Port Angeles shooting case dismissed after mistrial

PORT ANGELES — The case against a Port Angeles man accused of shooting someone in the buttocks has been dismissed after a mistrial.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Eric Rohrer dismissed the case against 31-year-old David Douglas Speidel with prejudice Wednesday.

“We opted not to retry the case in the interest of justice,” said Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Michele Devlin, adding that retrying the case would have resulted in double jeopardy.

Speidel was facing charges of first-degree assault while armed with a firearm, first-degree burglary while armed with a firearm and three counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon with firearm enhancements.

Court records said deputies responded July 21, 2016, to a cabin on Lake Aldwell Road to a report that Speidel shot a man in self-defense when he was attempting to conduct a “citizen’s arrest.”

The man told deputies he was trying to run from Speidel when he was shot in the right buttock.

The day before, Speidel reported that he believed the man went onto his property and slashed the tires on his vehicles.

Before the jury was brought in for a trial, it was ordered that “testimony from the defendant about his perception of [the man’s] criminal history or how long he is facing in prison is prohibited.”

During the trial, which started April 10, Public Defender Loren Oakley asked Detective Josh Ley of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office if he knew if it would be legal for the man to possess a gun, court records said.

Devlin argued it was a violation of the order about the man’s criminal history. Defense argued the order only prohibited the defendant from commenting, not Ley.

Rohrer asked “the defendant’s attorney eliciting testimony about [the man’s] criminal history or the implication of what can be drawn from the criminal history, isn’t that what this is?”

Oakley said that wasn’t the case and that the intention was to attack the credibility of the man.

That “can only be triggered by understanding his criminal history,” Rohrer said. “Comes back to the criminal history no matter how you slice it.”

The defense agreed to withdraw the question, but Rohrer said there’s no way for the jury to unhear it.

“It’s close enough to a violation, at least, to the spirit of the court’s order … that I’m going to go ahead and find a mistrial at this time,” Rohrer said, according to court records.

Following the mistrial, Oakley filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that another trial would put Speidel in double jeopardy for the same charges.

In the 11-page motion, Oakley argued that the court granted the mistrial because the question “did not violate the order … or the spirit of the order … but came close to violating the spirit of the order.

“The court granted the motion for mistrial because it believed that bells can not be unrung, juries can not follow courts’ instruction to disregard evidence and actions of counsel, and because recessing the trial begun would be too burdensome on members of the jury who had expressed that their schedules would conflict with so lengthy a trial.”

Oakley called the mistrial improper and said the court failed to adequately consider alternatives to a mistrial.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.