Suspect in Lacey teen's death appears in court

Bobby Glenn Hicks, right, appears before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor on video Wednesday. With him is his attorney, James Dixon.
Bobby Glenn Hicks, right, appears before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor on video Wednesday. With him is his attorney, James Dixon. The Olympian

OLYMPIA - Bobby Glenn Hicks appeared in court Wednesday to face accusations that he fled after slamming his Ford Bronco into a residence on Ruddell Road in Lacey early Tuesday, killing a 16-year-old boy who was asleep in his bedroom.

Hicks, 27, of Ba Kwom Drive in Olympia, was arrested Tuesday night while hitchhiking toward Rochester on Littlerock Road, court papers state. During a hearing before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor, Hicks was ordered held at the Thurston County Jail, with bail set at $50,000 on suspicion of vehicular homicide and hit and run resulting in death.

According to court papers:

Austin Blankenship was in his bed about 12:30 a.m. when Hicks crashed into Blankenship’s home, in the 4500 block of Ruddell Road.

Blankenship’s mother, Kim Benscoter, told police that after the sound of the crash woke her, she saw that the SUV had plowed into her son’s room and her own bedroom.

“She observed two males getting out of the vehicle and heard one saying to the other to ‘run, bro.’ She immediately began calling for her 16-year-old son Austin, who would have been sleeping in his room. Kim was unable to locate him but observed his mattress under the vehicle,” papers state.

Emergency personnel from the Lacey Fire Department found Austin under the Bronco. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses said the Bronco’s driver ran a stop sign at 45th Avenue and Ruddell Road Southeast and was traveling at an estimated 60 miles per hour at the time the SUV hit the home.

Hicks’ attorney, James Dixon, said Wednesday that Hicks’ family was in the process of posting his bail, and he would be released from jail that night.

According to court papers:

Hicks’ older brother was identified as his passenger. He has admitted to Lacey police that he and Hicks were drinking at a residence on 40th Court Southeast in the hours before the crash. The passenger also identified Hicks as the Bronco’s driver.

Hicks appeared via a video monitor during the hearing. Scratches were visible on the bridge of his nose and on his forehead. Hicks’ pretrial services report indicates that he was “very emotional and distraught” when he was interviewed at the jail Wednesday morning. Dixon said Hicks is “very traumatized as a result of this incident.”

Hicks recently completed a degree and was seeking a job in respiratory therapy at a local hospital, court papers state.

Dixon noted Hicks’ “very limited” criminal history in asking Tabor to release Hicks on his recognizance.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Toynbee, on the other hand, noted that Hicks might be a flight risk in light of the allegation that he fled the scene of the crash. Toynbee asked that Hicks be held with bail set at $100,000.

Hicks has a juvenile conviction in 1998 for two counts of residential burglary. Since, he has a 2003 misdemeanor conviction for being a minor in possession of alcohol. In 2004 and 2006, Hicks had motor-vehicle infractions for driving with a suspended license.

A number of people supporting Hicks were at Wednesday’s hearing. Blankenship’s family was not there. One of his family members has told The Olympian that Blankenship was a “big lovable bear” who enjoyed computers and art design.

“He was a jokester,” Blankenship’s aunt, Stephanie Vankomen, said Tuesday. “He just cracked jokes everywhere.”

According to court papers:

Hicks’ mother told police that her son had showed up at her residence about 1 a.m. Tuesday and “seemed very anxious and excited.” He said he needed a ride to Shelton and that he had been in an accident. Hicks’ mother also said her son told her his car had been stolen.

“She said she observed a number of officers in the area and assumed that Bobby had done something serious but she did not know what.”

She told police that she drove her son to the Puyallup Tribal jail and dropped him off outside.

Lacey Police Detective Bev Reinhold said Wednesday that the case is still under investigation.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465

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