Inmate sentenced five years for prison stabbing

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WALLA WALLA — A second Washington State Penitentiary inmate has pleaded guilty and been sentenced for repeatedly stabbing a fellow prisoner at the institution last summer.

Wilbur T. Weeks, 44, entered the guilty plea Monday afternoon to a reduced charge of third-degree assault.

Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram then sentenced him to five years, the maximum possible for the crime.

He will serve the time after he completes his current stint of at least 26 more years for a 2010 murder in Whatcom County.

Weeks’ co-defendant, Eric L. Lowe, pleaded guilty to the same charge last month.

Lowe, who has less criminal history, was sentenced to four years and two months for the stabbing. He currently is serving a term until at least 2065 for murder, burglary and assault in Snohomish County in 2010.

Officials said Lowe, 25, and Weeks used weapons fashioned from a broken radio handle to stab inmate Gary R. Bau while they were in the small yard of a housing unit at the penitentiary on July 29.

Bau reportedly was attacked from behind as he was sitting at a table playing cards.

Weeks hit Bau on the head numerous times, then Lowe joined in the assault, according to a police report filed in court.

Bau suffered cuts and bruises on his head and body, in addition to eye damage, officials said. He was treated at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, then transferred to the prison hospital.

Authorities reportedly found a radio that was missing its handle in Lowe’s cell.

“The attack against Bau by Weeks and Lowe was motivated by hate,” partly because Bau is a practicing Muslim, the police report says.

The defendants initially were charged with first-degree assault and malicious harassment, but their cases were reduced in exchange for their guilty pleas to third-degree assault.

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

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