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Anderson, Hawke get "third strike" dismissed

Attorneys Neil Anderson and Whitney Hawke succeeded this week in getting a client’s “third strike” assault case dismissed after spending months gathering evidence showing the alleged victim was not credible.

A Clark County deputy prosecuting attorney, finally conceding he had an unwinnable case, filed a motion to dismiss the charge of assault in the second degree. A Superior Court judge signed the dismissal order on May 10, and the client was released from the Clark County Jail.

He’d been in jail since his September arrest. Trial had been set for later this month.

Under the state’s 1993 persistent offender law, better known as the “three strikes” law, the client faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole had he been convicted. The law, which was approved by voters, locks away prisoners for life after a third conviction for a violent felony.

The client, 51, has two strikes for second-degree assault convictions in 1990 and 2002.

According to Vancouver Police Department reports, the woman who accused the client of choking her in September is well-known to officers as someone who frequently makes false accusations. Anderson and Hawke requested copies of police reports from the woman’s past accusations, and she’s repeatedly referred to as someone with a history of making up stories about being abused.

The woman, whose criminal history includes convictions for burglary and assault, told a Vancouver police officer on September 4 that she was choked by the client. The officer was responding to a 911 call from a neighbor who said the woman seemed to be high. The woman told the officer she’d been using methamphetamine for three days. She also, according to the officer’s declaration of probable cause, “began to speak incoherently regarding spiders on her skin and demons present in the apartment.”

“I asked repeatedly for details concerning how (the woman) had been assaulted,” the officer wrote. “(She) continued to assert she was being mistreated and simply wanted her phone from the apartment she had just left.”

The officer, despite knowing she’d been using meth for three days, determined she knew what was going on because she “had been conscious of being topless despite being high on methamphetamine as she had asked for a shirt and blanket to cover herself with. I considered (the woman) had been scared enough to leave a private area and knock on the doors of complete strangers in order to seek shelter even without a shirt on.”

The officer noted that when he first saw the woman, she had “frothy white mucus coming from both nostrils.” Instead of seeing that as a sign of drug use, the officer decided it was a symptom of being choked. The client was arrested and booked into jail.

Anderson and Hawke got a court order for a deposition with the woman, which was done at the jail, where the woman was staying on unrelated charges. The woman repeated her claim that she was choked by the client. She added that on a prior occasion, one of her brothers choked her and raped her. On the day of the Sept. 4 incident, she said another brother choked her, and two of the EMTs who responded to the call choked her, and she was once hospitalized but nobody would believe she had snakes in her body.

Following the May 6 deposition, the deputy prosecutor discussed the case with Prosecutor Tony Golik and then said he would dismiss the assault charge.

Tags: criminal law, Whitney Hawke, Neil Anderson

Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.: Vancouver Defenders Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.
Vancouver Defenders