For the most part, this July 21 hearing is pretty dull. Just some talk about moving a trial date for Isaiah M. Kalebu. But... is that a pit bull in the court room with him? Why yes, it is.
Watch the upper right frame for the first minute—you'll see the dog standing at the bench and then making himself comfortable on the floor. Or, if you're feeling impatient, just skip ahead to 1:30 when the pit bull appears in the upper left frame with Kalebu and stares straight into the camera. The Stranger's Kelly O has helpfully cut in two slo-mo replays so you can be double sure that you're actually seeing what you think you're seeing.
You ask: What? Really? Are pit bulls allowed in King County's courtrooms?
Paul Sherfey, chief administrator for King County Superior Court, told me last week via e-mail that court officials allowed Kalebu's pit bull into the courtroom that day because they believed they had to under the Americans with Disabilities Act:
On July 21st, Court Protection deputies inquired of Mr. Kalebu as to whether his dog was a service dog, and he answered affirmatively. Per the ADA, they are required to allow an animal to accompany the person, and do not have a way of verifying whether the animal is in fact a service animal.
To set all of this in some temporal context: The hearing above occurred one week after another hearing at which Kalebu (minus his pit bull) was set free over the objections of a King County deputy prosecutor. It also occurred two days after Kalebu is alleged to have murdered Teresa Butz in South Park.
If police detectives and prosecutors are correct, this means that two days after raping two women and killing one of them, Kalebu got himself down to the Regional Justice Center in Kent, talked his dog's way into the courtroom of Judge Brian Gain, and proceeded to spend a few minutes on the question of when to hold his upcoming trial for allegedly threatening to kill his mother.
Odd side-note: The fact that Kalebu's pit bull was allowed into court on July 21 actually helped lead to Kalebu's arrest later that week on charges of killing Teresa Butz.
Here's how: On July 24, Seattle police released these two videos of a man and his pit bull. They didn't know the man's name—or his pit bull's, either—but they suspected the man of being the South Park killer. They let it be known they wanted to speak with him. Soon afterward, Zac Hostetter, the deputy prosecutor who'd been in court with Kalebu and his pit bull on July 21st, saw the videos and got in touch with police.
That led to an urgent public campaign for information on the whereabouts of Kalebu and his pit bull, Endo. Within a few hours, a Metro bus driver spotted Kalebu and Endo near Magnuson Park and called the police, who arrested Kalebu and turned the dog over to Seattle Animal Control.
Tomorrow: Kalebu explains to the court why the case against him for allegedly threatening to kill his mother is going to be dismissed.
Video wizardry: Kelly O.