Washington Legal Roundup – Division I
James Haines entered a convenience store on December 24, 2007. He began saying, “I want to fuck you, bitch” to one of the employees of the store, Kebrah Bezabih. She tried to ignore him but he persisted. Eventually Mr. Haines left the store and Ms. Bezabih followed him outside, fearful that he would harass other customers.
A regular customer tried to convince Ms. Bezabih to come back inside the store and Mr. Haines began saying to her that he was going to kill her. She called the police, who came and investigated.
A month later, Mr. Haines returned to the store while Ms. Bezabih was working, saying “hey bitch, remember me? I’m gonna kill you.” Mr. Haines left the store and Ms. Bezabih called the police again. Ms. Bezabih feared that Mr. Haines would actually kill her.
Mr. Haines was arrested and charged with felony harassment, malicious harassment, misdemeanor harassment, and misdemeanor stalking. A jury convicted him of felony harassment, misdemeanor harassment, and misdemeanor stalking.
On appeal, Mr. Haines argued that the evidence was insufficient to convict him for stalking since the evidence only involved 2 events. Mr. Haines argued that 6 instances of harassment were required under the statute. The court disagreed, holding that the Mr. Haines behavior constituted a “repeated . . . course of conduct” that the statute intended to criminalize.
Mr. Haines also argued that the language of the statute was unconstitutionally vague. The court disagreed, holding that the proscribed behavior was clear.
Mr. Haines also argued that he was subjected to double jeopardy because he was convicted of both stalking and harassment. The court disagreed because the facts supporting each conviction were not identical.