A Washougal man stabbed in the heart by his girlfriend in October 2010 chose not to testify against her at trial.
But Tuesday, he took the stand at Tanya N. Quinata’s sentencing hearing as a character witness.
A witness, that is, against himself.
Samuel Kama, 41, admitted to the judge that he was violent toward Quinata over their yearlong relationship when a defense attorney questioned whether a pattern of domestic violence could have driven her to the stabbing.
“Basically, I just lost it sometimes,” Kama said. “I know it’s my fault.”
Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle didn’t agree that the victim’s testimony should warrant a reduced punishment. He sentenced Quinata to just less than 10 years in prison, the amount requested by the state.
Attorneys square off
A jury convicted Quinata, 38, of first-degree assault Dec. 16 in connection with the Oct. 14, 2010, stabbing of Kama that had left him with serious injuries.
Defense attorney Charles Buckley sought a punishment of five years in prison, well below the sentencing range of 10 to just over 12 years, and argued that domestic violence was a mitigating factor in the case.
He sparred with Senior Deputy Prosecutor Camara Banfield for 45 minutes in the courtroom over the punishment options. Banfield pointed out there was no evidence of abuse — police reports or other witnesses — besides Kama’s testimony.
Banfield said Kama’s testimony was another example of Quinata not accepting responsibility for the event. She had initially lied to police, saying Kama’s injuries were self-inflicted, and then changed her story at trial, telling the jury that Kama had walked into her knife as she was preparing a sandwich.
“We know that since the moment she made that 911 call, this has been a cover-up of her actions,” Banfield said.
The deputy prosecutor said she reviewed hours of jail calls between the victim and defendant and there was no talk of abuse.
“She was the one apologizing to him,” she said.
The prosecution requested a low-end sentence, taking into account that Quinata has no prior felonies on her record and has young children at home. She is being held in the Clark County Jail.
In siding with the prosecution, Wulle said he didn’t believe there was enough evidence of a pattern of domestic violence to warrant a reduced sentence, and he felt he had to uphold the conviction.
“The jury has spoken,” Wulle said. “They have made their decision.”
“Bottom line is, I can’t find mitigating factors,” he added.