By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
Carlos Avalos, 20, pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault with a deadly weapon enhancement Friday.
He was charged April 22 by the state Attorney General’s Office, which accused him of repeatedly stabbing Corrections Officer Eric Huether until another officer stopped the attack with a can of pepper spray.
Huether suffered cuts to his face, head, neck, hands and torso.
He had a long gash near his right eye and a cut to his throat, state Department of Corrections investigators said.
Huether was taken by ambulance to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles with non-life-threatening injuries. He was recovering at home the next day.
State corrections officials later determined that the shank was a piece of metal that had been removed from a cell heating vent and sharpened to a point.
Avalos is already serving a 10-year prison sentence for attacking a teacher with a homemade knife and hitting a security officer at a corrections vocational school in Chehalis in June 2012.
He will be released no sooner than 2022.
If convicted of first-degree assault, Avalos could face life in prison.
Assistant Attorney General John Hillman is prosecuting the case.
Clallam County Superior Court Judge George L. Wood on Friday scheduled the trial and a June 27 status hearing.
In the meantime, Avalos is being held at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.
According to Hillman’s declaration for determination of probable cause, which contains allegations from the state Department of Corrections and Sheriff’s Office, Huether was working at a computer station in a staff-only office when he was attacked at about 10 a.m. Feb. 3.
Another prison officer reported seeing Avalos leaving a nearby classroom with a bathroom pass twice in the span of 10 to 15 minutes.
“Officer [Leona] Buttram believes that after entering the bathroom, Avalos must have waited until she was not looking and then exited the bathroom and entered the room when officer Huether was working,” court papers said.
Huether told investigators he was sitting in front of a computer when he suddenly felt “three blows” to the base of his neck.
During the attack, Huether activated his body alarm and tried to make his way into the hallway where Buttram was stationed, investigators said.
“Avalos used a metal shank to repeatedly stab and slash Officer Huether,” the declaration said.
“Officer Huether fought back and grappled with Avalos as they exited the office and went to the ground in the hallway.”
Buttram radioed an assault in progress, used pepper spray to stop Avalos and handcuffed the alleged assailant, court papers said.
The 850-inmate medium- to maximum-security prison went into lockdown for nearly a week after the attack.
Sheriff’s investigators found a bloody shank in the hallway where Huether was attacked.
Huether said he had never interacted with Avalos and that the attack was completely unprovoked.
“Our state’s corrections officers serve a vital public safety role,” state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement.
“While we are relieved the officer is recovering from this attack, we look forward to bringing Mr. Avalos to justice.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.