Just before the last few breaking stories happened, we had just walked out of King County Superior Court Judge Greg Canova’s courtroom downtown, after the sentencing hearing for 19-year-old West Seattle repeat offender Skyelar Hailey wrapped up. This was the sentencing for the incidents in mid-August in which Hailey and a teenage girl were arrested for stealing a teacher’s purse at West Seattle High School, then burglarizing the home of a nearby acquaintance (detailed here); earlier this month, Hailey pleaded guilty to residential burglary and theft. The prosecutor handling the case was Maurice Classen, who deals with “repeat burglar” cases, on which the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has placed a special emphasis. After hearing Classen declare, “This is an individual who has had a significant effect on a community” (while mentioning our presence in the courtroom as further evidence of that), then hearing Hailey say his criminal record is all because of a drug problem he didn’t admit till now, Judge Canova gave him the sentence the state had requested: 13 months on one count, 12 months on the other, to be served concurrently. The judge said Hailey’s lengthy record, mostly juvenile offenses since he is just 19, showed no previous evidence of a drug problem, so he dismissed the defense attorney’s request for a sentence focusing instead on drug treatment. Hailey offered no words of remorse:
I know I have a significant juvenile history, I’ve committed several crimes. I’ve never been looking at this much time – it kind of opened my eyes a bit – that I had a drug problem and was ignoring it. I don’t have the support of my parents, I don’t have a job – I’ve been on my own more or less since I was 15 – seems everything I ever got in trouble for was related to drugs – I’m hoping I can get through this and change.
The judge then asked sharply – referring to this April hearing, the last time we were in court to see Hailey being sentenced – “You didn’t think THAT was an appropriate time to raise the issue of your drug problem?” Hailey replied, “I never looked at myself as having a drug problem.” The judge noted that the report from this incident showed him as having been found with a small amount of white powder and pills, but nothing else indicating a problem or addiction. Judge Canova (a West Seattleite, by the way) pronounced sentence without further remark, aside from “Good luck, Mr. Hailey” as a deputy re-cuffed him and took him away – same thing he had said to two defendants whose unrelated sentencings we’d watched in the preceding hour while awaiting this one.
Afterward, we talked with prosecutor Classen to ask how much time Hailey will really spend in prison: Answer – about half a year. First, he has been in jail for two months since his mid-August arrest; then, Classen says, for a crime like this, one-third is taken off the sentence (which is less than some others, but more than violent crimes). So unless something changes, he will be out again by May. Classen acknowledges that doesn’t seem like enough for the “significant impact,” but Hailey did not have enough of an adult record for more.
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