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Washington State Prisoner Gets Life for Fight Resulting in Broken Nose

Washington State prisoner Charles Weber appealed his 2005 conviction for second degree assault resulting in a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Although his attorney admitted to providing ineffective assistance, the court affirmed the judgment.

Weber and fellow prisoner Mark Holt fought after an argument during a softball game. Guards heard screaming and found Holt bloody in the corner of Weber's cell, claiming that several prisoners beat him. Holt's broken nose and bruises resulted in Weber receiving a "persistent offender" sentence due to his prior history of serious offenses.

Jermine Mercado, Holt's cellmate, stated that Holt had agreed to fight, and a guard would have allegedly testified to Holt walking eagerly to Weber's cell. On appeal, Weber's attorney submitted an affidavit conceding investigative inadequacy due to financial difficulties that precluded either witness’ presence at trial. Weber further alleged that insufficient evidence supported the conviction.

The Court of Appeals for the State of Washington, Division III, ruled that presenting witnesses was only a strategy, that Weber failed to explicitly claim self defense, and that mutual consent was not a defense to assault between prisoners. The appellate court further stated that "A claim of insufficiency admits the truth of the State's evidence and all inferences that reasonably can be drawn therefrom." Weber’s conviction was affirmed. See: State of Washington v. Weber, 137 Wash.App. 852, 155 P.3d 947 (Wash.App. Div. 3, 2007), review denied.

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Related legal case

State of Washington v. Weber