Anthony Corder’s continued employment as Pe Ell’s town marshal is uncertain, so he qualifies for a public defender, according to lawyer.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Handcuffed and clad in green striped jail garb, Pe Ell’s town Marshal Anthony K. Corder was told by a judge he may not drink alcohol or go into bars or taverns.
And that he is subject to random breath tests while his case is pending.
The 27-year-old who was newly hired by the mayor of the tiny West Lewis County town, with no previous experience in law enforcement, took a seat at the defendant’s table in Lewis County District Court yesterday, less than 12 hours after he was arrested for driving drunk.
In his patrol car.
A plea of not guilty was entered for him and Judge Michael Roewe said he would be released on his own recognizance.
Temporary defense attorney Bob Schroeter told Roewe the marshal has never had a charge of any kind before.
“He left the U.S. Marine Corps, serving our country, in 2013,” Schroeter said. “Also doing a tour in Afghanistan.”
Corder’s part time pay of $1,500 a month qualifies him for a court appointed lawyer, according to Schroeter. And, his continued employment is uncertain, Schroeter told the judge.
Corder is the sole officer in the town with 630 inhabitants.
His position is so new, he’s been commissioned by the mayor as top law officer in town, but he’s not yet attended the training academy.
Corder was not on duty when he was reportedly observed by a sheriff’s deputy driving his Crown Victoria through town, with its headlights off.
Exactly where he’d been or where he was going wasn’t revealed by the police report, but when he spoke with three deputies – smelling strongly of alcohol and slurring his words – he readily admitted the situation, according to the report.
“Yes, I did do that, I made a mistake there,” Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeffrey Humphrey documented in his report.
Deputy M. Mohr, who took over the investigation at that point, noted the marshal’s .45 caliber pistol was taken out of the police car, and the car was turned over to Mayor Spencer Nichols.
Corder underwent field sobriety tests in the parking lot of the Texaco on Pe Ell’s Main Street, where he performed poorly and blew a .235 on the portable breath test around 2 a.m.
He was cooperative, but was taken to the Lewis County Jail, where he was processed and booked, according to Mohr.
The legal limit of an alcohol concentration is .08 when driving.
Corder’s contact with sheriff’s deputies in Pe Ell came about because 911 got a phone call from his ex-girlfriend who said he’d been calling her, saying he was going to shoot himself as well as burn her house down, Mohr wrote in his report.
Ebonnie Meyer told Mohr over the phone her ex was highly intoxicated and gets that way when drinking, according to Mohr.
It may not have been the first time the marshal mixed alcohol and his new job.
Meyer said she didn’t know where Corder was, but the last time he called her while he was drunk, he was in his city office where he subsequently passed out, according to the report.
It was about 1 a.m. on Friday when sheriff’s deputies headed to Pe Ell to find him.
Deputy Humphrey described seeing the town’s patrol vehicle driving with its lights off on Second Street, on Pe Ell Avenue and down an alley behind the Texaco station.
He saw it park in front of a residence in the trailer park there where a male got out and went inside, Humphrey wrote.
Humphrey contacted Corder via cell phone and Corder stumbled over the to the gas station to speak with them, according to the police reports.
According to Humphrey, when asked what was going on with his girlfriend, Corder said he was upset because she’d given his extra car key to a repo company and it got taken away.
He denied repeatedly planning to kill himself, saying if he’d wanted to do that, he’d have done it in Afghanistan, according to Humphrey.
The police reports don’t make any mention the deputies pursued any further the ex-girlfriend’s contention the marshal was suicidal.
Once back at the jail, after Corder spoke on the phone with a lawyer, and then just after 4 a.m., consented to be tested on the breath alcohol machine but declined to answer further questions, according to Mohr.
The readings came back as .184 and .186, according to the report.
Mayor Nichols didn’t return phone calls seeking information about Corder’s job status on Friday.
It was just about seven months ago when Deputy Humphrey was arrested by a trooper for driving under the influence. The 11-year veteran of the sheriff’s office was demoted and his continued employment was tied to the conditions imposed by the court.
And in January, another sheriff’s deputy, with six years on the job, was arrested in Centralia for DUI. Chris Fulton quit two weeks later.
Both of them were driving their personal vehicles.
Driving under the influence is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to $10,250 in monetary penalties, according to attorney Schroeter.
Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Luke Stanton said Corder’s next court date, a pre-trial hearing, is not yet scheduled but likely would take place in four to six weeks.