A California woman has been charged for allegedly trying to hit a Centralia Police Department officer with her vehicle and leading police on a high-speed chase through downtown Centralia after attempting to steal from two U.S. Postal Service mail trucks on Thursday.
Centralia Police officers had attempted to stop a silver Honda Pilot after receiving reports that the vehicle was associated with a woman who was seen trying to get into a mail truck in the 1100 block of Mellen Street. Officers found the Pilot backed up to another mail truck near Washington Avenue and Cherry Street and observed a woman later identified as Starlene M. Hale, 34, in the driver's seat.
Officers reportedly approached with lights activated. Det. Timothy Odell, who was wearing a police vest with a badge, approached the driver’s side of the vehicle and “reached for the driver’s side door to open it when (Hale) looked directly at him and turned the vehicle so it was headed toward Odell,” who “had to move to prevent from being struck by the vehicle,” according to court documents.
The Pilot left the scene “at a high rate of speed” and officers pursued. The pursuit reportedly lasted “for miles” and was discontinued twice “due to the danger the Pilot presented to public safety,” according to court documents.
According to officers, the Pilot ran two stop signs during the pursuit and was observed passing other vehicles at 50 mph in a 25 mph zone.
Officers found the vehicle going the wrong way on Pearl Street and the pursuit ended on Fifth Street, where Hale allegedly exited the Pilot and fled on foot. Officers found her “hiding nearby in a blackberry thicket,” according to court documents. While officers were still in the process of obtaining a warrant to search the vehicle when the affidavit of probable cause was filed on July 16, officers reportedly observed pieces of mail inside the vehicle “that was in the name of other individuals.”
Hale has been charged with one count each of third-degree assault, attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle and second-degree vehicle prowling.
At Hale’s July 16 preliminary appearance hearing in Lewis County Superior Court, Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead requested that Judge J. Andrew Toynbee set Hale’s bail at $75,000 due to the severity of the alleged facts of this case and Hale’s extensive criminal history out of California. Defense attorney Rachael Tiller pointed out that Hale’s most recent charges in California are 10 years old and requested that Toynbee set an unsecured bail amount due to Hale’s financial inability to post bail.
Toynbee did not agree to unsecured bail but did set bail lower than the state’s request at $50,000.
“I know that’s high bail but the circumstances of this case … cause me to consider she is a serious flight risk,” said Toynbee.
Hale’s next court appearance is an arraignment hearing scheduled for July 29.