Guilty plea entered, sentences handed down in Walla Walla gang brawl

One man pleaded guilty this morning and two others were sentenced this week in a fight in June.

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WALLA WALLA — One man pleaded guilty and two others were sentenced this week in Superior Court for their involvement in a massive gang-related fight outside St. Patrick Catholic Church in June.

Andres Torres, 18, of 614 N. Ninth Court, entered a guilty plea this morning to a charge of conspiracy to second-degree assault.

Officials said Torres participated in the beating of Mario R. Aguayo, who suffered a head injury when he was struck with a baseball bat and punched and kicked.

Torres had been accused of second-degree assault and felony riot, but the case was reduced in exchange for his guilty plea.

He faces a standard-range jail term of nine to 10 1/2 months when he’s sentenced later. The prosecution is recommending the low end of the standard range and won’t object to a defense request of partial confinement for work release if Torres is employed.

Meanwhile, two men who previously pleaded guilty to lesser involvement in the melee were sentenced Monday to time-served and stints on the Department of Corrections work crew.

Joaquin G. Ramirez, 21, of 1001 W. Chestnut St., and Ramiro M. Zuniga Jr., 23, of 245 N.E. Elder Place, No. 2, College Place, were ordered to serve 30 days in the County Jail, with credit for 12 days previously served and the remaining 18 days converted to work crew.

They also were placed on a year of community custody, a form of probation.

Ramirez and Zuniga pleaded guilty earlier this month to felony riot. Ramirez admitted bringing a baseball bat to the fight scene and acting with others in using or threatening to use force. Officials said Zuniga had a set of brass knuckles and participated in assaulting a person during the fight.

In handing down the sentences recommended by the prosecution, Judge Donald W. Schacht lectured the men and warned them he would not tolerate any future gang-related behavior.

Walla Walla police said the brawl involving 60-100 people occurred shortly before midnight June 13 outside the church where a graduation party was under way. A group of gang members had started harassing three associates of a rival gang and calling on one of them to fight, according to a police report filed in court.

Those being harassed, including Aguayo, left the area and allegedly armed themselves with various weapons. The fight broke out when they returned in Ramirez’s truck and Aguayo wielded a bat, police said.

In addition to Aguayo, at least two others were injured.

Aguayo and another man facing charges are awaiting trials. A final adult suspect charged in Superior Court has pleaded guilty to a gross-misdemeanor riot charge and will be sentenced later.

Two juveniles also are scheduled to stand trial later.

Most of the defendants were arrested Sept. 3 during a coordinated sweep by about 10 area law enforcement officers.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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