A Vancouver man was sentenced Wednesday to nearly seven years in prison for fatally shooting a man with a pellet gun — a case both prosecuting and defense attorneys called bizarre.
Mickey Alan Day, 46, pleaded guilty last month in Clark County Superior Court to second-degree manslaughter. He was originally charged with first-degree manslaughter.
The prosecutor and defense attorney agreed on a recommended sentence of 83 months — an exceptionally short sentence considering Day’s lengthy criminal history.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff McCarty explained the low recommendation was because the case had a “lot of factual oddities.”
On July 12, 2021, Vancouver police officers found 36-year-old Joshua Beatty dead in the driver’s seat of a van in a parking lot in the 100 block of Southeast 124th Avenue, according to a probable cause affidavit.
McCarty said investigators initially didn’t see an obvious cause of Beatty’s death, but the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office later determined a mark on his torso was an entry wound from a pellet.
When officers searched Beatty’s phone, they found messages with an account under Day’s wife’s name. But, McCarty said the messages appeared to show Beatty thought he was messaging with a 14-year-old girl who was Day’s niece.
The prosecutor said it’s still unclear to him if Beatty was ever messaging the girl, who was using Day’s wife’s account, or if Day’s wife was pretending to be her niece.
When Beatty arrived at a location where he’d planned to meet the girl, Day’s wife and another man confronted Beatty.
McCarty said Day was inside a motor home across the street when the confrontation began. At some point, someone broke out a window on Beatty’s van, McCarty said, and Beatty likely exited his van with a firearm.
Video footage of the incident is unclear, and investigators sent two videos to the FBI in an attempt to match the footage and audio. Still, the prosecutor said investigators were unable to identify each figure in the video, but the sound of a pellet gun firing could be heard.
McCarty said the biggest issue in the case was to what extent Day could’ve claimed self-defense or the defense of others. He said it’s unclear whether Day was waiting for Beatty to arrive or if he reacted to hearing the argument involving his wife.
Defense attorney Neil Anderson said investigators were also never able to determine at what point during the incident the pellet gun was fired. He disagreed with the idea that Day and his wife ambushed Beatty, but he said Day took the plea deal to avoid the risk that a jury might not believe he acted in self-defense.
Day apologized and said he didn’t see any other option.
“I didn’t want to watch my wife get killed in front of me,” he said.