YCSO: Teen killed Wapato man because he ‘disrespected his family,’ deputies say
WAPATO, Wash. — A 17-year-old boy reportedly told deputies he killed a man in Wapato over the weekend because he felt the man had “disrespected his family.”
“[The suspect] said that [the victim] talked down to him and disrespected his family,” Yakima County sheriff’s deputies said in court documents. “[This] angered him and [he] said this was essentially a line you do not cross with him.”
Deputies arrested the teen Monday on suspicion of second-degree murder, less than a day after deputies were called to reports of a deceased man in his 50s found inside a Wapato home on North Track Road, near the Renegade Raceway.
When deputies responded about 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, the person who had called 911 told them he’d just seen the victim the previous day; when he came to check on the man about 12:30 p.m., he said he found blood on the porch and the door ajar, according to court documents.
An autopsy Tuesday found the victim had died of a gunshot wound to the chest. The man’s age and identity have not been released by the Yakima County Coroner’s Office, as his family has not yet been notified of his death.
Early on in the investigation, deputies learned the victim had been going back and forth Saturday evening on his four-wheeler, traveling from his house to a nearby property where an archery club was having a “competition shoot” and campout.
Deputies said several attendees at the campout were related to the owner of the property where the competition was taking place, including three juvenile boys.
When questioned, the boys all told deputies they were at the campout until about 11 p.m., at which point they all walked home and went to bed.
Witnesses told deputies they remembered one of the boys making strange remarks that night, saying “You have to be willing to kill or be killed for family,” before pulling out a knife, court documents said. Upon questioning, the boy — who was not the suspect arrested — told deputies he said this, but said he didn’t mean anything by it.
Another boy told deputies he knew the man was dead because an older boy had texted him, asking if he knew the victim had been killed the previous night. After an unsuccessful search for the older boy, deputies returned to question the three boys again, court documents said.
“While there, I noticed that all three of them were wearing the same shoes/boots they had been wearing the previous day and I realized we did not get photos,” one deputy said in court documents.
Investigators took pictures of the shoes and noticed the tread on one boy’s shoes — the 17-year-old suspect — looked similar to shoe prints found at the crime scene and took the boy’s shoes into evidence.
Court documents show deputies asked the 17-year-old if he wanted to go grab another pair of shoes to wear.
“[The suspect] hung his head and spontaneously said ‘just take me in, don’t let my brother see me, put me in the car,'” court documents said.
According to court documents, the victim had gotten into an argument during the campout with a family member of the suspect. Deputies said the suspect told them it was this earlier argument that made him feel that the victim had disrespected his family.
When interviewed by investigators, the suspect told them he did not go home with the other boys after the campout; instead, the teen said he went back to the victim’s house to smoke marijuana with him on the porch, court documents said.
The suspect said he and the victim then got into a fight over the earlier argument with the suspect’s family member; the 17-year-old told deputies the victim punched him and tried to wrestle him to the ground.
That’s when the suspect told deputies he pulled out a rifle and shot the victim in the chest, according to court documents.
“[The suspect] explained that when someone puts their hands on him, he does what he has to do,” court documents said. “[The suspect] said he felt bad he killed [the victim] but that he did what he had to do.”
The suspect reportedly told deputies he dragged the man’s body into the house and then searched the house for valuables, finding and taking some marijuana with him, according to court documents.
Deputies said the suspect hid the clothes he wore during the killing, threw his rifle into the river and stashed the victim’s four-wheeler behind the house.
During the interview, deputies said they asked the 17-year-old if he felt threatened by the victim at the time.
“[The suspect] said that [the victim] is an old man and that he had been in a lot of fights and wasn’t scared at all when [the victim] hit him,” court documents said.
The 17-year-old boy was booked on Monday into the Yakima County Juvenile Justice Center on suspicion of second-degree murder. Bail was set at $500,000.
Due to the nature of the charges, the case has been remanded to Yakima County Superior Court, where the 17-year-old is scheduled to appear Wednesday for arraignment.
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