Trial over courthouse attacks gets venue change

The trial of accused courthouse attacker Steven D. Kravetz will be held in Lewis County, a judge decided Wednesday.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey will preside over the case, and granted a change of venue motion from Kravetz’s attorney, David Arcuri, to hold the trial in Chehalis instead of Montesano, where Kravetz is accused of attacking a Superior Court judge and a Grays Harbor Sheriff’s deputy.

Grays Harbor County Prosecutor Stew Menefee and Deputy Prosecutor Gerald Fuller offered no objection.

“We’re not opposed to changing venue. Lewis County seems to be the logical place to do it,” Fuller said. “It wouldn’t be possible to have a trial (in Montesano) without the jurors walking right past the crime scene.”

“Given the fact that, first of all, the alleged victims here are employees of the court system and the law enforcement system … coupled with the fact the Grays Harbor County Courthouse is the scene of the alleged incident, I agree the change of venue would be appropriate,” Brosey said.

Kravetz, 35, of McCleary, is charged with attempted second-degree murder, assault and disarming a law enforcement officer for allegedly shooting Deputy Polly Davin and stabbing Judge David Edwards during a violent confrontation on March 9, 2012, at the County Courthouse in Montesano.

Arcuri has notified the court he will be arguing diminished capacity, rather than insanity, in the case. The two approaches have a few key differences.

Insanity would result in a not guilty verdict and possibly hospitalization, whereas diminished capacity would allow for a reduced charge or sentencing. The defense would have to prove by a preponderance of evidence the accused was insane at the time of the alleged offense, but arguing diminished capacity requires the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt the accused was in a mental state where they could be held accountable for the crime.

Wednesday’s hearing in Lewis County also focused on statements Kravetz made to law enforcement during his arrest and subsequent interview.

2005 case

Since his arrest, Kravetz has spoken at length to detectives and mental health professionals about a 2005 case which is generally agreed to be his motivation for being in the courthouse the day of the alleged attack. In that case, Kravetz’s mother called police saying he had threatened suicide. At Mark Reed Hospital, when staff tried to get a urine sample, he refused, and apparently viewed threats of catheterization as threats of sexual assault. He has repeatedly cited the experience as highly traumatic and unjust.

According to the detectives who initally interviewed him, it was that injustice, as well as perceived injustices perpetrated by the Sheriff’s Office, the county and the Lewis County jail, that made up the first four hours of their interview with Kravetz.

“He said he had a story he wanted to tell us, so that’s exactly what we did, we let him tell us his story,” Mason County Detective Luther Pittman said.

That was followed by another hour and a half outlining the events of March 9.

During Wednesday’s testimony, Fuller probed detectives for any indication Kravetz was out of touch with reality, and Arcuri pressed them on whether Kravetz’s beliefs seemed unreasonable.

Both detectives described Kravetz as articulate, intelligent and sincere.

Brosey allowed all the statements to be included in evidence at trial, set for March 25.

Kravetz is held in Mason County Jail with $900,000 bail.