Over 48 years in prison for Royal City workplace shooter

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EPHRATA — A Royal City man will be spending over 48 years in prison in connection with a 2015 workplace shooting that left one dead and another injured.

Eduardo Ibarra Valencia, of Royal City, previously entered guilty pleas in Grant County Superior Court to second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Each of the charges include a firearm enhancement. Judge John Knodell went above the joint recommended sentenced of 20 years and imposed an exceptional sentence of 579.5 months, a little over 48 years, in prison.

Ibarra Valencia was initially charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in connection with the November 2015 murder of Joel Rodriguez, 49, of Quincy, and injury shooting of a Soap Lake man at Callahan Manufacturing in Royal City.

Court proceedings were put on hold after Ibarra Valencia was charged as he underwent an evaluation to determine if he was competent to stand trial. Ibarra Valencia was declared competent, but he was returned to Eastern State Hospital for evaluation of other potential mental defenses. Prosecutors were concerned if Ibarra Valencia’s case went to trial, he would be acquitted on the basis of insanity or diminished capacity. In response, the prosecution sought to amend Ibarra Valencia’s charges to first-degree manslaughter and attempted first-degree manslaughter.

Knodell rejected the state’s motion, stating that diminished capacity was not a viable defense for Ibarra Valencia. Knodell’s rationale was that no expert had concluded Ibarra Valencia was not able to form specific

intent when the crimes were committed. With regard to an insanity defense, Knodell said the defense is not viable because Ibarra Valencia did not enter an insanity plea in writing within 10 days of his arraignment, which is a requirement in the Washington court system.

The judge further said even if Ibarra Valencia does have one or more mental illnesses and he suffers from delusions, they did not keep him from comprehending that he shot two people and his actions were criminal. The defendant’s girlfriend told police investigators he had dealt with depression for some time before the shooting and he “regularly” acted paranoid and believed people were out to get or kill him. She claimed Ibarra Valencia was having trouble at work with coworkers, but she said he didn’t confide with whom he was having trouble with.

The Soap Lake victim said on the day of the shooting Ibarra Valencia was “acting nervous” as he was walking around Callahan Manufacturing. Ibarra Valencia then walked up to Rodriguez and shot him with a semi-automatic weapon. The surviving victim said he started running, which is when Ibarra Valencia shot him twice in the back and once in the arm.

Court documents indicate about a week before the shooting Ibarra Valencia showed one of his coworkers a .40 caliber handgun and told him the gun was for protection.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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