A transient accused of threatening customers with a combat knife inside a Richland Starbucks has a 1983 murder conviction for stabbing an acquaintance in the neck.
Rory Alan Star served just over 14 years of a 30-year sentence for the Seattle slaying, which happened in the back seat of a car after a night of drinking.
That conviction also included an unrelated assault on a man with an unopened beer bottle.
Star spent the next 15 years in and out of lower courts in Western Washington with dozens of cases for mostly misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor, online court records show.
And then he migrated east.
Star, 53, first caught the attention of Richland police in early August with calls for lewd conduct and disorderly and disruptive behavior, said Capt. Mike Cobb. On one occasion, he urinated in front of an officer.
Star — who had been living in a tent at Columbia Point — often was violent and always was under the influence of alcohol, Cobb said.
That was the case on Oct. 19, when Star first approached a female customer inside the Starbucks on Columbia Point Drive and pulled out the large knife in anger because she ignored him, court documents said.
The woman reported that Star pointed the knife at her and held it about 12 inches away as he called her a derogatory name.
Another customer immediately called 911 as soon as he saw the knife. Star then turned his attention to that man, hitting a store display as he approached the customer, documents said.
The woman told police she “feared for her life,” and the male customer said he was scared that Star was going to use the knife on him, court documents said.
Responding officers noted that Star was highly intoxicated. He ignored their orders and tried to grab the knife he’d stashed in a pants pocket as police wrestled him to the ground, documents said.
One officer was treated for minor injuries after the incident, police said at the time.
Star had a medical evaluation at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland before he was taken to the Benton County jail.
“He poses a significant risk to people around him, whether they’re police officers or citizens,” Cobb said.
Star has pleaded innocent in Benton County Superior Court to two counts of second-degree assault. The trial is set for Dec. 12.
He listed the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission in Pasco as his address if released. However, he remains locked up on $25,000 bail.
Star’s 1983 convictions for second-degree murder with a deadly weapon and second-degree assault weren’t a factor in the current bail request, because the felonies occurred almost 34 years ago.
According to the King County Superior Court Clerk’s Office, Star pleaded guilty to the assault, while a jury returned a guilty verdict for the murder.
On Nov. 14, 1982, Star “without provocation” hit a man in the face with a full beer bottle, according to court documents.
The victim, Stephen Rush, suffered a fractured facial bone and a cut over the eye.
Then on Dec. 30, 1982, Star went out drinking with a group of people. They ended up at a party.
About 3 a.m. Dec. 31, the group piled into a car with a sober driver. A fight broke out between Star and Reginald A. Owens. The front-seat passenger who saw Star hitting Owens told the driver to stop the car.
Passengers saw the flash of a knife blade as Star lunged at the victim.
“It soon became apparent that the victim was cut badly and bleeding heavily from the neck area,” documents said. “In fact, Owens’ carotid artery had been cut.”
Star and his girlfriend jumped out of the car and ran away. He left the knife behind in the car.
The driver rushed Owens to a Seattle hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery. Owens died Jan. 6, 1983.
Police tracked down Star later that morning after a friend called the hospital to check on Owens’ condition, and gave the suspect’s location.
Star was treated at a hospital for wounds on his hand, court documents said,
He admitted to police that he swung at the victim with a knife, and that he never saw Owens with a weapon.
Star went to prison in April 1983, serving his 30-year sentence at the now-closed McNeil Island Corrections Center. He became eligible for parole 11 years later under the state’s former parole board system, according to a Department of Corrections spokesman.
The board noted that at the time of his review, he had been locked up for nine years and nine months. The Sentencing Reform Act’s guideline range for his crime was 11 years and eight months to 15 years and eight months.
The board granted release in June 1997, saying he “needs some transitioning into the community.”