To impose criminal liability, the conduct of the defendant
must be both the cause in fact and the legal cause of the
result. Kareem Harris seeks reversal of the jury conviction
of premediated murder in the first degree of Wilbur Lee Gant.
Harris contends insufficient evidence supports the jury
finding that the injuries Gant suffered when Harris shot him
at least five times at close range was the proximate cause of
his death. Because sufficient evidence supports the jury
finding a direct causal connection between the intentional
shooting and the death, we conclude as a matter law Harris is
criminally liable, and affirm.
Harris and Wilbur Lee Gant worked on the assembly line at
Milgard Windows & Doors in Fife. At the end of May 2009,
operations manager Anthony Campbell terminated Harris and
lead operator John Helsel for "falsification of time
records." Campbell asked Gant to fill the lead operator
October 16, 2009, the Washington State Employment Security
Department ruled Harris was not entitled to unemployment
benefits and ordered Harris to repay $6, 885 in benefits he
approximately 5:00 a.m. on October 28, 2009, Gant was getting
ready to leave to go to work in his car. Harris approached
the car and shot Gant at close range at least five times.
Several neighbors heard the gunshots and Gant's cry for
number of Federal Way Police Department officers responded to
the 911 calls, including Officer Brigham Schulz and
Lieutenant Kurt Schwan. Officer Schulz saw the car
"parked on the side of the road with the door open"
and the "driver window was damaged." Gant was lying
to the south of the car on the roadway.
Schwan said Gant was lying on his right side on the roadway
with "a large amount of blood soaking his pants from the
seat of his pants almost all the way down to his legs."
Gant told Lieutenant Schwan his "left arm hurt and he
had no feeling in his legs." Gant was "alert and
conscious." Gant "pleaded" with Lieutenant
Schwan "to help him." Lieutenant Schwan used a
towel to apply pressure to the area "where the most
amount of blood was coming" from until medics arrived.
Gant told Lieutenant Schwan, "Kareem Harris shot
the medics arrived and cut off Gant's clothing,
Lieutenant Schwan saw a "massive amount of blood, "
a "hole in the underwear, " and wounds to the
buttocks, lower abdomen, and hip. Gant arrived unconscious at
the emergency room at Harborview Medical Center. Both of
Gant's lungs had collapsed as a result of trauma to his
chest. Hospital staff inserted an "endotracheal tube to
help control his breathing." "[G]iven the location
of the bullet wounds and his low blood pressure, "
doctors decided to operate immediately.
Joseph Cuschieri performed the surgery to stop the bleeding.
Dr. Cuschieri said one third of Gant's total blood supply
had pooled in his abdominal cavity. Dr. Cuschieri looked for
the source of the bleeding. Gant had bullet wounds in
"the left upper quadrant of the abdomen, " the
right hip, the left inner thigh, the left buttock, the back,
and his left elbow. The "major source of bleeding was
from his liver." A "bullet had gone through the
entire liver from the left side" and "[t]here was a
hole in the gall bladder, which sits underneath the
liver." The pylorus valve that connects the stomach to
the small intestine "also had a hole in it" and the
cecum valve that connects the small intestine and colon was
Cuschieri repaired the laceration of the liver and removed
Gant's gall bladder, the pylorus valve, and the cecum
valve. Dr. Cuschieri removed the "dead tissue" from
the bullet wound in the abdomen and around the abdominal
wall. Dr. Cuschieri temporarily closed Gant's abdomen.
After the surgery, Gant was unconscious while in the
intensive care unit. Gant was on a ventilator and given blood
Cuschieri performed a second surgery the next day. Because
Dr. Cuschieri had removed the pylorus valve, he reconnected
the stomach to the small intestine. Because he had removed
the cecum valve, Dr. Cuschieri reconnected Gant's small
intestine to the colon. Later that day, doctors performed
surgery to remove bullet fragments and repair his elbow. Gant
remained intubated and on a ventilator.
October 29, 2009, the State charged Kareem Harris with
attempted murder in the second degree of Gant. Harris fled to
was released from the hospital on November 13, 2009. Gant was
in pain. He had to use a wheelchair and had general weakness
throughout his body. Harborview psychiatrist Dr. Douglas
Zatzick diagnosed Gant as suffering from posttraumatic stress
January 2010, the police arrested Harris in Miami.
2010, Dr. Dennis Rochier diagnosed Gant with acute
bronchitis. Because both of Gant's lungs collapsed after
he was shot and X-rays of his lungs showed scarring from
being on a ventilator at Harborview, Dr. Rochier treated him
September 2010, Gant's physical condition had improved
but Dr. Rochier concluded Gant continued to suffer from PTSD
and could hot return to work.
December 2, 2010, Dr. Rochier diagnosed Gant with acute
bronchitis and treated him with antibiotics. When Dr. Rochier
saw Gant on December 22, Gant no longer had bronchitis.
January 9, 2011, Gant told his spouse Margaret Gant that he
did not feel well. Gant was short of breath. After Gant
coughed up blood, Margaret called an ambulance. The medics
took Gant to the St. Francis Hospital emergency room. Doctors
ordered blood tests and a computerized tomography (CT) scan.
Blood tests showed Escherichia coli (E. coli) in Gant's
bloodstream and his kidney function was compromised. The CT
scan showed multiple areas of bacterial infection in his
lungs and food particles in his throat. Critical care
physician Dr. Manuel Iregui diagnosed Gant with "sepsis,
" a severe and lethal bacterial infection. Contraction
of sepsis can vary from "hours to a couple days."
Dr. Iregui told Gant's spouse that "the likelihood
that he would survive this was pretty close to zero."
Gant died the next day on January 10, 2011.
County medical examiner Dr. Timothy Williams performed the
autopsy. Dr. Williams concluded the fatal cause of death was
"bilateral bronchopneumonia, " or pneumonia in both
lungs, and the previous or "remote" gunshot wounds.
Dr. Williams noted mild emphysema on the lungs and cirrhosis
of the liver. The death certificate lists the cause of death
as "bilateral bronchopneumonia" and "remote
State filed an amended information charging Harris with
premeditated murder in the first degree of Gant in violation
of RCW 9A.32.030(1)(a). The information alleged, in pertinent
That the defendant KAREEM HARRIS in King County, Washington,
on or about October 28, 2009, with premeditated intent to
cause the death of another person, did cause the death of
Wilbur Lee Gant, a human being, who died on or about January
Contrary to RCW 9A.32.030(1)(a), and against the peace and
dignity of the State of Washington!, ]... [while] armed with
a pistol, a firearm as defined in RCW 9.41.010, under the
authority of RCW 9.94A.533(3).
Harris entered a plea of not guilty. Harris denied shooting
State called a number of witnesses at trial, including
Milgard employees; neighbors, including Lloyd Peterson and
Mary Boldt; Federal Way police officers; Dr. Cuschieri; Dr.
Iregui; Dr. Rochier; Dr. Zatzick; and King County Medical
Examiner Dr. Williams.
employee Myron Woods testified that Harris was angry that he
was fired and that he had to pay back his unemployment
benefits and called Woods and Gant "about that."
Harris told Woods that he "had a .45" that he
stored under the seat of his car.
Peterson testified that at approximately 5:00 a.m. on October
28, he heard the sound of gunshots and went outside. Gant
told Peterson that "if anything happens to me, let
everybody know Kareem Harris shot me, " and "make
sure if I die, you'll know who shot me, tell 'em
Kareem Harris shot me."
Schwan testified Gant told him, "Kareem Harris. Kareem
Harris shot me. He told me he'd do this to me. Kareem
Harris did this." Gant told Lieutenant Schwan that
Harris "was a coworker, that he worked with him, and
that Mr. ...