Crime

Man acted in self-defense when he shot drug dealer to death, jury decides

Puyallup police investigate the scene of a shooting at a motel on South Meridian on Saturday. One man was killed early Saturday and a suspect has been taken into custody.
Puyallup police investigate the scene of a shooting at a motel on South Meridian on Saturday. One man was killed early Saturday and a suspect has been taken into custody. phaley@thenewstribune.com

Troy Evan Bottemiller was defending himself when he shot and killed someone at a Puyallup motel last year, a Superior Court jury has decided.

Prosecutors had charged the 27-year-old Bottemiller with second-degree murder for killing Lucas John Gritzke during a drug-related confrontation.

Jurors acquitted Bottemiller of that charge Thursday. Jurors began deliberations on Thursday, July 6, after a nearly two-week trial.

Defense attorney Bryan Hershman argued at trial that Bottemiller fired when Gritzke advanced toward him at the Northwest Motor Inn, and that Gritzke was 18 to 36 inches from the muzzle when he was shot.

Hershman said Monday he thinks the jury believed that “Troy was in danger of having the gun ripped from his hand.”

Gritzke, a 25-year-old drug dealer, was high on methamphetamine at the time and had beaten Bottemiller previously, Hershman told jurors.

The shooting happened April 16, 2016 when Gritzke confronted Bottemiller because he thought Bottemiller had impersonated him to steal clients.

Deputy Prosecutor James Schacht told jurors during trial that Gritzke showed up at Room 222 of the motel at 1409 South Meridian and demanded Bottemiller give him drugs and money.

Bottemiller agreed, Schacht said, and Gritzke headed to the door to go to Bottemiller’s car to get the cash and drugs.

Grtizke stopped when Bottemiller pulled a gun from his pants and was shot when he stepped toward him, the prosecutor said.

The Thursday verdict meant the jury didn’t think the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting wasn’t lawful self defense. On Friday, jurors went a step farther by deciding that Bottemiller proved more likely than not that the force was justified.

That allows Bottemiller to pursue reimbursement for his legal costs.

Hershman said Bottemiller slouched in his chair when the not-guilty verdict was read, bowed his head and cried.

Bottemiller has been getting drug-and-alcohol treatment and has been sober for more than 14 months, the attorney added.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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