Police: Stolen truck returned a different color

Sequim man charged with possession of a stolen vehicle

PORT ANGELES — A Sequim man charged with possessing a stolen Ford Ranger said he is not the one who painted the green pickup truck black, though officers said they saw black paint on his hands and forearms when they arrested him.

Erik Rodgers, 25, appeared in Clallam County Superior Court on Monday, pleading not guilty to possession of a stolen vehicle.

Last week, Judge Erik Rohrer ordered him held in the Clallam County jail — where he remained Monday — on $1,500 bail. A trial has been scheduled for Dec. 10 and Rodgers’ next hearing is set for Friday, Nov. 2.

The vehicle was first reported stolen Oct. 13 but was returned to its owner after a woman took the stolen vehicle from Rodgers and drove it back to its owners, according to police records.

The woman told police that Rodgers drove a green Ford Ranger to her home Oct. 13, but she told Rodgers to leave because she thought the vehicle was stolen.

She said he then returned to her home Oct. 14 in the same Ford Ranger, but it had recently been spray painted black. She said she took it upon herself to check the registration of the vehicle so she could take it back to the owner, according to police records.

While Rodgers was still at her home she drove the vehicle to its owner’s home, which is where police got involved.

Port Angeles Police Department Officer Luke Brown was dispatched to the recovered vehicle at about 5:30 p.m. Oct. 14 where he learned the Ranger was green when it first went missing.

“I was informed that the vehicle had been green when it was taken, but it was now very apparently black, and had been recently spray painted,” Brown wrote in his report. “The paint was so fresh that I could still smell it.”

The front license plate of the vehicle had been altered with a permanent marker. A line was drawn on a “C” in the license plate number to make it appear to be an “O.”

While Brown interviewed the woman who returned the pickup, Clallam County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Morris went to the woman’s home and detained Rodgers.

When Brown interviewed Rodgers about the stolen vehicle, he noticed Rodgers’ hands were covered in black spray paint. Rodgers denied any knowledge of the vehicle and could not explain why the woman left her home while he was still there.

Rodgers’ attorney Harry Gasnick told the court Oct. 15 that the evidence against Rodgers “is at best circumstantial,” but when Rodgers interrupted him, Gasnick let him defend himself.

Rodgers said that he was not in possession of the vehicle when he was arrested and that “nine tenths of the law is possession.”

“They have the wrong person,” he said. “They should look back at the person who reported it.”

He then offered an explanation of why his hands were painted the same color as the vehicle he is accused of driving. Rodgers said he found a can of paint and used it to spray paint his knife.

Brown wrote in his supplemental report that one of Rodgers’ knifes had been spray painted black, but noted “it would be easy for Rodgers to spray the handle of the knife without getting paint on his hands.”

The hearing Oct. 15 ended with Rodgers shouting expletives and Rohrer asking corrections deputies to “take Mr. Rodgers away to where people like Mr. Rodgers need to go.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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