SOUTH BEND — Shock and awe are the two best words to describe Pacific County Superior Court on Sept. 3 after a high-profile attorney joined the defense counsel for a man facing a first-degree murder charge. (See related story on page A1.) Other cases last week involved a man seeking his fifth attorney, while another man facing a rape charge reached a deal with the state.
As usual, Judge Don Richter sat at the bench for the criminal docket, and Judge Heidi Heywood presided over a conflict docket case. At the same time, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tracey Munger journeyed in and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Joe Faurholt attended via Zoom.
Defense attorneys David Arcuri and Nathan Needham were the only usual counsel present. Attorney Harold Karlsvik continues his battle with covid-19 and is said to be advising his clients to seek new counsel.
Shaun A. Schlenker
It was deja vu all over again, with a hearing expected to set preliminary trial dates but instead was everything but. Shaun Schlenker arguing for himself, informed the court that his latest attorney, Kevin T. Nelson, was supposed to have been removed as his counsel and was “surprised” to see him attending via Zoom.
Haywood, clearly irritated, explained to Schlenker that he couldn’t just remove an attorney who is court-appointed and that “no withdrawal request” had been submitted. According to Schlenker, he and Nelson were having a tough time getting along, stating, “his bedside manners do not work with me” and he “makes snide remarks.”
He also accused the court of not appointing sufficient counsel with his previous three attorneys and now Nelson. In response to Schlenker, Heywood stated that sometimes defendants are not satisfied with their counsel, no matter how many they are provided. She also noted that every time a new one is appointed, it restarts Schlenker’s right to a speedy trial.
Nelson was still offered the chance to represent Schlenker by Heywood. He stated he still had the ability, but that another attorney may be a better idea. He blamed the breakdown of communication and numerous issues with Schlenker as the reasoning for his recommendation.
Heywood took his recommendation and began appointing Schlenker new counsel, but court administrator Rikki Thompson informed her that they would need to look for one. Schlenker took it upon himself to request the court to consider a district court attorney because, from his knowledge, “there may be one that would work well” with him.
Schlenker will appear again on Sept. 17. His case revolves around alleged window-breaking and related crimes in Long Beach.
Joshua J. Bowe
Months in the works, Joshua J. Bowe was finally present for court for a change of plea hearing and faces multiple sexual motivation charges, including second-degree rape. He attended court via Zoom from the jail, and his attorney, Arcuri, was present inside the courtroom.
Arcuri and the state were able to work out an agreement with Bowe’s charges amended to one count of second-degree child molestation and one count of second-degree assault with sexual motivation.
The agreement recommended that Bowe face 15 months incarcerated for count one and 364 days for count two and 12 months of community custody following his release. He would also have to register as a sex offender. The standard range for the charges with his agreed offender score of 0 are 15-20 months for count one and 364 days for count two.
Richter read a statement for the plea of guilty included in the agreement where Bowe admitted to his crimes committed earlier this year. Bowe also informed the court that the statement was his and that it was true.
Richter accepted the plea, and after statements by both Arcuri and Munger, Richter set over Bowe’s sentencing to Oct. 1. Adding to the request, Arcuri asked that his client not be contacted by the Washington State Department of Corrections.
Bowe will be before the court on Oct. 1, when Richter will either accept the recommendation or potentially sentence Bowe to a more harsh penalty.
Conni L. Janssen (Mcintosh)
Conni L. Janssen was present to enter a change of plea and be sentenced for taking someone’s vehicle without permission. Under the agreement, the charge was amended to second-degree taking a vehicle without permission. She was present via Zoom from the jail, and her attorney, Arcuri, was at the defense table.
The state offered her a deal, with her pleading guilty to the charge with a recommended sentence of two months incarcerated and no community custody afterward. Her standard range with an agreed offender score of 2 was for 2-5 months incarcerated.
Richter read her statement to the court in which she admitted to taking someone else’s vehicle without permission. She informed the court that the statement was her words and that they were also true.
Munger only made a simple remark requesting Richter accept the agreement as written, but Arcuri decided to make a few statements as he noted he likes to be “blunt.” He informed Richter that it wasn’t like his client took off with the vehicle. She took it a short distance down the road and parked it at someone else’s home.
Arcuri noted that the case was as straightforward as it gets, and when asked if she wished to make any comments, Janssen only stated, “no, Mr. Acuris spoke well for me.”
Richter accepted the agreement as written, and Janssen will likely be out of jail on Oct. 1 with included credit for time served.
Daniel J. Schenk
Set over one week from the Aug. 27 docket, Daniel J. Schenk’s case was called for a pretrial hearing, and once again, he was not present, nor did he attend via Zoom. His attorney, Shane O’Rourke, spoke on his behalf and requested the case be continued.
According to O’Rourke, he and the state are steadily working on a deal, and he does not expect the case to go to trial. Regardless, the trial date for Sept. 20 stayed in place at Richter’s request, even considering other cases are scheduled for the same trial dates and take priority.
As part of the looming agreement, Schenk had to complete a polygraph examination and psycho-social evaluation and has already completed both. Schenk is facing charges for possession and dealing images depicting a minor in sexually explicit content.