Pe Ell Man Enters Enters Plea on Manslaughter Charge Related to Fatal Shooting of Brother


A Pe Ell man accused of shooting and killing his brother while unsafely handling a firearm in April 2018 has entered an Alford plea to one count of second-degree manslaughter. 

With an Alford plea, the defendant maintains their innocence but admits that the prosecution’s evidence would likely result in a guilty verdict if brought to trial.  

“I want to take advantage of the state’s (plea) offer and believe if I had gone to trial, I may be convicted of a more serious offense,” said the defendant, Cody A. Smith, in a written plea submitted in Lewis County Superior Court on June 9.

Smith, who was 19 at the time of the incident and has no prior criminal history, had allegedly been handling a firearm that belonged to his brother, 21-year-old Austin Smith, and accidentally fired a single round, killing Austin. 

Austin Smith’s obituary refers to the incident as a “tragic accident.” 

Cody Smith was charged with second-degree manslaughter in August 2018 and had his first court appearance in November that same year. He has not served jail time related to this case. 

The standard sentencing range for second-degree manslaughter is 21 to 27 months in prison followed by 18 months in community custody. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines. 

Smith’s sentencing hearing isn’t scheduled until Nov. 3. The prosecutor's office will not make a sentencing reccomendation.