Brinnon woman who pleaded insanity to be freed
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Sherri Mae Johnston, 43, appears in Jefferson County Superior Court last Friday.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A woman who pleaded insanity at her shotgun-assault trial in 2008 will be released from Western Washington State Hospital within 30 days.

But she still is forbidden to have contact with the assault's victims.

Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper on Friday approved the release of Sherri Mae Johnston, 43, after testimony indicating that she is ready for release and is no longer a danger to those around her.

“During her treatment period, Sherri has been 100 percent compliant with the requirements.” said attorney Bryan Hersh­man, who represented Johnston in court.

“She has improved,” Hershman said. “When I met her, she was catatonic and had no recollection of meeting me previously.

“And that has changed. She is a new person. Right now, she is no danger to anyone.”

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Rosekrans did not contest the ruling.

“If Western State says that she is ready to come back to society, I'm satisfied with that judgment,” Rosekrans said.

Prior to the hearing, Johnston was requesting that she be allowed into a relative's house where guns were secured in a safe.

Rosekrans offered a stringent objection to that proposal, stating that Johnston should not be in a location where guns are present.

Prior to the hearing Hersh­man withdrew the request that Johnston be allowed at that location.

Johnston was accused of firing a 12-gauge shotgun at Charles Poindexter in Brinnon on June 5, 2007.

The initial conditions of the insanity plea included a requirement that Johnston remain on an electronic home-monitoring ankle bracelet with a tracking system to make sure she stayed out of Jefferson County.

In 2009, she approached the court, said she could no longer afford the cost of the monitoring system and asked that it be removed.

Rosekrans, who was then the county's chief criminal deputy prosecutor, found that Johnston's parents owned land that could be sold to pay for the monitoring.

But the parents declined to do so, and Johnson was returned to the hospital.

After three additional years of treatment and the release decision, the condition for home monitoring as well as the other condition that forbade Johnston from entering Jefferson County has been removed.

Remaining is an order forbidding contact with Poindexter or his wife, Lisa Hames, who live in Brinnon.

Johnston will live in Hoodsport in Mason County, which is still too close to Brinnon for Hames' comfort.

“I'd feel a whole lot better if she still had the monitoring equipment because then we'd know when she was coming.” Hames said.

Hames, who is undergoing chemotherapy, did not attend Friday's court hearing.

During her treatment period, Johnston has left the hospital on her own and returned when required, which proved her reliability. Hershman said.

While in Hoodsport, she will be staying at the home of her aunt, Charlotte Sharp.

One of the conditions of her release is that Johnston receive ongoing therapy, a requirement that will be in place for life, Hersh­man said.

Johnston owns her own fitness business, which has become more successful since she has become involved in its operation, Hersh­man said.

Johnston declined comment at the end of the hearing, although Hersh­man said, “The judge did the right thing.”



Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 11. 2013 6:19PM
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