A 74-year-old man has been found guilty of fatally shooting a contractor last year inside his Spanaway home after the men argued over the quality and payment of a bathroom remodel.
Yoon Myong Bang was convicted Friday of second-degree murder by a jury in Pierce County Superior Court. Jurors found Bang not guilty of the other charges brought against him: first-degree murder and first-degree assault.
He is to be sentenced Jan. 27. The standard sentencing range for defendants tried in similar cases is 10 years, three months to 18 years, four months in prison. Because Bang was armed with a firearm, he is required to serve an additional five years.
Efforts to reach the defendant’s attorney, Jared Ausserer, of Tacoma-based law firm Puget Law Group, were not successful Monday. During the trial, which began with opening statements Nov. 30, the defense sought to convince jurors the homicide was justified.
Bang shot Scott Odell Howard twice on Aug. 28, 2021. Howard had been working with another contractor at the defendant’s home in the 1800 block of 150th Street South for about a week. According to court filings, the men were hired to do tile work, replace a shower and move a toilet in the master bathroom.
Both Bang and Howard were described by those close to them as being quick to anger. Bang’s wife told detectives she wasn’t aware of any prior incidents where her husband threatened or attacked anyone, but she said they are Korean, and “Koreans have ‘short tempers,’” prosecutors reported in a trial brief.
Howard, a 51-year-old father of three children, was described by his girlfriend of several years as “hot tempered,” according to a court filing from the defense. The other contractor working with Howard described him similarly but said the man’s behavior was just posturing.
According to court records, the victim had three active domestic-violence protection orders against him when the shooting occurred. Law enforcement found one other incident in 2021 where a homeowner threatened Howard with a gun after he allegedly threatened to beat up the man for refusing to pay him more money due to the quality of his work.
In the most recent case, the contractors had about a week of work left to complete when the shooting occurred. Witnesses reported that Bang and Howard had bickered over the quality of the work already completed, but there hadn’t been any physical altercations or threats between them. On that day, Howard and Bang argued about a leaking toilet that Howard had reinstalled. The other contractor later told detectives that Bang said he wasn’t going to pay Howard for the work and told the man to leave.
Howard told Bang that if he wasn’t going to be paid, he would break up the tile work that he and his coworker installed, according to the other contractor. While Howard went to get a hammer from his truck, Bang left the room and returned with a 9 mm handgun.
When both men were back in the bathroom, prosecutors wrote that Howard hit a counter with the hammer but didn’t cause any damage. Bang then pointed his gun at Howard and allegedly told the man, “If you bust my tile up, I’m going to shoot you.”
The other contractor later told detectives that once Bang produced the gun, Howard acted like he wanted nothing to do with the man and wanted to leave. Howard walked toward the bedroom door and Bang followed. As they went around the corner, the contractor heard a gunshot.
In the bedroom, the other contractor saw Howard lying on the floor and bleeding from his head.
“[The contractor] asked the defendant, ‘You shot him?’ The defendant replied, ‘Yeah, I shot him. Call 911,’” prosecutors wrote in the trial brief.
While Howard’s coworker went outside to call for help, he heard another gunshot. The contractor didn’t report hearing anything before it, but Bang’s defense attorney wrote in court filings that the second shot was prompted by Howard regaining consciousness and striking Bang, who had returned to the room to look for a cell phone.
“Mr. Bang, shocked, shot Mr. Howard a second time,” Ausserer wrote. “The second shot severed Mr. Howard’s spine and killed him.”
Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to the home at about 2:30 p.m. When they arrived, the contractor, the defendant and his wife, who had been in the backyard, all exited the home. Prosecutors said Bang approached deputies and told them he’d shot Howard.
While Bang was detained, deputies cleared the home and located the defendant’s gun on a chair in the living room, court records show.