For 5th drunk driving offense in 10 years, Maple Valley man faces felony DUI sentencing by King County judge
by Matt Rosenberg February 28th, 2012
Kenneth Wayne Sandholm, 55, of Maple Valley is scheduled to be sentenced this coming Friday by King County Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey for up to five years in prison on a felony conviction earlier this month for Driving Under the Influence. Sandholm was convicted February 13th, for his fifth DUI offense committed within 10 years – making the most recent one a felony under state law. The circumstances of his arrest are detailed in the probable cause statement and the statement of charges.
Crossing the lines on State Route 18
According to these documents from the case file, Sandholm had four prior (misdemeanor) DUI convictions between 2000 and 2008; in Pierce County Court in 2000, 2005 and 2008; and in Tacoma Municipal Court in 2007. Each of those DUI convictions was accompanied by a conviction for driving with license suspended. On October 29, 2009 Sandholm was observed by a Washington State Patrol trooper driving east on State Route 18 just west of State Route 516 in his blue 1987 Mazda pickup and having major difficulties staying in his lane. The trooper reported that Sandholm at one point lurched from one eastbound lane into another by half a vehicle width, then after correcting, straddled the two lanes again, this time for 10 car lengths. Both before and after this, Sandholm’s vehicle went across the line dividing one lane with the road’s shoulder. The trooper stooped Sandholm, who according to the trooper’s report, had watery, bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol.
Popped a peppermint and admitted driving on suspended license
After the trooper came to his vehicle Sandholm popped a peppermint in his mouth and admitted his driver’s license was suspended. He agreed to a field sobriety test, inadmissible in court, and blew a sample blood alcohol level of .103, compared to the legal limit for DUI of .08. He was taken into custody and transported to the Tukwila Police Department where he gave legal consent to another blood alcohol test and blew a .080 and a .079. Sandholm was released on bail.
On the road again days later with son, out of gas and believed impaired by police
Twelve days later on Nov. 10, 2009 King County prosecutors filed charges against him for felony DUI and and first degree driving while license suspended/revoked, adding Sandholm “is a grave danger to himself, his family and our community due to his incapacity or inability to not consume alcohol and drive.” The second charge stemmed from another incident that same day, according to prosecutor’s documents. Sandholm – despite still having a suspended license – was driving with his son in the car and ran out of gas. Returning to his vehicle he was seen and questioned by a state trooper who observed he was impaired by alcohol. Sandholm declined to take a voluntary blood alcohol test and was not charged with another count of DUI then, officials later explained, because he was not observed in the vehicle prior to the questioning.
First trial ends in hung jury
His first trial in May 2011 resulted in a hung jury due to an 11-1 verdict in favor of conviction. At retrial this month he was convicted and has been held in custody by King County since then. According to the verdict form that is also part of the case file, the jury foreman in the trial was Robert L. Stillmaker, who according to a public database of registered voters, also lives in Maple Valley.
Foreman in latest jury trial explains conviction
In a phone interview Stillmaker said there was no rush to judgement. While deliberating the case for a day-and-a-half, Stillmaker said, the 12-member jury was allowed to consider neither the four prior DUI convictions nor the roadside blood alcohol test in which Sandholm blew a .103. Stillmaker said the question was simply whether Sandholm was impaired by alcohol when driving just prior to being stopped on SR 18 in October of 2009. The jury ultimately agreed he was, in large part because of the state trooper’s testimony detailing Sandholm’s repeated failures to stay in his lane. Additionally, to register a .08 in the blood alcohol test at the police station about two hours after the stop, Sandholm would have had to have ingested a fairly considerable amount of alcohol, Stillmaker said. “No matter how you shake it, he didn’t have control of his vehicle. I live in the area. I sure wouldn’t want to be on the road with him,” Stillmaker added.
In a post-trial filing, King County prosecutors request a five-year sentence for Sandholm, based on his “offender scoring” rating including his ten-year history of DUI misdemeanor convictions, plus other adult driving-related misdemeanor convictions and other adult felony convictions. Prosecutors are also requesting additional conditions be attached to the sentence including, upon Sandholm’s release, mandatory alcohol evaluation and treatment; no driving after having consumed alcohol; no entering and remaining in “any establishment where alcohol is the primary commodity for sale;” no refusal of reasonable requests for breath or blood tests; no driving without valid insurance and license; plus installation of an ignition interlock device in his vehicle set at .02.
Prosecutor’s office must produce proof at sentencing of the four prior DUIs
Sandholm had been scheduled for sentencing on the February 13 felony DUI conviction on February 17 but his defense attorney successfully obtained a continuance to this coming Friday, March 2 by requesting that prosecutors be compelled to provide documentation of Sandholm’s four prior DUI convictions from 2000 to 2008. Ian Goodhew, Deputy Chief of Staff to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterburg, said the county would successfully produce that documentation Friday.
Goodhew added that the prosecutor’s office takes the view that “it’s extremely important” Sandholm be sentenced to the maximum five years on this felony DUI conviction because “every day he’s in jail is another day he’s not out driving on the road drunk, potentially harming or killing innocent drivers.”
The March 2 sentencing hearing before Judge Heavey will be in Courtroom 3A of King County’s Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent at 2:30 p.m.
UPDATE: The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office reported on their Web site Friday March 2: “Kenneth Wayne Sandholm was sentenced this afternoon to a maximum sentence of five years in prison on a charge of Felony DUI. Sandholm, 55, has six prior convictions for DUI and ten priors for Driving While License Suspended First Degree as well as past convictions for Negligent and Reckless Driving in addition to a variety of other crimes. He was sentenced before Judge Michael Heavey at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center.”