The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office and the Centralia Police Department are continuing to look into how a significant amount of evidence in the case against a man accused of exploding an ATM didn’t get submitted into court until the eve of trial.
A Lewis County Superior Court judge ruled last week that the delayed delivery of evidence qualified as mismanagement of the case and dismissed all charges against the defendant with prejudice, meaning the case cannot be refiled in the same court of law.
The defendant, Ryan Moulder, 38, of Olympia, was arrested on Jan. 4 as one of two suspects in the Dec. 19, 2021, explosion at the First Security Bank, located at 604 South Tower Ave.
He was accused of working together with an unidentified subject to explode the ATM, causing an estimated $25,000 in damage, in an attempt to steal the money contained inside.
Moulder was scheduled to face trial on one count each of unlawful possession or control of an explosive device, second-degree misplacement of an explosive, first-degree malicious mischief and first-degree theft on May 2.
State law sets the omnibus hearing — a pretrial hearing to determine what evidence will be used for trial — as the deadline for all parties to submit their evidence.
The omnibus hearing for Moulder’s case was initially scheduled for Feb. 24.
On Jan. 20, the prosecutor’s office sent a letter to the detective at the Centralia Police Department who was leading the investigation into the ATM explosion. In the letter, Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer informed the detective of the date for the omnibus hearing and gave the detective a deadline of “ten business days prior to the omnibus hearing” for all police reports and corresponding materials referencing the case to be submitted to the prosecutor’s office.
“Failure to timely submit any items may be grounds for dismissal of all charges by the court,” Meyer wrote in bolded, italicized text at the end of the letter.
According to records from Spillman, a website the police department and prosecutor’s office use to electronically transfer evidence, that were accessed from the prosecutor’s office, the Centralia Police Department submitted multiple “batches” of evidence between Jan. 13 and Jan. 29.
On Feb. 18, the lead detective in the ATM explosion case was involved in a shooting in Chehalis and was placed on administrative duty, meaning the officer was prohibited from going out in the field but was allowed to perform the administrative aspects of their job, while the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigated the shooting incident.
Meanwhile, the omnibus hearing for Moulder’s case was pushed out to April 7.
Another detective with the Centralia Police Department submitted an item of evidence regarding the ATM explosion into Spillman on Feb. 24.
The omnibus hearing was pushed out twice more, ultimately taking place on April 21 — just two weeks before trial was scheduled to begin.
Moulder’s attorney, Bret M. Woody, of Olympia-based law firm Eloquence Law, PLLC, filed motions in court on April 21 compelling Meyer’s office to provide a witness list, Moulder’s criminal history and all remaining evidence. He filed a public records request with the Centralia Police Department that same day.
On April 26, Woody received an email from the Centralia Police Department notifying him that his records request had been filled. He received seven pieces of new evidence, amounting to more than 100 printed pages and multiple videos.
Spillman records show a detective with the Centralia Police Department uploaded those seven pieces of evidence into the system after Woody filed his public records’ request: one piece on April 25 and another six on April 27.
Woody filed a motion to dismiss Moulder’s case with prejudice on April 28.
Meyer reportedly handed him the new evidence from the Centralia Police Department that same day.
Judge J. Andrew Toynbee granted Woody’s motion and dismissed the case with prejudice on May 4. Moulder was released from jail the following morning.
On May 5, Meyer sent a letter to Centralia Police Chief Stacy Denham regarding the dismissal and included several pages of screenshots from the Spillman system showing when the prosecutor’s office received batches of evidence from the Centralia Police Department.
“This office, and all prosecutor’s offices, are under very strict rules as to when materials are to be provided,” wrote Meyer. “Although the rule is all discovery must be provided no later than omnibus … that is to be used as a last resort.”
Denham told The Chronicle on May 5 that the detective’s involvement in the shooting investigation led to some miscommunication between the Centralia Police Department and the prosecutor’s office regarding Moulder’s case.
“He was working extremely hard on this case and thought that he had time,” Denham said about the detective.
Meyer wrote that he understood the detective’s involvement in the shooting “created unique circumstances” but pointed out that the majority of the files were submitted before that incident occurred.
“Although it is unclear why the material was not turned over in a timely fashion, I am hopeful this does not occur again in the future,” Meyer wrote.
“We're a bit embarrassed by it, obviously, because it's obviously not a reflection of that detective, it's not a reflection of the prosecutor's office and what we normally do, and this organization, so (it’s) very frustrating, very embarrassing, but I guarantee that something like this will never happen again,” Denham told The Chronicle on May 5.