WALLA WALLA -- A Lewiston, Idaho, man accused of raping a woman at a Walla Walla motel last summer pleaded guilty this morning to a reduced charge.
Eliah J. Nick, 27, entered the guilty plea in Walla Walla County Superior Court to a charge of third-degree assault, which is not a sex offense.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern said in a previous interview she agreed to drop the initial second-degree rape charge against Nick because of a weakness in the case, but she declined to be more specific.
Nick faces a standard-range jail term of one to three months when Judge John Lohrmann sentences him later on the assault charge. In a plea agreement, Mulhern is recommending Nick be allowed to serve time in the Asotin County Jail on partial confinement for work release. Also, Nick can ask that jail time be converted to weekend service on a work crew.
He remains free on bail pending sentencing.
At this morning's hearing, Nick didn't admit he committed an assault, but acknowledged the prosecution has evidence that could convict him.
The initial rape charge accused Nick of forcing the woman to have sexual intercourse with him July 30 in the room in which he was staying at the Capri Motel, 2003 Melrose St.
The woman, a female companion of hers and Nick had gone there after leaving a bar, according to a police report filed in court. The female companion reportedly told police she was outside the room smoking when she heard the victim saying "no" and sounding distressed. The companion said she then witnessed the alleged rape through the window that had curtains opened about six inches. She said she pounded on the door, it was opened and Nick "continued this activity," according to the police report.
The companion said she got the woman out of the room and later took her to Providence St. Mary Medical Center.
Police contacted Nick at the motel.
In a statement recorded at the police department, he reportedly said the intercourse was consensual, both women encouraged it and they wanted him to go to a cash machine and get them $140 afterward. He said he told them no and slammed the door.
Nick was arrested and booked into the County Jail, but was released the following day after bail was posted. He reportedly was in the area finishing up a work assignment for a railroad company.