Marysville man charged with intentionally pointing gun at 6-year-old daughter

MARYSVILLE — A Marysville man, who had claimed that his fatal shooting of his 6-year-old daughter was an accident, has since been charged with intentionally pointing his gun at the girl’s head.

Court papers, written by Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Stern, state that new evidence, from a recent forensic analysis of the shooting scene, demonstrates that the defendant's account of events is "forensically impossible or at least significantly unlikely." Stern also wrote that a purported jailhouse statement by the defendant likewise does not support his story.

On Aug. 5, Stern charged 42-year-old Richard Peters with the second-degree murder of his daughter, Stormy, on the grounds that pointing a loaded gun at a person constitutes second-degree assault, and that the assault became murder once it led to the girl's death. Peters pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder and first-degree manslaughter in Snohomish County Superior Court. The trial is expected to begin the week of Aug. 10, and if Peters is convicted of murder, he could face more than 20 years in prison.

According to court papers, Peters had told detectives that he was cleaning his .45-caliber Colt in his Tulalip-area home in November of last year, when he shot his daughter once in the forehead. He'd spent that afternoon drinking vodka and Coke, and had sent Stormy to his bedroom to retrieve the gun from the night stand, but he told investigators that he hadn't thought the gun was loaded. He said that he pulled the trigger as he was removing the magazine from the gun, according to court documents.

Stormy, a first-grader at Quil Ceda Elementary School, died a few hours later at a Seattle hospital.

Stern had originally charged Peters, a Boeing machinist, with manslaughter, on the grounds that he'd recklessly caused his daughter's death, but in May, detectives learned that Peters allegedly told a cell mate in the Snohomish County Jail that he'd pointed the gun at the girl. Stern wrote in charging documents that Peters again said that he didn't realize the weapon was loaded.

Stern reported that crime scene investigators believe that Peters was pointing the gun directly at his daughter at the time it went off, an analysis that Stern sees as consistent with the statement attributed to Peters by his cell mate. Late in July, investigators used forensic lasers to trace the path of the bullet backward, from the wall that it had struck after killing Stormy, back to a mannequin they used to represent the girl, which was exactly the same height as her, and from there to the couch where they believe Peters was sitting. Stern wrote that the room where the shooting occurred was relatively unchanged, since the carpet hadn't been repaired, after investigators had removed a patch of carpet where Stormy fell in November, and detectives could still see where the bullet had struck the wall.

Stern noted that a neighbor had told police that he'd been worried someone might get shot in Peters' home, since he knew that Peters' children were allowed to handle firearms, and he'd told his wife not to let their daughter play at Peters' home as a result. Two of Peters' other children, ages 3 and 8, were home at the time of the shooting. Peters' wife told investigators that he'd asked the children to bring guns to him before, but added that they'd both told their children to handle those guns as though they had a bullet in the chamber, according to court papers.

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