CHEHALIS — One remark Steven Kravetz made during an interview with detectives aptly captures the issue jurors will face when they decide whether he’s guilty of attempted murder, assault and disarming a law enforcement officer.
“Sometimes it’s not the action but the intention behind the action that determines legality or illegality,” Kravetz told detectives in a video shown at the fourth day of his trial in Chehalis.
At the time, he was talking about an altercation he had with a homeless man at a Centralia library where he was asked to leave, but the relevance to his current case is striking.
That he assaulted Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Deputy Polly Davin and Superior Court Judge David Edwards at the Montesano Courthouse March 9, 2012, has been increasingly difficult to dispute over days of eye-witness accounts, and Kravetz’s attorney David Arcuri, doesn’t seem much inclined to.
The facts are the facts, Arcuri noted in his opening argument, and Kravetz himself admits in his interview he shot Davin with her service pistol. He doesn’t seem to remember whether he stabbed Edwards, though he acknowledges it may have happened in the struggle.
The crux of the case against Kravetz lies with his intent, since his charge is attempted murder. It’s up to Prosecutor Stew Menefee to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Kravetz intended to kill Davin, but that’s likely an issue Arcuri will focus on when he starts his defense on Monday.
Throughout the roughly six-hour interview, Kravetz is articulate and often anxious, particularly when he describes what he calls “the rape” at Mark Reed Hospital in 2005 when hospital staff forced catheterization.
His investigation of that event, which he calls “the worst day I ever lived,” ultimately led him to the courthouse last year, where he was hoping to steal his case file to find evidence of a conspiracy to cover up what he felt were crimes against him.
“They must have some sort of note or some document that tells them what they should do relating to my matter, something they wouldn’t want exposed,” Kravetz told detectives. “I decided that I wanted to — I wanted to see if I could expose this. Even though it could technically be illegal. If I could show these people have an agenda that breaks the law, that would not only help me but the voters of Grays Harbor County.”
He explained he felt the county had an organized goal of discrediting him because “they knew they did something wrong. They did the rape.”
During his March 9 attempt, his second “reconnaissance” visit, Davin confronted him based on complaints from staff.
Calmly gives account
During his account of the struggle with Davin and Edwards, Kravetz seems calmer than at any other time during his interview. As he described the hospital incident, he pressed his hand into his face and visibly tensed, and as he recounted extra security during a District Court hearing and pressure from a judge, he laced his fingers behind his neck and hunched forward.
He was slightly breathless as he reached the attack itself in his winding narrative, apparently anxious over whether to continue or consult a lawyer.
After a break, he seems to have made his decision. He’s relaxed, resting his left arm casually on the table next to him, even as he describes feeling terrified and shooting Davin.
He seems to actively avoid referring to Davin as a woman through his account, usually substituting “they” or “the person.”
When Davin asked Kravetz for identification and to speak with her outside, “I thought and based upon my past experiences with Grays Harbor County, I felt I couldn’t trust this person and that something was gonna happen not just because of questioning but because of the bench warrant and it’s likely they would find out about the bench warrant against me,” Kravetz told detectives. “I also felt uncomfortable about a female person being in an authoritative manner with me. I felt uncomfortable about that. I kinda got scared about that. Like I feel demeaning and humiliated.”
He was particularly concerned about being searched by a woman, he said. He explained he sees even including his groin area in a search as a sexual assault.
“If somebody steals from you, you can replace that, but with sexual abuse, if somebody’s physically defiled, they’re ruined for life. I just don’t know of any repair for something like that. The damage from May 24, 2005, is still with me,” he said.
“I had a knife with me, and I wanted to do something that would hurt them, so that they would … be hurt and they would not want to continue” pursuing him, Kravetz said. “Just enough to stop them, just temporarily.”
He remembers grabbing Davin by the head or shoulder and wrestling her to the ground.
“I took the knife and I just — I think I swung it at her. I just blindly did it. I might have done this once or twice, but everything happened so fast, I don’t remember,” he said.
Then a man he didn’t recognize — Edwards — rushed at him, knocking him into the wall. He remembers struggling with him, but not stabbing Edwards in the back of the neck.
“I never had any intention of doing it. It may have happened by accident,” Kravetz said.
But Edwards is almost a side note in his version, and the efforts of Rita Zastrow and Linda Foster, courthouse employees, to help Davin are entirely absent.
When Davin drew her gun, Kravetz doesn’t seem to remember her command to stop. He said he panicked and grabbed the gun away. He fired two shots toward her torso, he recalls.
“And then I just got out. I just wanted something so that these people would not be able to, you know, if somebody is stunned in some sort of a way by something like that then I can get out of there, they won’t be able to hurt me.”
He told detectives he never felt angry, just afraid of Davin’s Taser, largely because he had been stunned by those weapons before.
Kravetz said he ended up at the office of his former attorney, where he knew there was an empty office. He hid there most of the afternoon as he waited for his mother to pick him up. He was emphatic that she knew nothing of what he’d done that day.
When police arrived at his mother’s Olympia home the next morning, he turned on the radio to hear his own name as a suspect, then cooperated completely. He told them the gun was in his bathroom, and told the detectives he had hoped to return it but didn’t know how.
Asked whether he felt he did the right thing, he replied, “sometimes you react instinctively, it’s a freak thing.”
“I’m sorry the whole thing happened,” he added.
Brionna Friedrich, a Daily World writer can be reached by calling 537-3933 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org