Andrew Carlson, the biological father of missing 5-year old Oakley Carlson, was sentenced on Monday morning, March 28, for crimes to which he recently pleaded guilty.
Carlson, who pleaded guilty to two felony charges of child endangerment — regarding two of his other children — on March 14, will spend a little more than four additional months at Grays Harbor County Jail, where he has resided since Dec. 6, 2021.
Carlson, who appeared calm during the sentencing hearing — with his head mostly pointed down and his hands clasped together — is currently scheduled to be released in early August, as part of his sentence that Grays Harbor Superior Court Judge Katherine Svoboda imposed.
Svoboda said she would sentence Carlson to the maximum punishment.
“Based on the limitations before me, I’m going to do the most that I can,” she said. “I’m going to impose the 12 months.”
The sentencing hearing began with Grays Harbor County’s Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Jason Walker’s reference to Carlson’s fall from grace — from police officer to methamphetamine user and now felon — to the Greek mythology character Odysseus.
“Your honor, Mr. Carlson’s downfall has an element of Greek mythology in it,” Walker said. “Not so much a fall from the heavens. Mr. Carlson had a good job as a police officer. But, I’d say more like Odysseus failing to lash himself to the mast of a ship and resisting the call of the siren, so to speak.”
Walker later explained to The Daily World how the “sirens” would lure sailors to their doom.
Walker said how Carlson “went down into a very deep hole,” which included drug use despite once being a law enforcement officer who “probably saw the effects of that substance (methamphetamine) on a daily basis when he was a police officer.”
However, through the evidence Walker had procured in the Carlson case, Walker deemed Carlson a more responsible parent than his co-defendant Jordan Bowers, who faces three felony charges. Her charges include the two felony child endangerment charges for which Carlson was sentenced, plus a felony abandonment of a dependent person in the second degree charge.
“I think his (guilty) plea kind of shows that,” Walker said. “I think he felt responsible.”
Walker added that Carlson, who originally faced the felony charge of abandonment of a dependent person in the second degree, would have faced prison had that charge not been dismissed. The abandonment charge was dismissed when Carlson pleaded guilty to the felony child endangerment charges.
“He gained a considerable benefit from the plea agreement,” Walker said. “That is why I’m recommending the top of the (sentencing) range.”
The sentencing range to which Walker referred is six to 12 months. Combined with the almost four months Carlson has already served at the jail, his release would happen at about eight months of time served. Inmates can get up to one-third of time off for good behavior.
Walker said how it’s up to the jail whether or not an inmate shows good behavior and earns his earned early release.
“It’s how the correctional facilities incentivize them to behave,” he said.
Svoboda explained how the range limited the court in sentencing Carlson.
“These cases are frustrating for the court because we are limited by what the prosecutor brings before us and what the Legislature gives us as sentencing authority,” she said in an address to Carlson and his attorney Jonathan Feste. “Despite this being a Class C felony, I cannot sentence you outside the range of six to 12 months.”
Svoboda also explained how the situation regarding Carlson’s crimes made for a tragic situation for his 6-year old and 2-year old children, who — through separate hair follicle drug tests on Dec. 10, 2021 — tested positive for methamphetamine — the reason Carlson faced the child endangerment charges for which he was sentenced on Monday.
“It’s not because Mr. Carlson is sitting here,” she said. “It’s because of what these two children went through. Someone with any kind of a law enforcement background knows how dangerous and destructive methamphetamine is.”
Svoboda then explained how Carlson, in a sentencing statement, denied he ever used methamphetamine around his children and that through his statement he attempted to place sole blame on Bowers.
“However, in any condition, it’s a father’s job to protect their children,” Svoboda said. “And, you certainly failed in that, Mr. Carlson.”
In addition to Carlson’s additional time in jail, he must not possess or use controlled substances, including Marijuana or THC, without a valid prescription; he must obtain a chemical dependency evaluation within 45 days of his release, which includes following up with any treatment recommended and provide proof to the court within 6 months of his release; Carlson is not to possess any firearms, and he is also not to have unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18 with exception of his biological children. Svoboda said contact with his biological children would be decided in dependency court.
Carlson, who hadn’t spoken throughout his various court appearances besides “yes” and “no” answers, spoke Monday before Svoboda sentenced him.
“I deeply regret my failings as a father,” he said. “I haven’t done a lot of things correctly in the last seven years or so. I am very ready to turn that around and if I can’t be a father to my children, then I can at least be an example that they can at least look at and say I did the right thing. Thank you.”