Riley E. White, left, consults with public defender Harry Gasnick during a status hearing in Clallam County Superior Court in Port Angeles in 2016. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Riley E. White, left, consults with public defender Harry Gasnick during a status hearing in Clallam County Superior Court in Port Angeles in 2016. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles man accused of bus assault, and others, committed to mental hospital

PORT ANGELES — A 60-year-old former military electronics technician who admitted Tuesday he viciously attacked a woman on a bus and a female housemate in separate incidents last year has been committed to up to 10 years at Western State Hospital.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly ordered Riley Edge White’s commitment to Western State on Tuesday after accepting White’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on multiple charges including assault.

Melly said the Port Angeles resident was “unable to perceive right from wrong” or “was unable to perceive the nature and quality of the acts which he is charged” when he committed the attacks due to “a mental disease or defect.”

The acquittal by reason of insanity was agreed to by Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin and White’s lawyer, Harry Gasnick of Clallam Public Defender.

White is not “an evil person,” Melly said, addressing him directly in court.

“These incidents were, for lack of a better word, and very definitely, beyond your control.”

Melly said the incidents were connected to a traumatic brain injury that White suffered several years ago that caused black-out brain seizures.

Gasnick said later the injuries occurred at least 10 years ago.

Melly, determining that White met the definition of insanity by not knowing right from wrong when he assaulted the women, also determined White was competent enough Tuesday to admit he committed the offenses.

“I cannot say I did not” commit the crimes, White told Melly.

“The evidence you have on the [Clallam Transit bus] video and also from my good roommate … is plain.

“All I can say is, I have never been aware of it. That’s the nature of the horrible injury I sustained, the brain injury.”

In connection with the May 28 incident on the bus, White was found not guilty by reason of insanity to attempted first-degree kidnapping, attempted first-degree robbery and second-degree assault by strangulation of the bus driver and second-degree assault-reckless infringement of bodily harm of an 80-year-old bus passenger.

According to the police report, the driver’s neck “was red from the choking” and the 80-year-old woman’s face was “completely covered with blood.”

According to the report, White pushed the 80-year-old woman off the bus, then yelled at the driver to close all the doors and leave before the driver jumped off the bus.

White tried to drive the bus away before he was arrested while sitting in the driver’s seat.

Blood was on the floor, walls and handrails inside the bus, according to a police report.

The two women were treated at Olympic Medical Center.

“The bus incident must have gone on quite a long time,” White told Melly Tuesday.

“Can I remember any of it? No.”

In a Jan. 23 letter to Melly written with a trembling hand, White also recalled the bus incident.

“I had a rampant extened (sic) seizure that tore up the bus.

“When I became conscious,, I was sitting in the back of a police car going to jail.

“What a confusing experience!”

He also was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the Aug. 27 second-degree assault of a female housemate who was renting a room at his South I Street home.

White attacked her in the kitchen while she was getting a drink of water, according to the police report.

She told Port Angeles police he punched her in the head, flooring her, then choked her and told her he was going to kill her before she escaped.

“I was going to get medication,” White told Melly.

“She was apparently in there with me.

“The next thing I remember, she was sitting on the floor next to the counter looking up at me and I was wondering why she was on the floor.”

The roommate, whose face was bloodied and left cheek and eye were swollen, also was treated at Olympic Medical Center, according to the police report.

At Tuesday’s hearing Devlin read aloud a statement from the roommate at the roommate’s request.

“It took me two weeks to take a shower because I was afraid,” the woman said. “For weeks after the attack, I had to cover my face.

“I am slowly learning to trust men.”

Melly dismissed a charge of custodial assault for allegedly punching a corrections officer July 11.

White said after leaving the military he was a senior electronic calibration technician with General Dynamics.

White told Melly that his mental condition has improved dramatically since he has been receiving medication at the jail compared to the medication he was receiving from Veterans Affairs.

“I feel very, very good, and I feel better all the time since I’ve been in [the Clallam County jail] almost 250 days,” White said.

“My whole brain was fouled up.

“This jail has been a wonderful asset to me because I found a medication that works compared to the Veterans [Affairs] medication, which made things worse.”

He said in his letter to Melly that his seizures had been eliminated and his right-hand tremors had quieted down.

“Now I can talk to you without being a shaky mess,” White said.

________

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

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