WALLA WALLA -- A man who recently was acquitted of assaulting a Walla Walla police detective by pointing a gun at him last year was handed a suspended jail sentence for striking a Benton County sheriff's deputy about three months later.
Matthew R. Hope, 39, pleaded guilty this week to a reduced charge of fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in the Walla Walla County jail.
He initially was accused of felony third-degree assault.
Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann sentenced Hope to the year in jail. But Lohrmann gave him credit for the four days he spent before being released pending the outcome of his case and suspended the balance of the term provided he successfully complies with conditions of two years of probation.
Hope also must pay $592 in court costs and fees.
The sentence was recommended by the prosecution in a plea agreement.
Before Lohrmann imposed it, Hope told the judge, "I want to make a public apology for my irresponsibility."
Hope added he's taken preventive steps such as undergoing alcohol treatment and attending school.
"I don't want it to happen again, and if I keep going in this direction, it won't," Hope said.
The Sept. 1, 2012, assault occurred at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds when an intoxicated Hope struck Benton County sheriff's Deputy Daniel Korten on the shoulder outside the beer garden area under the grandstand. Korten was helping patrol during the Walla Walla fair.
In the previous confrontation with law enforcement, Hope was accused of pointing a loaded semi-automatic pistol at Walla Walla police Detective Kevin Bayne during an encounter the evening of June 6, 2012, outside Hope's home on the 200 block of Donald Street.
But Hope claimed he just wanted to scare away people he thought were trespassing in his yard and dropped his weapon when he became convinced Bayne was a police officer.
A jury found Hope innocent of first-degree assault at his trial on that charge last month and determined he used lawful force in the belief he was defending his property.
Bayne recently was promoted to patrol sergeant.