Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Nov. 29, 2022

Linkedin Pinterest

Man convicted in death of Washington State Patrol trooper

By
Published:

CENTRALIA — Nearly two years and three months after Washington State Patrol Trooper Justin R. Schaffer was fatally struck by a vehicle while placing spike strips on Interstate 5 in Chehalis, the driver of the vehicle, Willam Thompson, was convicted Tuesday for Schaffer’s murder.

Thompson entered Alford pleas, which allow him to take advantage of a plea bargain without admitting guilt, to first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder in Lewis County Superior Court at 3 p.m. on June 21. Additional charges will be added to the case in the coming days to encompass crimes stemming from the same incident that began outside of Lewis County, according to Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer.

As part of the plea agreement, the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office will recommend a 45-year jail sentence to the judge at Thompson’s sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on July 5.

Thompson initially pleaded not guilty to 13 charges — including first-degree aggravated murder — in November 2020 for hitting and killing Schaffer, 28, of Chehalis, with his vehicle several months prior on March 24, while the officer was laying spike strips down on I-5 in an effort to end a pursuit.

The chase began when officers identified Thompson as a suspect in a shoplifting incident from the day before.

A competency assessment completed in early April 2020 found Thompson not competent to stand trial, and the case was put on hold while Thompson received treatment. The case resumed after a Washington State Department of Health review released in October found Thompson competent to stand trial. He was transferred from a treatment facility to the Lewis County Jail on March 24, 2021, and was being held on $5 million restricted bail until he entered his Alford pleas.

Thompson will remain in custody at the Lewis County Jail on a no-bail hold until his sentencing hearing.

From the Washington State Patrol Memorial Foundation:

“Justin R. Schaffer was born on January 30, 1992, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado to Glenn and Sheila Schaffer. In 2006, Schaffer and his family moved to Chehalis. He graduated from Adna High School in 2010 and went on to earn his associate degree in Criminal Justice from Centralia College in 2012. Schaffer met his wife, Sandra, when the two worked together at Grocery Outlet in Chehalis. They began dating in January 2012, and married in August 2013. Schaffer was hired by Washington State Patrol in November 2013 as a Trooper Cadet assigned to the Property Management Division. On January 13, 2014, Trooper Cadet Schaffer started his training with the 27th Arming Class. On February 14, 2014, Trooper Cadet Schaffer continued his training with the 103rd Trooper Basic Training Class and was commissioned on September 16, 2014, assigned to Morton. On September 1, 2016, Trooper Schaffer was assigned as a certified Drug Recognition Expert. On November 10, 2018, Trooper Schaffer completed K9 training and was a certified K9 handler to his partner ‘Frankie.’ Trooper Schaffer transferred to Chehalis on December 13, 2018. Trooper Schaffer passed away on March 24, 2020, at the age of 28. Justin was fatally struck by a vehicle when placing spike strips down on Interstate 5 in Chehalis. At the time of his death, Trooper Schaffer had served 7 years with the Washington State Patrol. Trooper Schaffer is survived by his wife, Sandra, his mother and father Sheila and Glenn, his brother Brandon, sister in law Samantha and his K9 partner Frankie.”

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

Community Funded Journalism logo
Loading...