PORT ANGELES — A Sequim man was sentenced Thursday to nine years in prison for a brief but injurious series of crimes five months ago that spanned Clallam and Jefferson counties and lasted all of about 10 minutes.
David Scott Johnson, 40, pleaded guilty before Clallam County Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson to amended charges of first-degree arson, third-degree assault, first-degree attempted robbery, motor vehicle theft and second-degree malicious mischief, with damage exceeding $750.
Johnson, whose criminal record includes residential burglary and delivery of marijuana, faces a felony vehicular assault charge in Jefferson County, which has issued a warrant for Johnson’s arrest.
The warrant is related to the fast-paced series of events that began at about 9 a.m. June 1 with a gasoline fire Johnson set at the Longhouse Market in Blyn.
It ended with him crashing a pickup truck he stole at the market into a State Patrol vehicle on U.S. Highway 101 south of Discovery Bay.
“This is very unusual that we have all these charges arising out of probably 10 minutes of activity, absolutely crazy,” Clallam Public Defender lawyer John Hayden of Port Angeles told Erickson.
“It was just one event that exploded over a very short period of time and entailed all these different crimes.
“I don’t know if the court has seen the YouTube videos or not, but it was pretty spectacular. It made for some astounding video footage,” he said.
“The fire at the gas tanks was far less dangerous than the driving. The accident at Jeffco we acknowledge was pretty horrific,” he said.
“It was far more dangerous in terms of doing damage to human life,” Hayden added.
“It’s just a good example of how quickly and how dramatically things can get out of control when they start to spiral. This is just a matter of minutes [that] all these things occurred.”
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Alfred L. Alderson, 55, injured in the crash, is recuperating from his injuries and has not returned to work.
Johnson answered queries from Erickson crisply, in contrast to his first two court appearances, when he was incoherent.
“I just apologize for what I did,” he said.
“It was a lot of events that happened in a quick period of time.
“A lot of it I don’t remember, you know, being under the influence, and I just apologize that someone got hurt. It could have been a lot worse than it was.”
Hayden said a sentencing recommendation on the vehicular assault charge is 63 months, or more than five years, that could be added to Johnson’s nine-year sentence.
Erickson refused Hayden’s request to transfer Johnson to Jefferson County on the warrant instead of to the state Department of Corrections center at Shelton for processing on the Clallam County convictions.
“I understand it may be more efficient, and I get all that,” Erickson said.
“The court continually gets messages from DOC as people have to go to DOC. That’s where they process them,” she said.
“It’s just silly to do that,” Hayden responded.
“I don’t disagree. All I’m telling you is I get those all the time,” Erickson said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].