Everett, WA – A seven-time felon who was released from prison early to protect him from COVID-19 attacked a random woman in her 60s as she was out hiking on a popular trail.
The incident occurred on May 15 while the woman was taking a break from her walk along the Interurban Trail, KCPQ reported.
The unsuspecting woman was sitting on a log when she was suddenly attacked from behind by 33-year-old career criminal Matthew Cory, who began choking her.
The victim said she was able to loosen his grip on her neck just enough to let out a scream, which caused Cory to halt the attack and run away, according to court documents.
He was running through the woods when he was intercepted by police.
The woman positively identified him as the man who attacked her, and he was arrested, KCPQ reported.
According to investigators, Cory said he didn’t recall having attacked or choked the woman because he had been using methamphetamine for two weeks.
He said the last time he slept was approximately seven days earlier.
Cory, who already had seven felony convictions on his record, has been in and out of prison many times, KCPQ reported.
He was serving a prison sentence for unlawful possession of a firearm when the Washington State Department of Corrections opted to release him and approximately 1,000 other inmates early to help protect them from the novel coronavirus.
Cory was required to wear an ankle monitor as a condition of his May 2 release, but he cut it off and absconded just 10 days later, KCPQ reported.
Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza said that Cory’s attack on the woman shouldn’t come as a big surprise, and that law enforcement had warned that incidents like this would occur.
“They’re in there for a reason,” Sheriff Snaza told KCPQ. “They committed a crime, and now because we’re in this crisis, we’re gonna release individuals who want to just want to get out.”
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said that the decisions to release Cory and the other inmates were made by “weighing the risk to incarcerated individuals and public safety.”
“These were extremely difficult choices to make, but they were necessary in order to meet our obligations to allow for minimal social distancing in our more crowded living areas in the prisons,” the governor claimed.
Inslee said that most of the inmates they released had been serving time for “less serious crimes,” and that he and the DOC aren’t at fault for the new offenses some released inmates have committed, KCPQ reported.
“This group was chosen to reduce the risk to public safety, but no choice could be made to guarantee that there would never be a new crime committed,” he said.
According to law enforcement officials, several other inmates who were granted early releases due to COVID-19 have also removed their tracking devices and disappeared, KCPQ reported.