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Francisco Kjolseth
Former West Valley City police officer Shaun Cowley tilts his head back as hears the ruling by Judge L.A. Dever who announces he will not have to stand trial on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Cowley is charged with second-degree felony manslaughter in connection with the Nov. 2, 2012 fatal shooting of 21-year-old Danielle Willard. At right are defense attorneys Paul Cassell and Lindsay Jarvis.

SALT LAKE CITY — A 3rd District judge on Thursday ruled former West Valley police detective Shaun Cowley will not face trial for the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old woman during a botched undercover investigation.

Judge L.A. Dever said Thursday there was no evidence the shooting was not legally justified, a decision that is at odds with District Attorney Sim Gill's pronouncement in August 2013. Cowley had been charged with manslaughter in Danielle Willard's death in November 2012.

"We respect the process of our judicial system even if it produces results that we may not agree with. As I have always said, the process needs to be respected, they are the rules by which we engage when we have differences of opinions," said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

"The Salt Lake County District Attorney's office has a responsibility to forward cases for judicial review when we believe conduct violated the law and calls into question the actions of public servants.

We filed the criminal charges that we believed were appropriate. Consistent with our system of law, we accept the Courts determination."

Willard's mother, who was present in the crowded courtroom, was visibly upset and left the courtroom without speaking to reporters.