Charges could follow assault at jail

EVERETT — It was a case of vigilante jail justice and mistaken identity that’s bound to extend the stay of a Snohomish County inmate.

The trustee allegedly beat up another inmate, breaking bones in his face, according to court documents.

The Mount Vernon man, 32, reportedly thought the fellow inmate was arrested for investigation for child molestation “and let his emotions dictate his actions,” court papers said. The other inmate actually had been arrested for investigation of domestic violence assault.

The injured inmate suffered eight fractures to the face, according medical records. He was treated at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett after the Wednesday assault. He then was returned to the jail. He will need more treatment at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle next week, court papers said.

The suspect told deputies he became upset after hearing a man talking at a jail lunch table about being arrested by Everett police for investigation of child molestation. Bail for that man was set at $100,000.

The assault suspect said he’d been molested as a child and hearing the man talk made him want to cry, court papers said.

A detective showed the suspect a booking photo of the man he believed he saw at the lunch table. The suspect said he was the man who had been talking about being arrested for molestation.

The detective then showed the suspect a booking photo of the man he punched in the face. The suspect said he was the same guy.

That’s when the detective explained that they were two different people and he’d hit the wrong man.

The suspect said he made a mistake and felt terrible, court papers said.

When the detective explained to the injured inmate what had happened, he initially said he didn’t want to press charges.

He later changed his mind because he thought the inmate might try to attack him again. He said the inmate “showed him a picture of death and didn’t want the same thing to occur,” court papers said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what crimes brought the assault suspect to the Snohomish County Jail. He was serving his sentence in the Snohomish County Jail as part of a booking contract with Skagit County.

The suspect was a trustee in his cell block. In that position, he could clean floors, hand out meals and perform other chores. “Any time an inmate commits an infraction in the jail, all privileges and duties are suspended while the investigation takes place,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. “So, (the) inmate…will not be mopping floors or collecting meal trays for the rest of his stay in the county correctional facility.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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