Kent man pleads not guilty to charges in bikini barista attack

Judge restricts photos of Reynolds’ face by media

A judge did not allow photographs of the face of Michael Reynolds at his court appearance. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

A judge did not allow photographs of the face of Michael Reynolds at his court appearance. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

A 33-year-old Kent man pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree burglary and attempted indecent liberties for allegedly attacking a Kent bikini barista stand employee.

Michael Scott Reynolds entered the pleas Thursday in King County Superior Court at the Maleng Regional Justice Center (RJC) in Kent. He also faces charges of being armed with a deadly weapon (knife) on both counts. Reynolds, who has a lengthy criminal history, remained in the county jail at the RJC with bail set at $2 million. He is scheduled to return to court March 27 when attorneys are expected to ask for more time to prepare the case prior to any trial date being set.

Judge Bill Bowman – at the request of the public defenders – did not allow two TV camera crews or a newspaper photographer to videotape or photograph the face of Reynolds. He had to be photographed and videotaped from the shoulders down.

Bowman agreed with a defense motion that Reynolds’ right to a fair trial could be jeopardized if his face was shown because the victim in the alleged attack has not yet identified him. Bowman decided to limit what could be photographed.

“In this case, the right at issue is the identification of the defendant,” Bowman said prior to his ruling. “It’s mostly been from a video released into the public where a number of people identified him, as did the defendant himself. But the victim has not made an identification. Until that identification is made, there is at least a possibility that (a photo of Reynolds in court) may influence this individual.”

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brandy L. Gevers told Bowman that she did not have specific knowledge if the victim had made identification of the defendant and that the Kent detective assigned to the case is on vacation.

General Rule 16 of the Washington Courts has allowed cameras in the courtroom since 1991 to help provide public access to proceedings. A judge can put conditions or limitations on the media but must explain the reasons on the record. Bowman said moving forward he might allow photos and videos of Reynolds if identification is made by the victim.

Kent Police arrested Reynolds on Feb. 21 at his workplace in the Kent Valley. Police received multiple tips identifying the suspect after the release to media outlets of a video from the espresso stand on the day of the attack as well as a description of the man. Officers responded at about 4:45 a.m. Feb. 20 to Hottie Shots Espresso stand, 21237 84th Ave. S., after a report of an assault and attempted rape.

A state Department of Corrections (DOC) officer, relatives and co-workers identified Reynolds from the video, according to charging papers.

The barista, a 30-year-old Bonney Lake resident, reported that the assailant came to the coffee stand window on foot and ordered a drink, according to court documents. She said while she was distracted making his drink, he climbed in through the window and held her at knifepoint prior to forcing her out of the stand and dragging her to a dark alleyway about 25 yards from the stand.

The woman told police she screamed at Reynolds to stop and that he dropped the knife when she tried to wiggle away from him. Reynolds found the knife and was later reportedly spooked by a vehicle’s headlights that pulled into the drive through coffee stand and walked away from the woman. He fled the area in a dark sedan. Police have not found the knife.

Paramedics treated the woman for abrasions on her body which were sustained during the incident. She was said to be shook up, but otherwise in good condition.

Prosecutors said the case could lead to the third strike against Reynolds and subject him to a potential life sentence as a persistent offender. Reynolds was under active supervision by the state DOC and living in DOC transitional housing in Kent at the time of the reported attack, according to charging papers. He was released from state prison in September after serving 12 years for first-degree robbery and burglary convictions for incidents in Benton County in Eastern Washington.

Prior to the burglary and robbery convictions, he was convicted of attempted robbery in Benton County. Other convictions include reckless burning (1999), residential burglary (1999), third-degree assault (2000), first-degree escape (2001), harassment (2001), forgery (1999) and three convictions for taking a motor vehicle without permission (1999, 2000).

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