Jury finds man guilty of murdering Everett officer outside Starbucks store

EVERETT, Wash. — A jury has found a man guilty of shooting and killing an Everett Police Officer outside a Starbucks last year.

Deliberations began on Friday. The jury reached a verdict late Monday morning.

In March 2022, Officer Dan Rocha was gunned down in a parking lot after he confronted Richard Rotter as he moved weapons between two cars.

Rotter was found guilty of aggravated first-degree murder. Rotter will spend the rest of his life in prison.

During their closing arguments in Rotter’s trial, prosecutors played body camera footage of Rocha talking with Rotter, a felon who should not have had any weapons.

When Rocha tried to arrest him, there was a struggle.

Prosecutors say Rotter shot Rocha five times and then drove over his body.

Rotter’s defense attorneys did not dispute that he killed Rocha but maintained the murder was not premeditated, and was influenced by his mental health disorders.

“This is not a brain that premeditates during a time of stress, it’s going to be reactionary and it’s going to be impulsive,” said defense attorney Natalie Tarantino.

Prosecutors said the murder was premeditated because Rotter was determined not to be arrested and go to jail.

“The defendant made a business decision. It was worth it to him to kill a cop who just wouldn’t let it go,” said prosecutor Craig Matheson.

The question of premeditation was important because it is key to a conviction for aggravated first-degree murder, which brings a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

Conviction on a lesser charge may have meant a lighter sentence for Rotter.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman released a statement regarding the verdict:

“Today’s verdict comes with mixed feelings. While on one hand, I am pleased to see that the defendant will be held accountable for his actions to the fullest extent of the law, it still doesn’t bring Dan back, nor does it change the fact that his family lost a loving son, husband, brother and father.

“I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to the entire investigative team, and in particular lead detective, Kendra Conley with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the prosecution team of Craig Matheson and Bob Langbehn, who have all spent the last year diligently preparing for this trial. I can never express my level of appreciation for them. Their tireless efforts and extreme competence secured a verdict in this case that brings justice to the family and our department members. They are among the finest public safety professionals I’ve had the honor to work with in my career.

“Moving forward, the Everett Police Department will remain steadfast in our commitment to honor and remember Officer Rocha and his legacy of community service. We will never forget.”

“I think that’s the justice system doing its job, if the person was guilty, the person was guilty,” said Michael Gilham, a Starbucks customer who spoke with KIRO 7. “Hopefully it doesn’t happen again. I don’t know if someone getting convicted is a deterrent of that continuing.”

“Seeing that kind of crime around where we live, it’s pretty sad,” said Jorge Carbajal, another Starbucks customer. “It’s pretty sad what happened to the officer. No matter what he faces, we’re not ever going to fix the damage he did, especially to the officer’s family.”