Why wasn't Charlie Wallace in jail?

Author: Anusha Roy, KXLY4 Reporter, anushar@kxly.com
Annie Bishop, KXLY4 Reporter , annieb@kxly.com
Published On: Jun 20 2012 05:37:37 PM PDT   Updated On: Jun 20 2012 07:58:24 PM PDT
Charles Wallace
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The big question on everyone's mind, especially Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and Charlie Wallace's own mother, is given his extensive criminal history, why wasn't Charlie Wallace in jail?

Sheriff Knezovich said there is definitely a disconnect in the judicial system given that Wallace was so easily released from jail. If convicted he would've spent life in prison but for some reason he was released for drug rehab while awaiting trial.

Wallace's criminal history dates back decades. In fact, in 2002, he was the focus of a KXLY story when he escaped from Geiger Corrections Facility. At a media briefing Wednesday Sheriff Knezovich held up Wallace's criminal history which includes everything from assault and eluding police to drug possession.

Knezovich said his deputies are constantly arresting repeat offenders, and with each arrest their crimes escalate, just as what happened when Deputies Matt Spink and Michael Northway faced him during a traffic stop Tuesday.

The sheriff added that Wallace stole the weapon used in the shootings of Spink and Northway from a car in Liberty Lake last fall.

"That's why the judicial system needs to take a hard look at what they are putting back onto the streets," Knezovich said.

Keeping repeat offenders locked up has been a top priority, Sheriff Knezovich said, adding that he has been meeting with the prosecutor's office and others in the judicial system over the past few months to address the problem. The bottom line is that the sheriff feels the solution is to keep repeat offenders facing serious charges behind bars.

The Spokane County Sheriff isn't the only person wondering why Wallace wasn't behind bars. Charlie Wallace's own mother Melissa is asking that very same question.

Melissa Wallace said her son began experimenting with drugs began when he was just 8 or 9 years old. The difference between when he was using, and when he was clean, was like night and day she said.

"That kid that everybody calls a criminal, he used to take a horse straight up the face of that thing," she said, pointing to a nearby mountain.

Wallace said her son was a good kid who just couldn't stay clean.

"We tried therapy and everything else," she said.

Charlie Wallace had run-ins with the law since he was a little boy. The Department of Corrections reports Wallace had been in and out of prison since 1998 for a variety of crimes, including assault and eluding police. In 2002 he escaped from Geiger Corrections Facility. Melissa Wallace said all of his bad behavior can be tied to one thing" "He had the demons of drugs."

Wallace completed his last sentence close to three years ago for drug possession but in April he was arrested again, this time as part of a group accused of distributing heroin.

"When he was arrested I thought 'Thank God.' I don't want him in jail but he would've been alive," she said.

But by the end of May, Charlie Wallace was released into an in-patient treatment facility. He walked away.

"Anybody reading his history knows he escaped from jail, Geiger, but he has a criminal history. Why would you put somebody of high risk in a situation where they can walk out?" she asked.

It's unclear when Wallace left. He did have a court hearing scheduled for Monday that he never showed up to. The next day he was dead.

"Charlie would not have hurt somebody if he hadn't been high," Melissa said.

In the end he took his own life, leaving his mother, knowing full well how it got to this point: "My son is dead because of drugs."

Melissa Wallace hadn't seen her son in a month and is waiting for the toxicology reports. She spoke to the media Wednesday to encourage parents to be conscious if they think their children may have a problem and to never give up on them.