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Vehicular homicides prompt 2 confessions
Randi Shelton and Jonathan Everbeck will both be going to prison for their parts in two separate vehicular homicide cases that police say resulted from drunk driving.
In a surprise move, Shelton pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Tuesday morning to the vehicular homicide charge. The 36-year-old Coupeville woman was driving drunk on South Whidbey on Jan. 22, 2007 and struck a van driven by Karen Gervais-Boone, a 47-year-old mother of two and a widely known advocate for Coupeville schools. Gervais-Boone died at the scene.
Shelton’s plea was outside of any plea bargain. The hearing was originally set to begin arguments over issues involving the crime lab and DUI cases. Shelton’s attorney, Craig Platt of Coupeville, wanted the toxicology report thrown out in light of highly-publicized problems at the state laboratory.
Instead, Platt said that Shelton decided to spare the victim’s family from having to endure a trial.
Gervais-Boone lived in Greenbank with her husband, John Boone, a doctor at Navy Hospital Oak Harbor, and their two children, who now attend South Whidbey schools. She had a doctorate degree in psychology and worked as a personal coach and interpersonal business relations / team building specialist.
Gervais-Boone was well-known in Coupeville as a school advocate, particularly for helping to lead a successful bond effort.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said he will ask Judge Alan Hancock to hand Shelton the maximum sentence of seven years and five months in prison at the sentencing hearing July 11. Platt is contesting Shelton’s two prior DUI convictions, which could affect the standard sentencing range.
Shelton’s blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.30, which is nearly four times the legal limit of 0.08.
“This case is why we prosecute DUIs,” Banks said. “The victim was totally innocent and on her way home.”
On Monday, Everbeck, a 33-year-old Oak Harbor High School graduate, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault as part of a plea bargain. Under the versions of the charges he agreed to, Everbeck admitted to driving with disregard for the safety of others, but not to the more-serious charges that involve impaired driving.
Everbeck was driving a group of friends home after a night of drinking and rolled the truck at a curve on Jones Road Nov. 19, 2006. Three passengers in the back, none of whom were wearing seat belts, were thrown from the truck.
Everbeck’s girlfriend, 26-year-old Bellingham resident Bryn Boyd, died at the scene.
Another passenger, Paul Thompson, was also ejected and seriously injured. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was in a coma for several weeks. He suffered permanent brain damage.
Thompson was originally from Ohio and now lives with his parents.
Everbeck had a blood-ethanol level of 0.17 taken 95 minutes after the collision, court documents state.
Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said both he and Everbeck’s attorney, Craig Platt, will recommend to the judge at a July 28 hearing that the defendant serve two years and three months in prison.
Ohme said the plea bargain complies with the wishes of Boyd’s mother.
“The mother of the girl who died had indicated that she believes her daughter wouldn’t want Everbeck to suffer,” Ohme said. He also noted that Everbeck showed a great deal of remorse and apologized to the victim’s family at the memorial service.
“This is just a really sad case,” Ohme said.
As in the Shelton case, Platt had also asked the court to suppress Everbeck’s toxicology case because of inconsistencies in the state lab’s handling of evidence. Banks said he and Platt created voluminous documents on their research into the issues. Most of the problems in the lab had to do with breath tests, but Banks said there were also blood samples that were accidentally destroyed.
Banks said those issues probably wouldn’t have affected the Shelton and Everbeck cases, but the outcomes depended on how the judges ruled.
“I felt pretty good about our toxicology lab motion,” Banks said. “I think we would have been fine, though it would be nice to have an opinion on the issue from one of our judges.”