Homeless man suspected of stabbing near Vancouver church




A 34-year-old homeless man appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of stabbing another man in the chest early Friday outside Peoples Church in the Vancouver Heights neighborhood.

Jess S. Leonard faces a charge of first-degree assault at his Nov. 1 arraignment. Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson held Leonard on $80,000 and appointed Vancouver attorney Therese Lavallee to defend him.

The victim, Kent Richardson, 33, told Vancouver police that he was attempting to steal gasoline from a Dodge Durango parked in the church’s parking lot when Leonard leapt out of the vehicle and attacked him, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in court. Leonard is accused of stabbing Richardson in the chest during the altercation.

Richardson was treated and released at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, according to a hospital spokesperson.

A hospital physician told police that the stab wound could have been life-threatening, according to the affidavit.

Leonard admitted that he had confronted the victim but denied stabbing him, the affidavit says. He said he was just “defending his woman,” the affidavit says. Leonard’s girlfriend, Damania Berger, told police that she saw the altercation but didn’t see Leonard stab Richardson, the affidavit says. However, after the altercation, she said she heard Leonard say, “I don’t know. I might have stabbed him,” according to the affidavit. Berger took the knife from Leonard’s pocket and hid it, but police later recovered the weapon, the affidavit says.

Leonard has been unemployed for about two years and homeless for about three months, according to court documents. He reported having some mental health problems, but court documents don’t specify the nature of the problems.

Leonard’s criminal history includes first-degree escape, violation of a Superior Court sentence, violation of a domestic violence court order and false reporting, all earlier this year; third-degree assault in 2011 and fourth-degree assault in 2007.