Victim Says Teens Deserve A Chance
A pizza delivery man who was robbed and severely beaten by two teen-age boys says he hopes an appeals court will allow their rehabilitation through banishment on remote Alaskan islands to proceed.
Tim Whittlesey says his life is getting better because he’s closer to God now and he wants his assailants to have the chance to get their lives squared away as well.
“Their punishment may be little different than what we have in our system,” he said Thursday.
“I think maybe something different is what we need.”
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge James Allendoerfer last summer delayed sentencing and released Tlingit Indian teens Simon Roberts and Adrian Guthrie on bond so that a tribal court in Alaska could conduct its own hearing.
The tribal court banished the youths to separate Alaskan islands for as long as two years.
Snohomish County prosecutors have asked the state Court of Appeals to overturn Allendoerfer’s ruling.
They contend the decision to delay sentencing was discriminatory because it offered the Tlingit youths an option not available to every robber, and they say it violates mandatory sentencing guidelines under the state’s Sentencing Reform Act.
A panel of three appeals judges, sitting in Seattle, heard arguments Thursday from Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Seth Fine and defense attorney Richard Tassano. A ruling is expected in 30 to 60 days.
From the questions the judges asked, Fine said, it appeared they were exploring the difference between a legitimate and an illegitimate delay in sentencing.
“Part of their job is to provide guidance for lower courts, so they were exploring the general question of deferred sentencing,” he said.
But Tassano said he argued that what the boys received was not a deferred sentence.
“Until they come back, you don’t know if they’re going to get any kind of a break,” he said.
“Judge Allendoerfer said quite clearly that when the boys come back to his court, he will sentence them within the laws of Washington.”
Guthrie faced 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years in prison and Roberts, who admitted using the baseball bat, faced 5 1/2 years.
Allendoerfer ordered the pair to return to his court in March 1996 for sentencing that will depend on his assessment of how the banishment worked.
Whittlesey, who listened to the court arguments, said he hopes the Court of Appeals lets the experiment proceed.
In August 1993, Whittlesey was robbed and beaten with a baseball bat when he delivered a pizza to the boys. He continues to suffer dizzy spells, headaches, hearing loss and loss of balance.
Whittlesey sees a parallel between his own struggle to get his body and life back together again and the boys’ efforts to rehabilitate themselves.
“I’ve taken a special interest in this,” he said. “Maybe some time in the future I can help them learn from the mistakes they made.
“I can say ‘Yeah, you guys did something very serious, but I’m willing to work with you to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”’
Part of the tribal court’s decision calls for the boys’ families to build a duplex for Whittlesey, to provide him a place to live and some income.
No construction has started and no site has been purchased, The Seattle Times reported.
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