PORT TOWNSEND — A Port Townsend man has entered an Alford plea to vehicular homicide in the March 2018 death of a bicyclist.
Patrick Cleon McConnell, 64, entered the plea on Friday before Judge Keith Harper in Jefferson County Superior Court.
An Alford plea does not admit guilt but acknowledges enough evidence exists that it would likely lead to a conviction in a jury trial.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 31.
The standard range is 15 to 20 months in prison, but McConnell is eligible for a first-time offender waiver, which has a range up to 90 days followed by one year in community custody.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Julie St. Marie said she will ask for no additional jail time with a credit for time served and no community custody.
“It’s been a difficult case on both sides,” she said. “I think this is the resolution that is a fair result.”
Vehicular homicide is a Class A felony and considered a strike in Washington’s three-strike law. Three serious felony convictions can lead to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
McConnell was charged with driving a motor vehicle with disregard for the safety of others, thereby causing the death of another person.
His plea acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict him of his role in the death of Marcus Henthorn, 75, a Port Townsend artist and transportation advisory board member.
McConnell was driving a maroon Hyundai Sonata eastbound on 19th Street, the same direction two bicyclists were traveling in a marked bike lane, according to the police report.
When the bicyclists reached Landes Street, McConnell turned right in front of Henthorn, who applied his brakes and was thrown over the handlebars. Henthorn, who was wearing a helmet, struck the rear passenger side of McConnell’s vehicle before he landed on the ground head-first.
Henthorn, a popular landscape artist represented by the Port Townsend Gallery and the Main Street Gallery in Glenwood Springs, Colo., died the next day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Charges weren’t filed until last December, nearly nine months after the collision, because the Port Townsend Police Department was awaiting blood test results. The state crime lab found a presumptive positive for cannabinoids, according to court documents.
McConnell was set for a jury trial that began Oct. 28, but it was declared a mistrial the following morning due to a medical emergency.
Defense attorney Richard Davies of Jefferson Associated Counsel told the court McConnell had attempted suicide and had been airlifted to Harborview, where his condition improved during the next few days.
McConnell appeared in the courtroom on Friday and said he was entering the Alford plea to take advantage of the state’s offer.
“My attorney has advised me that there is sufficient evidence to convict me of the crime of vehicular homicide,” McConnell wrote in his plea statement.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].