Crime

Car theft spree suspect has mental illness, lawyer says

Serial car thief suspect appears in court

Marshall May appears in Whatcom Superior Court in Bellingham Monday, June 13, 2016. May is suspected of stealing a string of cars last Friday.
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Marshall May appears in Whatcom Superior Court in Bellingham Monday, June 13, 2016. May is suspected of stealing a string of cars last Friday.

A man suspected of going on a car-stealing spree through town is a diagnosed schizophrenic whose criminal history only goes back to last year, officials said.

Marshall Lee May, 27, of Seattle, made his first Whatcom County court appearance Monday afternoon, June 13.

Police arrested May on Friday afternoon, June 10, after a Dodge Neon was stolen at a Chevron station at Guide Meridian and Smith roads. May matched the description and photo taken earlier in the day of a man suspected of stealing at least two Subaru cars and a Jeep Cherokee, and trying to steal several others.

In court on Monday, Deputy Prosecutor Erik Sigmar said May is suspected of five motor vehicle thefts from Friday: three cars before driving to the Chevron station where he was arrested, the Subaru Legacy he used to get to the gas station, and the Neon he briefly had control of before its rightful driver, Rob Stamm, 37, of Bellingham, pulled him from the car.

Stamm held May down with the help of a passerby until police arrived.

In arguing for a lower bail amount, Leanne Stogsdill, May’s public defender, said her client’s criminal history began just last year and that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia about a year ago. That history, Sigmar said, included two convictions for vehicle prowling and one for taking a motor vehicle without permission, all from December 2015.

Sigmar, arguing that the bail not be lowered, said May damaged three cars and the one Stamm was driving in an attempt to get away from Stamm. Sigmar added that May was holding a large screwdriver when Stamm removed him from the car.

Stamm, at the scene, said May did not use the screwdriver to fight back during the ordeal.

Alfred Heydrich, the court commissioner for the hearing, kept May’s bail at $100,000.

“This appears to be a pretty darn dangerous situation, and I’m not comfortable interfering with the court’s initial ruling of bail on this,” Heydrich said.

May, who lives in Seattle, would be allowed to leave Whatcom County to go home if he’s released on bail. He’s scheduled to be formally arraigned on Friday, June 24.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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