Inmates plead guilty in attack on fellow prisoners

The three men will receive additional prison time for assaulting three other inmates last year.

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WALLA WALLA -- Three inmates accused of beating three fellow prisoners at the Washington State Penitentiary a year ago pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge.

Joshua P. Loper, James S. Rocha and David S. Travis each entered a guilty plea in Walla Walla Superior Court to one count of third-degree assault.

They had been accused of prison riot and three counts of second-degree assault, but the cases were reduced in plea agreements with the prosecution.

Because of their varied criminal records, the defendants face additional prison terms ranging from about two to five years when they're sentenced later.

Officials said the inmates attacked three others in a dining facility during the evening meal on March 23, 2009. Loper, 24, Rocha, 27, and Travis, 26, struck, punched and kicked the victims -- one who was wheelchair-bound -- in the unprovoked attack, according to authorities.

The defendants continued the assaults even after they were instructed by correctional staff to stop and had to be forced to the floor, officials said.

The guilty pleas entered Monday relate to injuries suffered by the wheelchair-bound victim.

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

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