Man pleads guilty to stabbing death in Everett school yard

EVERETT — A man on Thursday admitted that he took part in the 2010 stabbing and beating death of Donald Barker outside an Everett elementary school.

With his head bowed and hands shackled Jimmy Ruiz Jr. quietly said “Guilty” after Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ronald Castleberry aske

d Ruiz to answer to the charge of second-degree murder with a deadly weapon.

Barker’s relatives held on to each other, weeping.

Ruiz faces 20 to 28 years in prison. Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Baldock has agreed to recommend a low-end sentence in exchange for the guilty plea. The sentencing is scheduled for January.

Meanwhile codefendant, William Gobat, also charged with second-degree murder, is scheduled to go on trial next week.

A third man, Patrick Rex Griffiths earlier this year pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon in connection with the case.

As part of his plea agreement, Griffiths agreed to testify against Gobat.

Prosecutors allege that the trio attacked Barker, 37, outside Madison Elementary School.

Barker died on the way to the hospital.

The medical examiner found numerous injuries, including two deep stab wounds to the chest and back. He also had been clobbered on the head.

Phone records indicate that Barker likely had gone to the school to buy drugs from a woman who lives nearby. Phone records also show that she called and sent text messages to Gobat in the minutes leading up to the attack, including one message that read, “Get that cash I need it.”

Barker was still clutching $30 when paramedics began efforts to save his life.

Everett detectives learned that the men returned to the woman’s house after the attack. One witness reported that the men washed their clothes in the shower. Ruiz allegedly handed a woman a knife and asked her to hide it, court papers said. A witness told detectives Ruiz re-enacted how he had stabbed a man at the school, Baldock wrote in court papers.

When questioned by detectives, Ruiz and Griffiths had conflicting accounts of their involvement. Both denied stabbing Barker or being the primary attacker. Ruiz said he was kicked in the chin while trying to break up the attack. Griffiths first told detectives that he went back to the car when he saw the other two attack a man. He later admitted that he punched Barker several times so the others wouldn’t think he was a wimp, Baldock wrote.

Gobat declined to speak with investigators.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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