Former NAACP VP Le’Taxione is asking that the assault trial be moved out of Spokane County

March 10 – A former NAACP vice president awaiting trial on domestic violence charges argued in court Wednesday that racial bias in the prosecutor’s office, police bias and publicity pre -trial makes it impossible for him to get a fair trial in Spokane County.

Le’Taxione, also known as Ernest Carter, was arrested and charged with second-degree domestic violence assault in December 2020. He was the vice president of the Spokane NAACP chapter at the time.

In seeking a change of venue, Le’Taxione’s attorney, Rob Cossey, argued that the Spokane County District Attorney’s Office has a history of racial disparities in charging decisions that support the belief that the Prosecutor Larry Haskell agrees with his wife’s racist public statements.

He also argues that there was bias in how the assault was reported and investigated after Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl and his wife, Spokane Police Capt. Tracie Meidl, were called by the president of the NAACP Kiantha Duncan. Additionally, Cossey says media coverage of Le’Taxione’s arrest would prejudice a potential jury.

Allegations and fall

A Spokane woman said Le’Taxione bit her on the left side of her face before punching her repeatedly and trying to strangle her during a home invasion while her children were present, according to documents from the court

Le’Taxione was arrested a short time later, and the consequences of his case are serious.

He was convicted of assaulting a police officer in California in 1983. In 1990, he was convicted in Oregon of attempted murder with a firearm. Then in 1998, he was convicted of first-degree robbery in Pierce County. This third strike landed him in prison for life without parole.

But in 2016, he was granted clemency by Governor Jay Inslee under the condition that he complete a work release program and comply with a variety of supervision terms.

After his release, Le’Taxione became an activist focused on preventing gang violence.

In January 2021, the governor’s office began a review of potential violations of Le’Taxione’s release related to the domestic violence charge and allegations that he was drinking. A Department of Corrections hearing officer found that he violated the terms of his release, according to documents from the governor’s office.

Inslee indicated that Le’Taxione could ask for reconsideration once the assault case is resolved.

Arguments to move the process

Through his attorney, Le’Taxione argued that he could not get a fair trial in Spokane County for a number of factors.

Two days after the alleged attack, Duncan called Tracie Meidl at her home, the motion says.

The victim was there and told Meidl what happened. Meidl instructed the victim to call Crime Check and file an official report, Cossey said.

Although both Meidl are aware of the criminal allegations, neither has filed an official report. Le’Taxione claims that the Meidls were required as peace officers to make a report.

The Meidls’ personal involvement in the case “influenced” how the evidence was gathered, Le’Taxione argued through Cossey, his lawyer.

“The authority and influence of the Meidls in the Spokane Police Department prejudiced the investigative process causing tunnel vision in their subordinates at best and at worst leading the witness claimant on what must say to ensure that the details of the alleged assault are considered credible,” Cossey’s motion. states

However, the assault was not investigated by Spokane police, but instead was under the jurisdiction of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

When asked about the incident Friday, Duncan said he called Meidl to make sure Le’Taxione was arrested without incident, given the history of police violence against people of color that was at the fore. public discussion line in 2020.

“This was for their own protection,” Duncan said in an interview.

Craig Meidl told The Spokesman-Review that he and Tracie Meidl went to Duncan’s home to talk about the process of reporting a domestic violence incident.

Anyone in that situation is “understandably scared, worried, nervous,” Meidl said. Since Duncan and the Meidls have a relationship, Duncan called, hoping to make the reporting process less difficult for the victim, Meidl said of her recollection of the incident.

Meidl said he has no control over the sheriff’s office’s investigations and has not interfered in any way.

Haskell’s wife, Leslie Haskell, has made numerous public racist statements, including calling herself a “proud white nationalist.” She used racial slurs, according to the motion.

In the motion, Cossey also argues that Larry Haskell’s charging decisions show that he agrees with his wife’s racist views.

Cossey cited data from the JFA Institute’s report on Spokane County’s jail population that showed Blacks were 13 times more likely to be incarcerated than whites. The report also showed that Blacks were locked up longer than white prisoners, and that Blacks paid higher bail.

The motion also noted that Sandra Altshuler, a former drug and mental health court coordinator, wrote in a letter to the editor published in The Spokesman-Review that referrals to therapeutic courts have decreased significantly, especially for people of color, under the leadership of Larry Haskell.

Through his attorney for the criminal deputy, Preston McCollam, Larry Haskell declined to comment on the motion because the case is pending. Prosecutor Tom Treppiedi has not yet filed a response to the motion, but will likely file one before a hearing on the motion on March 16.

This is the second time a local attorney has argued that Larry Haskell and the DA’s office are unable to handle cases involving people of color because of the prosecutor’s records and his wife’s statements. .

A judge said the attorney in the previous case failed to connect Larry Haskell to the charging decisions in that case, or make a connection to the prosecutor’s office’s broader charging process.

Finally, Cossey argued that the “sensational” articles written about the case by The Spokesman-Review were “prejudicial” to Le’Taxione and “calculated to inflame the public mind.”

Previous newspaper stories included Le’Taxione’s criminal convictions, which Cossey said were reported “for the purpose of creating sentiment against the defendant.”

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