The King County Prosecutor says Kevin Hauenstein acted in self-defense when he shot 27-year-old Eric Joseph Juarez-Peltier while the two were arguing on the second floor of a home in the 37600 block of 44th Avenue South at about 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3.
Last week, the prosecutor’s office charged Hauenstein, 27, with second-degree, unlawful possession of a firearm and one count of felony harassment of his female roommate, Lani Superak, on Oct. 31, days before the shooting. Because of the earlier incident, Hauenstein was prohibited at the time of the shooting from having a firearm.
Juarez-Peltier was Superak’s ex-boyfriend.
King County District Court had at first found probable cause to hold Hauenstein for second-degree murder and first-degree assault, but that changed as details became clearer.
“At first appearance, all of the facts surrounding the death of Joseph Peltier were not known,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dana Cash told the court in her request for $50,000 bail. “The police did not know at that point that the victim had confronted the defendant with a rifle, which he apparently fired in his direction. … The bail is appropriate as the defendant is likely to commit another act of violence if he is free in the community. He did strike his roommate in the face and threaten her while he was armed with a handgun.”
Here is a summary of the case and what witnesses told detectives:
Superak said she had been at home that evening, according to the account, talking in the kitchen with a friend, Jason Ramacho, when Juarez-Peltier arrived. He said he was going to talk with Hauenstein, who was in an upstairs bedroom,
Minutes later, Superak continued, she heard a “quiet argument,” followed by several pops she recognized as gunfire. She said she then saw Hauenstein run down the stairs and out the door. When Superak and Ramacho went upstairs to see what had happened, she told detectives, Juarez-Peltier was lying on the floor, covered in blood. Paramedics later pronounced him dead at the scene.
Officers arrested Hauenstein at 4:30 a.m. that Saturday in Thurston County and booked him into jail on suspicion of second-degree murder. In the account he gave to detectives, Hauenstein said he had been lying on the bed, looking at his cellphone, when Juarez-Peltier, holding a rifle, snuck into the room and put the weapon to his head. Hauenstein said that during the struggle that followed, he knocked the rifle away, and it went off. He claimed he then drew a pistol from Juarez-Peltier’s waistband and shot him, and that as he was running out of the room, Juarez-Peltier fired the rifle twice at him, and that he, Hauenstein, threw the gun back into the room and fled.
According to the account, Hauenstein later admitted that he’d bought the pistol a few weeks earlier from someone in the city of Fife, but said he had lied to detectives about having it because of the domestic-violence court order. According to the account, a subsequent police check of the house turned up bullet strikes in a wall, and a rifle in a locked closet in the bedroom with a fired cartridge in its chamber.
Superak later admitted, according to the account, that when she and Ramacho found Juarez-Peltier, he had a rifle cradled in his arms. Not wanting to believe he was dead, and knowing that Juarez-Peltier was a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, she said, she locked the rifle in her bedroom closet. Additionally, she admitted she’d told Juarez-Peltier about Hauenstein’s Oct. 31 assault on her, and that when he, Juarez-Peltier, came to her home that night, and before he went upstairs to talk to Hauenstein, he’d armed himself with the rifle, which had belonged to her late father.
Superak also said Hauenstein’s behavior had changed for the worse in recent months because of what she claimed was his use of drugs.
Ramacho, himself a convicted felon, first denied to detectives any knowledge of a rifle, but later admitted, according to the account, that he had seen the rifle, cradled in the arms of Juarez-Peltier when he and Superak found him in the bedroom. He maintained that he hadn’t know that anyone other than he and Superak was in the house when he heard the shots.
Hauenstein has prior convictions for possession of another person’s identification and obstruction of justice, 2012, domestic violence and harassment, 2011, 3rd-degree theft, 2011, vehicle prowl, 2010, bail jumping, 2011 and possession of a legend drug without a prescription, 2011.