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Thursday, September 28, 2023
Sept. 28, 2023

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Woman hiking on Liberty Lake trail fights off attacker; sheriff’s office arrests assailant next day

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SPOKANE —A 24-year-old man is accused of assaulting a woman on a trail before fleeing Thursday near Liberty Lake, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.v

Deputies identified Ethan Cunningham as the suspect and arrested him on suspicion of second-degree assault Friday, deputies said.

The woman told law enforcement she pulled into a turnout near a hiking trail at S. Zephyr Road and S. Lakeside Road and parked, according to a sheriff’s office news release. An older white sedan was parked with a man inside who appeared to be listening to music or talking on the phone, she said.

The victim stopped to take photos after walking a short distance on the trail, the release said. While doing so, she noticed the man she saw in the parked car walk past her before turning around and walking toward her.

He then grabbed her and pinned her to the ground as she tried to escape, she told law enforcement. She said the attacker choked her, but she fought back. He then rolled off her and ran away.

Armed with a knife and without her phone since she couldn’t find it, she returned to her vehicle and noticed the assailant and his car were gone, she said.

She drove back to Liberty Lake, contacted her husband and went to the Liberty Lake Police Department to report the attack, which happened Thursday afternoon near South Zephyr and South Lakeside roads, deputies said.

A deputy noted the woman’s injuries were consistent with being assaulted.

A camera on the route used to get to and from the area of the attack captured the license plate of a vehicle matching the description provided by the woman. Cunningham is the registered owner of the car .

Deputies found the vehicle unoccupied early Friday morning in the 13300 block of East Mission Avenue in Spokane Valley. Detectives located Cunningham, who matched the description the woman provided, around 2:50 p.m. Friday in a parking lot in the area where his car was found, the sheriff’s office said.

He was arrested and booked into the Spokane County Jail where he remained Sunday afternoon. Additional charges are possible.

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