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May 27, 2022

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Man resentenced in Clark County kidnap case

He gets 32 years in 2006 crime involving kidnapping, burglary

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:

A man sentenced in September 2006 to life in prison under the state’s three-strikes law was resentenced Friday to about 32 years following a revision to state rules that reduced his number of “strikes” from three to one.

Autrey J. Lewis Jr., now 52, had already served about 15 years of his sentence for kidnapping and robbing a 68-year-old Ridgefield woman. He pleaded guilty in August 2006 to first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary with sexual motivation and second-degree robbery, and stipulated to four aggravating factors, which counted as his third strike.

He was one of three men sentenced in Clark County who were eligible for resentencing, in part, because of a second-degree robbery conviction, the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office previously told The Columbian.

Second-degree robbery, a felony that generally involves no weapon or physical injury, was removed from the state’s list of third-strike offenses in 2019. However, lawmakers declined to make it retroactive. The Legislature subsequently passed a bill to resentence people who “struck out,” at least in part because of a second-degree robbery conviction, and are now serving life without parole.

Lewis’ first two strikes were for second-degree robbery.

At Friday’s resentencing, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino said Lewis committed the 2006 crime about 15 hours after being released from prison.

According to Columbian archives, Lewis was released at 10 a.m. April 20, 2006, from the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, where he served 60 days for a probation violation. He took a bus to Everett to meet his girlfriend, and she drove him to Clark County. They arrived around 5 p.m.

At about 12:45 a.m. the next day, a woman walked into a business near Highway 99 and Northeast 78th Street in Hazel Dell to ask for help. She said she’d been asleep about an hour earlier when a man entered her residence. She said the man raped her, forced her to go with him to her bank and withdraw $200 from an ATM, then left her in the Hazel Dell parking lot.

The woman’s description of the man’s van clicked with a deputy from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, who remembered the van from another case. The vehicle’s owner said Lewis had borrowed her van.

Lewis was arrested later that day at his Hazel Dell apartment. He denied the rape, and the prosecution later dismissed that charge.

Gasperino said the prosecution decided not to re-file the rape charge for the resentencing and said he was not seeking a life sentence. Instead, he recommended a 40-year sentence, citing Lewis’ “propensity for violence.” He raised Lewis’ criminal history that includes two prior cases with “eerily similar” circumstances.

“I think it’s very telling that was some 20 years prior; that’s how Mr. Lewis behaves when he’s in the community,” Gasperino said, referring to a 1987 conviction for second-degree robbery, in which Lewis violated a woman in her residence — strangling her to unconsciousness after demanding sex and money for drugs.

“This isn’t a situation where he deserves a second chance. This would be a fourth chance,” the prosecutor said.

Lewis’ defense attorney, Katie Kauffman, told the judge they weren’t asking for leniency, only that Lewis not receive what amounts to a life sentence. Under the prosecution’s recommendation, Lewis would be between 75 and 77 years old when he’s released, she said.

“He’s asking for a chance to be released from prison, walking out instead of deceased,” she said.

Lewis told the court he’s a changed man.

“There comes a time when you reflect over the years, you reflect on the bad things you did when you were younger. I’ve done that,” he said. “The person that I was 15 years ago, I’m no longer him anymore. I’m a different person.

“None of this should have happened. But that’s what happens when you’re on drugs. You don’t think clearly. I’m drug-free now. I don’t think or feel the way I did back then. I want to get out and prove that,” Lewis added. “To her family, all I can say is that I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do or say to change what happened then.”

Two of the victim’s children also spoke during the hearing and said the crime “totally changed the course of her life.”

“She lost her independence and security to be able to take care of herself. In a nutshell, her life just stopped,” the woman’s daughter said.

Superior Court Judge Derek Vanderwood recessed for about 10 minutes before handing down his decision.

He acknowledged that Lewis had made positive changes but said the reality of the 2006 crime had a “lasting and permanent impact” on the victim.

Vanderwood opted to impose an exceptional sentence, based on the victim’s vulnerability, the short period of time the crime was committed after Lewis’ release, the significant invasion of privacy and the sexual motivation. He sentenced Lewis to a total of 387.5 months, running the three counts consecutively.

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