Update | Suspect in botched drug deal shooting will not be charged with murder

Prosecutors say murder charges won’t be filed due to difficulty disproving self-defense

Murder charges will not be filed against the man who allegedly shot and killed a 24-year-old man in Bremerton on Saturday, in what Bremerton Police Detective Keith Sargent is calling a “drug deal gone bad.”

The incident occurred in the 1500 block of Naval Avenue around 3:30 p.m. when the victim allegedly pulled a knife on Elijah Steele, claiming that he had sold him “fake cocaine” court documents say. Steele then fatally shot the victim with a .45 caliber handgun.

According to a statement of probable cause, Steele met with the victim at a Bremerton park with the intent of selling him cocaine, some two hours prior to the shooting. After the transaction occurred, the victim allegedly began complaining that he had been sold fake cocaine. Steele and the victim, along with another individual — a cousin of the victim — agreed to meet up again at Naval Avenue, documents read.

The victim’s cousin told authorities that the victim had been holding a knife when he approached Steele’s vehicle and moved the blade toward Steele’s throat as he sat in the driver’s seat. According to statements made to Bremerton Police, the cousin then heard a “pop,” and watched the victim fall to the ground.

Steele was arrested and initially booked into Kitsap County Jail for murder in the second degree, however, the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office has since changed the charge to delivery of a controlled substance, citing that they would be unable to disprove a self-defense claim.

“We didn’t think that we’d be able to overcome a self-defense claim,” said Cami Lewis of the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office. “That would be something that we would be required to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt and we would not be able to do that.”

The Kitsap County Coroner’s Office is expected to conduct on autopsy on the victim Wednesday.

More in News

Man arrested after barricading home in weeklong standoff

KCSO: Man barricaded himself in his home and set fire to it before surrendering

State working to get more personal protection equipment to Washington

Healthcare workers have been on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis,… Continue reading

Gov. Inslee on federal stimulus package: Thanks, but more is needed

Gov. Jay Inslee welcomed the approval of a $2 trillion federal stimulus… Continue reading

Kitsap County suspends plastic bag ban

In an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 Kitsap County commissioners… Continue reading

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer
Rep. Kilmer holds telephone town hall on CARES Act, coronavirus

The worst is yet to come, but action taken this week by… Continue reading

KPHD releases directives for employers, employees and the public

As testing continues to ramp up and more cases of COVID-19 are… Continue reading

Grub Hut shutting down for two weeks due to COVID-19 pandemic

The Grub Hut closed Tuesday and will remain so until April 6

Bremerton expands rental assistance program to include those affected by COVID-19

Eligible Bremerton residents will have the opportunity to have a portion of… Continue reading

<em>The Acohido family, Max, Kiki, Amanda and Kyle, along with their cat, Bemo, pose for their Quarantine portrait in Kingston.</em>								Photo courtesy Rachael Cates Photography
Meet the Kingston photographer capturing the lighter side of the quarantine

One Kingston resident has been working to show the lighter side of… Continue reading

Most Read