The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Wood
The Times 

Gabe Hofer Faces Assault Charge


December 11, 2014

WAITSBURG - On Monday, Waitsburg resident Gabriel "Gabe" Hofer made his first appearance in Walla Walla County Superior Court in response to assault charges filed against him by the Walla Walla Prosecutors' Office in late November. Hofer is accused of assaulting Richard "Rikki" W. Perez, who he found with his sister, Mariah, when she died of a drug overdose last January. Perez was Mariah's ex-boyfriend and had been released from jail days before the overdose.

According to a probable cause report filed by City of Walla Walla police detective Mike Boettcher, the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call concerning a possible female drug overdose death and a reported assault of a male who was with the deceased female.

The report describes the 17 minute 911 call as "very emotional" and states that both Gabe Hofer and his father Gary "appeared to be overwhelmed with Mariah's death, and both absolutely believed Rikki was the one who provided her with the drugs that presumably killed her." The recordings allegedly capture Gabe stating that he hit Perez.

Gabe Hofer reportedly told deputies he discovered Mariah when he went to wake her at approximately 11:30 a.m. on January 12. When she failed to respond to pounding on the door, he used a screwdriver to get the door open and discovered Mariah lying on the bed with her face black. Perez was lying unconscious next to her. Hofer pulled Mariah to the floor and unsuccessfully attempted to administer CPR. He then ran downstairs, called 911 and got his father.

WWCSO deputies and Walla Walla Fire Department paramedics arrived on the scene at 11:55. Paramedics confirmed that Mariah was deceased and that Perez' oxygen saturation was so low he was only minutes from death without medical intervention. Perez was transported to St. Mary's Medical Center where he arrived with a Glasgow Coma Scale of 3, the worst possible. SMMC physicians reportedly stated that the many fractures to his face and head were the result of an assault.

During the investigation, several officers noticed that Gabe Hofer's hands, as well as the hands of another male who was staying at the home, were bloody. Both men allowed officers to take pictures of their hands. Hofer stated he had hit the wall in anger and the other male said he hit a pile of gravel behind the house.

Officers were unable to find any wall damage in the Hofer home to substantiate Hofer's claim. During the investigation, Hofer suffered a panic attack and was having difficulty breathing. He was transported by ambulance to Dayton Hospital for treatment. On January 16, Hofer was again treated at the Dayton Hospital emergency room for "anxiety state after the traumatic incident with his sister."

Because Walla Walla County Sheriff John Turner is a relative of the Hofer family, the case was turned over to the Walla Walla City Police. The Probable Cause report states that, during his investigation, Detective Boettcher accessed an audio file from a family friend stating that Hofer said he hit Perez, as well as Hofer's medical files in which medical personnel noted the same admission. The assault charges are based on the physical evidence on Hofer's knuckles as well as the statements from four witnesses who say he admitted hitting Perez.

The PC report does not list any additional evidence since the receipt of the medical files that were procured via search warrant on February 14, 2014. When asked why it has taken so long - nearly a year - for charges to be filed, Prosecuting Attorney James Nagle said that the amount of information obtained nearly filled a 8.0 gigabyte flash drive and took a long time to go through.

"Unlike what people see on TV shows, investigations and prosecutor review does not take place within minutes," he said. Nagle also said that, based on the information obtained, the prosecutor's office does not believe any other charges are warranted at this time.

Perez was eventually discharged from St. Mary Medical Center, returned to the Walla Walla County Jail and later released. He was most recently incarcerated on Dec. 6 on failure to comply and fugitive from justice charges with a bail of $6,500.

At Monday's appearance Hofer was advised of the assault charge, had Julie Brown appointed as his public defender, and was released upon conditions, according to Nagle. His next scheduled court appearance will be Dec. 22 at 3 p.m. when he will enter a plea. If he pleads "not guilty" a trial date will be set at that time.


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