Competency hearing set in Port Angeles bulldozer rampage case

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man accused of carving a swath of destruction through a Gales Addition neighborhood in May is expected back in Clallam County this week for a Wednesday hearing to determine his competency to stand trial.

Barry Alan Swegle, 51, is slated to be transported from Western State Hospital in Lakewood to the Clallam County jail Monday, said John Troberg, county chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney.

Swegle had been deemed incompetent to stand trial and was ordered by Clallam County Superior Court Judge George L. Wood on Nov. 1 to undergo restorative treatment at Western State Hospital.

Swegle has been at the hospital since, while his jury trial has been delayed indefinitely.

During a Friday status hearing in Superior Court, Troberg said a mental evaluation report from Western State following Swegle's stay at the hospital described him as competent to stand trial.

Troberg said Friday he did not know the details of the report, adding that it ultimately will be up to a Superior Court judge to determine whether Swegle is competent to stand trial.

According to Superior Court documents, Karen Unger, Swegle's retained defense attorney, told the court Friday she had not yet received the most recent evaluation report.

Unger could not be reached for comment Friday or Saturday.

Gales Addition rampage

Swegle allegedly destroyed or damaged four homes, a tractor, a boat, a pickup truck, a power pole and multiple outbuildings in a Gales Addition neighborhood just east of Port Angeles while on a logging bulldozer he owned May 10 last year.

The incident made international headlines and was featured in a September episode of ABC News' “20/20” focusing on neighbor disputes.

According to a Oct. 30 mental evaluation report on Swegle, which Wood cited in declaring him incompetent to stand trial, Western State psychologists said then that “[Swegle's] thought processes were grossly logical, coherent, and organized, with paranoid and delusional content, as well as some religious preoccupation.”

Swegle is charged with one count of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and four counts each of first-degree malicious mischief and first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon — “to wit, a bulldozer.”

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 08. 2014 6:40PM
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