Andrew Janes Is Home, Much Taller, Wiser

THE STATE Supreme Court became the first in the nation to recognize battered-child syndrome as a factor in a self-defense plea, leading to a new trial, and temporary freedom, for Andrew Janes, who spent the past four years in the Washington State Penetentiary. ------------------------------------------------------------------- The trees were taller and the front door seemed lower when Andrew Janes came home to Mountlake Terrace yesterday afternoon.

It's been four years since Janes, then a 17-year-old high-school junior, was convicted of second-degree murder for killing his mother's boyfriend after 10 years of abuse. He grew up - literally - at the Washington State Reformatory at Monroe, adding 4 inches to his height. Now 6-foot-7, Janes has to duck to pass through the front door.

"Everything seems so different," he said, looking around at the faces of boyhood friends gathered to welcome him back, and the trees that have sprung up in his absence.

Janes' case made history in April, when the state Supreme Court became the first in the nation to recognize battered-child syndrome as a factor in a self-defense plea. The court asked Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Joseph Thibodeau to review Janes' case, over which he presided in 1988, and on Friday Thibodeau ordered a new trial.

"Most people can't fathom what I went through," Janes said yesterday, recounting the days he'd come home from school and be afraid to walk in the front door and face Walter Jaloveckas, who functioned as his stepfather.

With no provocation, Jaloveckas suddenly would double up his fists "and start pounding your lights out," Janes said. "He was crazy. . . . He threatened me and said he'd shoot us both, he'd shoot all of us."

At first, Jaloveckas had three targets for his wrath - Janes, his brother Shawn, who was one year older, and their mother. Then when Shawn was 16, Jaloveckas threw him out of the house. Life got worse for those who stayed.

Two years later, Janes loaded two shotguns, waited for Jaloveckas to come home from work and then shot him twice as he came through the front door.

"I was stuck," Janes said yesterday. "Nobody would help. Nobody. The Child Protective Services knew, the police knew, and nobody would do a damned thing."

Although Janes could face more prison time if convicted on retrial, he thinks the worst of his 10-year sentence is over. He should be able to qualify soon for prison camp, he said, perhaps planting or cutting down trees.

His second trial will begin within 60 days.

"The end's in sight, anyway," he said. "Either way, I'll be coming home soon enough. I'll just chalk it up to a learning experience."

Janes earned his high-school-equivalency degree and took many college courses, nearly enough to obtain an associate degree.

If his appeal succeeds, Janes wants to return to college to earn a bachelor's degree in counseling and a master's degree in psychology so he can counsel abusive parents and spouses.

"I hope to be able to help other people. They say the best help is from someone who's been through that. I've been through it," he said. "I can't change what happened, but I can help change other people. It's an issue I care deeply about, abuse of women and children. If you can't control yourself, you shouldn't be there."

Shawn Janes, now 23, resents that his little brother was tried and convicted as an adult.

"Children have no place in prison," he said yesterday. "I know my brother better than anybody. He was just a kid - skateboarding, running around with his dog in the park, partying with his friends."

Their mother, Gale Janes, wishes the original jury could have heard the battered-child defense. They were frustrated by their instructions to consider only first- and second-degree murder charges, she recalled.

"If we had the same jury, they would let Andy go," she said.

Now she's preparing herself for another trial.

"It's like being caught in a machine, and they keep chewing you up and chewing you up," she said. "Now we've hit the side, and we can watch the machine, knowing it's going to chew us up some more."

But in the meantime, she has her son back home again. She watched nervously yesterday afternoon as he prepared to leave with his friends to run errands.

"No drinking beer - no jaywalking," his mother called to him, only half-jokingly. "I feel like finally I can rest," she added, after he was gone. "I know where both my children are."