News

Man found guilty in hit-and-run

Mistaken identity, rage cited as motives

by AMANDA WINTERS

Michael J. Moyle is “a man who got mad and acted like a jerk with his car.”

 

So said Clallam County Deputy Prosecutor Ann Lundwall.

 

Ultimately, a three-woman, nine-man jury agreed and convicted Moyle Jan. 26 of two counts of second-degree assault of a child, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of vehicular assault with special verdicts and one count of felony hit-and-run.

 

Moyle, of Port Angeles, could face 10 years in prison and will be sentenced Feb. 23 in Clallam County Superior Court.

 

The jury found that Moyle, 29, intentionally drove his Ford Mustang at speeds of up to 85 mph and crashed into a Subaru containing a family of complete strangers on Laurel Street in Port Angeles on April 13, 2011.

 

The driver of the Subaru, Stewart Baker, of Port Angeles, resembled a man Moyle was out to get, Lundwall said during closing arguments.

 

Both Moyle and Baker testified they did not know each other.

 

On April 13, 2011, Moyle, feeling happy following his morning court appearance on marijuana and methamphetamine possession charges, was at Albertsons to get donuts when he saw Baker and went into a rage, Lundwall said.

 

Witnesses testified Moyle made a four-point turn in his car to follow Baker’s out of the Albertsons parking lot and south on Laurel Street.

 

He wanted to “get that face,” Lundwall said.

Anxiety defense

Defense Attorney Loren Oakley said seeing Baker’s face made Moyle flash back to an alleged attempted robbery that occurred three days before.

 

Moyle testified a man attempted to rob him at knife point April 10. After fighting the man off, a getaway driver pulled up in a car and both suspects fled, Oakley said. The driver gave Moyle “a leering, evil smile, which left an impression,” he said.

 

A psychologist for the defense testified Moyle suffered from acute stress disorder due to the attempted robbery. Oakley said when Moyle saw Baker “he just snapped.”

 

The same psychologist also determined Moyle suffered from amphetamine dependence, Oakley said.

The stress disorder inhibited Moyle’s ability to act with intent, Oakley said.

 

“To find him guilty would make a bad situation worse,” he told the jury in his closing arguments.

Injuries

Baker’s 2-year-old daughter, Lavender Baker, 5-year-old brother, Aaron Baker, and his mother, Tawny Baker, formerly of Sequim, were also in the Subaru. Lundwall said the family was on their way to take Aaron Baker to a Bible school at Independent Bible Church.

 

Tawny and Aaron Baker both suffered broken bones after Moyle struck their car, sending it slamming into a telephone pole, Lundwall said.

 

“The Subaru was wrapped around a pole,” she said. “The family was lucky they made it out with the injuries they did.”

 

Lundwall questioned the reasonableness of Moyle’s attempted robbery story and a psychologist for the prosecution disagreed with the defense’s claim of a stress disorder.

 

Following the collision, Moyle fled the scene and a four-day search by police eventually led to his arrest. In a recorded interview with police, Moyle said he fled because he thought he had killed the children inside the car.

 

Timothy P. Smith is charged with rendering criminal assistance for allegedly picking up Moyle a few blocks from the scene of the collision. His trial is set to begin Feb. 21.

 

Lundwall said based on Moyle’s offender score, which includes a string of criminal convictions, he faces a 120-month prison sentence.

 

Judge Ken Williams ordered a standard presentencing investigation and set a hearing for Feb. 23.

 

Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.

 

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