Armed man gets 20 days for threatening pregnant smoker

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 9, 2013 

BELLINGHAM - A Sudden Valley man must serve 20 days of jail time for threatening a pregnant woman because she was smoking a cigarette.

Justin Dain Palmer, 25, pulled over his blue Dodge pickup truck to confront the smoking woman around noon Sept. 12, 2012, while she walked on the sidewalk in the 700 block of East Holly Street.

Through the open passenger window, Palmer yelled something to the effect of, "Who the heck smokes when they're pregnant?"

"Obviously," the woman replied, "I do." She was eight months pregnant at the time.

In the heated exchange that followed, he called the woman a "white trash" prostitute, and told her she "better put the smoke out now," according to charging documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.

She ignored him and kept walking. Then, the woman told police, Palmer pulled out a handgun and pointed it at her from a distance of about 10 feet. He drove off when the light turned green.

Minutes later officers pulled over the Dodge truck. They found two Glock semiautomatic .45-caliber handguns in the center console of the truck. Palmer admitted to a confrontation but denied pulling out a gun. He was arrested.

Prosecutors dropped a charge of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon in a plea bargain. Instead, Palmer pleaded guilty to felony harassment Thursday, Aug. 8.

At the sentencing hearing before Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig, Palmer apologized for his conduct. He can serve his 20 days of time in alternative jail programs. Because the crime is a felony, he must surrender any guns he owns or else faces more charges.

The woman did not show up to the courtroom for his sentencing. She gave birth to the child, a boy, in October.

Reach Caleb Hutton at caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2276. Read the Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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