Crime

Puyallup teen charged with manslaughter in the shooting of friend

Joshua J. Roberts is led into Pierce County Superior Court for arraignment on a manslaughter charge on Wednesday.
Joshua J. Roberts is led into Pierce County Superior Court for arraignment on a manslaughter charge on Wednesday. Staff writer

A 19-year-old Puyallup man who pointed what he mistakenly thought was an unloaded gun at a friend’s head and pulled the trigger was charged with first-degree manslaughter Wednesday.

Joshua J. Roberts pleaded not guilty to the charge and to unlawfully possessing a firearm during an afternoon arraignment in Pierce County Superior Court.

Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered Roberts jailed in lieu of $1 million bail at the request of deputy prosecutor John Sheeran, who told Foley that Roberts had been convicted of previous felonies and wasn’t legally allowed to have a gun.

The fatal shooting occurred about 7 a.m. Tuesday at a home on 18th Avenue Southwest that Roberts shares with his mother.

His mother told police she was on the phone with a friend when she heard what sounded like a gunshot come from Roberts’ room, court records show. She said she immediately hung up and went to see what was going on.

She found her son inside his room shouting, “It was an accident,” and 18-year-old Sabrena Defreece dead on the bed from an apparent gunshot wound to the head, the records show.

Roberts’ mother told investigators she left the room and called 911.

Responding officers interviewed Roberts. He initially was reluctant to talk but changed his mind, he said, because the shooting was an accident.

Roberts told officers he and Defreece had been listening to music in his room when he picked up a gun, pointed it at her head and pulled the trigger.

“He then stated he didn’t think the gun was loaded and told me when he heard the gun go off, his heart dropped,” Sheeran wrote in charging papers, citing Puyallup police reports.

“Joshua appeared distraught and upset. Joshua again told me he didn’t mean to shoot Sabrena.”

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam

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