8-year sentence for attack in Snohomish park

SNOHOMISH — The Kleins were happy to move their family from Everett to Snohomish about four years ago.

The small-town feel reminded Rustin Klein of where he grew up in Arizona. His wife, Yvette, always wanted to live there, even as a little girl.

A brutal attack on their sons in the summer of 2013 has changed how they see the town, at least for now.

Rustin Klein says he believes the crime was a one-time situation. It’s harder for his wife to see beyond what happened to her boys.

“I’m not there yet,” she said. “I’m trying to trust Snohomish again as a quiet, little community.”

The Kleins and their youngest son were in court on Monday when the primary suspect Tristan Smith was sentenced to eight years in prison.

After lengthy negotiations, Smith, a convicted felon, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault while armed with a knife. Prosecutors agreed to drop a more serious first-degree assault charge in exchange for the plea and an exceptional sentence beyond the standard range.

“What made this case challenging was it was crime without a motive,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Chris Dickinson said.

The Kleins’ sons, ages 13, 22 and 23, were playing with a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee at the old freshman campus, now the site of the aquatic center. Smith and his girlfriend, Rachel Patterson, approached the trio and a few words were exchanged. The victims told police Smith suddenly attacked the oldest brother first with a extendable baton. The victims yelled for their youngest brother to run. Smith then pulled a knife and stabbed the older brother in the chest. The middle brother ran to help and was attacked by Patterson, according to court papers. Smith also attacked him.

The brothers, bleeding heavily from their wounds, were able to walk home.

They were covered in blood, Yvette Klein said. Her first-born son collapsed on the floor and was having a hard time breathing. They would later learn that he’d been stabbed twice, once in the chest and under his arm. The knife punctured his lung. He was hospitalized for three days.

Patterson, 28, recently was sentenced to three years in prison. She also pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, None of the victims or witnesses could identify Patterson as taking part in assault and there was no physical evidence tying her to the crime, Dickinson said.

He agreed to reduce the first-degree assault charge in exchange for her guilty plea and the promise that she would testify against Smith at trial. She planned to testify that Smith went to the playfield armed with a knife, Dickinson said. That was expected to dispute Smith’s claims that he had been acting in self-defense.

The Kleins said they were grateful for the efforts of police and the prosecutor’s office.

Smith, 30, on Monday apologized to the family. He told them he never intended to hurt anyone. He was high on heroin at the time and his lifestyle made him paranoid, he said. The judge was told that the defendant felt threatened.

Smith said he hoped the family could find some closure after Monday’s hearing.

“It might bring closure to him. He’ll do his time and get out. These kids will suffer forever,” Rustin Klein said after the hearing.

Their oldest son continues to recover from his physical injuries. He also was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder because of the attack. He’s become hypervigilant and suffers from nightmares, his parents said.

“His anxiety keeps him from doing more independent activities that he used to do,” his mom said.

Their other two sons and their daughter also are more cautious about being out in public. Yvette Klein also is anxious when any of her four children are out. They know to check in with her to ease her worries.

“We could have lost one or three of the boys,” Rustin Klein said. “We’re very fortunate.”

The Kleins plan to stay in Snohomish.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dianahefley

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