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September 27, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Man gets 12 1/2 years for assaulting food co-op employees

Gina Cole
Skagit Valley Herald

MOUNT VERNON — Nathan Vasquez was sentenced Thursday to 12½ years in prison for assaulting two Skagit Valley Food Co-op employees with a knife.

Vasquez, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault as part of a plea deal that dropped one count down from first-degree assault and dropped a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

He was arrested Jan. 27 after confronting, yelling at and charging two Co-op employees who were taking out the garbage. A police report described him as “belligerent.”

Vasquez swiped the knife at one of the Co-op employees, scratching his abdomen, according to the report. The other employee fended him off and Vasquez eventually left, but police caught up with him on the Second Street Viaduct, where he threw the knife over the bridge, a Mount Vernon police spokeswoman said at the time.

The Co-op employee who was injured did not need immediate medical attention.

Police used a Taser to subdue Vasquez, who refused to cooperate with police and told them to just shoot him, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed in the case.

“That night, I was looking to die,” he told Judge Michael Rickert in court Thursday.

Vasquez has a long history of methamphetamine-induced psychosis and a variety of mental-health diagnoses, said his defense lawyer, Wes Richards. Vasquez was under the influence at the time of the Co-op incident, Richards said.

“You’re a poster child for what methamphetamine can do,” Rickert told Vasquez, noting his extensive criminal history. “You’re lucky you’re still alive.”

Both Co-op employees were in court Thursday for Vasquez’s sentencing. One addressed the court, saying he was glad it didn’t happen to an older, frailer employee. He also said he has had to explain to his 7-year-old son that “Dad isn’t going to get hurt or stabbed just going to work.”

Vasquez apologized to the victims in court, saying he would not come after them and “that weight’s off your chest.”

Vasquez was convicted in 2004 of second-degree kidnapping, one of 15 prior felony convictions on his record. Prosecutor Erik Pedersen said his conduct has escalated.

This is Vasquez’s second strike under Washington’s “three strikes” law for serious felony offenses. A third strike would mean prison for life.

Vasquez said he is a United States citizen but has family in Mexico and plans to move near them when he is released.

Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: knife, Mount Vernon, stabbing

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