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Man charged in wife’s shooting during Seattle Uber ride

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Cameron Espitia, who is accused of fatally shooting his wife Jennifer Espitia, makes an appearance in a King County courtroom in Seattle, Monday, July 3, 2017.

SEATTLE >> A man fatally shot his wife during an Uber ride in Seattle last weekend after they argued about going to a wedding after-party, prosecutors said today as they charged him with second-degree murder.

Cameron Espitia, 31, told investigators he had been drinking and “having a bad night” but didn’t remember what happened during the ride with the Uber driver late Saturday night, Seattle police Detective Patricia Hayden wrote in charging documents.

Hayden said the defendant was riding in the back of the vehicle and his wife, Jennifer Espitia, 29, was in the front passenger seat when they began arguing. The driver described hearing a bang and thinking it might have been a tire popping but then saw the woman slumped over.

Deputy King County prosecutor Jessica Berliner called the shooting “inexplicable” in asking the court to keep bail set at $3 million Thursday.

“The defendant decided he was going to ‘cut loose’ at a wedding,” she wrote. “Despite the fact that he was armed with a loaded firearm, he consumed numerous alcoholic drinks and argued with his wife when she wanted him to go home instead of proceeding to the after-party.”

Espitia is scheduled to be arraigned July 13. An attorney who represented him at an earlier hearing said in an email she no longer is; it was not immediately clear if he had obtained another lawyer.

A Coast Guard employee with no criminal history, Espitia could face a sentencing range of 15 to 23 years if convicted.

The driver continued driving after the shooting because he feared for his life, police said. Eventually, he pulled over and Espitia got out; the driver then drove another block, stopped and called 911 just after 12 a.m. Sunday.

Officers found Espitia nearby, authorities said. He had apparently fallen in some bushes, his suit was dirty and had dried blood on the shoulder, and he had a handgun in an ankle holster, police said.

During an interview with detectives, he said he couldn’t remember what happened during the ride, but he repeatedly asked how his wife was doing, Hayden noted.

Jennifer Espitia graduated from Mercer Island High School in Washington state and was on the rowing team at Saint Mary’s College in California, according to a college athletics biography.

She had won a community-service award for work as a peer educator at Planned Parenthood, working at a day care center and building homes in Mexico.

Jennifer Espitia had attended high school with the newlywed couple at the wedding, police said.

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