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Washington v. Chadderton

as corrected.: April 22, 1991.

THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
RONALD LEWIS CHADDERTON, APPELLANT



Coleman, J. Webster, A.c.j., and Agid, J., concur.

Author: Coleman

Ronald Chadderton appeals from the judgment and sentence entered against him for first degree manslaughter, claiming that the court lacked any substantial and compelling reason to impose an exceptional sentence of 72 months. We affirm.

On August 11, 1989, Chadderton pleaded guilty to the charge of first degree manslaughter. In his guilty plea, Chadderton stated:

In Snohomish County on or about April 14, 1989, through recklessness, I injured Esther Blake by thrusting her into a chair too roughly. As a result of this her hip was broken contributing proximately to her death on May 21, 1989.

Esther Blake was an 87-year-old patient in the nursing home where Chadderton worked as an aide. Because of Chadderton's reckless actions, Blake suffered a broken hip that required surgery. Additional complications arose, including a blood clot, which led to Mrs. Blake's death.

At the sentencing hearing on September 28, 1989, Chadderton's offender score was determined to be "1" with a seriousness level of 9. The State requested the maximum

sentence within the standard sentencing range which was 36 to 48 months. See RCW 9.94A.310 (Table 1). However, the court elected to impose an exceptional sentence of 72 months. The judge reasoned:

In this particular case I cannot accept the State's position or counsel's response that this is a standard range sentence. I'm not willing to give a standard range sentence in this case. I'm going to give an exceptional sentence . . . based on the fact that I have a woman who is 87 years of age, very elderly, very vulnerable in the resting home. She couldn't control how or where she was going to be. She was required to be there because of her age. She was placed in a home and was required to have trust from the employees within the rest home. . . . These elderly people are supposed to be treated with care. They totally trust you. They have no other place to go. I just cannot accept a 48-month sentence. This woman was extremely vulnerable, totally relied on the care of getting in and out of bed from the employees, had complete trust in you for properly treating her. You may have been frustrated, you may have not have had the proper care for assistance from your employees. There was no justification for this under any circumstances. The Court would set a 72-month sentence.

The judge specified two substantial and compelling reasons justifying the exceptional sentence:

1. The defendant knew or should have known . . . [that the] victim was particularly vulnerable due to advanced age, disability or ill health. RCW 9.94A.390(2)(b).

2. The defendant abused his position of trust and fiduciary responsibility to facilitate the commission of ...


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