A Rock Springs man is facing life imprisonment for the shooting death of his girlfriend over the weekend.
Stephen Jeffery Taranovich, 41, is charged with Involuntary Manslaughter for the death of 43-year-old Danielle Nichole Martin. Prosecutors are seeking an enhanced sentence under the Habitual Criminal statute, which would make Taranovich eligible for a life sentence if convicted.
About the Case
According to court documents, Taranovich and Martin visited a friend’s residence on Pyramid Drive the afternoon of January 28, 2018.
Taranovich said he and Martin were in an on again/off again relationship for the past 15 years. He said they had not been arguing prior to the incident.
Taranovich admitted to using “dope” prior to the shooting. He told detectives that he had a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson which he removed from his back pocket. He allegedly told investigators that he took the slide, barrel, and spring off the handgun and began to clean the gun with a t-shirt or rag. After putting the gun back together, Taranovich said he pulled the trigger to release the tension on the gun, at which point the gun fired shooting Martin in the head.
Taranovich said he did not know a live round was in the chamber, and the gun was unintentionally pointed at Martin.
The friend, who was in the room at the time of the shooting, allegedly told officers that he believed the incident was accidental.
Taranovich allegedly called his mother following the shooting and then called 911 about half an hour after the incident occurred. His friend who was present during the shooting said he wanted to call 911, but Taranovich wanted to do it himself.
Taranovich made his initial appearance in court today.
Circuit Court Judge Craig L. Jones set bond at $600,000 cash or surety—the amount recommended by prosecutors.
Taranovich requested a lower bond. He said that he was not a flight risk and would take responsibility after shooting a woman who he loved. He noted that he called 911 himself rather than running from the situation.
“It was an accident,” he told Judge Jones.
Prosecutor Gary Redente recommended the $600,000 bond saying Taranovich is a risk to the community with an extensive criminal history including at least three prior felonies and multiple misdemeanors. Redente also said he believes Taranovich is a flight risk because he has only been in the community a few years and has ties to Florida.
Court documents note three prior felony convictions on Taranovich’s record:
- Criminal Possession of Controlled Substance-5th Offense, Intent To Sell; a felony in the Richmond County Supreme Court, convicted September 27, 1996
- Marijuana Producing; a felony in the Fifth Circuit Court, State of Florida, convicted January 18, 2005
- Vehicle Grand Theft; a felony in the Fifth Circuit Court, State of Florida, convicted January 18, 2005
A defendant is subject to the Habitual Criminal statute if he is convicted of a violent felony and has been convicted of a felony on three or more previous charges separately tried.
Taranovich is set for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. on February 6, 2018 during which Judge Jones will determine if enough evidence exists to move the case forward to District Court.