- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—PORT ORCHARD — A Bremerton man accused of murder in the bludgeoning death of his mother’s boyfriend in November 2013 told psychologists that in the days leading up to the homicide that he had used meth and his mind “went blank” when he delivered the fatal blows.

Jason Anthony Salas, 31, had been scheduled for trial Aug. 3 for the death of Gillbert Sablan, but Friday the date was set back to Aug. 31. Salas is the oldest murder case being prosecuted in Kitsap County Superior Court.

Salas, who is charged with first-degree murder, will ask jurors to find him not guilty by reason of insanity, according to court documents. However, two psychologists from Western State Hospital doubt Salas was insane at the time of the homicide and reported his mental health issues were consistent with drug use, specifically meth and marijuana.

Deputy Prosecutor Cami Lewis said two mental health experts have evaluated Salas, but prosecutors have not been able to interview them.

Salas’ attorney, Spencer Freeman of Tacoma, did not return a message to the Kitsap Sun.

Salas told the Western State Hospital psychologists that he had been a regular user of meth and marijuana leading up to Sablan’s death, though the day of the homicide he only had used marijuana.

The experts found that during the interview Salas exhibited no signs of a mental disorder. He had been prescribed the drug Celexa for depression while incarcerated but chose to stop taking it, according to documents.

To present an insanity defense at trial, a person must prove that he was unable to comprehend the “nature” and “quality” of the crime or that he was unaware of what he was doing and could not conceive of the consequences, according to the documents.

“We have no reason to believe he did not have the ability to know what he was doing, or that his acts would likely lead to the consequence of injury or death,” the psychologists wrote.

In Salas’ account, he said Nov. 13, 2013, he had gotten into an argument, then a fistfight with Sablan when he questioned Sablan’s discipline of Salas’ nephew. He said he also had witnessed Sablan mistreat his mother.

Salas had been living at his mother’s residence, with his children and a sibling’s children, on the 3400 block of Almira Drive after leaving his job at Oil Can Henry’s. He said he had been using meth “a lot” and was a longtime user of marijuana, according to the documents. He reported paranoia and visual hallucinations, but the psychologists noted that those symptoms are consistent with drug use. Further, they noted that state law likely would disqualify an insanity defense based on drug use.

Before the confrontation turned physical, Salas said he left the residence and retrieved a baton, a knife and a crowbar from his truck, then placed them on the porch and on a dresser inside the house. Salas said he confronted Sablan again, and the argument turned physical when Sablan challenged him to a fight. Salas said he punched Sablan, and apparently knocked him unconscious.

“I just lost it,” Salas said, according to court documents. “My mind went blank. I opened the door and grabbed the crow bar.”

Salas said he struck Sablan in the head five times with the metal bar.

He could hear a neighbor calling the police, he said, so he gathered the children to leave and as they passed the body he told them Sablan was an “evil man.”

He took the children to his sister’s house, told her that he thought he killed Sablan and said goodbye to them. He drove around Bremerton but was quickly arrested by police.

There are four murder cases pending from 2014, which are scheduled for trial through the beginning of 2016.

* Shelly Arndt, charged with first-degree murder in the death of her boyfriend, Darcy Edward Veeder Jr., who died in an East Bremerton house fire in February 2014. Arndt is scheduled for trial Aug. 31, the same day as Salas.

* Chong Charpentier, charged with first-degree murder in the death of her husband, Alan Charpentier, in August 2014. She is accused of spraying pepper spray in her husband’s face, stabbing him and then setting fire to their East Bremerton house. She is scheduled for trial Sept. 28.

* David Kalac is charged with first-degree murder for strangling his girlfriend, Amber Coplin, in November 2014. Kalac is suspected of posting online death scene photos of Coplin before fleeing to Oregon, where he surrendered to police. He is scheduled for trial Nov. 9.

* Gabriel Gaeta, accused of first-degree murder in the rape and homicide of 6-year-old Jenise Wright, is scheduled for trial Jan. 11. The case drew national attention when Jenise went missing in August 2014.

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