Man charged in shooting death of city teenager

A charge of first-degree manslaughter was filed Thursday against James T. Radtke, who is accused in the December shooting death of an Enumclaw teenager.

The victim was 16-year-old Kelsey Carter.

Carter had been reported as a runaway in October. Then, on Dec. 11, her mother spotted Carter with her 25-year-old boyfriend at a house in the 33900 block of S.E. Green River Headworks Road.

A pair of deputies arrived on the scene about 6 p.m. and contacted two people  in the home, including Radtke, but were told Carter was not on the premises. At the time, the deputies lacked the legal authority to demand entry to the home. It was later determined that Carter was, in fact, hiding in the house.

Charging papers filed with King County Superior Court what happened next.

Knowing her mother was watching outside, Carter and Radtke decided to wait until dark, then walk to the Cumberland area where they could catch a ride. Radtke armed himself with a revolver, later explaining he decided to carry the weapon in case they encountered unfriendly people or wildlife.

The two waited in a downstairs bathroom, where Radtke sat cross-legged on the floor and Carter sat on his lap. The revolver was in a holster buckled around Radtke’s waist and, when it became uncomfortable, he attempted to adjust the weapon. Radtke told authorities the weapon unintentionally fired and struck Carter.

While another man at the house began dialing 911, Radtke determined an ambulance would take too long to arrive. The men put Carter in a pickup and drove to the Enumclaw hospital. They arrived at 8:23 p.m. and Carter was pronounced dead at 8:26.

At the hospital, Radtke told authorities Carter had originally been his babysitter, but they had begun dating and their relationship had become a sexual one.

In March, the revolver used in the shooting was examined by a forensic scientist at the Washington State Crime Laboratory, where it was determined a safety mechanism designed into the handgun was still functioning property. Under a variety of scenarios, it was determeined the weapon would not fire accidentally.

According to the charging papaers filed with the court, “The revolver will only fire while fully cocked and the t rigger held to the rear,”

Radtke remains in jail with bail set at $100,000. Arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 4 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center.

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