One neighborhood block has sacrificed too much to give up now, even when the legal system is against them. Believed to have committed countless car thefts and property thefts, as well as alleged animal abuse, some neighbors around Northeast 105th Avenue and Shaver Street have become victims of 21-year-old David Dahlen, and they’re not going to let a relentless chain of trial date postponements get in the way of seeing him brought to justice.
Last month, we reported (“Menace disrupts neighborhood peace and quiet” MCM January 2018) that Dahlen is currently in custody for multiple crimes. He had been scheduled to stand trial several times, but this month, his Jan. 22 court date was delayed once again. Now the date is set for Feb. 26.
For concerned neighbors, they’re more than aware of the tricks up his lawyer’s sleeves.
“David’s public attorney is really good at what he does, and this is just one of the tactics that they use,” explains Anna Lutz, who believes Dahlen is the one responsible for hitting her dog Tita in the eye with a blunt object, leading to a traumatic and costly surgery last September. “They postpone it, thinking that then the witnesses will get over it.”
Lutz has showed up at Dahlen’s purported trial dates in the past, and she believes his victim list is growing rather than thinning. “Every time I go, I realize there’s a bunch more things going on, like stolen identity cases. They scheduled him [Dahlen] all day, and there were people waiting in the hallway that were victims of other crimes. Last time I was there, there were at least three people. That was the beginning of November.”
One avid neighbor who has been following Dahlen’s crimes since their inception was once a family friend. Sean Lechner has known David since he was seven.
“He’s been at my house before,” explains Lechner, who has been instrumental in working with both the police and the district attorney to keep Dahlen off his streets. “I tried to help his grandfather mentor him growing up. He would come mow my lawn when he was younger, and we worked on remote-control cars, which was the more important bond, if you asked me. Then he got into drugs.”
Lechner has a personal message for Dahlen’s defense team. “Yeah, I am not backing down. I told [Multnomah County District Attorney] Haley Rayburn on Friday that short of death, I will not be going anywhere. I am not going to drop off. I am going to be a pit bull with this; I will never drop as the witness.”
The specific January trial Dahlen escaped concerns Dahlen’s string of car thefts. Lechner is the sole witness against Dahlen. He claims he has “turned him in for 90 percent of the vehicles he stole.” To make matters more complicated, Dahlen waived his rights to a speedy trial, meaning his trial could be postponed indefinitely.
For her part, Lutz is settled simply seeing Dahlen behind bars. “I know Sean is not losing his motivation; if anything he’s more motivated. My whole thing was for the neighborhood to be safe, so I wanted [Dahlen] out of the neighborhood. That is not in jeopardy by these court cases getting rescheduled, so I’m fine.”
In Lechner’s eye, Dahlen’s case is symptomatic of a larger problem. “There are still a lot of ‘Davids’ around. It has quieted down somewhat on our block, but there are still things happening, and we are still all on our toes.”
Residents like Lechner continue to keep one eye open with the hope that Parkrose “will grow into a safer and better neighborhood.”