By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Lewis County prosecutors told a judge they dropped a felony charge against a man who was arrested for rape this summer, because of a lack of evidence.
The 6-foot 9-inch tall former Centralia College basketball player was arrested by Centralia police in July, after a 28-year-old local woman told officers a black man entered her motel room and forced sex on her.
Wellington M. Waggener, 26, was detained at the Travelodge and has held been in the Lewis County Jail ever since.
Waggener went before a judge this week, after a plea deal was reached regarding unrelated incidents that occurred while he was locked up.
Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead recommended Waggener be given a 9-month sentence, the bottom of the standard range for the offenses.
Defense attorney Don Blair asked for five months with credit for time served, given his client’s mental issues.
He’s been evaluated and treated at Western State Hospital and was just released from a Portland hospital shortly before the July incident, according to the two lawyers.
“He’s medicated now, but having him sit in custody – I know he doesn’t like to be in custody,” Blair said. “But I don’t think that’s going to have an effect on anything with his mental health.”
While being housed in the medical observation portion of the jail in July, Waggener allegedly spit in a corrections officer’s face as he was being served dinner.
Then two days later, he allegedly threatened to kill two other of the officers, telling one of them that he would kill her if he saw her outside the jail and telling the other he wanted to slit his throat.
He’s the same person Lewis County paid $300,000 not to sue, because he was left to suffer for more than five hours without any kind water or decontamination after a jail guard discharged a can of pepper spray into his cell 18 months earlier, trying to get him to give a set of keys back.
In court on Wednesday morning this week, Waggener made Alford pleas to custodial assault and felony harassment. He contends he doesn’t recall the events.
He admitted no guilt, but agreed with Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt that he would be reasonably likely to be convicted if a jury heard the facts prosecutors would present.
Hunt ordered a sentence of nine months, with credit for time served, saying he didn’t see a compelling reason to go lower.
He also ordered a year of what’s called community custody after release, in which Waggener would be supervised or monitored by the state Department of Corrections.
About $4,000 of fines and fees were imposed, including repayment for a court-appointed lawyer.
Judge Hunt queried Blair about how much of the $300,000 settlement with the county the defendant received and was told it was being held in trust for him.
The judge also ordered Waggener to undergo evaluations for both his mental health and for alcohol and marijuana use, and to follow through any treatment recommended.
While one of the two harassment charged was dropped as part of the plea deal, the sex crime charge was dismissed by prosecutors.
When police booked Waggener in July, it was for second-degree rape.
Prosecutors subsequently filed a different felony charge – residential burglary with sexual motivation – alleging in court documents only that the woman told an officer she woke up in bed and her clothes had been removed, and a strange male in her bed was touching her body with his hands.
Halstead said then it was investigated a little more, and the case lacked evidence.
For background, read “Court cases stalled for Centralia man while mental evaluation sought” from Saturday July 18, 2015, here