TUMWATER, Wash. - A Tumwater boy who was 13 years old when he shot and killed his sleeping father pleaded guilty on Thursday to first-degree manslaughter.
Timothy Asher, who is now 14 years old, has always insisted the killing of his father, Jimmy Asher, on Oct. 23, 2011, was accidental.
The boy's family is showing support. His uncle, Bobby Asher, today told Thurston County Juvenile Court Judge Anne Hirsch that he believes Timothy was frightened by a noise in the house and got the rifle for protection.
"I believe this was a horrible horrible accident and that it was not intentional," Bobby Asher said. "I think Timothy went to wake his dad up with the rifle crossing his hip, reaching out for his dad and the gun discharged."
Prosecutors initially charged Timothy Asher with second-degree murder. They claimed the boy had argued with his father earlier in the evening and had intentionally taken the rifle into the sleeping man's bedroom and held the gun 6 to 9 inches from his father's head then pulled the trigger.
"Jimmy would want Timothy to be held accountable for his actions and get the help he needs to someday become a productive member of society," said victim Jimmy Asher's fiancé, Diane Johnson. Johnson was in the bed with Jimmy Asher when he was shot and killed. Johnson sleeps with earplugs and did not hear the fatal gunshot. She made a frantic call to 911 after waking up in the dark covered in blood. "Not only did I lose Jimmy that night, my soul mate, I lost a son that night," Johnson told the judge.
Timothy Asher did not speak in court today, but his attorney read a letter he wrote to the judge. "I am sorry for what happened to my dad," Asher wrote. "I think about him every day. It will be like that forever."
Timothy Asher plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter in Thursday's plea deal. The prosecutor and defense attorney recommended he be sent to a juvenile detention facility for a minimum of 3 ½ years but possibly be held until his 21st birthday. Hirsch followed the recommendation.
The question of whether Timothy Asher planned to kill his father remains unanswered. "The only two people who are gonna know is God and Timothy," Johnson said.