Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Oct. 27, 2021

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Man sentenced to 25 years for stabbing grandfather in the neck

Attorney: 2018 attack on grandfather at his Minnehaha home was an attempt to end his own life by being sentenced to the death penalty

By , Columbian staff writer, and
The Columbian
Published:

A man who stabbed his grandfather in the neck in a 2018 unprovoked attack at his home in the Minnehaha area was sentenced Tuesday to more than 25 years in prison.

A Clark County Superior Court jury found Zakary French guilty of attempted first-degree murder in April, along with an aggravating factor of egregious lack of remorse, which allowed for an exceptional sentence.

On Tuesday, French, 28, was shackled to a wheelchair, and he talked over the attorneys and judge throughout the hearing.

French underwent multiple mental health evaluations prior to trial, and his attorneys argued at the sentencing hearing that he lacked the capacity for remorse.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Smith said doctors found French was mentally competent to stand trial and argued it appeared he was manipulating the court-ordered treatment to access medications.

She requested Judge Gregory Gonzales sentence French above the standard range, to 30 years in prison.

“Mr. French is a very smart, manipulative and dangerous individual,” she said Tuesday.

Neil Anderson, one of French’s attorneys, described French’s childhood as “full of abuse, both physical and mental.”

He asked the judge to sentence French to the low end of the range, or 19½ years.

A memo from French’s attorneys arguing for the lower sentence states, “Mr. French needs rehabilitative programs and continued mental health treatment more than incarceration.”

Anderson said French’s attack on his grandfather was an attempt to end his own life by being sentenced to the death penalty and that French didn’t know Washington no longer has the death penalty.

Gonzales sentenced French to 304½ months in prison, which was the maximum sentence within the standard range.

Stabbing

Clark County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched at about 8:50 a.m. April 11, 2018, to 4000 N.E. 44th Ave., for a reported stabbing. Responding deputies found then-69-year-old Richard LaFountain in the dining area of the home, where he was bleeding profusely from his neck, according to an affidavit of probable cause. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.

LaFountain’s wife, another grandson and the grandson’s girlfriend were all home at the time but in different areas of the residence. They said they heard the doorbell ring, and then minutes later, heard LaFountain calling for help, the affidavit states.

LaFountain reportedly told his family that French stabbed him. French left before deputies arrived, but he was found at a nearby park, where he was living in a tent.

While being taken into custody, French asked deputies if the “state has lethal injection.” He then called the deputies derogatory names, they said, and mumbled to himself as if someone was there, according to court documents.

When investigators tried to interview French, he “passionately stated, ‘I stabbed him in the throat; no regrets. I hope he’s dead. He’s dead, isn’t he?’” the affidavit states.

During French’s sentencing hearing, Smith told the judge that French’s grandparents forgive and love him.

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