Stabber found criminally insane

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WALLA WALLA — A man who stabbed a woman outside a local tavern last year has been committed to Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, perhaps for the rest of his life.

Ryan L. Farr pleaded innocent by reason of insanity on Friday afternoon in Walla Walla County Superior Court to first-degree assault.

Based on a mental evaluation by forensic psychologist Philip Barnard of Richland, Judge Scott Wolfram found that Farr was legally insane when he committed the crime.

Barnard determined that Farr suffers from psychotic and cognitive disorders.

Wolfram signed an order committing Farr to the hospital as being criminally insane. Farr will be treated and won’t be released unless experts determine he is not a danger to himself or others, and a court agrees. That could take several years or longer.

The outcome of the case is the result of a plea agreement between Farr’s attorney, Robin Olson, and county Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle.

Olson said at Friday’s hearing that Farr’s mental illness “caused him to do things that, but for the mental illness, he would not have done.”

Farr’s father, Mark Farr, told Wolfram, “My son needs treatment and we believe this is the best thing for him.”

Ryan Farr, 31, attacked Venita Jackson in the parking lot of the Border Tavern — formerly the Rochester Tavern — at 604 W. Elm St. about 8:20 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2012.

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

Jackson was hospitalized at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

She reportedly told police she didn’t know why Farr attacked her, adding she had only had two brief conversations with him at the tavern.

Farr also had been charged with an additional count of first-degree assault and one count each of first-degree robbery and first-degree arson.

He was accused of setting a fire in the kitchen at 605 W. Moore St. that was reported about 6 a.m. the day after he stabbed Jackson.

Later, Farr went back to that Moore Street 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, police said.

Farr eventually left, but reportedly took various items. He was apprehended and jailed that evening.

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