Judge to hear motion to dismiss double-murder charges against Michael J. Pierce on Sept. 11
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Michael Pierce, right, talks over his defense with attorneys Richard Davies, center, and Bret Roberts, facing away, in Kitsap County Superior Court during Pierce’s second retrial in February. — Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND –– Michael J. Pierce should not be tried a fourth time for the killings of Pat and Janice Yarr, his attorney says, and a judge will hear arguments on a motion to dismiss all charges next week.

“Mr. Pierce should not be subjected to a fourth trial where the failures of previous trials are solely attributable to the State,” his attorney, Richard Davies of Port Townsend, wrote in his motion for dismissal.

The motion to dismiss charges against Pierce, 38, of Quilcene will be heard by Superior Court Judge Sally Olsen at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 11 in Kitsap County Superior Court, 614 Division St., Port Orchard.

Pierce, who is housed in the Jefferson County jail in Port Hadlock, was convicted in 2010 of the 2009 murders of the Quilcene couple.

The state Court of Appeals overturned the conviction in 2013, ruling that Pierce’s constitutional rights were denied after his arrest and that Prosecuting Attorney Scott Rosekrans’ closing argument in the original trial represented prosecutorial misconduct.

Since then, two retrials have been declared mistrials. A third retrial is set to begin Oct. 9 in Kitsap County Superior Court.

In the first retrial, which was in Jefferson County, juror Laura Meynberg remembered seeing a man who might have been Pierce on the night of the murders.

The second, moved to Kitsap County, ended after it was revealed jailers there failed to administer anti-psychotic medications to Pierce that brought his ability to understand the proceedings into question.

Pierce faces eight charges: two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, first-degree arson, theft of a firearm, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and second-degree theft.

Kitsap County jailers “inflicted cruel and unusual punishment” when they failed to administer psychotropic medications to treat Pierce’s schizophrenia, Davies said in his motion filed in July.

The withholding of medication was “barbarous,” Davies said in his motion.

It “subjected Mr. Pierce to paranoia and hallucinations in a government-induced state of psychosis, just as if the government had actively induced that psychosis by the use of drugs on a person without pre-existing mental illness,” he said.

Jefferson County Chief Criminal Deputy Chris Ashcraft wrote in the state’s 321-page response filed Aug. 27 that “the only event in this case that merits the adjective barbarous is the execution of two innocent people while they were lying on their kitchen floor.

“At best, the facts show negligent acts by the Kitsap County Jail and [its medical contractor] Conmed,” Ashcraft continued.

“There is no evidence anyone acted consciously or with an objective or purpose to cut off Pierce’s medications.”

During the Kitsap County retrial before Olsen, jailers did not give Pierce all his medications March 8, 9 and 10.

Davies said Pierce became noticeably distant, easily agitated and absent from testimony during March 10.

Dr. Richard Yocum of Western State Hospital testified in March that the lack of medication caused Pierce to hear voices like a “radio playing in the back of his head.”

Kitsap County contracts its jail medical services with Conmed Healthcare Management.

Jefferson County jail officials said they had provided a month’s supply of medications for Pierce when he was taken to Kitsap only two weeks earlier.

Davies claims Pierce’s medication was “intentionally discontinued” by Kitsap County jailers and amounted to “physical and psychological torture.”

An emergency hearing in May renewed Pierce’s waiver of a speedy trial just before it expired, which would have put a halt to the county’s efforts to prosecute Pierce in a third retrial.

Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jay B. Roof extended the speedy trial waiver to Oct. 31.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 03. 2014 6:42PM
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