Spokane Man Who Shot Car Thief To Be Charged - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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Gail Gerlach Gail Gerlach
Brendon Kaluza-Graham Brendon Kaluza-Graham

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Prosecutors announced Wednesday that Gail Gerlach, the man who shot 25 year-old Brendon Kaluza-Graham as he was driving away in a stolen car, will be charged with first degree manslaughter. Gerlach will be booked into jail and arraigned on June 12th. Major Crimes Detectives, the Chief Criminal Deputy and Deputy Prosecutor have met, and two of the three said Gerlach should be charged with murder.

"Mr. Gerlach is disappointed in the charging decision, but he's looking forward to his day in court, he maintains his innocence," said Richard Lee, Gail Gerlach's Attorney. Regardless, Prosecutor Steve Tucker said Gerlach will be charged with first degree manslaughter because investigators can not prove there was a motive or intent to kill. First degree manslaughter is based on recklessness. Prosecutors say that Gerlach was not in danger when he fired the shot. A person needs to have fear of imminent danger that something bad's going to happen before you are legally permitted to use deadly force.

Two major aspects in this case are that Kaluza-Graham was driving away from the scene, and the angle that the bullet went in. Detectives say that the car was 40 to 60 feet away from Gerlach and going 50 miles per hour at the time. Prosecutor Steve Tucker says he does not believe Gerlach was in danger when he chose to fire the shot. He called the shot "1 in 1,000".

Prosecutors are also filing a weapons violation enhancement. Together, if he is convicted, Gerlach will face 8 to 10 years in prison. But if he's found "not guilty", the jury will be asked to come back with a second verdict, as to whether what Gerlach did was in self defense.

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UPDATE: The Spokane County Prosecutor's Office met with the Spokane Police Department's Major Crimes Detectives in reference to the 1419 N. Lee homicide investigation that began on Monday, March 25, 2013. After reviewing all aspects of the investigation, the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office has requested a charging affidavit for 1st Degree Manslaughter from the Spokane Police Department. 

As of Wednesday (05/29/2013), Mr. Gail Gerlach has been charged with 1st Degree Manslaughter.  A summons has been issued in reference to the Manslaughter charge.

Mr. Gail Gerlach's arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday, June 12, 2013, at 3:30 p.m. in Judge James M. Triplet's courtroom.

MORE DETAILS:

TWEET FROM KELSEY: Prosecutor calls it a "1 in 1,000" shot. Believes he was 40-60 feet away and going 50mph when Gerlach fired. 

TWEET FROM KELSEY: Prosecutor: Had Gerlach fired more shots, then a murder charge may have been decided on, but he decided to fire the one shot.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: This report is hundreds of pages, includes diagrams, transcript of 911 call, police report, ballistics.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: Gerlach is not under house arrest or supervision at this time. His attorney has been in touch w prosecutors.

 TWEET FROM KELSEY: Kaluza-Graham's grandmother wanted to meet with Steve Tucker before an announcement was made, that did not happen.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: We should know when Gerlach is going to be booked into jail by 3pm today.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: Prosecutor: "If you don't mean to kill someone you don't fire a gun."

TWEET FROM KELSEY: Prosecutor believes Gerlach was reckless, does not believe he was in danger when he fired the shot.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: Detectives believe the car was 40-60 feet away when the shot was fired.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: Prosecutor: Gerlach will be booked when arraignment date is chosen.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: Prosecutor: Met w major crimes for 1 1/2 hours yesterday, diff of opinion between the 6 ppl there.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: Update: Gerlach could be facing 6-8 years, that's the standard sentencing range per WA law for someone w no criminal history.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: I have a meeting with County Prosecutor Steve Tucker at 11:30 to discuss Gerlach charges. Waiting in the lobby until then.

TWEET FROM KELSEY: BREAKING: Gail Gerlach will be charged with 1st degree manslaughter in shooting death of Brendan Kaluza-Graham.

UPDATE: Confidential sources tell KHQ that Gail Gerlach will be charged with first degree manslaughter. Gerlach is accused of shooting 25-year-old Brendon Kaluza-Graham in March of this year as Kaluza-Graham was driving away in Gerlach's SUV. Gerlach says Kaluza-Graham was stealing the vehicle and he thought he saw the suspected car thief with gun. Kaluza-Graham later died. Gerlach faces 6 to 8 years in prison, that's the standard sentence for a person who doesn't have a criminal history.

Manslaughter in the first degree:

(1) A person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when:

     (a) He or she recklessly causes the death of another person; or

     (b) He or she intentionally and unlawfully kills an unborn quick child by inflicting any injury upon the mother of such child.

     (2) Manslaughter in the first degree is a class A felony.

PREVIOUS STORY:

KHQ has confirmed that Spokane Police Major Crimes detectives made no charging recommendations for a fatal shooting that happened in March. Their report was submitted to the Spokane County Prosecutors on May 13th.

Spokane County Prosecutor, Steve Tucker, says he's halfway through the report and that, "police usually do make a recommendation, but in this case they did not." "Every once in a while they'll send us a case where they're on the fence as to what charges, or whether they should be filed, then they leave it to us."

Gail Gerlach could still be charged with second degree murder but that's up to the Prosecutor. Prosecutors could also charge Gerlach with a lesser charge or no charge at all.

Gerlach shot 25-year-old Brendon Kaluza-Graham in March of this year as Kaluza-Graham was driving away in Gerlach's SUV. Gerlach says Kaluza-Graham was stealing the vehicle and he thought he saw the suspected car thief with gun.

The Prosecutor's Office is in the process of reviewing the report that Spokane Police gave them and a decision could come at any time.

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