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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Ridgefield man in court in fatal Battle Ground crash

By , Columbian Local News Editor

A Ridgefield man who police believe was driving drunk when he ran a stop sign in Battle Ground and crashed into another vehicle, killing the passenger, was previously convicted of negligent driving, pleaded down from a DUI.

Authorities identified the victim Wednesday as 24-year-old Justin Bullock of Battle Ground.

On Wednesday morning, Robert T. McIntyre, 49, was back in Clark County Superior Court for a judge to determine probable cause in his vehicular homicide and vehicular assault case. McIntyre had appeared Tuesday on the allegations but was released when the defense contested probable cause and the judge could not find it. The prosecution asked to file a supplemental affidavit.

McIntyre’s defense attorney, Roger Bennett, argued that his client’s constitutional rights were violated when the state failed to provide proof of probable cause within 48 hours of his detention. McIntyre was arrested Thursday, the night of the crash, and detained in a hospital. He was booked Monday into the Clark County Jail.

Judge Nancy Retsinas reviewed the state’s supplemental affidavit and found probable cause.

In arguing bail, Bennett disagreed that McIntyre is a danger to the community “for running a stop sign,” to which a member of the gallery yelled, “and murdering my little brother.”

The outburst prompted Retsinas to request a sheriff’s deputy in the courtroom.

“I want to emphasize that this is a tragedy, and Mr. McIntyre feels horrible about what happened,” Bennett said, adding that both parties ran stop signs resulting in a “horrible coincidence.”

The prosecution said McIntyre has three prior warrants and convictions, including negligent driving in 2020 — pleaded down from a DUI charge — and third-degree driving while suspended in 2013.

Retsinas ultimately set McIntyre’s bail at $100,000 and ordered he post a $10,000 bond by the end of the day or report to jail. She also ordered that he wear an alcohol monitoring device and install an ignition interlock in his vehicle or refrain from driving.

He is scheduled to be arraigned June 23.

Impaired driving suspected

According to court records, McIntyre was driving a 2006 Dodge Ram pickup west on Southwest Eaton Boulevard at about 10:20 p.m. when he failed to stop at the four-way stop with Northeast 199th Street and Southwest 20th/Northeast 112th avenues. The pickup struck the front passenger’s side of a 2012 Chevrolet sedan turning north on 20th Avenue from eastbound 199th Street.

The sedan was thrown multiple car lengths to the west, and McIntyre’s pickup came to rest on its top, court records state.

A dashcam recovered from the sedan showed it approaching the four-way and making a rolling stop as two headlights on a truck went through the intersection, according to court records.

Bullock, the passenger in the sedan, was pronounced dead at the scene. The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office determined he died of multiple blunt force injuries.

McIntyre, his passengers, identified as Michael Norris and Jennifer Knerr, and the driver of the sedan, identified as Porschea Knox, were all taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. Knox suffered a laceration to her forehead and hand injury both requiring stitches, as well as a dislocated right shoulder and “road rash” to her arms and legs, according to court records. Any injuries to McIntyre and his passengers were not included in the affidavits.

A police officer evaluated McIntyre at the hospital to determine if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The officer detected the odor of alcohol on McIntyre’s breath, he said, and noted he had bloodshot and watery eyes and slurred speech, court records state.

McIntyre allegedly told police he drank two beers and had stopped drinking about two hours before the crash. Police said he refused a preliminary breath test. A warrant was obtained to take a sample of his blood for testing, according to court records.

Knerr told police the trio had been drinking “Hurricanes,” a cocktail made with rum, at a Battle Ground bar before the crash. She said she believed everyone drank two, court records show.

Outside the courtroom Wednesday, Caleb Stewart, 22, of Yacolt, who described Bullock as a brother, said his friend “lit up a room” and never left without a hug.

“He sure as (expletive) didn’t deserve this,” Stewart said.

Joseph Mitchell, 27, of Yacolt, also described Bullock as a brother and said he was “the kindest man you will ever meet.”

Mitchell, who spoke out during the hearing, said: “It blows my mind they’re allowing this (expletive) to walk around after murdering someone.”