Court

MOUNT VERNON — A 30-year-old Michigan man was sentenced Wednesday to 60 days in jail after he was convicted earlier this month on charges related to a 2017 break-in at the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline facility west of Burlington.

Donald Zepeda and another person broke into the facility on Oct. 24, 2017, in an effort to perform what he called an “emergency shut off” of the pipeline, court documents state.

The other person was not charged.

A jury found Zepeda guilty Oct. 4 of second-degree criminal sabotage and burglary, and third-degree malicious mischief.

At his sentencing Wednesday, prosecutor Branden Platter asked that Zepeda receive a six-month sentence in order to deter others from committing similar crimes.

Zepeda’s lawyer, Elizabeth Neidzwski, argued that because of Zepeda’s lack of criminal history he should be given a first-time offender waiver and that his sentence should more closely match that of Kenneth Ward, who in 2016 allegedly committed similar crimes.

Ward was convicted of burglary, but in April the state Division I Court of Appeals granted him a new trial because he was not allowed to have climate scientists and civil disobedience experts testify.

Platter argued, however, that Ward was convicted solely of burglary, whereas Zepeda was convicted of additional charges.

Of the 60-day sentence, Skagit County Superior Court Judge Brian Stiles ruled that Zepeda only had to serve five days in jail, with credit for time served before he posted bail.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141, kwanielista@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kera_SVH, facebook.com/KeraReports

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