Suspect pleads not guilty in deadly Wedgwood crash
Mark W. Mullan, an accused repeat drunken driver, entered not-guilty pleas Friday to charges stemming from a fatal crash March 25 in Wedgwood that killed an Indiana couple and critically injured their daughter-in-law and infant grandson.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seattle man accused of driving drunk when he struck a family out for an afternoon walk last month, killing two and critically injuring two others, pleaded not guilty Thursday to numerous charges.
Mark W. Mullan, 50, who has multiple arrests and one recent conviction for driving under the influence, is charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault and one count of reckless driving in connection with the March 25 crash in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood. He is being held in King County Jail in lieu of $2.5 million bail.
After entering his pleas in King County Superior Court, Mullan was being led out of the courtroom when he turned and winked, apparently to an unidentified woman seated in the gallery.
Seattle police say that on March 25, Mullan drove his pickup into four members of a family who were crossing Northeast 75th Street, killing Judy and Dennis Schulte, of Kokomo, Ind., and injuring their daughter-in-law and grandson.
Karina Ulriksen-Schulte, 34, and her infant son, Elias, are in stable condition at Harborview Medical Center, where they face a long recovery, according to a hospital statement.
They “are continuing to improve, luckily,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim said Thursday morning outside the courtroom.
Charging documents say Ulriksen-Schulte was carrying the baby in a sling carrier and crossing Northeast 75th with her in-laws when she saw Mullan’s pickup approaching. She tried to help her in-laws out of the way when the group was struck about 11 to 12 feet from the curb, the documents say.
Charging documents say the walk was Ulriksen-Schulte’s first outing since giving birth to Elias on March 10.
Court documents indicate that after the crash Mullan — who was driving on a suspended license — smelled of alcohol, failed field sobriety tests and had a preliminary breath-alcohol level of 0.22 percent, nearly three times the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Mullan told officers at the scene that he had had one drink earlier and that he hadn’t seen the pedestrians because the sun was in his eyes, charges allege. He told police he didn’t apply his brakes until he “felt the bump” of striking the pedestrians.
Police say he was driving 30 to 40 mph in a zone with a posted 30 mph speed limit.
After he was arrested twice in recent months in Seattle and Snohomish County for driving under the influence, Mullan had been ordered to install an ignition-interlock device on his pickup but had not, police said.
Mullan faces a sentence range of 15 to 19½ years in prison if he’s convicted as charged.
During Thursday’s arraignment, Freedheim also added aggravators to the two vehicular-assault charges against Mullan, saying the injuries suffered by Ulriksen-Schulte and her infant son exceed the bodily-harm standard required to prove the elements of the crime of vehicular assault.
If Mullan is convicted, a judge could potentially go above the standard sentence range on those two charges, she said. But since most prison sentences are served concurrently for multiple charges, the aggravators, if proved, may not add any additional time to Mullan’s sentence.
The maximum prison term for vehicular assault is 10 years.
Before June 7, 2012, the maximum penalty for vehicular homicide for someone without a prior criminal history was just under 3½ years. Legislation that went into effect last year increased the standard sentence, making punishment for the crime comparable to that for first-degree manslaughter.
Lawmakers are considering tightening up the state’s laws against driving under the influence as a result of the accident and another last week that resulted in the death of Morgan Fick Williams, of Seattle.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org