Unzipped assailant gets four years

By SCOTT NORTH

Herald Writer

A Spokane man with a history of rape and robbery was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for forcing his way into an Everett woman’s apartment with his pants unzipped.

Vincent Wayne Falla, 40, apologized for the April 29 break-in and said he hadn’t intended to hurt anyone.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Larry McKeeman said the crime was an "extremely serious incident" and sentenced Falla to double the top punishment outlined under state sentencing guidelines.

Falla had spoken to the woman, 25, a few minutes before the incident while she was at her mailbox. The woman told police she went upstairs to her apartment, expecting that the next knock at the door would be her father, who had planned to take her to dinner. Instead, when she opened the door, Falla was there, and he pushed his way inside and locked the door, according to court papers.

The woman struggled with Falla, who left the apartment when the woman’s father arrived. The man captured Falla and held him until police arrived.

The woman’s father spoke Thursday in court, saying his daughter has been traumatized by the incident. He urged McKeeman to send Falla away for as long as possible.

"Something has to be done to protect my daughter and other people like her," he said.

Falla had pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree burglary, but withdrew the plea last week because he had not previously been advised that the conviction would have sent him to prison for life under the state’s three-strikes law.

Instead, Falla entered a so-called Alford plea to residential burglary, in which he said he didn’t believe he’d committed the offense but acknowledged that he likely would have been convicted if the case went before a jury. The residential burglary conviction does not count as a "strike" under the state’s persistent offender law.

Falla’s attorney, public defender Natalie Tarrantino, said the crime occurred on a day when Falla had begun using drugs and alcohol after a period of treatment and sobriety, and that he became suddenly paranoid and forced his way into the apartment looking for a place to hide from police.

At the time of his arrest, Falla was wanted on two warrants, including one for failing to register as a sex offender. He has convictions for robbery (1979), escape (1982), rape (1988) and harassment (1995).

You can call Herald Writer Scott North at 425-339-3431or send e-mail to

north@heraldnet.com.

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