Sabino Gomez-Barriga, right, consults with his attorney Bob Schroeter via an interpreter in Lewis County Superior Court.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Bail was set at $250,000 for the man who allegedly stabbed a co-worker in the throat at a wholesale meat business in Centralia.
Sabino Gomez-Barriga, 35, is jailed and facing a charge of first-degree assault after the incident on Wednesday morning on the 1700 block of Airport Road.
The victim, 21-year-old Jorge Juarez of Centralia, remained in a critical care unit, prosecutors said yesterday.
According to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, it began as an argument between the two men and quickly turned physical. What the disagreement was over hasn’t been disclosed publicly.
Aid crews were summoned about 11:10 a.m. on Wednesday to what they initially were told was an accident and they requested an airlift for the patient, according to Riverside Fire Authority. About 20 minutes later, police from multiple agencies were dispatched, but Gomez-Barriga had fled on foot, charging documents state.
An airplane from the state patrol flew over the area and a tracking dog requested but by about 1 p.m. Gomez-Barriga was located at the San Juan Arms Apartments downtown Chehalis, according to authorities.
Gomez-Barriga said it was an accident and that he got a ride back to his apartment because he was scared, charging documents say.
The Five Star Beef Company alongside Interstate 5 was previously a slaughterhouse called The Beef Shop and before that was Midway Meats. The weapon was described as a sharp boning knife.
Gomez-Barriga spoke with his attorney through a Spanish interpreter when he went before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.
Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke asked for $500,000 bail arguing a danger to the community and a flight risk.
When police arrived, the suspect was getting into a vehicle saying he was on his way to dinner in Olympia, O’Rourke told the judge. “We think otherwise,” he said.
Defense attorney Bob Schroeter requested $50,000 bail, noting his client has no criminal history and has lived in Chehalis for three years.
“I’m confident there is a lot more to this story that we don’t realize,” Schroeter said. “Especially given the language barrier here.”
Charging documents describe what the sheriff’s office learned from another worker who witnessed the alleged attack.
Juan Lopez said he was working inside the building with the two men when a verbal confrontation began, charging documents state.
They go on to give the following account: Lopez said Juarez struck Gomez-Barriga in the face with his fist and then Gomez-Barriga grabbed a metal meat hook, using the blunt end to begin jabbing Juarez in the abdomen.
Juarez backed away, but Gomez-Barriga grabbed a sharp boning knife that is used at work and stabbed Juarez directly in the throat.
The younger man put his hand on his throat, but when he removed it to open a door and leave, blood started to spurt everywhere.
When Gomez-Barriga was interviewed by a sheriff’s detective and an officer fluent in Spanish, he admitted there was an incident in which his co-worker was injured.
Gomez-Barriga contended he was flailing to try to stab a third person who was holding him from behind when he accidentally stabbed Juarez.
When asked why he didn’t call for help after he was punched or why he escalated to using a deadly weapon, Gomez-Barriga responded there were women at work and he didn’t want to “look like a kid in front of them.”
Riverside Fire Authority Capt. Terry Ternan said people were putting direct pressure on the victim’s wound when aid arrived and he was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital.
On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said the victim was in critical condition, but yesterday morning sheriff’s Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said his injuries were no longer believed to be life-threatening.
The sheriff’ office initially reported Juarez’s age as 30, but yesterday said he was 21.
Charging documents presented in court yesterday afternoon say Juarez survived his surgery at Providence, but remained intubated, unable to speak and not able to give a statement.
Gomez-Barriga will be back in the courtroom next Thursday to make his pleas.