Man sentenced in chase into Milton-Freewater

David A. Pickett received a prison term and will undergo drug treatment after he's released.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man who earlier pleaded guilty to leading patrol officers on a vehicle chase last June was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to more than a year in prison.

David A. Pickett, 35, was ordered to serve 123/4 months, which is half the midpoint of the standard-range term of 22-29 months he faced based on his criminal record. In handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht went along with a prosecution recommendation and defense request for a drug-offender alternative that reduces the period of incarceration for Pickett, but mandates he participate in treatment.

Under the sentencing alternative, Pickett also will undergo outpatient treatment for an additional 123/4 months while on community custody after he's released from prison. Pickett was given credit for the 112 days he's already served in the County Jail.

He has an extensive criminal history, having been arrested more than 15 times in the past for drug crimes and other offenses. Pickett told Schacht he is a drug addict who never has been treated and committed crimes because of his addictions. "Please give me this one chance that I've needed so long," Pickett asked.

Schacht responded that he had thought "long and hard" about the alternative sentencing recommendation in the case. But he said, in the long run, the community could benefit from Pickett receiving treatment. "If we don't get a handle on this, you're going to go to prison for the rest of your life," Schacht told the defendant.

Pickett pleaded guilty Jan. 5 to the charge of attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

Walla Walla police said he was seen driving from a residence in the 600 block of South Palouse Street in a stolen white Honda Accord about 2:30 p.m. June 15.

When marked emergency vehicles started following him near Whitman and Howard streets, he sped south on Howard and Cottonwood Road, police said.

Pickett headed from Walla Walla on gravel and dirt back roads, eventually abandoning the car in an alley in the area of Fifth Avenue and Willow Street in Milton-Freewater. He was taken into custody a short distance from the scene and booked into the Umatilla County Jail on suspicion of being a fugitive from another state and for a parole violation.

During the pursuit, Pickett reportedly eluded officers for 13 miles, with speeds as high as 80 mph. "Pickett ran through at least four stop signs without stopping and swerved across the center line numerous times," according to a Walla Walla police report filed in court.

No injuries or property damage were reported. The vehicle had been stolen in Milton-Freewater within two hours of the chase, police said.

Pickett, of 53752 Appleton Road, No. 61, Milton-Freewater, was transported to the Walla Walla County Jail on Sept. 28 to face the local eluding charge. He also was accused of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, but that charge was dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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