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Judge rules against dismissal

by AMANDA WINTERS
Sequim Gazette

Though important evidence was disclosed late, charges will not be dropped against a former Sheriff’s Office employee, a Clallam County Superior Court judge ruled.

 

In October 2010, Port Angeles attorney Ralph Anderson made a motion to dismiss theft and money-laundering charges against Staci Allison, who is accused of stealing $8,644 from the sheriff’s evidence room in 2006.

 

The case was supposed to go to trial Sept. 13, 2010, but was delayed when a late box of evidence was disclosed by former Clallam County Deputy Prosecutor Erika Soublet.

 

Anderson argued it was “reckless and negligent” not to provide the 1,500 pages of evidence sooner and “disingenuous” of Soublet to say she didn’t know the material existed.

Late evidence

Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly, who took over the case when Soublet left the office, conceded there were discovery violations but maintained it was not the fault of her office.

 

During oral arguments before Clallam County Superior Court Judge Ken Williams on Jan. 13, Kelly said Soublet did all she could to provide the evidence on time.

 

Among the evidence was a Washington State Patrol investigation that pointed out inconsistent methods of packing and storing evidence were used in the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, the computer software used in the evidence room had problems and audits were poorly conducted, Anderson said.

 

Ultimately Williams agreed with Kelly.

 

In his Jan. 27 opinion, Williams wrote: “It is frustrating to this court and no doubt to the parties that discovery which should have been disclosed early on was not … however, it does not appear that there was any willful intent or malfeasance on the part of law enforcement, and, perhaps mismanagement by the Prosecuting Attorney’s office for not determining at an earlier date that not all likely discovery was available.”

 

Williams said while the facts causing the delay in trial are unfortunate, they are not enough to warrant dismissal.

Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.

 

 

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