(May 14, 3:15 pm)
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A federal judge Thursday dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against the FBI sharpshooter who killed the wife of white separatist Randy Weaver during the 1992 siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge accepted the Justice Department argument that Lon Horiuchi was acting in the line of duty when he fired and was protected by the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which keeps federal agents from state prosecution for actions within the scope of their job.
Boundary County Prosecutor Denise Woodbury charged Horiuchi last August with firing the shot that went through the cabin door and killed Vicki Weaver as she held her baby daughter.
It was the third death in the 11-day standoff that began when federal marshals tried to arrest Weaver on a gun charge at his isolated mountain cabin. They encountered Weaver's son, Samuel, and his dog, and an exchange of gunfire left the 14-year-old boy and Deputy Marshal William Degan dead.
Woodbury maintained Horiuchi acted negligently. Horiuchi contended throughout that he was following the procedures set out for dealing with the Ruby Ridge confrontation. The unusual "rules of engagement" told federal lawmen to fire at anyone moving around the Weaver cabin.
Woodbury also charged Weaver's friend, Kevin Harris, with murder, but that charge were dismissed. Harris and Weaver were acquitted in an earlier federal trial on charges of killing Degan.
© 1998, The Associated Press.