Men accused in killing make first court appearance

Father and son held on $1 million bail each

“He described the shot as a .22 caliber…. He was certain the two shots came from (the Jennings home).” witness statement to Detective Rob Heyen, from court documents.

OKANOGAN – Two Chesaw men remain behind bars this week after at least one of them allegedly shot and killed a Hoquiam man who was hunting grouse near their property in September.

John Jennings and Adam Jennings face murder chargers in the September shooting of a grouse hunter near Pontiac Ridge. OCSO photo
John Jennings and Adam Jennings face murder chargers in the September shooting of a grouse hunter near Pontiac Ridge. OCSO photo

John W. Jennings, 57, and his son Adam S. Jennings, 27, both made preliminary appearances in Okanogan County Superior Court last week. The two men, each picked up on arrest warrants, were charged with first-degree premeditated murder.

Authorities continue to hold both suspects in separate cells at the Okanogan County Corrections Center. Bail was set at $1 million each.

During their first court appearance, neither man spoke much. Both were assigned public defenders, though specific attorneys have yet to be determined. Their arraignment was scheduled for Dec. 2.

In addition to murder charges, Adam Jennings was also charged with unlawful possession of firearms. His father was charged with delivering firearms to an ineligible person.

The men are accused of the Sept. 1 shooting of Michael R. Carrigan, 52, Hoquiam, while Carrigan was hunting near the Jennings’ property along Pontiac Ridge Road.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said the case is still under investigation, and that officials are waiting for more results from ballistics testing. There appears to be no motive as of last week, he said.

Okanogan County Prosecutor Karl Sloan said he moved forward with murder charges on both men, regardless of who allegedly pulled the trigger.

“A person can be charged with the same crime based on accomplice liability,” he said. “And that’s what we’re doing in this case.”

Carrigan was found dead roughly 150 yards from the Jennings residence around 8 p.m. on Labor Day. His hunting partner, George Stover, also Hoquiam, said Carrigan took two shots at a grouse – firing away from the Jennings house – and missed.

Then “somebody at a house across the road started shooting at him,” he told investigators at the time. The cause of Carrigan’s death was later ruled as a gunshot wound to the back.

According to a statement from sheriff’s Detective Rob Heyen, Stover did not see who shot Carrigan. “He described the shot as a .22-caliber from his years of hunting experience,” the statement says. “He was certain the two shots came from (the Jennings home).”

After securing a search warrant, authorities uncovered a substantial number of firearms on the property – 18 in total – including seven loaded weapons in Adam Jennings’ bedroom. Of the firearms seized, none were registered to the younger Jennings. The weapons that were registered returned in John Jennings’ name.

Ammunition was also seized, including numerous boxes of Stinger.22 long rifle bullets that are similar in color and structure as the one found in Carrigan’s body.

The bullets Stover was hunting with were a different color. Officials have since ruled him out as the shooter.

During the search, detectives discovered a window in the Jennings home where Carrigan would have been clearly visible. Court documents show that the window’s aluminum frame had scrape marks on it that authorities said appeared to be from a rifle barrel moving across it. A wall-mounted gun rack was found covered in dust except for the top rung. There authorities found sections clean from dust, indicating an object had been recently removed.

A gun safe was found, which included a .22-caliber rifle with a mount scope that had “light, metallic colored scrape marks,” documents read. “These marks were consistent with the rifle being pointed out the aluminum-framed window and bumping the frame and sliding on the round bar at the bottom.”

That gun had dust on it, which detectives say indicate it had not previously been held in the safe.

Officials interviewed both Jennings men separately. Both denied shooting Carrigan, or even firing a weapon. Both men said they heard two shots from the road, that they took cover laying on the floor of their home, and that they heard two additional shots and a vehicle driving away.

Both father and son have a criminal history involving firearms.

In 2003, a then-17-year-old Adam Jennings pleaded guilty in Okanogan County Juvenile Court to second-degree assault. He was sentenced to 15-36 weeks in a state juvenile detention facility.

According to court documents, he opened fire on a neighboring family, firing off 20-30 shots after they were shooting at a pack of dogs that had killed one of their cows. The neighbors believed the dogs belonged to the Jennings family.

Documents also show that Adam Jennings was initially charged with four counts of second-degree assault. The court later dismissed three of those charges. As part of his sentence, the man lost his right to possess firearms until restored by the courts. According to probable cause documents filed last week, no such rights have been restored, hence the additional charge of illegal possession of firearms.

Five years prior, in 2008, John Jennings pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful display of a firearm, a charge brought down from second-degree assault.

He received a 364-day suspended sentence after threatening two people with a firearm in an apparent property dispute. According to court documents, John Jennings admitted to firing a shot after initially denying it.

Father and son held on $1 million bail eachFather and son held on $1 million bail each.

See also: Arrests made in fatal shooting of hunter