Judge declares mistrial in manslaughter case against Marysville cop
A Snohomish County judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a Marysville cop accused of causing the death of his daughter.
The jury – four women and eight men – were unable to reach a verdict after two days of deliberation.
Officer Derek Carlile, 31, was charged with second-degree manslaughter for the March 10 shooting death of Jenna Carlile, 7.
Carlile, his wife and their four children were on their way to a wedding when they made a stop at a friend’s antique shop in Stanwood. According to prosecutors, Carlile left his off-duty weapon in a cup holder between the front seats and stepped out of the car with his wife, Forrest.
Moments later, their 3-year-old son, Steele, grabbed the gun and fatally shot his sister.
The prosecution had argued that the case was one of criminal negligence, and therefore, Carlile should be found guilty. In her opening statement, Deputy Snohomish County Prosecutor Lisa Paul said Carlile was aware that his son had a fascination with guns and had the ability to get out of his car seat without help. He shot his sister “as you would reasonably expect,” she said.
Defense attorney David Allen called it a “momentary lapse” in judgment, not criminal negligence. He said Carlile was obsessed with gun safety and carried his own weapon during off-duty hours to protect the public.
Allen said Carlile accepts responsibility for what he terms a “terrible accident,” not a crime.
Emotions ran high in the courtroom during both days of trial.
On Thursday, Carlile sobbed during opening statements. As the state made their final arguments, it was Carlile’s wife who failed to hold back tears.
After only four hours of deliberation on Friday, the 12-member jury of eight men and four women told the court they were at an impasse and unable to reach a verdict that day.
The judge ordered the jury to return Tuesday to try again.
The jury, however, was unable to come to a consensus after roughly six hours of deliberations Tuesday and returned deadlocked.
Judge Thomas Wynne granted a defense motion for a mistrial.
Seven jurors believed Carlile was not guilty, four believed he was guilty and one was undecided.
A new trial date was set for Jan. 29, but prosecutors say they will carefully consider the evidence before deciding whether to move forward.
“They can try this case 10 or 20 times, and I don’t think they’ll do any better than a hung jury,” said Allen, who spoke to reporters outside the courtroom. “I’m hoping very much the prosecutor will decide to drop the case. That’s the only right decision at this point.”
Carlile and his wife stood next to Allen, but declined to make a statement. The two wept as they left the courthouse.
KIRO Radio’s Tim Haeck contributed to this report.