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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

CEO of Eastern State Hospital resigns over investigation into domestic violence complaints against former nurse now charged with Kassie Dewey’s murder

Family and friends comfort each other in Franklin Park where hundreds attended a candlelight vigil for Kassie Dewey, who was killed in an April assault.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)

The Chief Executive Officer of Eastern State Hospital resigned this week after an investigation found his administration mishandled domestic violence allegations against a former nurse now charged with murder.

CEO Mark Kettner’s resignation was effective Tuesday, said Tyler Hemstreet, a spokesman for the Behavioral Health Administration at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Chief Operating Officer Ronda Kenney is on temporary reassignment pending a personnel investigation, Hemstreet said.

In April, former nurse Joshua Phillips, 41, allegedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Kassie Dewey, to death just days after she ended their relationship. Phillips also stabbed Dewey’s 5-year-old daughter, Lilly, police have said.

Police said they found Phillips in the garage of Dewey’s home with her body, an injured Lilly and two running cars.

After a hospital stay, Phillips was arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder for the attack.

Before Phillips began dating Dewey, the two were co-workers at Eastern State Hospital where Phillips was dating a psychiatric security attendant, according to The Inlander.

Phillips allegedly tried to strangle the woman when she attempted to break up with him, she told The Inlander.

She called the police, and Phillips was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. The woman reported the incident to the administration at Eastern State.

The hospital did not open an internal investigation while Phillips’ charges were pending; instead, they put him in a position of authority over the woman he allegedly assaulted, despite her restraining order against him, The Inlander reported.

Phillips and Dewey began dating in June 2020.

It wasn’t long before the relationship turned sour, according to court documents. By April of the next year, Dewey was fed up and broke up Phillips just two days before her death, according to court documents.

He proceeded to text her about 100 times, including some messages that were “very disturbing,” court records show. He then showed up at her home and allegedly killed her and stabbed her daughter.

After Phillips’ arrest, Eastern State Hospital conducted an internal review of the administration’s handling of the earlier domestic violence report against Phillips.

The internal review, which The Inlander obtained last week, showed the hospital management did not follow its own policies and procedures when handling the complaint.

“Eastern State Hospital does not have a clear process for staff to follow when providing a no-contact order to management,” the review states. “This was confirmed when various supervisors provided different answers when we asked them what the process was for staff to turn in no-contact orders.”

Phillips pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charged related to the incident with his co-worker in June 2020, according to court records. That conviction did not preclude him from his job but, per Department of Health Policy, the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission should have been notified.

According to the Inlander, the nursing director at Eastern emailed Kenney relaying her concerns about Phillips and for the woman’s safety, but nothing was done to protect her.

While an investigation into Kenney’s action’s is ongoing, the position has been filled on an interim basis.

Mary Jo Currey is the interim Chief Operating Officer. She worked at the Department of Corrections in several roles in the Health Services Division and has a master’s degree in public health from Texas A&M University.

A Central Washington University graduate, Tony Bowie will continue to serve as interim CEO until a search can be conducted for a permanent replacement, Hemstreet said. Bowie is a former social worker who previously was the CEO at Child Study and Treatment Center on the campus of Western State Hospital.

Phillips remains in the Spokane County Jail on a $1.5 million bond.

His court case has stalled pending a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial. A hearing to review the matter is set for next month.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated the status of Phillip’s psychiatric evaluation, which is ongoing.