Pacific County Courthouse in South Bend

Pacific County Courthouse in South Bend.

SOUTH BEND — Pacific County Superior Court continued Jan. 15 with the session being mostly online, with only Judge Don Richter and his staff present in the courtroom. Pacific County Deputy Prosecutor Joe Faurholt attended via Zoom along with defense attorneys David Arcuri, David Hatch and Harold Karlsvik. Judge Andrew Toynbee from Lewis County was also present via Zoom.

Court lasted just over two hours and included some memorable moments, especially a case involving a defendant who has evaded her sentence of 30 days in jail for almost three years and another defendant who has been missing for months. Additionally, a couple of cases were settled, and another got their “last bite at the apple.”

Brittini R. Ford

The docket’s most intriguing case resulted from defendant Brittini R. Ford’s elusiveness when it comes to serving a 30-day sentence for a 2017 matter which Judge Toynbee remembered clearly. Faurholt opened the hearing by informing the court that the defendant, who is now living in Texas, had been trying for most of the past year to serve her term but has been unable to do so due to covid-19.

To settle the matter, Faurholt suggested the court change the sentence of 30 days to eight hours of community service for each day of proposed incarceration for a total of 240 hours of community service. Before handing back the torch to Toynbee, Faurholt made it clear it had been verified Ford had been trying to serve the time in Texas, but none of the jails in the state would accept her.

Whether she knew this and worked it in her favor was not addressed during the hearing, but nonetheless the judge was not thrilled about the idea and the fact she eluded the sentence. After a back and forth between the prosecution, judge and defense, it was agreed she will be allowed to convert the jail time to community service but will only have until an Aug. 1 review hearing to have it completed.

Toynbee made it clear that every eight hours she doesn’t complete will transition back to jail time, and she will be brought back to Washington to serve the remaining time if necessary.

Mitchell J. Borden

Defendant Mitchell J. Borden hasn’t been seen in several months and has racked up at least a few additional charges of “failures to appear.” Arcuri also noted he hadn’t heard from his client in several months and had no explanation of where he is. During the hearing, a warrant of $50,000 was issued in hopes he would be captured.

After the court session, it was discovered that Borden has been sitting in the Lewis County Jail since Sept. 25, 2020, after he stole a truck and led Centralia Police Department officers along with several other agencies on a high-speed pursuit. It ended with him crashing the truck into a tree behind the Centralia High School before he jumped into and swam across the Chehalis River.

Officers were able to locate Borden the following morning at a hotel in Centralia after receiving an anonymous tip. He is being held in the Lewis County Jail on eight charges on top of charges from Pacific County, which were not specified during his hearing on Jan. 15.

Jerad L. Vert

Jerad L. Vert missed his last court appearance but appeared for the hearing via Zoom with his attorney Arcuri, who immediately brought to the court’s attention an issue with his client. During a recent interaction with Vert, Arcuri said he had to tell his client to shut up.

According to Arcuri, he and his client have experienced some growing tension, and he was still willing to represent Vert if he wished for him to do so. Richter spoke with Vert directly about the issue, and Vert admitted he took out his frustration on his attorney and shouldn’t have. He said his frustration was due to his personal belongings still being at the reported victim’s house.

Vert is accused of taking a vehicle without permission from the homeowner he was living with to attend another court appearance in Cathlamet. During the appearance, he was arrested for the accused crime. Since his arrest, he has not been allowed back at the residence to retrieve any of his belongings, including his personal I.D.

Arcuri requested the court allow Vert to schedule a time and date to go to the home and retrieve only his belongings, escorted by a Pacific County Sheriff’s Office deputy. Richter accepted the request and informed Vert he will need to make the arrangements.

Additionally, during the hearing, it was mentioned that Vert is possibly facing unspecified new charges, but the documents were not ready and will be handled during a future court appearance.

Liza A. Johnson

Liza A. Johnson was unable to appear for her sentencing because a Washington State Department of Corrections officer would not allow her to leave Grays Harbor County, which seemed to baffle Richter. She was scheduled to appear for sentencing with a proposed agreement of 80 days of jail time with 80 days credited, meaning she would remain free.

Arcuri requested the matter be rescheduled for the Feb. 19 docket in hopes his client will then be allowed to appear. Richter asked if “the court needed to contact DOC about restricting access to his court.” Arcuri believed that it would not be an issue for her next court appearance because he planned to express the necessity of her appearing.

The state and court still had the option of issuing an arrest warrant but did not do so since Arcuri stated he has had great contact with Johnson and would be speaking with her after court that day.

Armando G. Cordero

Staring at a possible sentence of 22 months, Armando G. Cordero’s defense attorney was able to reach an agreement with the state to avoid incarceration in exchange for a Drug Offender Sentence Alternative (DOSA) that requires six months of inpatient treatment along with 24 months additional community custody. The decision to accept the agreement or throw the book at the defendant was up to Richter.

Faurholt was the first to speak and expressed it was a reasonable agreement and advised the court to accept it. Arcuri said his client had a great chance of success because his family stands behind him, and he has “a better than normal chance to complete this.”

Richter agreed to the sentence and reduced the fine to $500. Cordero has a bed date scheduled for Jan. 28 to enter treatment.

Judith A. Ayre

Judith A. Ayre was expected to be present for a change of plea and sentencing but did not appear, and Arcuri had no explanation as to where she was. He informed the court that he called and left her a voicemail after she missed court on Dec. 4, and she called him three days later and left him a voicemail, but he hadn’t heard from her since.

Faurholt requested the court issue a $10,000 warrant due to her being a threat to public safety due to charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and forgery. Richter accepted the request and issued the bench warrant.

Tahnika D. Michell

Making it to court has been an issue for Tahnika D. Michell, and staying in contact with her attorney has been equally challenging. According to Arcuri, he left her a voicemail after she failed to appear for court on Dec. 18, and the call has not been returned.

Due to her not being considered a threat to public safety, Richter decided not to issue a warrant during court, but a review hearing is scheduled for Feb. 19, when additional actions are expected to be considered.

Tammi J. Kindle

After missing her hearing on Dec. 4, the defendant was back before the court for a warrant review and didn’t offer an explanation for her failed appearance. However, her case is close to a resolution and at the request of both the prosecution and defense the next action in her case was moved to the March 5 docket, with a deal expected to be presented.

Richter made it clear to Kindle that this was her “one bite at the apple,” meaning if she doesn’t appear again, she shouldn’t expect him to show leniency.

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