A Spokane County jury exonerated two Montana men Friday of 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. They had argued the shooting was accidental.
Veilleux faces about seven to eight years in prison, but the not-guilty verdicts on the other two counts mean that he will 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 in the stomach after a brief altercation inside the Oasis Tavern, 14913 E. Trent Ave.
According to court testimony, Haymond had more than a dozen drinks and shots that night, and his blood alcohol content was 0.321 following the shooting, more than four times the legal limit for drivers. 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,” and then he was shot.
Haymond spent six days in the hospital recovering, according to court testimony.
Veilleux admitted bringing a gun to the Oasis Tavern but said during court testimony that Haymond picked a fight with him in the bar’s smoking lounge and a struggle ensued. His gun fell out during the struggle, Veilleux said. The two men then struggled for the gun and it fired, striking Haymond.
Nagy, however, 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 said he threw the gun away. “Is that consistent with someone who accidentally shot someone?”
Patrons of the bar remembered the two men in the bar that night but did not know who they were. Riley and Veilleux were identified based on fingerprints 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 always wore short hair.
Veilleux remains in custody and is scheduled to appear Feb. 4 for sentencing on the gun charge.
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.
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