Deputies: Mabton homeowner illegally used gun, but could argue self-defense

MABTON, Wash. — Yakima County sheriff’s deputies said a convicted felon told investigators he shot and killed an intruder Sunday night at his Mabton home with a gun he had in his possession illegally.

According to deputies, 47-year-old Jon Bonewell, Jr. was booked into the jail on suspicion of murder, but with laws in place protecting people’s rights to defend themselves, he might not be charged with murder in the long run.

YCSO spokesperson Casey Schilperoort said even if someone illegally uses a weapon or is engaged in illegal activity, as long as they were defending themselves, state laws protecting people from criminal charges in cases of self-defense could apply.

“It’s called lawful use of a firearm and it does allow a person to defend themselves or others against an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death,” Schilperoort said

READ: Mabton convict shot, killed armed associate who entered his home

Schilperoort said in this case, Bonewell told deputies he’d been selling stolen property for the victim, 30-year-old Matthew Rand, and that Rand showed up inside his home late Sunday evening without an invitation and allegedly, with a gun tucked into his waistband.

According to Schilperoort, there were multiple people at home at the time and Bonewell and Rand took their business outside.

“There might have been some disagreements or arguments about how much money or stolen property that has been or has not been being sold,” Schilperoort said.

Schilperoort said that Bonewell told investigators that Rand pointed a firearm at him and told him he was going to shoot. Bonewell reportedly said he was in fear for his life and shot Rand in self-defense, killing him in the process.

According to Schilperoort, Bonewell then went on to tell investigators that he was a convicted felon and was not supposed to own a firearm as a condition of his release.

Schilperoort said while he will likely be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, whether he ends up with a murder charge depends on what the prosecutor in the case has to say about whether it was self-defense.

If a prosecutor does determine Bonewell acted in self-defense, state laws protecting people under imminent threat of harm still apply and they could decide not to press charges for the fatal shooting

“Theoretically, yes, you should be covered, but it depends on, you know, maybe you aren’t being completely forthright with law enforcement about what happened,” Schilperoort said.

Schilperoort said if investigators find out a suspect isn’t being honest with them about what happened and it turns out not to be self-defense, then those state laws wouldn’t prevent them from being prosecuted for murder.

“So it’s up to the prosecutor whether or not they choose to prosecute this case, if it’s a prosecutable case or if the defendant, Mr. Bonewell, will assert that it was self defense,” Schilperoort said.

Bonewell is being held in the Yakima County jail on suspicion of second-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

He has not been charged in connection with this incident, but made a preliminary appearance Monday afternoon in Yakima County Superior Court, where a judge set bail at $300,000.