AP

Harassment case dropped after judge finds no probable cause

Apr 6, 2023, 6:48 AM

Photo: A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real e...

A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real emergency responses, has been sentenced. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Prosecutors in Washington state have dropped a long-running harassment case against a man who had been accused of making threats to kill four women and a judge involved in a prior cyberstalking case against him.

The man, Sloan Stanley, was released from custody after a Mason County Superior Court judge ruled in February that prosecutors had not established probable cause to support the charges because the jailhouse informant they built their case on lacked credibility.

The state dismissed the matter last month. Stanley, 47, has moved to the Boise, Idaho, area, said his attorney, Craig Suffian.

Stanley was given a two-year sentence after being convicted of cyberstalking in 2015. In that case, he met a woman and some of her friends at a Seattle pub, then found her online and began sending her, two friends and a bartender from the pub increasingly obscene and threatening messages.

Two of the victims were so frightened that they moved out of state, police said.

A jailhouse informant told police that while he and Stanley were both housed at the state prison in Shelton, Stanley made threats about the women he had stalked as well as a judge and others who handled his case.

Because the alleged threats had been made a year before the informant reported them, police inserted a second informant into the prison, to see if Stanley would repeat them. The second informant did not report hearing explicit threats, and a listening device hidden in Stanley’s cell also failed to capture any incriminating recordings.

King County prosecutors charged Stanley with felony harassment and intimidating a judge, based mostly on the evidence from the first informant, Randy Burleson.

Stanley denied making the threats but was convicted during a 2018 trial and sentenced to more than three decades in prison. However, the state Court of Appeals unanimously overturned his conviction in 2021, finding that the trial court denied him the right to present a defense when it declined to let him question the second informant at trial.

King County prosecutors sought to try him a second time for felony harassment and intimidating a judge. This time the case was assigned to a Superior Court Judge Monty Cobb in Mason County, where the prison is.

Prosecutors said that while Burleson had a long criminal history, he was credible and had not sought anything in exchange for his testimony. However, Suffian argued that Burleson was in fact hoping for leniency on pending felony charges and had lied under oath during Stanley’s first harassment trial when he claimed to have spent time behind bars with serial killer Gary Ridgway.

Cobb agreed, saying during a hearing in February that Burleson’s claim about Ridgway “so undermines his credibility that …. the Court is not finding that probable cause exists.”

___

This story has been corrected to show that Stanley’s initial sentence in the harassment case was more than three decades, not eight years.

 

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Harassment case dropped after judge finds no probable cause