An Oregon woman who shot and killed her friend earlier this year is headed for jail — not for murder, but for how she illegally handled the gun she used, prosecutors said.
Sophia Adler, 33, had been arguing with Gigi Pierce, 28, on a sidewalk in Portland, Oregon, when Pierce pulled out a knife on May 21, according to a Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office press release.
Adler was armed, too. She had a .45 caliber Hi-Point pistol hidden in her purse, prosecutors said. Pierce was less than a foot away from Adler, wielding a knife and threatening to stab her in the face, which left Adler frightened, she told authorities — and so Adler fired the gun that was hidden in her bag, according to the district attorney’s office.
Following the shooting, Adler spoke with 911 dispatchers and cooperated with police. Adler was then arrested on suspicion of murder, police said. But a grand jury that convened for three days rejected murder charges for Adler after taking into account the state’s self-defense laws, prosecutors said.
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“Ms. Adler and Gigi were friends,” Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney J.R. Ujifusa said in a statement. “The question we needed [the grand jury] to answer was whether this was a murder or a case of self-defense.”
The grand jury didn’t reject all charges, though: Adler was indicted on one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. She had legally purchased the gun — but she lacked a license to conceal it, the district attorney said.
Adler pleaded guilty to that charge on Thursday. A judge accepted the plea and sentenced her to 100 days in jail, giving her credit for time already served, prosecutors said. Adler will then have two years of probation.
She also has to undergo drug, alcohol and mental health evaluations and get treatment if needed. She’s barred from contacting Pierce’s family unless a probation officer authorizes it.
Pierce, a native of Boise, Idaho, was a transgender woman, according to police. But that didn’t play a role in the argument.
“From the very early stages of this investigation, we knew this was not a hate crime,” Ujifusa said.
A family member, speaking at Adler’s sentencing on Thursday, said Pierce had “so much potential.”
And the family member offered guidance for Adler, too.
“We ask that you turn your life around — that you get the help for your addiction that you have struggled with,” the family member told Adler by conference call in court, according to prosecutors. “Get the mental health treatment that you truly need.”
The district attorney said the death “had a profound impact on our community.”
Friends described Pierce as someone who was constantly giving others a helping hand, even though she was homeless herself, KOIN reports.
“She’d give you the shirt off her back and feed you if she could,” said friend Patricia Hart, KOIN reports. Hart described a time Pierce “spent $90 and fed all the women in the shelter.”