A 21-year-old man who was asked to buy a cigar for a teen is accused of smoking it himself and using racial slurs before stabbing the boy, prosecutors said.
Bryan P. Aho is behind bars on $150,000 bail for the Oct. 18 incident in Kennewick that sent the 16-year-old into surgery.
Aho pleaded innocent Thursday in Benton County Superior Court to first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, which could bring a longer sentence for the convicted felon.
His trial is Dec. 9.
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According to court documents, the teen was in the area of West Fourth Avenue and Olympia Street when he saw an acquaintance who was walking with Aho.
The teen gave them money to buy him a cigar at a nearby store. Aho reportedly bought it and had to give the clerk his birth date to prove he was of legal age. The two left the store and the teen caught up with them to get the cigar.
However, Aho began smoking it and, when asked what he was doing, made a derogatory comment to the teen, who is black, before punching him in the face, documents said.
The teen responded by punching Aho, who is white, several times in the face. The boy apparently thought the fight was over and backed away, but Aho pulled out a knife and stabbed the teen at least two times near the rib cage, court documents said.
The teen ran across the street, then noticed that his T-shirt was bloody. A Grocery Outlet store employee arriving for work saw the injured teen and brought him into the store, then called 911 at about 8:52 a.m.
The boy was having trouble breathing. He was treated by Kennewick paramedics before being taken to Trios Health, formerly Kennewick General Hospital, where he went into surgery to repair a punctured diaphragm, documents said.
Aho and the other man reportedly ran to a nearby home, then Aho got a ride out of the neighborhood.
Kennewick police tracked down the acquaintance. Officers also got video footage from the store where Aho bought the cigar and it shows him there close to the time of the stabbing, documents said.
Aho was arrested the next day. He had a black eye and allegedly had a knife, along with a letter in his wallet that contained several references to white supremacy.