Updated Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 07:18 AM
A Snohomish County judge on Wednesday dismissed a charge of second-degree manslaughter against Marysville police Officer Derek Carlile, who was facing a second trial in the death of his 7-year-old daughter.
Carlile's trial ended in a mistrial last month after a Superior Court jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on whether he was negligent when his 3-year-old son fatally shot his older sister with the officer's handgun in the family's parked van in March.
In her motion to dismiss the charge, Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Paul acknowledged that it was not likely a jury could reach a unanimous verdict in a second trial.
Carlile's attorney, David Allen, said he and the Carlile family were "very thankful" for the dismissal. He said it was the right thing for prosecutors to do.
"They could try it 20 times and not do any better than a hung jury," Allen said.
Carlile, 31, and his family were in a rush to get to a wedding when they stopped off at a friend's antiques shop in Stanwood on March 10, according to testimony during his trial. Carlile left a loaded .38-caliber revolver in a cup holder between the front seats of the family's parked van as he and his wife stepped away, leaving their four children inside.
Carlile's son got out of his booster seat, as he often did, grabbed the gun and shot his sister Jenna in the abdomen. She died at a Seattle hospital.
In the October trial, prosecutors said Carlile was aware that his son was fascinated with firearms but nevertheless "failed to heed or be aware of a substantial risk that death would occur when he placed and left his loaded, unsecured revolver in an enclosed van with four children inside."
Allen told jurors that Carlile was a conscientious father who unfailingly locked his firearms in a safe at home. His client's failure to secure the revolver in the van was "no more than a momentary lapse of judgment," and not a criminal act, Allen said in closing arguments.
"All of us make mistakes," Allen said.
Jurors deadlocked almost immediately after they began deliberations, according to a note they sent to the judge, but were urged to continue their efforts to reach a verdict.
Another day of discussion brought little movement, according to another note sent by the jury, and a mistrial was declared.
Allen said the jury was split 7-4 in favor of acquittal, with one juror undecided.
After dismissal of the charge on Wednesday, Allen said, "First, many prosecutors wouldn't have filed the case at all."
Second, he said, prosecutors could have charged Carlile with a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment, but they declined to do so and refused to reduce the charge.
"They didn't do us any favors," he said. "They were aggressive, they stuck to their guns and they did everything that could be done."
It is unclear whether Carlile, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting, will remain on the Marysville police force, according to Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux.
Lamoureux said Carlile will now face an internal investigation, which had been on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case.
Christine Clarridge can be reached at 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.