Arson charge filed against Sequim woman

Evaluation to determine competency

PORT ANGELES — Authorities filed a first-degree arson-domestic violence charge against a Sequim woman while setting in motion an evaluation to determine if she is mentally competent to understand the proceedings against her.

A Superior Court hearing at 3 p.m. today will focus on whether Katrina Sherie Spears, 42, should be subject to involuntary civil commitment if she makes bail of $250,000 and is released from the Clallam County jail.

The basis of today’s review will be Spears’ 24-hour mental health review by Peninsula Behavioral Health — separate from the competency evaluation — that will determine if Spears would be a danger to herself and others if she posts bail.

Spears allegedly set two fires inside her Narrow Way home at about 9 p.m. Sunday.

One was on her bed while her mother was asleep in the living room and the other on a couch in the living room while her mother ran next door to call 9-1-1, according to the probable cause statement.

The fires were confined to the two rooms. A damage estimate was unavailable.

No one was injured.

Spears spent 17 years in involuntary commitment at Western State Hospital before her recent release, Mark Nichols, Clallam County prosecuting attorney, said Monday at Spears’ first court appearance when bail was set.

The Superior Court charge was filed Wednesday against Spears. At the same hearing, Judge Lauren Erickson signed an order for Spears to undergo the mental competency evaluation.

Spears’ attorney, Harry Gasnick of Clallam Public Defender, said in an interview that the expected turn-around time for the evaluations is seven to 10 days.

Gasnick filed the motion for the evaluation.

“This lady has been an involuntary resident at Western State Hospital for 14 of the last 15 years,” Gasnick said Wednesday at the hearing.

Gasnick said Spears was released from Western State within the last year.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin said Wednesday her office does not yet know when Spears was released.

Spears’ mother said Monday that she did not want Erickson to sign a no-contact order preventing her from seeing her daughter.

If Spears posts bail, her mother wants her back in her home and would have a caregiver present when Spears is there, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sarah Woolman told Erickson at Wednesday’s hearing.

The charge has a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $50,000 fine.

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

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