Create a provision under Chapter 9A.36 RCW
Currently the RCW does not include explicit language addressing traumatic brain injury (TBI). Literature supports that anyone who has incurred a TBI will have significant impacts on their quality of life in that they will never be the same even if fully recovered from the TBI. TBI alters the individual and hence the injury is permanent regardless of the medical definition of "fully recovered". We believe a provision should be created that reads; if as a result of an assault the victim has incurred a TBI no less than Assault II charge can be considered.
On March 30, 2013 an assault occurred in Pullman, Whitman County, Washington. The victim of the assault, Dr. David Warner, an instructor for Washington State University (WSU), who had been awarded his doctorate in August of 2012 from WSU and had just begun his career in academics. He suffered a TBI from the assault that has significantly impacted his life and his possibilities to continue as an academic. He was airlifted to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane where they removed a 4" x 6" section of his skull plate in hopes of saving his life. This procedure is determined to be a final attempt in saving the life of a TBI patient of whom the brain is swelling uncontrollably and in which a patient has only a 4% survival rate. Dr. Warner survived the procedure and was in a comatose state for 14 days. Upon awakening from the coma, Dr. Warner was left in an aphasic state and transferred to Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital NIACH and will again be transferred on May 10th to a long-term facility St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, in Spokane. Dr. Warner's life will never be returned to his previous normal state; hence, he has lost a significant portion of his life.
During the investigation and contact with the court, we as a collective of over 2700 <https://www.facebook.com/groups/507553335947697/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/327276997375759/> learned that the defendants in the case could be charged with the lesser crime, a misdemeanor charge of as stated in the RCW 9A.36.041:
Assault in the fourth degree.
(1) A person is guilty of assault in the fourth degree if, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first, second, or third degree, or custodial assault, he or she assaults another.
(2) Assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor.
The misdemeanor charge should be noted as unacceptable in regards to any victim that sustains a TBI as a result of an assault and should not be considered in such matters.
We ask that the RCW to be amended with a provision whereas no less than an Assault II, a felony charge, be considered in instances where a TBI occurs and similarly to a previous Finding -- 2007 c 79: "The legislature finds that assault by strangulation may result in immobilization of a victim, may cause a loss of consciousness, injury, or even death, and has been a factor in a significant number of domestic violence related assaults and fatalities. While not limited to acts of assault against an intimate partner, assault by strangulation is often knowingly inflicted upon an intimate partner with the intent to commit physical injury, or substantial or great bodily harm. Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence. The particular cruelty of this offense and its potential effects upon a victim both physically and psychologically, merit its categorization as a ranked felony offense under chapter 9A.36 RCW." [2007 c 79 § 1.]
We also ask that this matter be brought forward under the namesake of Dr. David Warner as homage to his diligence in seeking social justice.
- Secretary of the Senate, Head of Statute Law Committee
Hunter Goodman, 417 Legislative Bldg. Olympia, WA 98504
- State Senator
Mike Carrell, 102 Irv Newhouse Bldg. PO Box 40428 Olympia, WA 98504-0428
- Supreme Court Justice
Susan Owens, Temple of Justice PO Box 40929 Olympia, WA 98504
- House Member Statute Law Committee
Roger Goodman, 328 John L. O'Brien Bldg. PO Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504-0600
- House Member Statute Law Committee
Jay Rodne, 430 John L. O'Brien Bldg. PO Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504-0600
I am asking that you support a provision under Chapter 9A.36 RCW that no less than an Assault II, a felony, can be considered in any assault that results in traumatic brain injury. Currently, there is no provision and assailants can be charged with a lesser crime of Assault IV, a misdemeanor. I personally know from the matter regarding Dr. David Warner, that the prosecutor and judge will determine the charge in an assault on his person which left with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) leaving him impaired for the remainder of his life. The impact of a TBI has been shown to be life altering and thus should warrant a charge no less than Assault II. Similar provisions were made for strangulation from domestic violence since those victims suffer long-term consequences. TBI is a permanent injury and thus should have similar consequences that are determined by law and not by the prosecutor or judge. I also ask that this change be brought forward in the name of Dr. David Warner who has been rendered permanently damaged from a TBI as a result of an assault.
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