Man pleads guilty in stabbing death

OLYMPIA - A 22-year-old man who pleaded guilty Tuesday to stabbing a Tumwater man to death in a bedroom at the Oak Crest Apartments on Feb. 14 remembers nothing of the crime, his attorney said in court.

Gary Rockwell faces a standard sentencing range of between 264 and 344 months in prison under the terms of his Alford plea Tuesday. Rockwell’s sentencing is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 14.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but concedes there would be enough evidence to convict him or her had the case gone to trial. An Alford plea counts as a conviction and is tantamount to a guilty plea.

Rockwell’s attorney, Robert Jimerson, said Rockwell’s inability to remember what happened on the night of Collin Spencer’s homicide is one reason for his Alford plea. “He cannot acknowledge doing anything that he cannot remember,” Jimerson said.

Rockwell was charged with stabbing Spencer four times at the Oak Crest Apartments on Pacific Avenue after a night of drinking at the Log Cabin Tavern, court papers state. A roommate of Spencer said that while the group was at the Log Cabin, Rockwell threatened Spencer after Spencer refused to give Rockwell $20, according to court papers.

When Rockwell, Spencer and others returned to the apartment, Rockwell asked one of his friends to speak to him outside and said he was going to “rob and stab” Spencer. The witnesses told police they attributed Rockwell’s remarks to his intoxication.

But one of the friends later heard a noise from a back bedroom, and then saw Spencer emerge with a blood stain on his shirt, according to court papers. Rockwell followed, pinning Spencer to the floor. The witness fled the house and told police “he thought he would be killed if he intervened,” court papers state.

Spencer suffered stab wounds to the torso, neck and chest.

Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau said in court Tuesday that blood that was found on Rockwell’s shirt matched Spencer’s DNA.