Mental health evaluation sought for woman accused in Sequim stabbing

Larisa Jean Dietz’s arraignment rescheduled for Thursday

PORT ANGELES — The lawyer for a Sequim woman who allegedly stabbed a man Oct. 8 in Sequim intends to seek a mental health evaluation for her client.

Port Angeles attorney Karen Unger said Friday at the scheduled Clallam County Superior Court arraignment for Larisa Jean Dietz, 48, that she plans to ask for an evaluation for the resident of the Sunbelt Apartments on the 500 block of South Fifth Street in Sequim.

Dietz’s arraignment on attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault with a deadly weapon was rescheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday.

“I have some concerns about Ms. Dietz and her mental state,” Unger said.

“I think she understands what’s going on as far as she knows she’s in trouble.

“So I guess we could go to arraignment, but then I intend to ask for some sort of mental health evaluation.

“I think we may be relying on a diminished capacity defense, so that I’m kind of on the fence on whether she is competent to be arraigned.”

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin said if Unger was wavering on whether Dietz was competent to enter a plea then she had no objection to the arraignment being held over a week.

Dietz remained in the county jail Sunday on $1 million bail.

Dietz lived in an apartment near the residence of the stabbing victim, Ricky Lynn McGowan, 58, when Fire District 3 medical personnel were summoned in response to a man yelling for help within McGowan’s apartment, according to the probable cause statement.

McGowan uses a walker or a wheelchair to move around, according to the statement.

When District 3 personnel broke into McGowan’s apartment, he was lying in a pool of blood on his side with two deep-tissue stab wounds to his neck.

Dietz, wrapped around McGowan, was trying to jam her hand in his mouth, according to the statement.

A bloody knife was on the floor.

McGowan was later listed in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center.

“I opened the door and she attacked me with a knife,” McGowan told authorities.

“She only got my neck.”

Dietz said she was injured but there was no evidence of an injury that would require treatment, according to the statement.

She had been incarcerated at the Clallam County jail for fourth-degree-assault-domestic violence, resisting arrest, and third-degree assault for assaulting a previous boyfriend and biting an officer during her arrest July 12, according to the statement.

During the arrest, she pointed to the Sunbelt Apartments and said, “He is going to slit my throat like he did to Valerie!” without identifying who was threatening her or who she was afraid of, according to the statement.

Valerie Claplanhoo, like Dietz a Native American, was slain with a knife or other sharp object Jan. 2 inside her apartment at the Sunbelt in a homicide that remains unsolved.

The apartment manager said Dietz and McGowan became romantically or sexually involved about six weeks before the stabbing, after Dietz was released from jail on the assault and resisting arrest charges, according to the statement.

Dietz has a history of paranoia, fear and domestic violence, according to the probable cause statement.

The 16-unit Sunbelt Apartments are owned by Serenity House of Clallam County.

Residents qualify as chronically homeless for at least a year prior to living there.

They are classified by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as 100 percent disabled with mental disabilities and/or physical ailments.

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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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