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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for December 2009

Accused shooter acted ‘like Jesse James’

A gunman fires into a crowd, hitting a teenager in the back. A carjacker beats a driver with a gun, trying to force her out of her car. Thieves steal an SUV and one of them later fires shots at a police officer.

Spokane police now believe the events of Dec. 22 and 23 are part of a crime spree instigated by a man a friend described as “acting like Jesse James.”

Tony E. Dawson, 20, already was in Spokane County Jail in connection with the attempted carjacking when police say they connected him to the Dec. 23 attack on Officer Kristopher Honaker, who had been guarding the scene of the earlier shooting.

Dawson now faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree robbery, three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and 10 counts of first-degree assault. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for decades.

“It was all one series of events,” said Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern. 

Also charged are Margaret D. Shults, 22, (left) accused of first-degree robbery; and Greg Sharkey, Jr., 25, accused of attempted first-degree robbery and first-degree robbery.

A fingerprint on a Ford Bronco, which was targeted by thieves before a Chevrolet Suburban was stolen, helped link Dawson to the crimes, police said.

Interviews led detectives to Shults and Sharkey, (bottom right) who reportedly admitted to stealing the Suburban with Dawson from the 1600 block of East Rowan Avenue early Dec. 23.

Court documents detailing the investigation show the shootings appear to be orchestrated by Dawson, who Shults said had been carrying two handguns the night of the shooting and “was acting like Jesse James.”

Shults, who police say was driving the Suburban, told investigators Dawson ordered her at gunpoint to keep driving, then fired several shots at the officer.

Dawson reportedly threatened Shults that if she stopped the vehicle, “he had no problem killing either Shults or Sharkey,” documents state.

Read the rest of my story here.

Read previous coverage here.

Man gets 6 years for fatal stabbing

A man involved in a fatal stabbing will spend six years in prison.

Joseph T. Harper, 25, pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree manslaughter in connection with the March death of Michael “Mickey” Lyng.

Lyng, 19, stepped into a fight between Harper and another man before Harper stabbed him March 3.

Harper was sentenced to 75 months in prison and three years of probation in a plea deal approved by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese.

Harper originally was charged with second-degree murder along with his brother, Christopher R. Harper, 28; and Robert T. Waters, 28.

Read the rest of my story here.

Killer faces 18 years in MySpace impersonation case

A Spokane man who killed his estranged wife, then impersonated her on MySpace to dupe try duping family members into thinking she was still alive, faces about 18 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.

Uriah dwJ. BrosnanÖ, 33, pleaded guilty to the Jan. 28 beating death of Becky BrosnanÖ, 32, last week. The plea in a plea deal that calls for him to serve 220 months, the high end of the standard sentence for second-degree murder, said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John LoveÖ.

“I’m just glad we don’t have to put the kids through a trial,” said Tina Crone, Becky Brosnan’s stepmother. Crone is caring for the Brosnans’ children, ages 6 and 11. “It’s the easy way out for him, but what else is new?”

Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.

Past coverage:

Man impersonated wife online after killing her

Brosnans had no contact order in 1997

Search ends with suspect still at large

Police searched the area of Sharp Avenue and Stone Street in east central Spokane today for a man wanted on a state Department of Corrections warrant.

Officers didn’t find Joshua A. Jackson, 31, and ask anyone who knows where he is to call 911. Police were responding to a home after a friend of Jackson’s girlfriend called with concerns about her safety.

“We talked to her but we haven’t found him,” said Officer Glenn Bartlett.

Police say Jackson has made threatening statements to police in the past. “That’s why we amped up the response,” Bartlett said.

Jackson is on probation after pleading guilty to unlawful imprisonment (domestic violence) in February, according to news archives. He also was sentenced to a year in jail.

In December 2007, he was sentenced to six months in jail for cyberstalking (threatening to kill).

Kidnap suspect facing extradition to Spokane

MILTON, Pa. (AP) — A woman accused of kidnapping her own sons after their father was awarded custody about 12 years ago has been arrested in central Pennsylvania and faces extradition to Spokane.

The woman was arrested Tuesday at her home in Milton, Pa., where she was going by the name Ann Thompson, but police say she was known in Spokane as Jill Haugen. Police say she fled with her sons when they were 4 and 5 years old and has been living in Milton for two years.

The woman said today that she is a victim of domestic violence and her sons are victims of sexual abuse. Police say there’s no merit to her claims.

Milton is about 115 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Dragging death still unsolved

Ten months since their daughter was found dead in a Spokane street, dragged more than 13 blocks by a driver who has never been found, and the questions remain: How? Why? And, above all, who?

“I have a hard time with it, especially on Mother’s Day and her birthday,” Vicky Littell said. “I just don’t know how anyone could hit someone and drag them a mile and not know it.” 

Susette G. Werner, who would have turned 43 on Dec. 12, was struck near Cedar Street and Carlisle Avenue early Feb. 8.

Her body was found on Ash Street just north of Maxwell Avenue, where a memorial of flowers still stands. Police think she was dragged from Cedar to Northwest Boulevard, then south onto Ash, where the body was found.

But detectives have few clues, and what investigators at one point thought could be their big break has fizzled.

Read the rest of my story here.

Read a previous story here.

Shooting suspect claims self defense

A young businessman facing attempted murder charges after a chaotic confrontation in downtown Coeur d’Alene told police he felt threatened when he opened fire on a group of men looking for a fight.

“I did what I was trained,” Adam M. Johnson told police, according to court documents filed Monday.

“I felt threatened and I didn’t feel that there was any other way out of it.”

But authorities investigating the early Sunday shooting in the 200 block of Sherman Avenue that left two Moses Lake men with gunshot wounds are skeptical.

They’re recommending that Johnson, 25, be charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery, concluding that it was the gunfire that appeared to have instigated the other violence.

Read the rest of my story here. Check out past coverage here.

The 93-page police report contained numerous tidbits that didn’t make it into the article. They are:

The fight at the Underground bar apparently began when one of the Moses Lake men bumped into Johnson, who was with two friends “who are or have been fighters at the Lyon’s Den,”according to a police report. The men went outside, talked and shook hands, Johnson told police. He went back to the Underground and the men left for another bar.

Johnson told police he was pushed, not hit, before he fired the first bullet. “Adam said as soon as he was jumped, he thought they were going to kill him,” according to the police report. “He stated that he tried to empty it (the clip) before he went to the ground because he knew that he would be killed.”

Johnson told police he always wore the gun in the front of his waist with no holster, according to police reports. He placed a round in the chamber after the men approached him, then backed up a few feet and fired, according to a police report. “I told Adam that witnesses said there was no physical altercation between he and the guy he shot, that Adam had just pulled his gun,” according to a report by Coeur d’Alene police Detective C. Miller. “Adam said he knows he felt threatened. He had a feeling that something was wrong.”

Johnson repeatedly asked police about protocols for officer-involved shootings and told detectives they would have done the same thing he did. “He said he was confronted with a group of people and it wasn’t just one person,” according to a police report. “They had ‘edged hostility.’ Adam continually pointed out what I would do as an officer and used his example for examples that I would encounter on and off duty.”

One of the men said the group had been asked to leave the Torch because the Burgesses’ mother and a friend “were getting out of hand, possibly with the stage dancers.”

When police asked Johnson for his personal information, “he said I could just check the front page of The Spokesman from last Sunday, since he was on the front of it,” according to a report. “I asked why but he said he did not want to talk about it.”

In interviews Monday, friends described Johnson as a level-headed, responsible young man trained on firearms and experienced in carrying them. “He is the epitome of a responsible gun owner, but he made a bad choice having it on him that night.” said Candace McEnespy, 23. “Those men were out looking for trouble.”

McEnespy, who identified herself to police as Johnson’s girlfriend, reportedly told police she was concerned about Johnson because of “the mood he was in tonight.” She said he’d been angry while at the Underground because someone tried starting a fight with him. McEnespy had approached a police officer in the 100 block of Third Street and asked what happened. “I explained some people had gotten out of control,” the officer wrote in a report. “She said that sounded like her boyfriend.”

Oxy robber gets 31 months

A man who robbed a Spokane pharmacy of OxyContin in June was sentenced to 31 months in prison today.

Nicholas A. Blessing, 28, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery for the June 16 holdup at the Walgreens at 2105 E. Wellesley Ave. The plea deal approved this morning dismissed three counts of second-degree assault.

It was the same plea deal Blessing was set to take in October but asked for more time after bailing out of jail the night before.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy said at the time that he would rescind the plea deal and pursue all four charges, plus weapons enhancements.

But the weapons enhancements probably wouldn’t have stuck because Blessing had a starter pistol instead of a handgun.

The assault charges would have been wrapped in with the robbery charge anyway because the assaults occurred within the course of the robbery, Nagy said today.

Blessing turned himself in June 29.

Surveillance photos showed him walking into the store Employees said he pointed a gun at them and demanded OxyContin, then banged the base of the gun on the counter and stated, “hurry up. Hurry up. I’m not kidding,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Blessing was taken into custody immediately after his sentencing.

Big Brothers poster boy accused of attempted murder

The man accused of a shooting in downtown Coeur d’Alene is the CEO and president of a Coeur d’Alene-based independent telecommunications company.

He also was featured last Sunday in a Handle Extra feature story on the mentoring program Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Johnson credited his participation in the program from age 10 to 16 with helping him prepare for adulthood.

“It really forged my character. Don taught me that nothing is impossible. And it was great to have someone listen – even to my totally crazy dreams. He always said, ‘Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,’” said Johnson.

Johnson also was mentioned in a July 2007 story about Internet-based phone services.

At the time, Convertec was three years old and served about 100 customers. Operating out of a small office, Convertec contracts with other companies to connect calls with the public telephone network, and it uses another vendor to get phone numbers, according to the article you can read here.

Now Johnson is in Kootenai County Jail on one count of attempted murder for a downtown Coeur d’Alene shoooting that left one man critically injured.

Read my story here: 2 men shot in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

Spokane cop shooter still at large

A gunman fired several rounds at a Spokane police officer early this morning, missing the officer but striking his patrol car.

The shooting occurred as the officer, who has not been identified, was guarding the scene of a shooting several hours earlier in the 1100 block of West Frederick.

The gunman has not been identified, and detectives from the drug, gang and major crimes units are poring over tips, said spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

“Just definitely protect yourself,” DeRuwe said. “If they’re going to shoot at us, they’re not going to hesitate to shoot at the community.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Thoma files $4 million claim

A Spokane police sergeant fired after a drunken hit and run crash filed a $4 million claim against the city of Spokane Wednesday, claiming he was wrongfully fired because he’s an alcoholic.

Bradley N. Thoma, 44, was fired Monday after refusing an offer from Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to accept a layoff and be eligible to be rehired as a detective if he completes a court deferral program for his drunken driving charge.

That offer came after Kirkpatrick ruled that Thoma was unable to work as a police officer under the court program because it requires him to have an ignition interlock device on his car.

But that decision was wrong because it didn’t rightfully considers Thoma’s alcoholism as a disability, said Thoma’s lawyer, Bob Dunn.

“This is about as unfair an employment practice as I’ve seen in a long time,” Dunn said. “The only thing I can think of that’s more unfair is firing someone who has cancer.”

Read the rest of my story: Thoma files $4 million claim against city.

Read the claim here.

Charge reduced in Mead murder

A Mead man accused of killing his wife in front of their 11-year-old son has been charged with second-degree murder.

Sheriff’s detectives recommended charging Jeffery N. Canino, 46, with first-degree murder for the Dec. 2 stabbing death of Michelle Canino at their Mead home, but prosecutors felt evidence only supported the lesser charge.

The difference in charges means prosecutors won’t be trying to prove that Canino planned to kill Michelle Canino but that he did intend to kill her when he stabbed her.

“It didn’t appear that this was any kind of huge thought out plan; it was something he thought to do that morning,” said Deputy Prosecutor John Love.

Canino appeared in Spokane County Superior Court via video today, where his bail was set at $1.5 million, a reduction from the $2.5 million imposed at his first court appearance Dec. 7.

The second-degree murder charge includes domestic violence and weapons enhancements which Love said can put Canino behind bars just as long as a first-degree murder charge can, 20 years to life.

GPS phone leads to theft arrest

A stolen cell phone with a GPS tracker installed led to the arrest of two teenagers this morning.

The phone was stolen from an unlocked car this morning in near 6th Avenue and Pines Road in Spokane Valley, then recovered when police used the GPS to track it to a home at 1310 S. Raymond hours later.

Arrested were Scott H. Gregor, 19, and a 14-year-old boy, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Police think Gregor and the boy stole the phone along with Christmas presents and a purse with credit cards from the car.

Officer recovered the Christmas presents and cell phone but not the purse.

Anyone whose car may have been prowled in the area of 6th Avenue between Pines and Bowdish is asked to call (509) 456-2233.

Jail for Balloon Boy’s parents

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The parents who carried out the balloon boy hoax were sentenced to jail today and given strict probation conditions that forbid them from earning any money from the spectacle for four years.

Richard Heene was sentenced to 90 days in jail, including 60 days of work release that will let him pursue his job as a construction contractor while serving his time. His wife, Mayumi, was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

Richard Heene choked back tears as he said he was sorry, especially to the rescue workers who chased down false reports that his 6-year-old son had floated away in a balloon on Oct. 15. It was a stunt designed to generate attention for a reality TV show.

“I do want to reiterate that I’m very, very sorry. And I want to apologize to all the rescue workers out there, and the people that got involved in the community. That’s it,” said Richard Heene, whose wife did not speak at the hearing.

Larimer County District Judge Stephen Schapanski then ordered Heene to begin a 30-day jail term on Jan. 11, delaying the start of the sentence for two weeks so he can spend the holidays with his family. Schapanski allowed Heene to serve the remaining 60 days of his jail term under work release, meaning he can work during the day but spend his nights in jail.

The Heenes’ probation will be revoked if they are found to be profiting from any book, TV, movie or other deals related to the stunt.

“This, in simple terms, was an elaborate hoax that was devised by Mr. and Mrs. Heene,” the judge said.

Read the rest of the AP story: Balloon boy’s parents get jail time, tough probation. 

Here’s a video of Heene, a trained actor, allegedly choking back tears:

More charges in Friday’s shooting

Two men arrested in a shooting Friday are due back in court today on more charges related to the alleged robbery attempt that began as an apparent carjacking attempt.

Joseph P. Ellery, 30, is charged with attempted first-degree robbery and drive-by shooting, as well as first-degree assault, for an incident police say left Donald Young hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot to his upper body.

Ellery is accused of pulling a gun as he jumped in the Mitsubishi 3GT coupe that Young was driving before Young, who family members said is in his 50s, grabbed the gun and it “just went off,” Ellery reportedly told police.

Arrested with Ellery was Richard P. Hoffman, 34, who police say was driving a 2001 Chevy pickup with Ellery when Ellery got out and approached Young, according to court documents. Previously charged with drug possession, Hoffman is due in court again this afternoon on charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and possession of motor vehicle theft tools.

Also on today’s first appearance docket is the Mead man accused of killing his wife in front of their 11-year-old son. He’s in jail on $1.5 million bond, according to jail records - a reduction from the $2.5 million imposed at his District Court appearance on a first-degree murder charge Dec. 7.

The difference in charges means prosecutors won’t be trying to prove that Canino premeditated the murder of Michelle Canino but that he had intent to kill when he stabbed her.

Also scheduled to appear today is a teen girl charged with robbery for an alleged incident near Upriver Driver and the Centennial Trail in August.

A warrant was issued for Mariah J. Bigelow’s arrested Dec. 2. She was arrested yesterday, according to jail records.

Bigelow, 17, is accused with two men of robbing a man and using the money for a shopping spree at a Spokane mall.

A Christmas carol for cops?

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Christmas spirit seems to be in full swing at a police department in Wisconsin.

Kenosha police officers have made a Christmas video that features their version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

The cops sing about gifts from their chief that include bullets, guns, jelly doughnuts, night shifts and coffee breaks.

One officer is shown with his feet up on a desk sipping coffee. Another is sitting in front of a box of doughnuts, his nose and cheek smeared with jelly.

A blurb on the department’s Web site invites people who need a laugh “during this hectic time of year” to click on the video.

After “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” traditional versions of two more carols play as pictures, which include some officers, float across the screen.

Gun-toting Santa Claus robs bank

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — He may have been dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, but this Santa was no saint.

According to Metropolitan Nashville Police, a man wearing a Santa Claus suit — including hat, beard and mustache — and dark sunglasses robbed a SunTrust Bank on Tuesday morning, demanding money from the teller at gunpoint.

After the teller complied, the man fled in a gray midsize car.

Spokane church rammed, ransacked

Here’s a report from Sara Leaming:

A 56-year-old man who investigators say was so upset over a $70 repair bill he rammed his truck into a northeast Spokane church and ransacked the inside was arrested today.

Mark T. Heitman, a parishioner of the Country Crossroads Church at 7011 N. Altamont, allegedly drove his Chevrolet pickup truck into the church building to gain entry Monday night, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said.

Nearly every window, television, computer and light fixture was smashed during the rampage, which caused thousands of dollars of damage, the church pastor said. The tirade was apparently sparked over a $70 repair bill that the church owed Heitman for some electrical work he had done.

“I tried to pay him with a check and he wouldn’t take a check, so I guess he got mad because I didn’t have any cash here at the time,” said Pastor Dan Eubank. “So I guess he decided to take (the money) another way.”

According to court records, it’s not the first time that Heitman, pictured right in 1996, has faced criminal charges for driving his truck through a building in a rage over money.

Documents show he still owes more than $40,000 in restitution and accrued interest stemming from a January 1996 incident in which the Child Support Enforcement building at 1600 W. Boone Ave. was left heavily damaged when he smashed his truck into it, telling authorities “they were taking all of his money.”

Read the rest of Sara Leaming’s story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.

Picture shows CdA bank robber

An employee arriving to work this morning at Mountain West Bank in Coeur d’Alene was confronted by a man who attempted to take money from the bank, but instead robbed the woman of a small sum, police said.

The robber entered the bank at 125 Ironwood Dr. as the woman got to work a short time before 7 a.m. The man fled the scene after taking money from the employee and may have jumped into a white Cadillac with Montana license plates, police said.

The robber is described as 6-feet tall with a medium build, wearing a well kept brown coat, camouflage gloves, dark colored hoodie style sweatshirt, with something covering his face.

No weapon was displayed, but police said he was believed to be carrying one.

The FBI and Coeur d’Alene police are investigating. Anyone with information should call police at (208) 769-2320.

Sergeant in drunken hit and run fired

A police sergeant involved in a drunken hit and run crash in September has been fired.

Bradley N. Thoma, 44, is no longer with the Spokane Police Department as of Monday, police said today.

Thoma, a 20-year police veteran, will avoid criminal prosecution for the Sept. 17 crash if he stays out of trouble for five years under an agreement approved in District Court in November.

But the agreement requires him to use a breathalyser device to start his car, and Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said that prohibits him “from completing the duties of a police officer.”

” A valid driver’s license without restrictions is essential for the job,” Kirkpatrick said in a prepared statement.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:: Police sergeant avoids prosecution

2 cops hurt in West Side shooting


Associated Press Writer


Two sheriff’s officers were wounded while responding to a dispute at a home between two brothers — the third shooting of law enforcement officers in Washington state in the last three months.

The officers killed the gunman before they were rushed to the hospital. One was listed in stable condition, the other was in critical condition in the intensive-care unit.

Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the sergeant and a deputy were shot at around 8:45 p.m. Monday while responding to an altercation between David E. Crable and his brother near Eatonville, a rural community in the Cascade foothills. The home is about 15 miles west of Mount Rainier National Park and 50 miles south of Seattle.

Crable, 35, (right) shot the two officers before he was killed when they returned fire, Troyer said, adding that the gunman has a history of “terrorizing” his family.

The names of the officers were not immediately released. Troyer said the officers were met at the door by Crable’s brother, Troyer said. When the deputies entered the house, Crable opened fire from upstairs, hitting one of the officers multiple times.

“This is somebody that was laying in wait for our guys,” Troyer told reporters near the shooting scene. “There’s not much we’re going to be able to do when somebody is hiding and arming themselves and we have somebody else inviting us into the residence and the second person opens fire on us.”

Crable’s family tried to help the wounded officers by providing first aid, Troyer said.

Deputies said the brother was cooperating with investigators and did not call him a suspect.

“It looks like people that were in this residence went out of their way to help our people,” he said.

Read the rest of the AP story by clicking the link below.

Man accused in carjack shooting said victim owed money

A man accused of shooting another man in an apparent carjacking attempt Friday told police he was trying to get money the victim owed an acquaintance, according to court documents filed Monday.

Joseph P. Ellery, 30, (left) pulled a gun he jumped in the Mitsubishi 3GT coupe that Donald G. Young was driving before Young grabbed the gun and it “just went off,” Ellery reportedly told police.

Young, who family members said is in his 50s, is in critical condition at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center with a single gunshot to his upper body, according to court papers.

Ellery is in Spokane County Jail on $25,000 bond after appearing in court Monday on one count of first-degree assault.

After Young collapsed in the street, Ellery tried driving the Mitsubishi from the scene but ran after he couldn’t get it started, police said.

He was arrested after a police dog tracked him to a dog house in the 2500 block of North Normandie.

Also arrested was Richard P. Hoffman, 34, who police say was driving his 2001 Chevy pickup with Ellery when Ellery got out and approached Young, according to court documents.

Hoffman is charged with drug possession. Hoffman (right) told police he heard a woman in a Ford Explorer that was between his pickup and Young’s Mitsubishi scream for help as the Mitsubishi rocked back and forth.

“Several witnesses began approaching and Hoffman yelled at them to get back because he (Ellery) had a gun and he just shot someone,” according to court documents.

Ellery has previous convictions for burglary and criminal mischief and Yellowstone County, Mont.

In August, he was credited for 67 days served in Spokane County Jail after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary and attempted theft of a motor vehicle in Spokane County, according to news archives.

It’s unclear if Ellery is related to Justin Jay Ellery, the 24-year-old accused of armed robberies at Zip Trip and Papa John’s.

Nail salon break-in may have been sexually motivated

A man was caught sleeping on the couch of a Spokane nail salon early Saturday in an alleged burglary detectives think may have been sexually motivated, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The owners of Perfect Nails, 9311 N. Division St., arrived at the business about 9 a.m. Saturday and found the front door smashed out and a man police identified as Matthew S. Kelso, 21, sleeping on a couch.

Kelso was still asleep when police arrived and was “physically taken into custody” after deputies said he refused to show his hands, according to a news release.

Kelso, of Hayden Lake, told deputies his father was a lawyer and declined to speak with them further, according to the sheriff’s office.

“From the appearance of his clothing and other evidence, it appeared the break-in might have been sexually motivated,” the news release said.

Kelso is due in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon on charges of second-degree burglary and second-degree malicious mischief.

He left Spokane County Jail Saturday afternoon after posting $2,000 bond, according to jail records.

Pharmacist who tackled robber fired

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A northern Idaho pharmacist who tackled a gun-toting robber and received a special award from the city of Coeur d’Alene has been fired for violating company policy.

Jerry Gunderson said he was dismissed from the Shopko pharmacy late last month because he resisted the robbery. A Shopko spokeswoman at the company’s corporate office in Green Bay, Wis., declined to comment.

On Nov. 18, Gunderson chased after the gunman who police say had just stolen six bottles of anti-anxiety prescription medicine, then tackled him near the entrance of the store.

The suspect, Jason Anthony Wahl, (right) remains in Kootenai County Jail on $250,000 bond. (Read more here.)

Gunderson said he initially was only trying to get information for police. “I figured I’d get something, anything to aid them,” Gunderson told the Coeur d’Alene Press.

“I wasn’t trying to apprehend him at all. Had I known he had a gun I never would have gone after him.”

Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.

Share your thoughts on this story at Dave Oliveria’s Huckleberries blog.

U-Haul stolen from motel lot, again

A family traveling from North Dakota to Western Washington awoke this morning to find their pickup and rented moving trailer stolen from a Spokane Valley motel parking lot.

Dewey and Sharon Brown and their 7-year-old daughter were headed to McChord Air Force Base, where he’s scheduled to fly to Korea for a year-long military assignment after the family gets settled.

The Browns were due in Tacoma today but are staying in town in hopes of finding the pickup and rented U-Haul trailer missing this morning from La Quinta Suites, 3800 N. Sullivan Road.

In the trailer were clothes, toys, photo albums, checks, family quilts, medical records, Christmas gifts and $50,000 in jewelry. Also gone are Dewey Brown’s military uniforms and paperwork, including his transfer papers, and his daughter’s beloved doll.

“That’s a big Scrooge move,” said Sharon Brown. “We’re going to sit here for a day or two and hope for a Christmas miracle.”

Crime Stoppers is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

The pickup is a blue 1995 Dodge with Alaska license plates, oversize tires and a chrome strip along the lower sides. The single axle, 5 x 8 trailer has Florida license plates with a Tucson, Arizona graphic on the sides.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS, or submit tips online.

It’s the second time this year a visiting family’s U-Haul has been stolen from a Spokane Valley motel parking lot.

On July 12, a family moving to Florida from Canada discovered their 17-foot U-Haul truck stolen from the Holiday Inn Express on Mission Avenue.

It was found in an abandoned barn July 15 with most of the family’s possessions intact. No arrests have been made.

Past coverage: Family hopes for miracle in U-Haul heist and Stolen U-Haul found in abandoned barn

Men deny hate crime allegations

Three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene man because of his ethnicity say they simply asked to buy electrical equipment from the man and were stunned when he pulled a gun on them.

Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) were indicted by a grand jury under Idaho’s hate crime law.

In court Friday, their lawyers characterized the Aug. 16 incident as a misunderstanding blown out of proportion after Aryan literature was distributed in Coeur d’Alene.

“I can’t see this case surviving a trial,” said Daniel Cooper, public defender for Frank Tankovich. “I just can’t fathom a jury returning a conviction.”

Read my story here.

Jury convicts man in gas station kidnapping

A Spokane jury convicted a 33-year-old man Friday of kidnapping and robbing a woman after she bought him gas.

Jason P. Shepard forced 20-year-old Brittany C. Fields into her car just before 1 a.m. May 6 at the Albertson’s station at 6616 N. Nevada, then drove her to a residential area and stole her cell phone and debit card.

Fields had used the card to buy Shepard $10 in gas after he said he needed to drive to a hospital to see his sick baby.

Shepard, who is in Spokane County Jail, will be sentenced Feb. 16 for first-degree kidnapping, second-degree robbery and second-degree theft.

The jury of seven men and five women also convicted him of victimizing a Good Samaritan, which increases his prison time.

His accomplice, Crystal L. Fuller, 26, was sentenced to 13 months in prison in October after pleading guilty to second-degree kidnapping and second-degree robbery.

Read past coverage here.

Man accused of threatening to kill police

A man accused of threatening to kill Spokane police has been arrested by U.S. Marshals.

Shawn Michael Buroker, 21, was taken into custody Thursday in Asotin County, Wash.

Buroker was sentenced in January to three years probation for conspiracy to commit burglary in Nez Perce County.

He moved to Washington in March under an interstate supervision agreement.

Buroker reportedly threatened to kill the Spokane police officers that he believes killed his father, Ira Shawn Buroker, in Spokane eight years ago.

Read about Ira Buroker’s deah here.

Deal approved in fatal boat crash

A man accused of causing a fatal accident on the Spokane River in Coeur d’Alene left jail last week after pleading guilty to boating under the influence.

John F. Klinefelter, 45, Hayden, will be on probation for two years and received credit for 112 days spend in Kootneai County Jail. He was arrested Aug. 22 after his boat hit a boat from  where Jack A. Miller, 30, of Stites, Idaho, was fishing.

Klinefelter’s blood-alcohol level was 0.12, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

The legal limit for operating a boat is 0.08. Klinefelter left jail Dec. 11 after being sentenced in Kootenai County District Court by Judge Penny Friedlander.

Teen faces 10 years for attack on transient

A teenage boy faces about 10 years in prison for burning a homeless man in a dispute he told police was over stolen beer money.

John C. Palmer, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court, more than seven months after Peter H. Krueger walked into a downtown hospital with second-degree burns on his face and hands.

Palmer had been charged with first-degree attempted murder but pleaded to the assault charge after investigators determined he’d set a blanket on fire and thrown it on Krueger instead of burning Krueger directly as first suspected.

Krueger was sleeping near Sprague Avenue and Sheridan Street, east of downtown, when he awoke on fire May 4. Palmer told police he was angry at Krueger for taking his money instead of buying him alcohol.

Palmer faces 117 months in prison when he’s sentenced Jan. 14, said Deputy Prosecutor Tony Hazel.

Documents show authorities first suspected Krueger’s girlfriend of the attack after he said he awoke and saw her pouring lighter fluid on him.

But Krueger also said he was drunk at the time. And five days later, a witness told Krueger it was Palmer who’d set him on fire, court papers show.

Read more here.

Man told police he killed for revenge

A man accused of gunning down three people in a rural Eastern Washington town told police he was angry at the men for raping a friend, according to court documents filed today in Grant County Superior Court.

J. Guadalupe “Lupe” Martinez-Lopez, 24, is due in court today on three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the Monday night shooting deaths of Pedro Rivera Sanchez, 21, and two men whose identities have not been released.

Police arrested him Tuesday at a Sunnyside restaurant shortly after a gunpoint robbery at a nearby convenience store.

Grant County Sheriff’s detectives think Martinez-Lopez used the same .45 semi-automatic pistol used in the murders about 45 miles away in Mattawa near the Columbia River to rob the store of beer and money before sitting down with his girlfriend and two others for dinner Tuesday night.

Read the rest of my story here.

Car sought in Liberty Lake burglaries

Liberty Lake police think the blue 1992 Mitsubishi Eclipse they say is pictured above may be involved in several burglaries.

The burglaries occurred at businesses and one residence in late November and early December.

Police think the thieves may be armed because several weapons were stolen in the home burglary.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Liberty Lake Police Department at (509) 755-1140.

No word on whether they’ve checked the license plate number.

Roueche gets 30 years in prison

A Canadian gangster connected to a drug bust that led to a young man’s suicide in the Spokane County Jail will spend 30 years in prison.

Clayton Roueche, 34, received the sentence in U.S. District Judge Robert Lansik in Seattle Wednesday for a drug ring that used a network of helicopters, planes, semi-trucks and other methods to move tons of marijuana and cocaine and millions of dollars through Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Court documents link Roueche to Joseph P. Curry, a Canadian man named as a suspect in a federal drug bust that included arrests in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

One defendant in that bust cited a murder kit that included night-vision goggles and guns found at Roueche’s home when explaining why she wanted her court file sealed.

 Another defendant in the bust, Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown, 24, killed himself in jail Feb. 27 after being arrested with a helicopter filled with marijuana he was to exchange to two men for cocaine.

Federal prosecutors did not mince words when describing Roueche.

“Clay Roueche worked hard, with laudable organizational skills coupled with an attention to detail, to achieve the moniker “drug lord,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed in October.

Roueche’s family bashed media portrayals of him in letters written to Judge Lansik that urged leniency. Lansik showed none, imposing the prosecution’s requested sentence.

Read Associated Press writer Gene Johnson’s story on Roueche’s sentencing here.

Canadian gangster faces 30 years

A Canadian gangster connected to a drug bust that led to a young man’s suicide in the Spokane County Jail is to be sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Clay Roueche (ROOSH’) faces about 30 years in prison for federal drug conspiracy and trafficking charges.

Roueche is the founder of the United Nations gang in Vancouver, B.C., and has been described by federal prosecutors as “worldly and charismatic” but “remorseless” and “extraordinarily dangerous.”

The UN gang is believed to be responsible for a drug ring that used a network of helicopters, planes, semi-trucks and other methods to move many tons of marijuana and cocaine and millions of dollars through Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

When taken into custody by U.S. agents in Texas in May 2008 (pictured above), Roueche reportedly was wearing a ring worth $125,000.

Prosecutors are recommending he serve at least 30 years in prison. Roueche’s attorney says there’s no evidence he engaged in the violence, including targeted killings, that the UN has been blamed for, according to the Associated Press. He suggests a sentence of 15 to 20 years.

Court documents link Roueche to Joseph P. Curry, who is named as a suspect in the Operation Blade Runner federal drug bust that included arrests in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. (Curry was arrested by federal agents with 68 pounds of Ecstasy in Eastern Washington in 2007 but posted bail and never returned, according to court documents.)

Curry and Roueche were photographed together at the funeral of a UN gang member who was killed in a drug-related shooting in Canada, according to federal court documents.

One defendant in the Blade Runner case cited a murder kit found at Roueche’s home when explaining why she wanted her court file sealed.

Another defendant in the case, Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown, 24, killed himself in jail Feb. 27 after being arrested with a helicopter filled with marijuana he was to exchange to two men for cocaine. (Read more here.)

One of those men, Leonard J. Ferris, was sentenced to six years in federal prison during a closed proceeding Dec. 2.

Man in City Hall dog beating sentenced

A man who beat a dog outside City Hall last summer will be released next week after about four months in Spokane County Jail.

Michael J. Jones, 21, pleaded guilty to first-degree animal cruelty Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court and received credit for time already served.

The felony conviction came nearly six months after surveillance video showed Jones slam a Shih Tzu against Spokane City Hall after smashing out a window and pulling the dog from a car by its leash.

Read the rest of my story here.

Read past coverage here and here.

Victim testifies in kidnapping trial

A kidnapping and robbery suspect accused of victimizing a Good Samaritan will soon have his fate decided by a Spokane jury.

Jason P. Shepard, 33, is accused of conning a 20-year-old Spokane woman into thinking he needed gas to see his sick baby, then forcing her into her car and stealing her debit card and cell phone. Shepard was arrested shortly after the May incident.

Now a jury of 12 will decide whether to convict Shepard on charges of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree robbery and second-degree theft in a trial that began today in Spokane County Superior Court.

The prosecution’s star witness, Brittany C. Fields, testified this morning.

Fields was gassing up her car at the Albertson’s station at 6616 N. Nevada about 12:50 a.m. May 6 when Shepard asked for $5 to gas up his car, according to a report by Spokane police Detective Mark Burbridge.

Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.

‘He saved many children’

Jerry Keller retired last week after 36 years as a Spokane police officer. For 20 of those years, he was a detective in the sexual assault unit.

He interviewed hundreds of suspects and hundreds of their young victims. He has come to understand pedophilia as a form of evil. Yet Keller did not end his career a cynical man.

“He worked on the most horrifying cases, where you turned over a rock and thought you had one victim and you had generations of children,” said Spokane District Court Judge Patti Walker, who worked with Keller when she was a deputy prosecutor. “He saved many children.”

Read the rest of Becky Nappi’s story here.

Sheriff’s sergeant on leave amid assault case

A Spokane County sheriff’s sergeant has been placed on paid leave pending the filing of a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with a domestic violence dispute.

David Fray was placed on administrative leave late last month after investigators concluded they had probable cause to arrest him on suspicion of assaulting his college-age daughter during a visit in September, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Spokane City Council members agreed Monday to hire a private attorney, Marletta Giles-Ward, to prosecute the case, which was investigated by the Spokane Police Department.

Read the rest of my story here.

Deal approved in ‘04 home invasion

A man who recently returned to Spokane from federal prison will be released on probation in a plea deal approved today for a five-year-old home invasion robbery.

DeAndre S. Gaither, 30, served about 5 years in prison on a federal cocaine conviction that came about six months after he and four others were accused of an armed home invasion on East Fairview Avenue on Oct. 6, 2004.

In what his lawyer called a “manifest injustice,” Gaither wrote repeated letters to Spokane County officials asking to resolve the case, but it wasn’t until he completed his federal prison sentence that he was transferred to the Spokane County Jail to face seven counts of first-degree robbery and one count of first-degree burglary.

He had his first appearance last week and pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree robbery Tuesday; Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla dropped the remaining charges in a deal approved by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke.

Gaither was sentenced to 41 months in prison but credited for time already served on the cocaine conviction. Four others convicted in the home invasion robbery of four adults and three children are serving sentences of up to three years each.

The case gained attention in 2005 when a judge allowed one defendant a one-week furlough from jail to get married and he failed to return. He was arrested a couple weeks later.

Read more here.

Woman struck on Division Street dies

A woman who was struck by another driver after she crashed her car and tried crossing Division on foot last month has died.

Micheala Larson, 38, died Dec. 3, Spokane police announced today. She was northbound on Division Street on Nov. 20 when she lost control and struck a median about 75 feet north of Walton Avenue.

Larson got out of the car and was talking on her cell phone when she was struck in the roadway by another driver. No charges were filed. 

The crash occurred the same night that a Canadian woman in town on a shopping trip was struck by a suspected drunken driver in downtown Spokane.

Elaine Price-Cornell, 63, died Nov. 28.

Cameron B. Olsness, 24, (left) is charged with vehicular homicide and felony hit and run. He’s been out of jail since Dec. 8 on $50,000 bond. (Read more here.)

Man, 20, accused of graffiti spree

A year-long graffiti spree in Post Falls has been connected to a 20-year-old man, police said today.

Grayson Kalin Shults was booked into Kootenai County Jail on one count of felony malicious injury to property after detectives with the Post Falls Police Department searched his apartment on a tip.

Detectives found items linking Shults to the 21 graffiti crimes reported over the last 10 months, according to a news release. Grayson also implicated himself in the crimes, police said.

The graffiti included the phrase “Great White” or initials “G.W.” and was found on streets, businesses and government buildings. Damage is estimated at $3,000.

A news release said the crimes “plagued the downtown Post Falls area.”

Check out a profile picture for Grayson K. Shults here.

Board opposes pardon in ‘91 killing

Here’s a report from Jim Camden:

OLYMPIA – A former Newport, Wash., man should not be pardoned for helping kill his former son-in-law, a state board has recommended.

The Clemency and Pardons Board recommended unanimously last week that Gov. Chris Gregoire not grant a pardon and early release to Morris “Mel” Goldberg, who is serving almost 27 years for his part in the 1991 slaying of Peter Zeihen.

The final decision, which a spokeswoman said may take months, is up to Gregoire.

“The governor has never, to this date, approved a petition for clemency against the recommendation of the board,” said Melynda Campbell, of the governor’s office.

Goldberg, 78, (right) was convicted in 2000 of driving a getaway car after his ex-wife Joann Peterson killed Zeihen with a shotgun blast to the head. Zeihen was in his car in the driveway of his Spokane Valley home.

At his trial, Goldberg claimed the couple killed Zeihen because their granddaughter was being sexually abused and Zeihen might have received custody of her in an upcoming divorce proceeding. That allegation was investigated by police and never substantiated.

At his sentencing, Goldberg questioned the court’s authority over him and offered an Old Testament justification for the slaying.

Originally sentenced to life in prison, Goldberg’s term was reduced to 320 months after a successful appeal to the state Supreme Court. Earlier this year he filed a petition for a pardon, saying he is suffering from an array of medical conditions, including diabetes.

“I am self-reformed and rehabilitated,” he wrote in his petition. “I’m also 78 years old with increasing physical problems with their attendant additional cost to maintain.”

When he was sentenced, Goldberg told police he would assisted in the murder again if presented the chance.

“As part of his rambling anti-government address to the court, Goldberg said his conscience drove him to assist his former wife in stalking and then killing Peter Zeihen on Nov. 18, 1991,” according to this story.

Pot law proposal postponed

Marijuana advocates won’t have a chance of seeing relaxed enforcement of pot laws in Spokane anytime soon.

A ballot initiative seeking to make marijuana offenses the “lowest law enforcement priority” has legal issues with its language that supporters wanted to address before presenting it to the Spokane City Council.

The council voted Monday to postpone a hearing on the initiative “indefinitely.”

Proposed initiatives are reviewed by the city attorney’s office, who assists in developing the language of the ballot title and summary, and offers a legal opinion to the council.

The council is then asked to either put it on the ballot, or have the petition supporters gather signatures from the public. The marijuana initiative was filed with the Spokane city clerk on Nov. 4.

Read background here.

Crips gangster on trial in Spokane

A Spokane man police say has ties to the Rollin 60s Crips gang is on trial this week for an early-morning shooting outside a downtown night club more than a year ago.

Anthony D. Singh, 21, has been in jail since July 30, 2008, four days after a bullet struck Alex Tauala in his right shoe in a parking lot near Sprague and Stevens.

Police say Singh fired that bullet, which did not injure Tauala.

Now a jury will decide whether to convict Singh (pictured right in his MySpace photo) on charges of second-degree assault, drive-by shooting, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, witness intimidation and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

His brother, 25-year-old Jamal Singh, pleaded guilty to riot last year and was given a year probation and credit for 24 days served in jail.

Police reports say the brothers were with two women, Jennifer Jacobs and Ashley Breesnee, when they were confronted by Tauula in the parking lot across the street from Jimmy’z bar.

They were then driven to a home at 1653 E. Ostrander in Breesnee’s Monte Carlo, where Jamal Singh retrieved a gun and put in the car’s trunk. They returned to the parking lot, where the Singhs got out of the car and confronted Tauala with the gun.

Anthony Singh is accused of taking Jacobs’ cell phone to prevent her from calling police. His ties to the violent Crips street gang is a factor in the prosecution’s case, which appears to paint the shooting as a gang war in the making.

According to a search warrant filed last week in Spokane County Superior Court, Jamal Singh called Breesnee a day after the shooting and said he didn’t believe the police were investigating.

“Jamal also told Breesnee that he beleive that ‘things were heating up and they wanted to be ready,’” the search warrant said.

“In the context of gang culture, respect is the center of the universe. A gang member acts either to gain or preserve respect or to tear down the respect garnered by a foe. Respect in gang culture is synonymous with fear and intimidation in mainstream culture as recognized by most American citizens,” Spokane police Detective Jeff Barrington wrote in the search warrnt, filed Dec. 8.

The warrant seeks access to Singh’s private MySpace page after his sister testified in court that they communicated through the wbe site prior to his arrest.

One witness in the case is cab driver Todd Hughes, who heard the gun shot and followed the Monte Carlo has it sped away. (In what appears to be an unrelated case, Hughes was assaulted at gunpoint last month in Spokane Valley.)

The trial will resume Tuesday morning before Judge Kathleen O’Connor. Larry Haskell is the prosecutor.

Back in the news: Sleepy car thief

It was the Spokane teenager’s chance to explain himself to the judge before he was sentenced for car theft last summer.

It took him a couple of tries.

“I don’t even know what you just said,” Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno told Cody A. Gronau in July. The judge told Gronau he seemed to have just strung a bunch of words together that sounded good but didn’t mean anything to him.

Gronau tried again: “I’ve been slacking and doing stuff I’m not supposed to do.”

Five months later, police say Gronau, now 20, tried robbing two people minutes apart near East Sitka and North Nevada Street before being taken down by a K-9 named Leonitis.

Gronau, pictured left in 1996 as a Garden Springs Elementary School first grader trying to pronounce the ‘N’ letter, was arrested Saturday about 1:30 a.m. after he ran across Francis to the south – losing his shoes in the process.

Gronau, who police say didn’t have a gun, is now in Spokane County Jail, due in court today on charges of first-degree robbery and obstructing a public servant.

He was sentenced July 28 to 90 days in jail with credit for 87 served after falling asleep in a stolen car outside the Zip Trip at 1523 W. 10th Ave. in May. (Read more here.)

Gronau’s public defender said at his felony sentencing last summer that he was in mental health court for fourth-degree assault and harassment charges and read a list of drugs he’s been prescribed.

Man gets 13 years for shooting death

 A Spokane man will spend 13 years in prison for killing a man in a dispute that began with a beer can tossed from a car window.

Allan L. Turnipseed, 52, claimed self-defense in the June 14, 2007 shooting death of Joshua A. Smith, 24 (pictured above). A jury convicted him of first-degree manslaughter last month.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza sentenced Turnipseed on Friday to 13 1/2 years in prison, which includes five extra years because a weapon was used.

Turnipseed shot Smith twice as Smith was in his car near Eighth Avenue and Ferrall Street. The second bullet was fired into his back.

The location of the fatal shot, coupled with Turnipseed’s admission that he’d smoked marijuana before the deadly confrontation, factored into Cozza’s sentence, the harshest allowed.

“Marijuana makes people stupid. It makes people do stupid things,” Cozza said.

Turnipseed has been in Spokane County Jail since the jury verdict on Nov. 13. A jury couldn’t reach a verdict during his first trial on a second-degree murder charge in April.

Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.

Read a story previewing the first trial here.

Idaho Aryan well-known in Montana

What a difference a letter makes.

Police reports spelled the name of one of the neo-Nazis cited for littering last summer as “Kevin B. McGurre.”

Turns out, it’s “Kevin B. McGuire.”

I realized this when putting together this story on charges being dropped against the Aryan Nations members cited for littering. Coincidently, I got a call from the Montana Human Rights Network later that day alerting me to the error and to McGuire’s reputation in the Big Sky State as a hate monger.

McGuire, 27 (right); Paul R. Mullet, 36; and Todd N. Weston, 32, each faced four misdemeanor citations related to the distribution of Aryan Nations fliers in Coeur d’Alene.

The fliers that drew the littering charges featured a white woman and the phrase “Love your white race” and included contact information for the Aryan Nations. Fliers distributed in the past have depicted a girl asking her father what he did during the “revolution” and asking “Where have all the White people gone daddy?” and “Why did those dark men take mommy away?”

McGuire still faces a trespassing charge in Kootenai County District Court after he was arrested in August outside Jimmy C’s bar in Athol. Bar patrons said he’d been making racist comments, but McGuire told Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies they only wanted him to leave “because I’m white,” according to court documents.

McGuire unsuccessfully ran for the Bozeman school board in 2005, criticizing schools for discriminating against European-Americans, according to the Montana Human Rights Network. He’s also been tied to the distribution of racist literature there, according to the network, and organized a protest against a parade on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2005.

According to a 2005 profile in the Bozeman Chronicle, McGuire was born in Santa Rosa and earned an associate’s degree in electronic technology from Santa Rosa Junior College.

He wrote an anti-Semitic opinion piece for the student newspaper and started a chapter of the white separatist group the National Alliance in Montana, according to the article.

Man, 60, dies after alley beating

A Spokane man badly beaten in an alley late last month died this week and two teenage suspects have been charged with his murder.

Police say a print on the face of Kent S. Moses, 60, matched a shoe worn by Nicholas A. Parrish, who is charged with first-degree murder. His alleged accomplice, Justin A. Summa, is charged with second-degree murder.

Both boys turned 17 in October.

Parrish is in Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center on $150,000 bond after appearing in court today; Summa is out on $100,000 bond.

Read the rest of my story here. Read past coverage here.

Fugitives include familar face

It was a story like no other.

A shoplifter struggling with Wal-Mart employees. A confused man interferes, thinking the girl is in trouble.

She gets away; he gets arrested. A month later, the man tracks her down, leading to her arrest.

Scott Hughes still hasn’t been charged in the June 6, 2008, fiasco that basically amounted to a comedy of errors by many. The shoplifter, Michelle L. McGlynn-Bell, pleaded guilty to to a misdemeanor in District Court in April.

Now her boyfriend - or at least her former boyfriend - is wanted by Crime Stoppers on unrelated drug dealing and theft charges.

Andrew J. Greenwood, 22, was charged last December with three counts of delivery of a controlled substance (heroin), then in October with two counts of second-degree theft for allegedly stealing guitars from two stores.

An arrest warrant was issued last month after he missed a court appearance. Greenwood and McGlynn-Bell were together at the time of the Wal-Mart fiasco but may have since broken up.

If you know where Greenwood is, call Crime Stoppers at (509) 327-5111 or (800) 222-TIPS, or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give a name but should provide a code name or number.

Read past coverage of the Wal-Mart case here and here.

Cabbie robbed at gunpoint, teens charged

A teenage boy accused of pistol whipping and robbing a Spokane Valley cabdriver pleaded not guilty in Spokane County Superior Court Wednesday.

Enrico A. White, 16, is charged with first-degree robbery for an alleged pre-dawn gunpoint attack Nov. 26. He and a 15-year-old boy are accused of robbing cab driver Todd Hughes after Hughes drove them from Evergreen and Adams to 711 N. Argonne.

“Upon arrival, one of the males in the back seat passed a handgun to the male in the front,” according to a probable cause affidavit. “The male in the front stuck the handgun in Hughes’ face and began hitting him in the head with the gun.”

The teens ran away without paying their $38 cab fare.

Hughes identified White through a photo montage as the boy who him with the handgun. White was arrested at an apartment at 711 N. Argonne, along with the 15-year-old boy.

Police say White told them he didn’t remember how he had gotten home because he’d been drinking. The 15-year-old is charged in juvenile court.

Newspaper policy calls for juvenile criminal suspects to be named only if they are charged as adults and the charges are high-end felonies like robbery.

Both teens are in Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center.

More charged in home invasion robbery

A 22-year-old woman is accused of helping three men charged with a home invasion robbery in Spokane Valley last month.

Vatsana Muongkhoth was arraigned Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (cocaine) and first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

Muongkhoth has been in Spokane County Jail since Nov. 18 when she was arrested on a warrant during a traffic stop just about an hour after a home invasion robbery at East Mansfield Avenue.

Also charged in the home invasion robbery is Artez L. Woodard, 24; Darius D. Toussiant, 18; and Glen A. Akers, 19.

Woodard was also arraigned Tuesday, pleading not guilty to first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery and first-degree conspiracy to commit burglary. His ex-girlfriend is the alleged victim.

Police think Toussiant and Akers were the masked gunmen who broke into Woodard’s ex-girlfriend apartment. All four were in the car during the traffic stop; Akers ran and was arrested after a police standoff the next day.

Read more here.

Lawyer: Blame it on the caffeine

The Idaho motorist accused of striking down two pedestrians on the Washington State University campus may be suffering from “caffeine psychosis,” his lawyer said.

The lawyer for Dan Noble, 31, (right) of Moscow, said Tuesday that his client was known to consume large amounts of energy drinks and Starbucks coffee.

Attorney Mark Moorer described Noble as a financial analyst in the University of Idaho Trust and Investment Office who worked long hours. Attorney Mark Moorer told Whitman County Superior Judge David Frazier that the caffeine could have accounted for Noble’s strange behavior.

Frazier ordered Noble held without bail until his mental state can be evaluated.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

Deer rescued on Liberty Lake

Firefighters rescued a young whitetail deer Wednesday after it became stranded on thin ice at Liberty Lake.

Crews from the Spokane Valley Fire Department were called to the 2000 block of South Liberty Lake Drive around 10 a.m., after a resident reported a deer had fallen through the ice and was stuck.

Firefighters trained in ice rescue reached the deer about 70 to 100 yards from shore and pulled it to safety.

The animal didn’t appear to be injured, officials said.

The rescue took about 15 minutes, officials said.

The news release touting the rescue included this sentence: “Without hockey gear and other juvenile buddies around, it was determined that the young white tail wandered onto the thin ice and was stranded and not up for reindeer games.”

Robbery suspect faces charges 5 years later

A man accused of a violent home invasion robbery more than five years ago is back in Spokane to face charges.

DeAndre S. Gaither, 30, served more than four years in prison on a federal cocaine conviction that came about six months after he and four others were accused of an armed home invasion on East Fairview Avenue on Oct. 6, 2004.

Gaither recently completed his prison sentence and was transferred to the Spokane County Jail to face seven counts of first-degree robbery and one count of first-degree burglary.

His bail was set at $250,000 during his first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court today. Gaither has written letters to Spokane County judges from federal prison asking that his charges be resolved but never got a response.

Prosecutors sought to transfer him to Spokane County after his federal prison sentence was complete. During his first court appearance Tuesday, lawyer Mark Hodgson of Rob Cossey and Associates called it a “manifest injustice” that no one responded to Gaither’s requests.

He called for Gaither to be released on his own recognizance and said his office likely will file a motion dealing with the statute of limitations and the fact that Gaither’s attempts to get the case resolved went unanswered. Gaither has a place to stay in Spokane with his son his son’s mother.

“He’s eager to see his child,” Hodgson said.

Prosecutors asked for $500,000 bail; Judge Ellen Kalama Clark set it at $250,000.

Gaither is among five people accused of the armed invasion of a home at 3124 E. Fairview that was occupied by four adults and three children.

The four others are serving sentences of up to three years each. Court documents indicate the suspects expected to get money and drugs from one of the occupants.

The case gained attention in 2005 when a judge allowed one defendant a one-week furlough from jail to get married and he failed to return. He was arrested a couple weeks later.

Read more here.

Report: Mead man on meds for depression

A Mead man accused of killing his wife had recently been prescribed anti-depressant medication but “still seemed very depressed,” according to court documents filed today.

Detectives on Monday searched the home where Jeffrey N. Canino, 46, (right, courtesy KHQ) allegedly stabbed Michelle Canino, 43, to death Dec. 2 as the couple argued about divorce, documents say.

A search warrant filed today in Spokane County District Court expanded on what a probable cause affidavit filed Monday stated: Canino was depressed about possibly losing his job at a car dealership and had told his son he stabbed his wife because “she was divorcing him.”

Jeffrey Canino’s sister, Colleen Hagen, told detectives about her brother’s recent medication prescription, according to the search warrant.

The warrant authorized detectives to search Canino, his house and a white 2002 Chevy pickup registered to the couple.

Canino was convicted of violating a domestic violence restraining order against his former wife, Kimberly Canino, in 1993. He also was convicted of third-degree malicious mischief and trespassing in 1994 involving the same woman, District Court Judge Patti Walker said Monday.

Read past coverage here and here.

Funeral today for Lakewood officers

Dozens of area law enforcement are taking part in the funeral procession for the slain Lakewood police officers in Western Washington today.

The Spokane Police Honor Guard traveled with officers from the Cheney Police Department on Monday.

The Coeur d’Alene Police Honor Guard was joined by representatives of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department (Deputy Gavin Brodwater is pictured above), the Post Falls Police Department and the Idaho State Police in a procession Monday as they traveled to the service, which will be held in the Tacoma Dome.

At least two dozen Spokane police employees will attend, said Officer Tim Moses.

“I know a lot of people took off on their own time to go over there,” Moses said.

One of the slain officers, Tina Griswold, was the sister of Tiffiny Ryan, who works in the Spokane police records division. (Read a story here.)

The memorial is expected to draw an estimated 20,000 officers from police delegations as far away as New York.

The four officers were gunned down in a coffee shop at the start of their shift.

Besides Griswold, 40, Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and Officers Ronald Owens, 37, and Greg Richards, 42, were killed.

(Pictured from left to right and top to bottom are Richards, Griswold, Owens and Renninger.)

Ransacked pet store leads to arrests

A ransacked pet store. A tarantula, four lizards and a ferret missing.

That crime scene greeted Coeur d’Alene detectives last summer at Duncan’s Pet Shop.

Now two Coeur d’Alene teenagers are accused of the burglary and animal heist, but police haven’t recovered the reptiles and don’t know if they ever will.

Ray David Rosales, 18, (right) and Kodi L. Walker, 19, (left) are accused of burglarizing the pet store, 1302 N. Government Way, late Aug. 23 or early Aug. 24.

Rosales was arrested Friday; Walker was arrested Nov. 19, police said today.

Both are in Kootenai County Jail.

Police say the men pried back a metal mesh covering on an aquarium and stole two bearded dragons, a tree dragon and an iguana before taking a baby ferret and a caged tarantula.

CdA men accused of coffee stand robbery

Three Coeur d’Alene men were due in court today on charges that they robbed a coffee stand at gunpoint over the weekend.

Charles E. Spencer, 24 (top left); Arthur William Wilson, 18 (right); and Andrew Wayne Bryant, 18 (bottom left), were arrested Sunday after detectives received an anonymous tip that led them to a home at 1015 Mill Ave., according to the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

The three are accused of robbing the Dutch Bros. Coffee at 1680 Northwest Blvd Saturday about 8:35 p.m.

The Mill Avenue home where the suspects were arrested is about a block from the coffee stand.

Police haven’t said who they believe acted as the gunman, but the victim described the robber as a balding white male, about 19 to 20 years old, with acne scars on both cheeks.

Spencer, Wilson and Bryant were due in Kootenai County District Court on robbery charges.

Spencer also is charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to jail records.

Probation for ex-city councilman

A former Liberty Lake city councilman will be on unsupervised probation for two years for assaulting his wife.

Brian A. Sayrs pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault Friday in Spokane County District Court.

Sayrs was originally charged with felony second-degree assault after his wife, Michelle Messer, told police in August that he’d assaulted her at their now former Liberty Lake home five months earlier.

Sayrs had served on the council since Liberty Lake was formed in 2001 and was mayor pro tem when he resigned April 14. He’d missed six council meetings since his failed bid for Spokane County commissioner in November and hadn’t called to explain his last two absences.

He was arrested Aug. 29 and was in Spokane County Jail for about 10 hours before posting $2,000 bond.

Messer said she and Sayrs were arguing over day care issues March 25 when he ripped a phone out of her hands, then blocked her from leaving the room before hurling a porcelain dinner plate at her head, according to the affidavit. Sayrs told her it was an accident, she said.

Messer, a physician, received six stitches on her head the next day but told hospital staff she’d fallen down the stairs. The sentence approved Friday calls for Sayrs to undergo a domestic violence evaluation.

He received a suspended $5,000 fine and suspended 365-day jail sentence. The conviction prevents him from owning firearms.

Read a previous story here.

Misdemeanor for mother in STA assault

A woman accused of assaulting her child at the downtown bus plaza has been charged with a misdemeanor.

The 3-year-old boy who Keyana L. Key is accused of assaulting had bruising but no further injuries, which led to the fourth-degree assault charge, said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Love.

Key, 28, was booked by police on a felony second-degree assault charge. Prosecutors filed the misdemeanor after medics examined the boy.

“The assault charge is usually based on the nature of the injury that’s caused by the assault,” Love said. “We don’t have enough facts to charge a felony.”

Key remains in Spokane County Jail on $15,000 bond.

She was arrested Nov. 20 after tipsters identified her as the mother caught on surveillance video grabbing a boy by his jacket and throwing or kicking him to the ground at the Spokane Transit Authority plaza Nov. 18.

Key told a social worker she was under stress and “lost it” but loves her kids, according to court documents.

Read more here.

Sentencing closed in drug case

A drug runner arrested in the investigation of a smuggling ring that used helicopters to fly marijuana, cocaine and other narcotics throughout the region was sentenced during a secret proceeding Wednesday in federal court, his attorney said.

The courtroom was closed and the transcript will be sealed under orders from U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko. No reason for the unusual closure was given.

Leonard J. Ferris, 50, pleaded guilty in April after being charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He was planning to exchange the cocaine for marijuana in the Colville National Forest when he and Ross N. Legge, 53, were arrested near Ogden, Utah, on Feb. 21, according to court documents.

Legge is awaiting trial in federal court in Utah.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office wanted Ferris to serve at least 17 years in prison, according to a sentencing memorandum filed Nov. 25.

Read the rest of my story

8 shots fired at ‘agitated and angry’ gunman

Spokane County sheriff’s deputies fired at least eight shots at a Spokane Valley man who answered the door armed with a gun.

Deputies were called to an apartment at 8910 E. Broadway Ave. on Saturday for a reported domestic dispute.

When authorities arrived, Donald J. Lafavor answered the door armed with a black revolver, and the two deputies fired on him. Investigators found eight spent shell casings in the flower beds outside the apartment, according to a search warrant filed Tuesday.

Six bullet holes were found in the west wall and just south of the door leading into the apartment. Lafavor, 65, remained in serious condition Wednesday at a Spokane hospital.

A woman identified as Kerey M. Edison, 37, was in the bathroom at the time of the shooting.

Edison told police that Lafavor was “agitated and angry” and told her he would point the gun “at whoever was at the door,” records say.

Teens accused of alley beating face adult charges

Prosecutors will seek adult charges against two teenagers accused of beating a man so badly his dentures broke.

The suspects, Nicholas X. Parrish and Justin A. Summa, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on Wednesday on one charge each of first-degree assault.

A judge set Parrish’s bail at $100,000 and Summa’s at $75,000.

“We have some pretty horrific charges here,” Judge Ellen Kalama Clark said.

Both boys turned 17 in October.

Read the rest of my story here.

Husband accused of murder remains in hospital

A man accused of killing his wife remains under guard at a downtown Spokane hospital.

Jeffrey N. Canino, 46, is on the Spokane County Superior Court first appearance docket this afternoon one one count of first-degree murder but likely won’t make the appearance, said Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Canino is in a downtown hospital, where he is being treated for what police characterize as self-inflicted knife wounds.

The sheriff’s office said Wednesday that he is in critical condition and on a ventilator in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

In a news release, Sgt. Bill Beeman said probable cause to arrest Canino was based on interviews and evidence collected at the scene of the homicide, 4518 E. Woodglen in Mead.

Read more here.

Tips sought on hospital purse snatcher

Police are asking for help identifying a woman who stole a purse from a hospital waiting room.

The woman pictured is thought to have stolen the pursue from the Holy Family Hospital emergency room waiting area, 5633 N. Lidgerwood St., on Nov. 4 from 1 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Shoe print on beating victim leads to suspects

A shoe print on the face of a man badly beaten in a Spokane alley helped detectives identify two teenage suspects, according to court documents filed today.

Kent S. Moses, 60, was found unconscious and bloody in an alley near Bridge Avenue and Nettleton Street in west Spokane about 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Two 17-year-old boys are in Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center on first-degree assault charges after being arrested Monday. Police don’t believe the boys used weapons.

“They beat him to a bloody pulp, just with their feet and hands,” said Spokane police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe. “It was a pretty sad deal.”

A search warrant filed today shows detectives found a cell phone near the crime scene with a picture of a man gang enforcement detectives recognized. That man led them to the suspects, one who had a shoe that matched a print found on Moses’ face, according to the search warrant.

One of the boys told police he knew they’d gotten into a fight in the alley but that he’d “blacked out from drinking and could not recall anything else,” police wrote.

Moses is in serious condition at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center with face fractures and three broken ribs, according to the warrant.

Suspected cop killer shot dead in Seattle

 Suspected cop killer Maurice Clemmons was shot and killed by police in Seattle early today.

His death came nearly two days after four officers were killed in a West Side coffee shop in what authorities described as an ambush.

One of the slain officers, Tina Griswold, is the sister of Tiffiny Ryan, who works in the records decision at the Spokane Police Department. Ryan is a former Post Falls dispatcher engaged to Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Beau Vucinich.

She remembered her sister as a dedicated officer during a tearful plea Monday for Clemmon’s capture. Read my story here.

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