Washington man pleads guilty to manslaughter from stray bullet

Tobin Panton entered a guilty plea to a manslaughter charge this week after he fatally shot a sleeping neighbor while firing at a fleeing car thief. (Photo: Q13 FOX News)

Tobin Panton entered a guilty plea to a manslaughter charge this week after he fatally shot a sleeping neighbor while firing at a fleeing car thief. (Photo: Q13 FOX News)

A man who fired his Glock at a car thief leaving his driveway with his vehicle pled guilty this week to the death of a neighbor struck by one of his bullets.

Tobin Panton, 40, of Bonney Lake in the Tacoma area entered a guilty plea on Monday to one count of manslaughter in the first degree for the death of Linda Green, 61. The incident, which occurred last November, happened just after Tobin was getting out of the shower and saw his Jeep leaving his driveway. Retrieving his Glock, Tobin fired at the departing vehicle from his porch until he ran out of ammunition. Pierce County deputies were called a brief time later to a home two blocks away from the man’s residence, where Green was found shot in the head.

Detectives discovered a bullet hole in the window of Green’s home that faced Tobin’s porch and numerous “strike marks” on the front of her residence as well as her next-door neighbor’s home.

“If you use deadly force it has to be reasonable under the circumstances,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, who sought charges against Tobin. “Generally speaking, in Washington you cannot use deadly force to stop a non-violent crime.”

As noted by Komo News, Tobin’s Jeep was later found abandoned a mile away from the scene, and the thief has not been found.

Charged last year, Tobin initially entered a plea of not guilty and was given $200,000 bail due to his lack of prior criminal convictions and strong ties to the community.

He is set for sentencing in Pierce County Superior Court in September. A class A felony, under Washington law Tobin could face life in prison.