Man sentenced for shooting at fleeing car thief

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Tobin Hugh Panton, 41, was sentenced on Sept. 8 to eight-and-a-half years in prison for manslaughter in the first degree. In November of last year, Panton fired his gun at a car thief who was driving away in his Jeep. A stray bullet struck Linda Green, 61, inside her home. She died a short time later.

Panton pleaded guilty to manslaughter in July. Today he was sentenced to the high end of the sentencing range.

“Instead of calling 911, he took matters into his own hands,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erika Nohavec at sentencing.  “He didn’t think of any of his neighbors and Linda Green lost her life that day.”

On Nov. 3, 2016 deputies with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the 12000 block of Prairie Ridge Drive East to investigate a report of a stolen car. Deputies contacted Tobin Panton, who said his Jeep had been stolen. When he noticed his vehicle was leaving the driveway, he grabbed his handgun and walked onto the front porch. Panton said he saw his vehicle traveling away and fired at the vehicle to stop the theft. He fired until the gun was empty.

A short time later, deputies received a call for aid from another home on the same street. The caller said Linda Green had fallen and hit her head. When first responders examined Green, they found she had been shot in the head. Deputies located a bullet hole in Green’s window that faces Panton’s porch. Detectives were able to locate several strike marks in the area of Green’s house consistent with gunshots from Panton’s porch.

“Washington law doesn’t allow the use of deadly force to protect property,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

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