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Originally published February 7, 2014 at 10:06 PM | Page modified February 8, 2014 at 8:27 AM

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Suspect, gun victim had earlier run-in

A Seattle man accused of fatally shooting a neighbor in their downtown apartment building on Thursday told Seattle police the other man had once shot at him.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A Seattle man accused of fatally shooting a neighbor in their downtown apartment building on Thursday had previously claimed the victim once fired a gunshot at him.

However, that claim could never be verified, so charges in the alleged shooting were eventually dropped, according to King County prosecutors.

Willie Larry Jones, 37, was booked on investigation of homicide in connection with the death Thursday of Joseph “Karat” Parker, 34. On Friday, a judge found probable cause to hold Jones in lieu of $1 million bail.

The deadline for prosecutors to file charges is next week.

Jones told investigators that he went to Parker’s apartment at The Glen Hotel, 1413 Third Ave., around 9 a.m. Thursday “and had words with him,” according to a Seattle police report included in an affidavit of probable cause. Jones told investigators that Parker had a gun on him that morning, the report said.

About 45 minutes later, Parker went to Jones’ apartment and knocked on the door, police said.

“Jones reported that he opened the door and shot Parker,” Detective Donna Stangeland wrote in her report. “After shooting the victim, Jones said he went into the hallway and told other residents that he shot the victim.”

When interviewed by police, Jones said that he had bought the gun as protection from Parker, according to the report.

In the earlier alleged shooting, Parker was charged with second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm after Jones claimed he fired through his apartment window.

According to charges, Parker showed up at Jones’ apartment on Nov. 23 claiming to be upset after getting into an argument with a friend. Jones shut the door on him and soon after said he saw Parker on the street aiming a gun at his window.

Witnesses reported hearing a gunshot, but police said they couldn't find evidence that there had been any shooting.

Seattle police found Parker, apparently intoxicated, about two and a half hours later, but he was unarmed. Police found a spent shell casing near the apartment building, but it’s unclear whether police could ever link the casing with Parker.

The charges were dropped last month, and on Jan. 21 Parker was released from the King County Jail, according to jail records.

Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, said charges were dismissed “because we could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Parker had been booked into jail 17 times since 1998, with convictions for drug possession, obstruction, malicious mischief, assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Dernbach wrote in the November charges.

Jones has no known felony history.

Stangeland, in the report she wrote this week, said Jones told her he “had been trying to work things out with Parker, but that he was still concerned for his safety.”

Jones told police after he was arrested Thursday that he was off his mental-illness medications and hadn’t slept for a week. He claimed he was hearing voices and “experiencing paranoia,” the police report said.

Witness Mercedes Elizalde told investigators that she heard the argument in the apartment hallway Thursday, followed by a gunshot. Elizalde said she waited “a short time” before going into the hallway, according to Stangeland’s report.

Elizalde said she saw Jones smoking a cigarette; he told her that he shot Parker, according to a police report.

When contacted on Friday, Elizalde declined to comment.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or On Twitter @SeattleSullivan

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