Woman sentenced in Walla Walla to Prescott chase

Terry McConn, Walla Walla Union-BulletinApril 24, 2013 

WALLA WALLA -- A Kennewick woman must perform 216 hours of community service for leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase for about 20 miles from Prescott to Walla Walla in January.

Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann could have sentenced Catherine J. Johnson, 62, of Kennewick, to up to 60 days in jail, but went along with a prosecution recommendation in a plea agreement.

The sentence is in lieu of 30 days in the Walla Walla County jail, with credit for three days she served before being released on her own recognizance.

Johnson also must pay a total of $1,955 in court costs, fees and restitution.

Her attorney, Andrea Burkhart, told Lohrmann that Johnson has no criminal history of any kind and that a bladder infection may have led to her unusual behavior when she led law enforcement on the chase.

Johnson pleaded guilty April 2 to attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

Officials said the Jan. 12 pursuit by a Walla Walla County sheriff's deputy began Johnson's car was seen heading west on Highway 124 through Prescott at about 90 mph.

After the 2009 Mitsubishi Galant turned south onto Highway 125, speeds reached 100 mph and, at one point, the vehicle left the highway, but re-entered, according to a Sheriff's Office report filed in court.

Meanwhile, a different deputy placed a spike strip at the highway and Harvey Shaw Road. The car reportedly hit the spikes, Johnson continued to travel on a rim and a tire fell off near the main gate of the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

The car started swerving, struck a curb and finally stopped near the intersection of Pine Street and North 13th Avenue.

Johnson -- who reportedly told authorities she didn't stop because she was "really sick" -- was booked into the Walla Walla County jail.

Officials confirmed that Johnson wasn't under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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