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Mentally ill man sentenced in sword incident

South Whidbey Record - 1/26/2019

A judge acknowledged that a South Whidbey man suffered from serious mental illness, but she handed him a lengthy prison sentence in order to protect the community.

Island County Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill said she had little choice in sentencing Christopher Locken, 35, to more than nine years in prison, which was the maximum under the standard sentencing range.

"He doesn't seem to have any ability to change his behavior," she said, "or if he has the ability, he chooses not to do so."

Following a trial, a jury on Jan. 9 found Locken guilty of one count of attempted burglary in the first degree and two counts of assault in the second degree. All the charges included deadly weapon enhancements.

Chief Criminal Prosecutor Eric Ohme described the incident as one of the most frightening events a young mother can experience and commended the woman for showing bravery in protecting her child.

In July 2017, Locken tried to force his way into a Freeland woman's house, delusionally claiming her 5-year-old son was his wife, and threatened the woman with a sword. He later threatened her husband, who came to protect his family, with a metal spike.

According to Ohme, Locken has an extensive criminal history, including a conviction for purposely hitting a pedestrian with a car on South Whidbey and illegal possession of a firearm.

Ohme said Locken deserves sympathy because of his serious mental illness, but that he represents an "extreme danger to the community."

Ohme asked for the maximum sentence.

Locken's attorney, Steve McKay, filed a forensic psychological assessment of Locken as mitigation for sentencing.

The forensic psychologist, however, concludes that Locken is criminally insane in a more-probable-than-not basis; she did not recommend leniency.

"He has presented a threat to others in his home, in psychiatric hospitals, on the road, and in and around homes of private citizens," the forensic psychologist wrote, "and there is a high likelihood that he will continue to present a threat to public safety and security if not controlled by the court."

According to another report by the psychologist, Locken may be suffering from schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorders. The report states Locken had been living in woods on land he owns.

The report describes some of Locken's delusions. He has said God gave him a sign to marry a girl he never met who he believed gave birth to his child; he has a daughter with special powers; he was raped by a judge; vampires can insert thoughts into his ears and bloodstream; and he owns several major corporations.

McKay asked the judge to impose a mid-range sentence and indicated he was filing paperwork to appeal Locken's conviction.

Churchill, however, noted that Locken has resisted treatment for his mental health issues. She imposed a sentence of 112.5 months in prison, which includes a mandatory 36 months for the dangerous weapon enhancements.