Teen receives 6 months in August stabbing

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

A Fort Vancouver High School student was sentenced today to six months in Clark County Jail for the Aug. 9 stabbing of a man during an altercation at Vancouver's Camden Place apartments.

Bobby A. Vasquez, 17, pleaded guilty as an adult Jan. 16 in Clark County Superior Court to second-degree assault. Vasquez's case was automatically remanded from Juvenile Court to adult court because of the seriousness of the allegation.

The guilty plea and sentence were part of a plea deal in which Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu agreed to dismiss a first-degree assault charge, which would have carried a more severe sentence.

Today's court hearing revealed that before the stabbing, the 18-year-old victim, Darien Z. Nielson, and one or two other men confronted Vasquez over a girl Vasquez was dating. Apparently, Nielson also had dated the girl and was taunting Vasquez that she liked Nielson more than Vasquez, said Vasquez's attorney, Gregg Schile.

The dispute between Vasquez and the victim began over social media and text messages, Schile said. Then the victim and one or two companions went to the apartment of the girl's father, where the girl and Vasquez were at the time, and started banging on the door, the defense attorney said. Vasquez went outside, where he and the victim started throwing punches, Schile said.

At some point, Vasquez armed himself with a three-inch knife and stabbed Nielson in the neck during the altercation, Vu said.

"Fortunately, he was not seriously injured," Vu said of the victim. "It could have been potentially fatal had it gone deeper."

Vancouver police officers were called at 2:13 a.m. to the unit at the apartment complex, 4701 N.E. 72nd Ave.

The victim was taken to the hospital, where he received stitches, and then was released, Vu said.

Vasquez originally denied using a knife during the fight, but police found the weapon hidden behind a mirror, according to a court affidavit. Vasquez then admitted to having the knife during the fight but continued to deny that he used it. He maintained that he hit the victim only with a closed fist, the affidavit says.

"I know what I did was wrong," Vasquez said.

"You pull out the knife," said Judge Scott Collier, describing a hypothetical situation. "The next person pulls out the gun or bat. It keeps escalating."

Vasquez's mother, Juanita Vasquez, said today that her son is a good person who encountered a scary situation and made a mistake.

"I didn't agree with him using the knife, but he was scared," she said.

Vasquez plans to earn his GED, as he won't be able to finish the school year at Fort Vancouver, she said.

"He wanted to join the military, but he lost his right to bear arms, which is ridiculous," she said. "He's pretty upset about that."

Deputy Prosecutor Julie Carmena said at his Aug. 12 first appearance that Vasquez had a previous marijuana possession charge, but there are no records of that in the Washington Courts database.

Juanita Vasquez said that Vasquez had no criminal history before his Jan. 16 guilty plea to the assault.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts;http://facebook.com/ColTrends;paris.achen@columbian.com.