Griffey, Couture say DV suspect would be alive if not for majority party reforms

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CONTACT: Hanna Scott, Public Information Officer for Rep. Dan Griffey | 360-968-3938
Daniel McDonald, Public Information Officer for Rep. Travis Couture | 360-786-7182

Griffey, Couture say DV suspect would be alive if not for majority party reforms

Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, and Rep. Travis Couture, R-Allyn, say a 29-year-old Shelton woman awaiting trial on domestic violence-related charges would still be alive if she had been held in jail, as she should have been, for shooting her boyfriend. Instead, Chantel Peterson was free last month as she awaited her May trial date – free to jump from a local bridge and take her own life.

Peterson was charged with first-degree assault for allegedly shooting her boyfriend – Elijah Gossett – multiple times. The charge included a domestic violence enhancement, which could have led to a life sentence. At her initial hearing, prosecutors argued she was dangerous and requested a $500,000 bail. Instead, a Mason County Superior Court judge felt a $5,000 bail was sufficient for the woman who shot her boyfriend in the back as he looked for something to watch on TV.

“The criminal justice reform experiment we have dealt with over the past several years is clearly failing all,” said Couture. “Not only did it fail the victim in this case, it failed the suspect. Now the victim is damaged for life and this woman is dead, all because she wasn’t put in jail.”

“This judge’s decision to release this woman on such a low bail – completely disregarding the warning of prosecutors about the threat she posed to both the victim and the public – is not only outrageous, it cost this woman her life,” said Griffey.

The 35th Legislative District lawmakers say contrary to the narrative from the majority party in recent years, the criminal justice system does saves lives.

“It holds people accountable. It saves lives and it protects the people most at risk in our society,” said Griffey. “It also gets help to those that need help the most. In this case, the criminal justice system and judge should be ashamed of themselves.”

“Sure, this woman would have had to serve her time had she been correctly held accountable – but she’d also be alive,” said Couture.

The judge said state law regarding presumption of release constrained her ability to set a higher bail in the case. Griffey and Couture say that’s a cop-out.

“This Governor Inslee-appointed judge could have easily used her judicial discretion,” said Griffey. “She not only had the right to use that discretion, she had the responsibility. She chose not to. She did not do the right thing.”

“The left has a motto for these soft-on-crime things they’re doing, like the low bail: ‘No justice, no peace,” said Couture. “In this case, there is no justice and there will be no peace.”

Additional resources:

WATCH: KOMO News report on shooting

READ: Shelton-Mason County Journal coverage

For Help: Call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988

READ: WA Courts bail instructions regarding presumption of release and judicial discretion

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov