One of Spokane’s most notorious career criminals is headed to federal prison for 16 years.
Eddie Ray Hall, who turns 47 next month, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Spokane to 195 months in prison.
He cried as family members spoke of their support for him, and he read a letter to Judge Robert Whaley in which he apologized and said he’d changed.
He said he hopes to get help for post-traumatic stress disorder, which doctors have told him stems from a 1987 burglary in which he was shot. Hall said he also once saw a friend shot to death.
“I always thought I was just addicted to drugs with no way out but death,” said Hall, dressed in a navy sport coat and pants and a light-blue shirt. His long hair was pulled back. “It’s not easy to accept being told you have mental problems.”
Hall’s criminal history begins with a second-degree robbery conviction in 1976, according to Spokane County court records. He has at least 16 felony convictions and has been to state prison six times since 1987.
“I’ve caused my community pain, my family, and my children,” Hall said. But he emphasized that “my record reflects I am not a violent person. I never set out to hurt anyone.”
Whaley took exception to that.
“Burglaries are something that invades the privacy of people, and if they happen to be armed there is a potential for violence,” he said. He said Hall continued burglarizing homes even after he was shot. He also said Hall’s history of fleeing authorities led to violence.
“Your history just screams that the public needs to be protected from you,” Whaley said. “While drug addiction is part of the problem, you did a lot of things in addition to being a drug addict that are just evil.”
Hall pleaded guilty in February to a methamphetamine charge. Seven other charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.
His lawyer, Ron Van Wert, asked Whaley to sentence Hall to 13 years. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Duggan said that wasn’t enough time. Duggan said stints in state prison have not deterred him and pointed to an 87-month sentence in which he tried to smuggle heroin into the prison in 2001.
“It’s time for Mr. Hall to stand up and take responsibility for what’s he’s done,” Duggan said.
Van Wert pointed out that Hall’s co-defendant, Ronald Hipkiss, 49, supplied the methamphetamine and faced only 10 years at his sentencing last September.
Police searched Hipkiss’ home at 2803 E. Fourth Ave., on Oct. 8, 2008, and recovered 123 grams of methamphetamine. Hall was working with Hipkiss.
Hall escaped a Yakima jail about a month after his arrest and headed to Spokane, where the Sheriff’s Office nabbed him after a six-day manhunt.
Hall’s sister Jennifer Hall said she hopes he finds the same help for his methamphetamine addiction that she found.
“He’s always needed help, he has a drug problem and he steals all the time, but he never hurt anyone,” she said.
Hall’s spiritual adviser, Will Trautman, said Hall frequently studies Scripture and has “tremendous remorse” for his crimes.
“I dare anybody to go through the suffering this man has gone through,” Trautman said. Whaley closed the hearing to the public for several minutes while he heard testimony he said could jeopardize the safety of Hall and others.