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Originally published Friday, September 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Suspect in car-prowl shooting to get out of jail

A 19-year-old Seattle man accused of shooting and killing a man who he said was prowling his car on Wednesday will be released from the King County Jail today.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A 19-year-old Seattle man accused of shooting and killing a man who he said was prowling his car on Wednesday will be released from the King County Jail today.

Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office, said the man will be released pending further investigation. The Seattle Times generally does not name suspects until they are formally charged.

"We recognize there will be further investigation," Donohoe said today. "We have only 72 hours in this state to keep somebody in custody [without filing felony charges]."

Police were called to the North Manor apartment complex at 9700 5th Avenue Northeast around 7 p.m. Wednesday after reports of a shooting. Officers found a man dead near the sidewalk, said department spokesman Jeff Kappel.

Kappel said the gunman, who lives there, surrendered to police without incident. A rifle was found nearby, he said.

The shooting victim hasn't been identified by the King County Medical Examiner's Office.

A man who answered the telephone at Cramar Properties, which oversees the building, declined to comment Thursday.

Neighbors of the complex a few blocks south of Northgate Mall say the area has been plagued by vehicle prowls.

Terry Parkhurst, who lives in a building down the street from where the shooting took place, said he has seen shattered glass along 5th Avenue Northeast and worried about his own cars being prowled.

"The only positive sign of all of this is that now that somebody has died they (prowlers) won't target this neighborhood," Parkhurst said.

However, North Precinct police Lt. Clay Monson said the neighborhood does not have a high rate of vehicle prowls.

The suspect has no felony history, according to court records.

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The investigation is expected to focus on whether the suspect had reason to fear for his safety in deciding to use lethal force.

John Adcock, a deputy prosecutor in Snohomish County, said he has handled cases involving residents who shoot burglars, but not a vehicle owner killing a car prowler.

"To use lethal force, you have to have a fear of death or deadly injury, whether they are breaking into your house, see you on the street, or are breaking into your car," said Adcock, whose office is not prosecuting the case. "You are entitled to defend personal property in this state. The question then is, can excessive force be used?"

Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roe added that "whether you are a cop or anybody else, you can't use deadly force merely to protect personal property."

In 1993, a Portland man was convicted of criminally negligent homicide for shooting a car prowler in the back as the prowler tried to escape. The 64-year-old shooter, who maintained that his rifle went off accidentally, was sentenced to two years' probation and 500 hours of community service.

Locally, a handful of car owners have been shot while investigating car prowls outside their homes.

In March 1997, a Federal Way man was wounded in the head and abdomen when he went outside to check on his vehicle after the alarm went off. The shooting occurred in an apartment complex plagued by car break-ins.

In June 1998, a 12-year-old Tacoma boy was wounded by a stray bullet fired by a man caught prowling a car outside the victim's home.

Information from The Seattle Times archives is contained in this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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