PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — The mother of a Washington state boy who brought a gun to school that went off in his backpack and critically wounded a classmate will spend more than a year behind bars.
Jamie Lee Chaffin was sentenced to 14 months Friday in Kitsap County Superior Court. She initially faced third-degree assault charges but was eventually prosecuted for unlawful possession of a firearm. She was convicted of forgery in 2007 and barred from owning or accessing weapons.
In February 2012, the gun that Chaffin’s 9-year-old son brought to the city of Bremerton elementary school fired inside his backpack, injuring 8-year-old Amina Kocer Bowman. She had multiple surgeries and spent more than a month in the hospital.
The boy told investigators he took the gun from a dresser at the home of his mother’s boyfriend, Douglas Bauer, because he was afraid of other students. Chaffin did not have custody of her son, who lived with his uncle.
The boy and his siblings testified that there were other firearms in Bauer’s home that were not locked away.
Chaffin agreed in 2012 to testify against Bauer in exchange for the assault charge being dropped. She also agreed to plead guilty to unlawful possession of a gun, but her sentencing was postponed while Bauer’s case wound through the courts. Her punishment moved forward after the state Supreme Court ruled in July that the third-degree assault case against Bauer could not proceed.
Bauer watched Chaffin’s sentencing Friday. Her attorney, Michael Clark, sought less than the 14 months recommended by prosecutors, saying she could not care for herself and was dependent on Bauer, leaving her with few options despite knowing guns were in the house. But Judge Leila Mills imposed the full year and two months.
“I’m not finding there’s anything to justify or excuse this behavior,” Mills said. “You were under orders not to have a firearm. It was a direct violation.”
Chaffin declined to make a statement in court, saying, “I’m not very good at speaking out loud with this many people around.”
Neither her attorney nor Bauer offered additional comment outside the courtroom.
Earlier this month, the Bremerton School District agreed to pay $900,000 to the family of the injured girl. Bauer’s homeowner’s insurance said it would pay an additional $300,000 in the legal settlement.
Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/