Kennewick man sentenced for using stolen credit card, running from police

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldApril 10, 2014 

A Kennewick man was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for using a stolen credit card, then running from police and pointing a gun at an officer during the ensuing standoff.

Dennis Jaymes Skellenger, 27, was shot in the chest during the June 15 incident in a Kennewick field and continues to have medical problems from his injuries.

He has some medical procedures scheduled in the next two weeks, so Superior Court Judge Vic VanderSchoor gave Skellenger until April 24 to report to the Benton County jail.

Skellenger then will be transferred to the state Department of Corrections.

He was given a Special Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative, meaning he received a shortened sentence and must participate in prison-based drug treatment.

The sentence includes a 12-month mandatory term.

VanderSchoor could have ordered Skellenger to serve up to seven years in prison, but went with the recommendation from both Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor and defense attorney Catherine Harkins.

Skellenger pleaded guilty March 6 to attempting to elude police, third-degree assault, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and second-degree possession of stolen property.

The assault charge included an enhancement for assaulting a law enforcement officer with what appeared to be a firearm.

The revolver that Skellenger pointed at Kennewick's K-9 handler Brad Kohn ended up being inoperable, but Officer Jeremy Taylor didn't know that when he saw the threat and fired a shot at Skellenger.

Police had gotten word June 15 that Skellenger was trying to return merchandise he bought with a stolen credit card at a Kennewick store.

Officers chased Skellenger's car for a short distance but backed off for public safety reasons.

"When the police attempted to pull me over, by using lights and sirens, I sped up and continued not to stop," Skellenger said in his plea statement.

The abandoned car was later found at 27th and South Keller streets, and officers tracked Skellenger down to a field near Horse Heaven Hills Park and Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Skellenger was hiding behind a tractor and, after repeated demands to show himself, walked out with the revolver pointed at Kohn, according to police and court documents.

Taylor's bullet hit Skellenger's wrist before traveling through his back. He spent about a month at a Seattle hospital before returning to the Tri-Cities to recover. He has been in and out of the hospital since.

An independent review of the incident found Taylor was justified the in shooting.

Skellenger's criminal history includes six forgeries and one felony drug possession conviction.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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