Northwest NEWS

December 28, 1998

Local News

Kenmore hit and run suspect pleads not guilty

KENMORE--A 29-year-old transient plead not guilty to charges that he hit and killed a woman in Kenmore in late October, then drove off.

   John Paul Gatchet, who was arrested Dec. 15, was charged with vehicular homicide, felony hit and run, and possession of stolen property last week in King County Superior Court.

   According to charging papers, Gatchet, under the influence of methamphetamines, was driving a stolen pickup when he went through a red light on westbound State Route 522, striking Sandra Melendrez's vehicle broadside.

   Melendrez, a 49-year-old Lynnwood woman who'd been on her way to work as a nurse that morning, died from massive spinal injuries.

   The truck was found a week later in Seattle. According to papers, Gatchet's fingerprints were recovered in the truck.

   Following up on investigative leads, eight state patrol detectives were dispatched to arrest Gatchet, who has been arrested over 20 times as an adult, at a Maple Valley business early Dec. 15. He was also charged with possessing a stolen truck, which he allegedly used to ram a Washington State Patrol detectives' car, when he was arrested.