The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has requested manslaughter charges against Dwayne Thurman, who is suspected of shooting and killing his wife Brenda Thurman early last year while he cleaned her gun.
The recommendation to charge Thurman, which has been forwarded to the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office, comes about a year and a half after the investigation into the fatal shooting first began, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.
The shooting was ruled accidental by Spokane County Medical Examiner Sally Aiken.
The .380-caliber Glock pistol was submitted to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory Division more than 16 months ago, but wasn’t tested until late April due to a high caseload and a low number of scientists to process evidence, according to George Johnston, spokesman for the WSP’s Crime Lab Division. The lab determined that the pistol was functioning reliably.
After receiving the crime lab’s findings, detectives now believe Thurman “acted with negligence causing the death of his wife,” the news release said.
Carl Oreskovich, Thurman’s attorney, said he was surprised to learn the Sheriff’s Office was recommending manslaughter charges. He said he was also shocked the testing led to the conclusion the gun was working properly.
“This was just an accident,” he said. “A terrible accident.”
Oreskovich was also critical of the sheriff’s method of publicly announcing the recommended charges via a news release before the prosecutor’s office made a determination on whether to formally charge his client.
“We’ll wait to see what the prosecutor does,” he said.
Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell said his office has received the completed investigation and is now taking the time to look through it.
“Ultimately we’ll determine what’s in there,” he said. “We’ll give it our prompt attention.”
The children of Brenda Thurman filed a wrongful death lawsuit against their adoptive father in early April, claiming the former soldier and Lincoln County reserve deputy did not try to save their mom after admitting he shot her in the chest while he was working on the gun.
Autopsy records sent anonymously to The Spokesman-Review indicate Brenda Thurman had bruising patterns suggestive of domestic violence. In her report, Aiken ruled the cause of the death as a gunshot wound to the chest, but ruled the manner of death as an “accident.”
On the day of the shooting, Thurman told investigators he was cleaning the designer model pistol that he had recently given to his wife for her birthday when it accidentally fired a shot, striking Brenda Thurman in the chest.
According to the suit, Brenda Thurman’s daughter walked into the kitchen and found Thurman on his knees holding his wife. When she asked what happened he told her, “A gun went off.”
Thurman called 911 as the daughter began CPR. They drove her to Valley Hospital, where she was declared dead.
Staff writer Thomas Clouse contributed to this report.