Man convicted in vicious attack on Port Townsend woman returns to prison after violating court order

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A Port Townsend woman who was beaten, stabbed and left for dead with a slashed throat in an Idaho beet field in 2000 feels justice has been done in the revocation of parole of one of those convicted in the attack.

The parole of Kenneth Wurdemann, one of four people convicted in the roadside kidnapping and assault of Linda LeBrane, was revoked last month for violating a court order to make restitution payments to her.

“This is a small victory for me,” LeBrane said.

“I won’t get my money, but I get justice.”

LeBrane was driving through Idaho on Interstate 84 in June 2000, headed from her home to her family cabin in Utah, when she was forced from the road.

Her assailants took her and her car to a secluded road west of Caldwell, Idaho, where they hit her with a metal baseball bat, repeatedly stabbed her and slashed her throat, authorities said.

When her attackers left, LeBrane rolled away from the burning car and was rescued by passers-by who saw the flames.

She said that since then, she has been through months of medical recovery, two years of intense physical therapy and five years of psychiatric treatment, and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

She was unable to work, lost her job and her house, and still has medical bills to pay, LeBrane has said.

On April 24, the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole contacted LeBrane with the news that Wurdemann, who was released in early 2012 and had promised to pay $40,000 restitution, has been incarcerated again in the Idaho correctional system for violating terms of his parole.

He was extradited from North Carolina, where he was serving a short sentence for petty theft.

Olivia Craven, the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole executive director, said the new date of release for Wurdemann is undetermined.

He was originally sentenced to serve until February 2015 before he was given early release.

Now he has forfeited 10 months of his parole because he violated its terms.

Craven said Wurdemann had paid $1,200 of the $40,000 before stopping payments.

LeBrane can file a civil suit if he again falls into arrears after his release.

“She has that option, but a lot of the victims find the civil suit process very difficult,” Craven said.

LeBrane said Wurdemann was making monthly payments of $16 before they stopped coming.

When he failed to pay, she contacted prosecutors in two states.

“I got a little joy from the fact that he has to go back to jail,” she said.

The courts also have ordered that another convicted assailant pay restitution, but this time, it will be in a process administered by the courts.

Sarah Pearce, another of the four convicted of the savage attack on LeBrane, was released in March.

She was sentenced to time served after a compromise deal between Canyon County, Idaho, prosecutors and attorneys with the Idaho Innocence Project.

Bryan Taylor, Canyon County prosecutor, said the deal confirmed Pearce’s guilt, “which has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt and to the satisfaction of a jury of her peers.”

Pearce said she never committed the crime and that her incarceration was a case of mistaken identity, according to the Idaho Statesman.

“She was the ringleader,” LeBrane said then. “She was in my face, and I was begging her not to kill me.”

LeBrane was notified of Pearce’s release and was required to sign off on the action.

She only did so after it was clearly stated that Pearce must pay her $55,000 in restitution in a process that will be administered by the court.

“But it shouldn’t be the victim’s responsibility to get restitution, and I only agreed to this as long as I would not have to be my own advocate,” LeBrane said then.

At the time of Wurdemann’s January 2012 parole, LeBrane told the Peninsula Daily News “he was the one I am least scared of. He was a Mormon missionary who had just finished his mission, and he fell in with the wrong crowd and said he was just along for the ride.

“He was hitting me with a metal baseball bat, while the others said that if he didn’t, they would kill him, too.”

The others convicted in the attack — Jeremy Flores Sanchez and John David Wurdemann, Kenneth Wurdemann’s brother — are serving life sentences, according to the Idaho Department of Corrections.

Meanwhile, LeBrane earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Goddard College in July 2011, has played violin in the Port Townsend Community Orchestra, is a founding member of the Rhododendron Festival’s Lawn Chair Drill Team and has written poetry.

________

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 01. 2014 6:37PM
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