VANCOUVER, Wash. — An 18-year-old woman has been charged with theft, accused of organizing a car wash for her jailed boyfriend while saying the fundraiser was in honor of a man the boyfriend is accused of killing in a hit-and-run crash.
Vancouver police say Mallory Ewart raised money under the guise the car wash was for the benefit of the family of Gordon Patterson, a local teacher struck and killed by a car while he was riding his bike. Police say Antonio Cellestine, 18, hit Patterson, then drove away.
Cellestine faces a felony hit-and-run charge in the death.
Charging documents say Ewart told Cellestine in a jailhouse visit that she got about $500 for his bail from the car wash. Their conversation was recorded.
The Vancouver Columbian reports Ewart has been charged with third-degree theft by deception. Her lawyer Charles Buckley earlier entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.
Buckley said his client’s intentions were pure.
“Her position is that she did not do the car wash for the defendant in this case, and it wasn’t a theft,” Buckley said outside the Clark County District Court on Wednesday. Her trial date was set for Feb. 16.
Patterson, 50, was a popular technology teacher at Hudson’s Bay High School. He was struck and killed on Sept. 15 while riding his bicycle home from work.
According to court documents, Ewart organized the Sept. 27 car wash and even got friends to hold signs and yell to passing cars: “Support the Pattersons.”
The all-day car wash attracted 30 to 40 people, including many members of Patterson’s church. The pastor of the church had made an announcement to the congregation about the car wash.
But police were tipped to Ewart’s alleged intentions after the jailhouse visit.
Police say members of Patterson’s church donated $365 during the car wash, but Patterson’s family only received $195.
Ewart’s MySpace account depicts a girl aspiring to be singer.
“I’m thinking of attending an art institute for college,” she wrote. “But we’ll see where my music takes me.”
She left quickly after her court appearance on Wednesday.