Competency hearing set back in Port Angeles bulldozer case
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Barry Swegle enters Clallam County Superior Court in Port Angeles on Wednesday for a status hearing.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A mental competency hearing originally set Wednesday morning for the Port Angeles man accused of tearing through a Gales Addition neighborhood with a bulldozer in May was delayed a week.

Karen Unger, the Port Angeles-based attorney representing Barry A. Swegle, 51, said in the Clallam County Superior Court hearing that she had just read a copy of a mental evaluation report on her client prepared by psychologists at Western State Hospital in Lakewood.

“That's probably one of the most irresponsible reports I've ever read,” Unger said during the hearing presided over by Judge George Wood.

“I haven't even had a chance to go over [it] with my client and talk about it.”

Unger did not return calls seeking additional comment after the hearing.

Swegle had been deemed incompetent to stand trial and was ordered by Wood on Nov. 1 to undergo restorative treatment at Western State Hospital.

Swegle had been at the hospital since. His jury trial has been delayed indefinitely.

Swegle was returned to the Clallam County jail Monday and was present for Wednesday's hearing.

$1 million bond

He remains in jail on $1 million bond.

Swegle is set to appear in Superior Court at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 19.

The most recent mental evaluation report on Swegle was sealed and not available for public review, according to Superior Court staff.

Last week, John Troberg, county chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, said the most recent report from Western State following Swegle's stay at the hospital described him as competent to stand trial.

Troberg said then he did not know the details of the report, adding that it ultimately will be up to a Superior Court judge to determine whether Swegle is competent to stand trial.

Bulldozing spree

Swegle allegedly destroyed or damaged four homes, a tractor, a boat, a pickup truck, a power pole and multiple outbuildings in a Gales Addition neighborhood just east of Port Angeles while on a logging bulldozer he owned May 10 of last year.

The incident made international headlines and was featured in a September episode of ABC News' “20/20” focusing on neighbor disputes.

Swegle is charged with one count of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and four counts each of first-degree malicious mischief and first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon — “to wit, a bulldozer.”

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 12. 2014 5:58PM
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