Dressed in long shorts, sneakers with no socks and a collarless shirt, Cole M. Kendall stood before a judge Wednesday and entered an Alford plea for stabbing two people last year at an underage drinking party.
Still six months shy of legal drinking age, Kendall is now one conviction away from facing life in prison under Washington’s three-strikes law.
“To be 20 years old and to have two strikes against you in a three-strikes state … if that doesn’t deter you, nothing will,” defense attorney John Nollette said.
Kendall was sentenced to 13 months in prison following the Wednesday plea. The plea bargain reduced the seriousness of his two assault charges and eliminated a separate robbery charge that also occurred while he was drunk.
Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza warned Kendall that he could go to prison for the rest of his life if he commits another serious offense.
“You may not feel like it, but you are very lucky,” Cozza said. “You could have ended up killing somebody and going to prison for 20 years.”
Deputy Spokane Prosecutor Tom Treppiedi said Kendall pleaded guilty in May 2010 to attempted second-degree assault in another incident in which Kendall had been drinking.
In the most recent case, Kendall was at a party July 1 with several people when he and three others attacked two victims “who were stabbed multiple times and required medical attention at the hospital.”
Witnesses said Kendall was holding the knife that caused the wounds. None of the wounds was deemed life-threatening, but the victims racked up some $62,000 in medical bills that Nollette said his client may spend the rest of his life paying off.
As part of the Alford plea, Kendall pleaded guilty to take advantage of the plea bargain but doesn’t agree with all of the allegations made by prosecutors. As part of the deal, a separate robbery in which he allegedly went into a store, stole beer and then assaulted a store employee was dismissed.
Two counts of first-degree assault were reduced to one count of second-degree assault and one count of felony third-degree assault.
Kendall’s stepfather, who did not identify himself in court, said the young man’s problems stem from alcohol. “When he gets drunk, he does stupid things. I hope this is his last go-around. He’s a good kid.”
Kendall agreed. “I should be done after this. I really don’t drink that much, but when I do it’s usually a lot.”
Cozza told Kendall that he needs to see prison to understand the full nature of his predicament. “I hope it scares you straight.”