Man charged with hate crime OK to stand trial

Judge declares him mentally competent

PORT ANGELES — A Sequim man charged with a hate crime and assault has been ruled to be mentally competent to stand trial.

Samuel Elliot Ketchum’s lawyer said Monday he may pursue a mental competency defense for Ketchum on two counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, attempting to elude police and a Class C felony hate crime offense for allegedly threatening a Black man, which alone could net him five years in prison, if found guilty.

The assault charges are Class B felonies, with maximum terms of 10 years each.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brent Basden set a trail date of May 2 for Ketchum, 39, releasing him on his own recognizance on condition he undergo intensive case management and rigorous, scheduled monitoring of his behavior.

Ketchum will be required to take medication consistent with his mental health treatment providers and verify the regimen, and not consume alcohol or nonprescribed medications under conditions Basden described as “onerous and complicated.”

He will be tested twice a day and must report to Basden on the biweekly court calendar that he is complying with the conditions.

“There’s certainly a good chance defense will be exploring a mental health-based defense,” Clallam Public Defender Harry Gasnick said.

Ketchum was in the Clallam County jail on $100,000 bail after his arrest for allegedly aiming his pickup truck at a Black man and almost ramming his vehicle at about 2:20 a.m. Aug. 11 at the Ediz Hook restrooms near the Coast Guard station.

A woman who was with the man told Port Angeles Police Officer Tyler Mueller that a man was saying he was “going to kill (N-word).” She said she saw a fire near the Coast Guard station gate and saw a man yelling, “We gonna kill a (N-word) tonight,” according the probable cause statement written by Mueller.

She said the man got into his vehicle and “headed right for us,” according to the statement.

“They believed Ketchum was intentionally trying to ram them with his vehicle, they feared being injured, and [the alleged victim’s] quick action in backing up was the only thing that prevented Ketchum from colliding into them.”

Ketchum, who had a felony warrant for failure to surrender firearms, allegedly set fire to the Coast Guard station entrance sign and destroyed a light that illuminates it.

Police used spike strips to stop the car Ketchum was driving on Marine Drive, then used a stun gun to stop him from fleeing. He was not charged with arson.

At his Aug. 12 bail hearing, Ketchum repeatedly used the F-word and raised his middle finger at Basden, who doubled the requested bail of $50,000 and muted Ketchum’s microphone.

Ketchum was anything but belligerent Monday, referring to Basden as sir and your honor, saying he appreciated Basden denying Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steve Johnson’s request for $10,000 bail.

“Thank you guys for working with me, and I won’t waste the opportunity, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to show you guys I can be part of the community and the system,” Ketchum said.

On Aug. 27, he was determined incompetent to stand trial and ordered to undergo a 90-day inpatient restoration program.

When admitted to Western State Hospital, Ketchum was given a preliminary diagnosis of unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other alcohol-use and psychotic disorders.

According to his Jan. 9 mental health evaluation report, he was born in Port Angeles, completed high school and attended Peninsula College for 1½ years. He worked as a carpenter.

Ketchum experienced a traumatic brain injury and injuries to his hands, hips, shoulders and back due to a “police brutality” incident in 2018, he said in the report.

Ketchum said it affects his memory and moods.

He was hospitalized at Multicare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup in 2019 for acute psychosis, facial trauma, and nasal bone and right hand fractures. He was brought to the hospital by police, according to the report.

Ketchum said at the time of his Aug. 11 arrest, he was drinking a fifth of a gallon of vodka daily and had been a binge drinker for about 14 years.

Ketchum presented with increased paranoia and agitation on Aug. 15 while at the county jail, according to the report.

He was reported to be using racial slurs toward a hospital staff person on Nov. 6 and on Nov. 15 during dinner, according to the report.

By Jan. 4, his treatment team “had observed significant improvement in his symptoms,” according to the report. He was prescribed two antipsychotic medications.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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