Spokesman Review: Paperwork No-Show Frees Suspect With DUI Histo - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokesman Review: Paperwork No-Show Frees Suspect With DUI History

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SPOKESMAN.COM - A Spokane man with a history of DUI crashes was allowed to walk out of court Tuesday with his driving privileges intact after a prosecutor failed to file paperwork on time in his latest arrest.

James L. Crabtree, who worked as a Spokane County sheriff's deputy in the 1980s, appeared Tuesday for arraignment on a felony DUI charge stemming from an incident Nov. 17 where several motorists noticed him passed out at the wheel of his Cadillac. The other drivers used their cars to prevent him from leaving the scene after Crabtree, 49, rear-ended another car at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Pines Road, Spokane County sheriff's Cpl. Dave Thornburg said.

But on Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Michael Price let Crabtree go because the proper paperwork had not yet been filed.

"The state has not filed charges … so orders preventing you from driving are no longer in place," Price said, after Crabtree noted that the judge during his preliminary court appearance earlier had placed driving restrictions on him.

Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady, who is prosecuting the case, could not immediately be reached for comment.

But Crabtree's release frustrated the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, which handled the arrest.

"This guy has a pattern. He nearly killed Earl Howerton, who is a law enforcement officer," Thornburg said, referring to a 2001 collision for which Crabtree was convicted of vehicular assault and drug charges. "Within months of serving that term, he got into another DUI … crash on Market Street. Here he has a DUI again. He's not getting help and he continues to break the law. He's going to keep going until he kills himself or somebody else."

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