Port Townsend man accused of threatening housecleaners with stun gun, pepper spray

Posted 8/8/22

A Port Townsend man who was awaiting trial for allegedly strangling a woman during a domestic violence assault in July 2021 is facing two new counts of unlawful imprisonment after authorities claim …

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Port Townsend man accused of threatening housecleaners with stun gun, pepper spray

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A Port Townsend man who was awaiting trial for allegedly strangling a woman during a domestic violence assault in July 2021 is facing two new counts of unlawful imprisonment after authorities claim he threatened two housecleaners with a stun gun and wouldn’t let them leave his home.

Joshua Quinn Keele, 47,  was arrested July 26 and remains in Jefferson County Jail on  $100,000 bail.

Keele was arrested after one of the housekeepers, a 23-year-old from Bremerton, called police and said he had imprisoned her in his home overnight and stole her belongings and those from her fellow housecleaner.

The woman said Keele had picked up her and her friend, a 22-year-old woman also from Bremerton, to clean his home. 

The woman said Keele began to accuse the pair of stealing a glass dish, and began to threaten them with a stun gun and pepper spray. She said he continued to threaten them even after the glass dish was found, and refused to let them leave the house and menaced them with weapons whenever they tried to go, according to court documents.

The woman also said Keele became paranoid as the night went on, and had the women hide in his bedroom or bathroom when he looked outside through the window blinds.

She also said Keele would not let her get to her cellphone, and kept her away from the phone by threatening her with a Taser.

After the sun came up, one of the women got out of the house, but came back to get the other woman and their possessions. Every time they tried to grab their things, Keele allegedly would threaten them and lunge at them, “saying he was  going to punch them, taze them, or pepper spray them,” according to an incident  report written by Port Townsend police. 

At one point, Keele activated a Taser-like weapon and pointed the sparking device at the women.

The women finally escaped the home, according to a police report, when a friend of Keele’s came to the house for breakfast and Keele said they could leave. 

He would not let them take their possessions, however, which included cleaning supplies, a cell phone, a laptop computer, purses, and other personal items.

Keele appeared in Jefferson County Superior Court Friday and was charged with two counts of unlawful imprisonment, second-degree theft, two counts of harassment/threat to injure, and unlawful carrying or handling a dangerous weapon.

He entered pleadings of not guilty to the six charges.

Keele’s arrest last month follows by a year an arrest in July 2021 when he allegedly strangled a woman who was trying to leave him.

Keele was charged with second-degree assault (strangulation-domestic violence) in that incident, along with unlawful imprisonment (domestic violence-within sight or sound of a minor) and interfering with reporting of domestic violence.

He had been scheduled to appear in court July 15 for a pretrial hearing on the 2021 charges, but was a no-show.

During Keele’s arraignment Friday on the new allegations, attorney Samuel Feinson said Keele missed his earlier court date because he was sick and overslept.

Feinson asked bail to be lowered from $100,000 to $50,000.

Prosecuting Attorney James Kennedy asked the bail to remain as it was set.

“There were some disturbing similarities between this case and the previous case,” Kennedy said.

He also noted Keele had a history of 14 warrants for his arrest.

Kennedy said the allegations that included the use of drugs and the disturbing behavior that followed show Keele was a danger to the community as well as a flight risk.

Superior Court Judge Keith Harper agreed, and let the bail stand at $100,000.

Keele’s trial for the 2021 charges was scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 8.

A six-day trial is expected.

Harper asked that a jury pool of 120 be assembled. 

“It’s a domestic violence case,” Harper noted.  “Sometimes it’s hard to pick a jury. We’re still dealing with COVID, and people not being able to come here if they test positive and everything.”

Jury panels will come into the courtroom in shifts starting next Monday, with the hope to have a jury seated by Tuesday, followed by opening arguments.

During Keele’s court appearance Friday, Harper also set court dates for  the new charges.

Keel’s second trial was scheduled to begin Sept. 26.

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