Witness To Fatal Shooting Recants Her Story -- First-Degree Murder Charge Lowered To Manslaughter After Witness Says Victim's Family Pressured Her To Lie

A Seattle man charged with shooting a 14-year-old Kent girl in his car Aug. 8 pleaded guilty today to first-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutors initially had filed a first-degree murder charge against Brian Kevin Porter, 19, alleging that he shot Latasha Davis at point-blank range after holding the gun to her head for several seconds.

Porter told King County Superior Court Judge John M. Darrah today that he was handing the loaded and cocked semiautomatic gun to Davis, who was sitting in the back seat behind him, after she asked to see it. The gun accidentally discharged, he said.

The only witness to the shooting, Davis' friend, Kenyetta Dyer, recanted earlier, taped statements she'd given police that the shooting was intentional.

James S. Kempton, Porter's defense attorney, said relatives of the victim had pressured Dyer to make those earlier statements. " `You're her best friend. She's gone now - you've got to do something to make it right,' " they told Dyer, according to Kempton.

Kempton said Dyer came to him after "her conscience got the better of her."

By pleading guilty to the lesser charge, Porter faces a sentence of up to 54 months in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 7.

"At this point we may never know what the truth is, but we (could) never prove murder one," said Kristin Richardson, a deputy prosecuting attorney. "We can't prove intent. We can't prove premeditation."

The victim's mother, Dona Davis, was angry that the charge was downgraded, and in tears as Porter told the court the shooting was accidental.

"It's just that simple. Kill someone. Plead guilty. You can get out. Slap him on the hand and send him back out there," Davis said.