A well-known member of the South Whidbey performing arts community was sentenced to 15 months in prison this week for repeatedly violating a court order.
Michael Barker, a 60-year-old Clinton resident, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court to a felony violation of a court order Monday. Violating a domestic violence no-contact order or other court order becomes a felony if there are two prior convictions; he had four prior convictions.
Barker repeatedly disobeyed an order preventing him from contacting his ex-wife by driving by her work or calling her home. Barker is well known and is a respected director of plays at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. He and his wife previously ran a fair-trade importing business.
In court Monday, Barker’s attorney asked the judge to impose a sentence of 364 days in jail, which is below the standard sentencing range. He explained that his client was anguished over the breakdown of his marriage and just wanted to have contact with his daughters.
The attorney, Peter Simpson of Coupeville, said Barker takes responsibility for his actions, but wants to stay in jail where he can participate in treatment.
A friend of Barker’s addressed the court on his behalf. The woman said Barker suffers from bipolar disorder and has lost everything to the illness.
Barker addressed the court and apologized for his behavior. He said he finally woke up to the nightmare he has caused his family. He said he wants to eventually have contact with his daughters again and will fully comply with court orders.
“I was insane with grief,” he said. “I was out of control.”
Deputy Prosecutor David Carman, however, argued against a sentence below the standard sentencing range. He pointed out that Barker received a first-time offender waiver — which is a light sentence given to defendants who don’t have a felony criminal history — when he was convicted of the same charge last year.
In addition, Carman said Barker had been evicted from a retirement home for harassing his ex-wife’s mother.
In the end, Judge Alan Hancock agreed with the prosecutor and found that it would be “very inappropriate” to impose a sentence below the standard range. He sentenced Barker to prison for 15 months.