EVERETT, Wash. - A Marysville father, convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of his six-year-old daughter, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Richard Peters, 43, was convicted last week of recklessly causing the death of his daughter, Stormy, when she was shot in the face while he was cleaning a gun. The shooting death happened on November 16, 2008.
At the time, The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said Peters had been drinking and then asked his daughter to get one of his guns. Police say during an interview with investigators, Peters told them when his daughter handed him the gun, he pulled out the magazine and pulled the trigger.
The gun fired, and Peters' daughter dropped to the ground. She had been shot between the eyes. She died the following morning at a Seattle hospital.
Investigators say Peters told them that while cleaning his guns, he was drinking vodka, pouring himself multiple double drinks. He told them he was probably too drunk to drive.
"He abused that position of trust by drinking and asking her to carry what he knew to be a loaded gun," said deputy prosecutor Mona Clarkson at sentencing "Daddies are supposed to protect their children and not leave them lying in a pool of blood on the family room floor."
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Peters had, in fact, intentionally pointed the gun at his daughters head and charged him with second-degree murder.
The jury, after deliberating less than four hours, acquitted him of that offense, opting instead to convict him of the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter. The jurors said they weren't convinced that Peters acted intentionally. They said he was reckless and deliberately ignored the risk of handling a firearm around his child.
At sentencing, Peters' mother and wife asked for mercy.
"I don't want to lose my son, too. And he's a good man. He's not a threat to society," said Peters' mother, Crystal.
"No matter how much time you give Rich will never amount to the amount of punishment this family is going through and how much we have lost in the last year," said Peters' wife, Kristina.
His family said it was all just an accident, but the judge didn't buy it.
"This is no accident. This is first degree manslaughter," said Judge Michael Downes. "Mr. Peters failed miserably in his parental obligation to keep this child safe."
Peters' defense attorney plans to file an appeal.