Pierce County prosecutors: No charges in Shaw death because woman was escaping sexual assault


photoThe reason Pierce County prosecutors passed on pressing charges against a woman involved in the Sept. 14 death of South Kitsap legend Leon Shaw was because they believe evidence shows that she was escaping a sexual assault.

Deputy Prosecutor Tim Jones, who specializes in traffic related death cases like vehicular homicide, reviewed the case file and made the call to decline charges. He said Tuesday the incident on the Key Peninsula where Shaw was killed was likely a sexual assault, but, also, if prosecutors pursed charges against the woman they would not likely get a conviction (read the full and complete story here and read Shaw’s epic obituary here).

“I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a wealth of evidence, but there is a sufficient amount of evidence of a sexual assault that she was probably escaping,” Jones said. “Put that in front of a jury and they would say, ‘What are you thinking?’”

Two rape kits were completed, but the results were not included in the package of reports the Kitsap Sun received as part of its public records request. Jones said he was not at liberty to discuss the results of those tests.

Also not included in the public documents were the woman’s medical records. A Washington State Patrol drug test on the woman’s blood found meth and booze, but no evidence of barbiturates. However, Jones said a search warrant of hospital records and blood samples did find barbiturates in the woman’s system. There was also evidence in the woman’s system of another drug that could impair memory or cause a blackout, Jones said.

The woman, according to her recorded statement to Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies, said Shaw had given her a pill he said was aspirin to help with the pain of the tattoo she was receiving. At some point after that she blacked out. She claimed she was drinking liquor, but not a lot of liquor, and said she can hold her booze. The tattoo artist friend said she took four big shots of Crown Royal whiskey on top of what she had already consumed.

If Shaw had survived the incident, Jones said it was hard to say if he would have been charged with a sexual assault. Shaw’s tattoo artist friend said no assault occurred, Shaw would have had the right to be silent and the woman said she doesn’t remember anything beyond making out with Shaw while she lied on a table getting a tattoo of a flower on her chest.

“I don’t know if she would be credible in reporting it, because she has got this blank spot,” Jones said.

Jones said if you consider the just the death and crash, it might appear like pretty clear-cut case of vehicular homicide.

“It’s pretty simple, get drunk, drive, crash, kill somebody in Pierce County you will probably go to prison,” he said.

However, the facts of the case are not that simple (see links above).


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