A Washougal man may soon be charged in connection to a fatal stabbing in eastern Washington.
The Klickitat County Sheriff’s Department said Jason Erhardt, 37, of Washougal, was involved in a Feb. 24 altercation on a rural road in eastern Washington that resulted in the death of 39-year-old Nathan Laird, of Goldendale.
A news release issued by the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office initially said Erhardt had been charged with second-degree murder, but Klickitat County Undersheriff Mike Kallio later said the decision to charge Erhardt is in the hands of the county’s prosecuting attorney, Dave Quesnel.
According to court documents, Erhardt was released from jail on Feb. 24 under a general release. A Klickitat County Superior Court administrator said Wednesday, March 9, that Erhardt has not been officially charged in connection to Laird’s death.
The incident began around 1 p.m. Feb. 24, when emergency dispatchers sent Kallio and deputy Erik Beasley to a call that originated as a trespassing complaint and escalated to a reported stabbing along DeYoe Cutoff Road near Goldendale.
The sheriff’s office said in a news release that Erhardt was driving on the rural Klickitat County road when Laird allegedly confronted Erhardt and accused him of trespassing on private property. According to the news release, Laird then punched Erhardt twice through the side window of Erhardt’s car and pulled the Washougal man from his vehicle.
The news release said Erhardt armed himself with a knife as Laird was pulling him from his vehicle and, once out of the vehicle, allegedly stabbed Laird.
After arriving at the scene, Beasley detained Erhardt and Kallio attempted to revive Laird until medical responders arrived.
Erhardt was arrested at the scene and lodged at the Klickitat County Jail. Emergency responders transported Laird to Klickitat Valley Hospital in Goldendale, where he was pronounced dead later that day.
On Wednesday, March 3, Erhardt’s wife, Tamra Erhardt, wrote on a GoFundMe fundraiser page to help raise money for Erhardt’s medical treatment, that her husband “was the victim of a violent attack which resulted in serious psychological trauma” and alleged the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office had denied appropriate medical treatment to Erhardt.
“My husband is physically compromised, and he was forced to defend himself. This (action) turned out (to be) fatal to his attacker,” Tamra Erhardt stated on the GoFundMe page. “Currently, we are seeking out trauma and grief counseling, but his Medicare does not cover the specialized counseling that he needs.”
“He was not given any medical treatment while he was in custody, (a decision) which resulted in delayed treatment,” she wrote. “He now suffers from serious headaches, and the wound in his arm was not able to be safely stitched up due to the length of time without treatment. He has lost at least 50 percent hearing in his left ear, and his left bicep no longer works properly due to the wound and nerve damage he sustained during the attack.”
Kallio told the Post-Record that medics at the scene had examined Jason Erhardt at the scene of the stabbing and determined he was clear to go to jail.
“The medical bills that were incurred after the attack are pretty substantial and with continued care, the medical bills will continue to come in and we are already struggling financially due to the pandemic,” Tamra Erhardt stated on the GoFundMe site. “I am just asking for any help for (my) husband (to) receive the care he needs and deserves. This is a very heavy burden that no one should ever have to go through alone. Please also send prayers to both families involved as this was a very tragic event for many people including children on both sides.”