A man charged with abducting and robbing a woman in Knappa earlier this year was convicted of kidnap and robbery charges, but found not guilty of attempted murder Tuesday in Clatsop County Circuit Court.
The jury heard closing arguments and deliberated while the defendant, Justin Walch, 24, was at Columbia Memorial Hospital for observation after an apparent suicide attempt.
Walch swallowed an unknown quantity of pills in his cell at Clatsop County Jail early Tuesday morning, a few hours before his scheduled appearance in court. The pills were prescription medication administered by jail staff to Walch, who had apparently hoarded them over a period of time, according to the Clatsop County District Attorney's Office.
Walch was taken to CMH for observation, then released back to the custody of the jail later Tuesday.
Walch was arrested March 16 for his role in a kidnap and robbery plot carried out against a woman in Knappa. According to Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown, Walch and Robert Bulleri, 20, hatched a plan to lure Wendy Reiniger, 26, out of a friend's residence and rob her of $250 in cash with a concocted story about a wrecked car.
When Reiniger came out of the house, Walch jumped her and attempted to shove her into the trunk of the defendants' car. The woman's head hit the trunk lid, but she was able to escape from Walch's grasp. Bulleri picked up the money and the two fled to an apartment complex in Astoria, where they were arrested about two hours later. Reiniger was treated and released at CMH for facial injuries.
Walch was charged with attempted aggravated murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery, fourth-degree assault and conspiracy to commit robbery. Brown told the jury that a meat cleaver, crow bar and duct tape were found inside the car - evidence that the pair probably intended to kill the victim. The jury found Walch guilty of all but the attempted murder charge.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 13. Walch faces a minimum of 90 months and as much as 270 months in prison.
Bulleri pleaded guilty to second-degree assault earlier this year and was given a 70-month prison sentence.