"North Bend mayor won't face charges in domestic case"

Ken HEARING, defendant

Seattle Times

By Keith Ervin
Seattle Times staff reporter

King County prosecutors have decided not to file an assault charge against North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing, who was arrested in March for allegedly hitting his wife with a golf club.

In a written explanation of the decision, prosecutor Nicole Weston cited the wife’s desire not to assist in prosecution, her drunken demeanor when police officers went to their home, inconsistencies in the husband’s and wife’s stories, and the wife’s declining health.

“We looked at the facts and we did a complete and thorough review and determined that the case was not sufficient for a charge,” Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, said.

Hearing, 62, was arrested and booked into King County Jail on March 26 after he asked police to come to his home, saying his drunken wife was tormenting him and he didn’t know what to do.

He allegedly told police he didn’t want to “lose it again,” as he had two days earlier when she taunted him until he “let her have it.”

The wife, 57, said he struck her with a 5-iron golf club ion March 24, and a female deputy photographed a 6-inch-long bruise on her upper thigh.

Hearing later said he wielded the golf club not to hit her but to locate a liquor bottle under the covers where she lay in bed.

The wife subsequently told a prosecutor during a visit to their home that Hearing had hit her while they were both standing at the front door.

Police reports described the wife as extremely intoxicated March 26, and police called an ambulance to take her to an area hospital for detoxification.

Police had gone to the house twice previously since 2007 when the wife was drunk and depressed. She has been hospitalized twice since her husband’s arrest because of her inability to care for herself, the prosecutor’s report said.

The wife told the prosecutor “that everyone makes mistakes and that she still loves her husband.”

To avoid a conflict of interest, North Bend prosecutors asked county prosecutors to decide whether to file a misdemeanor assault charge against Hearing, who was first elected mayor in 2003 and has been re-elected two times since.

Hearing, who owns Scott’s Dairy Freeze in North Bend, did not return a phone call Wednesday asking for comment.

His lawyer, Todd Maybrown, called the prosecutor’s decision appropriate and reasonable.

“The prosecutor carefully reviewed all the facts and decided there was no basis to pursue a charge against Mr. Hearing. I know that he is grateful and also respectful for the review that they needed to complete,” Maybrown said.

After an initial appearance in Issaquah Municipal Court in March, Hearing surrendered to police two revolvers, three other pistols, three rifles, three shotguns and a pellet rifle. He is now entitled to recover the weapons, Maybrown said.

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

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