Man accused of killing couple in wreck to be arrested for probation violation
Daniel Ray Habeeb, the Seattle man accused of killing a couple in a crash on Lake City Way on Sunday, will be booked into the King County Jail once he is released from Harborview Medical Center, where he was in satisfactory condition on Wednesday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A Seattle man accused of killing a couple in a crash on Lake City Way on Sunday will be booked into the King County Jail once he is released from the hospital.
Daniel Ray Habeeb, 43, was listed in satisfactory condition at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday. Sunday's crash was the second time that Habeeb has been involved in a fatal auto collision.
Habeeb had his young daughter and the girl's friend in his Ford Explorer when he struck Laura Sheard and Kristopher Martin's Hyundai on Lake City Way Northeast, authorities said. The Hyundai and the Explorer traveled about 100 yards before the Hyundai burst into flames at about 3:40 p.m.
Sheard, a 26-year-old UW pharmacology student, and her boyfriend, Martin, a 33-year-old musician and video-production specialist at OnlineShoes, died at the scene.
King County Superior Court Judge Teresa Doyle has agreed to a request by prosecutors to have Habeeb arrested after his hospital stay for allegedly violating the terms of his probation. In 2009, Habeeb was charged with vehicular homicide after crashing into a vehicle near Interbay, killing a 65-year-old woman.
After doctors declared that Habeeb had suffered a previously undiagnosed psychotic episode during the 2009 crash, a plea agreement was reached, prosecutors said.
Habeeb pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was given a one-year suspended sentence by Doyle. He was ordered not to commit any new crimes, including any traffic violations, while serving two years of probation.
Authorities believe Habeeb ran a red light and was driving between 70 and 90 miles an hour on Sunday — which would constitute a violation of his probation.
"The state believes that the moving violations must be addressed immediately in order to protect public safety," prosecutors wrote in their filing to have Habeeb held.
If Habeeb is found guilty of violating his probation, that suspended sentence will be revoked and he will serve 12 months behind bars, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors are working with Seattle police to determine whether Sunday's crash will result in new criminal charges against Habeeb. Police say that it might take months to complete an investigation into the Lake City wreck.
Mark Larson, King County's chief criminal deputy, said Wednesday that he doesn't know what was going on inside Habeeb's SUV on Sunday, or whether the man was going through some sort of mental or medical episode. But, Larson said, if Habeeb is charged in connection with Sheard's and Martin's deaths, his office will push to have Habeeb evaluated at Western State Hospital.
After the Jan. 30, 2009, crash that killed Susan Peek, Habeeb was committed to a mental-health ward at Harborview Medical Center, Larson said.
"We were presented with a slew of those records from Harborview. We hired our own expert and paid them to look over everything to make sure we weren't sold a bill of goods," Larson said.
Prosecutors said their expert determined that it would be hard to disprove the mental-health ruling during trial.
"If, in fact, somebody is actually psychotic at the time of the crime, that's a defense. We have to prove somebody knowingly and voluntarily acted in the manner they did," Larson said.
Larson said that his office was "hamstrung" and in the end offered the plea agreement "to salvage some way for [Habeeb] to remain in treatment in the community."
A condition of the plea agreement was that Habeeb obtain mental-health evaluations and treatment.
"We made what we thought was the appropriate decision under a very unusual set of circumstances," Larson added.
James Small, of Burien, recalled his friend Peek on Wednesday. He said that before Habeeb was sentenced, he pleaded with Doyle to keep him behind bars. Small said he wrote a letter to Doyle asking that she overlook his mental health and give him the toughest sentence possible.
Habeeb "has robbed us, and snuffed out the life, but not the memory, of a joyous and lovely woman," Small wrote in that letter. "What's to stop (Habeeb) from re-offending again and once again trying to use the same excuse of diminished capacity."
On Wednesday, Sheard 's relatives declined to speculate about Habeeb. Martin's family declined to comment.
Theresa Ulrich, who is Sheard's sister, wrote in an email to The Times that her family is "truly blessed to have had Laura in our lives for the past 26 years, and she and Kris will be forever in our hearts."
Sheard's family is establishing a memorial scholarship fund in Laura Sheard's honor. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Jim Thorpe Area School District, Laura Sheard Memorial Scholarship Fund, at 410 Center Ave., Jim Thorpe, PA 18229.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan. Information from Seattle Times archives was included in this report.
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