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Originally published Monday, December 2, 2013 at 7:34 PM

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Renton woman held on $1M bail in husband’s shooting death

Vanetta Richardson, 34, was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail Monday after a judge found probable cause that the Renton woman fatally shot her husband Sunday afternoon.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A 34-year-old Renton woman was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail Monday after a King County District Court judge found probable cause that she fatally shot her husband during an argument Sunday afternoon.

Vanetta Richardson, who is being held on investigation of second-degree murder domestic violence, is accused of firing a .40-caliber handgun until she ran out of ammunition, striking Jerry Lee Butler Jr. at least twice as he fled from their house, according to the probable-cause statement outlining the police case against her.

Richardson “continued to shoot the victim even after he was running away and was out of the house. ... She didn’t stop until she was out of ammunition,” King County Deputy Prosecutor Allison Bannerman said Monday in requesting the high bail.

The couple appear to have a long history of domestic violence, court records show.

They have three children together and also lived with Richardson’s three children from a previous relationship, according to court records. All of the children were present and five of the six kids, ages 6 to 16, witnessed portions of Sunday’s shooting, according to the statement.

In April 2012, Butler was arrested after another fight in which Richardson pulled a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun on him and fired, but she was unaware the weapon wasn’t loaded, according to court records. Butler then smashed out the windows of Richardson’s car with a baseball bat, later pleading guilty to reduced domestic-violence charges of third-degree malicious mischief and harassment, the records show.

He was given a deferred sentence and was under court order to attend domestic-violence counseling sessions but stopped going in September, about a month after a no-contact order against Butler was vacated at Richardson’s request, court records show.

After a nine-month separation, Richardson wrote in an Aug. 26 letter to the court that she and Butler weren’t sure if they would stay together but were committed to rebuilding their relationship, going to therapy and improving their communications for the sake of their children.

“I can’t undo the past and neither can Jerry but we have kids and I do not want them to go through the same issue they seen their parents go through,” Richardson wrote. “Meanwhile, I have embraced what has happened and I am ready to take the next step to move on with our lives.”

Just after 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Richardson called 911 and told a dispatcher that she had shot her husband after he had hit her inside their house in the 12400 block of Southeast 184th Street, according to the probable-cause statement.

Butler had moved back in with his family in September, it says.

The couple had been arguing since Saturday after Richardson discovered text messages between Butler and another woman, the statement says. As the fighting continued Sunday, Butler announced he was leaving and would take any kids who wanted to go, it says.

Officers arrived and found Butler, 31, lying in the front yard at the base of some stairs with at least two gunshot wounds, the statement says. He died at the scene.

Richardson complied with officers’ orders to come out with her hands up and directed them to the handgun, which she had left inside at the top of the stairs, according to the statement.

Renton police say Richardson told them Butler had slapped her in the face, then punched a phone out of her hand, causing the phone to hit their 6-year-old daughter, according to the statement. After some shoving from Butler, who was blocking the door, Richardson retrieved a handgun from her bedside table and before firing yelled at him to get out of the bedroom, the statement says.

As Butler ran from the house, he yelled at his 14-year-old son to get out of the way and warned that Richardson had a gun, according to the statement. Their 16-year-old daughter told officers Butler fled the house “running, tripping and gasping, obviously hurt,” fell down the stairs and was shot twice in the back by Richardson, the statement says.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or



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