Lena A. Castillo pleads guilty to a lesser charge today in connection with stabbing another woman outside a Chehalis bar.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The 24-year-old Centralia woman who pulled out a knife after she was assaulted by another bar patron last month accepted a plea deal in which she will spend six months in jail.
Lena A. Castillo was charged with first-degree assault after the January 12 fight outside Garbe’s in Chehalis; the 22-year-old victim was treated for six stab wounds.
But today in Lewis County Superior Court, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said second-degree assault was the more appropriate charge.
“Had this gone to trial, she would have had a self defense claim,” Halstead told the judge.
Halstead said surveillance video shows Ashley Stewart was the primary aggressor, that she approached Castillo, she struck Castillo twice and then they “basically grabbed each other by the hair.” The fight didn’t last very long, Halstead said.
Stewart admitted she picked up a pair of brass knuckles she found sitting on a table and then used them in the short brawl, according to Halstead.
The end of the video showed the victim on the ground, on her back with Castillo on top of her continuing to stab her, he said.
“We all know you can’t bring a gun or a knife to a fist fight,” Halstead said.
Defense attorney Michael Underwood called it a “sucker punch” and said it galled him Stewart could claim to be the victim.
His client just reacted, Underwood said. Her head was pulled down and she was hit from behind, he said.
However, had she gone to trial and lost, she faced as long as 10 years in prison, he said.
“I think, from her perspective, she’d say I’d like to go to trial, but you’ve got a 2-year-old child and a 4-year-old child who would teenagers when she got out,” Underwood said.
Castillo pleaded guilty this afternoon to second-degree assault. She chose not to address the court when the judge inquired.
She didn’t know brass knuckles were used, according to her lawyer. Halstead said she suffered a scratch to the back of her neck, although police previously said she suffered some bruising on her head.
Brass knuckles are illegal to possess. The knife was described as a small lighter-knife combination with a double-edged blade.
Stewart was treated for four stab wounds to her stomach and one to each leg and was expected to make a full recovery.
Stewart told police she’d been jumped previously by Castillo and other women; the disagreement was related to a male they both previously had a relationship with, according to Halstead.
Because Castillo has no prior felonies, the standard sentence under state law has to be between three and nine months.
Both attorneys asked Judge James Lawler to give her six months.
“It’s one thing to react to getting punched,” Lawler said. “It’s another to pull a knife out and start sticking somebody.”
And then he agreed to sentence Castillo to six months in jail, with credit for 46 days already served.
Lawler ordered her to pay about $2,400 in fees, get one year of so-called community custody upon her release and have no contact with Stewart for 10 years.
For background, read:
• “Centralia woman charged in bar fight stabbing” from Monday January 14, 2013 at 9:47 p.m., here