Evaluation ordered for Walla Walla man in Kmart attack

Stephen D. Miller is accused of assaulting a woman at the store earlier this month.

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WALLA WALLA -- A mental evaluation has been ordered for a local man who allegedly attacked a woman at Kmart this month.

Staff members from Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake are to determine whether Stephen D. Miller, 57, of 1304 Ruth St., is competent to stand trial, can assist in his defense and was sane when he allegedly committed the crime.

The order, requested by Walla Walla County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden, was signed Monday by Superior Court Commissioner Scott Wolfram.

Miller is charged with second-degree assault. He is accused of wielding a knife and assaulting Dixie Aichele, 51, while they were in the Garden Center of the Kmart store at 2200 Isaacs Ave. about 5:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

Aichele reportedly encoun-tered Miller -- whom she doesn't know -- while looking for Christmas decorations. He said something to her that she didn't understand. Then a short time later, he grabbed her around her waist from behind with his left arm, tried to cover her mouth with his right hand and held something hard against her cheek and eye, according to a police report filed in court.

Aichele struggled free, yelled for help and Miller allegedly ran from the scene. He was tackled at the front doors of the store by a correctional officer, according to authorities.

Miller acknowledged at the time he had "just attacked a lady," the police report says, but didn't provide a reason.

Aichele suffered a small cut on her left hand and a deep abrasion to her right cheek, officials said.

Police noticed a cut on Miller's right hand. A Swiss Army-style knife reportedly was located on a shelf behind where he was detained.

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

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