October 27, 2004 in City

Man charged in WSU student’s death

By The Spokesman-Review
 

COLFAX – A former Washington State University student was charged with second-degree manslaughter Tuesday in the accidental shooting death of his roommate last February.

Ashley Allen Gilmore, 21, acted in a way that qualifies as criminally negligent, resulting in the death of fellow student Joseph Tibbs, prosecutors say.

The incident took place around 1:30 a.m. Feb. 20. Gilmore, of Port Townsend, Wash., called 911 and said Tibbs had been shot. Police arrived at their apartment at the Meadowbrook complex in northeast Pullman to find Tibbs, 20, also of Port Townsend, on the floor with a gunshot wound to his chest and Gilmore hovering over him and screaming for help. Tibbs was pronounced dead at the hospital.

In an affidavit, police say that the evidence appears to match Gilmore’s story that Tibbs had been holding a gun and that Gilmore kicked it out of his hand. When the gun landed, it fired, hitting Tibbs in the chest.

Evidence shows Tibbs was killed by a bullet from his own vintage Ruger .22-caliber semiautomatic. It also showed that Tibbs had no alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of his death, though Gilmore had been drinking, reports say. Gilmore told police that he had several vodka drinks before the incident.

The police detective’s report that accompanied the charges Tuesday said that it appeared Gilmore got into an argument with Tibbs and that Tibbs went to his room and got the handgun.

Then Tibbs said something to Gilmore about “irresponsibility” and Gilmore responded by kicking the gun from Tibbs’ hand, said the report, which was based largely on interviews with Gilmore. The report also said that Gilmore may have still been intoxicated when he was interviewed by police the morning of Tibbs’ death.

After that, police had a difficult time getting more information from Gilmore, who said he was alone at the scene with Tibbs.

Pullman police Detective David R. Peringer said he tried to reach Gilmore at his family home at the number given to him by Gilmore’s attorney, but was told Gilmore could not be contacted there. In his report, Peringer noted he wanted more information about what Tibbs and Gilmore were arguing about, where they were standing when the gun was kicked and if Gilmore had been holding a gun as well.

As of June, police had not been able to reach Gilmore. That same month, his attorney, Steve Martonick, told police that Gilmore would not answer any more questions.

Martonick said Gilmore is living with his family in Port Townsend. He is no longer listed as a student at WSU.

Martonick said from what he’s seen there are no great inconsistencies between Gilmore’s version of events and the evidence. It was a horrible accident, he said.

At the time of the incident, Gilmore and Tibbs were fairly new to the apartment complex, having moved in around winter break. Neighbors described them as typical male tenants with a stereo, video games and free weights in their living room. No one recalled hearing them argue.

Gilmore would face a standard sentencing range of 21 to 27 months in prison if he is found guilty.


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