The general manager of a downtown Kennewick club is expected to stand trial at the end of next month for allegedly dropping a customer on the sidewalk, causing extensive head injuries.
Matthew Thomas Hibbard, 41, was in Benton County Superior Court on Thursday, when attorneys on both sides told a judge they're ready for the scheduled Jan. 28 trial date.
Hibbard intends to claim self-defense at trial. He is charged with third-degree assault with aggravating circumstances.
Defense attorney John Jensen said he was asking for the criminal history of all potential witnesses and said he understood the victim, Ben Ensign, will not be called to testify. If prosecutors change their minds, Jensen said, he will need to interview Ensign first.
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Ensign, 31, suffered multiple skull fractures when he was carried out of Jack Didley's on July 4 and dropped on the sidewalk. Ensign spent several weeks at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, then in August was transferred to a traumatic brain injury recovery center in Spokane, according to a status update posted online.
Hibbard, who is a bouncer when needed as part of his general manager duties, is accused of acting with criminal negligence and causing excessive injuries to Ensign.
Ensign went to the bar at 109 W. Kennewick Ave. with some co-workers after watching the fireworks show and reportedly caused a disturbance inside. He was drunk and was asked to leave, court documents stated.
He later returned and tried to get back inside the bar and that's when Hibbard and another security guard carried him outside, documents stated.
Hibbard was holding Ensign around his neck and head and dropped him on the concrete sidewalk, documents stated.
At Thursday's hearing, Jensen also requested surveillance video from the bar from instances in the past two years, specifically cases handled by prosecutors in which charges were not filed or were dropped, he said.
Prosecutor Andy Miller told Judge Craig Matheson that he has not made an offer in the case to resolve it short of trial and said, "this may be a case where the state will not make an offer."
"Mr. Jensen and I have been working on this case, but it does appear we will go to trial on Jan. 28," Miller said.
Matheson said he didn't have a problem if the offer is to plead as charged, as long as it has been discussed.
Attorneys report trial might need to be delayed
Attorneys on both sides of a manslaughter case involving the death of a 1-year-old Richland boy allegedly at the hands of his nanny say they're working together to prepare for trial next month but may need to delay the start.
Kelli Anne Jacobsen, 28, has her trial scheduled for Jan. 28 in Benton County Superior Court. She has pleaded innocent to first-degree manslaughter. The charge includes aggravating circumstances that the victim particularly was vulnerable and incapable of resistance and that his death had a destructive and foreseeable impact on others.
On Thursday, Prosecutor Andy Miller said that his office may need to change the trial if any delays come up with interviewing medical witnesses before trial. Miller also has a serious assault trial scheduled to start Jan. 28, and he told Judge Vic VanderSchoor that he obviously cannot do both at the same time.
Miller said he has been talking about the potential conflict with defense attorney Scott Johnson, and they decided to keep the date as scheduled so far but may ask to have it changed.
Johnson said he has had some issues previously with his expert that caused the trial to be pushed into January, so he's not in a position to contest moving the date.
VanderSchoor said he's confident both attorneys can get together on a date that works.
Meanwhile, Johnson said he and his client have discussed the case with an expert the defense hired, and they have determined there are no legal challenges to statements Jacobsen made to Richland police.
On Thursday, Jacobsen told the judge that her statements were made voluntarily after she was read her rights.
Johnson, however, said, "we intend to challenge how the interviews were conducted and things of that sort ... but I don't think it affects admissibility."
Jacobsen is accused of causing a fatal head injury to Ryder Morrison on June 22, 2011, at his Richland home. He died in surgery at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland that day, which was the day before his first birthday.
Jacobsen called 911 and told authorities Ryder fell when she was in the kitchen getting him a snack, court documents stated. Emergency room doctors, however, said the boy's injuries were inconsistent with the nanny's story.
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; email@example.com