Larisa Jean Dietz of Sequim sits with attorney Stan Myers in July at Clallam County Superior Court in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Larisa Jean Dietz of Sequim sits with attorney Stan Myers in July at Clallam County Superior Court in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Woman gets 17 years for attack

Aggravating circumstance determined as victim was in wheelchair

PORT ANGELES — A 50-year-old Sequim woman was sentenced Monday to more than 17 years in prison for second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault after repeatedly stabbing a wheelchair-bound man in the neck two years ago.

A jury on July 2 found Larisa Jean Dietz guilty of second-degree attempted murder from her Oct. 8, 2019, attack on the late Ricky Lee McGowan, 58, in his apartment at the Sunbelt Apartments in Sequim.

The two were friends, and Dietz helped him with chores and errands, according to court documents.

McGowan recovered from his wounds but spiraled deeper into alcoholism following the assault, Deputy Criminal Prosecuting Attorney Sarah Woolman said in arguing for a 20-year sentence.

Judge Simon Barnhart sentenced Dietz to 208 months, including the 24 months mandatory punishment for Dietz’s use of a deadly weapon and applying an additional 24 months incarceration for McGowan’s condition as a vulnerable victim as an aggravating circumstance.

The jury applied them to both crimes in their verdicts.

Dietz’s 2-inch folding knife caused 21½ inches of wounds on McGowan, who had broken his hip a month before the attack.

“Either he was wheelchair bound or reliant on a walker to assist him in mobility,” Barnhart said.

“That made him vulnerable to the type of attack that we learned about at trial,” he added.

“The court has a job to do and a hard one at that, and it’s essential that the court take sentencing considerations very seriously and particularly when they relate to the kind of violent crime that we have here.”

Mental health evaluators had determined Dietz has post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder and substance abuse disorders, according to court documents.

She was molested in grade school, attacked when she was 13, and assaulted by five people who beat her and removed her clothing when she was 24, she told mental health evaluators.

Dietz was determined to be mentally competent to stand trial.

“I’ve lived every day with what’s happened,” she told Barnhart, crying, before her sentencing.

“I have so much regret.

“The thing I have to say is that something must have happened, that I was in fear for my life,” she said.

Dietz had claimed McGowan groped her.

“People that are making statements, they were not there, they do not know what happened, and I am sorry.”

Dietz’s lawyer, Karen Unger of Port Angeles, filed a notice of appeal after Dietz’s sentencing.

Unger did not deny that Dietz attacked McGowan but disputed the 20-year-sentence recommendation, pointing to a two-page letter dated Sept. 9 from mental health therapist Emma Jane Watson, Dietz’s therapist for 22 months.

Watson said Dietz, who has three children, did cocaine and drank alcohol as a pre-adolescent, has flashbacks, has experienced severe sexual, emotional and physical abuse, has suffered traumatic brain injury and displays symptoms of mental illness,

Dietz’s personal history “is defined as who she is,” Unger said.

“We can’t forget our humanity,” she added.

“Essentially the state is saying she’s too dangerous, lock her up, don’t consider her a person, consider her offense only.

“Her history is defined by who she is because of her mental health circumstances, and the system doesn’t seem to be able to address people like Ms. Dietz.”

Unger speculated that 80 percent of people in the county jail have mental health and substance abuse issues.

“Ms Dietz is sort of the trifecta, and she is the example of the failure of our system.”

Woolman argued that Dietz’s trauma did not justify the level of violence against McGowan, describing it as “this incredibly, incredibly violent assault.”

Woolman said there was a significant risk of Dietz reoffending considering her assaultive behavior over the past 18 years.

“The state is not denying that Ms. Dietz has a diagnose of post-traumatic stress disorder and complex trauma,” she said.

“She has been in treatment on and off for a decade for this particular issue, so much so that the state believes it becomes her justification for dong these things,” she said.

“She has a self-awareness about this.”

According to a mental health evaluator, Dietz is aware she is more violent when drinking alcohol, Woolman said.

Dietz and McGowan were drinking the night of the assault, according to court records.

“Post-traumatic stress disorder does not mitigate inflicting this level of violence and trauma on another person and to those who happened upon the trauma.”

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

More in Crime

Dr. Eric Kiesel, the medical examiner who performed autopsies on the bodies of Tiffany May and Darrell and Jordan Iverson in January 2019, uses a manakin to show the trajectory of bullets during Dennis Mavin Bauer’s triple murder trial Monday in Clallam County Superior Court. Michele Devlin, county Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, looks on.
Murder trial testimony details 19 gunshot wounds

Medical examiner: At least two types of ammunition used

Man charged with second-degree murder

Suspect turns self in after 12-hour manhunt

Alleged mail bandit arrested

Man accused of forging checks

The jury was shown an ammunition clip during testimony last week in the Dennis Bauer murder trial.
Triple-murder trial resumes Monday

Dropped gun clip possible link

Driver in rollover unhurt

Man’s vehicle destroyed

State Patrol Forensic Analyst Johan Schoeman, left, and Michele Devlin, deputy prosecuting attorney, on Monday show the jury in Dennis Bauer’s murder trial the tarp that was wrapped around the body of victim Darrell Iverson. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)
Eyewitness tells of role in killings

Defense attorney in Bauer trial focuses on inconsistencies

State Patrol Detective Michael Welander displays drone photographs from a triple-murder investigation from Jan. 1, 2019. (Rob Ollikainen/for Peninsula Daily News)
Trial for triple murder resumes

Attorneys show crime scene photos

Report: Woman fit for trial

Assessment says accused shooter Kay Ann Beebe can take part in defense

Port Angeles man sentenced to four years for child rape

Man says victims were his friends, then ‘they weren’t’

Defense questions witness testimony

Bauer’s attorney cross-examination expected to resume Monday

Murder witness account challenged

Bauer lawyer cross-examines

Sentenced murderer stays mum at trial

Triple-murderer Ryan Warren Ward appeared in Clallam County Superior… Continue reading