A Kennewick man will serve more than 25 years in prison for stabbing his girlfriend nine times and his brother twice.
Rayfield Cole, 47, was sentenced Monday for attacking Michelle Maldonado, while two of her children tried to stop him.
He then assaulted his brother, Phillmore Cole, when he came to the woman’s and children’s aid.
Benton-Franklin Superior Court Judge Cameron Mitchell sentenced the defendant to 25 years and eight months in prison.
The sentence was roughly three years higher than the normal maximum allowed by state sentencing laws, and about five years less than the 30 years Deputy Prosecutor Kristin McRoberts requested.
Rayfield Cole pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and second-degree assault. As part of the plea, he admitted to committing a domestic violence crime within sight of the victim’s children, using a deadly weapon, and attacking a “Good Samaritan,” a person helping stop a crime.
The defendant’s previous convictions include second-degree child molestation and two counts of second-degree rape of a child.
Maldonado and the defendant were ending their relationship, and she allowed him to stay at the North Cleveland apartment they shared until he found another place to live.
She was preparing for work on April 26 when she walked into the bedroom to get her makeup and other toiletries from the master bathroom.
As she was carrying the items out of the bedroom, Rayfield Cole told her to come to bed. When Maldonado refused, he knocked the items from her hand, threw her onto the bed and began strangling her. He then got a knife and began stabbing her.
She tried to defend herself with a pillow, but he stabbed her in the neck and both lungs.
Maldonado’s oldest daughter heard a noise like someone falling in the shower, before hearing her mother yell for help.
The girl, 12 at the time of the attack, ran into the room and saw Rayfield Cole with the knife and rushed to her mother’s aid. In a letter to the court, the girl described trying to pull him off the victim, and then her mother telling her to call 911.
McRoberts played the recording of the girl’s frantic call to the dispatcher, which started with her saying, “My mom is being stabbed.”
She ran to the apartment next door where Phillmore Cole lived, while her 11-year-old sister begged the defendant to stop, and tried to shield her mother with her body, McRoberts said.
Phillmore Cole came into the apartment and tried to get his brother to stop. When he interceded, Rayfield Cole turned the knife on him and stabbed the man in the chin.
In an attempt to stop his brother, Phillmore Cole grabbed the knife by the blade, leaving an 8-centimeter cut that required roughly 70 stitches.
He was able to convince his brother to let him, Maldonado and the girls leave. They retreated to Phillmore Cole’s apartment, where he armed himself and waited for police to arrive.
“He was willing to shoot his own brother if he came out of that apartment,” McRoberts said.
The deputy prosecutor asked for the exceptional sentence because Rayfield Cole knew the girls were home.
“He continued even after they came in,” she said.
The girls told the judge the attack made them afraid to be in the house.
Maldonado wrote the attack left her with physical and psychological wounds. She planned to go to Silverwood Theme Park and the ocean with her family during the summer but wasn’t able to because of her injuries.
She still remembers her last words to him being, “Sorry I woke you.”
“Now my last words to you are goodbye forever,” she said in her victim impact statement.
Defense attorney Dennis Hanson said his client was remorseful. He didn’t deny committing the crime, but he was suicidal and consumed alcohol before the attack.
The defendant slit his wrists, and agreed to let his brother leave the apartment only after the man said he would get his gun to shoot Rayfield Cole, Hanson said.
“He had every intention of killing himself,” Hanson said. “It doesn’t justify his actions, but it does give some explanation to them.”
Rayfield Cole told the judge if he could go back in time, he would make different choices, and he asked the victims to forgive him.
“I snapped. That’s what happened,” he said. “I should have never lost it.”