Jarred Ha, who successfully beat a first-degree assault charge that could have landed him in prison for 12 years, is excited to be heading back to school at the University of Washington. A jury found he acted lawfully when he stabbed a fellow student last year to defend himself.
After being barred from the University of Washington campus for over a year, Jarred Ha will be heading back to school later this month, ending a hellish chapter that saw the 22-year-old stand trial for stabbing an intoxicated student last year.
In January, a King County jury found Ha not guilty of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing Graham Harper, 20, and not guilty of fourth-degree assault for punching a young woman in the face during the same fight near campus in January 2015.
The jury then returned a special verdict, finding that Ha lawfully acted in self-defense when he cut Harper with a knife. Last month, a Superior Court judge ordered the state to reimburse Ha just over $45,000, money his family spent on his criminal defense.
Ha credits defense attorney Zach Wagnild with persuading UW officials to lift Ha’s emergency suspension and to drop a requirement that Ha sign a resolution agreement absolving the school of any wrongdoing.
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Though he was originally told he would have to wait until the fall to reapply, Ha said once his suspension was lifted, Julie Davis, the UW’s associate director of community standards and student conduct, helped push his application through in time for him to start classes March 28.
Norm Arkans, the UW’s associate vice president for media relations, did not return a phone call on Thursday, but previously told The Seattle Times that federal privacy laws prevented him from commenting on Ha’s status.
Ha said he believes news stories in The Times about his case, coupled with the outpouring of support he received through social media, “sped up the process with the school” to readmit him.
Ha, an aspiring accountant in the Foster School of Business, got his official acceptance letter Tuesday and has enrolled in three classes.
“I can’t wait to walk back into Paccar,” Ha said Thursday, referring to Paccar Hall, the building that houses the business school. “I’m really looking forward to having one more academic quarter with my friends before they graduate.”
A junior when he was booted from the UW after he was arrested, Ha said he’ll be able to pick up where he left off with his studies. He hopes to line up an accounting internship for the summer.
Though his life is slowly getting back on track, Ha still thinks it’s unfair that neither Harper nor the woman who instigated the fight had to face any disciplinary action — even after Ha was acquitted and found to have acted in self-defense.
“They’re trying to make this thing history and just go on. I think something should be done, to be honest,” he said.
Though Ha was drinking the night of the fight, he was 21 and said he wasn’t drunk. Harper, however, was 19 and had a blood alcohol content of 0.13, well over the legal limit of 0.02 for those under 21, Ha pointed out, reiterating testimony heard by the jury that found him not guilty.
During trial, jurors heard two versions of the events of Jan. 25, 2015:
Harper testified he intervened as Ha attacked a group of young women outside a house party and was then stabbed as he fought to protect the female students.
However, Ha and other witnesses, including two students who had no connection to anyone involved in the fight, testified that one of the women instigated the initial fight and others joined in.
Ha had already walked away when Harper ran after him, repeatedly punched him and slammed him into parked cars. That’s when Ha pulled out a knife with a fixed 2¼- inch blade and cut Harper six times.
Even though the jury found he acted in self-defense, Ha and his family won’t see the money they spent on his criminal defense any time soon, said Wagnild, a member of Ha’s defense team.
Wagnild received a letter from the state’s Office of Risk Management on Thursday, acknowledging receipt of Ha’s “sundry claim” and informing Wagnild that Ha and his family shouldn’t expect a check before September 2017.
Under state law, defendants who provide timely notice of a self-defense claim before trial are entitled to reimbursement of reasonable legal costs after successfully defending against a criminal prosecution for assault, a situation that applies to Ha.
“It’s a crazy amount of time,” Wagnild said of the year-and-a-half wait.
Information in this article, originally published March 10, 2016, was corrected March 11, 2016. A previous version of this story gave an incorrect title for Julie Davis, the UW’s associate director of community standards and student conduct.