Authorities say a martial arts enthusiast who was dragged to death Saturday in Pend Oreille County “just snapped and was completely out of control” before he was killed, according to witnesses.
Pend Oreille County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Alan Botzheim said witnesses reported 20-year-old Jerid S. Sturman-Camyn had been drinking heavily along with his father, Jerry “Scott” Camyn, when the two engaged in a playful fight that got out of hand at a hunting camp near Ione, Wash.
Newman Lake resident Wendell C. Sinn Jr. allegedly placed a noose around Jerid Sturman-Camyn’s neck and attached the other end of the 22-foot rope to the trailer hitch of a pickup after Sturman-Camyn threatened Sinn’s son and others with an ax.
Botzheim said Sinn had told his son, 17-year-old Justin Daniel Sinn, to get in their Ford F-250 pickup and be prepared to leave. Justin Sinn didn’t know he was dragging Sturman-Camyn by the neck when his father told him to drive away, Botzheim said.
He dragged Sturman-Camyn nearly 13 miles before stopping about a mile north of the Kalispel Indian Reservation on LeClerc Road.
The incident involved two groups from Spokane Valley and the Newman Lake area who were hunting deer. The groups, camped about two miles apart, consisted of two father-and-son combinations.
Jerry Camyn and his son, Jerid, were camped with Kelly F. Cuzzetto and his son, 17-year-old Kurt Thomas Cuzzetto, and the Sinns were camped with Kerry E. Torske and his son, Dillon. An exchange of text messages between Kurt Cuzzetto and his friend Justin Sinn reportedly prompted everyone in the Camyn-Cuzzetto camp to go to the Sinn-Torske camp for a visit.
Witnesses said Camyn and his son had been drinking before they went to the other camp, where they continued to drink beer and hard liquor, Botzheim said. Sheriff Jerry Weeks said a field test indicated Wendell Sinn had very little to drink and his son and the other teenagers hadn’t been drinking.
Botzheim said Camyn and his son wrestled, separated and then resumed what had been a playful confrontation. “And pretty soon it wasn’t playful anymore,” he said.
Witnesses said they calmed Sturman-Camyn, but his father “would get him agitated again.”
Eventually, Botzheim said, Wendell Sinn fired a black-powder rifle in an effort to separate the combatants. But Sturman-Camyn pulled the muzzle of the single-shot weapon to his chest and challenged Sinn to shoot him, witnesses told investigators.
At least one witness said Sturman-Camyn charged at Justin Sinn and others with the ax, and some of the teenagers hid in the woods, Botzheim said.
“We’ll drag you out of here,” Sinn allegedly told Sturman-Camyn, in an effort to scare him into leaving.
But Sturman-Camyn’s response was to say, “I’ll take that rope and choke you with it,” Botzheim said.
He said Sinn slipped a noose around Sturman-Camyn’s neck when members of Sturman-Camyn’s group went to their all-terrain vehicles and he turned his back to see what they were doing.
Deputy Prosecutor Tony Koures plans to charge Wendell Sinn with second-degree murder and, as an alternative, first-degree manslaughter.
Botzheim said Justin Sinn “was scared to death” and “had no idea” he was dragging Sturman-Camyn when he drove away. Sinn called 911 on his cell phone about 11:35 p.m. to report he had been chased by someone with an ax, and Kurt Cuzzetto called about 11:40 p.m. to report someone was being dragged.
Authorities said Cuzzetto chased Sinn’s truck with a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle, but couldn’t keep up. Sinn stopped when an emergency dispatcher told him to wait for an approaching deputy.
Relatives of Jerid Sturman-Camyn issued a statement Tuesday saying they hope justice will be done for the “big-hearted kid” who had five younger brothers and sisters.
“The outpouring of support by his many friends and the community attest to his character,” the statement reads. “Jerid’s passing has left a huge hole in the hearts of many.”
The aunt listed as a family contact would not comment on the events that led to Saturday’s death.