A 95-year-old Seattle man has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of a man in June, according to King County prosecutors.
James Patton pleaded not guilty to the charge Monday and after he was fingerprinted at the King County Jail, was released on personal recognizance, court records show.
Citing his age and lack of criminal history, prosecutors did not seek bail in Patton’s case, provided he surrenders any firearms to police, is prohibited from owning firearms while the case is pending and doesn’t live in a home where firearms are present, according to charging documents.
He is accused of criminal negligence in his handling of a .38-caliber revolver, leading to the death of 51-year-old Anthony Webb on June 2.
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Patton, who lived alone in Seattle’s Rainier Beach, “had been carrying a gun for protection because of recent burglaries that had occurred at his home,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Mary Barbosa wrote in charging papers. “Tragically, the defendant’s negligent handling of the gun resulted in the senseless death of another person.”
Police say Patton told detectives an unknown person knocked on his front door just after 10 p.m. on June 2. He asked who was at the door and armed himself when he received no answer, say the charges.
When he opened the door, a man was standing directly in front of him and “Mr. Patton stated that his gun ‘just went off,’ ” later telling officers it was an accident, according to charging papers.
After the man slumped to the ground, Patton asked if he was OK and then called 911, the charges say.
Webb died a short time later at Harborview Medical Center from the gunshot that was fired through Patton’s screen door, say charging papers.
One witness, who was at a nearby bus stop, told police she thought Webb was carrying two bags of groceries, which he set down outside Patton’s door after his knock went unanswered, say the charges. The woman then saw Webb go around to the side of the house to speak with someone standing there, but she got on her bus before the shooting occurred, the charges say.
Patton’s gun was tested by scientists at the Washington State Patrol crime lab and was found to be functioning safety. When the butt was struck with a mallet, the hammer fell from the full cocked position but did not discharge, the charges say.
Charging papers note the gun’s serial number and model designation had been obliterated in violation of state law, but somehow the serial number was restored by investigators. Computer checks of the serial number produced no record that the gun was either stolen or registered, say the charges.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org