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Sirens & Gavels

Jury convicts gunman in neighbor dispute

A Stevens County man faces about 7 years in prison for a neighbor dispute that erupted in gunfire last May.

A jury recently convicted John Lewis Eberly, Jr., of assault and burglary after he fired a shot through his neighbor’s front door, then broke into the house and brawled with the woman. The woman suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

The May 15, 2009, incident stemmed from a dispute over a gate that had been installed on a nearby road.

Eberly confronted the victim outside her home, then fired his handgun through her door after she went inside and locked it. The victim ran to a nearby home to call police. She later discovered her phone line had been cut.

The jury convicted Eberly of second-degree assault and burglary but couldn’t reach a verdict on an attempted murder charge after deliberating for about 18 hours, according to Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

Eberly faces 84 to 94 months in prison with credit for about a year served in jail.

Rasmussen wrote about this case in his weekly column. He also mentioned it in a previous column while opining about neighbor disputes.

In one dispute, Rasmussen said, “As I reviewed the numerous reports of officer contacts with the parties, I was amazed at the trouble that can develop between folks who both say that they just want to be left alone.”

Read the columns by clicking the link below.


By Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen

April 4, 2010


Some of my time last week I was again trying to find a solution to a neighbor problem. As I reviewed the numerous reports of officer contacts with the parties, I was amazed at the trouble that can develop between folks who both say that they just want to be left alone.  The each seem to focus on what the other person is thinking or gaining in the situation rather than trying to figure  out how they can solve the problems between them. They frequently want and sometimes demand that the office bring charges against the other.  This rarely settles anything and usually makes it worse. It is sometime hard for people to accept, but we try to explain that the office will refuse to charge unless there is evidence that a crime has been committed and evidence as to who should be charged.

 

In an example of a neighbor problem, this week the case of the State v. John Lewis Eberly Jr. goes to trial.  The jury is scheduled to be picked starting Monday morning.  This case started as a problem between neighbors over the presence of a gate, and access to property.  This can be a problem for folks who have an easement or share a roadway, but most of the time neighbors are reasonable and figure out how to make it work for everybody. But sometimes people are not reasonable.  In the case going to trial, an argument over a gate lead to an assault with a firearm and someone was shot. Fortunately there was no loss of life, but now a jury will decide the facts from the evidence presented.   Scot Stuart represents the state and Mike Clay the defendant. The trial will last about 3 days.

 

The current budget problems in Olympia have left an unanswered question which is important to the anti-drug efforts within the county.  At stake is the renewal of the drug grant which provided funds for the sheriffs department and the prosecutor’s office to focus on drug offenses.  This funding is scheduled to run out in June unless the grant is renewed.  There have been concerted efforts among Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, and interested people across the state to lobby the legislature to continue this program, but at this moment there is no telling whether or not this funding will continue.



By Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen

April 11, 2010


The trial of Jack Ebberly on Attempted Murder charges began on Monday, April 5

The trial of John Lewis Eberly Jr. on Attempted Murder, Assault and Burglary charges began on Monday, April 5.  Jury selection occupied the morning and testimony started in the afternoon.  The presentation of the evidence lasted until about 4:30 pm on Wednesday. Over all, about 100 exhibits were entered into evidence. The jury saw evidence from the crime scene, the door with a bullet hole in the doorknob, the gun, many pictures and other items of physical evidence.   A firearms expert testified as well as the physician, the victim and the detectives.  The jury also heard from the defendant as to his memory of the events.  

 

The charges came out of an incident on May 15, of 2009.  On that day, Mr. Eberly had words with his neighbor over the presence of a gate which had been installed in the road.  Sometime later, she came home and was accosted by Mr. Eberly as she arrived.  She testified she got into her house and locked the door, but Mr. Eberly came onto the porch and fired his handgun at the door and then again through the window and struck the victim.  The victim testified he then crashed on into the house and she fought with him.  The victim said she struck him with her fists and then on the instep of his foot with the blunt side of a hatchet. The gun was lost in the struggle. She finally escaped to the upstairs of the house where she thought she had a shotgun. When Mr. Eberly left, she ran to call 911 from a nearby house.  Later it was discovered that her phone line had been cut.   The firearms expert testified that the two panes of tempered glass deformed the bullet and apparently slowed it down, for the wound was not life threatening.

 

The Jury began deliberations on Thursday afternoon and worked late that night and then all day Friday into that night too.  In all the jury deliberated about 18 hours.  Late Friday night, the jury announced the verdict. They found Mr. Eberly guilty of Assault in the Second Degree and Burglary and that he used a firearm.  The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the Attempted Murder charge.  The sentencing will occur in a few days.  The defendant is exposed to a sentence of about 84 months to 95 with credit for the nearly one year that he has already served in the Stevens County Jail awaiting trial.

 

Thank you to all the jurors who worked so hard to see that justice was done in this case.


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