Man declared competent for trial in Walla Walla stabbing, arson case

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WALLA WALLA — A man accused of repeatedly stabbing a woman outside a local tavern last year, then setting fire to the home of an acquaintance and robbing him, has been found mentally competent for his criminal case to proceed.

Ryan L. Farr, 30, was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation by experts from Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake after his arrest last September. Following therapy and subsequent findings, Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram on Monday afternoon signed an order declaring Farr competent.

His attorney, Robin Olson, told Wolfram he will now seek an independent evaluation for Farr.

He is charged with two counts of first-degree assault and one count each of first-degree robbery and first-degree arson. He pleaded innocent to the charges at the brief hearing Monday and his trial was set for June 4 and 5.

Farr is accused of attacking Venita Jackson, 47, in the parking lot of the Border Tavern — formerly the Rochester Tavern — at 604 W. Elm St. about 8:20 p.m. Sept. 21.

He walked up to Jackson, punched her several times in the head and then stabbed her numerous times in the head and upper body, police said.

Jackson was hospitalized at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

She reportedly told police she didn’t known why Farr attacked her, adding she only had had two brief conversations with him at the tavern. The second time, Farr threatened to cut her, according to a police report filed in court.

Farr also is accused of setting a fire in the kitchen at 605 W. Moore St. that was reported about 6 a.m. the following day.

Later, Farr allegedly went back to that residence, the home of an acquaintance, Alan Lawrence, held Lawrence down on a couch while placing a filed-down screwdriver to his throat and threatened to kill him.

Farr eventually calmed down a bit and apologized to Lawrence for setting the house on fire and breaking some property inside, the police report says. Farr then left, but took more than $200, prescription medication, a cell phone and several other items, officials said.

Farr — who has no permanent address — was apprehended and jailed that evening after law enforcement found him hiding in a shed behind 609 W. Moore.

He was in possession of the cellphone he took from Lawrence, according to police.

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