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News / Clark County News

Vancouver man sentenced to more than 9 years in vehicular homicide

Corey Shenkle pleaded guilty in death of motorcyclist

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 19, 2023, 4:23pm
3 Photos
Corey D. Shenkle, left, appears Friday in Clark County Superior Court to plead guilty to charges in connection with an April 2022 fatal crash after a confrontation over drug money. Shenkle was sentenced to 116 months in prison.
Corey D. Shenkle, left, appears Friday in Clark County Superior Court to plead guilty to charges in connection with an April 2022 fatal crash after a confrontation over drug money. Shenkle was sentenced to 116 months in prison. (Becca Robbins/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A Vancouver man was sentenced Friday to more than 9½ years in prison for hitting and killing a Vancouver motorcyclist with his SUV in April 2022 following a confrontation over owed drug money.

Corey D. Shenkle, 34, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to vehicular homicide with disregard for the safety of others, attempt to elude pursing police, possession of a stolen vehicle and second-degree possession of stolen property. He was also originally charged with second-degree murder and hit-and-run resulting in death, court records show.

Vancouver police responded at about 5:30 a.m. April 22, 2022, for a report of an injury crash at the Sea Mar Clinic, 7803 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Multiple 911 callers reported a man on a motorcycle had been struck in the parking lot by a dark-colored SUV that fled, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Arriving officers found a man, identified as 57-year-old Larry Hicks, bleeding and unresponsive on the ground in the parking lot next to a 2015 Kawasaki KX636 motorcycle. He was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, where he died from his injuries, the affidavit says.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Smith said Friday the incident began over a dispute over drug money owed to Hicks by Shenkle’s passenger, Rachel Wallace. She said while Wallace and Shenkle were inside a stolen Honda Pilot, a red SUV and two motorcycles, one driven by Hicks, surrounded the Honda.

Defense attorney Matthew Hoff said the group assaulted Shenkle and Wallace, who was pregnant at the time. He noted a witness described Shenkle as having a black eye.

Smith said the fight ended and the red SUV and motorcycles pulled away to leave the parking lot. As Shenkle also tried to leave the parking lot down a parallel lane to the other vehicles, Shenkle swerved into Hicks’ lane, the prosecutor said, striking his motorcycle. Shenkle then drove over the motorcycle, dragging Hicks, and left, she said.

On May 5, 2022, police found Shenkle, who then got into the Honda and drove away from officers, at one point reaching speeds more than 100 mph, Smith said. Officers stopped chasing him as he drove into Portland.

On May 24, 2022, a U.S. Marshals Service task force received information that Shenkle was riding a bicycle near Mill Plain and Hearthwood boulevards. When police arrived, Shenkle tried to get away on the bike, but officers were able to arrest him. Smith said the bicycle was determined to be stolen from Gresham, Ore.

Hoff said Shenkle would’ve claimed self-defense at trial. He noted threatening text messages police found on Wallace’s phone from Hicks. He also said there was mention that some involved might have had guns. The defense attorney also noted video of the incident showed the red SUV had stopped and blocked the exit. Hoff described it as a chaotic scene.

“He’s in survival mode. He’s in flight mode,” Hoff said of his client. “Has the threat actually ceased? Has the assault actually ceased? Are these people actually leaving? Because on the video it doesn’t appear that they are, your honor.”

The prosecution argued Shenkle should be sentenced to the high end of his sentencing range — 87 to 116 months — because of his lengthy criminal history. Hoff described Shenkle’s criminal history as mostly property crimes.

“It is true that there are potential mitigating factors and potential defenses that were available to the defendant, but those were taken into account when we formulated the substantial reduction,” Smith said of the plea deal.

Hoff asked the judge for a low-end sentence.

“What happened on April 22, 2022, is tragic. Larry Hicks is gone, your honor. But again, the court should take into consideration the facts and circumstances surrounding that evening, because but for this drug debt and the assault and the creation of this chaotic situation that sent Mr. Shenkle into survival mode, flight mode, we wouldn’t be here today. Corey didn’t bring this to Larry Hicks. Larry Hicks brought this to Corey.”

Hicks’ son, daughter and niece described the loss of Hicks to Judge John Fairgrieve and asked the judge to give Shenkle the highest possible sentence.

Shenkle told Hicks’ family Friday he was sorry for what happened, and he did not intend to cause Hicks’ death.

“Me taking this plea bargain is my way of saying, ‘You know what, if I wasn’t on drugs that night, if I wasn’t this, if I wasn’t that,’ this is me taking responsibility,” Shenkle said.

He said he didn’t realize Hicks was severely injured, and his priority was to get away from the people who’d beat him and his passenger.

“I should have stayed. But like I said, I was just trying to get out of there,” Shenkle said. “I got my pregnant girl — well she was pregnant at the time — with me. We just got jumped, I don’t even know what is going on.

“I really am truly sorry that this incident happened. There’s nothing I can do to make this right. This, this is me making it right,” he said.

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