SEATTLE -- A Washington state police officer accused of leaving a loaded handgun in the family van where his young son could grab it and fatally shoot his 7-year-old sister has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree manslaughter charge.
Marysville police officer Derek Carlile spoke just five words during his arraignment in Snohomish County Superior Court. The two most important: not guilty.
Carlile is charged with second-degree manslaughter for the March 10 death of Jenna Carlile.
According to charging documents, Derek Carlile had left the gun, with the safety off, unsecured in a center console of the family's minivan. Carlile and his wife had gotten out of the van while making a stop in Stanwood, but left their four children inside.
Carlile's 3-year-old son allegedly picked up the gun and shot Jenna. She died hours later at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
The charging documents indicated Carlile knew the 3-year-old had a fascination with guns. The charges also state that the holster the gun was in had an ankle strap, which Carlile did not use. The van also had a locking compartment where the gun could have been placed.
"We're saying this was an accident - not that there wasn't some carelessness, certainly there was or this would not have taken place - but it doesn't match up with the gross negligence for the state to prove a crime in this case," said David Allen, defense attorney.
"The case has been reviewed by a number of senior deputies, it was carefully investigated, and the facts as we know them are in the affidavit of probable cause," said Joan Cavagnaro, chief criminal deputy prosecutor.
Carlile’s wife is not being charged. Prosecutors said she did not own the gun or bring it to the van, and that she alerted Carlile when he put the gun in the open container, assuming he would move it someplace safe.
Carlile's lawyers have said that he takes full responsibility for his daughter's death but disputes that he committed a crime.
Trial was set for Aug. 24. Carlile remains on paid administrative leave. If convicted, he could face two years and three months in prison.
KING 5's Allen Schauffler, Liza Javier and the Associated Press contributed to this report.