Woman pleads not guilty to killing her aunt’s boyfriend

Mark Dearden. COURTESY PHOTO

Mark Dearden. COURTESY PHOTO

A Tacoma woman has pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter for allegedly shooting and killing her aunt’s boyfriend with a single shot to the back of the head on Dec. 30 in Auburn.

Deanna Kahealani Fale claims she did not mean to shoot 46-year-old Mark Dearden, that his death was the unexpected outcome of ordinary family horseplay, and that she did not know that the Smith and Wesson M&P 9 mm was loaded when she pulled the trigger.

Fale was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Bill Bowman at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent Jan. 19. She is King County jail on $250,000 bail.

Here is a summary of what happened, according to the certification for determination of probable cause, written by Auburn Police Detective Francesca Nix.

Fale notified police dispatch at 4:35 p.m. that she had just accidentally shot someone at an apartment on F Street Northwest. Responding officers found medics trying to save Dearden’s life, but he was pronounced dead in the apartment at 4:57 p.m., the victim of a single shot behind his left ear.

“I didn’t mean to do it,” a crying Fale is reported to have told an Auburn Patrol officer at the scene.

Fale told police that Dearden was walking into the bathroom when he told her to stop messing with the gun, which she just had taken from her boyfriend. She said she did not believe that the gun was loaded when she pointed it at him, jokingly told him to shut up, and pulled the trigger.

Fale said she then dropped the weapon near a couch and immediately called 911. She told police she had not been arguing with Dearden and had no issues with him.

One of the people in the apartment at the time of the shooting, Mataio Fale, a relative of Fale’s, told police he and a friend had found the gun in a ravine in Federal Way sometime prior to the shooting, and that no one knew to whom it belonged.

Fale’s boyfriend told police that at the time of the shooting, he knew there was a magazine in the gun but thought that the gun was not loaded with bullets. He told police that Deanna Fale and Dearden were playing around, and Fale was manipulating the gun in her hand when it went off.

According to the report: “When Deanna was asked if she believed her actions were reckless, Deanna stated, ‘yes.’ ”

Here is what Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Adrienne T. McCoy told the court in her request for bail:

“The defendant has admitted, and her own family corroborates, that she grabbed a firearm from her boyfriend, racked the slide, pointed it at the back of (Dearden’s) head, pulled the trigger and shot him to death.

“While she said she did not ‘think’ the firearm was loaded, she told police that what she did was reckless. She also told police that she and her family often play with firearms in the same manner. Her terrible judgment resulted in the death of an innocent man. Her lack of care and poor judgment makes her a danger to the community,” McCoy said.

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