EVERETT — Anthony Box quickly left the courtroom Monday after a jury convicted him of causing a crash that claimed the life of a 17-year-old Sultan girl.
It took jurors just three hours to find Box, 19, guilty of vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault. Prosecutors alleged that Box huffed aerosol computer cleaner Nov. 12, 2015, before losing control of his vehicle on U.S. 2 between Sultan and Monroe.
Box’s car veered off the highway, launched into the air and tumbled end over end into a gully. Madison Whiddon, the front seat passenger, was ejected. She died instantly upon hitting the ground, jurors were told. Three other teens also were injured in the crash, including Whiddon’s 14-year-old sister. Box was not seriously hurt.
After the verdict was read Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow asked the judge to have Box taken into custody. The defendant had previously posted bond and has been free leading up to and during the trial.
Box is facing up to 16 years in prison when he’s sentenced later this month.
Public defender Gabe Rothstein argued that his client isn’t a flight risk. He’s shown up for every court hearing and had no previous criminal convictions.
Superior Court Judge Joe Wilson agreed to allow Box to remain out of custody as long as he gets a $25,000 bond reissued by tomorrow.
“I see no reason to take him into custody immediately,” Wilson said.
Jurors were told that Box, Whiddon and others had been huffing computer cleaner hours before the crash. The group ran out and decided to drive to Walmart in Monroe to get more.
Witnesses said Box was inhaling during the drive back.
He told police that he passed out right before the crash. Box’s blood later was drawn and tested positive for difluoroethane, a chemical found in computer cleaner. Once inhaled, difluoroethane cuts off oxygen to the brain. Users report feeling a sense of euphoria. Inhaling the cleaner also can cause people to black out.
Rothstein had argued that Box never intentionally inhaled the cleaner while he was driving. He claimed that Whiddon had been spraying the cleaner in the car, robbing the small space of oxygen. Box inadvertently inhaled the cleaner and then passed out, Rothstein said.
Madison’s sister testified that Box was huffing the cleaner on the way to Monroe, even pretending to pass out while he was driving. She asked him not to use while he was driving.
Box had his own can when they left Walmart. He was using it on the way back home, the girl said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.