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Nampa murder suspect says he was threatened with baseball bat before shooting

Ronald Carpenter said he was defending himself, but investigators say the other man "did not appear to be a threat" when Carpenter shot him a second time.
Credit: Canyon County Jail
On Saturday, March 6, 2021, Ronald Carpenter, 76, of Caldwell was arrested by Canyon County Sheriff's Deputies on second-degree murder charges.

NAMPA, Idaho — A Caldwell man accused of shooting and killing another man Saturday told investigators he was defending himself after the victim came after him with a baseball bat.

Ronald Carpenter, 76, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 56-year-old  Michael L. Koch.

The shooting happened at Koch's home on Portner Road in Nampa at about 8:15 a.m. Saturday.

According to court documents, Koch had been allowing Carpenter to store his tools at a shop on Koch's property and work on his semi-truck at that location. Earlier this year, Koch told Carpenter he wanted him off his property, and the men agreed that the suspect would come pick up his tools on Saturday.

Carpenter told the Canyon County Sheriff's Office that he arrived at Koch's house to find his tools stacked up in the driveway. He noticed his automotive creeper - a type of sled on wheels used to slide under a vehicle - had been broken in half.

The suspect said he got angry and threw the creeper towards Koch's car. 

At that point, according to court documents, Koch came running out of his house "in a rage." The confrontation was recorded on a doorbell camera. 

Credit: Idaho State Police

Investigators say the video shows Koch picking up gravel from the driveway and throwing it at Carpenter's truck. Carpenter said that Koch had opened his passenger side door and grabbed a baseball bat, then began hitting the windshield and hood of Carpenter's truck with it.

The suspect said that Koch then began coming towards the driver's side of the Carpenter's truck with the bat held over his shoulder.

Carpenter told detectives that he thought the other man was going to hit him in the head with the bat, and when Koch got close, he grabbed a firearm from the seat of his vehicle. 

Koch saw the gun in his hand, Carpenter told detectives, and said "shoot me, [expletive.]" 

Police say the video shows Koch raise the bat and step toward Carpenter, then Carpenter shoot him, knocking him to the ground. The suspect said that although Koch was bleeding, "he was still ready to swing the bat and was trying to come at" Carpenter, so he shot him a second time. 

Detectives who watched the video had a different assessment. In court documents, police wrote that Koch was lying on the ground, then pushed himself up to one elbow before he was shot a second time. 

"The second gunshot was five seconds after the first gunshot," the detective wrote. "When [Koch] was shot a second time, he was on the ground, did not appear to have a weapon in his hand, and did not appear to be a threat to Carpenter."

Police say Carpenter remained on scene and waited for law enforcement to arrive after the shooting. Deputies arrived to find Koch lying dead in the driveway, with a baseball bat under his right leg.

Carpenter was arrested and booked into the Canyon County Jail. His bond was set Monday at $1 million.

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for March 22. Second-degree murder is punishable by up to life in prison. 

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