Marine facing manslaughter charge for South Hill shooting

SPOKANE, Wash. - Chad Pratt recently returned home from a combat tour in Afghanistan. It was supposed to be a happy homecoming, but now he's facing a manslaughter charge, suspected of accidentally shooting one of his friends to death.

Pratt has bonded out of jail and made his first appearance in court Monday. Pratt is accused of firing the shot that killed 20-year-old Ciara Hardin while they were at a party at a South Hill last Wednesday night.

It was supposed to be a happy homecoming for Pratt, 20, who just finished up a successful tour maintaining Marine Harrier jets in Afghanistan and was back in Spokane for the holidays.

Marine manslaughter

Then, the day after Christmas, while attending a party with high school friends, something went terribly wrong.

"At this point it looks like it was just some friends gathered at a house and there was a gun and people were drinking and then the gun was accidentally discharged and she was shot," Spokane Police Sergeant Mark Griffiths said.

After detectives learned Pratt was underage and that drinking may have clouded his ability to handle a loaded gun safely they charged the 20-year-old with manslaughter.

Defense attorney Rob Cossey said Pratt is grief stricken and wishes he could trade places with Ciara Hardin.

"He told my paralegal that and she said it was the most heart-felt and sincere statement from someone in this situation that she's ever heard," Cossey said.

Cossey said his client joined the Marines right out of high school to protect his country and that hurting an innocent high school friend was the last thing he wanted to do.

"We are very impressed with this young man. He has done everything we've asked him to as far as a society, protecting his country, serving as you stated. He's devastated by this. He has a great family support system. He's one if the nicest young men I've ever represented," Cossey said.

As a condition of his release on a $15,000 bond Pratt cannot drink or handle firearms.