OKANOGAN A father and son have been charged with first-degree murder in the Labor Day shooting death of a Western Washington grouse hunter.
John Wayne Jennings and his son, Adam Shaun Jennings, both of 33 Cow Camp Road east of Oroville, made preliminary appearances in Okanogan County Superior Court on Nov. 20. They were charged with first-degree (premeditated) murder Nov. 18.
Judge Chris Culp set bail for each man at $1 million.
They are accused in the Sept. 2 shooting death of Hoquiam resident Michael Ray Carrigan, 52, on Cow Camp Road near their home.
Charging documents alleged each man either was armed with the firearm or was an accomplice of the other.
Adam Jennings, 27, also was charged with first-degree unlawful possession of a .22-caliber firearm. He has a previous conviction for second-degree assault.
John Jennings, 57, also was charged with delivery of a firearm to an ineligible person. The charging document alleged he delivered a firearm to Adam Jennings, knowing his son was ineligible to possess the gun.
During the preliminary hearing, the public defender’s office was assigned to represent them.
“I want a lawyer to explain everything to me,” Adam Jennings said.
Both appeared in the in-custody courtroom clad in maroon jail clothing with their wrists handcuffed and their ankles hobbled. Two jail officers stood by as the men heard the charges against them.
Adam Jennings appeared to walk with a limp as he moved from seating along the side of the courtroom to the defendant’s table. John Jennings, an obese man, was allowed to stay in his perimeter seat with public defender Emma Paulsen moving to a chair at his side as he heard the charges read.
Probable cause had been found earlier by the court and led to warrants being issued for the duo’s arrest. They were arrested Nov. 19 by the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office.
Arraignment for both was set for Dec. 2.
According to the probable cause statement, a report by Detective Rob Heyen of the Sheriff’s Office, Carrigan and Hoquiam resident George Stover, 65, were hunting along Cow Camp Road when Carrigan saw a grouse in a field. The report was filed with charging documents.
Carrigan got out of their vehicle and walked into a field. The grouse flew, Carrigan took two shots but missed the bird, Stover told county dispatcher Michael Whitley when he called 911 after the shooting.
“Somebody at a house across the road started shooting at him, knocked him down the first time and he got up and he started walking back toward the truck and they shot again and knocked him down a second time,” Stover allegedly told the dispatcher.
Stover said Carrigan was shot a couple times, but he didn’t go and check on him “because the guy was still shooting,” the report said. Stover notified the Sheriff’s Office a little after 7 p.m.
Deputies Isaiah Holloway, Terry Schrable and Laura Wright and Sgt. Tony Hawley responded. Carrigan was confirmed to be dead, and the residence was found to be that of John and Adam Jennings, the report said.
The defendants “are known to the Sheriff’s Office from previous contacts involving neighbor disputes, the shooting of a vehicle and an assault where a .22-caliber firearm was used,” the report said.
Adam Jennings’ right to carry a firearm had been revoked after the previous second-degree assault conviction in 2003.
After Carrigan was confirmed dead, the defendants “were talked out of their residence, separated and taken into custody,” Heyen’s report said.
Adam Jennings, who would not waive his rights, was not questioned at the scene, but was taken to jail for an outstanding traffic warrant. John Jennings was interviewed at the scene.
In his statement at the scene, Stover – Carrigan’s hunting partner – allegedly told deputies Carrigan had been driving and stopped when he saw the grouse. He exited the vehicle and shot twice at the bird. Meanwhile, Stover got into the driver’s seat and moved the vehicle so it would not be blocking the road.
“He went on to report hearing a gunshot and seeing Michael (Carrigan) react to something by bringing his hand up to his mouth. George said he saw blood on Michael’s hand and watched him go down,” the report said. “According to George, Michael got up but went down again after a second shot. George described seeing Michael rolling on the ground, then stopping on his back.”
Based on his years of hunting experience, Stover allegedly described the shot as coming from a .22-caliber weapon. He told deputies the shots came from 33 Cow Camp Road.
During a subsequent search of John Jennings’ home and surrounding property, 18 firearms and ammunition were seized. Some of them were located in Adam Jennings’ bedroom, although the firearms that were registered were in John Jennings’ name, the report said.
Deputies allegedly found scrape marks along an aluminum window casing with a direct line of sight to where Carrigan was shot. They also allegedly found marks on a gun and evidence that a gun had been taken off a nearby, dusty gun rack.
An autopsy on Carrigan’s body was conducted Sept. 4 b y Dr. Gina Fino at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the back, the report said.
Both defendants allegedly told officers they heard two shots fired by Carrigan and then another two shots fired from a different firearm outside their home. They said they took cover on the floor of their home until they heard a vehicle leaving.
John Jennings allegedly told deputies the shots came from the east, along the road, while Adam Jennings said he heard the shots come from south of the home.
The maximum penalty for conviction of first-degree murder is life in prison and a $50,000 fine, plus restitution and other assessments. The minimum penalty is 20 years in prison without possibility of furlough, work release, earned release time or other leave of absence from confinement except for emergency medical treatment or extraordinary medical placement.
First-degree murder is a “most serious offense” under the state’s “three-strikes” law. Conviction of three “most serious” offenses carries a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole.
The weapons enhancement would carry an additional 60-120 months, depending on previous sentencing for offenses involving a deadly weapon.
The maximum penalty for first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, with which Adam Jennings is charged, is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, plus restitution, assessments and court costs.
For John Jennings, the maximum penalty for conviction of delivery of a firearm to an ineligible person is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, plus restitution, assessments and court costs.
The Sept. 2 shooting was the fifth homicide in Okanogan County in 2013, according to Sheriff Frank Rogers.