Date reset for prison assault trial

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WALLA WALLA — A new trial date has been set for two Washington State Penitentiary inmates accused of attacking a correctional sergeant last year.

Castulo J. Rivas, 46, and John Valdez, 45, had been scheduled to face a Superior Court jury starting May 7. The proceedings now are slated to begin May 20.

Rivas has pleaded innocent to first-degree assault. Valdez has entered an innocent plea to a lesser charge of custodial assault.

Officials claim Rivas and Valdez assaulted correctional Sgt. James Bailey about 7:40 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2012, during a fight in the commons area of a living unit in the penitentiary’s West Complex that houses high-risk prisoners.

Bailey reportedly had confronted Rivas and Valdez — who were armed with handmade, sharpened objects — and ordered them to drop their weapons. Valdez then started hitting Bailey in the head and neck area, officials said.

Rivas then attacked Bailey, stabbing him several times in the chest with a sharpened toothbrush and punching him in the ribs, according to a police report filed in court.

But Bailey suffered only bumps and bruises because his memo pad prevented the sharpened toothbrush from penetrating his body.

Bailey and three other officers who were injured in the fight were treated at a local hospital and released.

Four prison units were locked down for several days.

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

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