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Murder case against Vancouver man dismissed

Prosecutor: October confrontation and fatal shooting in rural Clark County needs further investigation

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:

The murder case against a man accused in an October confrontation and shooting in rural Clark County was dismissed Thursday.

A motion and order for exoneration filed in the case against Vancouver resident Cody D. Nutter, 32, says further investigation is needed. Nutter initially appeared in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of second-degree murder; he was never formally charged.

Daniel Tveidt, 35, of Amboy was killed in the shooting. Nutter was later taken into custody at his residence by a Clark County Regional SWAT team and booked on the murder allegation.

Shortly after 7 p.m. Oct. 17, deputies responded to a call at the Chelatchie Prairie General Store, 42411 N.E. Yale Bridge Road, about 9 miles west of the shooting scene.

Two witnesses who were with Tveidt before the shooting told detectives that Tveidt was driving them in his vehicle after dark near 54 Road, east of Healy Road, after watching the sunset and drinking beer. At about 7 p.m., Tveidt drove past a pullout in the road, where a white truck was parked, and they heard gunshots. Tveidt pulled his car up next to the truck and then drove “in the firing line of the person shooting guns,” court documents state.

The two witnesses with Tveidt told detectives he “jumped out of his car and began yelling and charging at the person who was shooting.” The witnesses heard several gunshots and saw Tveidt fall to the ground, court records say.

The shooter allegedly told the witnesses to stay on the ground, then he got in his truck and drove away quickly, causing items to spill out of the back, court documents state, including a bag with Nutter’s name on it and a set of military dog tags, also with his name.

The prosecution wrote in its motion that based on available evidence, Tveidt was “agitated, intoxicated and attempted to disarm the defendant of his firearm at the time he was shot. (Nutter) has since indicated to law enforcement that he feared the firearm would then be used against both he and his girlfriend, who was present.”

Physical evidence corroborates Nutter’s account of a struggle over the gun, according to the prosecution’s motion. Consequently, the state concluded it could not disprove a self-defense claim beyond a reasonable doubt.

Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Smith said future charges against Nutter are unlikely based on the information the state has at this time.

Defense attorney Therese Lavallee said Tveidt’s death was not caused by any kind of criminal action by her client. She said the man’s death was tragic and applauded the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office “for making the difficult but correct decision” in declining to prosecute Nutter.

Nutter is an Army veteran who completed two tours of duty in Iraq and a family man with a young daughter, Lavallee said. He and his fiancee were target shooting at a popular remote spot in the woods of northeast Clark County on the night of the shooting, she said. “This stranger, without any hesitation, ‘charged’ toward Nutter who was still on the tailgate of his truck,” Lavallee said, noting “charged” was the word used by Tveidt’s friends who were interviewed by law enforcement.

Tveidt yelled at Nutter and aggressively taunted him, Lavallee said. Nutter was holding his firearm with the barrel pointed at the ground. When Tveidt noticed Nutter’s fiancee, he grabbed the barrel and tried to wrestle it away.

“Nutter desperately acted to not lose control of his rifle. Nutter feared that this stranger and his bizarre and threatening behavior was a grave and imminent threat to both his fiancee and him,” Lavallee said.

The rifle discharged once during the struggle, while Nutter was standing on his tailgate and Tveidt’s hands were wrapped around the barrel, and once more as Nutter pulled the man off his tailgate. Tveidt “let go, stumbled to his knees, and flipped Nutter off with both hands,” the defense attorney said.

Nutter made the decision to flee following the shooting because he saw two other men coming toward him in the dark. He had no choice but to protect himself in the unpredictable situation, Lavallee said.

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