Followup: Why Sealth car-attack suspect is out of jail; new details from charging papers

As reported here last night, 37-year-old Amy Lynn O’Brien is now charged with hit-and-run and second-degree assault in connection with the attack one week ago on two teenage girls across from their school, Chief Sealth International High School – and that she had gotten out of jail shortly after those charges were filed.

This morning, we have a copy of the charging documents from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Asked why O’Brien was allowed out of jail, KCPAO spokesperson Dan Donohoe says that while prosecutors asked that her bail remain at $250,000, a judge granted her request to be freed on “personal recognizance.”

Ahead new details from the charging documents – we’re transcribing them in two installments, and you can read (as of 10:59 am) both, ahead:

In the request for bail to remain at a quarter-million dollars, the prosecutor summarized:

The incident appears to have arisen out of a misunderstanding over Ms. O’Brien’s unleashed dog. After confronting the victims and their friends about their interaction with the pet, Ms. O’Brien got in her car and drove after the students, who were returning to the school after lunch. Ms. O’Brien followed the students in her vehicle, exited, and then approached them, armed with a taser. She was apparently angry over how her dog had been treated. The students fled when they saw Ms. O’Brien and heard the crackle of her taser.

Ms. O’Brien then returned to her car again and pursued them. When she saw the students again, she drove her car straight at the two young women. Witnesses estimate that Ms. O’Brien’s speed was around 40 miles an hour when she struck the victims. According to one eyewitness, the force of impact caused by Ms. O’Brien’s two-thousand-plus-pound vehicle traveling at that speed threw the young women 20 feet in the air.

The defendant presents a significant danger to the community.

As a result of Ms. O’Brien striking the two young women with her car, both victims suffered significant injuries, including loss of consciousness, a concussion for one, and a nearly severed ear for another. Ms. O’Brien has no known criminal history.

For even more details, the narrative written by a Seattle Police detective:

On 11-28-12, at approximately 1000 hrs, (victim 1) and (victim 2) were walking to school (Chief Sealth) located in the 2600 block of SW Thistle … The girls were walking with other female friends and they were returning to the school. (Victim 1) told detectives they were walking in the 8600 block of 26th SW when two dogs ran up to them as they were walking. One of the dogs was a pit bull. She stated they discovered the dogs were friendly and they were petting them when (victim 2) ended up either falling into the dog or pushing it. The owner of the dog was a white female who came out and began to yell at (victim 2) for “hitting” the dog. (Victim 1) stated (Victim 2) attempted to apologize several times. (Victim 1) stated the dog never yelped or ran off in pain but actually was wagging its tail. As they attempted to explain what had happened, the woman (later ID’d as O’Brien) struck (victim 2) in the chest. (Victim 1) stated a fight erupted between the two and she attempted to break it up. O’Brien then stopped and began to call police to report an assault.

As uniformed officers of SPD were dispatched to investigate this call, the girls, along with their friends, walked away from the female and cut through the houses eastbound toward 25th SW. (Victim 1) stated as they neared SW Thistle they saw a small black car racing toward them from the south. The car stopped next to them and the same white female (O’Brien) that had just fought with (Victim 2) exited the vehicle. (Victim 1) could see that she was now armed with a taser-type device. She began to chase the girls, who fled westbound through the houses back to 26th Ave SW. (Victim 1) stated that when she looked back she did not see O’Brien any more. Moments later while they were on 26th SW, (Victim 1) said she saw the same small car O’Brien had been driving on 25th Avenue SW just moments ago turn southbound on 26th SW traveling at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was heading straight at them. She stated she attempted to push (Victim 2) out of the way just before being struck. The next thing she remembered was waking up at Harborview Medical Center. (Victim 1) suffered multiple cuts, scrapes and bruises along with a laceration to the top of her head that required several stitches to close it. The doctors confirmed to the family that (Victim 1) had been struck unconscious and had suffered a concussion. While patrol officers were arriving at the scene several 911 calls came into SPD radio regarding the vehicle assault. Officers contacted a witness that saw the fight and identified the older woman as Amy L. O’Brien, his neighbor. He stated that she had a “temper” but did not know why she would do this.

Several other witnesses that were present at the time of the assault told officers about how the white female in the black vehicle was travelling at a high rate of speed just before striking the two girls. While officers were at the scene O’Brien contacted police via cell phone. She agreed to turn herself in later that day at an agreed upon time and location. O’Brien failed to show up.

We are now transcribing the second part of the narrative, which has to do with O’Brien’s surrender the next day, and police talking with Victim #1. We’ll add that as soon as we’re done.

ADDED 10:59 AM: The rest of the narrative:

On 11-29-12, at approximately 1630 hours, Amy L. O’Brien arrived at the SPD South Precinct and surrendered herself to police. She told the South Precinct desk clerk/officer she was the driver of the vehicle that was involved in a hit and run that had occurred in West Seattle at Chief Sealth High School on 11-28-12. (The officer) called 911 and requested officers to the South Precinct. She was taken into custody and transported to the SPD Homicide and Assault Unit.

When she arrived (there), she was placed in an interview room that was audio and video recorded. Before interviewing O’Brien, detectives had discovered a “follow up” story by KING 5 news on their website. It was dated 11-29-12. The story was in print and had an attached video. The article and video reported that the person responsible for running over the victims had contacted them before turning herself in and wanted to give her side of the incident. She had told KING 5 reporters that she had been “provoked” by the victims and that they surrounded her car and would not move. When she exited her vehicle she was punched in the face. KING 5 news provided video of a white vehicle with (license plate) occupied by two females arriving to meet on their site. Ater detectives read O’Brien her Miranda warnings she answered in the affirmative that she understood them. Detectives briefly questioned her on the KING 5 story and asked if that was her in the white car sitting in the passenger seat and she answered in the affirmative. She stated that she had contacted Elisa Hahn (KING 5 reporter) through a friend and was going to tell her “story” to her and they were only supposed to film her from the neck down but when she and her friend arrived to meet, Hahn was not there. When I asked if if she wanted to tell her “story” to me she requested an attorney. I ended the interview and O’Brien was booked into KCJ.

The narrative mentions that Victim #1 met with detectives last Friday, two days after the incident, and picked O’Brien out of a montage of six photos. Then:

Detectives also were able to meet with (Victim #2) on 11-30-12 who was in a neck brace and had severe “road rash” on her left side of her body. It was obvious that she was in serious pain and she stated that she was about to go back to Harborview Medical Center because of complications from her injuries. I asked her if she was able to talk to me and explain what she remembered of the incident before she went back to HMC and she stated she could.

She had a very short memory of the incident. She stated she remembered walking back to school with (Victim #1) and a number of other girls when a pit bull jumped up on her. She stated it startled her and she pushed it off. She stated the dog never yelped or ran away in pain. The dog wagged his tail and she realized that he was being friendly. As they were petting the dog a white female approximately 5’3″ in her late 20s ran up to them and began to yell at them for striking her dog. (Victim #2) stated that she tried to apologize and explain what happened. (Victim #2) stated this woman then “punched” her and she reacted by punching her back. She remembered this woman chasing them with a taser-type device, then seeing a small black car out of the corner of her eye coming at them. The next thing she remembered was waking up at HMC. She stated she had been knocked unconscious from the vehicle assault. I asked her the extent of her injuries and she explained that she had the “road rash” on the left side of her body, numerous cuts and scrapes on her knees, and that her left ear had been partially torn off but the doctors were able to “sew” it back on. I asked her if she was able to identify this W/F that had punched her and she stated she could. I asked if she wished to do it now or later and she stated now.

Victim #2 too identified the photo of Amy O’Brien.

That’s where the charging documents end. One other detail – it appears from another document the decision to grant O’Brien’s request for “personal recognizance” release was made by King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle.

88 Replies to "Followup: Why Sealth car-attack suspect is out of jail; new details from charging papers"

  • Mark December 5, 2012 (10:55 am)

    Throw her back in the slammer. Hope they suspended her driver’s license so she doesn’t run anyone else over in the mean time…

  • datamuse December 5, 2012 (10:57 am)


  • Seriously? December 5, 2012 (11:05 am)

    Theresa Doyle – shame on you! Let’s all stop voting for this person! This is ludicrous. This creep pulled out a weapon on kids, then mowed them down with her car and then eluded police. And she gets out on her personal recognizance? And I’m assuming nobody notified the victims’ families that she was getting out either and I’d assume they’d be concerned about retaliation given her temperament. How did this judge ignore the police and prosecutor’s evidence of this series of voilent acts? Plus, how many previous times was she arrested for driving without a license, driving without insurance, etc.?

    • WSB December 5, 2012 (11:17 am)

      While working on this story, I was sitting in a courtroom downtown, after the Ryan Cox hearing (see earlier story). A burglary suspect who apparently had a long record was released on personal recognizance, with the judge telling him he was giving him “one last chance.” Sitting next to me on the bench was his mom, who was on the edge of her seat during the brief hearing, then jumping up and down and screaming and crying with excitement when the judge said he could go. There’s a lot of explanation about why people are let out – in the case of the repeat burglar, likely “no violent offenses”; in the case of Amy O’Brien, likely “no criminal record” – and then we hear a lot about the cost of locking everybody up, etc. … but the victims are usually not there to get a say … TR

  • Guy December 5, 2012 (11:07 am)

    Yeah, she at the very least should have to post bail. What a horrible judge to P.R. her. Sad!

  • Bianca December 5, 2012 (11:09 am)

    Ugh. What a menace to society. Bad call, judge.

  • Anne December 5, 2012 (11:14 am)

    Remember folks-Judges are elected. I know most don’t do this-but when I read about something like this & wonder how this woman could be let out on personal recognizance-when she obviously as a serious anger problem-I write the Judge’s name down & at election time-I check my list to see if that Judge is running. Judge Theresa Doyle
    has been added to my list.

  • Jehu December 5, 2012 (11:27 am)

    She hits these girls at 40mph, sends them flying 20 feet in the air, and for this she gets 2nd degree assault charges and is set free back into our community?!? I can’t believe she didn’t get AT LEAST 1st degree assault. Disgusting.

    RCW 9A.36.021 – Assault in the second degree: Intentionally assaults another and thereby recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm.

    RCW 9A.36.011 – Assault in the first degree: Assaults another with a firearm or any deadly weapon or by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death.

    Is a car used to intentionally hit someone at 40mph not a deadly weapon? The damage from a hit like that is absolutely “great bodily harm or death” in my mind.

  • Dale December 5, 2012 (11:31 am)

    A pit bull loose and the owner takes offense? The accused agrees to meet with King 5, “for her side of the story”–apparently, doesn’t understand her side of the story will come out eventually. Why did the TV stations need to know this before the authorities or her own counsel? Her first move should have been to atty or authorities.

  • JoB December 5, 2012 (11:43 am)

    this story just gets sadder

  • Mary T December 5, 2012 (11:57 am)

    Wow indeed. This woman is very lucky that she did not kill these girls, though it certainly seems that was her intention. I am just utterly appalled, having known someone who was accidentally hit by a car and how very long his recovery was. Just shaking my head. Heart goes out to those girls and their families. (Aside: as the owner of two very large dogs, I cannot ABIDE when a dog runs up off leash, especially one who jumps on me. And even when I know the dog, my instinct is to push it off me immediately.)

  • WestSeattle91 December 5, 2012 (12:08 pm)

    Very odd that this person requested, to “tell her side of the story ,” Elisa Hahn, as Elisa’s mother was killed by a hit-and-run driver back in ’04. I wouldn’t have shown up to interview this POS either! And let’s make sure this judge is voted out in the next election. She seems to me to have very, very bad judgment. Best of luck to the two girls and their families.

  • furor scribendi December 5, 2012 (12:22 pm)

    Thank you for your concise up-to-the minute reporting, which is the good news here.

    Making bail is the preferred and ‘normal’ way of making accused wrongdoers show up for court without clogging overcrowded jails; they’ve got something to lose if they’re no-show later on.

    Releasing on personal recognizance is for those who haven’t shown repeated lapses in judgment against high school students, have turned themselves in when they say they will, and haven’t shown premeditation in their violent criminal acts the way Amy Lynn O’Brien purportedly has. She should be in a jail cell until she can make a much higher bail than $250K.

  • brizone December 5, 2012 (12:22 pm)

    Why didn’t KIRO contact the police? Sounds like it’s skirting the edge of harboring a fugitive to me… The cops find out that KIRO was involved only after they stumble across it on their BLOG? They had video of the license plate of the car she was being harbored in, but didn’t come forward with it? Are you kidding me?!?

    She’s no longer driving her own car at that point, to evade the cops, so has her friend driving her around? Her friend should go to jail along with her and the boyfriend who hid her.

    But then, on top of this, Theresa Doyle gives her a free pass?


    On the other part of this topic: I’m so sick of this kind of attitude from certain dog owners. Not all obviously, but far, **FAR** too many. Ask any runner in town: we’re the ones that encounter their ignorant, selfish, HATEFUL attitudes in our neighborhoods every day.

    • WSB December 5, 2012 (12:56 pm)

      Bri – just to be clear, it was KING, not KIRO. I don’t have time to get into the ethical debate over journalists meeting with (alleged) criminals who are on the run or otherwise disclosing illegal activity they encounter or witness … each organization has its own policy regarding that, and I don’t know what KING’s policy is, nor whether the police narrative is a thorough accounting of what happened and how it unfolded (while “reporter not showing up” is mentioned in these documents, somewhere else the suspect was quoted as saying she didn’t stop because as she pulled up they were “already filming” her ..). – TR

  • LEASH YOUR DOGS! December 5, 2012 (12:43 pm)

    This entire incident likely wouldn’t have happened if she had kept her dog(s) on leash. Unleashed dogs are a huge problem (or I should say, owners who don’t use leashes are a huge problem). Leash your dogs, people.

  • WSratsinacage December 5, 2012 (12:50 pm)


  • Ted Diamond December 5, 2012 (12:57 pm)

    Does anyone know if she still has: 1) her driver’s license; 2) access to her, or any other automobile. As I daily cyclist, I’d like to know if there is someone driving on West Seattle streets who has demonstrated a hair-trigger temper, and has demonstrated a willingness to use a car as a weapon

  • WMF December 5, 2012 (1:32 pm)

    I still feel the whole truth has yet to be revealed. Be careful what you condemn.

  • Peeb December 5, 2012 (1:33 pm)

    Brizone, re: “ask any runner” — I run in West Seattle all the time and I’ve never had an issue with an unleashed dog, anywhere in WS. You don’t speak for this runner! (Agree with you completely about everything else, though!)

  • LEASH YOUR DOGS! December 5, 2012 (2:32 pm)

    I’ve never had an issue with an unleashed dog either…as a runner. But I have troubles quite frequently when I walk my LEASHED dogs. Just the other night, a large unleashed dog charged my leashed dog, and 2 lanes of traffic on a busy street had to come to a stop due to the commotion that occurred. When this happens, I wish I could just unleash my dog, and not be held responsible for what follows.

  • BearsChick December 5, 2012 (3:20 pm)

    Bail is NOT used as a punishment. Remember, innocent until proven guilty. The purpose of bail is to ensure a defendant’s appearance at trial.

  • wetone December 5, 2012 (3:29 pm)

    I couldn’t agree more with you WMF. If that car was going 40 mph when it hit the girls they must be super human also. The reason people want to talk to a reporters first as in this case is to get their side of the events out. Because as shown with these comments she was is condemned before the hole story comes out. I am no way saying what she did was right. But I would bet the story didn’t quite happen as the girls first said.

  • Seriously? December 5, 2012 (3:53 pm)

    @WMF and wetone – Is there EVER a good reason to try and use a taser on kids and then go get your car and try and run them over? Just wondering how much of the “untold” story you folks need to see this for what it was – a violent act. I’m pretty sure this woman admitted hitting the girls with her car. It’s not just the girls who saw this – there were witnesses too. I hope the two of you are not driving around my neighborhood! Yikes.

  • KatherineL December 5, 2012 (3:59 pm)

    Judges make this kind of decision all day long, every day. We don’t usually hear what the decisions are or who made them. Just another reason to be grateful for the Blog’s coverage. Whatever you think of the decision, when Ms. Doyle’s election comes up, remember this.

  • Jehu December 5, 2012 (4:06 pm)

    WMF & wetone – Could you give me an example when hitting someone hard enough with your vehicle to put them in the ICU and almost rip their ear off is OK? I’m having a really hard time coming up with a scenario that would justify this kind of behavior, but the two of you seem to have something in mind.

  • Ms. Sparkles December 5, 2012 (4:13 pm)

    WMF & Wetone;

    I agree that it’s possible, even probable that the victims provoked Ms. O’Brien. But provocation does not change the fact that instead of calling the police and reporting the alleged assault on her and / or her dog, she chased them with a taser and hit them with a car and then turned herself into authorities 24 hours later than she said she would.

    It doesn’t matter if the victims acted like jerks, it doesn’t matter if they were cruel to her dog. What matters is that Ms. O’Brien committed pre-meditated (she got back in the car after she couldn’t catch them with the taser) assualt with a deadly weapon. I’m with Jehu – 2nd degree assualt is inapproiately lienent.

  • Ken December 5, 2012 (4:16 pm)

    Since the accused showed up with neither her highspeed car or her clicking taser, the Judge did not perceive her as evil.

    In United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739 (1987), the Supreme Court held that the only limitation imposed by the bail clause is that “the government’s proposed conditions of release or detention not be ‘excessive’ in light of the perceived evil.”

    Since many of us KNOW that bail IS used as a punishment for the poor, I would have to guess the alleged Perp was white, well dressed and had an expensive lawyer.

    Just a guess…

  • wscommuter December 5, 2012 (4:17 pm)

    JeHu – you raise a good question, but the answer is reading the Assault 1 statute as applied … it is BOTH the use of deadly force (here a car) and resulting injuries which are “great bodily harm” as opposed to “substantial bodily harm” (the standard for Assault 2). In Washington, “substantial bodily harm” typically is broken bones (Assault 2), whereas “great bodily harm” (Assualt 1) is permanent disfigurement/near death/loss of limb injury. Think gunshot wounds to the head or trunk which are life-threatening. Sometimes, for example, a gunshot wound in the leg will only be an Assault 2. I’m not defending this – just explaining that this is how the law works in our state.

    I only know what I’ve read here … this is a sickening, disturbing case, but with the limited information I have, probably Assault 2 is the appropriate charge. One can’t blame prosecutors or judges for that – direct comments to your legislator to amend the Assault statute if you want that changed.

    I am not a big fan of Judge Doyle, but I am hesitant to criticize her PR for this defendant because I don’t know all the facts. Reality is that people who are first-time offenders, even for some violent crimes, get PR’d sometimes. Maybe Judge Doyle messed up, but maybe she didn’t.

  • datamuse December 5, 2012 (4:17 pm)

    I have had issues with dogs running loose while both running and biking–ironically, mostly on the side streets that I often use to avoid having to ride in traffic.
    An earlier report on this case said the accused lives in Highland Park. Just thrilled to have someone like this for a neighbor, let me tell you.
    I’m really glad those girls weren’t killed. This is awful and I too have a hard time seeing what on earth justifies deliberately attempting to run someone down in your car.

  • Lisa December 5, 2012 (4:29 pm)

    Unbelieveable is right!

  • Concerned mom December 5, 2012 (4:32 pm)

    Thank you WMF!!!
    People are so quick to take these girls word for it. And the witness statements have only been from their friends. After all the facts are out I will be surprised if these girls don’t end up dropping the charges. Seriously. They have some explaining to do. I wonder if their hospital visit resulted in a blood alcohol test? There is very likely a good reason that a judge decided to let ms o’brien go without bail. All the lunch mobs need to simmer down.

    • WSB December 5, 2012 (5:13 pm)

      This is the end of the blame-the-victim insinuation here. It’s against our rules and I’ve been a little distracted today, but sitting in a somewhat quiet meeting I’ve been going back and reviewing . There is no, for example, blood-alcohol level that would justify someone getting hit deliberately with a rock or a paddle, let alone a CAR. If someone has another version of the story and has not yet contacted police, they need to. Otherwise, this is the result of everything they have done so far – TR

  • Tracy White December 5, 2012 (4:42 pm)

    Jehu’s right – we need to march down to her house right now with torches and burn the witch!
    Innocent until proven guilty is clearly obsolete in our new digital age. Due process and letting the courts run their court is too expensive in this age of short budgets. Mob rule is the new privatization!

  • BearsChick December 5, 2012 (4:51 pm)

    The judge probably released the defendant because she had no priors & wasn’t a flight risk. I’d also guess her conditions of release include not contacting the victims. Bond hearings are not the time to determine guilt or innocence.

  • 26th Ave Resident December 5, 2012 (5:12 pm)

    My guess is “WMF” and “wetone” probably wish like a lot of us that there was a way to get the WHOLE story. From an unbiased perspective. On the one side, this lady is going to say whatever she thinks will help her get out of this, and on the other side all of the witnesses are friends of the two victims.

  • erico December 5, 2012 (5:34 pm)

    -Concerned mom

    Are you seriously suggesting that the victims have some explaining to do as to why they were assaulted?

  • brizone December 5, 2012 (6:08 pm)

    Thanks TR, for KING correction and that last post. And I know LOTS of friends who’ve had problems with unleashed dogs while running. I’ve had two attack me, one of which I couldn’t identify the owner. But the second was right there. He actually WATCHED IT HAPPENING AND DID NOTHING.

    The judge didn’t buy the lame story he tried to make up, and he paid that fine. Ran through there again a month later but the dog was already occupied: running loose in the neighbor’s yard. We don’t need people like that in our community.

  • Paul December 5, 2012 (6:41 pm)

    Why is she being constantly referred by as a “White female”? What does have her race to do with anything?

    • WSB December 5, 2012 (6:55 pm)

      Paul – I transcribed directly from the police report. In narratives like this, that’s generally how they refer to suspects. I agree, race has nothing to do with it, but in the narratives, all we excise is names (except if a suspect has been charged, as is the case here), and profanity if applicable (was not, here) – we keep the language as written. – TR

  • JayDee December 5, 2012 (7:55 pm)

    I figure she had three chances to think about what she was doing: 1) I will confront these girls…2)I gotta go get the Taser (unless she kept it in the car…unlikely)…3) I am going to run them down because they wouldn’t let me tase them…

    Regardless of the other side of the story, the suspect reportedly drove her car in an attempt to run over these girls–nothing posted here contends she didnt try to do this.

    I don’t understand why is she out on OR, without at least bail? Likely she won’t recommit? Who knows? Not guilty till proven innocent? Great, but it doesn’t mean OR without bail.

  • Patrick December 5, 2012 (7:55 pm)

    What about the dog, this person is unstable enough to run down 2 teenagers. She shouldn’t be allowed to keep her dog.

  • rmp December 5, 2012 (8:07 pm)

    Concerned mom – !!! Why not trust the girls … because they are teens … because you hate kids … because you are a friend of the woman who mowed them down! What! you think all teens drink during their lunch break? You should be ashamed to have written anything like this!

  • Carole December 5, 2012 (8:42 pm)

    Before criticizing the judge, please remember that the judge must consider a number of factors, all specified by statute or state court rules, which were written with constitutional rights in mind. Released with conditions means just that – there are conditions. They most certainly include no contact with the victims. They may include driving restrictions, or other restrictions on her movements and actions. Violating any of those or failing to appear at hearings will result in a bench warrant. And the charging level is in the prosecutor’s hands, not the judge’s.

  • Seriously? December 5, 2012 (8:46 pm)

    In any event, if the criminal charges are not enough, given the escalating nature of this attack, I would expect a significant civil suit against Ms. O’Brien. Now, after looking her up, it appears she chooses to drive without a license and insurance anyway, so she may need to lose everything before she realizes the consequences to her violent actions. This woman has chosen to make her home across from a high school AND a middle school. I am an adult and I don’t want to cross paths with her!

    These girls will suffer the mental stresses of this crime for the rest of their lives. Ask anyone who has been hit by a car. In a case where they were clearly hit on purpose, I would expect they ongoing stress is even more severe. Let’s rally for these girls – not blame them. Show them the community cares about them and that we abhor what happened to them. That’s how we roll here in Westwood. We definitely don’t blame the victim like Tracy said.

  • scout 1 December 5, 2012 (9:11 pm)

    The charges are appropriate to the crime. The release of the suspect is not out of line.

  • Heather December 5, 2012 (9:35 pm)

    As a neighbor of Ms. O’Brien who has heard from witnesses of much of the incident, I can say that the recounting of events provided here is not at all complete. In fact, the statements provided by the girls and their friends seem to be in direct conflict with recountings provided by less self-interested parties. At this point, it is likely wisest to withhold judgement – until, at the very least, things like physical evidence and less directly involved witness statements are conveyed.

    While I certainly lay no claim to knowing exactly what occurred, I can say that information from people actually there has shown me why there is doubt in the case and why a judge might be inclined to let Ms. O’Brien off on her own recognizance. I can also say that this incident has been quite the lesson to me in just how wide the gulf often is between what is reported by the press and the likely truth.

  • Bsmomma December 5, 2012 (9:41 pm)

    Regardless of who did what………no one in there right mind should believe that getting in a car to hit someone with it intentionally is OK. You call the police. Make a report. That’s just craziness.

  • Patrick December 5, 2012 (9:43 pm)

    @rmp, I live on the corner of 26th and Thistle. This has nothing to do with the teens who were brutally run down. My neighbors and I met with the principal of Chief Sealth to discuss the ongoing problem of student who trepass on private property, who do drugs, etc. I witnessed students doing drugs, i have picked up needles, picked up small drug bags. I have come home from work to see students “hanging out” in my car port, or even on my neighbors steps” I pick up trash every Saturday morning that students leave behind. Yes the trash is from the students, as it is lunch trays, empty milk cartons, etc. Maybe “Concerned Mon” is also fed up of the “bad apples” who ruin it for the rest of the students at Chief Sealth. Not all students are bad, no one likes to see their neighbor trashed, students doings drugs, etc. To make matter worse the school now has locked the gates that allow people to walk the path along the field between Thistle & Trenton because of the graffiti and drug use along that path forcing it down to 26th ave. I think the residents are fed up at this point.

  • WS Parent December 5, 2012 (10:43 pm)

    If you’d like to file a complaint on Judge Theresa Doyle like I did to her reporting judge, she reports to Judge Richard McDermott (his email is available at if you’d like to voice your concern. I sent him an email. I do not feel safer with her out and worry about my daughter walking to school. Amy obviously has anger management issues and is dangerous.

  • Darryll December 5, 2012 (10:45 pm)

    The abject failure of WSB to provide measured and objective reporting makes me sad! The guilt or innocence of the suspect is not yours to determine, WSB. I’ve suspected your lack of commitment to truth (and real justice) over the past few years of reading your blog, based on your documented inability to report actual relevant and pertinent facts. Your one-sided coverage of this story really solidifies my disdain for your tepid blog.

    I hope that the WSB staff never end up with anything more powerful than a microphone or keyboard to wield, lest we all sit in judgement of the mob!

  • CJ December 5, 2012 (10:58 pm)

    A quick google search of “west seattle” and the name of the victim who was most seriously injured turns up a rather unsettling twitter feed.

  • Mel December 5, 2012 (11:29 pm)

    The mob has spoken! Guilty! Hang ‘er high!
    I’m glad that actual judges are in charge of the courts, and not you lot.

  • Seriously? December 5, 2012 (11:31 pm)

    Where exactly are all these other accounts you supposedly have heard or read? How exactly is reporting the police and prosecutor report taking sides? YOUR bias is showing Daryll. And it resembles that of a thug. Take it somewhere else.

  • Darryll December 5, 2012 (11:50 pm)

    Thanks WSB for publishing my not-so-friendly comments. After I reviewed my comments, I see that I was not very clear, so I want to clarify my thoughts a little more.

    WSB has every right to publish (or not) whatever they wish. But providing a public forum and then accusing posters of blaming the victim will have a chilling effect on the open dialogue here. Clearly, there is a story to report about the ongoing problems with the school – there is more to this story than we’re hearing. Clearly, nobody in their right mind would run down another living creature with their car – this is an irrational act. Trust me, I know. I’ve been hit by a car and I know the debilitating affect to your life that these types of injuries can bring. That said, that experience does not compel me to disregard the need for a criminal justice system and a need to remind the torches-and-pitchforks crowd to chill out.

    “Seriously?” – I’m sorry that you don’t have the maturity to deal with real and open discourse. I get it though – You need to denigrate anyone whose viewpoints makes you feel uncomfortable in order to feel good about your own moral standing. That explains why you post anonymously, I guess. For your info, I’m not a thug. I have a newborn child and was also once a troubled teen. I also know (from the news) that the accused is a single mother who may have had a lot going on in her life. Perhaps she was attacked by these people, and perhaps she panicked, possibly due to PSD or some other problem. That’s all speculation, though. I prefer to let the courts decide her guilt and her punishment. If that makes me a thug, I’m wearing that label proudly and can only hope that my child has the same core beliefs when he is a man.

  • I. Ponder December 5, 2012 (11:56 pm)

    I’ve noted numerous posts by people who are “sad” about this story and its reporting. Friends and neighbors of the psycho driver no doubt. And the person who thinks this is the place to air your tragic tale of teens leaving garbage near your house. These two teens who deliberately struck down by a driver who likely intended to kill them over a minor incident with a dog. Those comments show a shameful lack of understanding of right and wrong by foolish people. I hope the driver goes to jail where you can visit her and we won’t have to hear your whining.

  • true December 5, 2012 (11:56 pm)

    Same problem here with releasing people on bail – this attorney rapist was allowed to be out on bail – unbelievable!

  • Heather December 6, 2012 (12:05 am)

    Darryl, while remaining a bit more temperate (and, as a result, less amusing ; – )) my thinking is starting to turn in a similar direction, unfortunately. I have often found WSB very useful in regards to finding out about community events, businesses, etc. However, it seems like this story is being reported on and commented about by the WSB in a rather single sided way. Comparing this with the information I have gleaned from my neighbors who actually saw what occurred is, for me, casting major doubts on WSB’s viability as a good source of multi-faceted, well-informed reporting when it comes to serious stories.
    It is good to be able to read the compiled police blotters and statements, and perhaps that was all that was available at first. At this point, though, it is sadly starting to appear that the ones being used are being chosen to – a bit ham-fistedly – elicit a particular reader reaction instead of present as clear a picture of the whole story as is possible and let the readers draw their own conclusions.

  • Heather December 6, 2012 (12:27 am)

    Seriously?, while I cannot type for Darryl, my sources of information that cast very strong doubt on the story relayed via the WSB to date are people who were actually there. These neighbors do not, it seems likely, have the strong degree of self-interest that the young adults and their friends, also in the pack, do – by that I mean the high degree likely needed to lie to police (Since there is more disparity between the stories than simple misperceptions would likely allow for, it seems likeliest to me at this point that some of the statements made to date are lies.) Plus, the neighbors’ recountings seem to align pretty well and help fill in gaps that the young adults’ stories left open.
    As a result of this, and the availability of said neighbors for interview, I am inclined to agree with Darryl on the basic idea that WSB has missed the boat on this one – so far. (Aside from that, even if the WSB only has access to info on one side of the story for some reason, it would be excellent to not see the WSB taking a particular side – as it seems to very directly be doing in some of its comments – when it should, I think, be leaving judgements up to the readership and be more “just the facts” focused.)

  • Darryll December 6, 2012 (12:36 am)

    By the way, The PI reported not long ago that nationally, about 13 – 14% of drivers are uninsured.

    I don’t see any mention of whether those people are crazy or not, but I would assume that they’re more likely to be poor than crazy. I also wonder whether people think that the presence of car insurance would somehow make the alleged use of a car as a weapon more palatable? I’m guessing not. Perhaps we should have more stringent driving and licensing laws. I, for one, would be very happy to see a three-strikes-and-your-out type law put in place. If you can’t follow the laws, then you should loose your driving privileges – period. That would probably reduce the incidence of these types of crimes. This also requires civic involvement, though, and that is hard. And sadly, people always seem to find new ways to hurt each other.

    OK. Stepping off of my soap box now.

  • concerned mom December 6, 2012 (12:53 am)

    WSB, rmp, seriously, WS Parent,
    I am not blaming the victim. I am not excusing Ms. O’Brien from her wrong doing. I am simply stating that until both sides of the story are reported….passing judgement is completely unfair. rmp…I am a mother and I work at a local school helping kids everyday. I have student who attends Chief Sealth and I drive my teenager to and from Sealth every day. I am well aware of who the victims are and I want to know more about what led up to Ms. O’Brien getting in her car and hitting the girls.
    Darryll, cj & Patrick I couldn’t agree more.

  • erico December 6, 2012 (8:54 am)

    -Concerned mom

    ” After all the facts are out I will be surprised if these girls don’t end up dropping the charges. Seriously. They have some explaining to do. I wonder if their hospital visit resulted in a blood alcohol test?”

    That sounds an awful lot like blaming the victims. They are not accused of doing anything wrong. While we do need to wait for the legal process to decide Ms. O’Brien’s quilt or innocence of the crimes she has been charged with, the idea that the victim’s are in any way responsible for being hit by a car and seriously injured is repugnant.

  • Jehu December 6, 2012 (9:12 am)

    I see a lot neighbors of Ms. O’Brien insinuating there is a different version of this story but provide no details. Others are waiting to hear the WHOLE story. So I’m going to ask my question again: Can you give me an example of when hitting someone hard enough with your vehicle to put them in the ICU and almost rip their ear off is OK? I don’t want to hear about the horrors of high school kids being lippy to adults, littering, drinking at lunch, or what they write on Twitter. Give me a scenario that would justify hitting them with a car.

  • erico December 6, 2012 (9:28 am)


    I could not agree more.

  • wetone December 6, 2012 (9:47 am)

    Darryll, Heather, concerned mom , Very well said, I would have said more in my post, but I have had a few of my comments removed from the WSB when I questioned some of there statements or do not agree with the majority of the comments being said. I in know way condone what the suspect did. But it almost scares me worse the way people are so quick to judge one before all the facts come out. WSB you do a great job getting info out to our community and I thank you for that. But I wish you were alittle more even keeled. sometimes.

  • Bryan H December 6, 2012 (10:25 am)

    I’m with the “we need to wait for more facts” crowd. I can’t stomach the angry, snap-judging mob making some of the above comments.

    I also agree that no matter what went on between the woman and the girls beforehand, running them down with a car is unforgivable.

    I’m concerned that these girls were not in school during school hours. What’s Chief Sealth’s policy regarding skipping? Is there no penalty?

  • alligator December 6, 2012 (10:34 am)

    why dont you save the judgement for the legal process? none of you were there, and its pretty easy to see that there might be bias in this witness testimony. I have been present at the scene of more than a few crimes where there have been discrepancies between what I saw from my perspective and what the police reported based on the testimony of others who saw from a less direct angle. I am not a neighbor of ms O’Brien, i do not know or care who she or the victims are, i just think that everyone on here is fairly quick to label the ACCUSED guilty. And, even forgoeing the legal process, did she do something most of you would say is wrong? Yeah, probably. Should preliminary reports relying on the eyewitness testimony of a bunch of kids be treated as the word of god? no, probably not. just something to keep in mind.

  • erico December 6, 2012 (10:52 am)

    “I’m concerned that these girls were not in school during school hours. What’s Chief Sealth’s policy regarding skipping? Is there no penalty?”

    How is this relevant to the crime that was committed? How is this relevant to the suspect’s guilt or innocence?

    “I wish you [WSB] were alittle more even keeled”

    How has WSB been anything but even keeled? All they have done is relayed the information from the hearing. WSB has said nothing as to the suspect’s guilt or innocence. Standing up for the victims is not the same as asserting the suspect’s guilt. That people choose to smear the victims in this forum is disgusting.

  • evergreen December 6, 2012 (11:09 am)

    Come on, people. I can’t believe some of you are attacking the WSB. They report the facts that are on record, period. If there is more documented testimony that is not reported here, then alert the WSB rather than criticize them. This blog is a great service to our community.

  • sydney December 6, 2012 (12:56 pm)

    A car is a deadly weapon. That woman should be in jail for Attempted Murder.

  • Heather December 6, 2012 (1:34 pm)

    Erico and Jehu – While I will not speak on behalf of the witnesses involved – this saga already being enough like a game of telephone ; – ) – I will say that if the details provided by the likely less self-interested witnesses are correct, then it is quite possible the girls should have charges brought against them. Of course, to verify some of the details provided, it will not be necessary to completely rely on witness statements. It seems likely that analysis of physical evidence should provide a clearer picture. At the very least, it would be wise to wait until such is done and further witness information is provided to make any sort of judgement.
    Evergreen and Erico, at this point, it is my understanding that witnesses who were likely less self-interested have gone on record with a very different version of events. Whether this was presented during the hearing, I do not know. Either way, the WSB reporting seems to have only provided the statements from the girls and their friends. With this being the case, along with the WSB’s forum comments, I stand by my notes that the WSB at least has the appearance of working to push the reading audience to a particular conclusion with its reporting on this to date.
    Evergreen, I do agree the WSB provides a valuable community service, particularly in keeping people informed of community events and places of business – and while their fact based reporting is being cast into some doubt, that is not being cast into doubt by this saga.
    Providing valuable community services does not provide the WSB or any news source a magic cloak of protection from criticism. Passively accepting everything any source tells us just because we like them is a very dangerous thing to do. Rather, as thoughtful beings, we have an imperative to look to all fact based stories we choose to spend the resources to have strong opinions on with a critical eye and multi-source as much as possible prior to judging any situation – particularly before spreading those judgements out into the world.

    • WSB December 6, 2012 (2:38 pm)

      Hi. You all are welcome to your opinions of our work but I do have to refute what reads to me like a suggestion that somehow we are leaving something out.
      What “the WSB reporting (has) provided” is both everything we saw and heard at the scene that day (arriving minutes after the emergency crews, as we got fairly quick word that it was a multiple casualty incident, as SFD referred to it) – what police and fire later reported regarding the incident – what Harborview Medical Center would say (and not say) about the victims – the fact there was an arrest, and then the documents released after the bail hearing the next day – and the entirety of the documents available in the court case. We have not spoken to, nor do we know, either of the victims, their families, their friends. Nor the suspect, her family, her friends, for that matter. We do not routinely pursue interviews with either victims or suspects – if contacted by either (NOT the case in this incident) we would decide on a case-by-case basis how to handle it – we cover cases as they unfold through the court system.
      The court document narratives published in our story are the ENTIRETY of the documents’ narratives – and are publicly available if you would like to obtain them yourselves and review to see what you think we are leaving out. (Find the case number through Washington Court Search/Name Search, then get a free account at ECR Online, which charges a dime or two per page for a download – this is available to anyone, not just media or lawyers – but you need the case number to go into ECR Online, you cannot just use a defendant’s name.)
      I transcribe rather than uploading the documents because they contain the victims’ names and in most cases we do not publish victims’ names, nor witnesses’ names, so absent electronic redacting (I’m sure it exists, I just haven’t found the software yet!) I have to transcribe. We seek to give readers the ENTIRE narrative, rather than the old-school short summary, so you can judge for yourself based on what the investigators say they have found so far. We also do not publish suspects’ names until and unless they are charged and withheld Ms. O’Brien’s name, though we had it from the jail register shortly after her arrest, pending charges; this is a policy we carried into our shop from numerous newsrooms where I have been a manager. But other news organizations have their own policies, and some ran with her name immediately.
      Everything we have reported has been a fact. The *fact* is that an incident happened. The *fact* is that two girls with serious injuries were sent to the hospital. The *fact* is that a suspect was arrested, jailed, charged, released. The *fact* is that these documents have been filed in connection with the case so far. That does not mean everything in them is a fact, but the *fact* is that they were filed. They are ALL the documents to which I (or anyone else except I suppose those directly involved) have access. I will continue tracking this through the courts long after most if not all of the rest of the media loses interest – I have a watch list at all times of usually around half a dozen cases in which I check the court files every few days, which is often the only way we get word of pleas, charges being dropped, hearings being continued, etc.
      Thanks for your interest in accuracy and thoroughness – Tracy (editor)

  • erico December 6, 2012 (2:42 pm)

    Heather – Are you talking about the suspect or the victim below?
    “At the very least, it would be wise to wait until such is done and further witness information is provided to make any sort of judgement.”

    If you are talking about the suspect – I agree. I have not said one thing regarding her guilt or innocence. However, she has been charged with a crime – that is a fact and a matter of public record. I suspect you are talking about the victims. I also agree and am upset that people are using red herring, hearsay and innuendo to attack the victims here. They have not been charged with any crime and unless they are it is entirely inappropriate to speculate that they might be or attack their character.

  • concerned mom December 6, 2012 (2:48 pm)

    Just because I am suggesting that Ms. O’Brien was initially provoked does not mean that I am blaming the victims for crying out loud. Why so much hostility from you? I am not here saying her actions are excusable or justified or reasonable on any level. But what I am saying is all these posts calling this attempted murder is like a lynch mob. As for the WSB I appreciate that they are ethical in reporting only the verifiable facts that are available to them- I am frustrated that they don’t call out those people convicting the accused in public opinion when both sides of the story are not yet publicized. Assault of any type is a crime punishable by law, whether it’s with a baseball bat, a taser, fists, spit, a handgun or a automobile. It is clear from the stated facts that Ms. Obrien did not just out of the blue haul off and run down the two victims with her car. It sounds to me like she was the victim of an assault as well. That still doesn’t justify her actions but her over reaction does not mean that the victims themselves are not guilty of assaulting her. There is a difference between blaming the victim and questioning the facts of the case. Thankfully the two girls are out of the hospital and hopefully recovering. So quit saying I’m smearing the victim. I am not. I am not blaming the victim. I am not on any level suggesting that that the victims had it coming to them. I am not justifying a crazy decsion to plow into someone with a car. What I am saying is the WSB is remiss in not using this story to tell a bigger story about what is going on in our community that may have led to this act of violence. The WSB is my main source of news. I appreciate their work and their ethics. I don’t agree that this story should be single focussed on the lady driving into the girls. I believe this story has a lot more to it. That does not mean that I blame those victims. And finally, because I believe every person involved in this should be held accountable for their crimes does not make me repugnant. If an altercation breaks out in our society we do not just peel to the bottom of the pile and take out the person who is most gravely injured and say “poor you, you are a victim and not responsible for poking that persons eye’s out because you are the one who is most hurt” No… our criminal justice system looks at the whole case and charges based on crimes committed- (unless it is in self defense which we all realize is not the case with Ms. Obrien- so don’t start saying that I am suggesting that!). I am just saying I am not convinced that we have yet heard all the facts and so I contend, erico, that your insistence that I am smearing the victim is repugnant.

  • Heather December 6, 2012 (3:02 pm)

    WSB – Salient points – We look forward to reading more updates from you as more points of view become available to you – and to you all’s working to ensure, as I’m sure you typically attempt to do, that your forum comments and presentation of the facts do not unduly sway the reading audience in a particular direction.
    Erico, I think it would be wise to wait until further investigation is completed to even make a judgement as to who might best be considered victim versus perpetrator in this case (and probably in most any case – as this one has really brought home to me, things like this are rarely cut and dry – rarely what they seem at first glance.) It seems to me that there is much left up in the air, and many questions left to answer before even that can be well considered.

  • erico December 6, 2012 (3:23 pm)


    It doesn’t seem that tough to me. I think I will side with our legal system and call Ms O’Brien the suspect (there is enough evidence to charge her with a crime – FACT) and the girls the victims (they have not been charged with a crime -FACT -and deserve to be treated as such – Just my opinion) until that changes.

  • Heather December 6, 2012 (4:40 pm)

    Erico, we must all do as we can with our best estimations of evidence presented. For me, my studies into the legal system have found that it is often proven wrong – and even when not out and out wrong, its workings and machinations are often… murky to say the least. So, for me the bar needed to feel confident in my estimation of the case is not met by that alone. For me, waiting for a goodly review of physical evidence and more information from a broader spectrum of people actually there is needed to have any feeling of confidence in my own consideration of the events. Of course, that is just me.

  • Evergreen December 6, 2012 (11:25 pm)

    The girls will eventually be OK, but the victim I am most worried about is the 7yo daughter. Hopefully she has many loving people in her life.

  • sydney December 7, 2012 (7:30 am)

    Heather: I have learned in my 51 years that someone who will try to kill another person (for something as small as hitting an animal without harming it),
    is generally the crazy one. I say this just in explanation as to why I think she should be “in jail for Attempted Murder”.

  • erico December 7, 2012 (8:14 am)

    Smear = To stain or attempt to destroy the reputation of
    Innuendo = An indirect or subtle, usually derogatory implication in expression; an insinuation

    “They have some explaining to do. I wonder if their hospital visit resulted in a blood alcohol test?”

    Hearsay = Unverified information heard or received from another; rumor.
    “As a neighbor of Ms. O’Brien who has heard from witnesses of much of the incident, I can say that the recounting of events provided here is not at all complete.”

    Red Herring = Something that draws attention away from the central issue.
    “I’m concerned that these girls were not in school during school hours. What’s Chief Sealth’s policy regarding skipping? Is there no penalty?”

  • h December 7, 2012 (11:31 am)

    I am curious, WSB, what are the conditions of the release other than PR. There must be restrictions on specific types of actions and behaviors. Are you able to find that out?

  • scout 1 December 7, 2012 (9:18 pm)

    i think Heather and Erico should date!

  • concerned mom December 9, 2012 (12:14 am)

    My innuendo while insensitive is not an attempt to destroy the reputation of the two girls who were hit by Ms. OBrien. And even if it was intended to be an attempt to smear them, which it isn’t, well it would fail miserably because that question is not a plausible way to destroy a reputation! Suggesting that alcohol could have played a role is not an unreasonable question, given the nature of the altercation. My comment was at the top of this thread. But, you keep repeating it. And so, many more readers get to contemplate that thought, thanks to you.

  • Friedrich December 9, 2012 (10:33 pm)

    It’s a pity that too much time elapsed for Ms. O’Brien to submit to a blood alcohol test.

  • concerned mom December 9, 2012 (11:19 pm)

    @ Friedrich. Agreed.

  • Heather December 11, 2012 (1:31 am)

    Sydney – Understandable, and I would agree that someone who would do such a thing for the reasons you have stated should not be let out. However, my point is simply that it has not been proven that that is what happened, and it is too early to call Ms. O’Brien crazy. At this point, there is only one side presented – and that mostly by parties very self interested in making events seem to have happened in a particular way so they themselves do not end up in trouble – and while your idea definitely seems to apply if this one side is the truth, the other sides have not yet been presented and to me it would be a rush to judgement to determine anything by only considering the side presented to date. Make sense?

    Erico, I’m not entirely sure what your point is – particularly when it addresses so little of what has been discussed. Of course, on the hearsay provided info, while the information presented in the article is noted to be from the young adults there, so one step less removed than my info from my neighbors who were there, it still has a feel of the unverified and very one sided about it – That info I’ve gathered from neighbors for me feels like it carries a little more weight – in great part because they will not be in trouble if their version of events is found to be untrue, while the young adults in question just might. However, either way, eyewitness statements are notoriously unreliable and I don’t think anything should be considered set in stone or even heavily proven until forensics on the car, at least, come back. In this case, it seems likely that physical evidence should be able to at least heavily indicate which version of events is most likely true. It is strange to me that you would find it in some way offensive to suggest that we should look to points of view outside of those directly involved or for physical evidence before forming a hard and fast opinion – Of course, that is all too often how our legal system does work, despite that not being the way it is meant to – Perhaps when we individually mirror this behavior it is because it is simply much easier to jump to conclusions than analyze or simply much more comforting to find absolutes quickly when violence is present near our homes?

  • Admiral way mom December 18, 2012 (4:41 pm)

    How is the victim in the hospital?

    • WSB December 18, 2012 (5:21 pm)

      I don’t know if she is still in the hospital. She had gotten out, and then as noted here, had gone back. But her family had asked that her information remain private. – TR

Sorry, comment time is over.