Defense attorney Scott Johnson knew he would shock a few people Wednesday when he faced a jury and said they had to find his client guilty of breaking into a Kennewick home and killing a man.
The evidence and witness testimony that's been presented in Grant Scantling's trial supports convictions for murder and first-degree burglary, Johnson admitted.
He even suggested that jurors shouldn't waste too much time debating that.
"Grant's guilty. Grant Scantling is absolutely guilty," Johnson said in his closing argument. "On March 22, 2013, he did a number of horrible, horrible things you need to hold him accountable for, that the law says you have to hold him accountable for, and it's agreeable that the state has proven you need to hold him accountable."
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But Johnson stopped short of giving the jury a free pass on deliberations.
The big question the panel of seven men and five women must answer is whether there was any premeditation in Scantling's actions six months ago. Did he go into the house planning to kill the victim Franklin Palmer, or houseguest Michael Billado who ran from the gunfire, Johnson asked.
The law requires that over a span of time -- however short or well in advance -- a design to kill must be deliberately formed, which isn't the same as "an impulsive kill" or an emotional reaction, he said.
Scantling didn't have time to form intent to kill someone, and the jury can't base its decision on sympathy or prejudice despite horrible evidence that was introduced just so they wouldn't like the suspect, the defense claimed.
It may seem like an issue of semantics, but to Scantling, 42, it's the difference of more than a dozen years in prison versus the rest of his life behind bars.
Johnson said on that one issue, the state didn't prove its case and the jury must go with the lesser charge of second-degree murder.
Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller and Deputy Prosecutor Julie Long argued otherwise, asking who needs a stolen, loaded .45-caliber gun if they're just going for a visit with his two young kids.
"He was mad. This isn't about the kids, this is about the defendant's anger and pride ...," Long said, noting that Scantling wanted to kill Palmer for sleeping with his former fiancee shortly after their split last November.
After using a cinderblock to break the glass door of Ann Marie Krebs' East Eighth Place home, Scantling jumped on top of his ex and threatened her, while placing one hand around her neck and a gun pressed to her forehead. Krebs was in bed with her three children, two of whom she had with Scantling during their six-year relationship.
When Scantling heard Palmer and Billado at the bedroom door coming to Krebs' aid, he got off the bed, cursed at the two men and pointed the gun at them as he pulled the trigger, Long said. It was in that instant that Scantling made up his mind to kill, Long said.
"Defense counsel argues that murder two isn't a pass for (Scantling)," she said. "It is a pass for the defendant based on his actions. He is guilty of premeditated murder, ladies and gentleman."
Prosecutors want the jury to convict Scantling of aggravated first-degree murder.
Earlier Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Robert Swisher granted a defense request that the jury be allowed to consider second-degree murder.
The case was handed to jurors at 3:45 p.m. after 11/2 hours of closing arguments. The panel decided shortly after 4 p.m. that instead of reviewing any evidence, it would start fresh in the morning.
The trial started Sept. 3 with jury selection, and included just over two days of testimony. Scantling did not take the stand, even though he was trying to claim he acted in self-defense when he shot Palmer three times.
Palmer, 24, died where he fell, in a closet in the hallway of Krebs' home. One shot was to the chest and the other two went through his head, either of which could have caused paralysis, a forensic pathologist testified.
Krebs said Palmer was helpless on the floor when Scantling stood over him and shot again. The gunshot wound below Palmer's right ear had evidence showing the gun was close to his skin when it was fired.
"There is never going to be a more clear-cut case of premeditated murder than what we've got here," Miller argued.
Scantling knew what he was going to do that morning when he stole a gun and a car from his brother-in-law and left their Spokane home for Kennewick. His comments to investigators that he just wanted to see his kids were self-serving and sniveling, and caused much pain and sadness in this case, Miller said.
Palmer had a right to be in that house, while "(Scantling) did not have that right and that's what this trial is all about," he said.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer