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Tougher charges sought in dragging death

Sat., Aug. 16, 2008

Newman Lake resident Wendell Clark Sinn Jr., who faces charges in the death of a man dragged nearly 13 miles behind a pickup, will be back in Pend Oreille County Superior Court next week.

Prosecutors will be asking for second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter charges to be amended to include aggravated circumstances, officials said. If granted, that means Sinn would face stiffer punishment if convicted.

The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday. Sinn pleaded innocent to both charges in December and claims self-defense.

In a hearing scheduled for later in the week, the prosecution will argue against Sinn’s claim that he was simply acting to protect himself and others. The prosecution asserts he was acting out of anger.

Sinn is accused of killing 20-year-old Jerid S. Sturman-Camyn on Nov. 24 by looping a rope around Sturman-Camyn’s neck at an Ione-area hunting camp and tying the other end to a pickup trailer hitch, according to previous Spokesman-Review reports.

Investigators say Sinn’s son, Justin Sinn, then 17, unwittingly dragged Sturman-Camyn to death when Sinn told him to drive away in the truck.

Authorities say Justin Sinn was unaware his father had roped Sturman-Camyn to the Ford F-250. Although the rope was 22 feet long, nighttime darkness and a canopy obscured the teenager’s view.

The teenager called deputies about trouble at the camp after being told to drive away. When deputies arrived they found Sturman-Camyn tied to the rope and dead.

The incident began after the Sinns and Sturman-Camyn’s group met up during a hunting trip where they were camped two miles from each other.

Jerid Sturman-Camyn reportedly became belligerent and threatened Justin Sinn and others with an ax.

According to court documents, Pend Oreille County prosecutors said Sinn “never retreated from the confrontation but elevated it with the firing of his gun and then by getting his rope out, waiting for the victim, and repeating threats to drag him out of the campground.”

The documents also state the rope was set up before Sturman-Camyn picked up an ax. In addition, the documents indicate that witness statements for the defense are inconsistent with original interviews.

Sinn’s attorney, Carl Oreskovich, said “there’s no question that Mr. Sinn was acting in self-defense. The prosecution has a strained view of the facts, particularly based upon Jerid Camyn’s actions and threats.

“The prosecution fails to mention that immediately before Jerid was drug from the camp that he had an ax in his hand and threatened to slice Sinn’s head off.”

Oreskovich added that Sturman-Camyn put Sinn’s rifle to his own head and challenged Sinn to shoot.

“Those events would terrify anyone, and did terrify Wendell Sinn,” Oreskovich said.

Sinn, who works in construction, remains out on $10,000 bail, officials said Friday.

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