EVERETT — A Snohomish County woman was sentenced to more than two years in prison Thursday for hitting and killing a motorcyclist on Evergreen Way in May.
Last month, Desiree Gott, 49, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the death of Matthew Japhet.
Under state sentencing guidelines, Gott faced between 1¾ and 2¼ years. Both prosecutors and Gott’s defense attorney agreed to a prison term at the high end of that range. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris heeded that request.
In a written statement, Japhet’s mother wrote that her son’s death “is a permanent hole that will never be filled.”
“Our family struggles every day not knowing what will be the next trigger for the flood of emotions that we still can’t control,” the mother wrote. “Matthew’s future opportunities are gone. Desiree, however, has many opportunities ahead of her and if she chooses wisely she will be able to redirect her course.”
Gott’s public defender Robert O’Neal said his client was crying every time he met with her. He said she is “wracked with guilt.”
Around 8:20 p.m. on May 20, Gott, who also goes by Desiree Morin, tried to make a left turn to enter the BECU parking lot on the east side of Evergreen Way near 112th Street SW, according to charging papers. She cut in front of Japhet’s motorcycle in her Honda Accord, crashing into him and throwing him into the air. A witness reported Gott turned as if the motorcyclist wasn’t there.
Japhet, 34, landed in the northbound lane. The force of the crash tore the motorcycle apart, according to court documents.
The victim was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, but he died upon arrival due to extensive head trauma, police reported.
When officers arrived, the defendant and her son were standing on the sidewalk. Both said the son was driving. Gott seemed “jittery,” an officer noted. After further questioning, Gott said she didn’t see the motorcycle. She reported it was her son’s idea to lie about who was driving.
In a written statement, Gott wrote that “the guy on the bike was just there” as she was turning into the parking lot. She told police she’d been forced to take methamphetamine in the early morning hours, according to the charges. At the Snohomish County Jail, a drug recognition officer concluded Gott was impaired.
Shortly after the crash, police took a sample of the defendant’s blood. But the resolution in the case was so quick that results hadn’t come back yet, deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow said in court.
On Thursday, Gott told Farris she started using drugs at a young age due to abuse she suffered as a child. She hopes to get treatment while incarcerated.
She had been in custody at the jail with bail set at $50,000 since the crash. Court papers list almost two dozen addresses for the defendant. A police report noted she lived in Mountlake Terrace.
Gott had one prior felony conviction. In 2000, she was sentenced to 20 days in jail for welfare fraud. She also has over a dozen misdemeanor violations, including several for driving with a suspended license in the late 1990s. Most of the misdemeanors were over 15 years ago. The most recent was in 2019 for theft in Benton County, in southeastern Washington.
That stretch of Evergreen Way where Japhet died is notorious for fatal crashes.
Speed, however, did not appear to be a factor in this crash.