Pistol whipper prison bound

A 20-year-old South Whidbey man who pistol whipped another man with a loaded gun at a New Year’s party in Oak Harbor will likely be heading to prison.

In took a jury in Island County Superior Court this week less than an hour of deliberations to find Jacob J. Whitaker guilty of assault in the second degree and felon in possession of a firearm.

A sentencing hearing hasn’t been set, but Whitaker faces more than four years in prison. A firearms enhancement under the Hard Time for Armed Crime law adds a mandatory three years onto his sentence.

Whitaker attacked a man at a party at a Heller Road residence. Police, witnesses and even the victim himself thought at first that Whitaker had shot the man in the head.

It turned out, however, that Whitaker smacked Jesse Corrella, 23, in the face and head with a loaded .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol. The gun went off and a bullet lodged in a wall stud inside the crowded house, but nobody was injured by the gunshot.

Witnesses at the trial testified that Whitaker attacked Corrella without provocation after Corrella showed up at the party.

A third man jumped into the fray and wrestled the pistol away from Whitaker. Oak Harbor police recovered the gun from a field on the side of the road two weeks later, acting on a tip from one of the partygoers, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Corrella eventually went to the hospital, where police caught up with him. He suffered a gash near his temple, a long scratch on the side of his face, a tear above the middle of his lip and red marks on either side of his nose, according to a report by Detective Teri Gardner.

In court, Whitaker argued that he acted in self defense, but Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme was able to dispel that notion in court.

“The jury obviously didn’t buy his claim of self defense,” said Ohme in a press release.

At the time of his arrest, Whitaker was wanted on warrants for minor in possession, fighting and harassment, Gardner wrote.

Whitaker was previously convicted of a drug-related felony, so it was unlawful for him to possess a firearm.

Whitaker’s attorney, Hans Juhl of Oak Harbor, did not return a call for comment.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks was happy with the outcome.

“Eric Ohme did an excellent job,” he said, “and we are pleased that Whitaker will be taken out of our community for a long time.”

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