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Jury acquits Washougal man accused in stabbing

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter and Jerzy Shedlock, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

A Clark County Superior Court jury on Thursday acquitted a Washougal man accused of stabbing a neighbor during a dispute in August.

Rudolph F. Zehner, 60, was originally charged with third-degree assault stemming from an Aug. 19 stabbing call at his home. That charge was upgraded to second-degree assault a month after the incident.

Police responded to his apartment building at 329 20th St. that evening, when he called 911 to report he stabbed a neighbor, according to court records.

Zehner told officers he found his neighbor, Patrick Warmuth, lying on the sidewalk drunk. The two didn’t get along, he told police, adding when Warmuth got up, he became aggressive. That prompted Zehner to draw a folding knife from his pocket and warn Warmuth he would defend himself, according to court records.

In a victim impact statement submitted to the court, Warmuth wrote that he believed Zehner was trying to kill him, adding that the appropriate charge in the case should be attempted murder.

But the jury disagreed, finding Zehner not guilty of the second-degree assault charge and a lesser included charge of fourth-degree assault, court records show.

Zehner’s defense attorney, Katie Kauffman of Vancouver Defenders, argued that her client acted in self-defense, according to the law firm.

This article originally appeared on The Columbian’s website at 5:24 p.m., Nov. 16, 2018.