Daren M. McCann would serve up to one year in jail for shooting the fleeing man who burglarized his cabin if a sentencing recommendation is accepted by a judge.
McCann, 57, of Lewiston, formally pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter before 2nd District Judge Jeff Brudie on Tuesday. He had initially been charged with second-degree murder for the Aug. 4 incident where he shot Jerry Glass Jr., 49, of Spokane, in the back after McCann discovered him inside his Soldiers Meadow cabin.
Voluntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. But under the terms of a binding plea agreement, McCann would receive an underlying sentence of 3-7 years, which would be suspended in lieu of seven years probation, according to defense attorney Scott Chapman. McCann would serve up to one year of local jail time, but the defense would be free to argue for less at sentencing.
Chapman said he is also allowed to argue for a withheld judgment under the terms of the agreement. If Brudie grants that provision, McCann’s case would be dismissed upon the successful completion of his probation.
At Tuesday’s change-of-plea hearing, McCann expressed reservations about pleading guilty to the reduced charge when Brudie asked him why he was doing so.
“Because it’s the best option I’ve been given,” McCann said, adding that he wanted to avoid a trial that may not go in his favor.
According to court testimony at earlier hearings, McCann allegedly shot Glass after he had gone to check on his and his neighbor’s cabins after hearing law enforcement reports that Glass had been burglarizing cabins in the area. Glass had raced away from a Whitman County traffic stop two days earlier in a stolen vehicle, which he crashed in the Zaza Grade area near the cabins.
McCann found Glass in the lower floor of his cabin during his check and placed him under citizen’s arrest. He marched Glass at gunpoint down Soldiers Meadow Road to find a cellphone signal so he could call police. Testimony at a preliminary hearing indicated that McCann told sheriff’s deputies that he and Glass had gone about two-tenths of a mile on the road when Glass shoved him and ran into the woods.
Glass was 30 to 35 yards away when McCann allegedly fired one shot into the ground, then another shot at Glass, who screamed, “You shot me.” McCann called the sheriff’s office to report the incident, and deputies who subsequently searched the area found Glass dead in some bushes with a single gunshot wound in the middle of his back.
The deputies also testified that McCann told them he shot at Glass because he was afraid he might keep breaking into cabins and potentially hurt anyone who might be inside.
If Brudie does not accept the plea agreement, McCann can withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial. The judge ordered that a presentence investigation be completed by June 9, and set a conference to schedule a sentencing hearing for the same date. McCann has been free on bond pending the outcome of his case, and Brudie allowed him to remain free while he awaits sentencing.
Mills may be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 310-1901, ext. 2266.