State v. Kalac, 80643-2-I

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Writing for the CourtAndrus, A.C.J.
PartiesSTATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent, v. DAVID MICHAEL KALAC, Appellant.
Docket Number80643-2-I
Decision Date13 April 2020



No. 80643-2-I

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

April 13, 2020


Andrus, A.C.J.

David Michael Kalac appeals his convictions for first degree murder, theft of a motor vehicle, and possession of stolen property. He argues the homicide detectives-who entered his apartment immediately after a responding sheriff's deputy found the victim's body-conducted an unlawful warrantless search. He also contends the trial court erred by continuing the trial beyond the initial 60-day time-to-trial deadline. He challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to prove premeditated intent and the trial court's refusal to give his requested manslaughter jury instructions. Finally, he maintains the trial court's exceptional 82-year sentence is unsupported by sufficient evidence and erroneously based on the amount of good time credit he might be entitled to receive.

Given the Supreme Court's ruling in State v. Schierman, 192 Wn.2d 577, 438 P.3d 1063 (2018), we conclude any possible error in refusing to instruct the jury on the lesser charge of manslaughter was harmless. The trial court committed no other errors, and we affirm Kalac's convictions and sentence. In light of this ruling, we decline to address the State's cross appeal. We remand solely for the trial court to strike the imposition of fees and nonrestitution interest from the judgment and sentence.[1]


On the afternoon of November 4, 2014, police received a 911 call reporting that Amber Coplin had been found dead in her Port Orchard apartment bedroom. Amber[2] lived there with her 13-year-old son, B.C., [3] and Kalac. When responding officers arrived, they found Amber's husband, Paul Coplin, [4] standing outside the apartment with B.C. When the responding sheriff's deputy entered the apartment, he found Amber's body on the bed under a blanket. She was cold to the touch and obviously dead.

As the investigation unfolded, police learned that on the evening of November 3, 2014, Amber and Kalac had argued, and Amber asked Kalac to leave. Amber came into B.C.'s bedroom to ask for a sleeping bag, which B.C. assumed Kalac would use to sleep on the couch. B.C. overheard the arguing escalate and came out of his bedroom to check it out. He saw Amber and Kalac in the living room with the sleeping bag on the couch.

The next morning, November 4, 2014, B.C. got up around 6:00 a.m. to get ready for school. Generally, Kalac would be up and getting ready for work at the same time, but B.C. noticed that neither Kalac nor his belongings were there. The door to Amber's bedroom, which she shared with Kalac, was closed, as was normal for a weekday morning; Amber typically got up for work after B.C. left for school.

While at school, B.C. became ill-he "had a weird feeling in [his] stomach . . . [l]ike something was wrong"-so he texted Amber. When she did not respond, he texted Paul and asked him to pick him up from school. Although B.C.'s school was minutes from the apartment, the school would not permit him to leave without a parent. Paul picked B.C. up from school around 11:30 a.m., took him to get some juice, and then dropped him at home without coming into the apartment. Amber's bedroom door was still closed.

After a nap, a shower, and a snack, B.C. went by Amber's room and noticed an odd "stench." When he opened the door, he saw what appeared to be his mother's body covered by blankets, and her face covered by a pillow. He tried to turn on the light, but it was not working. B.C. saw her "stuff" strewn around the room-coins, her emptied purse, and her dentures on the floor. He then saw Amber's ID on the pillow covering her face, with the word "dead" written on it. Thinking Amber might be passed out from alcohol consumption, he climbed onto the bed to rouse her. He touched Amber-who was a light sleeper-and when she did not stir, he "freak[ed] out." He texted Paul, telling him something was wrong with Amber. He was not sure if Amber was alive or dead.

Paul arrived within 10 minutes with his son, A.C., and went into the bedroom. He initially saw what looked like a pile of blankets on the bed. He then saw Amber's driver's license with the word "dead" written on it on a pillow over her face. Paul lifted the pillow and found Amber underneath-dead. Paul fled the bedroom, hurried the boys out of the apartment, and called 911.

Kitsap County Sheriff Deputy Rice responded to the call. He spoke briefly to Paul, entered the apartment, and found Amber's body lying on the bed with the blanket pulled up to her chin and blood coming from her nose. She was cold to the touch and obviously dead. Medics entered with him and confirmed Amber was dead. After they left, Deputy Rice did a sweep of the bedroom and the rest of the apartment looking for additional victims and making sure the scene was secure.

Deputy Rice heard over his radio that Detectives Birkenfeld and Gundrum had arrived so he left the apartment to brief them on what he had seen. The detectives then entered to assess the scene, following Deputy Rice's footsteps. Detective Birkenfeld saw a framed print on Amber's bedroom wall, on which someone had written the phrase "she killed me first." The window blinds were down, and the words "bad news" had been written on them. The writing on Amber's license, the framed print, and the blinds all appeared to have been done with the same black permanent marker.

The detectives observed Amber's face was bruised and bloody. They saw what appeared to be blood stains on the wall at the head of the bed. And they found a half-set of dentures on the floor. Near the window, they saw a purse on the floor with its contents dumped out. The detectives concluded the death was likely a homicide so they left the apartment to obtain a search warrant.

After the search warrant was granted, they began processing the scene. They removed the bedding covering Amber's body and saw other injuries, including ligature marks around her neck and bite marks on her breasts. Profane comments were written over her body in handwriting that appeared similar to the writing on the walls. On the nightstand, they found paperwork, from the Kitsap Public Health District, indicating Amber had recently undergone an abortion.

Upon learning that Kalac could not be found and that Amber's gold Ford Focus was missing, Detective Birkenfeld and his colleagues focused their investigation on Kalac's actions on November 4 and 5, 2014.

Law enforcement subsequently recovered several photographs of Amber- nude and dead, lying on her bed-on Kalac's cell phone. The photographs were date and time stamped 1:07 a.m. and 1:09 a.m. on November 4. A "Good to Go" invoice showed that Kalac, driving Amber's car, crossed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge at 5:33 a.m. that same morning. At 6:20 a.m., Kalac texted his employer informing him he had done something bad that would make the news. He texted a friend shortly after noon telling her that he had "f***** up really really bad last night" and would be in prison or dead by the end of the day. Kalac told his friend he was turning off his phone so he could not be tracked.

Around 1:00 that afternoon, security camera footage showed Kalac entering a Cash America and pawning a laptop computer for $125. He then went to a nearby Albertson's store to purchase a 1.75 liter of vodka and orange juice. Kalac then drove to Chehalis, stopping at a Walmart at approximately 2:30 p.m., where security camera footage showed him purchasing a BB pistol and ammunition. The BB gun was a realistic replica of a Beretta-style semi-automatic firearm.

After purchasing the gun, footage showed Kalac sitting in the Walmart parking lot for about 30 minutes. During that time, Kalac uploaded the pictures he had taken of Amber's body to 4chan, an image-based Internet bulletin board. In the commentary accompanying the pictures, Kalac wrote, "Turns out its way harder to strangle someone to death than it looks on the movies." He wrote, "She fought so Damn hard." He then told anyone following the thread to

Check the news for port orchard, Washington in a few hours Her son will be home from school soon. He'll find her then call the cops. I just wanted to share the pics before they find me. I bought a bb gun that looks realistic enough When they come, I'll pull it and it will be suicide by cop.

Kalac apparently made his way to Portland, Oregon, where he spent several hours on the evening of November 4 at a local bar. Then, at approximately 1:00 a.m. on November 5, police in Portland, Oregon, spotted the missing gold Ford Focus and, with several U.S. Marshals participating, conducted a high speed car chase until Kalac eluded them. They discontinued the chase on Barbur Boulevard near the Barbur transit center. Police later recovered a transit ticket with Kalac's belongings, indicating he purchased the ticket at 10:40 a.m. on the morning of November 5, 2014. Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. that afternoon, police found Amber's car abandoned in a parking lot near where the police chase had ended.

At approximately 8:45 p.m. that evening, Kalac emerged from a wooded area near a transit center in Wilsonville, Oregon, and turned himself in to a Clackamas County Sheriff's deputy who was on patrol in the area. Deputies discovered an abandoned transient camp in the woods, and found a box spring on which Kalac had written "Dave's last stand," with a black permanent marker. They found the BB gun Kalac purchased in Chehalis resting on the box spring, and a note, also written with a black permanent marker, which read "I killed Amber Coplin. I strangled her with my hands then a shoelace. I had no reason other than I was drunk and she pissed me off. Running from the cops was so fun."

The State charged[5] Kalac with first degree murder, theft of a motor vehicle, and second degree possession of stolen...

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