PASCO — A 53-year-old Pasco man called out for help as his roommate stood over him in the front yard of their east Pasco mobile home allegedly stabbing him repeatedly.
Rodger Lincoln stopped yelling and "went quiet" a few seconds later as his 27-year-old roommate calmly walked back into the trailer, according to court documents.
When the neighbors at the Sundance Mobile Home Park went to check on Lincoln, he wasn't moving and he had been stabbed in the eye.
His death has some neighbors concerned about the use of some of the mobile homes to house people with mental illnesses.
Details about the slaying were released Wednesday after Joseph William Hart made his preliminary appearance in Franklin County Superior Court.
Judge Bruce Spanner set Hart's bail at $750,000 at the request of Prosecutor Shawn Sant. Hart is being held in the Franklin County jail on investigation of second-degree murder.
Sant explained that Hart could be facing his third strike under the state's "three strikes" law for serious offenses. If convicted of a third strike, Hart would spend the rest of his life in prison.
Defense attorney Scott Johnson was in court Wednesday representing Hart. He told Spanner that he talked to his client in jail earlier, but wanted to argue bail at a later time.
Prosecutors have until Friday to charge or release Hart.
Hart also has convictions for first-degree robbery from Spokane and second-degree assault in Walla Walla, which qualify as offenses under the "three-strikes" law, Sant said.
Hart was arrested in 2004 in Spokane after he hitched a ride with a man, then tried to rob him, according to the Spokesman-Review newspaper.
When the victim tried to fight off Hart, Hart pulled a butterfly knife and started cutting him. The victim suffered a 6-inch gash to his neck and cuts to his face and fingers, the newspaper said.
Hart was charged with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, but the assault charge was dropped when he pleaded guilty. Hart was sentenced to almost four years in prison, online court records show.
Hart was sent to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, where in August 2006 he was caught with a weapon while fighting another prisoner.
Hart was sentenced to one year and 10 months for the assault, according to online court records. He began serving that time Jan. 1, 2008, after finishing his robbery sentence. He was released on Oct. 15, 2009, but remained on probation with the state until last April, said Shari Hall, prison spokeswoman.
Lincoln's death Tuesday is Pasco's first homicide of the year and the second in the Tri-Cities.
Kennewick police investigated this year's first homicide Jan. 27, when Viola Williams, 87, was found dead inside her Kennewick mobile home.
Her 28-year-old grandson, Adam Ryan Williams, is charged with first-degree murder for the brutal slaying. The West Richland man, who said God directed him to kill his grandmother, is at Eastern State Hospital for mental health treatment.
While Hart was in court Wednesday, Pasco police detectives were back at his home -- with the Washington State Patrol Crime Response Team -- collecting evidence.
Hart was arrested by Pasco police after they were called just before 7 p.m. Tuesday about two men fighting outside a home at 925 N. Elm St., space 72.
Hart and Lincoln roomed together in one of nine homes owned by Lourdes Health Network, according to the Franklin County Assessor's Office. Lourdes uses the homes as housing for people with mental illnesses.
Sant told the Herald that he has been asked if mental illness could be a factor, but he said he didn't know yet.
"I haven't seen what, if any, mental health issues he has," Sant said.
There is no indication that Hart was evaluated at the state psychiatric hospital in any of his prior criminal cases, according to online court records.
Wednesday, as kids played outside in the sun, their parents continued to look down the street, watching the activity at Lincoln and Hart's home.
Crime scene tape stretched across the yard and numbered evidence tags dotted the ground, stairs and railing marking the trail the roommates left as they wrestled outside.
Neighbor Tim Sparks told police that he and his son were outside trying to jump start a vehicle when they saw Lincoln and Hart come out of the trailer, documents said.
Sparks said he saw Lincoln fall to the ground with Hart standing over him.
"Tim said he saw Hart hitting the victim with his hand while he was on the ground. Tim said it looked like he was hitting him with an opened hand" around the head and face, documents said.
Sparks told detectives that Lincoln started yelling something, but he couldn't understand what he was saying. Sparks' son told investigators that Lincoln was yelling for help.
Hart, who was found with blood on his pants, shirt and face, was arrested without incident.
When officers checked Lincoln's body, they found several stab wounds on his back and stomach, and found a knife in his left eye, documents said. An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday.
Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel released Lincoln's name around 1 p.m. Wednesday, after having trouble finding any of Lincoln's relatives and asking for the public's help.
He ended up tracking down a sister, who said she hasn't seen Lincoln since 1998.
Lincoln reportedly was a regular at Lourdes Wilson House, a clubhouse for people recovering from mental illnesses that closed Jan. 19 because of state funding cuts.
Wilson House, which was in Pasco, provided programs, support and employment services and social activities to help people with long-term mental illnesses lead stable and fulfilling lives.
Michael Harrington, a 52-year-old Tri-Citian who has been receiving mental health services since 1979, said Lincoln regularly went to Wilson House because he didn't have anywhere else to go.
Harrington said Lincoln seemed well-liked, and he was doing well, but the closure has affected other members.
"They're extremely out of sorts that they didn't have Wilson House anymore, that they don't have hope," he said.
Lincoln was a pretty happy man, who "would just smile at you," Harrington said.
"Rodger was a compassionate man. He had a demeanor of confidence and goodwill," he said.
Harrington didn't know Lincoln was living in the Lourdes-owned homes at Sundance Mobile Home Park until he heard about the slaying in the news, he said.
Dave Galbraith, who lives in a Lourdes-owned home in space 68, said he thought Lincoln lived there for about three months. Galbraith said the contract that residents sign with Lourdes says they can stay from three days to 18 months.
Lourdes bought the homes in November, according to the county assessor's website. The homes previously were owned by Greater Columbia Behavioral Health, Benton-Franklin Human Services and Sunderland.
Sandy Hutsell, the mobile home park manager, said she did not know anything about Lincoln and Hart -- and actually doesn't know anything about the residents in the homes owned by Lourdes.
"I have been concerned about the people that are here because I don't know anything about them," Hutsell said. "I'm kept sort of in the dark about the whole situation."
Hutsell said she has information about residents who live in the other trailers, but she is not given any information from Lourdes about their residents.
"According to (Lourdes), the privacy act won't let them tell me anything, but we're going to pursue that to see if that can be changed," she said. "I personally would like pictures of the people or copy of their ID's so if I see someone, I know who they are."
Ray Wilson, a longtime owner of a home in the park, said he is upset that the tenants never were notified about mentally ill people being put in some of the homes.
He said he believes they are not being supervised enough and that concerns him because of the kids living there and the nearby Ochoa Middle School.
"We've got a problem here. This is what we don't need. I don't know how they got away with letting them in here -- with Lourdes buying these and putting these mental health people in here," Wilson said.
Wilson, a retired telephone company worker, said he has lived in his home for 32 years -- his was the third trailer in the park -- but after learning about Tuesday's stabbing, he told his wife that they are moving.
"I feel sorry for them ... but you don't put them in a mobile home park next to a school," he said. "This is not a place for that to happen."