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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: civil commitment

High court upholds Coe commitment

When I interviewed Kevin Coe in prison in 2006, I noted in the May 21, 2006, article that Coe looked fit for a 59-year-old man. Coe later wrote me a letter saying: “I look fit for any age.”

But it appears his legal fight for freedom has reached an end, at least in Washington.

The Washington Supreme Court today upheld the sexually violent predator civil commitment of South Hill rapist Kevin Coe.

A jury committed Coe in 2008 following a month-long trial. The state moved to commit Coe in 2006 just before his release after serving 25 years in prison on the only rape conviction that survived appeal even though he was suspected in dozens more during a reign of terror that became a best selling crime novel and made-for-television movie.

Coe and his attorneys appealed that commitment on the argument that Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor erred when she allowed assistant attorneys general to introduce evidence from 36 sexual assaults that did not result in criminal charges against Coe. They also contended that he had ineffective counsel and that he deserved a new trial.

“Finding no reversible error in any of Coe’s claims, we affirm his commitment,” Justice Susan Owens wrote for the majority.

Read the breaking story on today's development at this link.

Sex offender’s agreement halts trial

A potentially lengthy trial was averted last week in Spokane County Superior Court when a convicted child molester agreed to undergo two years of intense sex offender treatment.

The state sought to have Carleton Sylvester Smith, 46,(pictured in 2008)  civilly committed as a sexually violent predator following a 1999 conviction of child molestation, as well as allegations of the same kind from 1997 that never resulted in criminal charges, said Smith's lawyer, Tim Trageser.

Smith was caught masturbating while on a Spokane County Sheriff's inmate's work detail and also was caught on video masturbating outside of a downtown daycare. Authorities also alleged he stalked young women at a local coffee shop.

Potential jurors were being questioned last week when Smith agreed to undergo two years of treatment at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

If he follows through with his obligations, Smith could be released to a half-way house for sex offenders, Trageser said.

“To me it was a sweet deal. He gets treatment and the state gets supervision,” Trageser said.

Read more about Smith's case here.

An electronic tracking device helped notify authorities that Smith had been lurking near a day car in 2007. Read more here.

South Hill rapist Kevin Coe loses appeal

Appellate judges on Thursday rejected South Hill rapist Kevin Coe’s claim that state prosecutors in his recent civil commitment trial should have been prohibited from presenting evidence from dozens of sexual attacks that never resulted in charges.

Coe had asked the Division III Court of Appeals to undo the civil commitment that’s expected to keep him locked up for the rest of his life under state laws allowing for the detainment of rapists deemed sexually violent predators by the juries.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Kevin Coe appeals civil commitment

Attorneys gave oral arguments Wednesday in an effort to undo the civil commitment of South Hill rapist Kevin Coe, whose legal fight has now moved into its fourth decade. 

An attorney representing Coe argued that Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor erred in 2008 when she allowed evidence from several uncharged cases where women alleged that Coe raped them.

Coe (pictured in 2008) also made an argument, through his attorney, of ineffective counsel at his civil commitment trial.

The Division III Court of Appeals gave no time frame when judges would rule on the case.

The arguments Wednesday followed more than 230 pages of briefs filed by Coe’s appellate attorney, Casey Grannis, and Assistant Attorney General Malcolm Ross, who represented the state in the trial in October 2008 where a jury determined that Coe was a sexually violent predator who was likely to reoffend if released.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Child molester could be locked up for life

Spokane County jurors today heard the life story of a 60-year-old man who has admitted to molesting 24 girls between the ages of 3 and 7, as a state prosecutor opened the trial to civilly commit the convicted sex offender for the rest of his life.

Ronald Reo Timm, of Spokane, shook his head in disagreement several times as Assistant Attorney General James Buder told jurors why they should declare Timm a sexually violent predator who is likely to reoffend if he is not kept in a secure state facility.

“Ronald Timm is a man who betrays people’s trust to do what he wants. And what he wants is to fondle little girls,” Buder said. “He is mentally ill and he’s dangerous.”

Timm, who grew up on a 2,700-acre wheat farm in Lincoln County, was convicted in 1989 of attempted statutory rape in the first degree.

But his 36-month prison sentence was suspended because he opted to go through an alternative program designed to rehabilitate sex offenders.

Read Thomas Clouse’s story here.

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