SNOHOMISH — A Snohomish man who beat a life sentence under the state’s Three Strikes law could face life behind bars again, after his arrest last week following a terrifying confrontation on U.S. 2.
A life sentence is “a potential in this case,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler said.
William “Billy” Mulholland, 50, remained in the Snohomish County Jail on Monday on $500,000 bail. He has been charged with second-degree assault after allegedly using his pickup to force another car into oncoming traffic.
A Monroe mother with a passenger in the front seat and two small children, ages 1 and 4, in the back was headed east on U.S. 2 the night of Jan. 20. That’s when, she told deputies, a stranger in a pickup tried to run her Honda Civic off the road.
The woman, 23, reported that the pickup swerved toward her car from the right lane, sped up when she sped up and tried multiple times to ram into her vehicle. Each time, she had to swerve.
When two lanes merged into one, she was forced across the yellow line into oncoming traffic. When she tried to slow down to get behind the pickup, it slammed on its brakes, court papers said.
“She said she feared she was going to get into a head-on collision,” a deputy wrote. “She said she feared for her children’s lives.”
A deputy sheriff saw part of the encounter. The Honda Civic was flashing its headlights at the time.
Deputies identified Mulholland as the driver of the pickup.
Mulholland allegedly said that he was being followed by the Honda and two other cars. He claimed that the people in the other cars were part of a motorcycle gang that wanted to kill him. He also claimed that they’d shot at him twice. Deputies found no evidence of shots being fired.
A deputy’s written description of the incident also indicated Mulholland has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. He’s recently been receiving treatment in Everett and made “similar paranoid statements about someone following him to kill him.”
It’s not the first time Mulholland apparently thought he had been shot at while in a pickup.
In 1995, during a dispute over a car sale, Mulholland was in a pickup that chased an El Camino, forcing it to stop.
Mulholland told sheriff’s deputies at the time that he heard a loud bang that he thought was a gunshot from the other car. He and his passengers later figured the sound was probably the El Camino backfiring.
The driver of the El Camino told deputies that Mulholland hit him with a revolver and forced him into a home at gunpoint.
Inside that home, there was a gun battle and Mulholland and another person were wounded. Mulholland was charged with multiple counts of assault, but was acquitted on all but one after arguing it was self-defense.
He was found guilty of the assault involving the driver in the El Camino and was sentenced to life in prison as a third strike offender. He had previous convictions for assault and attempted assault.
The state Court of Appeals ordered a new trial after determining that Mulholland’s lawyer erred by not seeking a jury instruction related to his self-defense claims. County prosecutors eventually dropped the charge, but Mulholland was convicted in federal court for being a felon in possession of a handgun. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
After his release, Mulholland built a name for himself as a prison consultant, giving advice to inmates facing time behind bars. He shared his observations in a 2012 New York Times story and has his own website: www.therealprisonconsultant.com.
Prosecutors last week filed a felony charge in Everett District Court stemming from the Jan. 20 incident on U.S. 2. They expect to refile the charge by Feb. 7 in Snohomish County Superior Court.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org