By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — It took Theodore Ohms about a month to accept the math and the reality of his situation.
In the end, he came to realize that a 20-year prison sentence, albeit long, is better than more than 40 years behind bars.
Ohms took a plea agreement Tuesday, several weeks after he had rejected the same offer — even after being advised that additional charges would be filed that could send him to prison for twice as much time.
“He wasn’t playing games. He’s a young man grappling with going to prison for as much time as he’s been alive,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Janice Albert said. “Everybody gets a chance to recover from having cold feet once.”
Ohms, 24, on Tuesday admitted to shooting at a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy on Sept. 1 during a high-speed chase and causing a crash that severely injured a woman and shut down I-5. He also admitted that he illegally possessed a gun and ran from police.
Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a 20-year prison term, the low end of the standard range. Ohms is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 10.
Ohms on Tuesday politely answered questions as Superior Court Judge Joseph Wilson quizzed the defendant about the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty to the four charges. At a hearing in November, Ohms said he’d seen the legal paperwork but complained that it was difficult for him to read. He told the judge then that he felt he was being coerced into taking the deal.
He acknowledged Tuesday that he was pleading guilty freely and voluntarily.
Albert said that Ohms had contacted his attorney and asked if he could still take advantage of the original plea agreement and accept responsibility for his actions. Prosecutors had not filed additional charges and agreed to give Ohms a second chance to plead guilty to the charges they filed back in September.
He didn’t seem to understand the opportunity he was being given at the time, Albert said. He needed two tries to do the right thing, she said.
After his capture, Ohms told detectives that he ran from police because he didn’t want to go to jail, court papers said. At the time, Ohms was wanted for failing to report to the state Department of Corrections. He was being supervised because of a drug conviction. The probation violation likely would have landed Ohms in jail for a couple of months.
Instead, Ohms was accused of shooting at a sheriff’s deputy and running from the scene of an injury accident. The pursuit, crash and manhunt stranded thousands of drivers on I-5 near Everett. A 49-year-old woman suffered severe injuries, nearly losing her left arm, when Ohms crashed into her van.
The woman and the deputy attended Tuesday’s hearing. They both were relieved that Ohms pleaded guilty, Albert said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.