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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for November 2009

Gunpoint Zip Trip robbery netted $66

A holdup at a convenience store netted the gunman and two accomplices $22 each, according to court documents.

Joseph R. Giordanella, 24, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Monday after being arrested last week for the Sept. 29 robbery of the Zip Trip, 3030 E. Euclid Ave.

But court documents show police don’t think Giordanella was at the crime scene, nor did he get any money out of the holdup. 

Instead, they say he supplied the .380 caliber gun used by Christopher R. Walinski, who is charged with first-degree robbery along with Justin J. Ellery, 24, (right). A third accomplice is named in court documents but hasn’t been charged.

Walinski, 25, told police Giordanella had let him borrow the gun. Giordanella, who is in jail on $35,000 bond, told police he didn’t know where it was, according to court documents.

“(Detectives) advised Giordanella that if he was untruthful regarding the location of the firearm, he would be charged with robbery,” according to the documents “…Giordanella said he was contacting an attorney and that he had not given Walinski the handgun and instead the group had stolen it from him.”

Giordanella faces the same charges as Walinski and Ellery: first-degree robbery and second-degree assault, which stems from a clerk having a gun pointed at her.

Ellery also is accused of a gunpoint robbery at Papa Johns, 900 East Indiana, on Sept. 28. Detectives say he spent the $160 he got on heroin. Walinski told police Ellery planned to rob the Zip Trip but “(w)ussed out” and stayed in the car, according to court documents.

See videos of the Zip Trip robbery here.

The clerks described the gunman has having pale skin and “very pretty blue eyes.” The accused gunman, Walinski, is pictured to the left. You decide on the eyes.

Feds call for 17+ years in coke bust

A man caught with cocaine in Utah as part of a major drug bust that led to a helicopter pilot’s suicide in the Spokane County Jail faces at least 17 years in prison under a recommendation from federal prosecutors.

Leonard J. Ferris, 50, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane. He and Ross N. Legge, 53, were arrested Feb. 21 near Ogden, Utah in what the Drug Enforcement Administration describes in court papers as a routine traffic stop.

The men had a storage unit in Spokane Valley where they kept an ATV, trailer, and other items used in drug trafficking, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County Superior Court in April. Legge is awaiting trial in Utah and is asking the court to suppress evidence and statements made by the two.

Legge was driving when the two were pulled over, according to court papers, but Ferris gave permission to search the car because it belonged to him. A state trooper found 83 kilograms of cocaine. Ferris pleaded guilty in April.

Two days after Ferris and Legge’s arrest, Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown, 24, (right) landed a helicopter in the Colville National Forest with 426 pounds of marijuana federal drug agents say was to be exchanged to Ferris and Legge for the cocaine. He killed himself in jail Feb. 27.

Read my Sunday story here detailing the massive drug bust that included arrests in early 2008 and is tied to the violent United Nations gang in Vancouver, B.C.

Ferris’ federal cocaine charge brings a standard sentence of 151 to 188 months (12.5+ to 15.6+ years).

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is asking for Ferris’ role in the crime to be considered - an “aggravating role adjustment” - which would set the sentence at 210 to 262 months (17.5 to 21.8 years), according to a sentencing memorandum filed Nov. 25.

Wal-Mart wallet snatcher sought

Police are searching for a woman caught on video surveillance stealing another woman’s wallet at a northwest Spokane Wal-Mart store.

The victim was being helped at the customer service desk at Wal-Mart, 2301 W. Wellesley, about 10 p.m. Nov. 18, when the thief took the wallet out of the woman’s purse.

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

Furloughed inmate’s brother arrested

The brother of a man granted a five-hour furlough from jail for Thanksgiving was arrested today on drug charges.

Steven Kinard, 50, was booked just before 4:30 p.m. today, according to Spokane County Jail records.

Kinard is the younger brother of Terrence A. “T-Baby” Kinard (left). A federal magistrate judge last week granted Terrence Kinard, who has failed to show up for court 75 times, a five-hour furlough to join his family for Thanksgiving dinner.

Kinard’s lawyer said the family feared for his 80-year-old mother’s health as well as the health of Steven Kinard. The family will be required to pay for two law enforcement officers to accompany Kinard.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said last week that likely won’t happen. The elder Kinard is to be sentenced Dec. 8 on a federal cocaine conviction. he faces six years in prison. The brothers remain in jail.

Read a previous story here.

31 months for 1 robber, 9 for another

Two pharmacy robbers who pleaded guilty in court today likely will get starkly different sentences.

The difference in the cases of Lance W. Shaw, 27, and Jeremy M. Mace, 23, comes down to who used a weapon and who didn’t.

Shaw was sentenced to nine months in jail and 12 months probation after pleading guilty to an amended charge of second-degree robbery. Mace pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and will be sentenced in January. A plea agreement calls for him to serve 31 months in prison and 18 months probation.

Mace was arrested April 29 after a knife-point methadone robbery at Rite Aid on North Division Street. A woman saw him running through the parking lot and followed him in her car as she called 911. (Read more here.)

Shaw was arrested June 22 after he called 911 from a pay phone near the Walgreens at Division and Empire and said a man was holding a baby at gunpoint on East Mission Avenue and demanding crack cocaine. Police arrested him as he walked out of the pharmacy with OxyContin.

Though Shaw told clerks he had a gun, he never displayed a weapon, leading to his lesser charge. He’s to report to Spokane County Jail by Dec. 5.

Mace will be sentenced in January. A plea deal asks for 31 months in prison and drops a weapons enhancement for the first-degree robbery charge.

Shaw had taken 100 mg of Prozac the night before the robbery, his lawyer said, about 50 times his prescribed dosage.

A father of a 3-year-old boy, Shaw told Judge Tari Eitzen he used to be a machinist and doesn’t think he’ll have a problem getting a job. He’s going to addiction counseling and said his OxyContin addiction “started as casual use which quickly escalated.”

Shaw apologized to clerks during the robbery and said he didn’t care if he got caught because he needed addiction treatment, according to court documents.

Mace told Eitzen he doesn’t go to school, doesn’t have a job, and has one child with another on the way.

His girlfriend cried in the courtroom as he fought back tears at the defendant’s table.

“This doesn’t have to be the end of your life; you can get through this,” Eitzen said.

She commended Mace for having “the sense not to bring your little child into court.”

Both Mace and Shaw are out of jail on bond.

‘I lost it,’ accused mother says

A woman accused of assaulting her child at the downtown bus plaza told a social worker she was under stress and “lost it” but loves her kids.

Keyana L. Key, 28, is in jail on $20,000 bond after her first appearance Monday in Spokane County Superior Court on an assault charge. She was arrested Friday at her sister’s apartment on Lincoln Street, one day after police released video of the assault early Wednesday at the Spokane Transit Authority plaza.

The video shows a woman police say is Key grab a 3-year-old boy by his jacket and throw or kick him to the ground. The boy was limp and lethargic when police arrested Key, and medics suspect he may have a head injury from the incident, according to court documents.

Prosecutors are waiting to see how badly the boy is hurt before deciding what level of assault charge to file against Key. She was jailed on a police recommendation for a second-degree assault charge.

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

Driver in crash has prior DUI arrests

A driver accused of a hit-and-run crash in downtown Spokane was cited for drunken driving two months before police say he struck a woman after drinking at several bars Friday night.

Cameron B. Olsness, 24, had “at least five shots of Tequila and multiple mixed drinks” before he struck a woman at Browne Street and Spokane Falls Boulevard, according to court documents filed Monday.

Detectives say Olsness’ girlfriend told them this after Olsness was arrested following a foot chase. He remains in Spokane County Jail on $50,000 bail after appearing in Superior Court on felony hit-and-run and vehicular assault charges Monday.

The 10:30 p.m. crash, one of three car-versus-pedestrian accidents in Spokane last weekend, left the victim, identified in court documents as 50-year-old Elain Price-Cornell, face down on Spokane Falls Boulevard, bleeding heavily from the mouth and nose, police said.

A Spokane County Sheriff’s helicopter helped catch Olsness after he ditched his car in downtown Spokane and ran, police said. Price-Cornell is in critical condition at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Medics told police they didn’t expect her to survive.

Police are looking for another car that may have hit Price-Cornell as she lay in the roadway.

Read the rest of my story here.

Robbery suspects, STA mother due in court today

Two suspects in a home invasion robbery in northeast Spokane are to appear in court today on two counts of first-degree burglary and one count of first-degree robbery.

Detectives say Darius D. Toussiant, 18, (right) and Glen A. Akers, 19, (also known as Jeremiah A. Smith) attacked a woman in her East Mansfield Avenue apartment Nov. 15. The attack may have been linked to an ongoing domestic violence dispute. Read my story from Saturday here.

Also on today’s first appearance docket is Keyana L. Key, the woman accused of assaulting her child at the downtown bus plaza. Her sister, Aletha Robinson, is out of jail and scheduled to appear on a first-degree rendering criminal assistance charge.

For updates from the courtroom, check my Twitter page after 1:30 p.m.

Mother arrested in bus plaza assault

An anonymous tip led Spokane police today to arrest the woman accused of assaulting her 3-year-old son at the downtown bus plaza.

Keyana L. Key, 28, was hiding with her three young children at an apartment at 1400 N. Lincoln when police arrived about 4 p.m.

Police say her sister, Aletha A. Robinson, 38, was helping Key hide and was arrested on a second-degree rendering criminal assistance charge. Key was jailed on one count of second-degree assault of a child.

“The 3-year-old victim appeared lethargic and was transported to a local hospital for tests to determine injuries,” according to Spokane police. “Key’s two other children were placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.”

Police on Thursday released video of the assault, leading to tips that took police to several addresses in Spokane today. The video shows a woman believed to be Key throwing the boy to the ground about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday after apparently missing a bus.

“The Spokane Police Department would like to thank the citizens who called in tips and helped us locate the suspect,” Tracie Meidl wrote in a news release. “If you believe a child has been assaulted or is being abused, please call Crime Check or 9-1-1 if it is an emergency.”

Police still looking for mother in bus plaza assault

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Police continue to seek tips on the identity of a woman who assaulted her child at the downtown bus plaza Wednesday morning.

Surveillance video shows the mother grabbing the toddler’s coat and kicking him or her to the ground about 7:30 a.m.

“She missed the bus so she took it out on him or her,” Officer Tim Moses said Thursday.

Witnesses told STA security about the assault.

“They pulled up the video and were kind of shocked at what they saw,” Moses said.

Police think the woman catches a bus in Spokane Valley near Indiana and Pines, then transfers to a bus going to the north side at the STA Plaza.

The woman was wearing a brown coat with a fur collar, blue jeans, a white shirt, black beanie and a long chain with a black pendant. She was pushing a large navy blue stroller covered with a white blanket. The assaulted child looked about 2 years old and wore a blue winter jumpsuit and blue beanie. Another child may have been in the stroller.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the woman’s arrest.

Anyone with information is asked to call (800) 222-TIPS, or submit tips online at Tipsters do not have to give a name but should provide a code name or number.

Gang accused of killing people for their fat

Here’s a report by Associated Press writer Andrew Whalen:

LIMA, Peru — A gang in the remote Peruvian jungle has been killing people for their fat, police charged Thursday, draining it from their corpses and offering it on the black market for use in cosmetics. Medical experts expressed skepticism that a major market for fat might exist.

Three suspects have confessed to killing five people for their fat, said Col. Jorge Mejia, chief of Peru’s anti-kidnapping police. He said the suspects, two of whom were arrested carrying bottles of liquid fat, told police it was worth $60,000 a gallon ($15,000 a liter).

Mejia said the suspects told police the fat was sold to intermediaries in Lima, the Peruvian capital. (A police officer is pictured at left showing two bottles containing human fat while another sets seized sticks of dynamite during a press conference in Lima.)

While police suspect the fat was sold to cosmetic companies in Europe, he could not confirm any sales. Medical experts expressed doubt about an international black market for human fat, though it does have cosmetic applications.

Yale University dermatology professor Dr. Lisa Donofrio speculated that a small market may exist for “human fat extracts” to keep skin supple, though scientifically such treatments are “pure baloney.”

At a news conference, police showed reporters two bottles of fat recovered from the suspects and a photo of the rotting head of a 27-year-old male victim. Suspect Elmer Segundo Castillejos, 29, led police to the head, recovered in a coca-growing valley last month, Mejia said.

Mejia said Castillejos confessed that the gang would cut off its victims’ heads, arms and legs, remove the organs, then suspend the torsos from hooks above candles that warmed the flesh as the fat dripped into tubs below.

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

Father charged in death of boy, 4

A vehicular homicide charge was filed Thursday against the father of a 4-year-old who died near Mount Spokane in August.

Lester C. LaFleur, 35, will be arraigned Dec. 2.

Gerrin P.R. LaFleur died Aug. 19 during a family firewood-gathering trip in the foothills near North Wallis Road and East Elliot Road.

Lester LaFleur told authorities the boy fell from atop his parked 1985 Ford F-250 pickup, according to court documents.

But investigators received conflicting reports of what happened and searched the truck for hair fibers, fingerprints and other evidence to understand the circumstances surrounding the death.

An autopsy said the boy died of a bruised and cut right lung, according to court documents.

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives concluded the truck was moving when the boy died and recommended prosecutors file the charge.

Gerrin is pictured above at Bloomsday in May 2008 with his father and a sister. The picture below that at the left was taken last summer.

Read past coverage here and here.

Ranch moves assets before abuse trial

Morning Star Boys’ Ranch has moved the bulk of its assets, including securities and real estate worth millions of dollars, to a nonprofit foundation in advance of the first trial over sexual abuse lawsuits against it.

In 2007, the ranch transferred more than $12 million in securities and other assets to the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch Foundation, an organization that supports youth sports and other charities, according to federal tax documents.

Read the rest of Kevin Graman’s story, complete with documents, here.

Poison maker contests prison sentence

A Spokane Valley man serving 10 years in federal prison for making a deadly poison is asking to have his sentence and conviction overturned because one of the government’s expert witnesses was later fired for misconduct in other criminal cases.

Kenneth Olsen, a former computer programmer and part-time massage therapist, is scheduled for a hearing early next year on his request to set aside his 2003 jury conviction for making ricin, one of the deadliest chemical poisons known.

The conviction has already been upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, although his original sentence was remanded and reduced. After ricin was found at Olsen’s work station at Agilent Technologies in Liberty Lake, federal prosecutors accused him of researching various toxins and making ricin from castor beans as part of a plan to poison his wife.

But his defense attorneys argued Olsen was merely curious about chemistry and was using the beans to make castor oil for massage oils. His wife said she didn’t believe he would ever try to harm her.

Read the rest of Jim Camden’s story here.

Read a story on Olsen’s sentencing in 2003 here.

Pharmacy employee tackles armed robber

A Coeur d’Alene pharmacy employee tackled a masked armed robber and held him for police Wednesday night.

Jason Anthony Wahl, 28, will appear in Kootenai County District Court this afternoon after police arrested him at the Shopko pharmacy, 217 W. Ironwood Drive.

Wahl is accused of trying to rob the pharmacy of prescription medication just before 9 p.m.

When police arrived, an employee was on top of the robber struggling to get control of the handgun, said Sgt. Christie Wood.

Wahl had been tackled while trying to run from the store with drugs, police said. Wood declined to name the drug but said it wasn’t OxyContin.

After his arrest, Wahl appeared to have a seizure, but medics checked him and said he was OK, Wood said. He was taken to Kootenai Medical Center, then to Kootenai County Jail.

Wahl told officers he lives in Lewiston, Wood said. A jail booking sheet lists his as address being in Pomeroy, Wash.

Another charge for Oxy robbery suspect

A man charged with robbing two pharmacies is now accused of trying to flee from police before his arrest. 

Aaron M. Weyrauch, 27, (right, in 2007) appeared in Spokane County Superior Court via video Wednesday, two months after a police chase that ended in his arrest.

Weyrauch faces a felony charge of attempting to elude police along with two counts of second-degree robbery in connection with OxyContin heists Aug. 24 at the Shopko at 4515 S. Regal St., and Sept. 5 at the Rite Aid across the street, 4514 S. Regal St. (Read more here.)

His bond for the eluding charge was set at $10,000 Wednesday. He has a $30,000 bond for the robbery charges.

Police stopped Weyrauch Sept. 15 near 3rd Avenue and Crestline Street, but he sped away and abandoned his 2005 Volvo near 33rd Avenue and Grand Boulevard, according to court documents filed this week.

Weyrauch was arrested as he hid in the back of another car. With him was Dustin J. Rockstrom, 26, who also is accused of the pharmacy robberies.

Rockstrom is out of jail on $30,000 bond. Weyrauch is in jail on $30,000 bond for the robbery charges and $10,000 for the eluding charge, which was set today.

Weyrauch’s convictions include second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful imprisonment (domestic violence) and third-degree domestic violence assault, second degree possession of stolen property and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance - cocaine.

Before his criminal activity made the paper, Weyrauch (left, in 1997) was profiled in the Spokesman-Review Valley Voice as a successful skier who qualified for the Junior Olympics. A ski coach was impressed with Weyrauch’s dedication to the sport.

Read that story here.

Car chase suspect experienced in car chases

A man accused of leading police on a chase from Spokane to Post Falls this morning was arrested in March 2008 after a similar pursuit.

John D. Rovik, 29, was sentenced to 120 days in jail for attempting to elude a police officer last year.

About 4:15 a.m. today, Spokane police spotted a 2002 Buick Century driving erratically near Crestline and Sprague and chased the car on Interstate 90, where sheriff’s deputies used a spike strip to flatten the tires.

Read the rest of my story here.

Drunken driver hits school bus, police say

A motorist who authorities believe was drunk slammed into a school bus filled with children Wednesday, but no one was injured, according to the Idaho State Police.

Julie Witlicki, 38, was arrested after her 1995 Volkswagen Jetta crossed the center line on Highway 95 near Worley and hit a school bus driven by Vernie Johnson, 65, of Tensed.

No one was injured in the crashed, which occurred at mile post 403 at 7:33 a.m., the State Police said.

Witlicki and her two passengers were searing seat belts.

Jail furlough for man with 75 missed court dates

Apparently even the federal government is feeling generous this time of year.

A Spokane-area drug dealer who has failed to show up for court 75 times and is awaiting sentencing on his latest cocaine conviction will be allowed to leave the Spokane County Jail next week to spend Thanksgiving dinner with his family.

Two law enforcement officers must be with Terrence A. “T-Baby” Kinard, 52, for the five-hour jail furlough next week. His family - not the government - is required to pay for the escorting officers, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno ruled Tuesday.

(The family must pay ahead of time, according to the order which you can read here. Read the motion by Kinard’s lawyer here.)

Read the rest of my story here.

We posted the story last night, so there are two versions because the print edition automatically uploads to the site after midnight. Read the other copy’s comments here.

Suspects arrested in home invasion robbery

Masked gunmen pistol whipped a woman in her Spokane Valley apartment late Monday before forcing her into a closet as her child slept in another room.

The men stole a cell phone, TV and computer after demanding marijuana and “everything you have” from the 25-year-old woman, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The late-night home invasion at 12423 E. Mansfield Ave. launched an investigation that saw one suspect arrested during a traffic stop shortly after the robbery and another nabbed by the SWAT team (pictured above) after he was hit with tear gas Tuesday.

Darius D. Toussiant, 18, (pictured right at his first court appearance with Deputy Prosecutor Travis Phelps and Public Defender Kari Reardon) and Glen A. Akers, 19, are in Spokane County Jail on charges of first-degree robbery.

Read the rest of my story here.

Brothers arrested in road rage attack

One man grabbed her phone before she could call 911, breaking her hand in front of her husband and grandchildren as he screamed at the family for driving too slowly.

The other ripped the license plate off his own car in an apparent attempt to conceal his and the other attacker’s identities after cutting short the family’s leisurely drive to look at neighborhood Halloween decorations.

As her husband sat in their car, unable to leave his oxygen supply because of medical problems, Deborah Logsdon asked a neighbor to call police.

The assailants, she said, were furious at her for her unhurried pace.

Read the rest of my story here.

Man named Steele Brown involved in gunfight

If you were looking for a Wild West-like story involving a man named Steele Brown mowing down one assailant before exchanging gunfire with the others, you’re in luck.

Here’s a report from Sara Leaming:

A Grant County resident who surprised three men attempting to burglarize his home Monday night ended up in a gun-fight with the would-be thieves, and accidently ran over one suspect with his car.

According to a report from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Steele Brown, and his cousin arrived at Brown’s home six miles southwest of George, Wash., about 6:20 p.m. and found a man in a ski mask standing near a car in the driveway, and two other men trying to run.

As Brown sped past, the masked burglar attempted to open Brown’s car door, which caused the would-be thief to be run over, authorities said. As he drove on without stopping, Brown’s car was shot at by another suspect, deputies said. Brown’s cousin then returned fire from the car with his own handgun. About six rounds were exchanged between the two. No one was injured.

The three suspects remain at large, and authorities are searching for an older, gray or silver four-door Pontiac. A .22-caliber handgun, reported stolen from Othello, Wash., was also recovered at the scene.

Molestation charges dropped in plea deal

A bookstore owner police arrested for third-degree child molestation in March had the accusation dismissed in a plea deal today.

A 15-year-old girl told police that Harold “Hal” N. Moos, 76 ,offered her $50 in December to massage her, then touched her inappropriately.

The girl said Moos had told her he worked with a Las Vegas modeling company and could market photos of her. But prosecutors dropped the charge in a plea deal approved today in Spokane Coutny Sueprior Court.

Moos pleaded guilty to three counts of unlicensed practice of a profession requiring a license. The first count is a misdemeanor; the last two are felonies.

He was credited for one day served in jail. Police raided Moos’ home at 1814 S. Upper Terrace Feb. 13 after a girl who worked at his bookstore at 907 W. Garland made the accusations, according to a news release.

Bevan Maxey repreented Moos. Sharon Hedlund prosecuted the case.

Driver in jail attack: ‘Everyone was crazy’

The attack on the Spokane County Jail garage door appears to have been premeditated.

Several days ago, Dustin P. Leeds, 31, told a resident at Oak Hill, a group home for people with mental illness, “that he was going to steal his mother’s car and drive it into the courthouse,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

On Sunday, police say Leeds drove his mother’s stolen 2001 Lincoln Navigator through a parking lot, over a curb and around a barrier protecting an overhead door leading to the jail booking area.

Leeds told a deputy that he drove the Navigator into the jail “because everyone was crazy and he wanted someone to listen to him,” according to a court documents.

Leeds remains in jail after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court via video today on charges of car theft, malicious mischief and reckless endangerment.

Accused bank robber experienced in crime

A man accused of robbing a Spokane Valley bank last week served time in federal prison for robbing five banks on the West Side in 2005.

Christopher J. Cook, 42, drove his mother’s car to AmericanWest Bank, 15606 E. Sprague Ave., on Thursday and left with cash he demanded from an employee, according to court documents.

Cook appeared in Spokane County Superior Court via video today after detectives recognized the Suzuki he was in as the car used in the robbery and arrested him on Friday. The personalized license plate was PC, Cook’s mother’s initials.

Cook’s mother, Phyllis Cook of Bothell, told detectives her son had been “on a three-day drug binge” and identified him through surveillance video from the bank, according to court documents.

Cook’s federal probation officer and wife also identified him as the robber, according to the documents. Cook is in Spokane County Jail on $10,000 bond and a federal probation hold.

He was convicted of five counts of bank robbery and sentenced to 57 months in prison in December 2005.

He robbed five banks in Marysville, Bothell, Snohomish, Everett and Edmonds between April 12 and May 9, 2005, stealing more than $7,000.

Court documents show the method in those robberies was similar to the method used in Thursday’s crime. The robber hands the teller a note demanding money but does not display a weapon.

Cook’s federal probation transferred to Eastern Washington in April, according to federal court documents.

Men accused of beating, robbery in Post Falls

Two Post Falls men are in Kootenai County Jail today after being arrested in connection with a beating and robbery outside a bar in Post Falls last week.

Jacobe J. Blake, 24, (left) and Michael A. Butts, 23, (right) were arrested Thursday and have been booked for aggravated battery and robbery.

Butts also was charged with felony drug possession after officers found a plastic bag of methamphetamine in his wallet, Post Falls police said today.

They appeared in Kootenai County District Court on Friday and are being held on $100,000 bond.

The alleged incident occured at Bob’s 21 Club, 212 E. Seltice Way, when theb victim was seeking a ride home from two men who beat him and robbed him of $160 in the club’s parking lot.

The victim reported being choked, kicked and punched, causing serious injuries including a fractured eye socket and cracked rib.

The men also threatened him with a knife, police said.

Robbery suspects arrested after chase

A deputy rammed the car of two suspected robbers Sunday night after they tried to turn around from a dead end road, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Justin R. Booth, 29, (left) and Bodi C. Dotson, 19, (right) and are accused of robbing the Dalton Market, 5632 N. 15th Street, at gunpoint.

The Coeur d’Alene men drove northbound on 15th Street near Lookout Drive and Hayden View Loop, then back south on 15th until heading east on Dalton Avenue. The men tried turning around just east of 17th Street after they saw a dead end sign, but the deputy rammed their vehicle, ending the pursuit.

The car had been stolen early that day in Coeur d’Alene, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Booth’s only previous visit to jail was in 1999 on a domestic battery charge.

Dotson has no adult bookings. News archvies show he’s lived in Coeur d’Alene since he was 8 and was pictured with a Fernan Elementary School music class.

In May, he was featured in Handle Extra as one of five people at Sanders Beach who were asked, “What is the most unusual purchase you have made online?”

Dotson responded, “I bought one tire on Craigslist. It was the same as the others I have and it was cheap.”

Dotson and Booth are due in Kootenai County District Court today on charges of robbery and grant theft.

Booth, who deputies said was driving, also is charged with eluding.

Police sergeant avoids prosecution

A police sergeant was granted deferred prosecution for a drunken driving charge on Friday. Brad Thoma also had a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge (failure to remain at the scene of an accident-attended vehicle or other property) dismissed under the misdemeanor compromise statute.

He could have tried for deferred prosecution on the hit and run charge had it stuck. More than 90 percent of deferred prosecution cases are drunken driving charges, said Deputy Prosecutor Brian O’Brien. Prosecutors have little say in the procedure; they can object if someone doesn’t meet the requirements but the requirements are pretty all encompassing for first-time offenders.

“We don’t have an ability to really participate as advocates for or against,” O’Brien said.

The judge who approved this was Douglas Robinson, a visiting judge from Whitman County.

Robinson is in Spokane County District Court once every two months or so to hear cases that are deemed to have a conflict with regular Spokane County proceedings. (For example, Robinson also handled the sentencing Friday of a man accused of harassing a city of Spokane snow plow driver.)

Robinson, who later said he didn’t know Thoma was a police sergeant, praised Thoma for opting for the deferred prosecution.

Robinson called the deferred prosecution, which includes two years of intensive alcohol rehabilitation, “a wonderful opportunity.”

“It’s just a matter of how much dedication you want to give,” Robinson said. “If you take advantage of it you will look back from now and think this is one of the best decisions you’ve made.”

He dismissed the hit-and-run charge (the charge was not eligible to be a felony because the victim wasn’t injured) after reading a letter he said was from Prickett indicating she “is not interested in seeing the case pursued. They have been fully compensated,” Robinson said.

Prickett said she felt she was misled by lawyer Rob Cossey’s office regarding the intent of the letter.

Read more here.

Teen gets 30 years for shooting

 A Spokane teenager will spend 30 years in prison for shooting at two men in a motel parking lot a year ago, a judge ruled Friday.

Anthony R. Covert, 19, was found guilty of attempted murder, first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault and two weapons charges in a Nov. 7, 2008, shooting at the West Wynn Motel, 2701 W. Sunset Highway in which Shane L. Hagedorn, of Spokane, suffered gunshot wounds to his stomach.

“I think you present a danger to the community,” said Judge Tari Eitzen, who presided over his trial. “I think five years from now, 10 years from now, the light bulb’s going to go on and you’re going to say ‘What was I thinking?’ But that light bulb hasn’t gone on yet.”

After listening to tearful statements from Hagedorn’s family, Covert apologized but blamed Hagedorn for instigating the fight.  

“I’m not this monster that this whole thing makes me out to be,” Covert said.

Said Covert’s public defender, Al Rossi, “This is a case where somebody (Hagedorn) thinks he has the upper hand and he’s going to wreak havoc on someone else and he miscalculates.”

Hagedorn, who is in physical rehabilitation and was unable to attend, was shot four times by Covert in a confrontation over a girl that started with threats on the phone. 

“There were lots of times for all of you to just cool it, but you couldn’t because of your age or whatever it is that went on,” Eitzen said.

Read past coverage here.


PC plate gives probable cause for arrest

That didn’t take long.

Assisted by a personalized license plate, Spokane County sheriff’s detectives this morning arrested a man suspected of robbing a Spokane Valley bank on Thursday.

Christopher J. Cook, 42, was booked into jail on one count of first-degree robbery for an incident Thursday at 2:10 p.m. at the American West Bank, 15606 E. Sprague Ave.

The robber fled in a Suzuki with the license plate “PC.”

“As in, ‘probable cause,’” said Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Detectives spotted the vehicle about 10:30 a.m. today in the vicinity of 29th Avenue and Ray Street in Spokane and arrested Cook.

Witnesses say Cook didn’t display a gun, nor did he indicate he had one, but unarmed bank robberies can still be charged as first-degree robbery.

Turnipseed guilty, but not of murder

A jury convicted a Spokane man of first-degree manslaughter today for the shooting death of a 24-year-old man more than two years ago.

Allan L. Turnipseed faces at least 11 years in prison for the fatal shooting of Joshua A. Smith on June 14, 2007. Turnipseed, who was taken into custody after the verdict, had been charged with second-degree murder but the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge.

Turnipseed, 52, claimed self defense and said Smith was trying to run him over when he was shot.

The two-week trial was the second in the case. In April, a mistrial was declared after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict. In that trial, the jury was not allowed to consider a lesser charge.

First-degree manslaughter carries sentence of 78 to 102 months in prison. Turnipseed faces five extra years because a firearm was involved.

Smith’s death came after two encounters with Turnipseed on consecutive days in the neighborhood of Eighth Avenue and Ferrall Street near Turnipseed’s home.

Smith had dropped a co-worker off at a nearby house before driving past Turnipseed’s home, where a friend tossed a beer can from the car into a trash-filled container outside the home and Turnipseed yelled at them, according to police reports.

That confrontation ended with Turnipseed retreating to his home after he said Smith went to retrieve a tire iron from the trunk of his car, but the two saw each other the next day while driving in the same area. Smith again had a tire iron.

That confrontation ended with Turnipseed firing two shots from his .380 Colt pistol at Smith as Smith was in the driver’s seat of his Mazda.

“When Mr. Smith tried to drive away, Mr. Turnipseed tried to block his car and conduct a citizen’s arrest.  Mr Smith was shot once in the chest and once in the back and died soon afterwards,” according to an email from Judge Sam Cozza, who presided over the case. “Evidence was also adduced that Mr. Turnipseed had smoked marijuana just before the incident. Mr Turnipseed said he had gotten the idea of conducting a citizen’s arrest from a television program.”

Man arrested after skipping jury verdict

A man convicted last week of stealing from an elderly woman was arrested after failing to show up for the jury’s verdict.

A jury convicted Thomas A. Sankey, 57, of first-degree theft last week for stealing about $1,600 from an 87-year-old woman.

He and his wife, Tammy M. Sankey, 47, had taken the money as a payment for housework they never did. Police said the couple intimidated the woman and others into paying them exceptionally high fees.

“They insist the job must be done and refuse to leave until the victim agrees to pay the exorbitant fees. The suspect is paid in advance for the work, begins a small portion of the work, then leaves under the pretense of another pending job or obligation. The suspect usually does not return,” according to Spokane Police Department news release in June 2008.

Tammy Sankey (left) pleaded guilty to second-degree theft in August 2008 and was credited for 33 days served in jail and given a year of probation.

But her husband took his case to a jury in Spokane County Superior Court.

“His take is he’s a legitimate business man; he was doing work for the lady,” said defense lawyer Doug Phelps. “Unfortunately, the jury didn’t believe that.”

Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Johnson had an arrest warrant issued after Sankey didn’t show up for the verdict.

Sankey was arrested Wednesday morning and will be sentenced next week.

The first-degree theft charge includes a sentencing enhancement because the victim was particularly vulnerable.

Murder plot suspected at county jail

Detectives started monitoring the inmate’s phone calls months ago.

Jailed on assault and robbery charges, Michael L. Olson (left) had fled police after a fiery car crash that killed his girlfriend June 19.

He was arrested that night, accused of stealing a car and assaulting the owner, Christopher T. Fuller, 24.

Now Olson, 31, is suspected to trying to hire his cellmate at the Spokane County Jail to kill Fuller.

Investigators searched Olson’s mother’s home at 3715 N. Audubon St. on Thursday, seizing letters apparently written by Olson that discuss a murder plot, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County District Court.

The evidence could help support charges of tampering with a witness and criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder, according to the warrant.

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

Boyfriend of injured woman questioned

Detectives investigating the case of a woman found seriously injured on a Whitman County road have secured evidence and questioned several people, including the victim’s boyfriend.

Kristen E. Grindley, 23, remains in critical condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center. She’s been unconscious since she was found in a pool of blood on Pullman-Albion Road about 1:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Investigators think she fell from a vehicle or was hit while in the road.

“We do have a vehicle in mind,” said Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers. “We have had that vehicle since shortly after the incident.”

Grindley graduated in May from Washington Sate University, where her boyfriend is believed to be a student, Myers said.

Detectives have applied for search warrants and will be reviewing cell phone call histories, Myers said.

Police: Thief crashes into car of woman, toddler

A suspected car prowler crashed into another driver during a police chase Wednesday, injuring the woman but not her 2-year-old child, Spokane police said.

Michael L. Bridges, 24, fled in a black Chevrolet Caprice after officers spotted him walking near Everett and Stone, according to Spokane police.

Officer Bob Collins pulled over and turned off his emergency lights at Perry and Rowan out of concerns for public safety, police said, but Bridges continued west on Rowan and crashed into an oncoming lane at Cincinnati about 10 a.m., police said. The Caprice ended up in the front yard of a nearby house.

Police arrested Bridges after a short foot chase and took him to a hospital with minor injuries. He was booked into Spokane County Jail on charges of attempting to elude police and failing to leave information at a collision.

Bridges is well known to police. He was with a 17-year-old who was arrested on Halloween with a stolen car, police said, and he was sentenced to 22 months in prison in January 2007 for second-degree burglary.

In January 2004, Bridges was sentenced to nine months in jail for second-degree burglary and first-degree possession of stolen property. He was arrested again In December 2004 after he jumped out of a moving stolen car and tried running from police, according to news archives. He served three months in jail.

Spokane has seen “a severe increase” in residential burglaries, vehicle thefts and vehicle prowlings, police said.

“Citizens are encouraged to take precautionary measures to help prevent themselves from being a victim,” according to a news release. “Anti-theft devices like the Club are available, as well as reminding citizens not to leave their vehicles running to warm the engines during the cold weather.”

Charges sought in death of boy, 4

Investigators are seeking a vehicular homicide charge against the father of a 4-year-old boy who died near Mount Spokane last summer.

Gerrin P.R. LaFleur died Aug. 19 during a family firewood-gathering trip in the foothills near North Wallis Road and East Elliot Road.

His father, Lester C. LaFleur, told authorities the boy fell from atop his parked 1985 Ford F-250 pickup.

But investigators received conflicting reports of what happened and searched the truck for hair fibers, fingerprints and other evidence to understand the circumstances surrounding the death. An autopsy said the boy died of a bruised and cut right lung, according to court documents. The boy’s uncle says the family feels they’re being treated unfairly. 

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

Cutlet cartel leader gets 3 years

Spokane’s Hamburglar apparently has a drug problem.

Christopher M. Webber, 38, stole steaks from stores across Spokane as part of theft ring that hawked the stolen meat in black market deals with bars and taverns. He pleaded guilty to a slew of crimes today but avoided the state’s recommended 73-month prison sentence after a judge ruled him a drug addict.

Webber qualified for the drug offender sentencing alternative, giving him three years in prison and three years of probation. He wouldn’t have been on probation under the state’s recommendation.

Spokane County Superior Judge Maryann Moreno cited the three years of supervision as a reason to impose the sentence.

Webber told Moreno he “more than enough deserved to go to prison” and said he’d been to drug rehab six times with no success.

Webber has been in Spokane County Jail since his arrest in late June. He was charged with leading organized crime, four counts of second-degree burglary, three counts of second-degree organized retail theft and one count of trafficking in stolen property.

As part of the plea deal approved Tuesday the state dismissed most serious charge, leading organized crime, which carries a minimum of about 12 years in prison.

Deputy Prosecutor R. Reese Sterrett told Moreno the crimes deserved a stiff sentence but “I couldn’t escape the fact that there are folks who commit crimes like first-degree robbery” and get much less time. Sterrett said he’s “uncertain” if other still could be charged in the theft ring “but we are certainly looking at that.” Dana Beard was Webber’s public defender.

Read a previous story on Webber here.

Video shows latest Spokane holdup

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The person who robbed a convenience store on the edge of Browne’s Addition Sunday night wore what appears to be a gas mask and carried a rifle, video released today shows.

The 9 p.m. robbery at Sunset Grocery lasted about a minute, with the gun-toting masked man resembling a Halloween ghoul, thanks to the mask and the baggy black sweatshirt.

The robber stuffs cash into a green bag after the clerk opens the drawer, then gets two handfuls of cigarettes and a few traceable lottery cards before leaving.

The rifle was pointed in the clerk’s direction the entire time. It could turn out to be a BB gun, but in Washington, that still counts as first-degree robbery.

The culprit was described as in his mid-30s, medium build, wearing a green or gray hooded sweatshirt and camouflage pants.

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

Pictures show car theft suspects

The men pictured may be responsible for car thefts in northeast Spokane, police said today.

The surveillance photos could help solve what authorities describe as a surge in vehicle thefts in the city.

The number of auto thefts is the highest it has been in 2009, with more than 60 cars reported stolen in one week last month, police said.

Since the beginning of August, auto thefts in Spokane have risen from about 20 a week, statistics show. Police arrested a young man suspected of vehicle prowling last week and found him with tools used to steal cars, police said.

Police also use a new automatic license-plate recognition system to detect stolen cars. Read about it here.

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

Man convicted of heist at retired newsman’s home

A brazen daylight burglary at the home of a man described as the Walter Cronkite of Spokane netted a a 37-year-old man his first felony conviction this morning. 

Frank D. Baxter pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and received credit for three days served in Spokane County Jail.

Baxter’s sentencing came about six months after Briley’s neighbor, Ronald L. Warner, (left) held Baxter at gunpoint after spotting him wheel a lawnmower from the garage.

Baxter had knocked on the front door but Briley’s wife of 62 years, Doris Briley, didn’t answer. Minutes later, Baxter returned to the home in the 2600 block of West Longfellow backed his pickup into the driveway and started loading the lawnmower into the garage, police said.

Warner called 911 and held Baxter at gunpoint until police arrived. Bob Briley arrived home from an appointment to find the commotion.

In article you can read here, Briley, 85, called Warner “the prince of neighbors.”

“He looks after his neighbors just like he looks after his own family,” said Briley, pictured at right in 1999.

Warner said Baxter apologized and said he was trying to get money to feed his kids because he’d lost his job.

Baxter, nicknamed “Frankie Bax” by a police officer after his arrest, was sentenced this morning by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins. He’s not required to pay resitution because the stolen lawnmower was recovered.

Jared Cordts prosecuted the case. Diane Hagara was Baxter’s public defender.

The Brileys have lived at the home since 1951. Read a story on Bob Briley’s celebrated broadcasting career here.

Mountain man wanted in Moscow

To be filed in the “you can’t make this stuff up” category, Moscow police are looking for a man described as having a “dirty complexion” and living in a shingle-sided cabin in the woods.

An alleged sketch artist produced the above drawing of the man, who identified himself as Jim and is accused of giving a missing boy a ride back to Moscow from somewhere northeast of Deary the weekend of Oct. 3.

Jim is described as being older than 60 with messy, straight, dirty white hair down to his shoulders and a beard that extends to his mid chest, according to the Moscow Police Department. Jim’s car is described as an older full-size green pickup with a stick shift and full bench cloth seats.

The boy described the truck as having rectangle mirrors with push button-style door handles and manual windows.

Anyone with information on Jim is asked to call (208) 883-2677.

Ex-school treasurer accused of theft

A former Spokane elementary school parent teacher organization treasurer pleaded innocent to six felony charges Monday, more than a year after police say she sat in the principal’s office as the PTO president exclaimed, “We have no money; it’s all gone.” ’

Theresa L. Dewitt, 42, is accused of stealing nearly $20,000 from the Whitman Elementary School PTO, where she’d volunteered long after her children left and had managed the volunteer group’s money for three years, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Dewitt was arraigned in Spokane County Superior Court Monday on four counts of first-degree theft, one count of forgery and one count of identity theft amid allegations she forged signatures and used stolen checks beginning in September 2006 to bilk the Whitman PTO of money raised through sales of cookie dough and fine chocolate.

Read the rest of my story here.

‘It will be on the news’

A man described by friends as suicidal told his girlfriend the morning he was shot by police that something was going to happen “and it will be on the news,” according to court documents filed today.

David J. Glidden, 27, remains in stable condition at a local hospital after being shot twice in the upper body Oct. 30.

Spokane Valley police Officer Aaron Childress fired a handgun and Officer Griffin Criswell fired a 12-gauge shotgun at Glidden after he emerged from a Spokane Valley home armed with an Airsoft pellet pistol that resembles a Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol, according to court documents. Some of those rounds went through the wall of a neighbor’s home.

Glidden had been living at the home at 4727 E. Third Ave., for a few days after breaking up with his girlfriend, a friend told detectives.

That woman told police she’d been dating Glidden since September but recently left him and started receiving drunken, angry phone calls from him.

When the woman was packing to leave the day of the shooting, Glidden predicted something would happen that would make the news, according to a search warrant filed today. The warrant seeks the call history for Glidden’s cell phone.

Glidden’s half-brother told police Glidden had been attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and stayed sober for 96 days, according to the warrant. But the day his girlfriend left, he was drinking heavily, she told police.

Glidden’s father told police he’d spoken with him the night before about a mechanical issue with his girlfriend’s car. His mother said Glidden had told her she needed to meet his new girlfriend.

Both parents said Glidden sounded fine, but the next morning, their son called friends drunk and despondent, according to the search warrant.

“Glidden was upset about the recent separation from his girlfriend and he was also upset because it was the anniversary date of the death of a family member,” a friend told police.

Read a previous story on the case here.

Scam capitalizes on family bonds

As far as crime goes, there is low, there’s downright dirty and then there’s the grandparents scam.

An 82-year-old Spokane woman was bilked out of more than $17,000 of her savings last month by swindlers who persuaded her to wire the money to bail her grandson out of trouble with the law in Canada.

“I felt so stupid,” said Rose Alexander, who was conned by a man pretending to be her adult grandson, Spencer. “But I wanted to help.”

Alexander agreed to speak to the media about her ordeal in hopes that it will help prevent others from becoming victims. Many of those who’ve been scammed don’t even tell police.

Read the rest of Kevin Graman’s story here.

Videos show Zip Trip robbery

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Spokane police released video Friday of a weeks-old robbery for which two men have already been arrested.

Police say Christopher R. Walinski, 25, robbed the Zip Trip at 3030 E. Euclid at gunpoint Sept 29 at 11:12 p.m. as Justin J. Ellery, 24, waited in a car.

Ellery was arrested Oct. 31 for a holdup Sept. 28 at Papa Johns, 900 East Indiana. He’s been in Spokane County Jail since, now charged with two counts of first-degree robbery. His bail’s at $80,000. 

Walinkski (right) was arrested Wednesday and is in jail on $50,000 bail. Both had their first court appearances Thursday. (Read more here. )

The two videos give a complete look at a holdup that’s probably not too different from the other robberies that have plagued the Inland Northwest recently.

Just last night the Sunset Grocery on the edge of Browne’s Addition was robbed at gunpoint.

The culprit was described as in his mid-30s, medium build, wearing a green or gray hooded sweatshirt and camouflage pants.

Brother sentenced for deadly crash

More six months after losing her daughter in a motorcycle crash, a Spokane mother sobbed as she pleaded with a judge Friday to keep the driver - her son - out of prison.

“I’m just lost without my kids. Not only have I lost one, but I’ve lost two,” said Janice Tensley.

Tensley then turned to Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mark Cipolla. “I think you have a personal vendetta against my child…I don’t know why you hate him. I don’t know why you dislike him,” she said before Judge Maryann Moreno stopped her.

Cipolla didn’t respond. Minutes later, Tensley’s son, Lamont A. Brooks, 30, was sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in prison for the April 17 crash at 5th Avenue and Lee Street that killed Phyllis K. “P.K” Darrough, 33.

Moreno called a brief recess after hearing emotional testimony from Brooks’ family, who filled courtroom pews, some openly sobbing, to meet with Cipolla and defense attorney David Miller. Read the rest of my story here.

The sentencing hearing was extremely emotional.

At one point, a sister of Brooks’ turned to Cipolla as she stood at the podium and made a lunging motion at him as she said, “This is not on Lamont, Mark.” A sheriff’s deputy stood but sat back down as Brooks’ father led his daughter back to the court pews.

While Brooks’ family has been marred by crime, an article from 1996 spotlights a daughter who’d done particularly well.

Read that story here.

Judge rules on evidence in Crenshaw trial

Only some statements accused double murderer Justin Crenshaw made to detectives can be used as evidence at his February trial, a judge ruled today. 

Judge Tari Eitzen said Crenshaw’s interview with sheriff’s investigators turned into an interrogation once a patrol car was called to take Crenshaw down to the police station.

That means everything he said before then can be used in court, but statements between that and him being read his rights can’t. In showing that Crenshaw felt he was free to go during the interview, Eitzen cited the fact that Crenshaw (pictured left in February 2008) had told detectives he didn’t want to go to the station because he wanted to maintain the freedom he had at the house.

But once a deputy was called to pick him up, it was clear he couldn’t go anywhere, thus anything after that is part of an interrogation, Eitzen said.

Admissible statements include contradicting explanations for a pair of black Nike shoes. Statements not admissible include a short exchange with Detective Drapeau. (Read more about it here.)

Crenshaw testified at the hearing, saying things like, “I didn’t think I could tell them to leave. I pretty much well had a feeling that they were going to arrest me.”

Members of Tanner E. Pehl’s family and Sarah A. Clark’s family attended.

Crenshaw is accused of killing Pehl and Clark after moving to Spokane from Las Vegas to visit his long-lost sister. He’d met her through MySpace.

Clark was her best friend, and Crenshaw and Clark had been seeing each other, according to court records.

Crenshaw’s trial on two counts of aggravated first-degree murder is set to begin Feb. 12.

Crash with police cruiser leads to cash claim

A police cruiser crashed into a truck on the Sunset Bridge last week, part of a three-car crash that totaled at least one vehicle.

The crash closed the bridge and surrounding streets for hours last Friday night as investigators tried to determine what led the cruiser to cross the center line and hit a truck driven by an Idaho man head on.

A 1995 Subaru Legacy then hit the truck. No serious injuries were reported.

Officers Chris McMurtrey and Darrell Quarles were responding to a distress call from a sheriff’s deputy trying to catch a speeding driver when their car slid into eastbound traffic on the rain-soaked road, police said.

Both officers - police haven’t said who was driving - were treated and released for minor injuries at a hospital.

Neither of the other drivers went to the hospital that night, but Hallie Curnutt, whose Legacy hit the truck, spent most of the next day hospitalized for a concussion.


Curnutt, 22, filed a claim with the city of Spokane asking for her car and medical bills to be covered.

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

Pizza place robber also hit Zip Trip, police say

 A man accused of robbing a Spokane pizza place is now thought to have helped rob a convenience store the next day.

Spokane police say Justin J. Ellery, 24, (left) waited in a car as Christopher R. Walinski, 25, (bottom right) robbed the Zip Trip at 3030 E. Euclid at gunpoint Sept 29 at 11:12 p.m. Ellery was arrested Oct. 31 for a holdup Sept. 28 at Papa Johns, 900 East Indiana. He’s been in Spokane County Jail since, now charged with two counts of first-degree robbery. His bail’s at $80,000. 

Walinkski was arrested Wednesday and is in jail on $50,000. Both had their first court appearances Thursday.

Detectives were able to solve this case based on information gathered by patrol Officer Casey Jones,” according to a news release from the Spokane Police Department. “The suspects wore masks and did not leave any fingerprints, but because of excellent police work they were still caught.”

Court papers show the case broke when Jones spoke to a confidential informant during an unrelated investigation.

“CS#1 said Justin said he had done something bad and asked “Well did you hear about the (pizza place) up north that got robbed? Well I did that,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed Oct. 29.

Detective Brian Hamond compared a photo of Ellery to witness descriptions and spoke with a couple of other people who named Ellery as the robber. One woman said Ellery got $160 in the robbery and spent it on heroin, Hamond said.

The accusations against Ellery and Walinski show the series of robberies in the county is likely connected to several groups or individuals instead of a large crime ring. The Sheriff’s Office arrested three men Oct. 28 in connection with a robbery at a Zip Trip at 711 W. Hastings.

Detectives say the men appeared to be preparing to rob another convenience store when they were arrested and are being questioned in other robberies. (Read more here.)

Spokane police report spike in car thefts

Vehicle thefts are at an all-time high in Spokane, police say. As the Spokane Police Department works to get the word out about - and solve - the problem, an arrest yesterday provided a glimpse at tools typically used in car heists.

Brendon T. Kaluza-Graham, 22, was arrested after an officer realized the 1997 Honda Accord he was driving was stolen and pulled him over just before 4 p.m. at Olympic and Helena, according to a police report.

Inside the car were vehicle plates, screwdrivers, work gloves, a pair of used rubber gloves, and an Allen wrench grounded down to resemble a vehicle key, police said.

Kaluza-Graham, who police say had a suspended driver’s license, remains in Spokane County Jail on a charge of possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Kaluza- Graham was sentenced to 60 days in jail in July for reckless driving and second-degree driving with license suspended, according to news archives.

CdA men charged with hate crime

Three men were indicted Thursday by a Kootenai County grand jury on malicious harassment charges — also known as “hate crimes” — related to threats allegedly made to a Hispanic family in Coeur d’Alene in August.

Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) all of Coeur d’Alene, were indicted on charges of malicious harassment and conspiracy to commit malicious harassment.

Both are felonies and each carries potential penalties of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Read the rest of Alison Boggs’ story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.

Read a previous story on the case here.

Police officer in crash out of hospital

A Spokane police officer injured when a woman rear-ended his squad car was released from the hospital last night and will return to work in “a few weeks,” police said today.

Officer Jeff Graves has a soar back, neck and arms from the collision Wednesday on North Maple Street just south of Sinto Avenue.

The woman who police say hit him, Debra Hatcher, faces a vehicular assault charge and has been placed on paid leave from her job as a third-grade teacher at Finch Elementary School, according to Spokane Public Schools.

Hatcher, 54, is in her second year teaching at the school after transferring from Audubon Elementary.

Police think she was under the influence of prescription medications at the time of the 1 p.m. crash.

Stolen VW van shows up 35 years later

Customs agents in Los Angeles got a surprise last month when they opened a shipping container headed for the Netherlands: a restored 1965 Volkswagen van reported stolen in Spokane more than 35 years ago.

Investigators are still trying to figure out how the van made it from Spokane in the midst of Expo ’74 to the Los Angeles seaport last month, though they assume it changed hands several times. The van was reported stolen from an auto upholstery shop on July 12, 1974; authorities have not been able to find the original owner, whom they would not identify.

Read Shawn Vestal’s story here.

Pot suspects to get private but public attorneys

Two accused marijuana smugglers will be represented by publicly paid, private attorneys because of a a conflict of interest with the federal defender’s office.

William Richard Paterson, 50, and Jahrum David Oakes, 32, both of Kelowna B.C, appeared in U.S District Court in Spokane this morning for bail hearings that were rescheduled next Friday at the request of their attorneys.

Frank Cikutovich is representing Oakes; Mark Casey is representing Paterson. Each will be paid $110 an hour, according to federal court documents. No details on the defender’s office conflict of interest was immediately available.

Paterson and Oakes were arrested Sunday night near the border in Ferry County after DEA agents say they were trying to smuggle in eight duffel bags filled with marijuana, weighing about 235 pounds. The men remain in Spokane County Jail.

Paterson, a thin man with a full beard and tattoos covering his left arm, requested his bail hearing be delayed to give him time to resolve “some family situations” back home, Casey said.

Oakes’ bail hearing was continued to the same day after Cikutovich said he needed more time to address flight risks raised by pre-trial services.

Assistant U.S Attorney Matt Duggan said Oakes, a taller man with a shaved face and slicked back hair, has already failed to appear in court once on an unrelated charge, is unemployed, has a “possible history of substance abuse” and has an outstanding misdemeanor warrant in Okanogan County.

Cikutovich said they have a tentative agreement regarding the Okanogan warrant and have been in contact with Oakes girlfriend of 2 1/2 years.

Kelowna, B.C., lawyer Marty Johnson will work with Oakes back home if he’s released, Cikutovich said.

Kelowna, a city of about 115,000, is a 255-mile drive from Spokane.

Next Friday’s bail hearing is set for 10:30 a.m.

Read a previous story on the bust here.

Plea deal mulled in abortionist threat case

DENVER (AP) — A Spokane man accused of threatening relatives of a Colorado doctor who performs late-term abortions is considering a plea deal.

Federal court documents filed in Denver said Donald Hertz indicated he was willing to accept the offer with minor modifications.

His attorney Russell Van Camp said Wednesday he doesn’t want Hertz to go to jail. Hertz is accused of calling the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colo., on June 23 and threatening to kill members of Dr. Warren Hern’s family.

The call came within weeks of the slaying of Dr. George Tiller, who operated a similar clinic in Wichita, Kan.

Hertz faces charges of making an interstate threat and of violating a law protecting access to reproductive health service.

Read a previous story here.

Police officer injured in rear-end crash

A Spokane police officer was hospitalized with serious injuries Wednesday after a woman thought to be on drugs rear ended him, a police spokeswoman said.

Officer Jeff Graves is expected to survive injuries caused when Debra Hatcher, 54, rear ended his squad car on Maple Street just south of Sinto Avenue about 1 p.m., according to a news release. Graves was sitting in the driver’s seat of the car, which was stopped as he helped a citizen, police said.

Hatcher was thought to be under the influence of drugs and was arrested on a vehicular assault charge, police said.

Last year, 39 police officers died in car crashes in the United States, according to the news release.

“Citizens are reminded that in Washington State we have a “Move Over” law, requiring motorists approaching a stationary emergency vehicle on the side of the road or in a lane of travel to proceed with caution,” police said.

Police may have suspect in ATM thefts

A man arrested on drug charges is suspected of an attempted ATM burglary two days after he posted bail. George W. Butrick, 31, (left, allegedly) was arrested again Wednesday after police identified him as a suspect in an incident Oct. 21 at the Conoco at 3125 E. Mission.

Authorities have said the more than a dozen similar thefts and attempted thefts are likely linked, but Butrick has only been named as a suspect in one.

Surveillance video captured images of a man police think was Butrick before he smashed the Conoco store’s front window and fled. He had been arrested Oct. 19 on drug charges and one count of unlawful possession of a gun but posted $7,500 bail.

He was back in Spokane County Jail Wednesday night on new charges of burglary and attempted theft.

Police say he had another gun on him when he was arrested.

Read a story on the ATM thefts here.

Suspects in double homicide plead innocent

It was an arraignment trifecta this afternoon as a double homicide suspect, his accused accomplice, and a man police arrested in connection with the crime all entered not guilty pleas to their respective charges in Spokane County Superior Court.

Merle W. Harvey, 27, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the Sept. 26 shooting deaths of Jack T. Lamere and Jacob J. Potter.

Harvey said he fired several rounds from two guns in self-defense during a dispute over a car trade. He remains in jail on $1 million bail.

His girlfriend, Diana L. Richardson, had her bond reduced to $15,000 after entering her plea on a first-degree rendering criminal assistance charge.

Deputy Prosecutor Tony Hazel urged Judge Ellen Kalama Clark to maintain her bond at $35,000, but her public defender brought up her lack of felony history and said her brother and mother have said they’ll take her in.

Richardson, who has no felony convictions, was with Harvey when he shot Lamere and Potter and was on the run with him for two weeks before being arrested in Kennewick.

She faces other charges for allegedly stealing a car in Idaho with Harvey and crashing it after a police pursuit in the Ti-Cities.

Public defender Thomas Krzyminski said Richardson, who cried quietly through the court appearance, had been “put in a very tough position during the time of this entire incident.”

Lamere’s girlfriend, April Fletcher, and his crying mother urged Clark to keep Richardson in jail no matter what.

“I just firmly protest her release,” Fletcher said.

Appearing after Harvey and Richardson was Mark H. Toner, who was erroneously linked to the murders by Spokane police.

He was accused of threatening a friend who refused to hide Harvey, but his charges were dropped after detectives concluded he didn’t know Harvey or Richardson. He remains in jail ona a drug charge that he pleaded not guilty to today.

His public defender, John Nollette, said he’ll be asking for Toner to be released next week.

Read past coverage here and here.

SPD Honor Guard to attend Seattle officer’s funeral

Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and four members of the Police Department Honor Guard will attend the funeral of slain Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton this week.

Brenton was shot to death Saturday following a routine traffic stop. He was in the passenger seat of a squad car training a new officer when a car pulled up alongside and shots fired. The car turned around and drove away, presumably to avoid the squad car’s dash camera, according to the Seattle Times.

A $105,000 reward is being offered for tips that lead to an arrest. Brenton has an 11-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son.

Kirkpatrick, Sgt. Jon Anderson, Cpl. David Beckley, Officer Wayne Downing and Officer Shaney Redmon will attend Brenton’s memorial service Friday at the Key Arena. They leave Thursday.

Few leads in Green Bluff homicide

More than two weeks after a major marijuana dealer was found dead near Green Bluff, detectives are working with few leads.

“It’s not a case that we don’t think we can solve,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said today. “We just don’t know how long that’s going to take.”

Still missing is a love seat that was removed from the home of victim Jesus Torres Valdovinos, 25, (right) sometime before the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office searched his home at 63 E. Vicksburg Oct. 20, two days after his body was found by two women walking along Day-Mt. Spokane Road. (See what the love seat looks like here. )

Valdovinos’ roommate, Miguel A. Rodriguez-Barbosa, 18, remains in Spokane County Jail after being arrested Oct. 27 in connection with two-thirds of a pound of marijuana found at the home. Barbosa was living in the country on a VISA and faces deportation for the felony charge. He’s being held with no bail on an immigration order.

He’s also not cooperating with detectives trying to find a storage unit where Valdovinos was said to have stored drugs, guns and money, Reagan said.

Investigators filed search warrants last week seeking call records for phone numbers belongs to Valdovinos and Barbosa as well as call histories for three cellular towers in the area where Valdovinos’ body was found. Another warrant was filed Oct. 29 after detectives realized they’d been given an incorrect number.

Read past coverage here and here.

Stuff a burglar, win a turkey

From now until Thanksgiving, Crime Stoppers is giving its usual cash reward along with a grocery store gift card for tips that help arrest the eight accused or convicted burglars pictured below.

Sgt. Dave Reagan described the eight as a “a bevy of baddies who like to break into Spokane-area homes.”

Burglaries usually increase around the holidays, and Crime Stoppers ” wants to make the Thanksgiving holiday memorable for the burglars and not just their victims,” Reagan said in a news release. The gift cards can be used for Thanksgiving turkeys, hence the name of the promotion.

“Rat on a rat this November, and stuff two turkeys for the price of one,” Reagan wrote.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or go online at

URM Cash and Carry donated grocery cards for the promotion; Lamar Advertising is featuring the fugitives on electronic billboards.

Here are the eight mug shots. Click the link below for their names and more details.

Accused pot smugglers due in court Thursday

Two Canadian men are due in U.S District Court Thursday after being caught near the border this week with what federal agents described as eight duffel bags of marijuana.

William Richard Paterson, 50, and Jahrum David Oakes, 32, are in the Spokane County Jail. A bail hearing is set for tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. to decide if they should be granted bail or remain in custody pending charges of marijuana possession with intent to distribute.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Spokane drove to Ferry County on a tip that that drug smugglers were at property near a home at Fourth of July Creek Road in Danville, Wash., adjacent to the border, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday.

The homeowner, who was not arrested, let federal agents search his property, where they found Ronnie Mark Buhlinger standing near haystacks about 100 yards west of the home and 500 yards south of the border.

Buhlinger was questioned but released in Spokane “pending further investigation,” agents said.

Paterson and Oakes were arrested after DEA agents spotted them walking from the direction of the border each carrying two large duffel bags of marijuana, according the affidavit.

Four more duffel bags were found at a border fence about 500 yards from where the men were arrested, documents allege.

Agents said the eight bags together weighed about 235 pounds.

Man shot by police had pellet gun

A reportedly suicidal man shot by Spokane Valley police Friday was armed with a pellet gun that resembles a Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol, newly filed documents show.

David J. Glidden, 27, was shot twice in the upper body after emerging from a Spokane Valley home armed with the Airsoft pellet pistol. Officer Aaron Childress fired a handgun and Officer Griffin Criswell fired a 12-gauge shotgun at him.

Some of those rounds went through the wall of a neighbor’s home. Glidden, who is in stable but serious condition at a local hospital, had just exited a home at 4727 E. Third Ave., where he’d been living for only a few days after breaking up with his girlfriend, a friend told detectives.

Glidden was home alone at the time of the shooting; he’d called a friend he met through Alcoholics Anonymous and threatened suicide, according to a search warrant filed Tuesday in Spokane County District Court.

Read the rest of my story here.

Out on bail, accused rapist pleads not guilty

A man accused of raping a woman in an interrogation room at Fairchild Air Force Base pleaded not guilty in Spokane County Superior Court today.

Michael W. Fassbender, 32, is charged with first-degree rape after a woman told sheriff’s deputies that Fassbender choked her into unconscious during an Oct. 20 sexual assault.

Fassbender was arrested but released from Spokane County Jail the next day on $20,000 bail. Deputies found blood on a desk and chair in an interrogation room at the Survival Training Center, and the woman had red marks and bruises on her arms, chest and legs, according to the affidavit.

Fassbender, who a public defender said has no criminal history, is an employee with SERE Solutions, a Spokane-based company that provides contracted instructors for places like Fairchild’s SERE School.

Also pleading not guilty in Superior Court today was Christopher Cannata on one count of posession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Cannata was arrested with Jonathon D. Marquiss, 32, in connection with a break-in at Kelly’s Custom Car Audio, 5518 N. Market, last month. He’d been released from jail because charges hadn’t been filed in a separate burglary case.

Check out past coverage of Cannata here and here.

Second trial begins in shooting death

The second trial of a Spokane man accused of murdering another man in a dispute near his home more than two years ago began today in Spokane County Superior Court.

Allan L. Turnipseed, who was 51 when a jury couldn’t reach a verdict in April, is charged with second-degree murder for shooting 24-year-old Joshua A. Smith to death on June 14, 2007.

Turnipseed says the shooting was in self-defense. A mistrial was declared April 17 following a nine-day trial and a day and a half of deliberations. Smith’s death came after two encounters with Turnipseed on consecutive days in the neighborhood of Eighth Avenue and Ferrall Street near Turnipseed’s home.

The first confrontation ended with Turnipseed retreating to his home after he said Smith went to retrieve a tire iron from the trunk of his car, according to police reports, but the two saw each other the next day while driving in the same area.

That confrontation ended with Turnipseed firing two shots from his .380 Colt pistol at Smith as Smith was in the driver’s seat of his Mazda, according to testimony from the first trial. At issue during that first trial was what Smith was doing with the car – trying to drive away, as Deputy Prosecutor Steven Garvin said, or trying to run Turnipseed down, as defense attorney Senit Lutgen said.

Garvin is prosecuting the case again. Deanna Crull is representing Turnipseed. Judge Sam Cozza is presiding over the case, which will go through Thursday and resume Monday.

It’s expected to go to the jury Nov. 10 or Nov. 12; court is not in session Nov. 11 because of Veteran’s Day.

One man who might have been called as a witness had he not passed away was Gypsy leader Jimmy Marks.

Marks (right) called the newsroom after the shooting and urged reporters to talked to Turnispeed, who was his neighbor. Marks claimed to have predicted the dispute months earlier. He died later that month.

Read past coverage of the Turnipseed case here and here. 

Audio features Subway store robbers

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Subway robbery

Spokane police released an audio recording today of a recent robbery at a northwest Spokane Subway store in hopes someone will recognize the voices of the two robbers.

The men held an employee of the store at 1103 W. Northwest Blvd. at knife point about 10:30 p.m. Oct. 22, before fleeing with an undisclosed about of cash, police said.

The men can be heard telling employees to lay down as one employee says, “That’s all there is, man. It’s too late. Dude, I can’t get nothing out. Swear to God.”

An apparent struggle between the employees and robbers also can be heard.

Included in the recording is an employee telling 911 he’d been attacked with a mop bucket .

The robbers were described as black, of medium build, between 5-foot-10 and 6 feet tall, wearing black sweatshirts with the hood pulled down over their faces.

Heli radar catches man who drove 100 mph

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A sheriff’s helicopter used infrared radar to locate an Airway Heights driver whose speed topped 100 mph early Saturday.

Jared H. Horton, 22, was arrested after abandoning his still-running 1998 Chevy Malibu in a driveway along Lewis Road and running from a home into a marsh, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The arrest came after Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Sciortino tried to pull him over on Sunset Highway near Lewis Road about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

The sheriff’s Air One helicopter located Horton using its “forward-looking radar.”

Horton was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated, obstructing a police officer and reckless driving.

Details emerge in big pot bust

A big marijuana bust last month started in March when drug detectives grew suspicious of a man arrested with four pounds of marijuana, according to search warrants. 

That man, Frank Kimberling, has not been charged in Spokane County Superior Court, but two men arrested Oct. 16 face drug charges in Stevens County Superior Court for 58 marijuana plants and about 40 pounds of bud found in their home at 7193 N. Highway 291. Police also seized $70,000 in cash.

David Raugust, 28, posted $10,000 bail on Thursday and is represented by Bevan Maxey; Greg Brecken, 52, (police spelled his name incorrectly at the time of his arrest) is represented by Mark Prothero and remains in jail on $10,000 bond.

Police started watching Raugust after learning he’d supplied Kimberling with marijuana.

Officers credit Aaron Douglas, (right) who died of cancer last month, with pushing the investigation along because of suspicions that Raugust was a large scale marijuana dealer and would continue to traffic in marijuana” even after Kimberling’s arrest, according to a search warrant.

Police began watching Raugust and tacked him to a house at 415 E. Teddy Lane. Avista Utilities showed the power bill was in Brecken’s name; detectives noticed high power usage consistent with a marijuana grow.

But Raugust and others used a -U-Haul to move several items from the home in May top the home in Tum Tum. Power records showed a jump in usage at the residence, leading to the Oct. 16 raid. Detectives noted the amount of dried marijuana greatly outnumbered what could be produced by the 58 plants.

A possible explanation for that could lie in two rubberized duffel bags used by white water guides.

“Bags similar to these are often used when smuggling marijuana across the border when the crossing may involve a portion of the travel across water,” according to a search warrant prepared by Spokane police Detective Bryan Tafoya. “In speaking with other detectives and agents who patrol the border I have been told that often smugglers will put marijuana in rubberized bags and come down from Canada in rubber rafts.”

Read past coverage here.

Man who eluded feds back in court

A man who eluded federal agents for nearly a month was due in Spokane County Superior Court today, accused of stealing his mother’s car and filling it up with stolen gas while on the run this summer.

Anthony E. Burke, alias Anthony Garver, was sentenced to just under eight months in federal prison in September.

The 21-year-old was arrested July 31 after he never showed up to be taken to the Geiger Work Release Center after he was released from federal prison in California. Federal agents tracked footprints near his mother’s home along East Offmy Lane, west of Newman Lake, and found Burke hiding under a camouflage netting. Burke apologized profusely in a letter to Judge Edward Shea filed Sept. 17.

“Every single day I regret not showing up because I destroyed my chance to be free and to go to school, establish myself, and get it over with and move on with my life,” Burke wrote. “Not to mention prove that I can succeed in completing my supervised released without problems, and also prove that I am not the person that they said I am.”

Court papers filed as part of his federal weapons conviction paint Burke as a troubled young man haunted by his step-father’s abuse and angry at authorities for calling him mentally ill.

“I had the notion that the deck would always be stacked against me,” Burke wrote. “A good portion of my concerns were brought about by stories I was told by people who’ve been on supervised release. However, when I look back I regret being influenced by them because they were probably not credible.”

Burke’s recent charges in Spokane County allege he stole his mother and stepfather’s truck while on the run, then filled it up with nearly $70 in gas he didn’t pay for and drove to Kalispel, Mt.

Read a previous story here.

Man accused of helping hide murder suspect cleared

A man arrested on suspicion of trying to help hide an accused double murderer had his charges dropped because of a lack of evidence.

But Mark H. Toner, 33, remains in jail on a drug charge for methamphetamine police say was in his car when he was arrested. He appeared in Spokane County Superior Court via video Friday on one count of possession of a controlled substance.

Felony first-degree rendering criminal assistance and first-degree witness intimation charges were dismissed against Toner Oct. 14 after Merle W. Harvey told police he didn’t know Toner and had never met the woman who said Toner had tried to get her to hide Harvey.

Toner stayed in jail on a District Court warrant and was charged last week in connection methamphetamine found in his car, according to court documents.

While Spokane police Detective Chet Gilmore said some sort of confrontation happened between Toner and Sarah-Nicole Hill the night of the murders, Toner was not involved in the double homicide Sept. 26 and does not appear to even know Harvey, who’s charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Harvey, 27, and his girlfriend, Diane L. Richardson, 34, denied knowing Toner and Hill after they were arrested in Kennewick on Oct. 10. Their statements about what they’d done since the murders didn’t leave room for the confrontation involving Toner and Hill, Gilmore said.

Toner always denied having anything to do with the shooting deaths of Jack T. Lamere and Jacob J. Potter, but Hill had told police he showed up wanting her to help hide Harvey the night of the murders.

She called police, then said she’d received threatening text messages from Toner and was followed by him to a McDonald’s on the Newport Highway, according to the affidavit. She called police after Toner followed her inside the restaurant, according to the affidavit. Toner left, and she exited the store to find her friend’s truck’s tires slashed. A McDonald’s employee had written down Toner’s license plate.

The day Toner’s charges were dropped, Spokane police tested two baggies found in Toner’s Oldsmobile 2002 Alero that contained methamphetamine.

The drug bags were in a large black bag with electronic scales and about 100 other baggies, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Oct. 29.

Read past coverage here and here.

B.C man in coke bust asks for release

A father of two with no criminal record, accused of bring 38 kilos of cocaine into the country from Canada, will go before a federal magistrate again this Thursday to ask for his release.

Salmon Arm, B.C, resident Michael B. Yuill, 36, (left, dressed as Shrek for Halloween 2005 in a picture from his hometown paper, the Observer) has been in the Spokane County Jail without bail after his arrest Oct. 7.

A federal prosecutor warned of the trouble Yuill could face back home for losing that much cocaine when he argued fro Yuill to remain in jail at a hearing Oct. 13.

U.S Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno took a night to make her decision, ruling the next morning that there isn’t proof Yuill has a plan for his release that would ensure he’d appear for court dates. While Yuill is very close to his mother and has monthly contact with his brothers, Imbrogno noted that no family members attended his bail hearing Tuesday.

“Typically, if a defendant is a citizen from outside the United States, there is strong family support present at the bail hearing with reasonable assurances the family can assist with supervision and with facilitating an individual’s return for court dates,” Imbrogno wrote.

Cue Maureen Yuill, the defendant’s mother, who will be in Spokane Thursday for a hearing on a motion from to reconsider her son’s detention.

She “will offer other letters of support from the community and will address the Court’s concerns regarding a more structured release plan,” according to the motion. “Mr. Yuill is able to post a cash bond and will abide by any conditions as the Court believes is appropriate to ensure his appearance and also safe guard the safety of the community.”

Yuill pleaded not guilty Oct. 27 to one count of possession with intent to deliver 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Read more here and here.

UPDATE 11/5/09: Yuill’s hearing was postponed to Nov. 16 after defense counsel said “that new information had been provided,” according to federal court filings.

Second man arrested in July shooting

A man accused of attempted murder was arrested Sunday after more than three months on the run.

Michael “Mikey Mike” R. Gardner, 23, is due in Spokane Superior Court via video today after being booked into jail shortly before 10 p.m., according to jail records.

  Gardner and Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious, 38, are charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder and one count of second-degree assault for a July 24 shooting in south Spokane that began with a fight at a north town bar.

Two women were shot in an arm and in the chest, according to court documents. Lucious has been in jail since Oct. 18.

Read past coverage here and here.

Also arrested this weekend was accused armed robber Justin J. Ellery, who was booked into jail Saturday at 6:26 a.m.  Ellery is accused of robbing a pizza place.

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