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Trial begins in Poulsbo murder case
POULSBO — Trial began Nov. 18 in Kitsap County Superior Court for a Poulsbo man charged with fatally shooting his friend in the head.
Casey H. Cutlip, 57, was first booked into Kitsap County Jail on Feb. 22, 2012. In the ensuing 21 months, Cutlip underwent psychiatric and psychological evaluations, and has been in and out of court for evidentiary hearings. His defense has changed from insanity to diminished capacity.
“It is true he did call 911, and he certainly made statements that will be used against him at trial,” Deputy Public Defender William Houser said in an earlier interview. “The question remains why — if what happened happened, why did it happen?”
Cutlip is charged with first-degree murder. Bail is set at $1 million.
Cutlip allegedly shot his friend, Darwin A. Dunker, in the head on Feb. 21, 2012, in Dunker's apartment. Cutlip called 9-1-1 and reportedly confessed to the shooting. In psychological evaluations and interviews, Cutlip said he had no memory of the shooting. His blood alcohol level was .14, according to the toxicology report.
Cutlip and Dunker had been at a Kiwanis Club event earlier in the day, Houser said. According to the state’s psychological report, Cutlip said he “snapped” because Dunker made a sexual advance toward him, triggering memories of past sexual abuse by his stepfather.
Gregg Gagliardi, the state’s psychologist, reported he does not think Cutlip suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder related to childhood sexual abuse. The abuse was never reported “and hence never investigated,” Gagliardi noted. Cutlip has been treated for depression for the past eight years, but Cutlip’s psychologist has never referenced PTSD in his notes, Gagliardi noted.
Cutlip is a retired construction worker and had been on Social Security Disability since 1984. He suffered a head injury in a vehicle collision when he was 9, and his skull was fractured in a motorcycle accident in 1986. In the psychological report, Cutlip stated he has had memory problems since those accidents.
Cutlip was interviewed by Gagliardi in summer 2012; he reported a poor memory of the shooting and does not remember his confession to the 9-1-1 operator or police officers. He said he began drinking at noon and smoked marijuana the day of the shooting.
“He recalls that at some point, the victim touched his leg. He states that his next memory was hearing ‘bang, bang, bang.’ He states that his next memory is seeing his pickup truck and noticing that his hands were cuffed behind him,” according to the report.
Cutlip’s wife told police and Gagliardi she called 9-1-1 when Cutlip returned home to get his pistol. She tried to stop him from leaving, but her husband fired a shot at the wall, “apparently to stop her interference.” She called police but did not have Dunker’s address.
The insanity defense stipulates the defendant must be “unable to perceive the nature and quality of the act with which he is charged” and “unable to tell right from wrong with reference to particular act charged.”
Gagliardi reported that at the time of the homicide, Cutlip “clearly had the capacity to perceive the nature and quality of the shooting, and he clearly had the capacity to tell right from wrong with reference to the shooting.”
“There is no doubt that Mr. Cutlip had the capacity to form the mental state of ‘premeditated intent’ at the time of the homicide.” Gagliardi reported.
However, based on Cutlip’s clinical history and his lack of a criminal record, Gagliardi does not believe Cutlip is at risk for future offense. “He is unlikely to be violent except when he is very intoxicated and provoked,” he said.