But he only faces three months!
A Skagit County juvenile court judge has determined that a teenage boy who fatally shot a woman he mistook for a bear on Sauk Mountain last year is guilty of second-degree manslaughter.
A second hearing to determine whether the boy, now 15, should serve additional time for using a firearm in the commission of the crime will be held at a later date, according to the Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
The boy, who is not being named because he is a juvenile, could face 15 months in a detention center. He was 14 at the time of the shooting.
Judge Susan Cook, who issued her verdict this morning after a five day bench trial, determined that the boy had been negligent, but found him not guilty of first-degree manslaughter and recklessness.
Cook issued the verdicts this morning after a five-day bench trial in which Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich claimed that the death of 54-year-old Pamela Almli was the result of criminal recklessness because the boy failed to positively identify the target with binoculars before pulling the trigger.
The boy's attorney, Roy Howson, argued that the shooting was a tragic accident.
According to investigators, the teenager and his older brother, now 17, had been dropped off at a trailhead on Sauk Mountain by their grandfather, who remained in the vehicle.
It was a foggy morning, according to both boys and other hikers, and after several hours of hiking, both boys said they saw what they thought was a bear on the mountain about 100 yards ahead of them, according to court documents.
The boys both had rifles with 3X-magnification scopes and both looked through their scopes for "a few minutes" before the younger boy said, "It's a bear, it's a bear," and, "I've got my cross hairs on it,"court documents allege.
The older boy agreed and told his brother to go ahead and shoot, according to police and prosecutors.
Almli, an experienced hiker and sportswoman from Oso, Snohomish County, was hiking with a longtime friend when she was killed about 10 a.m. by a single shot to the head fired from the boy's Tikka .270-caliber rifle, court documents allege. She was wearing a light-blue jacket and green pants when she was shot, investigators said.
Before her death, she had stopped on the trail for a minute to remove her blue jacket, peel off a black fleece sweat shirt — which she placed in her friend's backpack — and put the blue coat on again.
Her friend also was wearing a blue jacket, according to investigators with the Skagit County Sheriff's Department.
The friend jumped off the trail and slid down the mountain in fear for her life, according to the charging documents.
She heard someone say, "Oh my God, it's a person," the documents allege, and then heard footsteps running for the parking lot. The boys ran to the lot to tell their grandfather what had happened.
Police and prosecutors said that although the boy was licensed and had taken a hunting safety class when he was 9, he failed to follow the Washington State Hunters guide. The guide warns to always use binoculars and never a telescopic sight to identify a target, and to make sure the area behind the target is clear.
Almli was the first non-hunter to be killed by a hunter in Washington in more than 25 years.
Her death caused an uproar among hikers, hunters and other users of the outdoors and caused state officials to consider age restrictions for solo juvenile hunters.