Two men accused of attacking a man and a woman at a Hoquiam apartment complex pleaded not guilty to assault charges Monday.
Kenneth Jones Jr., 30, of Hoquiam, and Steven D. Skolrood, 25, of Westport, are both charged in Grays Harbor Superior Court with two counts of second-degree assault.
A man and a woman, both 27, were seriously injured after Jones, Skolrood and another man allegedly assaulted them with a baseball bat at about 3:45 a.m. Dec. 29.
The male victim had been at a neighbor’s party earlier where there was apparently a disagreement over sharing a cigarette. The third suspect, identified in court documents only as Cody, allegedly grabbed a beer out of the victim’s hand and used a racial slur. The Prosecutor’s Office considered a malicious harassment charge in connection with the racial slur, but has so far decided against it.
The male victim returned to his apartment, where the three suspects soon followed. He armed himself with a baseball bat and answered the door, but the men allegedly grabbed him, pulled him out of his apartment and threw him down the stairs.
They continued beating the man at the bottom of the stairs, apparently with his own bat, court documents state. The man’s girlfriend tried to intervene, but was knocked down and struck in the head, also likely with the bat. The woman suffered “a significant head laceration” and possible concussion, according to court documents and the man suffered an orbital fracture and injuries to his lip and scalp.
Skolrood told police he had gone to the victims’ apartment to “smooth things over,” when the man came to the door with the bat.
The third suspect has not yet been located, but has been identified by detectives, the Hoquiam Police Department said in a press release.
In addition to the assault charges, the police department recommended the malicious harassment charge due to potential racial motivation for the crime. However, Interim Prosecutor Gerald Fuller said, so far, the facts of the case don’t meet the legal requirements, even if a racial slur was used.
“I reviewed it preliminarily, and while that word may have been used, I don’t see this crime as racially motivated. I may review this later and make a different decision,” he said.
The motivation for a given crime must be shown to be racial in order to add such a charge, and using an offensive word may not be sufficient legally to demonstrate motivation for a crime committed later.