Inmate pleads guilty to stabbing officer

Marcus Van Cleary faces up to five more years in prison for the attack last March.

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WALLA WALLA -- A Washington State Penitentiary inmate could be ordered to serve an additional five years in prison for stabbing a correctional officer with a ballpoint pen last March.

Marcus Van Cleary, 29, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon in Superior Court to the charge of custodial assault.

His standard-range penalty under state sentencing laws is 51-60 months. The prosecution is recommending the high end, but reduced the charge from second-degree assault in exchange for his guilty plea. Sentencing will be held later.

Cleary stabbed Officer Jim Nored in the face about 6:45 p.m. March 1 in an officer station at one of the prison's mental health units.

A police report filed in court says Nored's puncture wounds were minor, but he also suffered a dislocated shoulder in the unprovoked attack. He was treated and released from Walla Walla General Hospital, officials said.

Two other correctional officers and an inmate who intervened to help Nored also were injured.

The unit and two others were placed on restricted movement after the assault and Cleary was placed in segregation.

Cleary reportedly told investigators he had left his cell to obtain ice and was hearing voices in his head. In the interview, "He mentioned something about schizophrenia and then said he 'snapped,'" the police report says.

But James Craver, the inmate who assisted Nored, told officials Cleary knew what he was doing and is not "crazy."

A subsequent evaluation by experts from Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake determined Cleary is mentally competent.

He has been incarcerated at the penitentiary since October 2010 after having been convicted of multiple counts of second-degree assault in Pierce County. He was scheduled for release in 2016.

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

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