Charges dropped in the case of partially nude man on Kent trail

A King County Superior Court judge April 14 dismissed charges against a 22-year-old Kent man in connection with a series of incidents involving a partially clothed man along a trail near Kent-Meridian High School.

A King County Superior Court judge April 14 dismissed charges against a 22-year-old Kent man in connection with a series of incidents involving a partially clothed man along a trail near Kent-Meridian High School.

Judge Mary Roberts granted the motion by King County prosecutors to dismiss the third-degree child molestation charge against Blake Leonard Marter in connection with the Dec. 16 attack of a 14-year-old girl on a trail near K-M, as well charges of three counts of indecent exposure for three other incidents that were reported last fall along or near the same trail.

Marter had alibis in each of the four incidents, as well as passing a polygraph test.

“It’s a good feeling to have an innocent client vindicated,” said defense attorney Mark Prothero, of Kent, in an April 15 phone interview.

Richard Anderson, a senior deputy prosecuting attorney, said in court documents that he filed the motion April 14 to dismiss the charges for the following reason:

“After reviewing additional evidence developed after the case was filed, including reviewing a potential alibi defense for several of the charged crimes, the state believes there is no longer sufficient evidence to convince a jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Anderson said.

Prothero said he turned over information in February to the prosecution that showed Marter was at his job in Tukwila during two of the incidents and asleep at home, as witnessed by his mother, during two other incidents.

Statements from co-workers of Marter as well as work-productivity records showed Marter was at his job during two of the cases.

“And the work records indicate he couldn’t have just dashed out,” Prothero said. “He also passed a polygraph test.”

Kent Police arrested Marter Dec. 19 at his East Hill apartment for investigation of indecent exposure and child molestation, according to charging papers. He lived less than a mile from the trail.

Police started to investigate the case after a 14-year-old Kent-Meridian female student reported that a man with sweat pants pulled down to just above his knees jumped out and grabbed her left thigh as she walked to school along a trail in a wooded area north of French Field.

The student broke free from the man and reported the incident to a teacher and Kent-Meridian security.

Detectives discovered after numerous interviews with other students and individuals near the trail that a man had been seen several times in various stages of nudity on or near the trail since August.

Prosecutors had charged Marter, then 21, for three indecent exposure incidents, including Sept. 15 when a girl saw a man along the trail wearing a shirt but no pants; Nov. 16 when witnesses saw a man wearing a shirt and shoes but no pants running the trail; and Dec. 11 when a girl saw a man running nude on the east side of the Campus Park parking lot just west of French Field.

Marter pleaded not guilty to each charge Jan. 4 in King County Superior Court in Kent. He had posted bail and was released Dec. 21 after two days in the Kent city jail. Bail had been set at $100,000.

Prothero said the dismissal of charges came as great news to Marter and his parents. Marter is a graduate of Kentwood High School in Covington.

“They felt a good sense of relief and vindication,” Prothero said. “They are happy the ordeal is over. It was very uncomfortable for them.”

Marter was scheduled to go to trial May 11.

“We’re very happy it ended up the way it did without having to go to trial with the stress and costs of that,” Prothero said. “We were confident we would have prevailed at trial, but it’s always nice to avoid a trial.”

Prothero said it’s rare when someone charged with a crime has the charges dismissed.

“It doesn’t happen all that often,” he said. “But it’s a good feeling when it does.”

Meanwhile, Kent Police Chief Steve Strachan said city prosecutors are reviewing the case to determine whether to file any misdemeanor charges against Marter in connection with the alleged indecent exposure incidents.

County prosecutors investigated the case initially because of the felony charge of third-degree child molestation.

“They (city prosecutors) are going to review our information,” Strachan said in an April 15 phone interview.

Strachan said Marter is on probation for a 2008 incident in Kent. Police arrested Marter in September 2008 for investigation of indecent exposure, according to court records. Marter pleaded guilty in April 2009 in municipal court to disorderly conduct and the charge of indecent exposure was dropped.

Marter received a two-year deferred sentence. One of the conditions of the deferment included no criminal law violations. He also was placed on unsupervised probation.

Prothero could not be reached for a followup comment April 15 about the plan by city prosecutors to review the Marter case.

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