A defense attorney argued Monday that an Ariel man didn’t intend to kill his former partner and the couple’s 4-year-old daughter when he loosened the lug nuts on her car’s tires in the middle of the night.
During opening statements in Zachery Hansen’s attempted murder trial, attorney Shon Bogar said his client’s actions show he intended to incapacitate the woman’s car, not harm her.
“Obviously, she was scared. The defense is not disputing that she was scared,” Bogar said. “The state assumed that the worst possible scenario is what was likely to have happened, but there is no evidence to support that conclusion. And it is true that something bad might have happened, but that’s a charge of recklessness.”
Hansen, 31, is charged with two counts of second-degree attempted murder and two counts of first-degree attempted assault. Judge Jennifer Snider is presiding over the bench trial in Clark County Superior Court.
Hansen was granted pretrial release and already charged with felony stalking and multiple domestic violence no-contact order violations when this alleged incident occurred, according to a probable cause affidavit. He has an active no-contact order prohibiting him from harassing, stalking or coming within a 1,000 feet of his former partner and their daughter. The woman previously reported that someone had let the air out of her tires, drained the oil from her car, put nails under the tires, scratched her car and put a GPS tracker on her car, the prosecution said.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff McCarty said that after multiple instances of Hansen tampering with the woman’s car, she always checked it before driving.
“What (Hansen) didn’t know is that because of the ongoing pattern of abuse, and the fact that law enforcement was continuing to investigate, Vancouver police had placed a surveillance camera on (the woman’s) car in the parking lot of the residence,” McCarty said.
On June 2, the woman noticed there were nails under her tires and that the front license plate was removed. She called a detective who investigated her previous reports, but she then took her daughter to a lake to go swimming, the prosecutor said. As she was approaching Interstate 205, the detective called her back and told her to pull over because he believed police surveillance video captured Hansen loosening the lug nuts early that morning.
When she stopped, she found that the bolts were loosened, McCarty said, with some of them less than one turn from falling off.
“From the state’s perspective, you don’t commit an act like this — loosening someone’s lug nuts in the middle of the night — without knowing the colossal amount of danger that you’re putting somebody in, anybody who drives or rides in that vehicle,” McCarty said. “And creating a situation like this is creating a situation so dangerous it’s turning a car into a deadly weapon, and from the state’s perspective, it is so dangerous that your intent can’t be anything other than intended to cause death.”
Hansen was arrested in Cowlitz County later that day, wearing what appeared to be the same shirt seen on the surveillance video, McCarty said.
The woman was scheduled to testify later Monday, along with her father and the detective on the case. The trial is anticipated to last a few days.