Gov. Inslee blocks release of Richland cop attacker

May 13, 2014 

Jerry Lain

Gov. Jay Inslee has blocked the release of a man who almost killed a Richland police officer 32 years ago.

Jerry Lain, who was convicted in 1982 of attacking Officer Mike Fitzpatrick, was recently granted parole by a state review board. He was in the process of drawing up a plan before he could be released.

Tri-City police chiefs and sheriffs in Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties, and Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller asked Inslee to keep Lain in prison because he is still a danger to the community.

His release had been stopped at least six other times, including a denial by former Gov. Chris Gregoire.

On Tuesday, Inslee said that he is overturning the decision of the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, according to a release from state Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane. Fitzpatrick now lives in the Spokane area.

Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb said Tuesday evening that his department would support the decision because it doesn’t look like Lain’s behavior has changed while locked up for the past three decades.

“We believe the best place for Mr. Lain is in the custody of the Department of Corrections, strictly for the matter of public safety,” Cobb told the Herald. “That’s the biggest concern we have -- is (Lain) going to do this type of thing to other people, as he has a history of doing throughout his whole life.”

Lain stabbed Fitzpatrick seven times and shot him twice with the officer’s gun during a car prowl. Fitzpatrick suffered a shattered jaw, severe stomach injuries and nearly fatal cuts to his arms.

The attack came just five months after Lain was released from an Iowa prison for stabbing a man in a bar fight. In prison, he also threw acid in another inmate’s face, permanently blinding the man.

Lain received a maximum sentence of life in prison for the attack. The parole board set a minimum term of 20 years.

His best chance to get out came in 2010 when he was granted parole and planned to go to Iowa to live with family. However, Fitzpatrick and others lobbied Gregoire to overrule the decision.

Just days before Lain was to be freed, Gregoire stepped in and blocked his release.

Last November, the Supreme Court ruled that Gregoire was within her rights when she used a little-known provision in state law to block the release.

During Lain’s most recent parole hearing, the review board found he expressed remorse for his crime, has participated in rehabilitation programs and has a solid support system in Iowa that could help him with the transition.

The board also feels Lain has served a sentence “significantly greater” than the high-end range of more than eight years for his crime, a report said.

Though Lane has committed 23 infractions in 18 incidents while in prison, he has not been involved in any incidents behind bars since 2004.

However, a doctor who recently performed a psychological examine on Lain found he is a moderate- to high-risk to reoffend.

Lain is an inmate at the Monroe Corrections Center. His lawyer, Richard Linn, told the Herald that Lain would return to Iowa if he’s released.

“We believe that a close review of the record in this case, including the last three years of Mr. Lain’s lack of progress in prison, show that Mr. Lain still poses a danger to the public,” said the letter to Inslee signed by the Tri-City officials.

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