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Justified Homicide? 

Awbrey Butte shooting raises questions about the justice system

click to enlarge 2461-nw-awbrey-house.jpg
On Saturday night, June 24, Shane Munoz had been drinking.

The brown-haired, brown-eyed, 33-year-old who’d lived in Bend most of his life was hitting up a few places downtown.

He’d been to the M and J Tavern and then to Silver Moon, according to staff there. After he was served a pint at the brewpub on Greenwood Avenue, he talked to people throughout the bar whether he knew them or not, said staff. Shortly after eating food off another patron’s plate, Munoz was asked to leave.

According to staff at the Moon, Munoz stumbled off into the night amicably, apparently leaving behind his bike, which was still locked up there in the morning.

What Munoz did next is unclear, but by 12:39 a.m., the Round Butte Feed and Seed employee, whom friends describe as friendly and helpful, lay dying in the home of a man whom police and friends say Munoz may not have even known. That man, Kevin Perry, 35, happens to be a member of one Bend’s wealthiest families—a fact that has overshadowed the case and prompted Munoz’ family and friends to wonder whether his status has affected an investigation that’s still ongoing three weeks in.

However, police and prosecutors say they have had difficulty piecing together the details around the shooting, in part because Perry immediately contacted an attorney, the high profile Portland defense lawyer Stephen Houze, and has since declined to give a full statement to police, said Deschutes Count District Attorney Patrick Flaherty.

If anything is clear, it’s that what initially appeared on its face to be a cut and dried home invasion story has evolved into something much more complicated as weeks have passed since the incident.

The account police released the day after the shooting was that Munoz had broken in the front door of Perry’s Awbrey Butte home.

Perry—whose father, Wayne Perry, is an owner of the Seattle Mariners, a founding father of the wireless cellular industry and the current president of the Boy Scouts of America—had arrived home with his girlfriend, Amanda Weinman, 33, of Eugene, to find Munoz in the house. According to police, a scuffle ensued and Kevin Perry shot Munoz. Then he called 911.

At the heart of the case is the definition of justified homicide and whether home defense law, also known as Castle Doctrine, applies in this case. Does a homeowner have a right to shoot an intruder in every case? Does a person have an obligation to retreat before reaching for a gun? If he never tells the full story of what happened, must police and prosecutors be compelled to eventually close the case?

A deeper and more disturbing question underscores this case though, too.

When a shooter has access to the best legal defense money can buy, do the wheels of justice turn at a different speed? Police say no. But for friends and family of Shane Munoz watching the weeks tick by with no answers, those assurances are no comfort at all.

LAWYER UP IMMEDIATELY

Kevin Perry admits to shooting Munoz and says it was justified.

“I did what I had to do,” said Perry in an interview with the Source on Monday, “to protect myself and my girlfriend.”

Perry, who grew up in the Seattle area, graduated from the University of Washington in 1999 and moved to Bend in 2005, said he believes the facts in the case “will speak for themselves.”

Even if Perry was justified in shooting Munoz, his behavior has been out of the ordinary in a self-defense case and has slowed the police investigation into Munoz’ death, said District Attorney Flaherty.

“It’s fair to say [the investigation] has been complicated by the lack of information from the person who did the shooting,” said Flaherty.

In most self-defense cases, shooters are eager to share the details of the situation immediately, said Flaherty. So it was odd that, when police arrived the night of the shooting, Perry invoked his right to counsel instead of giving a “full and complete statement” to the police, said Flaherty.

“It’s out of the norm of a typical death investigation where we determine there may be a justifiable homicide,” said Flaherty. “Hopefully Mr. Perry will decide to give a full and complete report.”

Perry confirms Flaherty’s statement that he has told the police limited details about what happened and did invoke his right to counsel right away. This is “standard procedure” he said.

“When there is a homicide involved, you lawyer up immediately,” Perry told the Source. “Even if you are completely in the right, or completely in the wrong, you lawyer up immediately.”

The lawyer Perry chose to hire isn’t just any lawyer, but one of the top defense attorneys in the state of Oregon.

Stephen Houze, who is in town this week for the trial of his client, accused rapist Thomas Bray, and who is also representing Les Schwab Accounting Director Bret Lee Biedscheid in a negligent homicide case relating to an alleged hit and run in 2011, is based in Portland but takes on cases all over the state.

Police said Perry’s access to top legal representation does not affect their investigation.

“It just doesn’t matter if the multimillionaire himself shot someone,” said Lt. Paul Kansky, of the Bend PD. “We just try to treat everybody the same whether they have money or not.”

But it’s clear Kevin Perry’s decision not to provide police a full statement, which he told the Source he is doing on the advice of Houze, has affected the investigation.

Also on the advice of his attorney, Perry would not comment to the Source on injuries he or Weinman sustained in the attack, whether the gun involved in the shooting was his, whether he knew the front door of the home was broken in when he arrived home or why Munoz might have targeted his house.

But, he was eager to tell the Source two things—neither he, nor his girlfriend, who is a physician’s assistant at Cascade Dermatology in Eugene, had ever met Munoz or wanted to shoot him.

“I can legally tell you I have never met that man before,” said Perry. “I am sorry for having to do this, I did not ask for it.”

Weinman did not return a call for comment.

KEVIN PERRY, AVID SPORTSMAN

Kevin Perry’s life had been charmed by his father’s success long before he needed top legal counsel.

In fall 2011, a story about legendary cellular titan Wayne Perry anchored the cover of the University of Washington’s Foster Business magazine, put out by the business school there.

Wayne Perry graduated from the University of Washington before receiving his law degree from Lewis and Clark and then obtaining a master’s in taxation laws from New York University, according to his biography on the Boy Scouts of America website and the story in Foster’s Business magazine.

The story describes Wayne Perry’s humble beginnings living in a $32,000 bungalow and driving a Volkswagon Rabbit.

“Now I have a house on Lake Washington and fly my own jet,” said Wayne Perry in the story.

Along the way, the family rose through the ranks of affluence as Wayne Perry brokered deal after deal in the wireless cellular industry, ultimately selling his company, Bend-based Edge Wireless, to AT&T in 2008.

This year, Wayne Perry became the president of the Boy Scouts of America. His biography on the Scouts website says that Kevin Perry, along with his three brothers, are all Eagle Scouts.

The Scouts national spokesperson, Deron Smith, did not return repeated calls for comment on this story. Wayne Perry did not respond to a letter left at his Bend home requesting comment.

Kevin Perry worked for a time as a graphics designer for his father’s company, Edge Wireless, according to Perry’s 2005 wedding announcement. On July 4 of that year, he married Whitney Castleman, whose father had co-founded Edge Wireless with Wayne Perry.

Castleman and Perry divorced in April. She declined to comment for this story.

Their divorce records show the couple owned four properties between them,  including the Awbrey house and one large Deschutes riverfront lot on Lakeside Place that both went to Perry in the divorce, two Audis, a Subaru WRX, a Ford F150 and a driftboat.

Court records reveal little else about Perry, except that he completed diversion for a 2008 DUII and that he owns two limited liability companies based in Bend. One is a small investment company, the other is named Fly and Fin, LLC. Perry is an avid sportsman who enjoys fishing and took photos, at one time, for a local fly fishing outfitter’s website, according to friends and acquaintances.

Perry declined to discuss his businesses and sports hobbies, but said he has been trying to stay busy since the shooting by running and spending time with his Labrador retriever.

He said he feels a great deal of sadness over shooting Munoz, but insists Munoz came at him and he had no choice but to defend himself.

“He broke into my home,” said Perry. “He attacked me.”

SHANE MUNOZ, FATHER AND FRIEND

Shane Munoz grew up on the opposite end of the social spectrum from Kevin Perry.

Originally from Los Alamitos, Calif., Munoz was 12 when he moved here to live with his father, a mailman who has lived in the same northeast Bend home for decades. Munoz had remained in Bend ever since, except for a brief time when he returned to California to live with his mother and finish high school, according to family.

In his obituary, his family lists four things that defined him: his 5-year-old son, his family and friends, music and his passion for dirt bikes.

In the weeks since his death, his family and friends have been outspoken on Facebook and to the Source that they are frustrated more hasn’t been released about the circumstances of his death.

They describe Munoz as a great friend, the kind of friend who would turn you on to great music, listen to your troubles and give you the shirt off his back.

Last Friday, I met his father, Edmund Munoz at his home, where poster boards of pictures of Shane Munoz are propped up against the fireplace and the furniture. They were prepared for a recent memorial service.

Ed Munoz shows me these pictures one by one, noting his favorite—one of Shane Munoz playing a guitar surrounded by tall Ponderosa pines. He shows me a note that one of Shane Munoz’ co-workers at Round Butte Feed and Seed wrote to Shane Munoz’ son.

Don’t ever believe that your father was a thief, says the letter, referring to the home invasion. Instead, know that your father once lent me his truck for a week despite that he had only recently met me. He was a good man and don’t forget it, said the writer.

I cry as I read this letter, and for the only time during our hour together, Ed Munoz does, too.

“He’s not coming in here no more,” he says, his face contorting to stop his chin from quivering.

But despite the love friends and family feel for him, it cannot be denied that Shane Munoz had a record that included erratic behavior when he was drinking. Court records leading up until even just weeks before the shooting tell the story of a man battling alcohol problems and struggling to cope with parenting a young child with an ex-girlfriend.

Munoz’ got into a few scrapes in his early twenties, including two minor in possession of alcohol charges, giving false information to police about his name during one of the MIP incidents, and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana— a charge that was later dropped.

But it is the incidents that happened in recent years that shed the most light on Munoz’ decision-making while intoxicated.

In May of 2008, a few months after Munoz and girlfriend, Beverly Mather, broke up, she sought the first of two restraining orders against him. Both were granted by the court.

In her petition for the first order, Mather, who is the mother of Munoz’ son, described a number of incidents that spring that caused her to fear Munoz, including instances where, while intoxicated, he threw soda at her face and her walls, put her clothes in a bathtub, yelled and texted obscenities to her, held her against her will on more than one occasion and once took away her phone, preventing her from calling 911.

In 2009, prior to the second restraining order, Munoz was charged with possession of a controlled substance, hashish, and DUII. The DUII was dismissed after Munoz completed diversion. He was convicted of a felony for the hashish and sentenced to 18 months probation.

In 2011, Mather sought a restraining order again over issues related to Munoz’ behavior while drunk. Her petition also claimed he used cocaine. She writes that he tried to touch her inappropriately. He pushed her down on a couch, stuck his forearm in her mouth and said “He will kill us. Kill us all.”

“He told me he has an alcohol problem,” wrote Mather, “and he is very unpredictable.”

Mather is distraught that others will know this information about a man she stresses was a "great father" and good friend. She says she didn’t know until this week that these records were public.

When she sought the protective orders her goal was to prevent her son from seeing them argue—she never believed Munoz would actually hurt her, she said.

These instances with Munoz were related to the intense emotion of breaking up with someone with whom you have a child. And after knowing Munoz for many years, she has never seen him interact with anyone else that way.

“When you have a relationship with somebody and you have a child together—it doesn’t bring out the right person,” she said of their break-up. “I’ve said and done things that I’m not proud of, everybody has. He was not a bad person—he was a good person."

Mather did file for full custody of their son just weeks before the shooting, but she noted custody is just a legal term having to do with who has decision-making authority over a child. She wanted to continue to share parenting time with Munoz as she had since their son was born, she said.

This information is as gut-wrenching for family and friends to hear as is the news that he may have broken into a home and attacked its owner. The accounts of these behaviors simply do not jive with the generous, outgoing, hard-working man they knew in Shane Munoz.

And until more information is released about the incident, they are left to stew in their frustration.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Police said it is common for homicide investigations to take as long as this one has so far.

“I wouldn’t say that it is unusual,” said Lt. Ben Gregory, of the Bend PD. “In some cases it is readily apparent if an arrest needs to be made or not, in some cases quite the opposite.”

If the police and the district attorney’s office determine someone should be charged with one or more crimes—which in the case of a shooting like this might be something like manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide or assault with a deadly weapon—that person would likely go before a grand jury, as is the standard process for felony charges in Deschutes County.

The grand jury would then determine whether the defendant should be indicted on none, any or all of those charges.

In this case, if there are no criminal charges, the Munoz family could possibly still bring a civil case against Kevin Perry, said members of the legal community.

For his part, Perry believes there will be no legal proceedings.

“I believe this will be the end of it,” he said, of the outcome he expects from the police investigation.

Even if that is the case, it’s clear the shooting has deeply shaken Perry—he often broke into sobs as he spoke earlier this week. It’s also just the beginning of a lifetime of questions for Munoz’ friends and family about the judicial system and how a man they knew as loving and honest could end up dead so unexpectedly and maybe ultimately with little explanation.

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