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Washington v. Parker

as amended.: January 28, 1991.

THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
ROBERT WALLACE PARKER, APPELLANT



Pekelis, J. Baker, J., and Britt, J. Pro Tem., concur.

Author: Pekelis

Robert W. Parker appeals from his conviction on one count each of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. Parker was charged after a car he was racing against collided with an oncoming vehicle, killing one person and seriously injuring another. He contends that there is insufficient evidence to (1) establish his liability as an accomplice, and (2) prove that his racing proximately caused the accident.

I

On the night of September 2, 1988, Parker's fiancee, Cherie Marie Keese, went roller skating with a friend, Stephanie Whitacre, at Skate King in Bellevue. Parker was also out that evening with a friend, Eric Lewis. The two had parked across from Skate King in Parker's red Pontiac Firebird. According to Lewis, Parker wanted to see if Keese was "out screwing around."

Keese and Whitacre skated until approximately 11 p.m., when Skate King closed. They left in Keese's Ford Mustang. Parker and Lewis, however, did not see Keese exit the parking lot because they had left to make a telephone call. When they discovered that Keese's car was gone, they drove by her home and Whitacre's home, but were unable to find them. Eventually, Parker decided to drive Lewis home.

On their way, Parker passed Keese traveling in the opposite direction. She was returning from Parker's home.

Both drivers turned their cars around and proceeded to drive past each other again.

After missing each other several times, Keese decided to go home. She pulled into a gas station to turn around when she saw Parker heading toward the southbound entrance to Interstate 405 (I-405). When Parker entered the freeway, Keese followed him. She testified that she was about 20 to 25 car lengths behind him.*fn1 She flashed her lights several times to get his attention and sped up quickly to catch him.

Parker knew that Keese was trying to catch up. When Lewis told him that she was behind them flashing her lights, he stated that she was going to have to follow them to Bellevue because he was not going to pull over. Keese increased her speed to catch up with him. Parker responded by also speeding up. He later stated that he was "trying to lose her." Lewis, who was frightened by Parker's driving, covered his eyes and asked Parker to slow down. Whitacre also told Keese to slow down.

Approximately 4.5 miles from where they first entered I-405, the cars approached a Ford LTD driving in the center lane, directly in front of Keese. Parker was on the Ford's right, in the adjacent lane. Keese attempted to pass the Ford but as she changed from the center to the far left lane she lost control of her car. She "fishtailed" several times and went careening through the median and into the northbound lanes of traffic where she crashed into a Toyota Celica. Parker's car was not physically involved in the collision. After seeing Keese cross the median, he pulled off to the side of the freeway and returned to the accident site.

Whitacre was killed. The driver of the Toyota Celica, Suenie Humble, suffered massive head trauma and is permanently disabled. On November 4, 1988, Parker and Keese were charged by information with one count each of

vehicular homicide, RCW 46.61.520, and vehicular assault, RCW 46.61.522. They were tried together.

At trial, the State argued that Parker was criminally liable under one of two alternative theories: First, that he was liable as an accomplice because he had encouraged Keese's reckless driving. Second, that Parker was liable as a principal ...


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