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Sentencing completes a 'success story'

Coupeville attorney Kevin McConnell offered an unusual testimonial to his client’s efforts to live on the straight and narrow, calling the 36-year-old Oak Harbor woman’s recovery “a success story,” during hearing in Island County Superior Court Oct. 26.

The defendant, Michele Smith, pleaded guilty to residential burglary by way of an Alford’s plea, which means she doesn’t admit guilt but concedes that she would be found guilty at trial.

McConnell said Smith remembers very little about the incident because of her drinking, but the defense and prosecution still offered somewhat different stories. McConnell said Smith was invited into the house by the resident and the two women got into “a cat fight.” He added that the victim is now in a treatment facility where she is recovering from substance abuse.

Deputy Prosecutor Mike Henegen said Smith went into a neighbor woman’s home drunk and uninvited, then tore the house up. “The victim didn’t start this,” he said.

Yet because Smith has been attending alcohol treatment on her own volition, both McConnell and Henegen agreed on a joint “first time offender” sentencing recommendation that doesn’t call for more jail time.

Judge Vickie Churchill also agreed with the recommendation and sentenced Smith to 30 days in jail, with credit for 14 days served. The remaining 16 days are converted to 128 hours of community service, plus a year of community custody. In addition, Churchill waived the $400 attorney fee.

According to court papers, Smith was intoxicated when she went to a neighbor’s home on Haga Road last spring and demanded that the resident drive her to the city. When the woman refused, Smith tore up the house and assaulted the woman.

McConnell said that Smith’s alcohol problems were compounded by depression disorders. He said she has been sober for two months and has a full-time job.

“This is a genuine success story,” he said, adding that he has spend a lot of time with Smith, who has “an innocence that is refreshing.”

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