Man sentenced in Hazel Dell stabbing, jail assault

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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A man who stabbed another man at a Hazel Dell bar in 2014 and last year attacked a fellow Clark County Jail inmate was sentenced Wednesday to 8.5 years in prison.

Apolonio “Polo” Luna-Ruelas, 24, previously pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to first-degree assault in the stabbing and third-degree assault in the jail attack.

A co-defendant in the bar incident, Ceaser A. Gonzalez, 25, pleaded guilty last spring to second-degree assault and was sentenced to a year in jail, court records show.

Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to the parking lot of Three Monkeys Tavern, 7917 N.E. Highway 99, at about 11:45 p.m. Nov. 21, 2014, for an altercation. Upon arrival, they found a 41-year-old man with stab wounds to his stomach and extremities, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The victim told investigators at the hospital that he was attacked when he confronted two men in the bar’s parking lot because he suspected they had stolen his two cellphones and wallet, which he had set on top of the bar, the affidavit said. He said he pursued the men to try to get his possessions back.

Gonzalez responded by repeatedly punching the victim in the head and knocking him to the ground. Gonzalez said he jumped on top of the victim and continued to strike him. Luna-Ruelas then stabbed the victim multiple times. Both assailants were gone when sheriff’s deputies arrived, court records said.

The victim was transported to a local hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.

A pedestrian later found one of the victim’s phones in the 4600 block of Northeast 15th Avenue. The pedestrian was able to identify the phone’s owner by looking at text messages and returned it to the victim. Sheriff’s detectives later recovered the other phone in the same area. The phones were valued at about $1,200, court documents said.

On the evening of May 25, 2015, Luna-Ruelas beat a fellow inmate, sending him to the hospital, according to court records.

During sentencing, Luna-Ruelas’ defense attorney, Jeffrey Riback, said his client maintains that he didn’t steal anything from the stabbing victim. Riback said Luna-Ruelas was not the aggressor and was arguably acting in self-defense.

Still, he said Luna-Ruelas wanted to take responsibility for his actions.

Deputy Prosecutor Mike Vaughn said Luna-Ruelas had no criminal history before the stabbing.

Judge Scott Collier said he would follow the attorneys’ previously agreed-upon recommendation of 102 months between the two cases and 36 months of community custody. Luna-Ruelas was given credit for some time in custody in each case. He will have to pay nearly $49,000 in restitution.

“The old adage is, don’t bring a gun or a knife to a fistfight,” Collier said.