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Friday, April 19, 2013 - Page updated at 09:30 p.m.

Man who killed intruders pleads not guilty to federal gun, drug charges

By Mike Carter
Seattle Times staff reporter

A 36-year-old Puyallup man has pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment on gun and marijuana-manufacturing charges after he killed two people in December while protecting his marijuana grow operation.

If convicted, Jeremy Peter Capodanno could face a 15-year mandatory-minimum sentence — and possibly as many as 40 years — for drug trafficking and for using a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The government is also seeking to seize his property, including two homes, and vehicles.

A U.S. District Court judge on Thursday ordered Capodanno held in custody at the request of the government, which considers him a flight risk.

A detention hearing was set for April 23, and the trial for June 21.

Capodanno was indicted by a federal grand jury last week after the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office determined that he acted in self-defense Dec. 6 when he shot two armed, masked men who had tried to force their way into the three-car garage of his secluded, luxury home. Federal prosecutors say he had 200 marijuana plants growing in a loft in the garage.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Thursday that his office formalized its decision not to charge Capodanno for the shootings.

“Regardless of whether you are operating an illegal enterprise, you still have the right to to use deadly force in defense of yourself or others or your property,” he said. “It is undisputed that these men were armed intruders.”

News accounts at the time said Capodanno’s young son was standing beside his father when a gunfight broke out with the intruders. Multiple rounds were fired before Capodanno killed the two men, police said.

Capodanno called police to his home, which is located down a gated driveway, to report the shootings about 8 a.m. that day, according to news stories.

The federal indictment said Capodanno was armed with a 9-mm Glock handgun. Police also found two assault-style rifles, a Tec-9 semiautomatic handgun and a shotgun.

“This defendant chose to enter the illegal drug business, and armed himself to protect his trade, not his home,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said. “This conduct brought thieves to his door, put his 7-year-old son at risk, and ended with him taking two lives.”

The government is also seeking to forfeit Capodanno’s home in Puyallup, a second home in Kent, a 2008 Mercedes-Benz, a 2008 Toyota pickup and the firearms.

Mike Carter: mcarter@seattletimes.com