Fifth adult pleads guilty in brawl

Ricardo Morales Jr. faces up to a year in jail for his role in a gang fight in June.

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WALLA WALLA -- A fifth adult defendant has pleaded guilty in Superior Court to participating in a massive gang-related fight outside St. Patrick Catholic Church in June.

Ricardo Morales Jr., 19, of 607 E. Sumach St., entered the guilty plea this morning to a charge of felony riot.

He faces up to a year in the County Jail when he's sentenced later. In exchange for his guilty plea, the prosecution is recommending a 30-day term, with credit for eight days served before bail was posted following his arrest in September. The remaining 22 days would be converted to service on the Department of Corrections work crew, according to the prosecution's recommendation.

Morales admitted today that he was armed with a baseball bat during the fight, and along with other participants used or threatened to use force against a person.

Four other adult defendants and a juvenile pleaded guilty earlier to various charges. A sixth man and another juvenile 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.

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 left the area and allegedly armed themselves with various weapons. The fight broke out when they returned and one man wielded a bat, police said.

At least three people were injured.

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

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