EVERETT — A Bothell man who lives with mental illness will spend six years in prison, and potentially the rest of his life under court-ordered supervision, after admitting he nearly killed a man by repeatedly driving over him with a pickup truck.
Joshua William Painter, 43, could have received more than a dozen years behind bars under state sentencing guidelines. Instead, Snohomish County prosecutors joined the man’s attorney in encouraging Superior Court Judge David Kurtz to send the man to prison for five years.
The judge agreed Friday there were grounds to depart from state guidelines, which set the minimum punishment for Painter at about nine years. Kurtz said public safety demanded the defendant be locked up longer than the lawyers had suggested. He also ordered post-release supervision for as long as necessary to keep everyone safe, potentially for the remainder of Painter’s life.
“Do your time and then, sir, do everything you can to make sure you never harm anyone again,” the judge said.
Painter earlier pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, hit-and-run and attempting to elude police. As part of his plea, he acknowledged that a jury likely would convict him, but insisted he had no memory of what happened May 22, 2016.
A mental health expert who examined Painter and his medical history determined the man, a Gulf War veteran with no criminal history, had lived through a “severe manic episode.”
The man he ran over, Jim Dulaney, limped to the front of the courtroom on Friday. He’s undergone multiple surgeries since he was dragged across a parking lot. He nearly lost his left leg and foot.
Dulaney, who is known around the town as Jim the Fence Guy, was stoic as he described how the injuries have robbed him of his mobility and possibly the chance to continue earning a living through his physical trade.
The injured man, his wife, and a close friend all told the judge they didn’t feel the case had brought a full measure of justice. Medical bills are well into the six figures, the judge was told. And while Dulaney still has his leg, the long-term prognosis isn’t good.
Doctors have told him “It’s not a matter of if we are going to take your leg, it is a matter of when we take your leg,” Dulaney said.
The Everett man encountered Painter dumping garbage by a tree at a parking lot in the 9800 block of Evergreen Way. The property is owned by a friend. Dulaney told him to stop. During the argument that followed, Painter threatened Dulaney with a metal pipe. He then ran him over with his Chevy Avalanche pickup, backed up, and did it again.
The grievously injured Dulaney was able to haul himself to the roadway, where he flagged down help.
Painter drove away. Police keyed in on the defendant after they found paperwork with his name amid the materials dumped around the tree.
They then found a pile of burning letters near Mukilteo and his truck set ablaze.
Painter was arrested in Bothell a few days later, but not before a van was stolen and he led police on a chase.
Neal Friedman, a longtime public defender, said the case was tragic. Since his arrest, Painter has been receiving appropriate medications that help manage the symptoms of his mental illness, he told the judge. State law specifically allows the court to take the defendant’s mental health into consideration at sentencing, even when the problems aren’t sufficient to provide a complete defense.
The criminal justice system is about more than just locking people up, Friedman said.
Deputy prosecutor Toni Montgomery said there was substantial evidence to support departing from sentencing guidelines in this case. The lawyers had worked to find a just outcome, she told the judge.
Painter said he feels terrible about what happened.
“I can’t even explain it to myself,” he said.
He promised the judge he will continue taking his medications.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.