Judge orders state to reimburse ex-UW student cleared in stabbing case

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SEATTLE (AP) — A judge has ordered the state to pay a 22-year-old man the money his family spent on successfully defending him in a case in which he stabbed another University of Washington student during a fight last year.

Jarred Ha was found not guilty of assault with a deadly weapon by a King County Superior Court jury in January for stabbing Graham Harper. He was also found not guilty of punching a woman in the face.

The jury additionally ruled Ha acted in self-defense, which allowed him in part to seek reimbursement of his legal costs.

The Seattle Times reports (http://goo.gl/QNG9m3 ) Ha’s family spent just over $45,000 on attorneys, investigators and transcribing interviews.

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Here’s an earlier Q13 News story with an interview with Ha:

SEATTLE -- A former UW student is speaking out for the first time since being acquitted of assault.

Jarred Ha, 22, admits he stabbed another student off campus last year, but says it was self-defense.

“You know I wouldn’t have done this if my name wasn’t already out there,” he says, as he sits down with his attorney.

Ha is trying to clear his name and reputation. He admits he got into a fight near UW last January. It started as an argument with a girl over a parking spot.

“I remember just telling her, 'You need to park better.' She hit me.”

Ha says he tried to push the girl away and she fell. That’s when other people got involved. Graham Harper, 19, told Q13 News last year that he stepped in to protect the girls.

“I didn`t really think that guys really hit girls that much until this thing happened,” said Harper.

Ha says Harper started punching him and slamming him against a parked car. He tried to fight back, but was overpowered. So he took out the knife that he always carried for protection.

“I wanted him to see the knife and walk away,” says Ha.

But Harper didn’t walk away, and Ha used the knife.  He says he was the only one arrested and thrown out of UW. Last month, the case finally went to trial and a jury returned a special verdict in Ha’s favor.

“It’s a jury’s finding that he acted lawfully,” says Zach Wagnild, “that all citizens have the right to protect ourselves just as he did in that situation.”

Ha’s attorney is now petitioning the university to try to get Ha back into school.

Ha says he doesn’t have any ill will towards the people he fought with. He just wants to get his life back on track.

“If I can continue where I was, back at UW, back at the Foster School, working my way to an accounting degree, then I’d be fine with that.”