Trial date set in Washington State Penitentiary stabbing

Daniel E. Johnson is accused of second-degree assault in connection with a September attack.

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WALLA WALLA -- A Washington State Penitentiary inmate pleaded innocent Monday afternoon to stabbing a fellow prisoner at the institution in September.

Daniel E. Johnson, 30, is set for trial March 7 and 8 in Walla Walla County Superior Court on the charge of second-degree assault.

Officials said Johnson used a makeshift weapon to stab inmate Virgil P. Morgan, 28, several times in the day room of a West Complex unit about 8 p.m. Sept. 26.

The assault took place after Morgan walked up to Johnson, told him something and then walked away, according to a police report filed in court.

"Johnson, who was on the phone, hangs the phone up and immediately starts hitting Morgan on the back multiple times with quick blows," the report says. The attack reportedly lasted 15-20 seconds before correctional officers could stop it.

Morgan was hospitalized at Providence St. Mary Medical Center. Johnson was placed in segregation.

Penitentiary staff members recovered the suspected weapon, a sharpened steel rod wrapped with a cloth handle.

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

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