A Graham man shot and killed another man during an argument over an automobile, according to authorities.
The Pierce County prosecutor’s office last Friday charged Justin Jennings, 39, with one count of murder in the second degree for the death of J. Christopher Burton.
“This appears to be a minor dispute that pointlessly escalated," said Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist.
Authorities gave this account of the alleged murder:
On May 6, Jennings and a friend went to a residence on 82nd Avenue East in Puyallup because the friend left his car there a few days earlier. Several people, including the 50-year-old Burton, lived at the house.
According to two other residents, the friend began to argue with Burton about why the vehicle wasn’t there. When the argument became physical, Jennings pulled out a can of bear spray and sprayed Burton.
Burton began throwing things at Jennings, who then pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and shot Burton twice in the chest. Jennings and his friend left the area.
Burton was pronounced dead at the scene after medical aid personnel arrived.
Witnesses identified Jennings as the shooter. He was arrested on May 7 after a vehicle in which he was a passenger was stopped for attempting to elude a Pierce County Sheriff Department deputy. The deputy recognized Jennings and knew he was wanted in connection with the homicide investigation.
Jennings had a hand injury at the time he was arrested. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of a serious infection before being booked into the Pierce County Jail. A Pierce County Superior Court judge set bail for Jennings at $1 million and scheduled a trial for June 28.
According to court records, Jernnings also was arrested April 12 and charged with drug and firearm offenses and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
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