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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Children of slain Brenda Thurman settle wrongful death suit against Dwayne Thurman

The first-degree manslaughter trial against Dwayne  Thurman, right, begins this week  in Spokane County Superior Court. Thurman, 44, was charged last year with killing his wife, Brenda Thurman, left, on Jan. 18, 2016, in their Spokane Valley home. Dwayne Thurman told investigators the shooting was an accident. (Courtesy of the family Brenda Thurman)

The children of Brenda Thurman have agreed to settle the wrongful death suit they filed against their adoptive father, Dwayne Thurman, who shot and killed his wife last year in what he has said was an accident. The details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Dwayne Thurman is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 12 on the charge of first-degree manslaughter in connection to Brenda Thurman’s death. She was shot in the chest at close range on Jan. 18, 2016. Dwayne Thurman, who was working at the time as a reserve deputy for Lincoln County, told investigators he was cleaning her gun and “it went off.”

Criminal charges were filed in May by Spokane County prosecutors after tests by the Washington State Crime Laboratory showed the gun functioned properly.

Spokane attorney Richard Wall filed the wrongful death suit in April on behalf of Brenda Thurman’s daughter, Gabrielle Corriette, and her son, Michael Thurman. At the time of the filing, Wall expressed frustration about the slow pace of the criminal investigation into the shooting.

Reached on Monday, Wall said his clients obviously chose to end at least one portion of the civil suit. He explained that he filed civil actions under both the wrongful death statute and under the state’s slayer statute, which prohibits anyone from “willfully” causing someone’s death and then profiting from that death.

The slayer statute portion of the suit remains active.

“We chose to settle because we reached a resolution that the clients were satisfied with,” Wall said. “The wrongful death is a negligence action. So, it really wasn’t dependent on the criminal case in any way.”

“With the slayer statute, you have to prove that it was willful, so the burden of proof is different,” Wall continued. “We will have to decide how to handle that. But there is a closer connection to (the slayer statute and criminal case) than just the wrongful death action.”

In court records, Corriette, who was at home at the time of the shooting, told deputies to arrest Dwayne Thurman immediately after the shooting.

“My clients are very frustrated with the criminal action and not really happy about the charges that were brought,” Wall said. “But there was no need for us to wait for anything. We know how her death was caused because he had already admitted as much.”

Attorney Carl Oreskovich is representing Dwayne Thurman in both the criminal case and the remaining civil suit regarding the slayer statute. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

The attorney who represented Dwayne Thurman on the wrongful death suit was Andrew Smythe of Spokane.

“The only thing I can say is to direct you to the pleadings that are on file,” Smythe said. “The comment I have given is the only thing I can say.”

Wall, likewise, would not discuss the terms of the settlement.

“My clients were satisfied that it was a reasonable settlement to the case or they wouldn’t have settled,” Wall said. “It’s confidential. I’m not able to share it with you.”