The state Corrections Department says a fivetime felon with a history of stalking and harassing women would get off too easily under a plea bargain proposed by Stevens County Prosecutor Jerry Wetle.
A Corrections Department presentence investigation says David R. Rickard, 34, should get roughly double the proposed 9-year sentence for an attack on a 34-year-old Colville substitute teacher.
The July 15, 1994, attack left the woman’s mouth punctured and her tongue partially detached. The woman’s 4-year-old daughter watched in horror as Rickard broke into their bedroom, climbed on top of her mother, shoved his fingers down her throat and tried to rip off her nightgown.
The woman kneed Rickard and managed to roll free. After she pulled a shirt off of his head, she recognized him as the man who had been harassing her for months. He was able to walk into the woman’s house because her two sons, ages 11 and 8, were camping in the back yard and the door was unlocked.
The victim said Rickard had harassed her since the summer of 1993. She said he asked her for a date and, even though she refused, he started showing up uninvited at her home and asking for her telephone number.
She said he told her he “could not be responsible for his actions” if she didn’t give him her number, but she threatened to call the police and he left her alone until the July 1994 attack.
“Let me tell you, he picked on the wrong person,” said the victim, who is demanding a tougher sentence to help keep Rickard from attacking other women.
In a written statement to Superior Court Judge Larry Kristianson, the woman called for almost the same sentence as the Corrections Department recommended.
Several dozen people appeared in Kristianson’s court to support the victim, but the sentencing was postponed until March 6 after Rickard’s surprised court-appointed attorney said he needed time to study the recommendations. Rickard remained in jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.
He had been charged with firstdegree attempted rape and firstdegree burglary. A conviction on those charges could have netted Rickard a maximum standard-range sentence of 16 or 17 years, Wetle said.
Wetle reduced the charges to one count of second-degree burglary with sexual motivation after the abrupt departure of the deputy prosecutor who had been handling the case. Wetle said the charge is appropriate in view of the fact that Rickard never took his pants off.
A psychologist and a psychiatrist from Eastern State Hospital said Rickard is sane but a “substantial” threat to public safety.
At least four other women say they have been sexually harassed by Rickard. Two of them are the latest victim’s 14-year-old former stepdaughter and her mother. The mother and daughter got a restraining order against Rickard in September 1993 after he allegedly followed the girl repeatedly and directed numerous obscene phone calls to both of them.
At the same time, a bank employee said Rickard was harassing her. Police reports said that case contained “elements of stalking.”
He pleaded guilty in December 1993 to two counts of telephone harassment. Six other counts were dismissed. Rickard got two days in jail and a $100 fine.
At least one of Rickard’s four previous second-degree burglary convictions also involved sexual harassment. Rickard admitted that, in 1987, he broke into a woman’s home after seeing her in a bar.
He said she wasn’t home so he slept in her bed and used a bar of soap to leave vulgar messages on two mirrors about his desire to have sex with the woman.
Even Rickard’s first courtappointed attorney in the latest case against him says he harassed her. Attorney Patricia St. Clair asked to be removed from the case in September, saying “Mr. Rickard has continually harassed me at both my home and my workplace.” She said she doesn’t know how he got her unlisted home phone number.
St. Clair said Rickard demanded she visit him frequently in jail, but usually wanted to talk about things other than his case.