By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — The beating of a Monroe corrections officer last month could end up being an inmate’s third strike and land him behind bars for life, according to Snohomish County prosecutors.
Jimi Hamilton, 33, already is serving a long stretch in prison for bank robbery — his second bank robbery conviction and his second strike under the state’s persistent offender law.
Now, prosecutors have charged Hamilton with second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer for an Aug. 23 incident at the Monroe Corrections Complex. If he’s convicted, Hamilton faces a mandatory life sentence.
Prosecutors allege that Hamilton tackled corrections officer Nicholas Trout and repeatedly pummeled him in the face until back-up officers were able to break up the assault.
Bones in Trout’s face were shattered during the attack.
The officer continues to recover from his injuries at home and has yet to return to work, said Selena Davis, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.
Hamilton pleaded not guilty on Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court.
He’s been housed in the Snohomish County Jail since the incident, but a relative was able to post bond on the assault charge. That means that Hamilton is expected to be sent back to prison to await trial.
Prison officials on Friday said that he won’t be returned to Monroe. Instead, he was expected to be sent to Clallam Bay Corrections Center, where he’ll be held in segregation.
At the time of the attack, Hamilton was living in the Special Offender Unit. That part of the Monroe prison houses the state’s most seriously mentally ill offenders.
Hamilton was in a large recreational room while Trout was working at a desk, prosecutors said. Hamilton reportedly told Trout that he wanted to talk to a supervisor and file an emergency grievance. The nature of his complaint wasn’t included in court papers.
The conversation became heated and Trout ordered the inmate back to his cell.
Hamilton began to walk away, but turned around and charged the officer, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Laura Twitchell wrote in court papers. Hamilton collided with Trout, knocking him off his feet and onto a concrete floor. Trout was motionless as he was punched in the face repeatedly, court papers said. Back-up officers quickly intervened and pulled the inmate off their colleague.
Hamilton later told Monroe police he was feeling anxious about not being able to talk to a supervisor about his emergency grievance. He said when he was walking back to his cell, he thought an inmate was trying to attack him with a knife. Hamilton said that’s when he rushed forward and collided with “the guy who fell down,” Twitchell wrote. He told police the next thing he remembered was someone yelling, “stop.”
Hamilton has a history of prison infractions, including assaulting corrections officers. He’s twice been convicted of custodial assault.
Hamilton made headlines in 2007 when he married a former jail guard a day before he was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison for bank robbery. After being given the maximum sentence under the law, Hamilton asked a Pierce County Superior Court judge if justice had been served.
“I think so,” the judge said. “With your track record, I think you’re going to be back in front of us, and you’re going to go away for life.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.