U.S. Navy sailor discharged, gets jail time for assault on woman in Bellingham

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 25, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - A former U.S. Navy sailor faces nine months in jail following a drunken assault on a random woman and a police officer in downtown Bellingham.

Travis Lee Lile, 22, a native of Foreman, Ark., and an electronics technician aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz, will be discharged from the Navy because a jury found him guilty of two felonies for breaking a woman's jaw in three places and punching the officer who tried to arrest him.

On a Saturday evening in February 2013, Lile drove up from the Everett area with friends to go to a house party in Bellingham, according to court records. They had some drinks and played beer pong, then headed downtown.

One of those friends, in a sworn deposition, said a man in another small group bumped into Lile around 11:45 p.m. on the sidewalk outside of Cap Hansen's Tavern on East Chestnut Street. Lile responded by throwing a punch that hit a 29-year-old man in the face - an overreaction, according to the findings of the jury. It led to a brawl. A woman, 24, tried to intervene but Lile struck her in the jaw, knocking out one of her teeth and leaving another tooth dangling in her mouth.

A Bellingham policeman saw the punch from his patrol car. The officer commanded Lile to stop, but he ran for about a block until he tripped and fell into a newspaper stand on Railroad Avenue. He hit the officer, too, flinging the cop's eyeglasses off his face. Lile kept fighting until two officers managed to get him into handcuffs.

After a two-week trial in March, Lile was found guilty of second-degree assault on the woman, third-degree assault on a police officer, fourth-degree assault on the man who took the first punch and resisting arrest.

At a sentencing hearing this week, the victim told Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett she needed three major oral surgeries, bone grafts and jaw reconstruction. She's no longer able to play sports, and wore dentures for her front teeth until she got crowns two months ago.

She believes Lile minimized the toll her injuries had on her.

"After giving my two-hour testimony in court, you came out of the courtroom saying it was a beautiful day, and you were going to go play football," she said. "I'm an athlete, I'm a sports person, and that has been taken away from me."

Lile gave an apology after she finished talking.

"I have felt a lot of sorrow for the events that happened that night. I was instructed not to talk to you, and if I had been able to, I would apologize," he said. "Obviously I, for both of us, wish this had never happened."

Under state guidelines Lile faced six to 12 months behind bars. Deputy Prosecutor James Hulbert and Lile's defense attorney, William Johnston, said the case did not merit going outside the standard. Judge Garrett agreed. She ordered Lile to serve nine months in jail. Garrett said the woman had been "the ultimate innocent bystander."

"It was truly unfair, as the fates determined things, that she bore the brunt of this terrible incident," the judge said.

Lile had no criminal history. He plans to post bond while he's waiting for the results of an appeal.

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

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