Deadly SUV theft leads to 1st Degree Manslaughter charge

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by KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 2 at 12:40 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Spokane County Prosecutor said a homeowner involved in a deadly North Spokane shooting will be charged with 1st Degree Manslaughter. Here is how the law defines 1st Degree Manslaughter:

"A person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when; a. He or she recklessly causes the death of another person; or he or she intentionally and unlawfully kills an unborn quick child by inflicting any injury on the mother of such child. Manslaughter in the first degree is a class A felony. "

The charge also included a deadly weapon enhancement.

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker told KREM 2 News that Gail Gerlach will not be booked until his arraignment. Lawyers said Gerlach’s arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday, June 12, 2013, at 3:30 p.m. in Judge James M. Triplet’s courtroom.

The Prosecutor’s Office relayed the charged Wednesday morning to Gerlach's attorney. His attorney released this statement:

“Mr. Gerlach is disappointed in this charging decision. He is looking forward to resolving this matter in court.”

Tucker met with detectives who investigated the case for two hours on Tuesday. The group spent the time deciding whether to charge Gerlach. Tucker said every single person in the meeting had a different opinion. Those opinions ranged from not charging Gerlach to charging him with something other than manslaughter according to Tucker.
“You can protect your property but deadly force is a whole different deal. You have to show imminent danger,” said Tucker.

The Prosecutor released a several hundred page report on the deadly shooting on Wednesday. The report details the investigation completed by authorities in early May.

Gail Gerlach admitted to shooting and killing a man who tried to steal Gerlach’s SUV in March.

Gerlach shot 25-year-old Brendan Kaluza-Graham while he was stealing Gerlach's 1997 Chevrolet Suburban.

The police report said Gerlach left his vehicle running in his driveway near Mission and Lee. Gerlach told police he saw the suspect pull out of his driveway. He followed Kaluza-Graham on foot and allegedly saw the suspect raise his arm. Gerlach said he fired when he thought he saw a gun.

The police report said the bullet shot through the SUV window, through a baby seat, through a headrest and finally into Kaluza-Graham.

The suspect died at the scene.
 
Investigators did not recover any weapons from the car.

Initially, authorities said that Gerlach could face second degree murder charges.  Investigators spent more than one month investigating the deadly shooting and then passed the case onto Tucker.

“This one was more of a common sense kind of deal,” said Tucker. “You can only use so much force that is necessary to get rid of the problem.”

Major Crimes Detectives did not recommend a charge for Gerlach at the beginning of May. Prosecutors said that does not necessarily mean authorities think Gerlach should not face any charges for shooting Kaluza-Graham.

Gerlach does not have a criminal history and was legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Kaluza-Graham had several run-ins with the law before his death.  Police said they found two sets of shaved keys, a flashlight and a screw driver on his body.

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