PORT TOWNSEND — A Port Angeles man has been sentenced to nearly eight years in prison after he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing a Port Townsend man last summer.
Matthew Robert Malone, 23, apologized for his actions during his sentencing hearing Thursday afternoon in Jefferson County Superior Court.
He had been in jail since July 1, 2018, when he stabbed David Arbuckle of Port Townsend at the intersection of Quincy and Jefferson streets near Memorial Field.
Arbuckle was attacked from behind and sustained stab wounds to the back of his head and upper body, according to court documents.
“I apologize to the town but most of all to Mr. Arbuckle for what I did,” Malone said to Judge Keith Harper. “I regret it every day.”
Harper sentenced Malone to seven years and nine months, the minimum of the standard range of 93-123 months. That will be followed by three years of community custody.
He will be credited with the year he’s spent in jail.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Julie St. Marie recommended the lowest end of the standard range.
Defense attorney Ben Critchlow argued for an exception below the range based on Malone’s schizophrenia diagnosis. He sought the minimum mandatory sentence of five years.
“He is both mentally ill and potentially dangerous, and that is exactly why the state is asking for the standard range, because he is dangerous to the community,” St. Marie said.
Two experts testified during the hearing that Malone was acting on “command hallucinations” when he attacked Arbuckle.
Port Townsend police said Malone purchased a knife June 30, 2018, at Swain’s General Store in Port Angeles and rode a bus to Port Townsend the same day. He followed Arbuckle downtown and up Quincy Street to a more secluded area before he attacked, according to court documents.
Dr. Mark McClung, a forensic psychiatrist, told the court Thursday that Malone has a chronic mental disorder and was suffering from “delusional beliefs, irrational beliefs.”
“He was being led to someone he believed was going to kill him, and he had to protect himself,” McClung testified about the voices Malone was hearing.
Malone was evaluated at Western State Hospital in Lakewood last fall and found in December to be competent to stand trial.
A motion to acquit Malone of the initial attempted first-degree murder charge was denied May 22.
St. Marie argued Malone’s plan to stab someone originated about three days prior to the incident during a time when Malone self-reported opiate use and heavy use of alcohol.
Malone reported having one beer just a few hours before the attack, but experts said it only had a minimal effect.
Responding Port Townsend police officers did not find Malone to be intoxicated.
“This is a random, brutal and senseless act, and we don’t want that in our community,” St. Marie said.
Dr. Barry Ward testified that Malone’s diagnosis likely will require mental health treatment and medication for the rest of his life.
“I do believe he had a primary psychotic disorder,” Ward said. “He did have impaired judgment and insight, and he continued to have impaired judgment and insight when I interviewed him.”
Malone’s father, Robert, testified that Matthew has lived with symptoms his entire life.
“We took the steps we thought were good as we saw what was happening to him,” Robert Malone said. “He fell through the cracks.”
He expressed frustration that his son was not found to be insane at the time of the crime.
“Justice takes a holiday,” Robert Malone said after the sentence was read.
While Harper said Malone’s previous statements about not wanting to be seen or caught at the time indicated “he had some semblance of awareness,” he also complimented Malone on how his demeanor in the courtroom had changed for the better since the first time he saw him last summer.
“Nothing I am going to say will make your parents feel any better,” Harper said.
He considered splitting the recommendations from the state and the defense at 6½ years or going to the middle of the standard range at nine years, but he settled on the 93-month sentence.
“I hope you are able to get the help that you need,” Harper said to Malone.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].