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Mother of boy who shot classmate takes plea deal
The mother of a boy who brought a gun to school that fired accidentally and hit third-grader Amina Kocer-Bowman, at Armin Jahr Elementary School Feb. 22, has accepted a plea deal from prosecutors to avoid an assault charge.
Jamie Lee Chaffin pled guilty to two counts of illegal possession of a firearm Tuesday in Kitsap County Superior Court. As part of the deal, prosecutors dropped a third-degree assault charge and will recommend that Chaffin serve 14 months in prison for the gun charges. The standard range is 12 to 16 months.
Chaffin also agreed to testify against her boyfriend, Douglas Bauer, who owned the .45 caliber handgun that Chaffin's son brought to school.
Amina's family issued a statement in which they said they were "saddened and disappointed" by the plea deal.
"Where is justice for Amina?" part of the statement reads. "We want legitimate accountability for the heinous act that nearly ended her life. We want responsibility from those whose irresponsibility and negligence nearly cost us our daughter's life. Finger pointing, plea deals, and court-mandated apologies are like a slap in the face as we watch those accused receive a slap on the wrist."
The family's attorney, Jeffrey Campiche, was also unhappy about the plea deal.
"In the end, this case is more about allowing a gun in elementary school and the harm that resulted from that than it is about an ex-con possessing a handgun," Capiche said. "So, I think the plea bargain has missed the central offense that has so severely affected your community. Nobody's losing sleep in Bremerton about an ex-con possessing a handgun. What they lost sleep about, what they were incensed about, was that a cannon, a .45 automatic handgun was brought into and discharged in an elementary classroom."
Also on Tuesday, Superior Court Judge M. Karlynn Haberly dismissed illegal firearm possession charges against Bauer following a motion by his attorney, Wayne Fricke.
A trial on the third-degree assault charge against Bauer is slated to get underway July 2.
"Obviously we're pleased that the court agreed with us and that charge didn't go forward," Fricke said. "We certainly weren't surprised by that decision. Conversely, we're disappointed that she didn't agree with us on the second charge, saying they have enough to go forward at this point based on the law."
Fricke said that he is confident about his client's chances at trial since he didn't assault anyone. Fricke also said that Chaffin's possible testimony isn't concerning.
"I've seen the statement she gave to the police Regarding Mr. Bauer and think it's more helpful than anything," Fricke said. "It doesn't add or subtract anything from the state's case and I'm not concerned about it one little bit."
Chaffin's 9-year-old son pled guilty to reckless endangerment March 6 and was expected to testify against his mother. He was sentenced to counseling and community service and was ordered to write a letter of apology to Amina. The gun discharged in his backpack and a bullet struck Amina in her elbow, went through part of her abdomen and came to rest near her spine where it remains.
Amina has been chosen to be the civilian grand marshal at Saturday's Armed Forces Day Parade.