Trial delayed in woman’s death after police chase
It is the fifth delay since prosecutors took the rare step of charging Joseph Strange with first-degree murder in connection with the fatal car crash.
No new trial date was selected on Friday.
Strange, 34, is accused of leading police on a high-speed pursuit in a stolen truck from Lynnwood to Everett on May 12, 2013. Prosecutors allege that Strange hit a parked car, rammed a police officer’s patrol car and nearly ran over a pedestrian crossing Evergreen Way.
Strange is accused of running a red light and slamming into Kamin’s Honda CRV. The mother of two was driving home from her shift at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. She suffered fatal head injuries and died two days later. Her organs were donated to others in need.
Under state law, someone can be charged with murder if he causes a death “under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life.”
Strange has more than a dozen prior felony convictions. He has a history of stealing cars and trying to outrun police. At the time of the crash, he was under community supervision.
If convicted as charged, Strange faces up to 45 years in prison.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow believes the facts in this case support the charge, pointing to the events leading up to the fatal crash, including Strange allegedly hitting two other cars. The defendant is accused of putting lives of at least three other people in danger during the pursuit.
Prosecutors will have to prove that Strange knew he was endangering lives but continued to run from police, creating a grave risk of death.
Strange also is charged with second-degree murder under the theory that he caused Kamin’s death while attempting to elude police.
Trial was scheduled to begin later this month. Strange’s attorney on Friday told Superior Court Judge George Appel that he needs more time to prepare.
Donald Wackerman, a public defender, explained that he has hired an accident reconstruction expert to evaluate the work done by the police detectives. That report hasn’t been completed, he said. The expert’s analysis is critical to “challenging the state’s version of events,” Wackerman said.
“The defense disputes the state’s depiction of these (other) accidents,” he said.
Wackerman said he wouldn’t be able to effectively defend his client without the expert’s input.
Darrow asked the judge to keep the trial on schedule. The June 27 date was selected to accommodate the 23 witnesses’ schedules, he said.
Darrow said Wackerman has had plenty of time to prepare for the case. Strange was charged more than a year ago. The defense secured public funds for the expert months ago.
“Despite the serious nature of the charge, the alleged facts of the case are not particularly complicated,” Darrow wrote.
Appel agreed to continue the trial, saying he had no reason to doubt Wackerman’s reasons for the delay.
Strange is expected to be back in court in two weeks so a new trial date can be scheduled. He remains in the county jail.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, firstname.lastname@example.org
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