Walla Walla man sent to prison in assaults

Joseph A. Davis received 40 months behind bars for attacking two women, witness tampering and intimidation.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man who pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend and her sister during a disturbance last year was sentenced Thursday to three years and four months in prison.

Joseph A. Davis, 21, was ordered to serve 40 months, which is near the high end of the 33- to 43-month standard range he faced for four felonies.

Officials said he repeatedly punched and hit Shelly Yeley at a residence on Sumach Street in November and threatened her and her sister, Yvonne Yeley, with a knife.

In handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann went along with a prosecution recommendation.

Lohrmann also placed Davis on a year of community custody, a form of probation, after his release from prison.

Before the sentence was imposed, Davis' attorney, William McCool, urged a mid-range sentence of 38 months for his client. But Deputy Prosecuting Attorney April King said a 40-month prison term would be more appropriate and benefit the community, pointing to accelerating criminal behavior by Davis. He had been released from prison on a drug conviction only a couple of months before the assaults occurred, King said.

Davis told Lohrmann certain allegations in the case are untrue and said, "(Shelly Yeley) punched me in the face and I got mad. And for that I was wrong and I apologize."

Yeley didn't attend Thursday's hearing. But her mother, Koral Mariano, countered that she didn't believe her daughter punched Davis, and said his assertion was simply an excuse. "I didn't hear him apologize at all," Mariano told Lohrmann, adding that her daughter has been traumatized and haunted by nightmares since the attack.

"She's a wreck. I don't know if she'll ever be the same."

Lohrmann sternly told Davis that whatever leads to violence is not the victim's fault. "Because nothing justifies striking out against that person," Lohrmann said.

He ordered Davis not to have contact with Yeley for five years and said he hopes Davis seeks treatment in prison for addictions. He gave Davis credit for the 163 days he'd served in the County Jail related to charges in this case.

Davis pleaded guilty May 19 to two counts of third-degree assault, in addition to one count each of tampering with a witness and intimidating a public servant.

Police said Davis punched and hit Shelly Yeley in the head, neck, ribs, back and shoulder following a verbal argument between them Nov. 17 at 309 E. Sumach St., No. 3. Davis also reportedly displayed an open lock-blade knife and threatened to stab and kill Yeley.

In addition, he held the knife to Yvonne Yeley's chest, according to a police report filed in court.

Officers arrested Davis -- who was intoxicated -- after arriving at the scene. Shelly Yeley was transported to Providence St. Mary Medical Center for treatment of her injuries.

The police report says Davis told an officer who took him to jail that he would find out where the officer and his family lives. Davis also reportedly told Chad Long, another person at the scene, he needs to watch what he says.

In pleading guilty, Davis didn't formally admit guilt, but acknowledged the prosecution has evidence to convict him.

Davis initially faced second-degree assault charges, which were reduced to third-degree assault in exchange for his guilty pleas.

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

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