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Court ruling unlikely to help Coe

Prosecutor says defense didn’t raise issue at trial

A recent ruling by the Washington Supreme Court is not expected to help South Hill rapist Kevin Coe win another trial, a state prosecutor said this week.

The state’s high court in March overturned the 2006 verdict for Curtis Pouncy, of Vashon Island, Wash., who like Coe was civilly committed as a sexually violent predator. In Pouncy’s trial, jurors were not given the definition for personality disorder.

To civilly commit a sex offender as a sexually violent predator, prosecutors must show that the defendant suffers either from a mental abnormality or a personality disorder that makes it likely he or she will re-offend.

Coe’s defense attorney, Tim Trageser, said a psychologist found that Coe has a narcissistic personality disorder. Trageser said he asked the judge in Coe’s 2008 trial not to allow the jury to consider that personality disorder because being a narcissist was not enough to show he would re-offend.

However, psychologist Dr. Amy Phenix also found that Coe had a mental abnormality, which is and was defined by statute, and is one of two elements needed for prosecutors to win the civil commitment trial.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor denied Trageser’s request and allowed the jury to consider Coe’s personality disorder.

Coe is appealing his civil commitment on a number of issues, including that Trageser did not ask O’Connor to define personality disorder for the jurors, said Assistant Attorney General Malcolm Ross, who is arguing against that appeal.

In that regard, the case differed from Pouncy’s case, Ross said.

“If (Trageser) had proposed that, Coe’s case would have been reversed,” Ross said. “But he didn’t. If it wasn’t proposed, it can’t be raised on appeal.”

Trageser said he remembers asking O’Connor for a definition to be provided to the jurors and said he hopes the case does come back for another trial.

But Ross pointed out that a different attorney, who is handling Coe’s pending appeal, has already conceded that Trageser did not ask for a definition of personality disorder.

“I’m not saying (Trageser) should have proposed one,” Ross said of the instruction to define personality disorder. “He had good reason not to propose one. But the fact that he did not propose a definition for personality disorder means it can’t be raised on appeal.”

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