The state will pay a Longview man nearly $123,000 almost exactly two years after he was acquitted of assault after waving a gun at employees of a downtown Longview nightclub. Most of the money will go to his lawyers.
The State of Washington must pay Brian Barnd-Spjut's attorney's fees, appeals costs, lost wages and other expenses. The payments will be made under a state law that reimburses defendants for trial-related expenses if a jury finds they acted in self defense.
Barnd-Spjut was on trial in January 2010 for four counts of assault after he pulled the gun in an alley behind the now-defunct Kesler's Bar & Grill.
Security video footage played during the trial showed the bar's bouncers forcing Barnd-Spjut, then 29, down a hallway and shoving him out the back door. Barnd-Spjut's attorney, Duane Crandall, said at the time that his client brandished the weapon because the bouncers had a reputation for beating up patrons, and Barnd-Spjut feared he was about to be attacked.
A jury found that argument reasonable, acquitted Barnd-Spjut and awarded him his trial-related costs. However, now-retired Cowlitz Superior Court Judge Jim Warme overturned the jury's decision to award Barnd-Spjut's his legal costs, saying incorrect instructions had been given to the jury. (Warme's ruling did not affect Barnd-Spjut's acquittal on the criminal charges.)
A state appeals court shot down Warme's ruling late last year and declared Barnd-Spjut was entitled to recoup his trial-related costs.
Superior Court Judge Michael Evans awarded the money to Barnd-Spjut Jan. 6. Costs will be paid out of a state account. They include $75,000 in attorney's fees, which will be paid to Crandall, and $10,750 in lost income, which will be paid to Barnd-Spjut.
The state will also pay an additional $25,000 in costs related to the appeal of the decision denying payments. At least some of that money will go to local attorney John Hays, who helped with Barnd-Spjut's appeal, Crandall said.
Cowlitz Prosecutor Sue Baur declined to comment Thursday.
Crandall noted Thursday that both he and the prosecutor's office agreed on the facts regarding the fees and that, in the end, the matter was settled with little argument.
"Everybody just wants it over with," Crandall said.