Man claims insanity in knife case

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WALLA WALLA — A man arrested last April after allegedly wielding a knife outside a local Safeway store has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Steven R. Hall, 46, of 534 S. Third Ave., No. 6, is charged with second-degree assault. But his attorney, Gail Siemers, says in a declaration filed in court Thursday that Hall has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

A medical doctor determined that the alleged crime "was the product of Mr. Hall’s mental illness," according to Siemer’s declaration. She adds that Hall was delusional at the time of the incident at Safeway and felt threatened, but is non-aggressive when he is on medication.

Siemers is asking Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann to acquit Hall by reason of insanity, and order that Hall be evaluated and treated until he’s safe enough to be allowed into the community.

Police say Hall went to a pay phone outside the Safeway store at 215 W. Rose St. about 6:20 p.m. April 18 and pulled out a folding knife. When a man approached to use the phone, Hall allegedly told him he had a knife and to get away.

An officer arrived and had to forcibly arrest Hall, who received a cut above his left eye, officials said.

He was treated at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, then was booked into the County Jail.

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