Marysville officer's trial in daughter's slaying ends in mistrial
The trial of a Marysville police officer who was accused of negligence in the shooting death of his 7-year-old daughter came to an emotional end Tuesday when a Snohomish County judge declared a mistrial.
Seattle Times staff reporter
EVERETT — The trial of a Marysville police officer who was accused of negligence in the shooting death of his 7-year-old daughter came to an emotional end Tuesday when jurors announced they were deadlocked and a judge declared a mistrial.
The jury weighing the fate of Derek Carlile said they were split 7-4 in favor of acquittal, with one undecided, after hearing how the officer's 3-year-old son fatally shot his older sister with Carlile's handgun in the family's van in March.
Snohomish County prosecutors immediately announced a Jan. 29 date for a second trial for Carlile, which drew sobs from Carlile's wife.
But Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Joan Cavagnaro told reporters that setting a new trial date was a procedural formality. She indicated her office would carefully evaluate the case, weighing what jurors said and how they were split, before deciding whether to seek a retrial.
The jury of eight men and four women had told Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne on Friday that they were unable reach a verdict after about a half-day of deliberating. Wynne asked jurors to continue their deliberations, which resumed Tuesday morning after the Veterans Day holiday.
Carlile, 31, hugged his wife Tuesday after Wynne declared the mistrial. The couple did not speak to the media.
Defense attorney David Allen said retrying the case would be futile.
"I hope [prosecutors] will realize the obvious, that they can try this case 10 or 20 times and I don't believe they will do better than a hung jury," Allen said.
He said most of the jurors who voted to acquit Carlile of second-degree manslaughter were parents who realized that what happened to Jenna Carlile was a "terrible, tragic, accident."
Carlile was in a rush to get to a wedding when he and his family stopped off at a friend's shop in Stanwood on March 10. Carlile left a loaded .38-caliber revolver in a cup holder between the front seats of the family's parked van as he and his wife stepped away, leaving their four children alone inside.
Carlile's son, Steele, got out of his booster seat, grabbed the gun and shot his sister in the abdomen. She died at a Seattle hospital.
During the trial, Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Paul told jurors that Carlile, a police officer since 2009 who had gone through firearms training, was fully aware of the danger of leaving a gun in the van with four unsupervised children was dangerous. She said he was criminally negligent in his failure to protect his children from the firearm.
Allen told jurors that Carlile was extremely careful with his firearms. He kept them in a safe at home or on his person. The day of the wedding, he just forget, Allen said. "It was a momentary lapse."
Because of the possibility the case could be retried, people on both sides declined to elaborate on the case.
One Carlile family member, who asked not to be named, said that what prosecutors had done to the family by charging Carlile in the death of Jenna was "inhumane."
"It's horrible, them dragging him through the mud like this," the relative said.
Paul, the deputy prosecutor, said she was "of the firm belief that this was the kind of case that needed to be decided by a jury."
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.