By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Very little seems out of place now on North Baker Street near East Pioneer Road, where two new manufactured homes sit on property owned by Dan Davis, 75.
The scene today is a stark contrast to the morning of May 10 last year after a bulldozer was used to carve a swath of destruction through the neighborhood.
Barry Swegle, 52, who had lived in the neighborhood for decades, is charged with one count of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and four counts each of first-degree malicious mischief and first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon — “to wit, a bulldozer.”
He remains in the Clallam County jail in lieu of $1 million bail, having been declared competent to stand trial, and is set to appear in county Superior Court for a trial-setting hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
In Gales Addition, most of the physical damage has been repaired, but for those whose property was destroyed, emotional scars remain.
“I don't think we'll ever get over the whole thing,” said Davis, who feels he and his wife, Mary, also 75, were the primary targets of the destruction that day.
Barbara Porter, whose home was smashed when the bulldozer pushed a manufactured home Dan Davis owned into hers, also is haunted.
“I still dream about Barry. I guess I probably will all of my life,” said Porter, 73, who shares her Pioneer Road home with her husband, James.
“Every time I hear heavy equipment, I get this sick feeling.”
The rampaging bulldozer left four homes damaged or destroyed and laid waste to outbuildings, a Ford F-250 pickup truck, a riding lawn mower, a boat and a power pole, which cut electrical power to thousands of people.
The infamous bulldozer is no longer there.
It was taken as evidence in the case and is in a “secure location,” said Ron Cameron, chief criminal deputy with the Clallam County Sheriff's Office.
The attack made news around the world and was the subject of a Sept. 27 episode of the newsmagazine TV show “20/20” focusing on neighbor disputes.
(You can view a video of the “20/20” show at http://tinyurl.com/pdnbulldozer )
Witnesses and law enforcement officials have said Swegle had a long-simmering dispute with Davis over a fence Davis had built near Swegle's dirt driveway.
A year later, Davis has replaced the Pioneer Road manufactured home the bulldozer tore off its foundation with two new buildings.
The Ryan Drive home Davis shared with his wife had to be demolished after the bulldozer heavily damaged three of the house's four main sides.
“I would say it would cost us probably . . . I would say $375,000 total on all the property,” Davis said, adding that most has been covered by his insurance.
Recovery, though, has meant a year's worth of work for the retiree.
“This whole year has just been work for me,” Davis said.
“We've been busy with the insurance company, busy with all of the [buildings].”
Work on the new Ryan Drive home is expected to be wrapped up in July, Davis said, though both he and his wife are not yet sure whether they can live in the neighborhood again.
Live in peace?
“We've got to see if [we can] live here in peace. If we can't, we can't,” Davis said.
A year after the bulldozer tore through Porter's backyard, damaging landscaping and destroying a tool shed, she said she and her husband have more or less repaired or replaced what was lost to the tune of about $10,000.
“It's coming together. At least we can live here. The Davises couldn't live in their home,” Porter said.
“We're doing OK.”
Davis said he had heard there was a plea bargain under consideration for Swegle that he thinks would mean too little prison time for him.
“I would like [someone] to know that we are not really satisfied,” Davis said.
“If this comes down to a plea bargain, that is not justice for us.”
“We're not out for vengeance. We're trying to live in peace is what we're trying to do,” Davis added.
Porter said she had also heard about a potential plea bargain, adding that she had “mixed feelings.”
“I'd like to see [Swegle] put away so I don't have to worry about him, but I don't want to see him be there forever either,” Porter said.
John Troberg, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, confirmed he has spoken with the Davises and the Porters but could not comment further because the case is still pending.
“I really can't confirm or deny any offer,” Troberg said.
He added that there is no formal plea offer at this time.
In April, Swegle turned down a plea offer from the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, according to his attorney, Karen Unger of Port Angeles.
He rejected an offer to serve 57 months, or just less than five years, in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to residential burglary, several malicious mischief counts and a charge related to damaging a power pole May 10, she said then.
Swegle awaits trial date
Swegle has remained incarcerated since his arrest more than a year ago.
A trial date had been set for Sept. 24, but it was indefinitely delayed until Swegle's mental competency could be determined.
Superior Court Judge George Wood declared Swegle incompetent in October and ordered him to undergo treatment Nov. 1 at Western State Hospital in Lakewood.
After Swegle's return to Clallam County in March, Wood declared him competent in April based on a report from Western State and the opinion of Dr. Brian Grant, a psychiatrist from the University of Washington whom Unger had evaluate Swegle.
Brother makes settlements
Jeff Swegle, Barry's older brother, said he has settled out of court with two people whose property was damaged May 10 and is awaiting word from the Porters' attorney on an amount for their damages.
He said he has not had contact with the Davises.
Though not condoning what his brother allegedly did, Jeff Swegle said he feels Davis may have provoked Barry Swegle during a longstanding disagreement over the placement of a fence.
“I don't believe [Davis is] a completely innocent bystander,” Jeff Swegle said.
Porter said she wishes good things for Barry Swegle, whom she has known since he was a child.
“I hope he has some sort of life,” Porter said.
“I'd like him to feel good and happy and have good feelings.”
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.