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Court roundup: Man charged with stabbing cellmate

4-30-2011 Washington:

PASCO -- A convicted wife killer has been charged with stabbing his cellmate in Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, reportedly because the man is a sex offender.

John Robert Spicer, 49, is set for trial June 22 in Franklin County Superior Court on one count of second-degree assault. He has pleaded innocent.

The allegations stem from a Jan. 25, 2010, incident at the Connell prison, where Spicer and Sammy Stephens shared a cell in the new addition.

Spicer has been locked up since January 2002 for a second-degree murder conviction with a firearm enhancement out of Pend Oreille County, according to a Washington Department of Corrections spokeswoman. He shot his wife in April 2001 after reportedly waking up mad.

Stephens, 33, is at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen. He was readmitted to prison in October 2010 for failing to register as a sex offender in Clark County.

According to court documents, the two offenders were leaving their cell when Spicer grabbed Stephens from behind and stabbed him in the back of the neck with a knife-like weapon. Stephens broke free and ran down the stairs in their pod, with Spicer in pursuit, documents said.

That exchange was caught on video surveillance, with the two men going out of view as Spicer continued to follow while still allegedly holding the weapon in his right hand. Footage then shows him walk to a trash can and throw away the weapon, court documents said.

At that point, a corrections officer entered the pod and confronted Spicer. Meanwhile, other inmates were ordered back into their cells and video footage reportedly showed inmate Jeffrey Black take the weapon out of the trash and back to his cell.

Officers seized the weapon -- an altered comb with razor blades -- and placed Stephens, Spicer and Black in the prison's segregation unit. The fight happened at noon, and Connell police Officer Kory Robertson was called to the Coyote Ridge campus at 2:50 p.m.

Stephens suffered a a small razor cut on the back of his neck, court documents said. He initially said he wasn't sure what provoked the attack, then told Robertson that Spicer had made it clear he didn't like him because he was a sex offender, documents said.

"Stephens stated that he did make Spicer mad when he told him that it takes a coward to kill a woman," Robertson wrote in the documents.

The two men had apparently fought inside their cell two days prior, though Stephens denied it to police.

Spicer opted not to speak and requested a lawyer.

Black told Robertson the men had fought in the cell over a hot plate owned by Spicer, who didn't want Stephens to use it anymore.

He said everything was good the next day as the men sat around and watched football games together.

Black claimed he did not know where the weapon came from and said he picked it out of the trash "in an attempt to keep them out of trouble," court documents said.

After the incident, Spicer was placed in segregation for 30 days and lost some of his good-time credit, said the Department of Corrections.

He has been housed in two other correction centers before he was booked into the Franklin County jail April 21 in this case.

Franklin jail inmate says he didn't possess pot

An inmate at the Franklin County jail has pleaded innocent to allegations that he got pot from another inmate.

Jonathan Michael Gross, 22, of Kennewick, faces trial June 8 on a felony charge of possessing a controlled substance while serving a jail sentence.

Gross was booked into the jail April 12 to do time for failure to comply, a misdemeanor, jail records show.

Then at 11 p.m. April 16, sheriff's deputies were sent to the jail after corrections officers reported finding possible drugs. A substance wrapped in clear plastic smelled like marijuana and tested positive, court documents said.

Officers had noticed a smell coming from Gross' cell and in a search found pot hidden in his underwear, along with a green lighter, documents said.

He had been sentenced in December to six months for being involved in a hit-and-run crash and falsely reporting his truck had been stolen. ..SOurce.. by Kristin M. Kraemer, Herald staff writer

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