How 1 man got to 3 strikes

  • By Rikki King Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

EVERETT — A punch in the nose in November landed an Everett man in prison for life.

Jerry A. Perkins, 40, is a drug trafficker known to police as one of the most violent offenders around. He was sentenced to life in prison

last week in Snohomish County Superior Court.

He was convicted last month of second-degree assault — his 16th felony.

The crime counted as his third “most serious offense” under the state’s persistent offender or “three-strikes” law. He has 30 days to appeal.

There are 253 men and women in the state serving life under the “three strikes” law, corrections spokesman Chad Lewis said.

The law has been under fresh scrutiny since convicted rapist Byron Scherf, 52, a three-striker, became the prime suspect in the Jan. 29 death of corrections officer Jayme Biendl. He has since been charged with aggravated murder and could face death.

Two bills were proposed in the Legislature this year to change the three-strikes sentencing for some crimes, such as second-degree assault and second-degree robbery. Those offenders would get sentencing reviews after 15 years. Both bills appear to be going nowhere this year.

If the three-strikes law had been changed as proposed, Perkins may not be doing life.

His court records describe three decades of violent assaults, felony drug convictions and at least two dozen misdemeanors. Most of his crimes took place in Everett or nearby.

The state Department of Corrections has been supervising Perkins on and off since he reached adulthood, Lewis said.

Any Everett cop who’s been around awhile knew Perkins, police Sgt. Robert Goetz said. The community is safer with him behind bars, he said.

A violent history

Washington uses sentencing guidelines to “score” offenders based on their crimes. The score is used to calculate appropriate sentencing ranges for additional crimes. By 2006, Perkins’ offender score literally was jumping off the chart.

Perkins tended to clobber drug users who, afterward, often wouldn’t cooperate with police and prosecutors. A warrant had to be issued before his latest victim would testify, court records show.

Perkins picked up his first three felonies before his 18th birthday. He stopped going to school around seventh grade. That’s also when he started getting in trouble with the law, records show.

Perkins was convicted of second-degree burglary in 1990 and in 1991 picked up a conviction for tampering with a witness. He first offered the witness cash. When that didn’t work, he threatened to “take care” of the man’s sister and her baby.

In 1993, he pleaded guilty to third-degree assault after beating a man with a pool cue. While the pool-cue case was working its way through the courts, Perkins was suspected of another assault that put a man in the hospital with brain damage.

Perkins was sent to prison for the pool cue assault and released in July 1994.

A few months later, he pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree assault. Perkins had attacked his ex-girlfriend at an Everett apartment and another woman who tried to defend her.

Perkins was angry that his girlfriend had a new man. He got drunk, climbed on top of her, punched her and started strangling her.

Witnesses distracted him long enough for the ex-girlfriend to run away. Perkins turned on them. He kicked and punched a woman and also shoved his finger into her eye. The woman’s eye was swollen shut when police arrived.

Police found the ex-girlfriend running through a parking lot. She was covered in bruises and scratches. Perkins had assaulted her multiple times before, knocking out three of her teeth in one attack, police wrote.

Perkins was sentenced in October 1994 to almost two years in prison. He was 24.

Between 1998 and 2004, he picked up six more felony convictions, all for drugs and split between heroin and cocaine.

Perkins also collected misdemeanors. By the time he reached 36 he had nearly two dozen. Most were for garden-variety assaults or for driving without a valid license.

He landed in hot water again in July 2006, when he was charged with second-degree assault.

A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy had been called to a Lynnwood-area apartment after reports of a bleeding woman running through the lot. She burst into a stranger’s apartment. The deputy found Perkins’ new girlfriend hiding in a bathroom, her face swollen and bloody.

While in the hospital, the woman told deputies that Perkins hit her in the face with a gun three times.

“She started to write a statement, but threw the pen on the hospital bed, saying ‘Maybe I should have just died,'” a deputy wrote at the time.

The woman wound up with two black eyes, a bandaged nose and stitches on her head. She told deputies Perkins had become angry with something she said. Other witnesses told police she may have stolen his cash or drugs.

Sheriff’s deputies and Sultan police later searched a car they linked to Perkins. Inside a lock box they found three “golf-ball sized baggies” of cocaine.

The drug charges were not pursued in exchange for Perkins pleading guilty to the assault. He was carted off to prison, where he was locked up from February 2007 until Sept. 20, 2010.

Short-lived freedom

Before Perkins got out of prison in the fall, Everett police sent out a bulletin warning local cops he was heading back to the street.

Perkins celebrated his freedom by blowing off his mandatory check-in with corrections officials. A warrant for his arrest was issued a day later.

Perkins was picked up by a local fugitive task force on Nov. 15. That was about a week after the assault that became his third strike.

Balding, with long hair worn in a fuzzy braid, a defiant Perkins managed a final misdeed before heading to prison. A judge found him in contempt for cursing and using profane gestures in the courtroom during his sentencing.

Four of Perkins’ friends and family members watched from the gallery. Perkins told them he loved them as he was led away.

They told him they loved him more. One woman begged him to appeal.

No one in the courtroom teared up.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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