Port Angeles man acquitted of assault after being shot

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man who was shot by his brother-in-law in a domestic dispute has been found not guilty of second-degree assault.

James Jay Barnett, 55, was acquitted by a Clallam County jury Oct. 21 after claiming self-defense.

The jury “believed it was clearly self-defense, and it was,” said Port Angeles attorney Lane Wolfley, who represented Barnett at trial.

“It was a major and somewhat remarkable victory,” Wolfley said Tuesday.

“Mr. Barnett never had a chance to tell his story. The police never investigated beyond the alleged victim's story.”

In addition to the not-guilty verdict, the jury ruled that Barnett's use of force was lawful and that Barnett was not engaged in criminal conduct “substantially related” to the events giving rise to the alleged assault, court papers said.

The special verdict means the state will cover Barnett's attorney's fees.

Police reports

Port Angeles police alleged that Barnett assaulted Michael E. Johnson, 57, at Barnett's residence in the 2200 block of South Chase Street on March 16.

Johnson shot Barnett several times with a .45-caliber handgun after Barnett kicked open the door to a room where Johnson had been staying, police said.

Detective Dave Arand wrote in the certification for probable cause that Barnett knocked Johnson's front teeth out and caused other facial injuries after Johnson shot him in his extremities and torso.

Wolfley said his client was shot five times, including three times in the back.

“He was airlifted to Harborview [Medical Center in Seattle], and police never made any inquiries beyond Mr. Johnson's version of the events,” he said.

Barnett's wife and 6-year-old granddaughter were at the residence during the altercation.

The woman told police the relationship between her husband and brother had soured in recent months, police said.

Johnson told Detective Shane Martin that Barnett had threatened to kill him on the night of the shooting and “feared that Jay was going to carry out the earlier threat of killing him,” according to the arrest narrative.

Johnson was treated at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles.

He was not charged with a crime.

Barnett was flown from OMC to Harborview, where he remained in critical condition days after the shooting.

After he recovered, Barnett was charged April 17 in Clallam County Superior Court with second-degree intentional assault/reckless infliction of substantial bodily harm with domestic violence.

A second charge of harassment-threats to kill was later dismissed.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 28. 2015 2:39PM
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