KENNEWICK — Ramon Madrigal was justified last month when he opened fire on a 20-year-old armed man who was trying to break into his home in the middle of the night, according to a decision by prosecutor Andy Miller.
Tyler Stock of Kennewick was killed in the Jan. 11 shooting at 206 N. Buntin St.
"From the review of the evidence, Tyler Stock went to Ramon Madrigal's after 1:00 a.m. while armed with a revolver, wearing a blue bandana over his face with socks on his hands with the intent to commit a first-degree burglary or robbery," Miller wrote in a two-page letter to Kennewick police Detective Bill Dramis. "Ramon Madrigal's description of the moments before the shooting is consistent with the police crime scene investigation."
After hearing a light knock at the door, Madrigal asked who was there several times and looked through the peephole only to see a person's back. He became suspicious of the late-night visitor and loaded his gun before unlocking the deadbolt.
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That's when Stock pushed the door open and started to enter the house, leading Madrigal to begin shooting, police said.
State law says a homicide is justifiable when the "slayer" is resisting the attempt of another person to commit a felony upon him in his dwelling.
"Under the sad facts of this case, Ramon Madrigal's actions were justifiable," Miller wrote.
The decision by the Benton County prosecutor means no charges will be filed in Stock's death.
However, three men are accused of going with Stock to the home intending to commit a home-invasion burglary and take $70,000 in cash from Madrigal, court documents said.
Armando Rodriguez-Willis and Jorge Hernandez, both 20, and Dwight Norwood, 38, all are set for trials March 7 in Benton County Superior Court.
Norwood has posted bail, while Hernandez remains in the Benton County jail on $250,000 bail and Rodriguez-Willis on $100,000 bail.
Rodriguez-Willis and Norwood, both of Kennewick, are charged with first-degree burglary. Hernandez of Pasco is charged with attempted first-degree robbery with a firearm.
Rodriguez-Willis picked up Stock at his nearby home after Stock had run in to get tube socks "to put on his hands while handling the gun during the home invasion," Miller said. Rodriguez-Willis then drove Stock, Hernandez and Norwood to Madrigal's home, police and prosecutors said.
Benton County dispatchers received a 911 call at 1:21 a.m. from a woman reporting that "their home was being burglarized when her boyfriend shot the person at the door," according to documents.
Madrigal and his girlfriend told Kennewick police that he became scared when the intruder pushed into his home.
Stock was found dead with his legs inside the front door and a gun at his feet.
Madrigal reportedly said he didn't see anyone else outside, but thought someone fled to the south as shots were fired.
On Thursday in court, attorneys for Hernandez and Norwood said they aren't prepared to address the issue of search warrants that temporarily were sealed by prosecutors.
Larry Zeigler, who represents Hernandez, and Ryan Swinburnson for Norwood both asked for an additional week. However, Swinburnson said he would be opposed to the documents being unsealed on behalf of his client.
Rodriguez-Willis was appointed a defense attorney, but told the court Thursday that he has hired a new lawyer who requested a two-week continuance. Judge Craig Matheson said that lawyer will be required to be in court at the next hearing Thursday.
Miller asked at the request of Kennewick police to have the search warrants temporarily sealed in the early days of the investigation, before any charges were filed. The documents contain details and statements from the co-defendants that investigators were concerned about being made public, Miller has said.
Miller told the court that a judge needs to review the warrants and attached affidavits to determine if they should remain sealed, have portions blacked out or be opened in the court file.
The Tri-City Herald is on record objecting to permanently sealing the documents.
Ken Robertson, the Herald's executive editor, and Publisher Rufus M. Friday were at the hearing Thursday.
Robertson told Matheson that the Herald is concerned the warrants will end up being sealed for an extended period of time, when it was only intended to be a couple of weeks.
"Basically, the court has to find an overriding reason to keep those records sealed" and must put that decision in writing according to Washington court rules, Robertson said. "I urge the court to try to find a way to cut through this expeditiously."
Matheson agreed, and said the matter should be set before a judge next week so a decision can be made to keep the cases moving along.
Madrigal, 28, faces trial March 28 for allegedly possessing more than a pound of marijuana packed into several bags and stuffed into a backpack.
The discovery was made as police were investigating the shooting.
The backpack, which contained a scale and eight bags of marijuana, was tossed over a backyard fence, court documents said. Officers also found drug paraphernalia, a digital scale and numerous plastic bags of "green vegetable matter" believed to be marijuana inside Madrigal's home, documents said.
Madrigal reportedly told investigators that he traded marijuana and has a medical marijuana card that expired last year.
He has pleaded innocent to possessing over 40 grams of marijuana and possessing it with intent to manufacture or deliver it.
* Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org