CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Ryan Cox pleads guilty – to an upgraded charge

(August 2017 WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)

Earlier this week, we reported that it appeared a plea bargain was in the works for Ryan Cox, the 40-year-old repeat offender who’s been in jail since his arrest for stabbing a man in Gatewood almost a year and a half ago. (Our report on the August 2017 charges details what the victim told police and what they found the night of the crime.) Today, court documents confirm a plea agreement, but with a twist: Cox has pleaded guilty to not a reduced charge, but an upgraded charge. He was originally charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. The amended version of that charge to which he pleaded guilty Thursday has an additional enhancement (“aggravating circumstance” under state law), that “… the injuries of the victim of the current offense substantially exceeded the level of bodily harm necessary to satisfy the elements of the crime.” While the documents note that the “standard” sentencing range for second-degree assault is six to 12 months, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is recommending what is categorized in court documents as an “exceptional sentence” – four years in prison, plus the 12-month consecutive sentence for use of a deadly weapon. Cox’s sentencing hearing is set for two weeks from today, 1 pm Friday, February 8th, before King County Superior Court Judge Susan Amini, who has final say on the sentence.

BACKSTORY: While Cox has a long criminal history, dating back to age 17, his convictions are almost all misdemeanors, including the homophobic-graffiti vandalism that first brought him to public attention in 2009. His only felony conviction was the result of a 2013 plea bargain in an assault/malicious harassment incident in 2012. The rest of his long involvement with the criminal-justice and mental-health systems is detailed in this WSB story from the day after the 2017 stabbing.

20 Replies to "CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Ryan Cox pleads guilty - to an upgraded charge"

  • B January 25, 2019 (11:13 am)

    4 years is really low. At this point, given his history, his chances of doing it again, I’d say 20+ is more warranted. 

    • WSB January 25, 2019 (11:23 am)

      The maximum penalty is 10 years.

      • WW Resident January 25, 2019 (12:58 pm)

        So the maximum is 10 years, but the prosecutors are asking for 4 years. Is this the part where we don’t blame the judges or prosecutors, as one commenter always pontificates to us, but the legislators? 

        • flimflam January 25, 2019 (1:29 pm)

          yeah, someone with his record needs more than 4 years behind bars – especially when 10 is possible. not sure who benefits from a weak sentence besides this criminal.

        • wscommuter January 25, 2019 (4:24 pm)

          That would be me.  And yes – if you knew what you were talking about, you would understand that this is – under EXISTING law – a significant increase in punishment.  The facts: sentencing ranges are set by the legislature.  As WSB explains, Cox’s range was 6-12 months.  KCPO is recommending a “deviation” upward, of 4 times the standard range.  If you actually read, you know, the law, you would understand that this is a big deal and very difficult to accomplish.  The legislature has proscribed limited and very constrained circumstances where a judge is allowed to deviate from the standard range.  The “10 year maximum” does NOT mean that the judge has the ability to impose (or the prosecutor to recommend) 10 years; 10 years is merely the upper limit of all B felonies, of which this is one.  I know it feels good to rant and it is perfectly fine to want more punishment for this particular guy … but at least deal in facts.  

          • WW Resident January 25, 2019 (4:41 pm)

            So explain then that if the maximum limit for all B felonies are 10 years, how the judge nor the prosecutors have the ability to either impose or recommend that time? Better yet, explain why they can’t recommend a number closer to that maximum? Because it sure seems that there is a lot of discretion between the 10 year maximum and the 4 year recommendation

          • CAM January 25, 2019 (6:19 pm)

            Because that is the maximum for all Class B felonies and Washington’s sentencing for felony convictions is based on a grid. Based on the defendant’s criminal history they earn different numbers of points. The sentencing range for a particular offense is determined first by the range for that particular offense set by the legislature and then within that range the sentence is determined by where they fall on the grid. It’s actually a very proscribed system that doesn’t allow for a lot of discretion by the judge or prosecutor. 

  • Also John January 25, 2019 (11:35 am)

    Wow….. Stabbing someone means you’re trying to kill them.  At least that’s my thought.  It seems a max of 10 years is nothing for those actions.

    • Swede. January 25, 2019 (3:20 pm)

      Totally agree! That’s a very lame penalty for sure. Wonder how much it would been if he tried to shoot someone… More or less? 

      • CAM January 25, 2019 (6:22 pm)

        The police reports for the incident indicated that the altercation occurred after the victim left his vehicle to pursue the defendant and confront him. Circumstances such as that can easily be portrayed as self defense, in particular when the defendant is mentally ill, thus it would be far harder to establish facts supporting the intent to kill someone. (Before you yell at me I am stating the facts of the case as collected by police, not my personal opinion.)

        • Keepinit January 26, 2019 (7:20 am)

          Let them yell, facts are facts. 

  • JC January 25, 2019 (11:44 am)

    Will flimflam-lovefreedom-candrewb-me-mike reconsider their usual diatribe against the authorities with this result? I wonder.

  • carole January 25, 2019 (3:29 pm)

    Before he begins to serve whatever his base sentence will be, he would serve the 12 months for the enhancement, with no good time credit.  Let’s wait and see what the actual sentence turns out to be.  As pointed out, the standard range for the charge is 6-12 months.  They are able to ask for an exceptional sentence beyond that because of how they negotiated the plea. There are specific criteria to be met to validate an exceptional sentence that will be held up on appeal, per a US Supreme Court ruling.  It looks like the prosecutors managed to get a plea that should meet that criteria.  If this had gone to an expensive jury trial and guilty verdict, it would have required an additional penalty phase hearing for the jury to find an exceptional sentence warranted.  And there is no guarantee on how any jury will decide. 

  • Jim P. January 25, 2019 (6:23 pm)

    ” his convictions are almost all misdemeanors,”A mountain is built out of grains of sand.  I think he is well on his way to his own personal Everest.

  • SF January 25, 2019 (6:51 pm)

    In NO way am I playing down his crimes. He has a pretty big mental problem. I hope he is able to get help and get his life together. I know his family is saddend by what he has become and the negative impact he’s had on society. He does need to be off the street. And I’m sure everyone’s glad about that.

  • Dan January 25, 2019 (9:45 pm)

    This guy is seriously mentally ill. Read his history dating back to his youth.  Read his mothers comments. Ideally he belongs in an institution for the criminally insane. The sad reality is incarceration is where the majority of these  mentally ill people end up and may or may not get help. Over the last few decades the resources for treating inpatient and outpatient mental illness has virtually disappeared. Homeless or incarcerated is the sad and sometimes only landing spot.

    • WW Resident January 26, 2019 (5:23 am)

      Well one of the problems is that Washington State is one of the most difficult states to involuntarily commit someone

      • CAM January 26, 2019 (12:34 pm)

        I’m not sure this is true. The commitment standards are the same in virtually all states because they have been established by federal court challenges. If it is harder to commit someone in Washington, which has not been established by research to my knowledge, the reason is likely to be largely based in a lack of available beds to commit someone to. You could make really loose standards for commitment (which would likely be found unconstitutional, but for the sake of argument we’ll say they aren’t) but if there are no beds only the individuals with the most severe needs are going to get services. You want more people to be hospitalized when they become unstable? Pay more in taxes to build more publicly funded mental health beds. 

    • Soulsuckingstate January 26, 2019 (7:30 am)

      I know. He should have been in hospital. If you aren’t affected by a loved one’s mental health it won’t make sense. This man might have never harmed another if he was in care but the reality is it’s cheaper to keep them in jail rather than pay for expensive health care. Now he gets to deal with his demons in prison, where he will get no treatment, will eventually get released no better for society than before he went it. In fact delusional and more out of touch. 

  • AlkiMark January 28, 2019 (10:52 pm)

    Blame  and vote out the Prosecutors is the only way out of this.  They brag about a low incarceration rate (Heroin Dan) 

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