Criminal Justice

Man faces 'deadly weapon' bulldozer burglary case; his lawyer protests 'extremely creative' charges

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A Washington state man pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to nine charges related to his alleged use of a deadly weapon—“to wit, a bulldozer”—to level the homes of neighbors during what prosecutors are calling a burglary.

Barry A. Swegle could get as much as life in prison without parole if he is convicted of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon or the four counts of first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon he is facing, the Peninsula Daily News reports. He also faces four counts of first-degree malicious mischief.

He is accused of destroying three homes with a logging bulldozer during a roughly 10-minute rampage on May 10 that a neighbor, Dan Davis, says was sparked by a dispute over a property line and fencing. No one was injured, although Davis said during an emergency call to police in his Port Angeles suburb that “somebody” was inside one of the homes as Swegle was about to drive through it. A police report said Mary Davis, the caller’s wife, “got out as Swegle was bulldozing the home.”

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Troberg said the assault charge concerns an attempt by Swegle to run Davis down, forcing him to, as the police report puts it, “quickly jump to the side to avoid being struck by the blade of the bulldozer” after being cornered on his own property, the newspaper says.

During a Wednesday hearing in Clallam County Superior Court, defense attorney Karen Unger indicated that her client had been overcharged.

“I had no idea that these charging documents would be so creative,” she told the judge. “This is extremely creative, given what I know about what happened, particularly the burglary counts.”

Another Peninsula Daily News story says Swegle is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. He is accused of destroying three homes and damaging a fourth, it notes.

A Daily Mail article includes a number of photos of the scene.

ABC News and KIRO also have stories.

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