Kelly contributor's assault case in limbo
by AMANDA WINTERS
A 2003 assault case against Deb Kelly contributor Jay Ketchum that ended abruptly in the middle of jury selection was reopened this October.
Ketchum was charged with second-degree assault while armed with a deadly weapon and assault in the third degree in May 2002 after he allegedly chest-bumped a Clallam County Sheriff's deputy and pointed an assault rifle at him during a confrontation. The deputy and fire personnel were responding to a fire on Ketchum's property.
A jury later found him not guilty of the first charge but couldn't reach a verdict on the second and a mistrial was declared. When charges were refiled in 2003, the case proceeded through jury selection when it suddenly ended without any written resolution on record.
Port Angeles attorney J. Andrew Lauer filed a motion in October 2010 to unseal the agreement, known as a stipulation, that was supposed to be filed and sealed by Aug. 12, 2003. He learned at an October 2010 hearing that no stipulation had been filed and the case remained open.
"I was interested in this because I have been practicing criminal law for several years now and I had never heard of a case where the disposition was sealed," Lauer said. "It doesn't happen with my clients, who are usually poor. I never would have agreed to it when I was a prosecutor. I moved to unseal because I don't think it's right for the rich and connected to be subject to different rules than the rest of us, and because the sealing, had it occurred, would have been unconstitutional."
In 2002, Ketchum donated thousands of dollars to local Republican candidates including Kelly, who was running against incumbent Chris Shea, and then-District Court judge candidate Rick Porter.
During the 2010 election cycle, Ketchum displayed Deb Kelly for Prosecutor signs from cranes and trucks he owns as part of his Affordable Crane business. The displays were questioned since they were not claimed as in-kind contributions and a report was filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, which decided not to pursue an investigation.
Ketchum was prosecuted in 2002 by Clallam County Deputy Prosecutor Pamela Cameron and he hired Brent Basden as his defense attorney. The subsequent trial resulted in a not-guilty verdict on the first count and a hung jury on the second count. A mistrial was declared and a trial reset was signed. The second count later was dropped by special prosecutor James Bendell.
In April 2003, the third-degree assault charge was refiled by special prosecutor Carol Case, who was appointed by Kelly after Kelly recused herself and her entire office from the case based on Ketchum's affiliation with her 2002 election campaign. Public disclosure documents show Case also contributed to Kelly's 2002 campaign.
The case moved forward for trial until Aug. 4, 2003, when documents show the jury selection process was in full swing. According to the court minutes, a stipulation, or agreement, was read into the court record and was to be filed and sealed by Aug. 12.
That never happened.
Case in limbo
On Aug. 18, 2003, Judge Ken Williams received an e-mail from an out-of-area lawyer who said he had read about the case in the papers and thought it was an outrage, according to court documents.
"A secret settlement of a criminal prosecution of one of the prosecuting attorney's largest campaign contributors, negotiated by a special deputy prosecutor who also contributed to the prosecuting attorney's campaign, is an outrage," Ronald Richards wrote.
Richards, whose address was in Colorado, said he was interested in the case because he wanted to return to Clallam County.
Lauer said the ordeal didn't pass his "smell test" when he heard about it during the 2010 election campaign for prosecutor and that is why he gave it a closer look.
At an Oct. 21, 2010, hearing, Lauer was told there was an oral stipulation but it never was converted to
a written document or sealed, according to court minutes.
On Nov. 12, 2010, a second hearing was held in Clallam County Superior Court.
"It just sort of ended with nothing in the file," Williams said to Ketchum and special prosecuting attorney Juelanne Dalzell, who replaced Case.
Ketchum told Williams he believes his speedy trial date would be well over by now. He requested the case be dismissed.
Williams agreed the speedy trial date would be past and said he wants to close the file.
The matter will come before the court for review at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, in Clallam County Superior Court.