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Man charged in fatal DUI files to suppress evidence

A man charged with killing a Port Orchard woman while driving drunk last year is contesting how the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office collected evidence in the case, according to Kitsap County Superior Court documents.

On Feb. 11, Stephen T. Harvey’s attorney Alton McFadden filed a motion to suppress the blood evidence collected from his client while he was being treated in the hospital following the crash that killed Jessica Z. Torres, 34, on Jan. 21, 2008.

McFadden alleges that when a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy entered the hospital to determine Harvey’s identity and gain information about his condition following the crash, the information released to him was a violation of not only state laws regarding medical records, but also his client’s civil rights.

Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Cami Lewis responded to McFadden’s claims by stating that actions by the deputy and hospital staff did not violate Harvey’s rights or the laws governing medical records and a patient’s privacy, and even if they had, the “proper response” was not to suppress the evidence collected.

According to the response filed by Lewis, Harvey, 33, was transported to Harrison Hospital after his 2001 Volkswagen Passat crossed the centerline and struck Torres’ 2000 Mazda Protege around 5:30 p.m. on the 22600 block of Clear Creek Road. Torres died at the scene.

The first deputy on scene noted that Harvey appeared to be intoxicated, but when asked if he had been drinking, the suspect requested a lawyer and was transported to the hospital without further questioning.

A second deputy was dispatched to the hospital to determine the suspect’s identity, the prosecutor wrote, and though he was instructed not to ask Harvey any questions, the deputy spoke with the paramedic who transported the suspect to the hospital. The paramedic reportedly told the deputy that Harvey smelled of alcohol and admitted to taking Vicodin, a narcotic.

The deputy then observed the suspect in the hospital, immediately recognizing him as Harvey due to arresting him previously. The deputy then instructed hospital staff to draw Harvey’s blood for testing.

The blood was later tested by the Washington State Patrol crime lab and determined to contain a blood alcohol level above the legal limit and evidence of marijuana, and Harvey was eventually charged with vehicular homicide.

The defendant’s attorney argues that the deputy’s entry into Harvey’s room, the information he gathered from medical staff and his observations of the defendant were not in compliance with state laws protecting medical information, but Lewis argues that the deputy obtained the information as part of his investigation, and that certain patient information can be disclosed to “fire, police, sheriff or other public authorities” if it is related to the patient’s “identity, diagnosis or condition.”

In addition, Lewis said McFadden has filed another motion to suppress the blood evidence gathered from his client due to alleged mishandling of evidence at the state crime lab.

Lewis said both issues will be addressed by the court Monday, though she was uncertain if one day’s hearing would be enough time.

“The defense listed 20 witnesses he needed to call, and expected the proceedings to take five days,” she said.

Harvey’s trial is currently scheduled to start April 6.

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