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Montana men not guilty in Valley shooting

Jarrod E. Veilleux, date of birth 12/3/1982 (Montana Department of Corrections)
Jarrod E. Veilleux, date of birth 12/3/1982 (Montana Department of Corrections)

A Spokane County Jury today exonerated two Montana men in connection to a shooting last February inside the Oasis Tavern in Spokane Valley.

While the jury found 30-year-old Jarrod E. Veilleux not guilty of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault, it found him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The jury also exonerated his friend, Terrence D. Riley, 33, of rendering criminal assistance to Veilleux during the Feb. 24 shooting where a man survived a gunshot to the abdomen following an altercation.

Veilleux faces about seven to eight years in prison, but the not-guilty verdicts on the other two counts means he’ll avoid between 30 and 40 years in prison, according to court testimony.

“I’m thrilled,” defense attorney Kari Reardon said. “I’m going to go do the happy dance.”

Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Dale Nagy told the jury Thursday that Veilleux decided to intentionally shoot Aaron S. Haymond after a brief altercation inside the tavern at 14913 E. Trent Ave.

According to court testimony, Haymond had more than a dozen drinks and shots that night and his blood alcohol content following the shooting was .321, or more than four times the legal limit of .08 percent. While he didn’t remember much of what occurred, Haymond said he remembered that someone he didn’t know walked up to him and said, “I’ve got something for you,” then he was shot.

Haymond spend six days in the hospital recovering, according to court testimony.

Veilleux took the stand during the trial that lasted two weeks before Judge Tari Eitzen. He admitted bringing a gun to the bar that night but said Haymond picked a fight with him in the bar’s smoking lounge and a struggle ensued. During that struggle, Veilleux’s gun fell out, he said. The two men struggled for the gun and it fired, striking Haymond in the abdomen.

However, Nagy told the jury that Veilleux’s actions were not those of someone who accidentally fired a gun during a fight he didn’t pick.

“What did he do? He ran away. He ran all the way to Montana,” Nagy said of Veilleux, who also threw the gun away. “Is that consistent with someone who accidentally shot someone?”

Other patrons in the bar remembered the two men in the bar that night but did not know who they were. Riley and Veilleux were later identified from fingerprints they left on their beer glasses. They were arrested in Montana after authorities there learned they had been in Washington, which violated both men’s probation conditions on unrelated cases.

Only one witness claimed to have seen Riley driving the getaway vehicle but she described a man with long hair. Defense attorney John Stine provided photographs dating back several years showing that Riley has always wore short hair.

Veilleux remains in custody and is scheduled to appear for sentencing on Feb. 4 at 9:30 a.m.

Riley also remained in custody. Stine said he will be transported back to Montana to deal with the probation violation that stemmed from his arrest in the Oasis shooting case.