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Defendant takes deal in stabbing

Wed., Feb. 10, 2010

Man gets 24 months for two counts of riot

The third and final defendant pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from his role in a fight that ended in the stabbing death of a Spokane man last year.

Christopher R. Harper, 28, had been charged with second-degree murder following the March 3 stabbing death of 19-year-old Michael “Mickey” Lyng. However, prosecutors agreed with assistant public defender Al Rossi to allow Harper to plead guilty to two felony charges of riot.

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese approved the deal and accepted Harper’s plea. As a result, Harper was sentenced to 24 months in jail, but that time will be cut in half because Harper will be credited for having already spent about a year in jail awaiting trial.

Harper offered no apology and simply asked Plese to follow the plea agreement. Last December, Plese accepted the guilty plea from Harper’s younger brother, 25-year-old Joseph T. Harper. Plese sentenced the younger Harper to about six years in prison.

Then last month, the other co-defendant, 28-year-old Robert T. Waters, 28, also pleaded guilty in connection to the same case. Plese sentenced Waters to 5 ½ years in prison.

According to court records, Waters and the younger Harper both stabbed Lyng during a fight on March 3, 2009, that took place outside an apartment at 916 W. Augusta Ave. Witnesses said Christopher Harper was nearby but did not take part in the stabbing.

Rossi said he believed he could have won Christopher Harper’s acquittal. But if Rossi lost, Harper could have faced several more years in prison.

“I guess you are the least culpable of the three,” Plese told Harper in court. “I do believe this will be to your benefit so I am going to accept your plea.”

Also during the case, Rossi asked Plese to make sure that Harper would be allowed to visit his new wife, 20-year-old Amie C. Schott.

The couple married while Harper was in jail and prosecutors had placed a no-contact order because Schott was accused of driving the Harper brothers away from the scene of the stabbing. Her trial for rendering criminal assistance is pending.

“The jail staff has been keeping her apart” from Harper, Rossi said. “I’m hoping that when we are finished that there won’t be a problem.”

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