Whidbey Island businessman jailed for 10 days
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
November 2, 2011 · Updated 10:47 AM
After three years of legal wrangling that made its way to the state Court of Appeals, the case against a 51-year-old Freeland businessman accused of injuring a passenger while driving intoxicated has finally been resolved.
LeRoy Olsen III pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and reckless endangerment as part of a plea bargain. He was originally facing a felony vehicular assault charge.
A judge in Island County District Court sentenced Olsen Oct. 25 to 10 days in jail and 50 days of electronic home monitoring.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said the plea bargain was a fair compromise, especially since a DUI conviction comes with many conditions designed to prevent a repeat of the crime.
As with any DUI conviction, Olsen’s license will be suspended, he’ll have to get an ignition interlock device on his car and he’ll undergo an evaluation for possible alcohol abuse, followed by treatment if required. In addition, he’ll be supervised by a probation officer.
Banks said taking the case to trial had some risk since the alleged victim, Kim Blain, was not cooperative with the prosecution. In fact, she’s now married to Olsen.
“She has been adamantly opposed to prosecution,” Banks said.
If Olsen had been convicted of vehicular assault, he would have faced a minimum of just three months in jail under the standard sentencing range, Banks pointed out.
Olsen made an eloquent apology to his wife, the court and first responders in court Tuesday, according to the prosecutor. Olsen’s attorney didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
Olsen crashed his 2008 Audi R8 — a high-performance sports car — into a tree, sheering it in half, on Goss Lake Road in March of 2008. Blain suffered a broken pelvis in the crash, according to court documents.
An investigator with the State Patrol found that alcohol and speed contributed to the accident, according to the affidavit of probable cause. Olsen’s blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.23, or nearly three times the legal limit, a little over two hours after the collision, according to the trooper’s report.
Olsen’s former attorney, however, argued that the crash was not caused by alcohol use, but that Olsen was steering to avoid deer on the road. A car dealer had warned Olsen about the danger of hitting deer in such a car; a trooper had seen deer at the scene of the crash.
The prosecution ran into trouble with the case after Skagit County Judge John Meyer suppressed expert testimony and dismissed the case. Banks appealed to the Court of Appeals, which ruled the judge abused his discretion in excluding the evidence. A Skagit County judge heard the case because both Island County Superior Court judges recused themselves.
The case had been proceeding to trial. Banks successfully argued against a defense motion to suppress blood evidence during a hearing in September. He proposed amending the charges to also include alternative charges for a jury to consider.
But in the end, years of plea negotiations finally produced a resolution.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.