A Pierce County Superior Court judge reduced a 28-year-old Tacoma man to sobs Tuesday when she told him he’d be advised to give up his young son for adoption.
Aaron Huffman was in court to be sentenced for repeatedly shining a laser into the cockpit of a Washington State Patrol airplane last year. He previously pleaded guilty to a felony count of first-degree unlawful discharge of a laser.
He faced up to a year in jail under sentencing guidelines, but prosecutors were willing to recommend credit for time served, about 20 days, if he complied with orders from family court in the dependency case regarding his son, who is in foster care.
The boy’s age was not disclosed in court.
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Deputy prosecutor Dru Swaim told Judge Katherine Stolz during Huffman’s sentencing hearing that the defendant hadn’t complied, and Swaim argued for six months in jail.
Huffman’s defense attorney, Curtis Huff, argued for two months.
Huff conceded his client had performed a stupid, reckless act when he shined a laser at a State Patrol plane conducting drunken-driving patrols over the 2014 Labor Day weekend.
However, the defense attorney said, his client had employment lined up and was trying to get his act together. Spending more than 60 days in prison would scuttle Huffman’s chances in dependency court, Huff argued.
“I’m hoping he can pick himself up by the bootstraps and start making something more productive out of his life,” the defense attorney said.
Huffman then got a chance to speak.
He first apologized for putting the State Patrol pilots in danger and then said he really wanted to resolve the dependency action involving his son and “bring him back home.”
“I just want to move on with my life,” Huffman said. “I’m sorry.”
Stolz was not moved. She criticized Huffman for not taking any significant steps in the dependency matter for more than a year and called the laser incident “idiocy.”
“I’m going to give you the six months,” Stolz said.
She went on.
“You know, the best thing you might be able to do for this child is just relinquish him,” Stolz told Huffman.
He immediately started to cry, as did his wife, who was sitting in the gallery.
“I’m not doing that,” he said.
Stolz responded: “You apparently don’t seem to be able to manage your own life, all right? You’ve been in trouble for years: Three prior felonies and a lot of misdemeanors.
“You make poor choices for yourself, yet you think somehow this child should come back to you so you can make poor choices on his behalf.”
Huffman then begged for a two-month sentence, and Huff spoke on his behalf once more.
Stolz didn’t budge.
“I’ve made my ruling, she said. “Six months.
Corrections officers then led a crying Huffman off to jail.