Category Archives: Crime and punishment

Lighthouse restaurant closed, seeking new backer

The Robert Earl Lighthouse, open in late May, closed Monday, disabled by criminal charges against owner Eric A. Smith of Bothell. General manager Brookes Konig is looking for new financial backing, according to bar supervisor Linda Martens of Port Orchard, who came out of retirement to work with Konig.

Smith, a Seattle Police officer, was charged July 2 in Snohomish County with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business, dropped off after the charges came to light, said Martens, who was at the empty restaurant Wednesday, awaiting delivery of final paychecks for the remaining employees. Initially, after Smith’s legal troubles were reported, 20 of the roughly 55 Lighthouse employees were laid off. Smith struggled valiantly to keep the restaurant afloat, Martens said, and the hope is that a deal in the works might still be brokered.
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Martens had high praise for Konig, who has a long career in the food and beverage industry. “He’s such a wonderful man,” she said. “He cares about his employees like they’re his family.”

Konig preferred to be call “coach” by employees, Martens said. “He doesn’t want to be the boss, because he feels like his strength is coaching.” She added that Konig “moved heaven and earth” to make sure the final paychecks were cut.

Martens also praised the team Konig assembled to re-open the landmark restaurant, which had sat shuttered for a number of years. “I’ve never seen a group of people so dedicated to one person, and that was Brookes,” Martens said.

Smith, doing business as Robert Earl Enterprises LLC, had leased the Lighthouse from property owner Tim Tweten, whose parents opened the original Tweten’s Lighthouse in 1984. Tweten’s was a destination, special occasion kind of place. Konig wanted the new Lighthouse to be more of an every day, gathering place for the community, Martens said.

Martens hopes the Lighthouse, named for Smith’s father, can outshine the tarnish of the accusations against Smith, who was placed on administrative leave from Seattle PD. “It’s up to this town if it does come back to step up,” she said.

District policies call for immediate expulsion for gun in school

One person who commented on today’s story about the impact of expulsions on families said he thought expulsion was too harsh a punishment for a 9-year-old boy who brought a gun to school in February 2012, resulting in the critical injury of an 8-year-old classmate. The girl survived, but her health remains compromised, a spokeswoman for the family has said.

Here is the comment from Larry Croix and my response outlining the rights and responsibilities of school officials, students and parents in cases where students bring a gun to school. In short, most districts, under state law and their own polices, have no choice but to expel the student. Students are entitled to due process, including the right to appeal.

Larry says, “There was a lot about the 9 year old in this story that I could not fathom. I don’t want to minimize the past and future pain and suffering of the victim. That said I don’t understand how a 9 year old could be criminally guilty of anything. I thought and still think a years expulsion was wrong headed given the circumstances. Changing his school certainly, but anything beyond that was excessive and I have to wonder what they were thinking beyond avoiding having to deal with over wrought parents of other children.”

My response, “Under state law, bringing a gun to school is “grounds for” expulsion. Bremerton, like most districts, spells out in its parent handbook a policy that students who bring a gun to school will be immediately expelled.

The law says students who suspended or expelled are entitled to due process including the right to appeal (the link here is to a document posted on the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website), but schools can emergency expel a student who poses an immediate threat. The emergency expulsion, must be followed within 24-hours by written notification to parents/ guardians and converted to some other form of discipline.

So in the case of the 9-year-old, the district was bound by state law and its own policies to expel the boy. His guardian doesn’t dispute the district’s actions immediately following the shooting.”

Chris Henry, reporter

Strategic plan, timeline set for mental-health tax

Up to $3 million from the local mental-health tax will be doled out July 1.

A sales tax of 0.1 percent dedicated for local mental-health services went into effect Jan. 1 after being approved by Kitsap County commissioners in September.

The July deadline is just one of several in the recently released strategic plan from the Kitsap County Behavioral Health Strategic Planning Team. Proposals for projects or programs, aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill juveniles and adults cycle through the criminal justice system and the demand on emergency services, will be accepted from Feb. 20 to April 18 at 3 p.m. Kitsap County County Mental Health, Chemical Dependence and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Board will review the proposals.

The citizens advisory board also is asking for community input on what residents what to see funded by the sales tax via an online survey.

In the 62-page strategic plan, which outlines recommendations for closing service gaps for mentally ill and substance abuse, it says county and surrounding peninsula region had the highest number of mentally ill boarded ever recorded in October 2013.

The plan recommends increasing housing and transportation options, treatment funding and outreach, among other suggestions.

 

Reporting and responsibilities outlined

The strategic planning team makes recommendations the citizens advisory board and establishes the strategic plan for the mental health tax.

Proposals will be submitted to the citizens advisory board for review. The board will make recommendations for the proposals and funding level to the county commissioners, who ultimately approve the proposals.

The citizen advisory board will annually review projects and programs while receiving input from the strategic team, and report to the director of Kitsap County Human Services, who will present reviews to the county commissioners.

 

 Meet the team and board

Kitsap County Behavioral Health Strategic Planning Team

  • Al Townsend, Poulsbo Police Chief (Team Co-Chair)
  • Barb Malich, Peninsula Community Health Services
  • Greg Lynch, Olympic Educational Service District 114
  • Joe Roszak, Kitsap Mental Health Services
  • Judge Anna Laurie, Superior Court (Team Co-Chair)
  • Judge Jay Roof, Superior Court
  • Judge James Docter, Bremerton Municipal Court
  • Kurt Wiest, Bremerton Housing Authority
  • Larry Eyer, Kitsap Community Resources
  • Michael Merringer, Kitsap County Juvenile Services
  • Myra Coldius, National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Ned Newlin, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office
  • Robin O’Grady, Westsound Treatment Agency
  • Russell D. Hauge, Kitsap County Prosecutor
  • Scott Bosch Harrison, Medical Center
  • Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH Kitsap Public Health
  • Tony Caldwell, Housing Kitsap

 

Kitsap County Mental Health, Chemical Dependence and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Board

  • Lois Hoell, Peninsula Regional Support Network: 3 year term
  • Jeannie Screws, Kitsap County Substance Abuse Advisory Board: 3 year
  • Aimee DeVaughn, Kitsap County Commission on Children and Youth: 3 year
  • Connie Wurm, Area Agency on Aging: 3 year
  • Dave Shurick, Law and Justice: 1 year
  • Walt Bigby, Education: 1 year
  • Carl Olson, At Large Member District 2: 2 year
  • James Pond, At Large Member District 3: 2 year
  • Robert Parker, At Large Member District 2: 2 year
  • Russell Hartman, At Large Member District 3: 2 year
  • Richard Daniels, At Large Member District 1: 1 year

Footnotes on senior deputy prosecutor’s DUI

When we wrote about a Pierce County court giving a Kitsap County senior deputy prosecutor treatment for alcohol addiction in lieu of punishment, a number of readers railed against the deferred prosecution deal.

“She had a prior alcohol related incident where charges were reduced!! She was driving drunk with two 3-yr-olds in the car!! Why was deferred prosecution even on the table?” commenter SS487 asked.

I brought readers’ concerns to Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor Tim Lewis. In a nutshell, he said Barbara O. Dennis received no special consideration and only got the concessions to which she was legally eligible under state law.

“The way we approached this case is no different from how we approach any other DUI that comes through our office,” Lewis said.

The implication of Lewis’ statement is that anyone under similar circumstances should be able to expect the same treatment. Here are details of Dennis’ case and Lewis’ answers to questions raised by how it played out in court.

Dennis, 42, was driving Oct. 9 on Bond Road when her van rear-ended a Volvo that had stopped for a car that was turning. A Washington State Patrol trooper who responded noted Dennis smelled of alcohol. A test at Kitsap County Jail after her arrest showed blood alcohol levels of 0.144 and 0.134, more than the 0.08 legal limit. Two 3-year-olds were riding in Dennis’ car at the time of the accident.

The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office referred the case to Pierce County to avoid a conflict of interest. On Oct. 22, Dennis was charged with driving under the influence.

Dennis was charged with DUI in 2007 by Pierce County prosecutors. The charge was reduced to first-degree negligent driving, an alcohol-related misdemeanor, after Dennis complied with certain court-ordered conditions.

Considering her prior alcohol-related offense, why was deferred prosecution an option on her second DUI?
The 2007 negligent driving charge does count as a prior DUI, Lewis said, but Dennis at the time did not seek a deferred prosecution (treatment in lieu of jail time and other punishment). A defendant is eligible for only one deferred prosecution ever, and most defense attorneys will advise clients, “Don’t use it for your first DUI. Keep it in your pocket,” Lewis said. Most most defendants he’s seen seeking deferred prosecution are looking at their second or third DUI.

To be eligible for a DP, the defendant must admit culpability, waive their right to a trail by jury and sign a statement agreeing that addiction to alcohol (or drugs if that’s the case) was a causative factor in the crime. They must also agree that without treatment they are highly likely to re-offend.

“You’re really coming before the court and doing a mea culpa,” Lewis said.

The theory behind the deferred prosecution is that it’s better not only for the defendant but also for society to have them seek treatment for their addiction and hopefully prevent future crimes.

If the defendant lapses during treatment or otherwise fails to fulfill terms of the court, they go back to square one legally speaking. The judge then has the discretion to impose the maximum penalty allowed.

The law, however, gives the court little discretion to deny a deferred prosecution if the defendant meets the qualifications, Lewis said. If the treatment plan satisfies the statute, “the court shall” grant the deferred prosecution, the law says.

How did Dennis get the 2007 DUI charge reduced?
Dennis entered into a pretrial diversion agreement with the court, meaning if she stayed out of trouble and fulfilled other terms imposed by the judge — a litany of things, Lewis said — the charge would be reduced to first-degree reckless driving, an alcohol-related misdemeanor. Again, said Lewis, this was an option that was available to Dennis by law; not because she is a deputy prosecutor.

“It’s a matter of statutory entitlement,” Lewis said.

State law says defendants facing a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor (as Dennis did) are eligible for a deferred prosecution. Those charged with a felony DUI are not. Under what circumstances is a DUI charged as a felony?
In Washington State, one can have up to four DUIs within a 10-year period before the subsequent charge becomes a felony. Washington is the only state that allows that many prior DUIs. The number in other states ranges from one to three.

A DUI will automatically be charged as a felony in Washington if a defendant has a prior conviction of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, or if they are a juvenile.

Was the fact two toddlers were in the car taken into consideration?
Yes, Lewis said. The prosecutor’s office charged it as a DUI with the “aggravator” of having children under the age of 16 in the car. According to Lewis, Dennis was booked into jail with child endangerment recommended as a separate charge. The Pierce County Prosecutor considered making the two charges separately, but “the aggravated DUI carries more of a penalty” than charging the DUI and then child endangerment, Lewis said. Although Dennis will not be subject to the penalties if she completes the deferred prosecution, it gave the prosecutor’s office a bigger hammer to hang over her head, so to speak (my words, not Lewis’).

Were injuries to the Volvo driver factored in to the charge and plea deal?
The Kitsap Sun heard from the driver of the Volvo, who said she was injured and the car totaled. According to Lewis, none of the information the Pierce County Prosecutors Office received indicated that the victim’s injuries meet the threshold of the law for vehicular assault. The threshold is “substantial bodily harm,” which is defined as, “bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part or organ, or which causes a fracture of any bodily part.”

I hope this offers some clarification.

Chris Henry, reporter