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State v. Gonce

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

October 16, 2017

THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent,
v.
MATTHEW TRAVIS GONCE, Appellant.

          Schindler, J.

         When an offender is convicted of a crime that results in injury to the victim, the court shall order restitution for reasonably ascertainable medical expenses and lost wages. Matthew Travis Gonce pleaded guilty to malicious and intentional felony harassment of University of Washington Medical Center Patient Service Specialist Carol Harris and intentional assault in the fourth degree of Registered Nurse Rebekah Strong. The court ordered restitution to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&l) for medical expenses and lost wages. Gonce contends the court did not have the statutory authority to order restitution for lost wages for emotional distress caused by the felony harassment of Harris and assault of Strong. Gonce claims the statute allows restitution for lost wages resulting only from physical injury, not emotional distress. We hold the restitution statute does not limit restitution to lost wages resulting from only physical injury. The plain and unambiguous language of the statute authorizes the court to order reasonably ascertainable restitution for lost wages resulting from emotionaldistress. We affirm the order of restitution.

         FACTS

         The material facts are not in dispute. On December 4, 2014, the University of Washington (UW) Medical Center admitted Anna Whittington for pregnancy complications. Whittington was approximately eight months pregnant.

         Registered Nurse Rebekah Strong noticed a white male, later identified as Matthew Travis Gonce, come out of a patient room "mumbling under his breath about bitches." Gonce looked at Strong and said, " 'And here's a bitch right here.'" Strong told him, " 'Please don't use that language towards me'" and continued to walk past Gonce. Gonce "smacked" Strong on her "butt extremely hard" with his open hand. Strong said the sound from hitting her was "very loud" and she "saw other people towards the front of the desk look to see what had happened." Strong said, "It was upsetting; it was painful; it was embarrassing. It was pretty shocking, and it was very disruptive."

         Strong said Gonce started "ripping everything off the walls" in the hallway and throwing equipment to the ground.

[H]e was ripping everything off the walls, and any kind of equipment that was in the hallway he started throwing to the ground. And we have some mounted, like, things on the walls, and he was even ripping those off.

         Strong saw UW Security Officer Brian Zick down the hall, screamed for help, and called 911.

         Meanwhile, Gonce shoved an Asian housekeeper, knocking over her cart in the hallway, and yelled at her, " 'Gook, get out of here, you gook. Youlike it was a gun" and threatened to" 'shoot this MF - I'm going to - everybody going to die today. Pow; you don't belong in this country. If you're not white, you're not right. You gook, get out of here.'" Gonce "motioned his finger dead. Pow; you dead.'"

         Gonce entered the sixth-floor staff room. He yelled obscenities, "grabbed items off the center table, " and "threw them on the ground." Gonce tried to attack a doctor but Strong "distracted him and told the doctor to run." Outside the staff room, doctors and nurses were "running up and down the hall, people closing their doors and screaming and hollering."

         After Gonce left the staff room, he approached the front desk area, yelling obscenities. When Gonce saw UW Medical Center Patient Service Specialist Carol Harris, he yelled at her, " 'What are you looking at, you nigger? You nigger bitch. You nigger whore. I hate niggers. I hate you, nigger.'" With his hand in the shape of a gun, Gonce threatened to kill Harris because she was black: " 'Nigger bitch, I'm going to rip out your hair weaves and kill you.'" Gonce ran toward the front desk and lunged at Harris. A coworker intervened and pushed Gonce away. Harris ran out of the area, slamming her shoulder on the doorjamb as she left. Gonce violently grabbed the computer monitor Harris was using, ripped it off the front desk, and threw it on the ground with the "wires ... hanging" out. As Harris was running away, she saw "a lot of people that responded to come for help." Harris told a black woman who came to help, " '[T]he sight of black people right now is what's aggravating him. So don't go - don't go. Please don't go.'"

         Whittington came out of the patient room and yelled at Gonce to stop. Gonce attacked her. Gonce grabbed Whittington by the hair and placed his arm around her neck. With his hand in the shape of a gun, Gonce dragged Whittington down the hallway, shouting that he was going to "shoot his bitch down."

         Security Officer Zink tried to stop Gonce. Gonce knocked Officer Zink down and swung a mop at him. With the help of hospital staff, Officer Zink was able to restrain Gonce until the UW police arrived. While several police officers held Gonce down, he continued to try to get away, repeatedly saying, " 'I'm going to kill all you niggers. I hate you. Go back to where you come from. You don't belong in this country. Get out of here, nigger, nigger, nigger.'"

         Harris went to the UW Medical Center Emergency Room that day for her injured shoulder. A security officer warned Harris that Gonce was in a patrol car parked outside the emergency room. When Harris saw Gonce "staring at me, " she left and decided to see a doctor later.

         Harris was not scheduled to work the next two days. Harris returned to work on December 6. Gonce "showed up" to visit Whittington. Medical center staff called security and sent Harris home. Harris went to urgent care for her shoulder injury. Urgent care referred Harris to Dr. Timothy Gilmore. Harris saw Dr. Gilmore on December 11.

         Harris did not work from December 6, 2014 until she was released by her doctor to return to work on January 26, 2015. Because Whittington was still a patient at the UW Medical Center in Seattle, the UW transferred Harris to the Bellevue clinic to avoid any contact with Gonce. Harris worked a reduced schedule at the Bellevue clinic from January 26 until March 22, 2015. Harris engaged in counseling three times a week for a year. The counseling sessions addressed post-traumatic stress disorder.

         Strong went to her primary care doctor about anxiety caused by the attack. Strong was having difficulty sleeping and was "jumpy" at work. Her doctor instructed her not to work for at least one week. Strong did not work from December 18 until December 28. Strong also engaged in counseling.

         Harris and Strong filed claims with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&l) and submitted documentation for medical expenses and time loss from work resulting from emotional distress. L&l paid Strong $240.18 for medical treatment and counseling and $1, 491.60 for lost wages, totaling $1, 731.78. L&I paid Harris $3, 450.36 for medical treatment and counseling and $5, 115.69 for lost wages, totaling $8, 566.05.

         The State charged Gonce with malicious and intentional felony harassment of Harris, intentional assault in the fourth degree of Strong, and domestic violence intentional assault in the fourth degree of Whittington. Gonce pleaded guilty to malicious and intentional felony harassment of Harris in violation of RCW 9A.36.080(1) and intentional assault in the fourth degree of Strong and Whittington in violation of RCW9A.36.041.

         Gonce admitted he "maliciously and intentionally threatened Carol Harris ...


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