Joshua P. Rich, the man accused in a 2013 stabbing near Olympia’s Sylvester Park, pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault Tuesday morning in Thurston County Superior Court.
The 21-year-old Gig Harbor man was arrested by the Washington State Patrol on Feb. 4, and is being held in the Thurston County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.
At the Tuesday hearing, Judge Anne Hirsch determined that Rich qualified for a court-appointed attorney from the Thurston County Office of Assigned Counsel. She explained that given the severity of the crime Rich is accused in, it’s especially important that he be given a lawyer as quickly as possible.
“Obviously this is a very serious charge Mr. Rich is facing,” Hirsch said.
Rich’s charges stem from a 2013 incident that resulted in the stabbing of two men. Rich’s alleged victim, 36-year-old Daniel Homan, stabbed a third man near Sylvester Park. Rich allegedly witnessed the stabbing and attacked Homan instead of calling the police, according to court documents.
According to court documents, the second attack was recorded on an Intercity Transit video security system. The Washington State Patrol began investigating the matter because Sylvester Park is considered part of the Capitol campus.
Homan spent several days in a hospital and was eventually charged in the initial attack. In January 2014, he was sentenced to 13 months in prison for second-degree assault. He couldn’t identify his attacker.
The case was given new life in November when an Olympia man told an Olympia police officer that he heard an acquaintance, whom he knew as Joshua, talking at a party about the Sylvester Park incident, according to court documents. The man said Rich became involved in the fight “because it was something fun to do.”
The man didn’t know Rich’s last name, but he did point him out to an officer in downtown Olympia, and the officer recognized him as Rich. The officer contacted a WSP detective with the information.
The detective also interviewed the man and located Rich in Gig Harbor.
The detective showed Rich the surveillance footage, and Rich admitted to stabbing Homan, according to court documents. He told the detective, “I didn’t know (the knife) was in my hand, it was already in my hand … I (expletive) up. I don’t want to go to jail. Jail is not for me. It was a (expletive) mistake that I will have to live with.”