More than two years after a near-fatal shooting at the Hood River Marina, the case has been adjudicated.
Tyson Sackett, 31, formerly of Kamiah, Idaho and Parkdale, pled guilty except insane Jan. 31 in Hood River Circuit Court to the charge of attempted murder for the 2015 shooting.
Judge John Olson ordered that Sackett be sent to Oregon State Hospital in Salem, under psychiatric care.
The April 25, 2015 shooting took place between apparent strangers, according to police.
Authorities said the victim, a then-60-year-old man from Eugene, was napping in his truck when the suspect woke the man and confronted him.
According to court testimony from prosecutors and police reports, Sackett fired shots at the victim, who tried to drive away. While wounded, the victim drove to downtown Hood River, where medics treated him. Officials transported him to a Portland hospital for further care.
Sackett was arrested on an attempted murder charge and other allegations, arraigned, and indicted by a grand jury. The case saw few developments until a mental health evaluation of Sackett preceded Olson’s May 2017 declaration that Sackett was unable to assist in his own defense.
On Jan. 31, Sackett appeared before Olson via video from Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility for a plea hearing.
Olson noted Sackett suffers from schizoaffective disorder of the bipolar type. He said Sackett had prepared a petition to enter a plea of “guilty except insane” to the attempted murder charge stacked against him.
According to Oregon law, a person is guilty except insane if, due to a mental disease or defect when committing a crime, the person lacks “substantial capacity” either to appreciate the criminality of that action or follow requirements of the law.
Hood River County District Attorney John Sewell and Sackett’s attorney, Brian Starns, made statements in court.
Sewell described the April 2015 violence. He said Sackett shot the victim with a pistol multiple times, in different parts of the body. If one of the shots had gone slightly off its trajectory and hit the carotid artery, Sewell said, “he’d (the victim ) have been dead before the ambulance got there.”
The victim did not appear at Wednesday’s hearing, but Sewell read a brief statement on his behalf.
“I believe the defendant is a very dangerous individual … he has trained himself for mortal combat,” the victim said. The victim referred to the serious negative financial impact resulting from his injuries and treatment.
Sewell mentioned restitution payment being made to the victim to help cover medical bills.
“This never should have happened,” Starns said of the case, which he called a “tragedy for everyone.”
Due to Sackett’s mental condition combined with medications he had been prescribed and was taking, according to Starns, Sackett attacked the victim. The defendant, Starns said, had been hearing voices and incorrectly perceived the man at the Marina to be a child abuser.
“Obviously that was not true, but that’s what his mind said,” Starns said.
Before the incident, Sackett had possessed a normal temperament, and he reverted back to “who he was,” after medical treatment in custody, according to Starns.
Starns said his client would voluntarily share medical records with the victim.
Sackett apologized to the victim, saying, “I just want to say it’s all a shame and I’m sorry.”
He said he wasn’t sure the incident could have been prevented. “You don’t know what’s wrong with you until something happens,” Sackett said.
Sackett said he would share what he had learned from his experience with others.
Olson found that Sackett was unable to understand the criminality of his actions, was a substantial danger to the public, and was not fit for conditional release.
The judge advised Sackett to always have mental health professionals providing guidance and to follow their advice. He wished Sackett luck and gave the court authority to submit Sackett to OSH.
Through his plea, Sackett was not convicted but instead put under the jurisdiction of medical officials. If convicted of attempted murder, a Class A felony, Sackett could have served up to life in prison.