Followup: Guilty plea in attack on bus driver from West Seattle

gavel.jpgTwo and a half months after an Alki woman was beaten unconscious in Tukwila while on the job as a Metro bus driver, she e-mailed to share the news that her 15- 14-year-old attacker is pleading guilty. We first reported on her story in January after her daughter posted in the WSB Forums. Two other teenage boys were arrested and charged, not in connection with attacking the driver, but for vandalizing the bus. Court documents indicated the incident was triggered when a group of boys became enraged that the driver wouldn’t open the rear doors long enough to let them all out. After the attack, a discussion of potential driver-safety improvements began, including the question of whether barriers could be put up to protect drivers; Metro said last month that some testing would begin soon (we’re checking). Meantime, we asked the driver how she is doing:

I am still recovering and still too traumatized and fearful to return to work. I am working with a physiologist. This has been a long, slow journey. I am still getting slight symptoms from the concussion, tiredness and headaches. Physically I will carry a scar inside my lip that will probably be there the rest of my life. *I plan on making a statement at the sentencing so if anyone, especially Metro Drivers in uniform were to show up, I would greatly appreciate the support. I was debating on whether to speak or not, but I feel I need to for closure and for reasons that I will talk about. I have had a rough time of it, but I am strong and will pull through.

She says the sentencing is set for 9:30 next Monday morning (April 12) in Juvenile Court. We have an inquiry out to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for any more information on the case’s status (we confirmed the guilty plea through an online court docket, but more-detailed records in juvenile cases are inaccessible online).

ADDED 3:24 PM: PAO spokesperson Dan Donohoe tells WSB, “We are seeking an exceptional sentence of 52 to 65 weeks. This is above the standard range of 15 to 36 weeks.” And he confirms the 9:30 am Monday sentencing, JC courtroom 2. In the document he also forwarded, the boy corrected his birthdate – he is 14, not 15. In the plea agreement, the state drops a second assault charge, and the boy writes his confession: “On January 23, 2010, I purposefully slapped (driver’s name), a human being. She became unconscious and had substantial facial injuries, as I understand it.” The two boys charged with malicious mischief, for vandalizing the bus, also have pleaded guilty, but under conditions of “deferred disposition” – basically, if they stay out of trouble for a certain amount of time (almost a year for one, six months for the other), there will be another hearing at which the cases will be dismissed.

ADDED 4:36 PM: We also now have an update on the bus safety-barrier test, from Metro spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok:

The demonstration began last Saturday (April 3) with one bus outfitted with a shield deployed out of Metro’s bus base in South King County. Over the next few weeks, six additional shields will be deployed on buses in other parts of the county. The buses will be rotated around and placed on a variety of routes and bus types so as many operators as possible have an opportunity to evaluate and comment on them. Operators will also have a chance to check out the shields at their individual bases. We expect that the actual demonstration will be wrapped up at the end of June. From there, written comments from operators will be reviewed and additional input will be sought from safety and training staff, among others. Metro managers, operators and the transit union will then work together to decide how to move forward.

13 Replies to "Followup: Guilty plea in attack on bus driver from West Seattle"

  • SomeGuy April 8, 2010 (1:27 pm)

    Kudos to the driver for having the courage to speak at the sentencing.

  • Cheryl April 8, 2010 (2:38 pm)

    I’m glad to hear the metro driver plans to speak @ the sentencing. I also hope that other Metro drivers will show up for support, or at least family & friends. Now, if only the judge will punish these sh*ts to the fullest extent of the law… My fear is liberal political correctness will once again prove stronger than justice. :-(

  • alki_2008 April 8, 2010 (2:48 pm)

    @Cheryl – it sounds like only the one boy was charged for the assault. The other two were charged only for vandalism, and not sure if there was a verdict for those two?

    • WSB April 8, 2010 (2:51 pm)

      That’s what I have an inquiry in to the prosecutor’s office about, as it is NOT clear from the online dockets – as I wrote, the only case materials that can be accessed since these are juveniles – what their disposition was. – TR

  • Ken April 8, 2010 (3:50 pm)

    [quote]My fear is liberal political correctness will once again prove stronger than justice.[/quote]

    What does this sentence even mean? How about sticking to actual facts?

    That being said, less than a year for this vicious assault hardly seems enough. It’s hard to know what to do with people like this kid. Locking him up isn’t going to do him any good, but he can’t be allowed to do this kind of stuff either.

  • Diana April 8, 2010 (4:00 pm)

    Dear Metro Driver, thank you for sharing. All workers need to be safe in their workplace. What happened to you was horrific. I applaud your strength and wish you well in your continued recovery. May justice be served to those found guilty. If the punishment is not commensurate with the crime let us all work together to make changes happen. Take care.

  • coffee April 8, 2010 (4:46 pm)

    the comment from the 14 year old, “as I understand it”, ahhh, did you not even notice as you harmed this person that she became unconscious????? Amazing. I agree, its great that the driver can face the person in court.

  • Linda April 8, 2010 (4:58 pm)

    Even though I haven’t met her, I know from hearing and reading what’s she sent me that she’s a marvelous person. I love her & I’m immensly proud of her. She’s “blood”.

  • waterworld April 8, 2010 (5:26 pm)

    Coffee: A defendant’s statement in a plea agreement is usually drafted by the lawyer, not the defendant. And neither of them may have known the extent of the injuries when the plea language was drafted. The factual statement in the plea agreement usually contains the bare minimum to establish the elements of the crime. I’m not defending this approach, just offering a likely explanation. Personally, I would look more to what the young man says at sentencing to get an impression of his attitude about what he did.

  • John April 8, 2010 (6:15 pm)

    As a Metro driver – and friend of the victim – I will be there in uniform and in full support of our brave colleague.

  • Kate K April 8, 2010 (6:31 pm)

    I wish the injured Metro driver a full recovery and admire her courage to appear at sentencing.

  • Dano April 8, 2010 (9:58 pm)

    The kids that did this need to be “retrained” in what it means to be a human being, and how to move about in a space with other human beings… That will take a lot of work, and will take much longer than the time proposed in a juvenile facility…. I am liberal, a teacher, I care about young people… and I don’t hesitate in the slightest when I say this.

  • rick April 9, 2010 (8:10 am)

    Only one of the three was charged with assault. All have pled guilty and, I believe, will be sentenced on the same day. It is a small court room and very few people will be able to fit into the court. Other supporters could be outside in the waitng area.

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