Prison lifer gets 25 more years in assault on officer

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WALLA WALLA — A Washington State Penitentiary lifer was sentenced Monday afternoon in Superior Court to 25 years in prison for a February 2012 attack on a correctional sergeant who was spared serious injury because of items in and on his uniform.

Castulo J. Rivas, 47, faced a standard-range term of 20-26½ years based on his violent criminal history.

In ordering Rivas to serve the 300 months, Judge John Lohrmann opted for neither the low nor the high end of the sentencing range.

Rivas, who was convicted by a jury at a trial last month of first-degree assault, will serve the time should he for any reason be spared his previous three-strikes sentence of life without parole for committing assaults and arson in the 1990s.

Before the sentence was imposed, Rivas’ attorney, Robin Olson, asked Lohrmann to hand Rivas a low-end, 20-year term because he will “not get out anyway” and the victim, Sgt. James Bailey, wasn’t seriously hurt.

Inmate John Valdez, 46, a co-defendant in the attack on Bailey, was convicted in May of a lesser charge of custodial assault and subsequently was sentenced to five years. But he, also, is serving life without parole for previous crimes.

Officials said Rivas and Valdez assaulted 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 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.

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

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