South Hill man says he killed roommate in self-defense

A man accused of fatally shooting his South Hill roommate and trying to burn evidence argued Monday that the shooting was in self-defense after the roommate threatened him.

Michael Boisselle, 36, is on trial on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and unlawful gun possession in the 2014 death of 30-year-old Brandon Zomalt.

Deputy prosecutor Gerald Ham said in his opening statement Monday that Zomalt had been shot at close range in the leg, torso and head, and was dead for two weeks before police found his body Sept. 1, 2014.

Boisselle told a friend he’d shot someone, after which the friend went to Boisselle’s home and from outside detected a foul odor coming from the garage, Ham said.

“When he got to that duplex and smelled that smell, that’s when he called 911,” the deputy prosecutor said.

Deputies checked the home in the 13000 block of Military Road East and found a decomposing body in a roll of carpet in the garage — a foot sticking out of one end, and a hand sticking out the other, Ham said.

A few weeks before investigators found the body, Auburn police responded to a fire along Peasley Canyon Road and found two piles of burned household debris.

A section of carpet found was stained with blood, and prosecutors said DNA traced it to Zomalt.

Experts determined the amount of blood was “not consistent with a live person,” Ham said.

Public defender John McNeish told the jury Monday that Boisselle and Zomalt had known each other for years, but had lived together only about a month.

Zomalt told Boisselle he was homeless, and Boisselle let him stay at the duplex where he lived, the attorney said.

But after Zomalt moved in, Boisselle found him to be unstable and “he would do things and say things that scared Mr. Boisselle,” McNeish said.

That culminated in Zomalt holding Boisselle hostage at gunpoint, the attorney told the court, after Boisselle asked Zomalt to leave and said he’d call the police if he didn’t.

“He threatened to kill Michael and kill his family,” McNeish said. “... He was being held hostage in his own home.”

When Boisselle saw an opportunity, he grabbed the gun from where it was resting on the couch and shot Zomalt in self-defense, the attorney said.

According to charging papers, one witness said Boisselle talked about being held hostage and then killing Zomalt. Another told investigators Boisselle said he killed Zomalt because he was bothering him.

Pierce County sheriff’s deputies booked Boisselle into jail a few months after the shooting.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell