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Jury finds Dwayne Thurman guilty of second degree manslaughter

Thurman shot and killed his wife Brenda two years ago.

SPOKANE, Wash. – A jury found Dwayne Thurman not guilty of first degree manslaughter Tuesday afternoon, and returned a special verdict finding him guilty of second degree manslaughter.

Thurman, a former Lincoln County reserve deputy, was originally charged with first degree manslaughter for shooting and killing his wife, Brenda, two years ago.

The standard sentencing range for second degree manslaughter is 21 months to 27 months. The jury agreed Thurman was armed with a firearm at the time of the commission of the crime, so that firearm enhancement adds an additional three years to the sentencing range.

On the low end, Thurman could serve just under two years, and on the high end he could serve a little more than five years.

The judge ruled Tuesday Thurman should be taken into custody because the charge was a serious offense. His bond was set at $50,000. Thurman has 24 hours to post the bond or he will be booked in jail. If he posts the bond, he will stay out of jail until after his sentencing hearing.

The judge set Thurman's sentencing for May 3 at 9 a.m. He could spend a little more than five years in jail.

"It's not intentional homicide, so that's a little bit different," John Love, the prosecutor told KREM 2 on Tuesday. "Mr. Thurman has no prior criminal history. He's been a citizen of this community that has no reason to go anywhere, those are all factors that go in for the judge."

Love said he was not surprised by the judge's orders for Thurman to be remanded into custody.

"It is a case where someone died, it's a homicide case and so that's why we asked for him to be remanded into custody as we think should happen," he said.

On the stand Monday, Thurman described to the jury what happened leading up to the shooting. He fought back tears as the defense asked him questions about Brenda.

"She always reminded me she was an expert at pistols and a marksman with rifles," Thurman said on the stand.

Thurman told the jury, the day before his wife was shot, the two went shooting together at Sharp Shooting and his wife had noticed something was wrong with her gun.

"Brenda stops. We stop to talk to each other. She's having problems firing her glock. It wasn't feeding properly," Thurman explained.

He said the next day, he and his wife decided to clean their guns after breakfast. Thurman said he cleaned his gun first while Brenda was on the couch reading what may have caused the gun to jam. Then, Thurman denied seeing his wife sit directly across the table from him when he started to break down Brenda's gun, and denies seeing her sit directly across from him at the table when he shot her.

"I get up from the table and I go around the side and say, 'Baby! Oh my god! Baby, I didn't know!' I said, 'I didn't know!' She's laying there taking deep breaths, her eyes are open. I grab her shirt, pull it up and I see a hole," he said.

He also said he does not know if his finger was on the trigger. He also thought the gun was not loaded.

After Thurman's testimony, prosecutors and the defense gave closing arguments. The defense maintained that prosecutors gave the jury no evidence Thurman knew the gun was loaded and that death could occur. The prosecution argues it is a basic rule to always assume a gun is loaded, making the situation reckless because Thurman did not check.

To find Thurman guilty, the jury would have had to agree without a doubt there is evidence proving he engaged in reckless conduct the day she died due to a reckless act.