Rantz: Judge releases prolific offender who skipped 5 court dates

Oct 17, 2023, 6:14 AM

Image: A recent police pursuit of a suspect can be seen in Thurston County. At the inset is then-Th...

A recent police pursuit of a suspect can be seen in Thurston County. At the inset is then-Thurston County Superior Judge candidate Sharonda D. Amamilo. (Images courtesy of Thurston County and a screenshot from Thurston County Media)

(Images courtesy of Thurston County and a screenshot from Thurston County Media)

A Thurston County judge known for going easy on suspects recently released a prolific offender who has already skipped five court appearances.

According to Sheriff Derek Sanders, the unnamed female suspect failed to yield to Chehalis Tribal Police officers during an attempted traffic stop. The driver was a suspect in a car prowl. When Thurston County deputies joined to assist, Sanders says the “vehicle intentionally swerved into the oncoming lane at one of our deputies, forcing the deputy to also serve into the opposite lane to avoid a head-on collision.”

At this point, deputies could arrest the suspect for assault in the first degree, a felony that allows law enforcement to engage in a vehicular pursuit. That’s precisely what they did.

Suspect clearly was a threat

A deputy attempted a PIT maneuver as the suspect fled the Rochester area, headed for Interstate 5. The first three attempts were unsuccessful, but the fourth time was the charm. However, the suspect was caught on dashcam video still resisting.

“The suspect vehicle rammed another patrol car before driving in reverse and striking a patrol car with the open passenger door,” Sanders wrote. “The suspect vehicle had to be pinned in to prevent further escape, and the female suspect was taken into custody without further incident with the help of K9 Igo. The vehicle was discovered to be stolen.”

She was booked for three counts of assault in the first degree, possession of a stolen vehicle, attempt to elude, and DUI. But she wouldn’t spend much time in jail.

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Judge trusts prolific offender who skips court dates

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Sharonda Amamilo released the suspect on her own personal recognizance, on the promise she’d return for a future court date. That doesn’t seem likely.

Sanders points out the suspect has failed to appear for court five times. She’s also a prolific offender with 17 criminal convictions, which include making false statements, theft, burglary, assault, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, possession of drugs and felony retail theft, according to Sanders.

Judge Amamilo is notoriously easy on criminal suspects. She was most recently in the news for releasing a father accused of raping his minor child over several years with just $10,000 bail. The prosecutor on the case asked bail be set at $250,000.

Previous Jason Rantz content: Soft-on-crime Washington judges release accused rapist, car thief

Activist judge puts us at risk

State Rep. Travis Couture, the Republican lawmaker representing the district, is disgusted.

He says the judge is a “radical activist” putting the public in danger. He accuses her of “continuing to destroy police morale, putting police and the communities lives in danger, and emboldening criminal activity by putting dangerous people back on the streets.”

“People across my district and (Washington) are tired of this revolving door of crime with the catch and release system promoted by activist judges, we need bail reform to ensure suspected felons are separated from community for our safety, and we need voters to hold these judges accountable at the ballot box,” Couture told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

While judges have previously defended their soft-on-crime approach and reluctance to impose bail on state guidelines, they hope you don’t read the court rules. It is true that judges are required to offer a “presumption that the defendant be released without posting bail.” But judges may impose bail in cases where the suspect is a risk of committing a future violent offense or is unlikely to appear at a future court appearance.

In 2020, when Amamilo ran for office, she declared herself the “People’s Judge.” Residents quickly found out the people she meant were criminal suspects.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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Rantz: Judge releases prolific offender who skipped 5 court dates