Murder case ends with long sentence

A woman charged with gunning down her ex-boyfriend in the parking lot of a Buckley tavern was sentenced to more than 26 years in prison Friday afternoon.

Paula Jennifer Marshall had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced by Pierce County Superior Court Judge James Orlando.

Marshall, 30, admitted to killing 32-year-old Christopher Michael Smith in February 2007. It is believed to be the small town’s only murder in the past century.

Marshall and Smith had been involved in a relationship that produced a son who was 4 at the time of Smith’s murder. The couple had been engaged in a custody battle in the days leading up to the incident.

According to court documents, Marshall waited for Smith in the parking lot of the White Horse Tavern. As he walked to a pickup with another woman, Marshall opened fire, eventually firing 14 shots and hitting Smith multiple times. She then repeatedly struck Smith with the gun before driving to her home between Buckley and Bonney Lake.

She was arrested a short time later, after her stepfather notified police, telling them Marshall had arrived home and admitted to shooting Smith.

Reach Kevin Hanson at or 360-802-8205.