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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Trial for man whose life sentence had been reversed delayed until December

UPDATED: Thu., June 16, 2022

Le’Taxione leads chants at the beginning of the March for Jacob Blake, hosted by Occupy Spokane on Aug. 30, 2020 in Spokane. He was arrested Thursday on domestic violence charges.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Le’Taxione leads chants at the beginning of the March for Jacob Blake, hosted by Occupy Spokane on Aug. 30, 2020 in Spokane. He was arrested Thursday on domestic violence charges. (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A man who was released from prison when his life sentence was reversed in 2016 was set to go back on trial this week on a domestic violence charge before the case was delayed.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee already revoked the commutation, and the accused man is back in jail.

Le’Taxione, who legally changed his name, was arrested in December 2020 and charged with second-degree assault after a woman reported Le’Taxione bit her and attempted to strangle her. His former name was Ernest Carter.

At the time, he was under Department of Corrections supervision after Inslee commuted his life sentence without the possibility of parole for a 1998 robbery conviction.

In 1983, Le’Taxione was convicted of assaulting a police officer in California. Then in 1990, he was convicted of attempted murder with a firearm. In 1998, he was convicted of first-degree robbery in Washington’s Pierce County. It was his third serious offense, making him eligible for life without parole under Washington’s persistent offender law, which he received.

In 2015, the Clemency and Pardons Board unanimously recommended that Inslee commute Le’Taxione’s sentence. In December 2016, the governor followed the recommendation and Le’Taxione was sent to a work release program, according to commutation documents.

The following year, he refused a drug test and failed an alcohol breath test, violating the terms of his conditional commutation.

In 2018, Le’Taxione was granted a second chance at the conditional commutation and was released. As part of that release, he was required to follow all laws, check in with Department of Corrections staff, and not use drugs or alcohol, among other requirements.

Following his release, Le’Taxione enrolled in Spokane Falls Community College and became an activist focused on gang violence prevention, founding N’STEP, a group aimed at stopping gang violence and mass incarceration. He also became involved with local organizations like the Spokane chapter of the NAACP.

Then in December 2020, a woman called police to report Le’Taxione bit her on the left side of her face before hitting her multiple times and attempting to strangle her, according to court documents.

A witness told police Le’Taxione assaulted the woman for more than an hour, while her children were in the home.

Earlier that same year, another woman asked for a protection order against Le’Taxione, saying he was aggressive and being near him put her and her children in a “volatile and harmful situation,” according to court documents. The woman said she feared for her life. However, after a temporary order was granted, a judge declined to grant a permanent one.

In January 2021, the governor’s office began a review of potential violations of Le’Taxione’s conditional release, connected to the domestic violence charge and to allegations that he consumed alcohol on multiple occasions leading up to the assault. A Department of Corrections hearing officer found that he did violate the terms of his release.

Le’Taxione was given notice of the allegations and had two weeks to respond with a sworn statement that he had complied with his release conditions.

When the governor’s office did not receive a statement from Le’Taxione during the required time frame, his conditional commutation was revoked, according to documents from the governor’s office.

“Particularly concerning is that this behavior has now escalated to physical violence against others,” the revocation document reads.

While Le’Taxione did not provide a sworn statement to the governor’s office, he submitted a letter requesting the office defer any clemency revocation until his domestic violence charge was adjudicated.

Inslee revoked Le’Taxione’s clemency but indicated he would allow Le’Taxione to petition for reconsideration once the case is resolved. To do so, he would have to submit a sworn statement that he complied with all the conditions of his commutation, according to documents provided by the governor’s office.

Once the governor’s office received the statement, a hearing officer would be appointed to review the alleged violations. At that hearing, Le’Taxione would be able to present witnesses and evidence to establish he followed his release conditions.

Le’Taxione’s attorney, Robert Cossey, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Deputy Prosecuting attorney Tom Treppiedi also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Jury selection for Le’Taxione’s trial on the domestic violence charge was set to begin Tuesday morning. On Monday afternoon, the trial was delayed until December for a reason not clear in court documents. Attempts made to reach the prosecution and defense on the trial delay also were unsuccessful.

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