Trial is delayed in Port Angeles bulldozer rampage case
Barry A. Swegle
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Clallam County Superior Court judge S. Brooke Taylor on Thursday moved the four- to five-day trial from Sept. 9 to allow time for a Western State Hospital expert hired by the county Prosecutor's Office to conduct a mental evaluation on Swegle, 51.
He is accused of wielding a bulldozer May 10 in Gales Addition to destroy or damage four homes, a power pole, outbuildings, a boat and a pickup truck, causing an estimated $300,000 over what authorities said was a fence-line dispute. No injuries were reported.
He is charged with one count of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of first-degree malicious mischief and four counts of first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon — “to wit, a bulldozer.”
A University of Washington associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences hired by Swegle's attorney, Karen Unger, to examine Swegle already has determined he suffered from “diminished [mental] capacity” during the midday incident.
“I expect both sides to be fully armed with their expert witnesses,” Taylor said.
“If those reports have significant consistencies, that would lead to further negotiations.
“I would expect that to happen immediately.”
The Port Angeles resident, in the Clallam County jail on $1 million bail for nearly four months, was not happy with the delay.
He refused to sign the court order continuing the trial.
“I don't read any of this,” Swegle declared when the order was placed in front of him for his signature.
“Sixty days went by a long time ago,” he said, referring to a “speedy trial” deadline that has been exceeded.
Written in place of Swegle's signature, in the space reserved for “defendant,” was the word “objects.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: August 31. 2013 5:34PM