A 21-year-old Pasco man was released from jail this week after accepting responsibility for his involvement in a beating that nearly killed a Moses Lake man.
Martin A. Rivera pleaded guilty in Franklin County Superior Court to a reduced second-degree assault charge.
He had been charged with first-degree assault for the June 17 assault in Pasco on Ricktor Murphy, 45.
Deputy Prosecutor Dave Corkrum told Judge Craig Matheson that charge was reduced after determining Rivera was not as culpable as the co-defendant, William Anthony Sanders.
Sanders allegedly hit Murphy repeatedly with a metal pipe in a Pasco yard. Rivera saw the fight from the house, went outside and tackled them to try to stop the fight.
Rivera didn't continue to assault Murphy, as witnesses originally reported to police.
"But he did assist in moving the victim from the backyard to a vacant field a ways away," Corkrum said. "He acted as an accomplice to this after the fact."
Murphy was unconscious when he was found and then taken to the hospital. Medical officials told police that "Murphy would surely have died" if neighbors had not called police, documents said.
Defense attorney Shelley Ajax said her client was honest with her from the start and told her exactly what happened, which has since been supported by witness interviews.
"It was very out of character behavior," she said. "He tried to break up two individuals fighting ... and he made a bad decision at the end. He realizes that and takes full responsibility for it."
Rivera told Matheson he was "very apologetic" for what happened.
Matheson agreed to follow the recommendation, which called for a nine-month jail sentence. Rivera, who had been in custody since his arrest after the June assault, got credit for time served and was released after his court hearing.
"Stopping the fight was certainly the right instinct," Matheson said. "Dragging the guy out to the field probably wasn't."
The proceedings against Sanders, the alleged assailant, have been on hold while he underwent an evaluation at Eastern State Hospital. The court is awaiting a report on Sanders' mental health.
Pasco man sentenced for lie about shooting
A 26-year-old man will spend a year in prison for lying to police about an August gang shooting and trying to put the blame on his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.
Juan Pablo Infante-Martinez was sentenced for his earlier guilty plea to first-degree rendering criminal assistance, a felony.
The Pasco man was with a group of men when one allegedly fired at rival gang members outside the Motel 6 in Pasco.
Paula Villarreal, 36, of Pasco was hit in the face when several shots were fired at the car she was in. The shooting happened just before 10 p.m. Aug. 29, after Villarreal had checked into the North Oregon Avenue motel with her daughter, son and her son's girlfriend.
According to court documents, Debbie Villarreal moved the car from the front of the motel after checking in to a parking spot just outside the east entrance.
Meanwhile, Ramon Morfin Jr. and Infante-Martinez were with gang members in the picnic area in the northeast corner of the parking lot when they saw that the car belonged to a rival and yelled at the occupants, documents said.
The group then gathered around a Mercedes Benz that belonged to another documented gang member, and Morfin allegedly leaned on the car to steady his shot with a .45-caliber pistol.
Infante-Martinez and the others yelled insults toward their rivals while Morfin fired eight times, hitting Paula Villarreal in the face and jaw, court documents said. Her injuries were not life-threatening.
Villarreal's daughter, Debbie, was near the car when the shooting occurred but was not hit. She quickly got back in and drove away.
Debbie Villarreal and her brother, Jose, are said to be documented gang members, documents said.
While Pasco officers were at the motel investigating the shooting, Infante-Martinez returned but told police he hadn't been there at the time of the shooting. However, surveillance video later confirmed he was standing next to Morfin when Morfin fired the gun, court documents said.
Infante-Martinez also called Pasco detectives the next day and again said he was not at the motel at the time of the shooting, but then tried to say the shooter was the new boyfriend of his baby's mother. Investigators already had identified Morfin as the suspected shooter, documents said.
After his arrest, Infante-Martinez told police he had been at the motel and misled officers, yet he wouldn't identity anyone at the scene.
"Police were investigating assault 1 and I told them another person did it and that was not true," Infante-Martinez wrote in his plea statement.
Infante-Martinez's criminal history includes residential burglary and two third-degree assaults.
Morfin has not yet been caught for his alleged role. An arrest warrant on two counts of first-degree assault with a gun was issued for him in September.