Inmates enter pleas in riot, assault

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WALLA WALLA -- Three inmates accused of beating three fellow prisoners at the Washington State Penitentiary in March pleaded innocent Monday afternoon to felony charges.

Joshua P. Loper, James S. Rocha and David S. Travis are scheduled for trial March 10 and 11 in Walla Walla County Superior Court. Each is charged with prison riot and three counts of second-degree assault.

Officials said the inmates attacked three others in a dining facility during the evening meal on March 23. Loper, 24, Rocha, 27, and Travis, 26, allegedly struck, punched and kicked the victims -- one who was wheelchair-bound -- in the unprovoked attack.

The defendants continued the assaults even after they were instructed by correctional staff to stop and had to be forced to the floor, according to a police report filed in court.

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