March 27, 2010 in City

Man guilty in park shooting

Jury decides it’s assault, not attempted murder
Meghann M. Cuniff And Thomas Clouse Staff writers
 
Map of this story's location

A Spokane man who shot another man at a park nearly two years ago acted maliciously, but he didn’t try to kill his victim, a jury ruled Friday.

Aleksandr V. Pavlik, 26, was convicted of first-degree assault but acquitted of first-degree attempted murder for a shooting in the Mission Park parking lot on May 19, 2008, that injured Gabriel Leenders.

Pavlik said Leenders and Bradley Smith were blocking Perry Street with their bicycles when he was driving early that morning.

Smith rammed his bike against Pavlik’s car, and Leenders tried opening the passenger side door before Pavlik continued driving, according to court testimony.

When the men followed, Pavlik – who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon – told them he had a gun, then fired a shot in the air when they continued approaching, according to court testimony.

Pavlik drove away but returned minutes later. Smith and Leenders rushed his car, and Leenders leaned in and began punching Pavlik in the face, according to court testimony.

Pavlik shot Leenders, who medics said was drunk, in the chest.

Spokane police Officer Stephen Arredondo saw Leenders punching Pavlik and witnessed the shooting. Defense attorney Anna Nordtvedt said Arredondo’s testimony was the strongest evidence that Pavlik shot in self-defense when confronted by two drunk and belligerent men who were the aggressors in the confrontation.

“Mr. Pavlik had no other choice at that point,” she said.

Pavlik testified that he saw several people near the park and assumed one of them had called police with his license plate number. Not wanting to have police looking for him, he said he returned to the park to tell his side of the story.

Deputy Prosecutor Rachel Sterett told jurors that Pavlik was mad from the previous encounter and chose to return to the scene to “finish the confrontation.

“He doesn’t call police or ask for help. He takes a gun and fires it,” Sterett said. “This is not a reasonable decision. This is a bad decision.”

The jury of five women and seven men apparently agreed with parts of each argument.

While acquitted of attempted murder, Pavlik was convicted of first-degree assault. The charge carries an additional three-year prison sentence because a firearm was used.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced April 9.

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