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Earl Wade Ruff, 25, looks at people sitting in the gallery during his preliminary hearing at Yakima County Superior Court on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Ruff is suspected of the May 10 stabbing death Giovanni Hernandez-Badillo, and is being held on $200,000 bail.

The Yakima man accused of stabbing another man to death in an alley off Naches Avenue in 2018 will be sentenced later this month.

Earl Wade Ruff, 28, was initially charged with second-degree murder in connection with the May 10, 2018, killing of Giovanni Hernandez-Badillo. Thursday, he entered an Alford plea to first-degree manslaughter and attempted second-degree escape.

An Alford plea allows Ruff to maintain his innocence while conceding that prosecutors had enough evidence to convince a jury to find him guilty if he had gone to trial.

“Mr. Ruff really doesn’t deny the factual allegations,” said defense attorney Loren Oakley. “Had this gone to trial, we would have presented self-defense and defense of others.”

Ruff was to have been sentenced at the hearing, but that portion was rescheduled for Feb. 25 because Hernandez-Badillo’s father was hospitalized with COVID-19, Oakley said.

Yakima police investigating reports of an assault found Hernandez-Badillo in the east alley of the 100 block of South Naches Avenue with multiple stab wounds. He was taken to what is now Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, where he died of his wounds.

A witness said Hernandez-Badillo was in a fight with another man, and YPD detectives received anonymous tips identifying Ruff as the assailant, according to court documents. Police arrested Ruff, who told them he and a woman were threatened by two men armed with guns and that he had stabbed one of the armed men.

But Ruff said after the attack a homeless person apparently took Hernandez-Badillo’s gun, while he had taken a BB gun from the other man, but gave it to the person who drove him from the scene and it was subsequently thrown away, court documents said.

Ruff was charged with the attempted jail escape after he and other inmates attempted break out of their housing unit by going through the ceiling, according to court documents.

Prosecutors are asking Ruff to be sentenced to eight years in prison, which is on the low end of the 95-125 month sentencing range based on Ruff’s prior criminal history, which includes a conviction for child pornography possession.

Judge Richard Bartheld said he was not required to follow the recommendation.

Ruff is also awaiting trial on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender. He is classified as a Level 1 sex offender, according to court documents, meaning he is considered a low risk for reoffending.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at dmeyers@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: donaldwmeyers, or https://www.facebook.com/donaldwmeyersjournalist.