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News / Clark County News

Cantrell acquitted of assault, attempted murder charges

Jury finds man acted in self-defense in east Vancouver shooting

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: March 13, 2023, 5:25pm

A Clark County Superior Court jury acquitted Jacob Cantrell of attempted murder and assault charges Monday after finding he acted in self-defense in a June 2022 shooting in east Vancouver.

The jury returned at about 1 p.m. with the not-guilty verdicts for second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault, along with a lesser alternative charge of second-degree assault.

The case went to the jury at about 3 p.m. Friday, after four days of trial testimony. Jurors deliberated for about two hours Friday before breaking for the weekend; they returned Monday morning to resume deliberations.

Because the jury found he acted in self-defense, Cantrell, 33, of Vancouver, will be reimbursed for his legal fees and lost wages for the nine months he’s been in custody since the incident, according to his defense attorney, Josephine Townsend.

Cantrell reported to 911 he shot a man, later identified as Randall J. Morrison, shortly before 2 a.m. June 21.

Morrison smashed the windows of Cantrell’s Honda with a shovel in the driveway of Cantrell’s house in Vancouver’s East Mill Plain neighborhood, according to trial testimony.

Prosecutors argued Cantrell initiated the incident when they say he first smashed a window of Morrison’s pickup, likely with a rock. In a recorded police interview, Cantrell could be heard telling officers he confronted Morrison over the loud exhaust on his truck.

Townsend said investigators never learned who or what broke the window of Morrison’s truck. She said an intoxicated Morrison began damaging the cars in the driveway closest to where he thought his pickup was struck. When Cantrell came outside to investigate, Morrison came after him with a shovel, she said.

After the verdict, Townsend said she was not surprised by the jury’s decision, saying Cantrell shouldn’t have been charged in the first place. She said investigators sometimes have tunnel vision and assume when someone’s been shot, that person is a victim.

“I think (the verdict) makes a statement to the public that Washington is a ‘stand your ground’ state,” she said. “It was a long trial, and I’m glad for Mr. Cantrell that he’s been vindicated.”

During closing arguments, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Smith noted Cantrell never said he was in fear of Morrison or that Morrison threatened him with a weapon in his initial call to 911. Instead, Cantrell mentioned the loud exhaust and damage to his car.

“This was a difficult case, and we felt it was an appropriate case for the jury to decide,” Smith said in an email after the verdict. “We respect the decision of the jury and thank them for their service.