COEUR d’ALENE — A 27-year-old Athol man who claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot another man multiple times at a Coeur d’Alene apartment complex was aquitted Wednesday by a jury.
Jurors in the two-day trial in Coeur d’Alene’s First District Court deliberated 90 minutes before returning a not guilty verdict for Keven C. Custer, who was on trial for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
“The jury found Keven Custer not guilty because they determined that Keven had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm,” said Custer’s attorney, Joseph Sullivan, on Wednesday.
Custer was accused of shooting 46-year-old Chris Gunderson Oct. 4 with a 9 mm he carried in a hip holster while lying on the ground after being struck by Gunderson. The blow knocked out one of Custer’s teeth, and cracked two others.
Gunderson survived the shooting despite being struck by bullets in the abdomen and chest, as well as his groin area, and an arm. He testified that he had used methamphetamine and marijuana, and drank beer and moonshine before the altercation at a St. Vincent de Paul housing facility in the 3800 block of east Second Avenue in Post Falls.
Sullivan said the incidents leading up to the shooting likely swayed jurors, who determined the force Custer used to defend himself was reasonable under the circumstances.
According to reports, Custer went around 8 p.m. to the apartment where his girlfriend lived, to retrieve some clothes that his girlfriend had washed for him. Gunderson was at the apartment with some other people and attempted to frisk Custer. Gunderson reportedly said he wanted to take away Custer’s firearm so he could beat him, and refused to allow Custer to leave the apartment.
After knocking Custer to the ground, Gunderson continued the attack until Custer shot him. Custer fled the apartment before calling police.
He told an officer, “I can’t believe I shot him.”
When officers arrived at the apartment complex, the Springfield handgun was lying on the ground outside the building along with a magazine and a bullet. Custer was sitting on the curb waiting for authorities.
Sullivan said despite testimony of Gunderson’s wounds, his client was not the perpetrator.
“Keven was the real victim here and the jury made the right decision,” he said.