NEWPORT, Wash. - A man accused in the dragging death of a 20-year-old college Eastern Washington University student during a camping trip last fall will be sentenced for second-degree manslaughter after reaching a deal with prosecutors in Pend Oreille County.
Wendell C. Sinn Jr., 45, on Monday entered an Alford plea to the charge, meaning he doesn't admit guilt but believes he would be found guilty if he went to trial for the death of Jerid S. Sturman-Camyn.
The victim was dragged more than 13 miles to his death last Nov. 24 after being tied to a truck driven by Sinn's teenage son.
Sinn, of Newman Lake, faces 21 months to 27 months in prison and will be sentenced next Monday. He originally faced second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter charges with aggravating circumstances, which could have meant life in prison if convicted.
"This is a man that is a family man. He has young children. He's got a perfect work record. He has no criminal record at all," said Sinn's lawyer, Carl Oreskovich.
He said his client made the deal to avoid the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.
But the victim's mother, Koni Buell, said Sinn's plea shows his self-defense claim is a lie.
"Wendell Sinn deserves to be punished and spend the rest of his life in prison for taking my son's life," she said.
Sinn was arrested after witnesses said he placed a noose around Sturm-Camyn's neck and attached it to the back of his pickup truck after the 20-year-old had threatened his son and other campers with an ax.
Sinn's son, Justin, drove off in the truck and called 911 from his cell phone to say he'd been chased by someone with an ax. Minutes later, another camper called 911 to report someone was being dragged behind a truck. Dispatchers quickly realized the calls were related.
Justin Sinn told investigators he didn't know he'd been dragging Sturman-Camyn and hasn't been charged in the incident.
Sturman-Camyn, a freshman at Eastern Washington University, was camping and drinking with his father, Jerry Camyn, when the two engaged in a playful fight that got out of hand, according to previously published reports. The incident occurred at a hunting campsite near Ione, about 75 miles north of Spokane.
Witnesses said Sinn, at a nearby campsite, fired a rifle to separate the two but Sturman-Camyn pulled the gun's muzzle to his chest and challenged Sinn to shoot him, then threatened several campers with an ax, according to investigators.
Buell said her son was angry and challenged people to fights, but he never threatened anyone.