Arson suspect will plead guilty

Prosecutor’s deal seeks nine years

David Scott Johnson.

David Scott Johnson.

PORT ANGELES — A man at a Blyn convenience store who allegedly set fire to gasoline before driving a stolen pickup truck into a State Patrol vehicle could serve nine years in prison.

Under a Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office recommendation, that could be just the beginning of David Scott Johnson’s incarceration related to the June 1 chain of incidents that began at the Longhouse Market in Blyn.

The chase ended about 10 miles away, south of Discovery Bay, with a crash that caused injuries to Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Alfred L. Alderson, 55, who has yet to return to work five months later.

Johnson, 40, who has an outstanding Jefferson County arrest warrant on a vehicular assault charge related to the June 1 incident, has a change-of-plea and sentencing hearing at 9 a.m. Thursday in Clallam County Superior Court.

According to a second amended complaint, Johnson, a Sequim transient, has been charged in Clallam County Superior Court with first-degree arson, second-degree assault, first-degree attempted robbery, motor vehicle theft,and two counts of second-degree malicious mischief with physical damage exceeding $750.

Johnson remained Monday in the county jail on $1.1 million bail.

Prosecuting Attorney Jesse Espinoza said Monday he is recommending a nine-year sentence, the minimum punishment for arson based on Johnson’s offender score. Under that score, the maximum sentence would be 12 years.

Johnson’s criminal history includes convictions for delivery of marijuana in 2009 in Lincoln County, Wyo., for which he was jailed for 93 days, Espinoza said.

In 2018, Johnson was convicted for attempting to elude and twice for residential burglary.

The maximum penalty for vehicular assault, a Class B felony, is 10 years in prison.

After Johnson allegedly poured gasoline on the ground from a pump at the Longhouse Market, he set the accelerant afire with a lighter, scorching the interior of a parked van before speeding away in a stolen pickup truck.

Johnson raced 11 miles to Discovery Bay before he crashed the Ford F-350 into Alderson’s patrol vehicle.

State Patrol spokesperson Gill Vanderkooy said Monday that Alderson is doing physical therapy and plans on returning to work in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Alderson was treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Vanderkooy did not know the nature of his wounds.

“He’s in good spirits, and he’s working through his injuries,” Vanderkooy said.

It was unclear Monday if cases against Johnson in both counties will be resolved anytime soon.

At an Aug. 28 hearing, Harry Gasnick of Clallam Public Defender said negotiations on a resolution of charges in both jurisdictions “are pretty much settled.”

At a hearing Friday, Port Angeles lawyer John Hayden of Clallam Public Defender, representing Johnson, said his client was prepared to accept the plea offer on the Clallam County cases.

“What’s going to happen, he’s going to have to be sentenced here and then transported to Jefferson County to finish their matter as part of this plea agreement, and we hope we can make that happen rather than have him get sentenced here, go down to Shelton and then go back up to Jeffco,” Hayden said, referring to the state Department of Corrections center in Mason County, where convicted felons are processed before going to prison.

“That would be kind of silly,” Hayden said.

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney James Kennedy, interviewed Friday and Monday, said that’s what might happen.

Kennedy said he hasn’t discussed the case with Hayden in at least a month and, as of Monday, he expected to have Johnson transported back to Jefferson County after he is processed in Shelton on the Clallam County charges.

“These two cases are proceeding totally independent of one another,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he offered a plea deal to Johnson on the vehicular assault charge and had not heard back from Hayden, who could not be reached Monday for comment.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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