Man ruled insane during attack in Touchet

WALLA WALLA -- A man who attacked a deliveryman in Touchet in early June has been found innocent by reason of insanity.

Luis A. Ballesteros, 20, entered the plea this week in Walla Walla County Superior Court. Then, Judge Donald W. Schacht signed an order committing him to Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake for ongoing treatment.

Based on evaluations by experts at the hospital, Schacht determined that Ballesteros now is mentally competent after undergoing preliminary treatment, but was legally insane when the June attack occurred and remains a substantial danger to the public unless kept under control.

Ballesteros will remain confined until doctors say it's safe for him to return to the community.

The insanity finding was agreed to by the prosecution and defense.

Ballesteros was charged with first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and third-degree attempted theft.

Officials said he had been released from the Washington State Penitentiary early June 3 and was headed to the Tri-Cities on a Grape Line bus that stopped at the Touchet Mercantile.

He entered the store and walked into a storage room in which a young girl was sleeping.

The deliveryman, Joseph D. Hunt of Kennewick, went into the room about 7 a.m. to drop off products and was confronted inside by Ballesteros, who closed the door and started attacking Hunt, according to a Sheriff's Office report filed in court.

Hunt overpowered Ballesteros and helped subdue him until law enforcement arrived, officials said. Hunt wasn't injured, nor was the girl hurt or disturbed.

Ballesteros later also was charged with two counts of custodial assault for allegedly injuring two county jail officers in August. But the prosecution dropped those charges.