A Washington state meth head who used a logging bulldozer to annihilate his neighbors’ homes, crush their vehicles and topple nearby power lines was sentenced to a mere 29 months in prison. As part of his plea deal in Clallam County Superior Court on Wednesday, Barry Swegle was also ordered to shell out $38,000 in restitution for the reckless spree, despite causing an estimated $400,000 in property damage, the Peninsula Daily News reported.
Shackled and wearing a black-and-white-striped jumpsuit, the 52-year-old tweaker blamed the May 2013 melee on his longtime drug use. He then offered an apology that fell on more than a few deaf ears. “I am not the type of person that wrecks property or tries to hurt people,” Swegle said. “Never have been, never will be.”
His rampage, which attracted national attention for its ruthless absurdity and ruin, casts the convict in a slightly different light. Apparently furious over a fence his neighbor built, Swegle went ballistic and climbed into a logging bulldozer he owned on May 10, 2013. He then carved a path of destruction through his Port Angeles neighborhood, razing four homes and smashing a pickup truck, boat and tractor. As a grand finale, Swegle plowed his bulldozer into a power pole, which cut the electricity to several thousand homes in the area.
Cops quickly hauled the maniac off to jail, where he’s been ever since. But despite the demolition derby, prosecutors claim they were unable to pursue stiff charges against Swegle.
“We have listened to their concerns, but our felony attorneys have exhaustively researched the possible charges, including assault and attempted murder, and the legal and factual likelihood of convictions on those charges,” prosecutor John Troberg said in a prepared statement. “We concluded that we cannot bring those charges as not supported by admissible evidence.”
Instead, prosecutors took a plea from Swegle last week, which included him copping to seven counts of first-degree malicious mischief, a class B felony, and three counts of gross misdemeanor reckless endangerment. Predictably, his neighbors were none too pleased. “[Swegle’s] rampage totally destroyed our properties and almost took our lives,” resident Dan Davis wrote in a victim impact statement filed in Superior Court.
Swegle’s defense attorney, Karen Unger, insisted to the court that her client had no intention of harming people. “If Mr. Swegle did want to kill anyone, he would have gotten in his bulldozer in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep and ran right over them,” she said.