WALLA WALLA — A Washington State Penitentiary lifer was sentenced Monday afternoon in Superior Court to five years in prison for participating in last year’s attack on a correctional sergeant who was spared serious injury because of items in and on his uniform.
John Valdez, who was convicted by a jury last month of custodial assault, was ordered by Judge John Lohrmann to serve the maximum sentence allowed under state law.
Valdez, 45, will serve the time should he for any reason be spared his three-strikes sentence of life without parole for assaults in Yakima County in the 1980s and ’90s.
Officials said Valdez and co-defendant Castulo J. Rivas, 46, assaulted penitentiary 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 prison’s West Complex that houses high-risk inmates.
Bailey reportedly had confronted Valdez and Rivas — who were armed with handmade, sharpened objects — and ordered them to drop their weapons.
Valdez stabbed at Bailey in the head and neck area. However the shank struck a metal insignia that was attached to Bailey’s uniform near his neck.
Rivas then allegedly attacked Bailey who was on the floor by this time, stabbed him several times in the chest with a sharpened toothbrush and punched him in the ribs.
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.
The jury in Valdez’s trial took less than 10 minutes to convict him May 30 after having seen surveillance video footage and hearing officers’ testimonies.
Rivas is awaiting trial on a charge of first-degree assault.