Katie Kauffman won a not-guilty verdict this week for a client charged with vehicular assault, a Class B felony that carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Kauffman’s client, who has no criminal history, likely would have received a much shorter sentence had he been convicted but a conviction would have cost him his job as a commercial driver.
While the Clark County Superior Court jury acquitted Kauffman’s client, they returned a guilty verdict for a co-defendant whom Kauffman argued was the one at fault even though he escaped unscathed from the 2018 traffic accident.
Kauffman was assisted at trial by attorney Gregger Highberg. The trial lasted four days. Jurors deliberated approximately three hours before reaching the verdicts on Feb. 13.
The charges stemmed from a Sept. 14, 2018, accident on Interstate 205. Kauffman’s client testified he was driving home from work in his 2003 Acura RSX. When he entered the northbound on-ramp to I-205 from westbound Padden Parkway there was a large red truck – a Dodge Ram 3500 -- following too close.
As he told Washington State Patrol officers who investigated the accident, he told jurors he tapped his brakes twice to try and signal to the truck driver to back off. Witnesses testified that not only did the truck driver not back off, he tried going around the Acura to pass it on the shoulder of the one-lane on-ramp.
Kauffman’s client said he felt as though he was being forced off the road. He lost control of his Acura. His sedan flew through the wooded median onto I-205, where it was hit by a northbound motorcyclist.