Nicholas Slater, left, listens in as his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Schueler, talk to King County Superior Court Judge Karen Donohue during Slater’s arraignment for vehicular homicide on Monday, March 18 in Kent. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Nicholas Slater, left, listens in as his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Schueler, talk to King County Superior Court Judge Karen Donohue during Slater’s arraignment for vehicular homicide on Monday, March 18 in Kent. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Former city of Kent employee receives 8.5-year sentence for vehicular homicide

Slater pleads guilty to charge; serving time at state prison in Shelton

The former city of Kent employee, who struck and killed a pedestrian Feb. 23 while driving a Parks Department vehicle, has begun serving an 8.5-year sentence for vehicular homicide.

Nicholas B. Slater, 38, of SeaTac, is serving his sentence at the Washington Corrections Facility in Shelton, which opened in 1964 and houses up to 1,268 inmates. Slater pleaded guilty after taking a plea deal and was sentenced June 28 by King County Superior Court Judge Aimee Sutton, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Slater received 6.5 years for the vehicular homicide charge and an additional two years for DUI enhancement because of a previous DUI conviction, according to court documents. King County prosecutors revealed in charging documents that Slater was convicted for DUI on March 7, 2009, in Pasco Municipal Court.

The sentencing range under state guidelines for vehicular homicide is 6.5 years to 8.5 years. The judge granted Slater 125 days credit for time served in the King County jail since his arrest. He shall remain on community custody for 18 months after his release.

Slater entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment in March. His attorneys, Adam Heyman and Michael Schueler, of the King County Department of Public Defense, later reached a plea deal with Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Amy Freedheim.

Alan Kern, 73, of Kent, died at the scene of the collision at about 6:08 p.m. Feb. 23 at the intersection of 108th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 204th Street, after he was struck by a city of Kent Parks Department Ford F-250. Kern had just walked off a Metro bus prior to being hit, according to court documents.

The city fired Slater after the incident for violation of its substance abuse policy. Slater admitted to Kent Police that he had been drinking beer at a nearby bar prior to the collision, according to court documents. Slater had worked about four months with the city. The city hired Slater in November as a temporary, part-time employee assigned to the Parks Department’s maintenance division.

The city hired Slater despite the earlier DUI conviction.

“Hindsight in an incident like this is always 20/20,” said City Attorney Pat Fitzpatrick in a earlier Kent Reporter story . “While Slater had a prior DUI, it was 9.5 years old when he applied for the position, and it appeared to be an isolated incident, because he had no other criminal convictions or traffic infractions – not even a speeding ticket.”

Slater was supposed to be cleaning and closing several city parks and instead went to the bar to drink, according to charging papers. He told police he left the bar and had closed the gates at Chestnut Ridge Park, 9901 S. 203rd St., and was heading back to the city’s East Hill maintenance shops. Slater made a right turn – failing to halt for a stop sign – from South 204th Street onto 108th Avenue Southeast when he struck Kern and dragged him several yards with no attempt to slow or stop.

A witness followed Slater and pulled his truck in front of Slater in the 20800 block of 108th Avenue Southeast to stop him from fleeing. The witness met Slater at the driver’s door and confiscated the keys to the pickup.

Police then arrived and arrested Slater for investigation of vehicular homicide. Two separate portable breath tests at about 7:30 the night of the collision showed alcohol levels of over .30, according to charging papers. It is illegal to drive in Washington with a level of .08 or higher.

Slater told police he had struggled with an extreme addiction to alcohol for several years. He admitted he drank while working to avoid detoxing. He told police he didn’t know he hit anybody when he made the right turn.

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