Gun used to kill Pierce deputy is linked to suspect; maximum murder charge filed
TACOMA, Wash. - A charge of aggravated first-degree murder has been filed against a suspect in the killing of Pierce County Deputy Daniel McCartney after the murder weapon at the scene was tied to the suspect.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday that the pistol used to kill the deputy was along a path of items tied to the defendant, Frank Pawul. It was one of two guns found at the scene.
The gun was found 175 feet away from the deputy. A shell casing was found 15 feet from the deputy's body. The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office says the casing was fired from the same gun.
Messages from Pawul's celll phone show he had two .45-caliber Kimber pistols in the days before the deputy was killed, prosecutors say. The two guns found at the scene was .45-caliber Kimber pistols.
The new charge against Pawul is the maximum possible. A conviction on that charge carries the possibility of execution. He was ordered held without bail on Tuesday.
Taking in the court proceeding were many of the detectives in the case were deputies and Sheriff Paul Pastor. "As you can imagine it's tremendously important to us," said Pastor. "It's tremendously important to us because we lost one of our own and it's important to us to see that justice is done behind that and correct convictions take place."
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist would not say whether his office will pursue the death penalty in the case.
"Given that this is now an aggravated murder case and therefor potentially a capital case, I'm not going to have anything further to say until we've made our next decision." The prosecutor has 30 days to make that decision unless the defense team wants to extend that deadline.
McCartney was shot to death earlier this month after responding to an armed home-invasion robbery in Frederickson. Another suspect, Henry Carden, was found dead at the scene and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police reports say Pawul texted his getaway driver, Brenda Troyer, after the shooting and claimed that Carden had shot the deputy: "So Hank killed a cop and himself," he texted.
But the new analysis shows that the gun found along Pawul's path as he fled was actually the weapon used to kill McCartney, police say.
Pawul was arrested later, as were two women - Troyer and Samantha Jones, who police say was with Troyer when she dropped off Pawul and Carden near the site of the home invasion.
The Sheriff's Department says further tests of the gun are being performed by the Washington State Crime Laboratory.