Why Won’t Kennewick Apartment ‘Crasher’ Face Felony Charges?
Many in the Tri-Cities are wondering why the woman who slammed her Dodge Durango in a Kennewick apartment-duplex will not be going back to prison or facing a felony charge.
In a case that's grabbing a lot of state and even national headlines now, Lori A. Christensen crashed her vehicle into the Central Park apartments Friday April 2nd, following a called off chase by Kennewick Police. Officers attempted to pull her over, reportedly believing she was under the influence based upon her driving.
However, she sped away, and the pursuit was terminated due to safety concerns. A short time later, it was learned she had blown a stop sign, and blasted into the unit on South Olympia St. No one was in the Central Park units, but her vehicle had to be pulled out with a winch so the injured Christensen could be extricated.
According to a Tri City Herald report, her drug problems stem back 35 years. Court documents and public records show upwards of double digit brushes with the law over drugs, espcially for possession.
She also served time for killing a Pasco man in a DUI head on crash on Oregon Ave. in September 2010. So why isn't she facing a felony charge this time?
First, according to Police and court reports, because the Police terminated their pursuit (for safety reasons) her actions afterwards cannot be charged with felony eluding.
Christensen had been out on community supervision after serving about a year and half for multiple local drug possession charges, two months later, she crashed into the apartment.
Previously she'd been sent back to prison for violations to serve the full term of her DUI killing of the man in Pasco; for that crime she was released in September 2018. Then came more multiple possession-drug charges leading up to the crash April 2nd, 2021.
Normally, according to court reports and the Herald, she would face a revocation hearing for violating terms of release, and she would go back to prison to finish her sentence. Her violations related to the possession charges would have put her back behind bars.
But with the State Supreme Court ruling in February that drug possession is un-Constitutional, it basically wipes out her previous incidents. According to multiiple sources, many prosecutors are preparing to 'reverse' or nullify the prosecutions of people who are in jail for possession across Washington state.
Her previous convictions cannot be held against her, and a court request could, in layman's terms, vacate those possession issues.
It is still a very grey area, but it appears this Court ruling will allow a LOT of criminals back on the streets as it will do away with their possession charges.
Currently Christensen is facing a DUI gross misdemeanor charge stemming from the crash, as well as failure to stop at a stop sign and driving without insurance. However, none of these are felonies.
She could have faced a DUI felony stemming from a 2007 law that says if a driver has a previous vehicular homicide conviction and they are charged with intoxicated driving, the serious charge can be made.
However, the Herald reports that won't stick because the 2010 fatal Pasco crash was plead down to lesser charges.
She remains in a Seattle hospital where she was taken after the crash. It appears this incident may become a 'test' case for this Supreme Court ruling; especially given her backround. This case may end up being used by opponents of the Court's ruling.
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