Grudge leads to stabbing

Victim’s relative arrested in fatal knife attack in Toppenish

— An old grudge may have been the cause of a stabbing Friday evening that left one man dead at Wanity Park on the Yakama Reservation.

According to Yakima County Sheriff Detective Sgt. Mike Russell, the deceased was Basil Emmons of Toppenish. He is not a member of Yakama Nation, and that is why the sheriff has jurisdiction.

Arrested early Saturday morning, according to a mid-day Monday press release and the Yakima County Jail booking log, was Justin Michael Barnett, 38 of Yakima. He was jailed with a charge first-degree murder.

Officers from the sheriff’s office and Yakama Nation Police answered the call of “deceased male found inside a residence” just after 8 p.m. Friday.

Russell said the victim, who was found by a relative, appeared to have multiple stab wounds.

Sheriff’s detectives, Wapato Police Department detectives and the Violent Offender Task force tracked down and arrested Barnett.

The sheriff’s office continues to investigate. An autopsy is planned for this week.

According to the sheriff’s office Barnett is a relative of Emmons. Russell said it appears the suspect was angry at the victim for a family issue that occurred decades ago.

The incident remains under investigation. Persons with pertinent information to call the sheriff’s office at 509-574-2500 or Crime Stoppers at 509-248-9980 or on the web at


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