A Seattle-area teen will be arraigned on a charge of first-degree manslaughter March 27 at King County’s Regional Justice Center in the fatal shooting of a childhood friend while the two were allegedly playing Russian roulette, according to documents obtained by Liberty Park Press.
The shooting occurred March 10 at a home in White Center, where the suspect, 17-year-old Liam Carter, was apparently housesitting for a 61-year-old man who had checked himself into rehab for apparent alcohol-related problems. Carter was charged as an adult.
The victim was Donovan Spann, 18, according to the Seattle Times and charging documents from the King County Prosecutor’s Office. He died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
The homeowner, who has not been identified, allegedly provided a .38-caliber revolver to Carter to protect the residence because the home had been burglarized. Investigators found several firearms in the residence.
The teens were allegedly smoking marijuana and playing with the handgun at the time of the incident. Carter allegedly aimed the loaded gun at Span and pressed the trigger.
When he called 911, Carter initially said the gun had fallen and discharged, according to charging documents. He attempted to administer CPR as instructed by the dispatcher, but to no avail.
When the six-shot revolver was examined, there were five live rounds in the cylinder and one spent cartridge casing.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jason L. Simmons noted in the charging documents that, “This tragedy is a direct result of Carter’s willingness to engage in incredibly dangerous behavior and disregard the lethal consequences.”
The Seattle Times quoted Spann’s older sister, who insisted that her brother would not play Russian roulette. The family reportedly does not believe Carter’s explanation.
Simmons also noted in his remarks that, “Additionally, although Carter began CPR on Donovan, he chose to stop trying to save his dying friend in order to stage the scene to make it look like the shooting was an accident.”
The probable cause statement said Carter stopped administering CPR briefly to reload the handgun and “staged” it in such a way as to support his story about an accidental discharge. He later changed the story to explain that they had been playing Russian roulette.
Over the years, many experienced gun safety advocates have suggested that basic firearms safety courses should become part of the school curriculum to help prevent cases such as this. Hunter education courses that are now mandatory in the states stress firearm safety, particularly the importance of not aiming a gun at anyone. A bill in neighboring Idaho proposes a gun safety course in Gem State high schools.