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Second suspect in beating of EWU student enters plea deal, avoids trial for attempted murder

June 20, 2017 Updated Thu., June 22, 2017 at 4:57 p.m.

After cutting a deal with prosecutors, a 21-year-old man likely will spend less than two years in prison for the brutal beating of an Eastern Washington University student.

Damian Dunigan was expected to stand trial for attempted murder, but last week he instead pleaded guilty to second-degree assault for taking part in the Oct. 8 beating of Robert “Drew” Schreiber at an apartment complex in Cheney.

Dunigan is scheduled to be sentenced in July. On top of a nine-month base sentence, prosecutors will recommend a one-year extension because the assault involved a deadly weapon – namely, a metal baseball bat.

Witnesses reported that three men carried out the assault, which left Schreiber – once a standout runner on EWU’s track team – with permanent neurological damage. One of those men, 25-year-old John Mellgren, was sentenced to 15 years in prison last month after a jury convicted him of first-degree attempted murder. The third man has not been charged.

Prosecutor Jennifer Zappone, who led the cases against Dunigan and Mellgren, did not respond to a message seeking comment on Dunigan’s plea deal. Dunigan is being held at the Spokane County Jail, where he declined to be interviewed on Wednesday.

Court records say Dunigan has no other felony convictions, although he had been charged with misdemeanor assault in January 2016. Records say he grew up in Spokane, didn’t finish high school and was homeless at the time of his arrest for Schreiber’s beating.

Schreiber, 21, testified in Mellgren’s trial that he could not remember anything that happened on the night he was beaten. A doctor testified that Schreiber was not expected to survive his traumatic brain injuries.

Schreiber’s roommate testified that Schreiber had been upset that night. Mellgren’s attorney, Kevin Griffin, said Schreiber got into a shouting match with Mellgren and Dunigan, who were in a parking lot in the apartment complex. Then, Griffin said, Schreiber jumped from a window of his second-story apartment and broke the rear windshield of Mellgren’s car.

What followed, the attorney said, was “a horrible college fight gone wrong.”

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