PORT TOWNSEND — A Nordland woman has pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment with her toddler in the car as she acted as an accomplice to attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.
Halie Lyn Dengler, 26, pleaded guilty to four charges on Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court. The charges included obstructing a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.
Judge Keith Harper rejected a joint agreement and sentenced Dengler to 90 days in jail, although he postponed her reporting date to March 27.
The recommendation from Chris Ashcraft, chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney and defense attorney Noah Harrison was to for Dengler to receive credit for serving one day in jail.
“The facts here are extraordinary and unbelievable,” Harper said prior to sentencing. “My jaw dropped. I absolutely could not believe it.”
Dengler admitted to having her 16-month-old son in her car as she ran interference between a pursuing Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy and her boyfriend, who was traveling on a motorcycle at speeds up to 60 mph on Irondale Road just after 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 26.
Deputy Kolby Schreier was attempting to make contact with Dengler’s boyfriend, James Hicks, who had a warrant for his arrest from the Everett Police Department, according to the probable cause statement.
Schreier first passed Dengler on state Highway 19 at Four Corners Road and ran the license plate of the motorcycle. He said Dengler had sped up to try to close the distance between her vehicle and the motorcycle.
When Schreier learned the registered owner of the motorcycle did not have a two-wheel endorsement and that the person riding it appeared to be Hicks, he called for a second unit because he knew Hicks had a suspended license, the police report said.
Once the deputy activated his lights and siren, the rider sped off and traveled between the shoulder and in front of driveways and cross streets, and he reached 60 mph on Irondale Road near Seventh Avenue, according to court documents.
Schreier said Dengler cut him off near Pattison Street, where he almost struck her vehicle.
“Dengler then made several maneuvers side to side, attempting to block me from catching the motorcycle,” Schreier reported. “Dengler’s vehicle drove into the oncoming lane of traffic multiple times. I came up on the driver’s side of Dengler’s car, and it swerved in front of me, cutting me off.”
The chase continued until deputy Justin Coronado parked his vehicle in the middle of Irondale Road near South Maple Street, and Schreier blocked Hicks from turning around.
Deputy Adam Newman physically removed Hicks from the motorcycle and took him into custody on the ground, and Dengler yelled at deputies while Coronado restrained her, according to court documents.
Harrison said Dengler can’t provide a rational explanation for her actions.
“She stands before you very scared, not with what this court is going to do but for her child,” Harrison said. “Victims of domestic violence do strange things.
“She was scared of retribution from him if she didn’t do what he wanted her to do.”
Dengler addressed the court, saying her son can’t hear or walk, and he’s scheduled to have the first of several surgeries on Thursday. The initial procedure is meant to help relieve severe sleep apnea symptoms that sometimes stop his breathing for a minute or longer, she said.
Harrison said Dengler doesn’t have any family members who can care for the boy.
“That’s what’s driven her,” he said. “How do I take responsibility but also care for my child?”
Harrison said Dengler is now sober, and her case is “kind of a good thing because she’s been able to get out of the relationship with that person.”
“I’ve really stepped up compared to the person I used to be,” Dengler said as she addressed the court.
Harper paused for about two minutes of silence before he made his decision.
“I’m sorry for your issues with your son,” he said. “With what happened here, you are lucky you still have a son at all.”
Dengler will be required to pay $515 in legal financial obligations and will have an additional 274 days of jail time suspended for two years unless she has additional law violations.
Harper pushed her reporting date out a month so she could make childcare arrangements and suggested she call Child Protective Services if she has to.
“Quite frankly, I’m giving you a bit of a break for what happened here,” he said. “The guy on the motorcycle, your son, the law enforcement officer — all could have been seriously injured or killed. You put that many people in danger.”
Harper also wished her luck in the future.
“This is the only way I can hold you accountable, but this is just a bump in the road,” he said. “Serve your time. Life goes on. I want you to be able to do that. I want you to be successful.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at email@example.com.