Sex predator case reset for February trial

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WALLA WALLA — The trial for a man the state Attorney General’s Office wants to lock up indefinitely as a sexually violent predator has been postponed to next year.

Maverick A. Lanning now is scheduled for his civil commitment trial in Walla Walla County Superior Court starting Feb. 18. The proceedings most recently had been slated to begin June 18, but have been delayed to accommodate the attorneys’ trial schedules in other matters.

At Lanning’s trial, the jury will be asked to determine if he meets the definition of a sex predator and should continue to be detained “for control, care and treatment” at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

Lanning was released from the Washington State Penitentiary around March 1, 2010. But he then was transferred to the commitment center pending the outcome of his civil commitment trial, brought about by a petition filed in Walla Walla County Superior Court by the AG’s Office.

Lanning, now 32, twice pleaded guilty in the mid-1990s to first-degree child molestation for having sexual contact with a girl in Walla Walla County, according to a document filed in court by the AG’s Office.

Then in 2006, Lanning pleaded guilty to communicating with a different girl for immoral purposes and was sentenced to 43 months in prison.

Authorities say he suffers from several mental abnormalities and disorders, including pedophilia. The conditions cause him “to have serious difficulty controlling his dangerous behavior” and make him “likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence unless confined to a secure facility,” the court petition says.

Several such petitions have been filed in Walla Walla County since the law allowing for indefinite confinement of sex predators went into effect in 1990.

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

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