Hatchet defendant gets 7 years

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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One of two transient men implicated in a hatchet attack in northern Clark County in December was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said they didn’t have enough evidence against his codefendant, Andre D. Kennedy, to go forward to trial and dismissed attempted murder charges against him.

The 85-month sentence for Mathew M. Michaelson, 28, also resolves two other pending cases: a second-degree assault conviction of a police officer in September and a burglary conviction relating to an ATM theft in December.

Initially charged with first-degree attempted murder in connection to the hatchet attack, Michaelson pleaded guilty May 27 to first-degree burglary. The charge relates to how Michaelson went to the trailer home of Gary Mathis to confront him about statements that Mathis made to police, implicating Michaelson in a car theft, said Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey.

The morning of Dec. 14, Mathis called 911, reporting that two men had knocked at his door and then forcefully entered, attacking him with a small ax. He was rushed from his home in the 2500 block of Northeast 199th Street to a local hospital with lacerations and a concussion, according to court documents.

When questioned by investigators, Mathis identified Michaelson as one of his attackers, but didn’t know the name of the second man, Harvey said. Mathis said he knew the second man only by the moniker, “Country.”

Michaelson was convicted of burglary because he had unlawfully entered the trailer “with intent to commit a crime,” according to court paperwork. But Harvey said he had trouble going forward with the attempted murder charge because the victim couldn’t recall certain parts of the attack due to his head injury.

Also, defense attorney Lou Byrd said the injuries weren’t as significant as initially feared from using a hatchet. They were similar to injuries you would find in a simple assault, he said.

He said his client didn’t want to admit guilt in the hatchet attack, but simply wished to take advantage of the plea deal to resolve his three cases. That’s why Michaelson entered a Newton plea, a type of guilty plea in which a defendant only concedes that the prosecution can prove its case, Byrd said.

The assault of the police officer relates to Michaelson driving a car straight at Vancouver police Sgt. Wayne Reynolds as he was fleeing a car prowl on Sept. 11. Harvey said Reynolds wasn’t injured, as Michaelson swerved away at the last minute.

As for the reason the state dropped charges against codefendant Kennedy, 35, Harvey told the judge there were issues with whether he could prove Kennedy was the attacker based on Mathis’ eyewitness account. Harvey dismissed the charge without prejudice, meaning it could be refiled if he finds new evidence.

The deputy prosecutor said detectives are continuing the investigation into whether Kennedy was involved.

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516 or laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.