By Larry Vogel
The Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office has closed its investigation into the February 2012 fatal shooting of an intruder by a homeowner in Esperance, an unincorporated area of Edmonds. “Our conclusion is that the homeowner acted in self-defense,” Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe said Tuesday.
On Feb. 7, 2012, the homeowner heard someone knocking on his sliding glass door in the 8900 block of 225th Place Southwest. The man, later identified as Kenneth Talley, appeared disheveled and incoherent. The homeowner turned him away and shut off the porch light, but the intruder remained outside the door.
The homeowner then armed himself with a handgun and called 911. While on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, the homeowner warned the intruder that he had a gun and told him to leave. Talley then kicked the door in, at which point shots were fired. Talley died at the scene.
“We always look very closely at claims of self-defense,” said Roe, “especially when deadly force is used.” Roe explained that there is no litmus test for what constitutes self-defense. “We evaluate each case individually based on the facts of that case,” he said.
Roe pointed out that a genuine and reasonable fear for your life or the life of someone else is critical to a self-defense claim. Crimes against property don’t count. “If you use deadly force against someone who steals or vandalizes your car, we will prosecute you for homicide,” he said.
“In this case we have the 911 record revealing the homeowner warning the intruder he has a gun and telling him to leave, the intruder breaking down the door, and the gunshots,” Roe said. “This combined with additional evidence from interviews and the crime scene make a clear case that the homeowner was in genuine and reasonable fear for his life.”
“These are always hard decisions to make,” concluded Roe. “We keep our focus on the facts and the law, and try to reach a conclusion that is sensible and fair. We are confident that we have accomplished this here.”