Crime

Jury accepts self-defense argument in shooting outside Kennewick tavern

Tyree Q. Houfmuse was acquitted by a Benton County Superior Court jury of first-degree assault with a gun for the Thanksgiving eve shooting of Anthony Asselin outside of the Village Tavern in Kennewick. He was convicted of second-degree gun possession.
Tyree Q. Houfmuse was acquitted by a Benton County Superior Court jury of first-degree assault with a gun for the Thanksgiving eve shooting of Anthony Asselin outside of the Village Tavern in Kennewick. He was convicted of second-degree gun possession. Tri-City Herald

A Benton County jury decided Tyree Q. Houfmuse was acting in self defense when he fired six shots at his girlfriend’s ex last Thanksgiving eve.

Jurors deliberated for a little more than 3  1/2 hours Thursday before returning the verdict against Houfmuse for the shooting that left Anthony L. Asselin paralyzed.

If convicted, Houfmuse, 33, could have faced more than 30 years in prison for first-degree assault with a gun.

Jurors, however, found him guilty of second-degree unlawful possession of a gun by a felon.

Houfmuse had been in custody on $200,000 bail since December. Since he’s facing a sentence of time served, Judge Robert Swisher released him without bail.

“I know we got the verdict we wanted but, even before that, Mr. Houfmuse believed he was getting a fair trial out of the judge” and an attentive jury, defense lawyer John Crowley of Seattle told the Herald. “Not every ruling went our way, but (Houfmuse) believed the judge was being fair.”

I know we got the verdict we wanted but, even before that, Mr. Houfmuse believed he was getting a fair trial out of the judge.

John Crowley, defense attorney

Crowley, in a posting on his law firm’s website, said Houfmuse intends to ask the court “to order the state to repay him his ‘hefty’ attorney’s fees in the case.”

Houfmuse had claimed that in the month leading up to the Nov. 26 shooting, his girlfriend Aquarius Gibbs received a barrage of calls from Asselin with obscene language and threats to kill.

Gibbs used to date Asselin and the two have a child together. Houfmuse said Asselin — whom he had known for a long time and been friends with — had some bad feelings about the new romance.

Houfmuse and Gibbs were encouraged by another person to stop at the Village Tavern that night and have some drinks.

An angry Asselin then showed up at the tavern and confronted Houfmuse, so the two went out to the parking lot to talk, Houfmuse said.

Houfmuse, who testified in his trial, said Asselin then pulled out a gun. Houfmuse — afraid Asselin might follow through on his threats — then opened fire on Asselin, hitting him three times.

Asselin, now 30, is paralyzed from the chest down after one bullet lodged in his spine. He is the father of four and a local rapper who goes by the name “Redd 100.”

Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor had argued that Houfmuse shot Asselin in retaliation for an earlier home invasion involving Houfmuse’s relatives in Oregon.

Bloor told jurors that Houfmuse never claimed he was in danger and that his actions were “purely for revenge.”

This was Houfmuse’s second trial in the case. The first ended in mistrial in July because of juror misconduct.

On Friday, Bloor told the Herald that he was disappointed in the assault verdict but accepts it.

I think (the jurors) probably found that we did not prove that he was not acting in self-defense when he (shot Asselin).

Terry Bloor, deputy prosecutor

“I think (the jurors) probably found that we did not prove that he was not acting in self-defense when he (shot Asselin),” said Bloor, who spoke to some jurors after the verdicts.

Houfmuse’s criminal history includes convictions for possessing drugs, attempting to elude police, unlawful possession of a gun and taking a vehicle without permission.

The standard range for his new conviction is one year and five months to one year and 10 months. With credit for good time while he’s been locked up, Houfmuse already has served the minimum sentence, Bloor said.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531, @KristinMKraemer

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