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Wapato man gets 50 years in prison for alcohol-induced murders and video game anger

Aug. 24 – A 37-year-old Wapato man was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to three shooting murders that prosecutors say were fueled by alcohol and anger over a game video.

Clifton F. Peter pleaded guilty in August 2021 to three counts of second-degree murder after shooting dead three complete strangers in a series of crimes that began in his family home. He had previously been imprisoned for robbery, motor vehicle theft and illegal possession of a firearm.

Peter’s mother and uncle reported that he had been drinking all day when he started acting violently on June 1, 2020.

After playing video games in his bedroom, Peter smashed his television and walls before attacking his mother, who was trying to leave the house, then jumped into her car. He backed out of the driveway at speed, according to court records, and nearly hit a man who was driving home from work. Peter got out of the car and shot the man, then got back in the car and continued driving.

Peter then rammed a car occupied by a couple into the street. He got out, shot the female driver, then pointed his gun at his male passenger. The second shooting was observed by two children playing nearby, according to court records.

The entire episode lasted 20 minutes, and based on the amount of alcohol Peter said he consumed that day, his blood alcohol level was likely three times the legal limit for driving, according to his attorneys.

Prosecutors had requested the 50-year sentence. In a statement, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Vanessa Waldref called the killings “senseless.”

“Three people died. Two children were orphaned with no immediate family in the United States. A family patriarch will never see his grandchildren graduate from high school or walk his daughter down the aisle,” Waldref said in a statement. . “Violence like this is not normal and cannot be normalized.”

Peter’s lawyer argued that the violence was impulsive and fueled not just by intoxication, but by a lifetime of depression that began after his father’s death. His brother also died in a fishing accident which Peter intended to continue.

The shootings took place on the Yakama Indian Reservation, prompting federal murder charges.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Stanley Bastian handed down the sentence. Peter was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $86,170 and serve a five-year supervised release upon his release from prison.