SPANAWAY, Wash. — The man who ran over a 68-year-old in a Jack in the Box drive-through in Spanaway was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.
Christian Dressel, 23, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Aug. 24 in Pierce County Superior Court.
The defense argued for a 16-year sentence. However, Judge Clarence Henderson sentenced Dressel to 244 months, as recommended by Pierce County prosecutors.
On the evening of Feb. 26, James David Brown was in the passenger seat of a truck. His wife was driving when they decided to stop for food on their way home, according to probable cause documents.
The driver of an SUV, later identified as Dressel, drove forward in the drive-through until the front bumper was touching the rear bumper of the Brown's truck. Brown's wife put the truck in park and told Dressel there was a vehicle in front of them and she couldn't pull forward. Dressel then yelled at the Browns.
Though they weren't sure what Dressel was saying at the time, Brown's wife later recalled it was along the lines of telling her "boyfriend" to "stay away from my girl," according to probable cause documents.
There was no known connection between Dressel, his girlfriend, and Brown, according to documents. Detectives theorized Dressel mistook the victim's truck for a different truck that Dressel saw near the home of his girlfriend and followed it.
After being yelled at, Brown exited the truck. Shortly after, his wife heard people yelling. When she got out of the truck to look for her husband, she saw him under Dressel's vehicle and "watched him get run over multiple times," according to probable cause documents.
Dressel admitted to his mother he was the one who hit Brown, though at a different location and that it was an accident. His mother called 911 to report what he told her.
When he was arrested, Dressel told police he was at the drive-through, but the vehicle in front of him backed up to the front of his car, according to documents. Dressel said Brown walked behind his vehicle and that he backed up, but he didn't know he had hit Brown. He then stated he tried to re-correct his vehicle and when he backed up, he hit Brown.
"The defendant told detectives that he was sorry, and said he didn't mean to do it. He stated he left because he was scared. The defendant also said that he read the report that reported he hit him [Brown] three times and told detectives that wasn't what happened," probable cause documents state.
Dressel denied hitting Brown more than once.
Detectives noted inconsistencies with Dressel's story while they were interviewing him. After being confronted, he stated that he was "doing Dust-Off [huffing]" before ordering his food, according to probable cause documents. He said he "went out" and was "revving his engine and hit the truck, which is what caused everything," according to probable cause documents.
Detectives later located the Chrysler Pacifica Dressel was driving that night at a salvage yard. It had been taken apart. They also found a truck Dressel had allegedly been driving the day before that he also sold. The bumper of the Chrysler was in the bed of the truck, according to probable cause documents.
Dressel was arrested March 1. He originally pleaded not guilty.