police Department officials, their internal investigation into the Carlile shooting case would not start until the Sheriff's Office had completed its own investigation.

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