Father gets 17 months in baby snatch case

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter



A Vancouver father was sentenced Friday to 17 months in prison for running off with his 5-month-old son in November when a social worker attempted to take the child into protective custody.

Kasey R. McKernan, 31, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to first-degree custodial interference and intimidating a public servant. The baby’s mother, Summer B. Smith, 36, was sentenced March 7 to 180 days in jail after pleading guilty to the same charges. McKernan’s sentence was greater than hers because he has more previous criminal convictions.

The guilty plea resulted from an agreement between Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino and McKernan’s court-appointed attorney, Jeff Sowder.

Judge Scott Collier also sentenced McKernan to 12 months’ probation.

Court records show that McKernan’s son, Jaxon, was to be removed from his parents’ care because of concerns about drug use, domestic violence, inappropriate caregivers and an unsafe living environment.

When two Child Protective Services workers attempted to take the baby into custody Nov. 27, McKernan and Smith snatched the child and fled in a pickup, according to court records. McKernan threatened to strike one of the social workers who tried to pursue them.

The couple eluded authorities for about 10 days, according to court records. Smith was arrested Dec. 7 at a residence on West 19th Street in Vancouver; McKernan was arrested a day later near Northeast Sandy Boulevard and 112th Avenue in Portland.

Smith’s attorney, Diane Grecco, said March 7 that Jaxon is now in the custody of Smith’s sister.