Clarkston man found guilty of second degree murder
ASOTIN, WA —
Two years ago Melvin O’Rourke shot and killed Duane Hettinger in his Clarkston apartment. Today the jury decided if this was truly a case of self-defense, or murder in the second degree.
Guilty, was that verdict returned by the jury of one man and eleven women.
The day in court began with state's closing arguments. "It's a simple question, why? Why did Mr. O'Rourke kill Duane Hettinger? And you got that answer, he didn't like his look,” said Prosecuting Attorney Ben Nichols.
He then played the 911 call from the night of the shooting for jurors. In that call O’Rourke told the dispatcher Hettinger was still breathing, and he called as soon as the shooting occurred. Nichols said it was proved in trial, this was a lie. "We know that isn't true. We know that Melvin O'Rourke waited until after Duane Hettinger was dead, and checked to make sure he was dead to call."
He concluded with a simple statement, "When Hettinger stood up to leave, he killed him, without emotion and without hesitation."
O'Rourke's defense attorney Raymond “Vic" Bottomly said this case is all a matter of perception. "Remember in the initial interview everyone was focused on how Mel had fired two shots.” He explained to jurors, “And the detectives were interviewing him saying you can't claim self-defense if you shot him while he was down. There was no evidence of that." Bottomly said their perception of what happened was wrong, which caused O'Rourke who is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, to become confused. "Mel's perceptions were wrong from the start. The officer’s perceptions were wrong from the start,” Bottomly said.
After closing, the jurors were sent to deliberate. In just over an hour they had reached a verdict.
The court clerk read the decision, “We the jury find the defendant Melvin R. O'Rourke guilty of the crime of murder in the second degree as charged."
He was cuffed, and led out of the courtroom with a smile on his face.
O'Rourke is set to be sentenced on September 18th at 2:30 p.m.
He could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.