Man sentenced in theft, assault to time served

Matthew E. Poarch's attorney said the victim allegedly owed Poarch money.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man who pleaded guilty last week to beating up an acquaintance and stealing items from him in early May was sentenced Wednesday to the time he had already served in the County Jail.

Matthew E. Poarch, 22, of 683 Pima Road, No. 277, could have been ordered to serve up to a year. Instead, Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht imposed the 365-day sentence, gave Poarch credit for the 67 days since he was arrested, and suspended the remaining 298 days on condition he successfully completes a year of community custody.

Poarch then was released from jail.

Before Schacht imposed the sentence recommended by the prosecution, Poarch said, "I'm sorry for my actions. And I believe this probation will keep me on the right path and you won't see me again."

Poarch's attorney, Gail Siemers, explained that the victim, Spencer Caldwell, allegedly owed Poarch money and Poarch decided to take matters into his own hands. But Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern pointed out Poarch needs to enforce an agreement through proper channels rather than his fists.

Poarch pleaded guilty Friday to third-degree assault and third-degree theft. He initially was charged with first-degree robbery, but the case was reduced in exchange for his guilty pleas.

Police said he confronted Caldwell in the parking lot area of Taco Bell, 202 N. Wilbur Ave. about 7:35 p.m. May 4 while Caldwell was on a break from his job there.

Poarch shoved Caldwell against a fence, the two started fighting and Poarch struck Caldwell multiple times in the head and face, police said.

Poarch then took Caldwell's cellphone and wallet, and threw the phone at Caldwell causing it to hit the concrete and break.

Caldwell reportedly suffered facial and head injuries, which were examined by paramedics at the scene.

Poarch was arrested May 6 and booked into the County Jail.

A co-defendant, Michael R. Zuniga, 18, of 924 W. Willow St., is scheduled for trial Sept. 20 on charges of complicity to first-degree robbery and obstructing a law enforcement officer. He is suspected of driving Poarch to and from the crime scene.

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