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Suspect in I-5 chase rejects plea agreement
by Sandy Kromeir - The Oregon Herald
  Sunday August 29, 2010 - 8:22 AM
 
EVERETT — Theodore Ohms was accused of shooting at police during a chase on Interstate 5 has rejected a plea agreement which could have sent him to prison for 20 years.

Prosecutors plan to file additional charges where Ohms could face 40 years in prison instead of 20 years.

Ohms had been expected to plead guilty on Wednesday to four felony charges, including first-degree assault with a firearm and vehicular assault. He allegedly shot at a sheriff's deputy during a high-speed chase.

The pursuit, the crash and the manhunt stranded thousands of drivers. A 49-year-old woman was severely injured when her van was hit.

Prosecutor Janice Albert had planned to recommend a 20-year sentence, the low end of the standard range, in exchange for the plea.

But Ohms changed his mind on Wednesday and ignored the advice of his attorney not to speak. He told the judge he didn't feel he was getting decent legal advice, that he had seen the legal paperwork and because he never finished school it was difficult for him to read.

"I feel like I'm being coerced into taking the 20 years," Ohms said.

Judge Ronald Castleberry advised said he wanted to make sure Ohms understood the prosecutor.

"As of today, the prosecutor's office is withdrawing the plea agreement. They will be filing more serious charges against you. If you're found guilty, it's a substantially higher standard range," Castleberry said.

"Yeah, I understand," Ohms said.

Smiling, Ohms was led out of the courtroom.

It all began when a sheriff's deputy attempted to stop Ohms when he was driving his Volkswagen Jetta with canceled license plates. But he refused to stop then led police on a high-speed chase.

Ohms sprang up through his open sunroof and pointed a gun at a deputy. He's accused of firing at least three shots, one bullet bouncing off the Jetta's roof. Then Ohms sped away on I-5, crashed into a van severely injuring a woman when her van flipped on the freeway.

Ohms jumped into the bed of a slowing truck then hitched a ride and ran into a residential area.

A police dog caught Ohm's scent near a wooded area on Olympic Drive as he hid Everett's Beverly Park neighborhood. Ohms was bitten once or twice by the dog. His girlfriend, a passenger in the Jetta, told police Ohm had bought methamphetamine drugs before the cops attempted stop him. She said that when Ohms saw the deputy he said, "Sorry, but I have to do this," and drove quickly away.

Ohms said he did have a gun, but would not admit to shooting at anyone but that he shot in the air because the cop didn't stop after he flashed the gun.

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