Sheriff Urged Bail for Brett Isaac Hickman After Arrest at Orcas’ Island Market

In a 23-minute preliminary hearing held in District Court Thursday Judge Carolyn Jewett found probable cause in an arrest related to alleged obstructing law enforcement against Brett Isaac Hickman, 43, at Orcas Island Market on Orcas Island. The incident happened on Wednesday, May 8. On Thursday, the judge expressed concern about Hickman’s ability to represent himself and noted a competency evaluation for the defendant was ordered in April by Whatcom County in another matter.

San Juan County Sheriff Eric Peter — who today emphasized to CNL2 that he greatly values the excellent working relationship he has with the San Juan County Prosecutor’s Office — said he went to Court Thursday out of frustration with the system, and not prosecutors here in Friday Harbor. His frustration, he said, is with the laws coming out of Olympia.

Last Thursday, Sheriff Peter was present in the courtroom during the preliminary hearing and asked to make a statement.

SHERIFF ERIC PETER: Mr. Hickman is the definition of a habitual violator. I’ve gone through the records today and there’s been 158 law enforcement interactions since the year 2000. He’s been arrested 16 times just in San Juan County. He’s been arrested 10 times since February of 2022. Out of those arrests in San Juan County, he has assaulted at least one community member and assaulted law enforcement officers three times. And now we’re looking at another case involving obstructing, which if it wasn’t handled quickly by Chief [Criminal Deputy David] Alexander, could have possibly turned it into another assault. I would argue he is a significant danger to not just the community but to law enforcement. I’m holding here 18 trespass letters that have been issued in the past few years from businesses on Orcas. They obviously either do not want him there…

HICKMAN (first of many interruptions): (inaudible interruption) …every one of them.

PRESIDING JUDGE CAROLYN JEWETT: Hang on one moment. Mr. Hickman, we have an audio record. So if you talk over the sheriff, I can’t hear what he’s saying. So you have to wait until he’s done talking.

HICKMAN: (interrupting): “It’s the whole town. I got trespassed from the whole town.”

JUDGE JEWETT: Okay, Mr. Hickman, just wait for the sheriff to be done. Sheriff…

SHERIFF PETER: There’s at least 18 businesses here, community members, that are either alleging that he is causing problems and doesn’t want them at their place, or they feel threatened by him.

HICKMAN: No they don’t. They have no reason for it.

SHERIFF PETER: He’s been an adult for 25 years and has 16 arrests just in San Juan County without looking at his criminal history from other areas.

HICKMAN: The police are asking me to move somewhere else.

SHERIFF PETER: In 24 years here, we’re looking at six-and-a-half calls a year. Every single time we have to utilize the resources because he’s causing a problem. I realize that I’m not the prosecutor, but on behalf of the community members’ safety and the safety of law enforcement, considering everything that I’ve provided here today I strongly would request, respectfully, some sort of bail to be held. And a competency evaluation, and held until which point he could possibly get committed to Western State, so that he can get the help he needs and we could provide safety for the community members. And that’s all I have to say. Thank you for the opportunity.

Judge Jewett set bail at $1,000 cash or bail bond. And she ordered a competency evaluation for Hickman.

She also included in her temporary order that Hickman may not come within 50 feet of Island Market, including the building and the entire parking lot.

The court tentatively set an arraignment date for Tuesday, May 14.

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