State Supreme Court upholds ‘three-strikes’ life sentence handed down in Clallam

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIA — The state Supreme Court has upheld a life sentence without the possibility of parole handed down in 2010 to a Port Angeles man convicted of a “third-strike” felony in the 2009 burglary of a Clallam County home.

The court ruled 5-4 Thursday to uphold the conviction and sentence of Alvin Leslie Witherspoon, 39, affirming an earlier state Court of Appeals decision in the case.

Witherspoon was convicted by a Clallam County Superior Court jury in April 2010 of second-degree robbery, residential burglary and witness tampering, according to court documents.

The robbery charge was the third of Witherspoon’s eligible convictions that would automatically render a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Witherspoon had earlier convictions for first-degree burglary and residential burglary armed with a firearm in Snohomish County, according to John Troberg, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney.

These led to the “three-strikes” designation.

Witherspoon is listed on the roster of the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

He was convicted of burglarizing a home off Blue Mountain Road on Nov. 12, 2009, at about 2:40 p.m.

Court records gave this account:

When the homeowner returned unexpectedly, Witherspoon came around the house with one arm behind his back, according to the charging documents.

He told the homeowner he had a pistol. The homeowner later found that the front door of the home had been pried open.

The homeowner followed Witherspoon after he sped away in a maroon car with his pregnant girlfriend.

The homeowner reported the license number to dispatchers.

Witherspoon and his girlfriend were later arrested at a trailer park along U.S. Highway just east of Port Angeles.

Five days after the incident, Witherspoon phoned his girlfriend from inside the Clallam County jail and tried to persuade her to fabricate a story about a fictitious hitchhiker burglarizing the home.

In 1993, Washington voters were the first in the nation to pass a Three Strikes, You’re Out law, with more than 76 percent of voters approving Initiative 20 to deal with repeat serious criminals.

The law says that anyone convicted of a third serious felony is to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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



Reporter Rob Ollikainen contributed to this report.

Last modified: July 19. 2014 6:07PM
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