WALLA WALLA -- A man who pleaded guilty to damaging property in what officials said was a short-lived breakout from the Walla Walla County Jail last February was sentenced Monday afternoon in Superior Court.
Warren D. Summers, 56, was ordered to serve four years in prison. But at Summers' request, Judge Donald W. Schacht allowed the sentence to be served at the same time as a seven-year term he imposed in mid-February for unrelated crimes Summers committed.
Summers told Schacht on Monday that an additional four-year sentence would allow him to participate in a special education and substance abuse treatment program in prison only if it would be served at the same time as his previously ordered prison term. Otherwise, the total sentence would be too long for him to qualify, Summers said.
In essence, he apologized to the community for his crimes. He admitted being a "scumbag" in the past, breaking into people's homes and stealing property. "But the more your mind clears (from drugs), the more you see clearly," Summers said. "I don't have the right to ask for a break, but I'm going to ask anyway."
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern recommended Summers be sentenced to the low end of the 43- to 57-month standard range he faced after pleading guilty last month to first-degree malicious mischief. But she urged the sentences be served consecutively (one after the other), saying Summers already got a break in a plea agreement that dropped a companion charge of first-degree escape.
However, Schacht said Summers should be given an opportunity to participate in the special prison treatment program. Schacht told Summers he's not condoning his extensive previous record of felonies dating back to 1972. "But when you are sober and when you have time to think, you're pretty eloquent," Schacht said.
Summers has been serving time at the Washington State Penitentiary for crimes including residential burglary, theft, malicious mischief and possession of oxycodone that occurred in August 2009.
While awaiting sentencing on those convictions, Summers was attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting inside the jail Feb. 2. Officials said he left the meeting room about 7:30 p.m. and followed exiting visitors through a metal security door into the lobby area where he tried to force his way past a glass security door allowing access to the outside.
At first he wasn't able to do so, but then threw shower tiles toward the glass door, cracked it and dove through. Police apprehended him about eight minutes later near Third and Stahl avenues following a brief chase on foot.
Authorities believe Summers had planned the escape for a few weeks. Deputies reportedly located damage to a shower area of the jail where inmates had been removing tiles.
Terry McConn can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8319.