The family of Amina Bowman, the Bremerton 9-year-old who was critically wounded in a school shooting in February, was furious when they learned the mother of the boy who brought the gun to class has struck a plea deal with prosecutors.
Jamie Lee Chaffin pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. Prosecutors are recommending 14 months in prison for each count. Sentencing is set for June 20.
Chaffin and her boyfriend, Douglas Bauer, were charged with third-degree felony assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. Chaffin, who is a convicted felon, is prohibited from owning a firearm. Had she been convicted on the assault charge, Chaffin could have faced five years in prison.
Amina’s parents, John and Terri Bowman, watched helplessly in court, feeling that what happened to their daughter was being forgotten.
"Where is the justice for Amina? We want accountability for the heinous act that nearly ended our daughter's life," said John Bowman.
"Finger pointing, plea deals, and court-mandated apologies are like a slap in the face; as we watch those accused receive a slap on the wrist," he added. "We will not rest until those responsible for our daughter's shooting are held accountable for their actions. We will not rest until Amina receives the justice she deserves.”
After Chaffin was done, Bauer’s attorney successfully convinced the judge to throw out the unlawful firearm possession charge against him. But, he still faces trial on June 8 for the assault charge. Chaffin is expected to testify in that trial.
Bauer’s attorney, Wayne Fricke, argued his client didn’t know the gun was missing and that he wasn’t responsible for Chaffin’s son. Prosecutors said Bauer was grossly negligent and, as a result, is responsible for what happened to Bowman.
"The whole statute on assault, specifically assault in the third degree, requires someone to assault somebody," said Fricke.
Fricke said he is confident Bauer will be acquitted, added there was no legal precedence for an assault charge in a case like this.
Meanwhile, people in Amina’s neighborhood were stunned to hear of the developments.
“I think if I was the father in that, I would be crushed,” says Betty Fisher, who attended the tree dedication to Amina at Bremerton’s Blueberry Park two weeks ago. “I think they should get the max.”
"The people whose kid did it. They have a bill to pay. Not only that, they should be in jail," said Richard Batchelor, a volunteer at Blueberry Park school.
Amina Bowman was shot Feb. 22 at Armin Jahr Elementary school. Police say a 9-year-old classmate brought the .45-caliber handgun to school and that it accidentally went off in his backpack, hitting Bowman.
Investigators say the boy got the gun during a visit with his mother and her boyfriend. He was ordered to undergo counseling. He lives with his father and his uncle, who is his legal guardian.
Amina spent several weeks in the hospital, undergoing five surgeries. She is now recovering at home, but doctors say she still has a long way to go.
KING 5's Travis Pittman and Elisa Hahn contributed to this report.