Updated report

Manslaughter suspect released to father to await trial

First hearing describes drunken fight


Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper has released from jail the Cape George woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend to death June 5.

"This is an unusual situation,” Judge Harper said in a June 7 hearing in Jefferson County Courthouse, which the accused, Celinda Kaitlin Marie LaDue, attended via a Skype call from jail. “I've read the probable cause statement. I don't see you as being a flight risk or a threat to others or yourself."

He ordered the 23-year-old to stay with her father in Sedro Wooley while she awaits trial in the killing of John Rowland, 29, during an alcohol-fuelled fight.

Superior Court rules in Washington require accused persons in non-capital cases to be released on their own recognizance unless it is shown they are a flight risk or a danger.

"She's a victim of domestic violence,” said Richard Davies, her court-appointed defense counsel for the probable cause hearing. “She called 911, fully cooperated with law enforcement. She's got no criminal history."

Rowland was face down on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood at 10:25 p.m. when the first Jefferson County deputy arrived at the Johnson Avenue home the couple shared, according to documents submitted at the hearing. Medics soon arrived and by 10:46 p.m. had declared him dead.

The detective investigating the case said LaDue had called for an ambulance at 10:18 that evening, telling dispatchers she had stabbed Rowland in the stomach and was holding pressure on the wound.

The couple had been drinking at a neighbor’s home before returning to their house. During an emotional conversation about his past, Rowland attacked her on their porch, LaDue told Jefferson County Detective Shane Stevenson.

Stevenson said she told him she retreated to the kitchen after a first tussle, grabbed a steak knife from a butcher block and, when Rowland advanced again, stabbed him.

“This is horrible. He is a good person and he has a good heart, and he’s dead,” Stevenson said she said.

Investigators found evidence consistent with a struggle on the porch and in the house, but no visible marks or injuries on Ladue, Stevenson said. An hour and a half after her call to 911, LaDue’s blood alcohol concentration was measured at .126, about 50 percent above the legal limit for drivers in Washington.

Friday’s hearing was what is called a probable cause hearing, at which a judge reviews evidence presented by prosecutors and determines whether it is more likely than not that the accused committed the alleged crime or crimes. Harper found probable cause, which is not the same thing as guilt, and the next step, the formal reading of charges, will be her arraignment hearing on Monday, June 10. Jefferson County Prosecutor James Kennedy’s filings list her likely charge as second-degree manslaughter.

Kennedy presented Judge Harper with a signed statement by which included transcripts and summaries of Sergeant Brett Anglin’s initial interview with LaDue and Stevenson’s interview.

Anglin said she was kneeling by Rowland when he, the first on the scene, arrived at the Johnson Avenue home.

See the June 12 edition of the Leader for the full story.


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