Man pleads guilty in knife incident outside Walla Walla store

Steven R. Hall pleaded guilty to an assault charge in connection with the incident in April 2009.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man arrested more than a year ago after wielding a knife outside a local Safeway store pleaded guilty this morning to a reduced charge of third-degree assault.

Steven R. Hall, 47, then was sentenced to time-served and was to be released from the County Jail.

The standard-range sentence Hall faced for the crime was three to eight months, and he already had served 391 days. Before handing down the eight-month sentence, Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann explained the case took so long to resolve because of questions concerning Hall's mental state.

He reportedly has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. However, in the end he decided to accept a plea offer by the prosecution, which agreed to reduce the initial charge of second-degree assault.

Lohrmann placed Hall on a year of community custody, a form of probation.

Hall didn't admit guilt this morning, but acknowledged the prosecution has evidence that could convict him. His attorney, Gail Siemers, told Lohrmann the incident at Safeway "was due to (Hall's) illness" and he now is on medication.

Police said Hall went to a pay phone outside the Safeway store at 215 W. Rose St. about 6:20 p.m. April 18, 2009, and pulled out a folding knife. When a man approached to use the phone, Hall 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 jail.

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

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