VIDEO: Ryan Cox sentenced to 5 years in prison for Gatewood stabbing

2:20 PM: We’re at the King County Courthouse, where 40-year-old Ryan J. Cox has just been sentenced to 5 years in prison for stabbing a man in Gatewood in August 2017.

(August 2017 WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)

Superior Court Judge Susan Amini presided at the sentencing. Though the victim could not be at the hearing, a victims’ advocate read a lengthy letter he had written, saying Cox “should never be able to be free” after trying to kill him. The judge mentioned receiving a number of other letters from the victim’s family and friends.

Cox pleaded guilty last month to an enhanced version of the original second-degree-assault charge. The sentence ordered by Judge Amini is what prosecutors recommended, categorized in court documents as an “exceptional sentence” – four years in prison, plus one year after that for using a deadly weapon. Cox’s lawyer, meantime, filed a brief just before today’s sentencing, asking for a six-month sentence, the low end of the “standard” range, saying Cox “is trying to overcome his past difficulties and to better prepare himself to deal with these challenges in his future.” At the hearing, Cox contended the stabbing was in self-defense and expressed anger after the judge announced her decision.

As detailed in this WSB followup in 2017, Cox has a high-profile criminal history in the community, but mostly misdemeanors, which is what made this sentence “exceptional.” We recorded this afternoon’s hearing and will add video and details later.

5:15 PM: Video now added atop this story.

ADDED 9:04 PM: Here is our recap of the hearing:

No one spoke besides the deputy prosecutor (Jennifer Petersen) and defense lawyer (Carey Huffman), the aforementioned victims’ advocate (Tiffany Attrill-Meek), the judge, and Cox. The prosecutor explained that the victim and his wife wanted to speak but were traveling with their children on a long-planned school-break week (the hearing originally was scheduled for February 8th, on a court date cut short because of snow).

Prosecutor Petersen explained that while Cox had only one prior felony conviction, and therefore a low “offender score” to be considered in sentencing decisions, that too was what she described as a “violent attack on a stranger” (his baseball-bat assault and homophobic slurs against a fellow bus rider in 2012). She stressed the gravity of the victim’s injuries in this case, saying he “nearly lost his life,” which is why the “standard” sentence would be “simply inadequate.” She said she had given the judge a photo of the victim from one of his two hospitalizations related to the injuries, and graphically described those wounds, including one that severed an artery and punctured a lung.

The statement read by advocate Attrill-Meek was lengthy. “The night of August 8th changed the way I live my life forever.” It contained not only details of the attack and its lasting effects on the victim, but also angry words for Cox, describing him as a “local terror” well-known in West Seattle” and an “unstable, violent coward” who “should never be able to be free. The victim wrote that he “technically died twice” and that even as he recovered from the physical injuries, nightmares, flashbacks, and other symptoms of PTSD haunted him: “My ability to operate as a normal person was taken away from me by (Cox) … I was alive … but I might as well have been dead because I was a shell of myself.” After getting help, though, the victim declared himself “stronger than ever.”

Defense lawyer Huffman contended it was “wrong to characterize this as a man attacked for no reason … this was not the first time (the victim) confronted my client.” Court documents had outlined the victim’s anger at Cox for frightening his young daughter.

Cox interrupted his lawyer, saying he wanted to speak for himself. He said the attack happened outside a church where he had long had permission to sleep and that the confrontation happened as he was preparing to cook his dinner “around back.” He insisted he “was not the attacker … I’ve never hurt anyone who didn’t attack me.”

Judge Amini then explained what she had been given to consider and then said that she agreed with the prosecutor’s recommendation in particular because of the finding that Cox had inflicted so much “bodily harm” that it “justifies a significant … sentence.”

Cox then expressed angry disbelief. “You’re sentencing me to 48 months … after somebody attacked me?” He claimed he had only pleaded guilty because he’d been waiting for a year and a half to go to trial. The judge calmly explained that he had the right to appeal; he said he didn’t think he would want to bother because “obviously the court’s crooked.”

His parting words to the judge were, “I wish you good luck on judgment day, you’re going to need it.”

He has been in King County Jail since shortly after the stabbing, and will be transferred to a state prison facility now that he’s been sentenced.

21 Replies to "VIDEO: Ryan Cox sentenced to 5 years in prison for Gatewood stabbing"

  • Abcgirl February 22, 2019 (2:29 pm)

    Is this 5 years solid or will he be eligible in a shorter period of ime if he is a good fella  in prison?  Doesn’t seem like enough time based on his history

    • WSB February 22, 2019 (2:41 pm)

      The 4 years will be minus the year and a half he already has been in jail, and then “good time” is a possible deduction from that, but, it was noted in court, the one year for “deadly weapon” use is “hard time” that cannot be reduced.

  • Question Authority February 22, 2019 (2:43 pm)

    Out by years end is my bet.  

    • WSB February 22, 2019 (3:31 pm)

      No, as the 12-month deadly-weapon portion can’t be reduced. As for the rest of it, I will have to admit I am not familiar with exactly how ‘time off for good behavior’ goes.

      • wscommuter February 22, 2019 (4:23 pm)

        WSB is correct.  By statute,  except for a short list of the most serious crimes (Murder, Rape 1, etc.), all other felonies are eligible for “up to” one-third off a sentence for “good behavior” (assuming the prisoner has such); however, the deadly weapon enhancement is not eligible for that discount and instead, serves that full time consecutive to the underlying sentence.  So if 60 months was imposed, inclusive of  12 months on the deadly weapon, at best, he will serve a minimum of 32 months (48 months discounted by 1/3) followed by 12 months on the deadly weapon, for a total of 44 months.  He will be credited with the time he has been incarcerated.  

        • John Smith February 22, 2019 (9:33 pm)

          So, in months: 48(sentence eligible for good time) – 18(already served) – 16(if he’s good in prison) + 12(sentence not eligible for good time) = 48 – 18 – 16 + 12 = 26. IOW, two years and two months from now.

  • KT February 22, 2019 (2:46 pm)

    “…Cox’s lawyer, meantime, filed a brief just before today’s sentencing, asking for a six-month sentence, the low end of the “standard” range, saying Cox “is trying to overcome his past difficulties and to better prepare himself to deal with these challenges in his future.”  Impressive he could say this without bursting out laughing.At the hearing, Cox contended the stabbing was in self-defense and expressed anger after the judge announced her decision…”  Why am I guessing we will be seeing him again?

  • T February 22, 2019 (4:41 pm)

    He has been in the news on the WSB for almost a decade. We will see him again for sure.

  • cjboffoli February 22, 2019 (5:35 pm)

    This seems like a surprisingly light sentence given the severity of the victim’s injuries that night. I recall the radio traffic of first responders relating the horrific injuries they found when they arrived at the scene, finding the victim’s torso “wide open.”  What a relief it was that the man – the father of a young child if I recall correctly – survived. It is disheartening to think that Mr. Cox will be back on the streets in a relatively short time.  While it might be an exceptional sentence for the charge as pled, it certainly doesn’t seem so for the actual crime committed.

  • Gene February 22, 2019 (5:59 pm)

    Do something about it-we vote for Judges , City  Attorney & KC Prosecutor.

    • wscommuter February 22, 2019 (9:59 pm)

      Sigh – please get your facts straight.  Punishment is set by the state legislature – not judges or prosecutors.  If you don’t like that the standard range for Assault in the Second Degree – the charge here – then only the legislature can change that.  Judges only have a narrow range of sentencing time they can impose and in this instance, it appears that the judge imposed the high end of the range.  Likewise, prosecutors can’t charge a crime as more serious than how it is defined by the legislature.  The facts in this case met the statutory elements to Assault 2.  They did not meet Attempted Murder.  You don’t like that?  Cool … take it up with your legislator.  They are the ones who define crimes.  Focus your anger or whatever at the people actually making these decisions – and that happens in Olympia.  

      • Gene February 23, 2019 (8:08 am)

        Sigh-judge followed prosecutors reccomendations. The prosecutors likewise have a range from which they can charge. They chose assault 2-judge went along- but has discretion. Don’t see any comments about wanting Cox to be charged with attempted murderdo agree-if you want definitions of crimes changed -take it up with your legislators. 

  • M February 23, 2019 (7:03 am)

    Is it true that the church allowed him to sleep there? Seems highly inappropriate to house a know hostile individual like so incredibly close to an elementary school. 

  • unpopular February 23, 2019 (9:48 am)

    A longer sentence will not help in his recidivism.  Although the public is better served with him being behind bars, short of an act that will put him there permenently, his mental health needs to be addressed.   He’s going to be released, whether it be after the full sentence or a reduced sentence.  It doesn’t matter.   What matters is the system not providing the true help he needs, for his sake and the sake of others.   He’s mentally ill.  He deserves to be in prison, but he also deserves help.  

    • Sonic1002 February 24, 2019 (5:23 pm)

      Unpopular – just what exactly would you suggest, in terms of mental health assistance?  I believe he has been medicated now for the past 18 months – which is what made him fit to be sentenced.  He’s as “normal” as he’s going to get after being medicated for that long – and from watching the video, he still denies having any kind of issue at all.  In other words, people who suffer from mental illness such as Ryan often don’t believe they have an issue.  They believe everyone else does.  Because of that, no amount of mental health services in the world are going to help him – he doesn’t want the help.  DC (below) is right – striking the balance is difficult.  When he is released from prison, my bet is, the first thing he’ll do is quit taking his meds .  He HAS been a menace to our community for the past decade, and he’s not going to stop. 

  • MSea February 23, 2019 (10:57 am)

    This is a perfect example of what is wrong with our system. This man will potentially be out in five years or less and back on our streets with no mental health care or support, which would have likely prevented this horrible act in the first place. This is a repeat offender that was known to neighbors and to police and yet there is nothing that either could have done to get him the services that he so desperately needs. You reap what you sow. We’ll be hearing from him again and we’re all on our own to protect ourselves and our families. God bless America. 

  • D.C. February 23, 2019 (3:27 pm)

    This is a perfect example of why it’s ridiculous to restrict the rights of law abiding citizens in the same of “safety.” Mister Cox had a long history of extremely dangerous behavior, including making physical threats and attacks on completely random people. The fact that he frequently focused on the elderly and children (both instances reported by WSB) should make everyone sit up and rethink things. What if it was YOUR parent or grandparent? What if it was YOU child or grandchild?Mental illness is a tough problem to solve. Striking the right balance between individual rights (“You think differently so we’re putting you in a sanitarium”) and protecting the public (“Now that you’ve hurt someone, we can start the process of trying to take you off the street and get you help”) leaves us in a situation where our family and friends are vulnerable.In the unfortunate event that an unstable person targets you or a loved one it’s important that you have the right to possess and utilize whatever tools you feel comfortable using to ensure your safety, be it pepper spray, a taser, or a firearm. Otherwise, you’re restricted to being an unarmed victim, likely one of many (25 or so in Mister Cox’s case), that slowly, over the course of many years, build the case for taking a violent offender off the streets.     

  • Dunno February 23, 2019 (5:24 pm)

    I really question his sanity as well.   At least 4 years plus should be served at Western State in the forensic unit.  He’s in need of constant supervision and Mental help.   I don’t think prison will help him at all!  I have no idea if he had been on Med’s, but 100 percent sure before and during the attack he was not.   I’ve had many contact’s with both parties involved.   What Ryan said to the Judge is very typical of the behavior I’ve seen from him in the past.   I do believe Ryan is a danger to himself and others. I’m very happy to hear C’s doing better and am 100% behind how he’s feeling about this outcome.

  • Mj February 23, 2019 (5:37 pm)

    Ryan Cox is a dangerous person and for everones safety needs to be behind bars.  He has been provided ample chances and each time commits further crimes.  I for one do not want see his name in the WS blog three years hence of him causing fatal harm to someone.

    • John Smith February 24, 2019 (3:06 am)

      With time already served in jail, and if he doesn’t cause problems in prison, he will be out again in two years and two months from now. See previous comments for how that works.

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