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Man held at facility for sexually violent predator dies

January 4, 2019
FILE - This Oct. 20, 2015, file photo, shows the main entrance to Washington state's Special Commitment Center next to a fence lined with razor wire on McNeil Island, Wash. State officials say a sexually violent predator being held at the Special Commitment Center died after suffering a head injury during a fight with another resident. Chris Wright, with the Department of Social and Health Services, said Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, 63-year-old Jerry Spicer suffered a head injury during the fight on Thursday in the facility's cafeteria. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

SEATTLE (AP) — A fight between two sexually violent predators being held at a special facility on McNeil Island, Washington, ended with one man dead and the other in jail, officials said Friday.

Special Commitment Center resident Jerry Spicer, 63, suffered a head injury during a fight Wednesday in the facility’s cafeteria, Chris Wright with the Department of Social and Health Services said Friday in a press release.

Spicer was taken to the Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McCord and later died Thursday of his injuries, Wright said.

The other man involved in the fight, Gregory Coley Jr., was later arrested by the Washington State Patrol and taken to the Pierce County Jail, Wright said.

He was initially charged with felony assault, according to the jail’s booking information. The Pierce County Prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to messages asking whether the charges will change now that Spicer has died. It wasn’t immediately clear if Coley had an attorney.

The Special Commitment Center was established after the Washington Legislature passed the Community Protection Act in 1990 in response to several high-profile cases involving sexually violent predators.

After sex offenders complete their prison sentences, the state can ask the court to have them civilly committed to the facility to protect the community and provide them with mental health treatment.

Under Washington’s civil commitment law, prosecutors must demonstrate the offender still suffers from specific mental abnormalities and/or personality disorders that cause him to have difficulty controlling his behavior and make him likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence.

At present, the center houses 210 residents, Wright said.

Spicer had been sent to the facility in 2005 after a Grant County court determined he met the criteria of being a sexually violent predator.

Coley was convicted of first-degree child molestation in 1991 and was committed to the facility in 2002, according to the Attorney General’s office.

He petitioned for release in 2013 and his case went to trial in 2016, the AG’s office said.

In January 2016, a Skagit County jury determined that Coley was a dangerous predator and must remain confined on McNeil Island.

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Follow Martha Bellisle on Twitter https://twitter.com/marthabellisle

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