Arraignment continued in vehicular homicide case for possible guilty plea

PORT ANGELES — An arraignment for Vance Mitchell Mattix was continued Friday for a possible guilty plea.

Mattix, 50, of Joyce is charged with vehicular homicide for allegedly driving drunk when he caused a crashed that killed 61-year-old Andrew Courney of Sequim on Oct. 18.

“Mr. Mattix does not see the road to redemption to be a not-guilty plea,” defense attorney Lane Wolfley said in Clallam County Superior Court on Friday.

”Nevertheless, I still have some investigations to complete.”

Wolfley requested a four-week continuance to conduct his investigations, receive the toxicology report, meet with the Mattix and Courney families, and discuss the case with Clallam County prosecutors.

Visiting Judge Keith Harper, a Jefferson County Superior Court judge, reset Mattix’s arraignment for Nov. 22.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said Mattix was visibly intoxicated and reeked of alcohol after causing a crash at the corner of Kitchen-Dick and Lotzgesell roads northwest of Sequim.

Mattix told investigators that he was returning home from Bremerton to pick up his children when he crossed the center line in his Ford utility truck and collided with an oncoming passenger van driven by Courney, court papers said.

Mattix is scheduled to enter inpatient treatment for alcohol, his attorney said.

“I need to do some further investigation, but certainly if the police reports reveal what we are suspecting, then we are going to be prepared to enter an initial plea of guilty,” Wolfley told Harper.

“However, in order to do that, I think we need a few weeks.”

Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jesse Espinoza did not object to the continuance.

“This is a little bit of an unusual circumstance, but it does make sense to put this out for arraignment,” Espinoza said.

“I think by then, the state will have more time to also speak with the family members about what’s going on.”

Mattix said he understood that he was waiving his right to a speedy arraignment.

Mattix, who posted a 50,000 property bond Monday, appeared in court wearing a white dress shirt and red tie.

“This continuance is less of a request on the part of Mr. Mattix than it is a necessary time for us as attorneys to do our jobs,” Wolfley told Harper.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula