Longtime offender pleads guilty to charges eluding, theft

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WALLA WALLA — A longtime criminal pleaded guilty Monday to leading law enforcement on a Fourth-of-July vehicle chase east of the city.

Stephen D. Bennett, 36, admitted in Superior Court to attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle and also to an unrelated charge of possessing a stolen credit card on April 21.

Bennett — who has a rap sheet of 20 prior offenses in Walla Walla and Umatilla counties since 1998 — faces a standard-range prison term of 22-29 months at sentencing.

About half of his previous crimes were direct drug offenses. The prosecution is recommending that, if Bennett is eligible, he now be handed a drug offender sentencing alternative. That would reduce the length of his imprisonment, but require him to complete treatment.

In a letter to the court after the chase occurred, Bennett, of 3289 Mill Creek Road, acknowledged he had been high on methamphetamine.

“My criminal history can confirm that I have a serious and significant drug addiction problem. A problem which I have never been able to address properly,” he wrote.

“I am tired of drugs and I want to change.”

Officials said a Walla Walla police officer spotted Bennett, who had two outstanding arrest warrants, driving a Pontiac Grand Am in the 2200 block of Isaacs Avenue about 5:55 p.m. on Independence Day.

Bennett sped east on Isaacs at more than 65 mph, blew through the stop light at Tausick Way and headed up Mill Creek Road and then Seven Mile Road .

Bennett then abandoned the car. Police found him hiding in a dry creek surrounded by tall grass.

Comments

PearlY 4 months, 1 week ago

After 20 previous convictions (and who knows how many dozens or hundreds of uncharged crimes), Mr. Bennett says, "I am tired of drugs and I want to change."

How about the rest of us who are tired of having our credit cards stolen and tired of risking our lives driving to the grocery store while Mr. Bennett blows through stop lights eluding the police?

A two-year respite from Mr. Bennett's criminality would have been appreciated.

I wish him luck in breaking his drug habit, but he'll also need discipline, commitment, courage, and a grip of steel on whatever is left of his self-respect. And I guess the rest of us will need luck, plus a good credit reporting service and an excellent trauma center nearby.

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