EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A man accused of killing a police officer in Washington state last year has been convicted of aggravated first-degree murder.
A jury found Richard Rotter guilty Monday in the death of Everett police officer Dan Rocha, the Daily Herald reported.
The verdict means the 51-year-old Kennewick man faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when sentenced later this month.
It took about four hours of deliberations on Friday and Monday for a jury of eight women and four men to reach the unanimous verdict.
Jurors had the option of convicting Rotter of the lesser charge of second-degree murder but did not do so. The jury also found Rotter guilty of unlawful firearm possession, possession with the intent to manufacture or distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin, and attempting to elude police.
Rotter stood in a gray dress shirt with his hair slicked back. More than a dozen Everett police officers were present as Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss announced the verdict.
In a statement, Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman said the 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,” Templeman said.
Rocha was shot in the head after prosecutors say he and Rotter got into an altercation in the parking lot of a Starbucks in Everett on March 25, 2022. The shooter fled in a car. Police arrested Rotter following a nearby three-vehicle crash.
Prosecutors said Rotter appeared to be moving guns between two cars in the parking lot before Rocha confronted him.
The two talked calmly for about eight minutes before Rocha, who joined the police department in 2017, tried to arrest Rotter, a convicted felon, for investigation of unlawful firearm possession. Rocha was shot five times in a struggle with Rotter, prosecutors said.
Three of those shots were to his head and would have been fatal for Rocha on their own, an autopsy found.
The verdict came after nearly two weeks of testimony at the trial in Snohomish County Superior Court. The defendant didn’t testify.
Rotter’s public defender, Natalie Tarantino, told the jury her client had “no plan” to kill but instead, she said a combination of drug use and post-traumatic stress led him to shoot Rocha.
“It was reactionary and fast and impulsive, which are just the symptoms of his mental health disorders,” she said.