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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for September 2009

Courthouse watch: 9.30.09

The man accused of killing two men Saturday argued with one before firing a gun at them, then picked up a “bigger gun with bigger flashes” and continued shooting, witnesses told police.

But victim Jack T. Lamere, 41, had a gun, too, though it was apparently never fired. Those details and more are included in a search warrant filed today in Spokane County District Court.

Merle W. Harvey, 27, is wanted on two counts of first-degree murder. Crime Stoppers is offering a $250 reward for tips that lead to his capture.

His girlfriend, Diane L. Richardson, is wanted for questioning after police say she drove Harvey to and from the murder scene in a flat bed truck.

As this story explains, witnesses say the deadly confrontation was over two rundown cars involved in a trade between Harvey and Lamere.

One woman told police she sensed trouble brewing and grabbed a knife from her apartment. The men were still arguing when she went back outside.

“She heard Merle say, “You want to make something about it, I’ll shoot you.” Lamere stated, “then shoot me.””

Police found seven shell casing from two different guns at the crime scene.

The search warrants filed today authorized detectives to scour the Blazer and Cadillac over which the men were reportedly arguing.

Read more about the victims here.

Defendant headbutts lawyer in court

YAKIMA, Wash. — (AP) A murder trial in Yakima was interrupted this morning when the defendant head-butted his lawyer.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports medics were called for attorney Adolfo Banda who was bleeding heavily from a cut above his left eye. He later told Judge Michael Schwab he would have to leave for stitches.

Just before the attack Banda told the judge his defendant, Eriberto Gonzalez, disagreed with his strategy to call defense witnesses.

Gonzalez is charged with first-degree murder in the March 2007 shooting death of a man he believed had an affair with his girlfriend.

Gonzalez was restrained by court security officers after hitting his lawyer.

Read the Yakima Herald-Republic story here.

Spokane bank robber still at large

In a brazen act and shockingly ugly fashion statement, a man in striped purple-and-gold poncho, a blond wig and brown false mustache tied up Spokane bank employees before escaping with cash Tuesday.

The man walked into the INB Bank branch at Hawthorne Road and Nevada Street at about noon, displayed a pistol and forced three bank tellers to their knees and bound them with duct tape, said Sgt. Dave Reagan, sheriff’s spokesman.

The robber forced the employees to lie down, then ran from the building. A white panel van in the parking lot during the robbery may be involved.

The man was described as a white, in his 30s, wearing gold-colored glasses with square rims, and yellow construction-type boots.

Anyone with information about the robbery can call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Meet Spokane’s newest Oxy robber

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A young woman who robbed a Spokane pharmacy of OxyContin Sunday was caught on surveillance video, and the company that makes the drug is offering a reward for information that leads to her capture.

Purdue Pharma LP is offering up to $1,000 for tips that help arrest the robber, who’s described as Hispanic, 5-feet tall, 100 pounds with a hooded sweatshirt.

She handed the pharmacist at Rite Aid, 5520 North Division Street, a note demanding OxyContin at 11:31 p.m. and fled in a black, 4-door mid-sized SUV, according to Crime Stoppers.

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

Tipsters do not have to leave a name but should provide a code name or number.

Plane stolen near U.S-Canada border

An airplane was stolen from the Boundary County Airport early today.

The heist is the latest move in a series of mysterious activity near the United States and Canada border in the last week.

The Creston, B.C airport reported break ins over the weekend that saw handguns, food, beer and other supplies stolen, along with an attempt to take another plane.

Authorities think the same group broke into the Boundary County Airport Sunday night before returning late Monday or early today to take a 2005 Cessna model T182T, said Jessica Short, airport office manager.

Read the rest of my story here. 

Courthouse watch: 9.28.09

The second suspect in Saturday’s double homicide appeared in Spokane County Superior Court via video today on charges of rending criminal assistance and witness intimidation.

Judge Ellen Kalama Clark reduced Mark H. Toner’s bond to $35,000 from $100,000.

Victim Jack T. Lamere’s family urged her to hold him in jail on no bond.

“We have two mothers who lost their sons,” said Ginger Lucero, Lamere’s cousin.

Read my story here.

Vicious dog attack reported in CdA

A 3-year-old girl remains hospitalized after being mauled by a dog in Coeur d’Alene Sunday night.

The girl had ran to greet her mother as she exited her car in the driveway on North 17th Street, carrying an 8-month-old baby, when two dogs running loose in the street saw her about 6:15 p.m., according to the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

The girl’s father broke his finger trying to pull the dog, a 3-year-old Belgian Shepherd, from the girl with a friend.

“They literally were prying the jaws of the dog off that little girl’s neck,” said Sgt. Christie Wood. “It was bad.” According to a police report, the father told police that the dog is one of two that roam freely in the neighbor’s yard — and that the dogs get aggressive and go “nuts” when he walks by their kennel

The dog’s owners recently moved to the neighborhood and told police they’d never had a problem with the dog.

They could get it back if the install fencing and other security measures, but “I don’t think they’ll be trying to,” Wood said.

“It’s just a really bad situation all the way around,” she said.

The city prosecutor’s office will decide whether to charge the owners with letting the dogs run loose, Wood said.

Purse snatch caught on tape

Police are asking for helping finding a woman who robbed an elderly woman in a grocery store restroom.

The 76-year-old woman had just withdrawn $1,000 in cash from a bank when she went to the Fred Meyer bathroom, 15609 E. Sprague Ave., after shopping on Sept. 17.

Her purse was inside a Fred Meyer reusable shopping bag when a blond woman came up behind her and ran off with the bag.

“The victim was uninjured during the theft but is out the $1,000 and is now fearful that her identity might be stolen,” according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

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

Video from KHQ.

Suspect in double homicide remains at large

A man accused of helping a double homicide suspect has been arrested, Spokane police announced early this morning.

Mark H. Toner, 33, (left) is in Spokane County Jail on charges of rendering criminal assistance and witness intimidation after being captured without incident at a motel on the Sunset Highway.

The man he’s accused of helping, Merle W. Harvey, 27, remains at large.

Harvey (bottom right) is accused of gunning down two men Saturday night near Boone Avenue and Adams Street.

Police were called to an apartment at 1310 W. Boone Ave about 9:30 p.m., where Jack Lamere was living with his girlfriend. Toner’s first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court is set for 1:30 p.m.

Read Jonathan Brunt’s story on the homicides here. .

One of the victim’s, Jack Lamere, was involved in a major methamphetamine bust in the late 1990s.

Read about it here.

Police haven’t released the name of the second victim.

3 men sentenced in Dobson Pass murders

The last three suspects in a double homicide in Shoshone County have been sentenced.

Corey Reid, 20, (left) of Kellogg, will spend at least 30 years in prison after being convicted of two counts of aiding and abetting in the August 2008 murders of Neil Howard, 20, and Cynthia Bewick, 18.

Hiram N. Wilson, (right) the 18-year-old son of Pinehurst police Chief Rocky Wilson, will spend two to five years in prison on two counts of accessory to murder after the fact.

The third man sentenced Thursday, Braecyn C. Wood, (bottom left) was sentenced to 120 days with credit for 25 days served for two counts of obstructing an officer.

Reid’s girlfriend, Christian Purtill, 18, was sentenced earlier to a year in the Shoshone County Jail on the same charges.

The gunman, Jon “Bubba” Kienholz, 21, (bottom right) was sentenced in June to at least 30 years in prison for two counts of first-degree murder. Shoshone County Prosecutor Val Siegel said Reid told Keinholz they needed to kill the couple, and that Wilson witnesses the fatal shootings at the top of Dobson Pass.

Kienholz said the group had planned to go to Boise because Howard and Bewick thought they had arrest warrants, Siegel said. But the couple, who had a baby together, were apparently worried about Purtill turning them in, Siegel said.

Reid heard Howard talk about that and decided he needed to die, Siegel said.

“It’s just so senseless,” Siegel said. Purtill and Wood were with the three men when the started driving the dead couple’s stolen car to Boise.

Wood heard what happened and asked to go home. But he denied knowing anything about the murders when approached by police, Siegel said, leading to his criminal charge.

The four others were arrested in Boise.

iegel said the sentencings Thursday were emotional, but not as emotional as Kienholz’s in June.

Howard’s father testified at that sentencing and repeated a chilling exchange Kienholz reportedly had with his son before he shot him.

The couple had started a campfire at Dobson Pass. Kienholz asked Howard what was ironic about the fire.

Howard thought about it a bit then told Kienholz he didn’t know.

“It’s ironic because there’s going to be a lot of it where you’re going,” Kienholz said before pulling the trigger.

The couple’s parents are raising the child, Siegel said.

“They’ve said that if there’s anything positive about the whole thing it’s that they have become closer to the child,” Siegel said. “I’m sure they see their children in him.”

Ex-sports star sentenced for sex crime

A former high school sports star who was to attend a community college on a basketball scholarship will spend at least four years in prison for molesting younger players.

Rikeya J. Crossley, 20, (pictured above in July 2005) pleaded guilty to one count of child molestation in a case that involved sexual contact with two girls ages 13 and 14 while Crossley was 17 and 18.

The girls were in middle school when they met Crossley and her friend, Denisha D. Whitehead, now 20, through a basketball tournament in summer 2006.

Whitehead, who played basketball with Crossley at Rogers High School, was sentenced last month to 12 months in jail with credit for 243 days served after pleading guilty to second-degree rape of a child.

Crossley was arrested in August 2007, just before she was to begin classes at Walla Walla Community College.

“There are times in my court when I wish I had a magic wand to wave to make it so things like this never happened,” Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno said today.

Read the rest of my story here.

Crime Stoppers mug shot matchup

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the capture of these four people. Can you match the mug shot with the allegation?

Click the link below for the answers. Alleged crimes: delivery of methamphetamine, first-degree theft and first-degree identity theft, second-degree possession of stolen property and driving while license suspended, posession of controlled substance

Courthouse watch: 9.24.09

A man who investigators say killed his wife and severely beat the man she was having sex with when he walked in on them earlier this month pleaded innocent today to murder and other charges in U.S. District Court.

Kevin I. Pakootas, 23, is accused of fatally beating Colette Peone Pakootas, 23, and injuring Mark Edgett after leaving a party and discovering the pair together about 4:30 a.m. Sept. 5 at his home in rural Inchelium, Wash., which is on the Colville Indian Reservation south of Kettle Falls.

Read the rest of my story here.

SPD sergeant accused of drunken driving

A Spokane police sergeant was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence Wednesday and may face additional hit-and-run charges.

Bradley N. Thoma, 44, was cited for suspicion of misdemeanor DUI and released, following a hit-and-run crash at Newport Highway and Farwell Road about 5 p.m., said Sgt. Dave Reagan, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Read the rest of Sara Leaming’s story here.

Read the full news release from Reagan by clicking the link below.

UPDATE: Thoma has been placed on paid leave. Read more here.

Courthouse watch: 9.23.09

The ailing mother of a man who died after being struck, Tasered and hogtied by Spokane police officers should have a chance to have her statement preserved for a civil lawsuit even though a criminal trial is pending, a federal judge ruled today.

U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko refused to grant a request by federal prosecutors to halt all discovery in a separate civil suit involving the 2006 death of Otto Zehm.

Read the rest of Jim Camden’s story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review

Wii was lone clue in U-Haul heist

A video game system provided a glimmer of hope to a family hoping to find those responsible for stealing a U-Haul outside a Spokane Valley motel in July.

Donnie Spivey emailed police last week after he found the serial number to his Wii console, one of several items not recovered when a young man found the U-Haul abandoned in a barn in southwest Spokane July 15. It had been stolen from the Holiday Inn Express on Mission Avenue July 12 as the family was moving from Canada to Florida.

Police had no leads or clues until Spivey found the Wii serial number and learned that the Nintendo company could provide an Internet provider address if the Wii had connected to the Internet since the theft, according to a search warrant filed Monday in Spokane County Superior Court.

Nintendo won’t provide that information without a court order, so Spokane County Sheriff’s Detective Mark Stewart served the company with the search warrant Sept. 15.

But the company revealed that the console hadn’t connected to the Internet since April, squashing what little hope police had of solving a crime with no clues.

Read past coverage here and here.

AP looks at Washington pot dispute

SEATTLE — In one corner of Washington state, a 62-year-old rheumatoid arthritis patient could face more than eight years in prison for growing marijuana for himself and three others.

In Seattle, meanwhile, a collection of grow operations serves 2,000 people with little interference from police.

The discrepancy is typical of the confusion that has reigned since voters passed Washington’s medical marijuana law more than a decade ago. Nor have things improved much since the state clarified how much pot patients can have last year.

To read the rest of AP writer Gene Johnson’s story, which was published in newspapers across the country and includes quotes from Spokane police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe and local lawyer Frank Cikutovich, click the link below.

Fire victim owned refrigerant company

The Rathdrum man killed in a mobile home fire Sunday has been identified as Gary M. Lindgren, 65.

Lindgren died of smoke inhalation from an electrical fire caused by the misuse of extension cords, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department announced today. His neighbors called firefighters after seeing smoke from his home, 10278 N. Church Road, about 6:45 p.m.

Neighbors tried dousing the blaze with a garden house, but flames engulfed the home and Lindgren’s body was found about two hours later, the sheriff’s department said. The residence was both Lindgren’s home and office space for his refrigerant company, OZ Technology.

The company touted its air-conditioning refrigerant HC-12a as a cheaper and more effective alternative to other automobile refrigerants, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned it from being used for that purpose.

Read about it here.

Lawyer: Moore’s federal charges ‘beatable’

The firearm silencer and rifle Brian L. Moore is charged with illegally possessing weren’t recovered during a search of his warehouse in Orange County, Calif., by Spokane police.

They were recovered when Moore’s brother, Dan Moore, gave them to police and said he’d found them in the warehouse after the search. That detail was revealed Tuesday at a bail hearing for Moore in federal court in Spokane, in which he was ordered to stay in jail pending his return to California to face two federal charges of possession of an unregistered firearm.

(Moore was arrested in April and accused of helping his girlfriend, Shellye L. Stark, plot the Dec. 9, 2007, murder of her husband, Dale Stark. Prosecutors dropped the charges this month but say they’ll refile.)

Moore’s public defender, Tina Hunt, questioned Detective Kip Hollenbeck (top right) about that in an effort to convince U.S Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno that Moore should be released and allowed to return home on his own.

Hunt went through each witness statement and pointed out the fact that none had actually said they’d heard Moore (bottom left) say he had anything to do Dale Stark’s murder. She also highlighted conflicts in each witnesses’ relationship with Moore that she argued discredited them.

“Each and every one of these witnesses have biases that attach to them,” Hunt said. “All of these women have reason to lie.”

Hunt scoffed at the state’s claim that the first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Moore will be refiled, saying that “common sense” indicates that if prosecutors had a strong murder case, they wouldn’t put it aside so the feds could proceed on less serious weapons charges.

“There’s nothing (for the witnesses) to be afraid of anymore because these charges have been dismissed,” Hunt said. She later said the federal charges look “beatable.”

She also asked how, in “all of the deviousness” police allege encompasses Moore, could he have lived 43 years with no criminal record?

“The truth is because he’s not the person that they are alleging,” Hunt said.

But Imbrogno ruled that Assistant U.S Attorney Matt Duggan had shown through Hollenbeck’s testimony that Moore was in fact a risk to the public and ordered him to remain in federal custody.

He’ll now be transported to California.

Searching for robber, police find possible Oxy ring

A young man accused of robbing two pharmacies of OxyContin last month was to plead not guilty in Spokane County Superior Court today.

Dustin J. Rockstrom, 26, has been in jail since Sept. 15, charged with two-counts of second-degree robbery for OxyContin heists Aug. 24 at the Shopko at 4515 S. Regal St. (pictured above), and Sept. 5 at the Rite Aid across the street, 4514 S. Regal St.

In each case, a white man who appeared to be wearing a wig handed an employee a note demanding OxyContin and told the pharmacist “don’t make me come over the counter,” before fleeing with the drug, according to a probable cause affidavit filed last week.

Rockstrom remains in jail, but his alleged getaway driver, Aaron M. Weyrauch, 27, is in Benton County Jail and hasn’t been charged in the case.

Two anonymous tips led police to the men and an apartment at 9th and Adams where they were allegedly selling OxyContin, according to the affidavit, which was prepared by Detective Kip Hollenbeck.

One informant “also revealed that Rockstrom and Weyrauch intended to rob a pharmacy in Moses Lake, WA on 9/14/09,” Hollenbeck wrote. Drug detectives were already investigating the apartment for OxyContin sales. They searched the apartment Sept. 15, seizing pills, drug paraphernalia and suspected heroin. They also found the wig thought to have been worn by Rockstrom in the robberies.

Rockstrom and Weyrauch were arrested after a short car chase near 29th and Grand.

A third man, Dalen J. McMillon, 27, was with them and is under investigation for selling OxyContin with Weyrauch, according to a search warrant.

Police say he told them he knew Rockstrom and Weyrauch were responsible for other robberies, too. OxContin-maker Purdue Pharma had offered a reward for information that helped solve the robberies.

The company is touting a new version of the OxyContin pill that makes it more difficult to abuse. Read an Associated Press story on the new pill by clicking the link below.

Resort death ruled an accident

The death of a woman who fell 12 stories at the Coeur d’Alene Resort was ruled an accident today, nearly two months after her boyfriend told police it was a suicide.

Lynea M. Sprung Hambrice, 36, student services coordinator at the Louisiana State University School of Music, had a blood-alcohol level of .23 when she fell to her death July 30.

Her boyfriend, Ian E. James, 38, told a 911 dispatcher the two had argued and they’d jumped off the balcony after saying she wanted to kill herself, according to a recording of the call. (Check it out here.)

James, a financial consultant, cooperated with investigators and volunteered to take a lie detector test, which he passed, according to the Coeur d’Alene Police Department. He traveled to Coeur d’Alene from Louisiana and took the test Monday.

“(Hambrice’s) death has been determined by investigators to have been caused from an accidental fall in which she sustained blunt force trauma to her body,” according to a news release.

The couple from Baton Rouge, La., had checked in to the resort the afternoon of July 29 and planned to stay four nights. James’ 20th Kellogg High School reunion was that weekend. Last fall,

Hambrice, student services coordinator for the Louisiana State University School of Music, was hospitalized after James beat her with a liquor bottle, according to a report from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. James arrived at the hospital when a detective was there taking a report.

“This Detective states that Hambrice became physically scared and started shaking and crying, begging this Detective to make him (James) leave,” according to the report.

James, who made an unsuccessful bid for the Idaho Senate in the 1996 Republican primary election, was charged with second-degree aggravated battery, but the charge was dismissed at Hambrice’s request, according to court records.

In the 911 call, James tells the dispatcher, “She got really mad at me because I wasn’t paying enough attention to her, she said. I was not receptive to her advances….she was so mad, so mad.”

Read past coverage here and here.

Courthouse watch: 9.22.09

A financial scandal that ravaged a nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding low-income people earned the last of two women responsible a felony theft conviction today.

Rachelle D. Solomon, 39, received no jail or probation but was ordered to pay $5,000 to Mid-City Concerns Meals on Wheels in a sentencing deal approved by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price.

“Ms. Solomon’s obviously very sorry about what she did,” her lawyer, Richard Agman, said in court. “Obviously, what she did was wrong.”

Solomon and Cheri Mataya-Muncton, 43, spent thousands of dollars in Meals on Wheels donations on a Florida vacation, Victoria’s Secret shopping sprees, video rentals, lunches, computer equipment, home upgrades and furniture while working for the agency.

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

Read a story on Mataya-Muncton’s sentencing in June here, and check out a detailed report of the embezzlement in this story from last summer.

Moore to remain in federal custody

The boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye L. Stark will remain in custody on federal weapons charges, a judge ruled today.

Brian L. Moore’s public defender, Tina Hunt, had asked that Moore be released and allowed to return to Orange County, Calif., on his own.

But assistant U.S Attorney Matt Duggan used testimony from Spokane police Detective Kip Hollenbeck to try to show that Moore is a threat to public safety.

Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno agreed and granted a motion to hold Moore.

Moore was arrested in April on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, but those charges were dismissed this month at the request of the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutors say they’ll refile, but the move is largely seen as a way to avoid a hearing in which a judge was to rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss.

By making the dismissal request, the prosecutor’s office made it so the charges were dismissed without prejudice instead of with prejudice, meaning they can be refiled and not evoke double jeopardy.

I’ll post more details from the hearing later today. UPDATE: Ran out of time today; check back tomorrow.

Courthouse watch: 9.21.09

A man accused of bilking a rental owner out of more than $15,000 was scheduled to plead not guilty to 15 felony theft charges today.

Wesley O. Walters, 38, and his wife, Theresa M. Walters, managed the King’s Village Apartment Complex in the 12000 block of East Cataldo Avenue and King’s View Apartment Complex at 2309 E. Euclid Avenue from August 2007 until May 2008.

The owners, Leila and Marcus King, discovered that tenants had paid rent, but that money was never turned in to them, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The couple were charged in October with one count of theft, but Deputy Prosecutor Robert Sargent added more than a dozen additional charges in April.

Theresa Walter’s trial is set for November Crime Stoppers offered a reward for Wesley Walters’ capture in August; court records show he posted $10,000 bond on Aug. 14.

Authorities bust 2 meth labs in 2 days

Law enforcement in Spokane County this month discovered two homemade methamphetamine labs within two days and on opposite sides of the county.

Spokane police and firefighters found the first lab Sept. 12 after someone reporting a strong smell of chemicals at 2409 E. Sharp about 4 a.m.

Officers forced their way into the basement apartment after the man inside, Helmut U. Borchert, 51, (left, in 1999) refused to open the door, according to a search warrant.

Borchert, who was not a tenant, was allowed to leave after telling police they wouldn’t find meth there. Police powdery residue along with meth lab remnants like a hot plate on the floor, coffee filters and chemical samples, according to the warrant.

Borchert, who has not been charged, has four felony drug convictions and has been arrested for possession of pseudoephedrine with intent to manufacture and possession of meth.

Less than 24 hours after that search, a woman told the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office that her ex-boyfriend, Jerry F. McDowell, 47, was “cooking meth” at an outbuilding behind his father’s property with anhydrous ammonia stolen in Spangle, according to a search warrant.

Deputies smelled meth-making chemicals on McDowell when they arrested him on an unrelated warrant hours later on Sept. 13, leading to a raid at the outbuilding, 12509 N. Freya St.

The search revealed coffee filters, used hypodermic needles, scales, a stained hot plate, stained glassware “and several fire extinguishers that smelled strongly of ammonia,” according to the warrant.

McDowell is at the Geiger Confinement Center on a charge of manufacturing a controlled substance. It’s a charge he knows well.

According to this news brief from January (it’s the third item), McDowell and his then-girlfriend Natalie A. Miller were arrested as they drove from the Freya Street home with eight small baggies of meth.

Detectives found a meth lab in the home along with two ounces of the drug. McDowell was already on probation for manufacturing methampethamine.

Things apparently went sour with Miller after that. She’s the one who turned him into the Sheriff’s Office this time, according to the search warrant.

Feds want Carlson’s Benz, cash

A prominent school booster charged in a major cocaine dealing investigation could be forced to give up $40,000 and his Mercedes Benz, newly filed court documents show.

Jerald Stuart Carlson was indicted on a federal drug forfeiture charge last week, more than seven months after a police raid at a storage facility behind his insurance business on Government Way north of Coeur d’Alene.

The charge, filed Sept. 15, demands that Carlson give up assets related to charges of conspiracy to posses within intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and attempt to posses with intent to distribute cocaine.

Each of the three charges involves more than 500 grams - or half a kilogram - of cocaine and stems from allegations dating back to November 2007.

The drug forfeiture charge, which calls for Carlson to give up “at least” $40,000 and a 1999 Mercedes Benz already seized by the DEA, is the first filing in the case since a judge extended the trial date in July.

In a motion requesting that extension, Carlson’s lawyer, James Siebe, said he and his client were considering a plea deal. (The new trial date is set for Oct. 27, with pretrial motions due a week from today. UPDATE: Trial now set for Jan. 26, 2010.)

Carlson graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School in 1980 and was named the school’s booster of the year for the 2006-07 school year.

CHS administrators were nearly speechless when they learned of his arrest. (His Farmers Insurance business has since closed.) Read about it here, with a follow up available  here.

Teens joyride with fire hydrant wrench

A carload of drunken teens led police to a stolen fire department wrench that had been used to open fire hydrants throughout Spokane Valley.

Justin L. Myles, 19, told police about the wrench while being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving about 2 a.m. Saturday near Long Road and Indiana, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

A passenger, Steven Ray Brown, 19, was arrested for first-degree malicious mischief, minor in possession of alcohol and possession of marijuana after he told police he’d used the wrench to open the hydrants “apparently to save the other four from being arrested,” according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.

It was a futile attempt. Along with Myles’ drunken driving charge, Mitchell Gunion, 19, and two 16-year-olds were arrested for minor in possession of alcohol.

One of the passengers told police they’d found the wrench in a fire hydrant, left behind by a firefighter.

Big raid finds meth but little else

The raid at two Spokane Valley apartment complexes last week was triggered by a common law enforcement ally: the confidential informant.

Versed in the criminal world and eager to shed criminal charges, the confidential informant typically arranges drug buys using police money, then gives the drugs to police to instigate an investigation.

That’s exactly what happened to Ryan J. Lund, 27, and Robert R. Castillo, 35, who face charges of delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. Lund was arrested Tuesday; Castillo remains at large.

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives thought they would find the men with property believed to have been stolen by a group of 13- and 14-year-olds from apartments in the Pines/I-90 corridor, but they found only a stolen shotgun, a cell phone, a laptop and a small amount of marijuana and methamphetamine, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County District Court.

More than 50 employees from various law enforcement agencies raided four apartments in the 2820 block of North Cherry, including Lund’s, as well as Castillo’s apartment at 9310 E. Montgomery.

The confidential informant bought meth at the locations several times since July, according to the search warrant.

The jackpot turned out to be the three other apartments at North Cherry, though their connection to Castillo and Lund is unclear. In those apartments, police found digital camera, computers, mp3 players, DVD players and tool boxes.

Police suspect the teens involved in burglaries throughout August and traded the items for cash and marijuana, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County Superior Court. No adults have been charged in that case yet.

Warning: Light posting ahead

I will be out of the newsroom until Monday, Sept. 21. Posting will resume then.

Courthouse watch: 9.15.09

The married boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye Stark could be released from jail Thursday.

Brian L. Moore’s public defender argued for him to be released at a bail hearing today, but a judge delayed the decision so federal officials can verify where Moore will be staying in Orange County.

Assistant U.S Attorney Jill Bolton had asked for Moore to remain in custody until he’s transported to California to face federal weapons charges. Her reasoning hinged on the fact that Moore has no money to pay for his return to California.

“This is the first time I’ve heard we should hold a defendant so he can get a free ride home,” said Moore’s lawyer, Tina Hunt.

Moore’s transportation to California can be worked out with family members, Hunt said.

“He doesn’t need a free ride with the Marshal’s office,” she said.

Absent from the government’s argument to hold Moore was the fact that the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office intends to refile charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

“The case was dismissed,” Hunt said. “There’s no reason to hold him on anything or believe that he did anything wrong.”

The charges being dropped basically amounts to an act of legal maneuvering by the prosecutor’s office to avoid having a judge address the defense’s motion to dismiss, which was set for Thursday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Hutton, appearing via video from Yakima, said, “It’s unclear to me that Mr. Moore has the financial means to return to California, but I agree with Ms. Hunt that that’s not necessarily the basis for continuing his confinement. He does appear to have significant contacts with Orange County, California.”

A new bail hearing is set for Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Murder charges against Stark’s boyfriend dropped

Charges against the married boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye Stark have been dropped at the request of the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.

Brian L. Moore, 43, is being held in Spokane County Jail on federal weapons charges that were filed late last week.

The state expects to re-file charges against Moore once the federal charges are addressed, according to court papers filed Sept. 10.

The dismissal of the charges, requested by Mark Cipolla, halts a hearing that was scheduled for this Thursday in which a judge was to rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss.

By making the request himself, Cipolla made it so the charges were dismissed without prejudice instead of with prejudice, meaning prosecutors can refile and not evoke double jeopardy.

The move basically gives the prosecution time to address what the defense had said was a lack of evidence to support first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Moore, who was arrested in April.

The prosecution’s case had suffered a blow when a judge wouldn’t allow prosecutors to have material from Moore’s private investigator that had been included in Stark’s case.

Public defender Jeff Compton’s motion to dismiss was based partly on that ruling. (Read about it here.)

A grand jury indictment filed Friday in Eastern Washington District Court charges Moore with two counts of possession of an unregistered firearm in connection with a rifle and firearm silencer on a pistol seized from a warehouse where he was staying in Orange County, Calif.

His bail hearing is set for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

Courthouse watch: 9.14.09

A young man convicted of torching an apartment complex last fall was to plead not guilty to a third-degree assault charge today.

Daniel J. Lambrix, 19, is accused of biting a jail deputy who was trying to restrain him in May, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Sept. 2.

Lambrix had been in jail since November before pleading guilty to second-degree arson and first-degree malicious mischief in June and getting credit for time served. He was given 12 months probation.

Also on today’s arraignment docket was Brian Sayrs, the former Liberty Lake city councilman accused of domestic violence. (Past coverage here.)

A raid today, a new car tomorrow?

Medical marijuana advocates rallied outside the courthouse today to protest the Spokane police’s warning that dispensaries shut down.

The protesters went to City Hall later and expect to be along Broadway Avenue in front of the courthouse all week. The group is hoping to bring attention to what they say is a need to clarify how medical marijuana users can legally obtain the drug.

Protesters made use of several bullhorns, including Jacey Hoag, who brought up a Spokesman-Review article published Sunday that details a slush fund kept by the Spokane Police Department’s drug unit. (Read the story by Jody Lawrence-Turner here.)

“If you get to raid my dispensary today, you get to drive my car tomorrow?” asked dispensary owner Rhonda Duncan.

Police raided Hoag’s home on Joseph Avenue in May after an investigation that began when undercover detectives spotted him leaving River City Hydroponics, according to a search warrant filed May 13 in Spokane County District Court.

The detectives had been staking out the store because “marijuana growers often purchase their equipment at these various garden stores,” according to the warrant.

Detectives then smelled growing marijuana during stake outs of Hoag’s home, then found power bill information that indicated a marijuana grow.

Police seized fresh marijuana and growing plants during the raid, but no charges have been filed:

Hoag has a medical marijuana card that allows him to have 15 plants and a pound and a half of marijuana at a time.

Feds in Zehm case critical of Treppiedi

Federal prosecutors have grown increasingly critical of what they describe as questionable behavior by the Spokane Police Department’s chief legal adviser, who reportedly used his position to provide “traditionally confidential” information to the officer under FBI investigation following the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm.

In documents filed recently in U.S. District Court, prosecutors describe a pattern of behavior by Assistant Spokane City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi (pictured right, and above at the scene of an officer-involved shooting in July) that raises questions about whether the city actively sought to interfere with the federal investigation that led to a grand jury indictment of Officer Karl F. Thompson.

Treppiedi disputes any suggestion that he has acted improperly. Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

In this 2007 profile by Bill Morlin and Karen Dorn Steele, Treppiedi is described by friends as zealous and effective, and by foes as hostile to open government and blind to police misconduct.

Papers detail medical marijuana probe

The investigation into the medical marijuana dispensary Change began when a detective saw a TV news article about the business in May, court documents show.

“The news story advised that Scott Shupe dispenses marijuana and that he grows, possesses and sells marijuana and that ‘it’s all perfectly legal,’” according to search warrants filed this afternoon in Spokane County Superior Court.

About the same time those warrants were filed, Shupe was appearing in an upstairs courtroom via video on a felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance related grow operations and fresh marijuana found at his home and at Change. Spokane police arrested Shupe and Change co-owner Christopher Stevens, a former City Council candidate, yesterday.

Judge Harold Clarke ordered Stevens released from jail on his own recognisance today; Shupe was given a $10,000 bond because of six felony convictions and pending felony drug charges in Oregon.

Both were out of jail early this evening.

The search warrants detail months of investigation that began when Spokane police Detective Brian Tafoya spotted a KXLY story on Change.

The investigation was fed by Shupe and Stevens’ blatancy in selling marijuana to more than a thousand medical marijuana patients, something they argue is allowed under the state’s medical marijuana law.

But police, prosecutors and the state Department of Social and Health Services say it’s illegal, and the Spokane Police Department is the first agency in Washington to arrest medical marijuana dispensers.

The KXLY story didn’t give Change’s location: Tafoya found it by requesting Shupe’s business license.

Drug detectives started watching the place. They noted Shupe (top right) and Stevens (bottom left) coming and going from the building regularly with a duffel bag. They followed them to their homes, and installed a video camera on Change May 21.

That same month, patrol officers detained someone near Change with a fake handgun and talked with people inside Change. They wanted a search warrant after smelling “an overwhelming odor of marijuana.” Drug detectives told them they were already on it.

In July, police pulled over several drivers for expired vehicle licenses and confirmed they’d purchased medical marijuana from Change, according to the search warrants.

While police appeared to have a reason to stop each person, detectives wrote in the search warrants that the stops were actually “terry stops” to investigate Change. (Named after the 1968 court case that established them (Terry v. Ohio), terry stops allow police to stop people if they have reasonable suspicion that they’ve engaged in criminal activity.)

“The vehicle license infractions were used to minimize any suspicion to the drivers of the “Change” shop investigation,”according to the search warrant. “No sample of the marijuana was taken from these subjects. This was also done to minimize suspicion of the investigation.”

Police received two anonymous complaints about marijuana grows at Stevens’ and Shupe’s homes. But their investigation really amped up Sept. 2, when detectives were staking out Change, Stevens’ home on North Cedar, and Shupe’s home at 726 W. Mansfield.

They expected Stevens to arrive at Change around 10 a.m. Instead, he traveled to Nine Mile Falls, and police found a card on the front door of Change saying something like “Call us about 12:00 - on the hunt,” according to the warrant.

“Your affiant believed this to mean that they were ‘hunting’ for marijuana to sell,” Tafoya wrote.

A detective followed Stevens to a home in the 6400 block of Circle Drive, where police found more than 100 marijuana plants in a raid yesterday.

During a search of the Mansfield home, police found 17 marijuana plants and a note stating “I’m upstairs - Scott.”

They also found several pounds of marijuana.

In all, police searched five locations - Change at 1514 Northwest Blvd., Stevens’ North Cedar home (where they found 33 plants), the Mansfield property, the Nine Mile Falls place, and a home on 11th Avenue.

Read past coverage of medical marijuana here.

Crime Stoppers mug shot matchup

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the capture of these four people. Can you match the mug shot with the allegation? Click the link below for the answers.

Alleged crimes: attempting to elude a police vehicle and nine counts of third-degree driving while license suspended, possession of controlled substance, second-degree theft and city theft, first-degree identity theft.

Courthouse watch: 9.11.09

Another day, another OxyContin robber sentenced.

A 25-year-old man who robbed two Walgreens at gunpoint late last year will spend more than three years in prison.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese sentenced Adam J. Dally today to 40 months in prison and 18 to 36 months probation in a plea deal for first-degree robbery and second-degree burglary.

He’s also banned from the pharmacy chain for 20 years.

Dally robbed the Walgreens at 2830 S. Grand Blvd Nov. 26, then the Liberty Lake Walgreens on Dec. 5.

Liberty Lake Det. Ray Bourgeois spent months building a case against Dally, who was in Seattle when an arrest warrant was issued, records show.

People who led Bourgeois to Dally included a former girlfriend who claimed to have been having sex with him in exchange for drugs and heard him brag about robbing the pharmacy, according to court documents.

Pot advocates protest outside courthouse

Medical marijuana advocates rallied outside the Spokane County Courthouse today.

Led by dispensary owner Chantel Jackson and a bullhorn, the protesters saved signs advocating medical marijuana and asking where patients can buy their supply now that dispensaries have been warned to shut down.

Their main target? Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso.

In case you missed it, the owners of Change were arrested yesterday after a four-month investigation that saw search warrants served at five properties.

All the other dispensaries in town were warned to shut down by the prosecutor’s office. Read my story here.

Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe explains the raid in a video below.

At one point, she says investigators have fielded complaints from Change customers that they’d been overcharged or had paid too much for their pot.

“There is no quality control. We’ve had indications that people are returning marijuana for lack of good quality. You know, maybe some over charging of the amount of marijuana they could buy on the street,” DeRuwe said.

But it’s not like there’s quality control on the street either, and the police department is hardly the Better Business Bureau.

DeRuwe’s statement touches on a central issue in the controversy clouding Washington’s medical marijuana: the lack of a legal way for medical patients to obtain marijuana.

The law doesn’t specify how patients can find caretakers, or how caretakers can obtain seeds to grow plants.

Courthouse watch: 9.10.09

A man who robbed a Walgreens of OxyContin will spend 14 months in prison. Richard T. Ludvik, 23, was sentenced on a second-degree robbery charge Wednesday.

He was given a concurrent sentence today for felony possession of a controlled substance, marijuana. The charge was originally possession with intent to distribute. He’ll be on probation and will undergo drug treatment.

“Mr. Ludvik has got some serious work to do on a drug addiction,” said public defender Edward Carroll. “He’s well aware of that.”

Carroll said Ludvik has a lot of support from family members, many who attended his sentencing Wednesday.

“He does have something to go back to,” Carroll said. “They’d very much like to see him keep clean.”

Ludvik turned himself Feb. 10, a few weeks after police say he robbed the Walgreens at 29th Avenue and Grand Boulevard on Jan. 21.

His getaway driver, Joshua G. Dixon, 26, was arrested that night and told police he’d driven Ludvik to the pharmacy in exchange for a couple of OxyContin pills.

Dixon was sentenced last month to 12 months in jail on a reduced charge of first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

The drug charge Ludvik pleaded to was from an arrest last year. Ludvik’s sister and nephew attended his sentencing. He thanked them for coming before being taken back to the jail.

“Good luck. Good luck. Chin up,” his sister said.

Jury: Boothe not guilty of assault

The jury has reached a not guilty verdict in the trial of a Spokane police officer accused of kicking a handcuffed man in the face, Thomas Clouse reports.

Lots of police officers stopped by to watch the day-and-a-half trial, including Karl Thompson, the officer charged in Otto Zehm’s death. The jury took just 45 minutes to reach the verdict.

Read Clouse’s story here.

Boothe trial could go to jury today

The trial of a Spokane police officer accused of kicking a handcuffed man in the face is expected to wrap up today.

Officer Rob Boothe is charged with fourth-degree assault after two officers reported seeing him kick a handcuffed suspect in the face who apparently wasn’t struggling to get away.

The case is both a criminal trial and a window into internal conflict in the Spokane Police Department, as Thomas Clouse explains here.

The victim, John Luna, testified yesterday.

The picture of him at the left, courtesy KHQ news, was taken by the Spokane Police Department after the alleged assault.

Courthouse watch: 9.9.09

A man accused of beating a dog outside Spokane City Hall had his bail reduced during his first court appearance today.

Michael J. Jones, 20, remains in jail on $7,500, charged with first-degree animal cruelty for his alleged connection to the June 22 incident, which was captured on surveillance video.

Deputy Prosecutor Rachel Sterett asked Judge Ellen Kalama Clark to maintain the original $20,000 bond, but Jones’ lawyer, Chris Bugbee, said his client has been cooperating with police and is not a flight risk.

He asked for a $2,500 bond; Jones’ uncle asked if he could be released on his own recognize because the family has made plans to get him “the help he needs.”

Jones suffers from mental illness and controlled substance addiction, Bugbee said.

Jones’ family hired Bugbee late last month, and Bugbee and Jones went to the Public Safety Building to turn Jones in.

They spoke with the detective assigned to the case, who said charges hadn’t been filed but that they could arrange a court summons.

Sterett didn’t know that when she filed charges the morning after a TV news station reported Jones had been turned away when he tried to turn himself in, Bugbee said.

Read past coverage here.

Crenshaw double murder trial delayed

The trial of young man accused of a grisly double murder has been postponed.

Justin W. Crenshaw, 21, will stand trial in early February 2010 - nearly two years after prosecutors and detectives say he stabbed Sarah A. Clark and Tanner E. Pehl to death, then tried torching the home to cover the crime.

The trial had been scheduled to start Oct. 12, but Judge Tari Eitzen agreed to the extension at a status conference Tuesday. Both sides had said they needed more time to prepare, including interviewing witnesses.

Last week, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office searched a cell phone belonging to Crenshaw that had been in evidence since his arrest Feb. 28, 2008. Crenshaw told Eitzen he’d agreed to the extension but wanted no further delays.

Crenshaw’s lawyer, Chris Bugbee, is his fourth in the case.

In July 2008, he got his case moved from the Spokane County public defender’s office, citing an office investigator’s relationship with Clark’s family. (Clark is pictured at right.)

The Counsel for Defense then left the case, citing a heavy workload, and it went to an anti-death penalty lawyer in Tacoma.

The case was given to Bugbee when the prosecutor’s office decided not to pursue the death penalty.

Read past coverage here and here.

Child porn bust triggered by ‘foremost’ expert on sex crimes

When the Spokane man accused of child porn possession allegedly chatted online with who he thought was a 14-year-old boy, he wasn’t just talking to a New Hampshire police detective, he was talking to a renowned sex crimes investigator responsible for arrests across the world.

James McLaughlin began investigating sex offenders by mail when he was promoted to detective with the Keene Police Department in 1988, according to a 2002 profile published in People magazine.

The article describes McLaughlin as “one of the country’s foremost authorities on criminals - both adults and other teens - who seek to sexually exploit children.” (Read the article here.)

His conviction rate, at least at the time the article published, was 100 percent, with 280 sex offenders in 43 states and 15 countries prosecuted.

Spokane County’s own Michael C. “Craig” McGuire, 55, could be joining that list.

McGuire was arrested Tuesday in a raid at his trailer, 5314 W. Sunset #4. (Read about it here.)

McLaughlin contacted the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office July 23, two days after he chatted online with a man he believed to be McGuire.

McLaughlin was posing as a 14-year-old boy and received child pornography from McGuire via email, according to a search warrant. When McLaughlin asked where he could send photos, McGuire gave him his Sunset address, according to the warrant.

This isn’t the first time investigators searched a computer belonging to McGuire.

In 2005, Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office found child pornography on his computer, according to the warrant.

McGuire moved, and the Sheriff’s Office located him at the Sunset address in 2007.

Investigators sent charging recommendations to the prosecutor’s office, said Inspector Alan Botzheim, but no charges were filed.

Rob Boothe trial begins today

Opening statements are set to begin today in the trial of a Spokane police officer accused of kicking a handcuffed man in the face.

Rob M. Boothe has been on paid leave since the alleged incident occurred Sept. 5, 2008, after several officers pursued a car theft suspect through a north Spokane neighborhood.

Michael Carbone, a Pend Oreille County deputy prosecutor, was appointed to the case and filed a fourth-degree assault charge in Spokane Municipal Court. (Read a story on that here.)

Private Spokane attorney F. Dana Kelley has since contracted with the city of Spokane to prosecute the case after Carbone went on leave.

Boothe is represented by Rob Cossey, the same lawyer who successfully defended now-former Spokane police officer Jay Olsen.

Reporter Thomas Clouse will be covering the trial, which is in Judge Maryann Moreno’s courtroom but is being handled by Municipal Judge Mary Logan.

Courthouse watch: 9.8.09

Two men accused of robbing the Garland Theater in July were due in Spokane County Superior Court today. Allen R. Corker, 20, and Joshua A. Taylor, 20, were to appear via video on charges of first-degree robbery in connection with a July 3 incident.

Witnesses say the men approached workers leaving the theater with deposits about 3 a.m. and stole the cash - more than $2,000 - at gunpoint, according to a search warrant.

Police named Corker (left) and Taylor (right) as suspects Friday. Corker was booked into jail Saturday at noon; Taylor was booked by 3 p.m.

A search warrant shows police originally suspected the three men accused of robbing pizza joints and a payday loan store may have been responsible for the Garland Theater robbery.

One of those men, Nathan Molina, was also on today’s first appearance docket on a first-degree robbery charge.

He was arrested in July, accused of acting as a would-be getaway driver for Daniel Neace, who police say robbed the Check into Cash on East Francis.

A roommate, Michael Anderson, who police say posed as a customer at the cash store, was also arrested. The men were using walkie taklies to communicate, police said.

Read about it here.

1 man, 2 OxyContin robberies

Spokane police think one man is responsible for two unsolved OxyContin robberies at South Hill pharmacies in the past two weeks.

The robberies occurred Aug. 24 at the Shopko at 4515 S. Regal St., and Sept. 5 at the Rite Aid across the street, 4514 S. Regal St. In each case, a white man who appeared to be wearing a wig handed an employee a note demanding OxyContin, then fled with the drug.

Shopko surveillance photos show the robber wore sunglasses, a black T-shirt, blue jeans, white sneakers and a dark baseball hat with a white logo. (See all the photos here.)

Witnesses said he was about 6-foot-3. Witnesses to the Rite Aid robbery described the man as 6-foot-2 with fake facial hair, white shirt, blue jeans and a white beanie-style hat over a dark wig.

The company that makes OxyContin and has come under scrutiny for lying about its addictiveness, Purdue Pharma, is offering up to $1,000 for information that solves the Shopko robbery.

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

Tipsters do not have to leave a name but should provide a code name or number.

Child porn suspect’s home: Hilltop or Helltop?

 The manager of the Hilltop trailer park, where detectives say a man sent child pornography to a New Hampshire police detective he thought was a 14-year-old boy, said raids happen there frequently.

“The owner calls it Helltop,” Larry Mobley said. “We’ve had so many raids in this park it’s unbelievable.”

Still, he never suspected Craig McGuire, 55, would be the next resident arrested as he was this morning.

Read my story here.

In June, a Hilltop resident was arrested on suspicion of setting a fire at the trailer park that threatened homes, business and heavy timber.

Carol J. Haloburdo, 53, was also convicted of setting a grass fire at Hilltop last September. (Read a story on that here.)

Detectives just now examining Crenshaw’s cell phone

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives are just now searching the cell phone of a double-murder suspect, more than a year and a half after his arrest, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County District Court.

Justin W. Crenshaw, 21, is set to go to trial Oct. 12 for the stabbing deaths of Sarah A. Clark and Tanner E. Pehl in February 2008.

Crenshaw had moved to Spokane from Las Vegas to reunite with his long lost sister, who he found on MySpace. Clark was his sister’s best friend. Pehl worked with Crenshaw at Brooklynn’s Woodfire Grill in north Spokane.

Police think Crenshaw murdered Clark and Pehl as the three were drinking at the home where Pehl lived with his family. He tried burning the home, located at 512 E. Elm, to cover up the crime, according to court papers.

A bloody fingerprint linked Crenshaw to the crime scene, and detectives saw small cuts on his hands believed to have been inflicted by the victims, court papers show.

Crenshaw’s Oct. 12 trial date has shown no signs of getting delayed. Prosecutors filed a witness list last month. But detectives on the case filed the search warrant for the cell phone yesterday, giving the impression their previous work was incomplete.

Detective Jim Dresback directed questions to sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan, who was not immediately available for comment.

The phone has been with the sheriff’s office since Crenshaw’s arrest on Feb. 28, 2008. Dresback and digital forensic specialist John Schlosser scoured its data Wednesday morning, according to the search warrant.

Check out past coverage here.

Pehl was a budding musician known for his guitar skills. Here’s a youtube video his friends posted of him playing “Disarm” by the Smashing Pumpkins. Knowing his tragic fate, the lyrics are haunting.

Dog beating suspect tried to turn himself in

A man accused of beating a dog outside Spokane City Hall in June tried to turn himself in last week but was turned away because charges hadn’t been filed.

An arrest warrant was issued for Michael J. Jones, 20, this morning after police filed a charging recommendation of first-degree animal cruelty late Thursday, said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Rachel Sterett.

Jones hadn’t been charged previously because “we didn’t have a charging request from law enforcement,” Sterett said.

Read my story here.

Courthouse watch: 9.4.09

A man who failed to show up for a scheduled plea in an OxyContin robbery case is back in jail.

Adam Dally, 25, had his first appearance today after a bail bondsman picked up him yesterday.
Dally was to enter a plea and be sentenced on robbery charges Tuesday but left a message with his public defender saying he couldn’t make it.

A $100,000 warrant was issued for his arrest Tuesday. He remains in Spokane County Jail on that bond.

His new plea date is set for next Friday.

Courthouse watch: 9.3.09

Murder suspect Robbie W. Bishop’s arraignment was delayed today so he can undergo mental evaluations at Eastern State Hospital.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque granted the stay request from Prosecutor Tony Hazel and public defender Anna Nordtvedt.

Bishop, 19, is charged with second-degree murder for the Aug. 22 death of Robin M. Anderson, 33, who police said was stabbed more than 50 times.

Anderson was about four months pregnant with Bishop’s baby when she died. Prosecutors said today they’ll be seeking aggravating circumstances in the case.

Most remarkable about today’s hearing was the presence of a man rarely seen inside the courthouse: Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker.

Tucker (right) sat next to Hazel at the video arraignment, then accompanied him as he dropped off paperwork in Leveque’s courtroom with Nordtvedt.

Heads did turn.

Deputies arrest a familar name

Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a familiar name Monday: Erica J. Jennings.

That’s the woman Spokane police detectives interviewed during their investigation of the still unsolved stabbing death of William “Billy” O. Floyd, 22, on Aug. 15. 

Police detective John Miller filed a search warrant Aug. 20 seeking call records for phones belonging to Jennings, 26, and Timothy Lubben, 20. 

Lubben (right) was with Floyd when an altercation broke out at Shannon and Lincoln, then continued to the parking lot of the Spokane Dance Company at Lincoln and Indiana, where Floyd died of a stab wound, according to police.

Lubben and Floyd had argued on the phone with Jennings in the hours before the fight, according to Miller’s search warrant. 

Jennings had challenged them “to come and meet” for a fight but called Lubben Saturday morning to ask why they never showed.  Lubben told Jennings Floyd had been killed, according to the search warrant. (Check out a sketch of a person of interest in Floyd’s death here.)

Jennings is not considered a suspect in the case, but she’s facing a methamphetamine possession charge after an unrelated traffic stop Monday. 

Deputies stopped a car she was riding in for allegedly running a red light. 

Jennings told deputies the driver, Angelic M. Bessermin, had ran the red light while trying to load a drug pipe, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Sheriff’s detectives had no idea about Jennings’ connection to the Spokane police homicide investigation until this morning.

She was released from jail Tuesday.

Hearing delayed for killer’s boyfriend

Brian Moore’s big day will have to wait.

A hearing on a motion to dismiss murder charges against Moore, accused of helping Shellye Stark kill her husband, was delayed today because the prosecutor is having hip surgery. 
Judge Sam Cozza set the new hearing for Sept. 17.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla appeared on behalf of Larry Haskell. Moore was in court in a blue jail jumper but said nothing during the short hearing. 

As he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, he said hi to Stark’s sister, Donna Haggerty.
“Love you sweetie. Be good,” Haggerty said. 

“Love ya honey,” Moore said.

Spokane police traveled to Orange County, Calif., in April and arrested Moore on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale Stark. 

Detectives don’t believe Moore was in Spokane when Shellye shot Dale, rather they allege he plotted the murder with Shellye and helped her concoct a sordid tale of spousal abuse in a failed attempt to dupe authorities into thinking the killing was in self defense.

Read past coverage here.

Police: Pregnant woman was stabbed more than 50 times

The teen accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend stabbed her more than 50 times, according to police.

Robbie W. Bishop, 19, had threatened to kill Robin M. Anderson, 33, before police found her dead in the living room of a Spokane Valley home she’d been living at with Bishop on Aug. 22, according to a search warrant filed Tuesday in Spokane County District Court.

That search warrant was meant to access unseen footage of a KXLY TV news interview with Bishop in jail, but the news station no longer had the footage when police asked for it Tuesday, said news director Jerry Post.

Bishop is in Spokane County Jail on $1,250,000 bond.

He was released from jail in April on unrelated charges because mental health services didn’t have room for him. Read a story on that here.

He’s to be arraigned tomorrow on one count of second-degree murder.

Look for an in-depth story on Bishop and Anderson this weekend.

Judge silences defendant with duct tape

Here’s an AP report on an unusual move by an Ohio judge:

CANTON, Ohio — An Ohio judge unhappy with repeated interruptions from a robbery suspect ordered a deputy to put duct tape over the defendant’s mouth.

Canton Municipal Court Judge Stephen Belden says the taping last Thursday was the best way to restore order at a hearing for 51-year-old Harry Brown of Canton.

Brown complained that his court-appointed attorney wasn’t prepared and angered the judge with interruptions.

After a warning, the judge told the bailiff to tape Brown’s mouth shut.

When the tape was removed, the defendant said the judge wasn’t being respectful.

The judge ended the hearing and sent the case to a grand jury.

Courthouse watch: 9.2.09

A judge set bond at $500,000 today for a 61-year-old Coeur d’Alene man accused or raping a 13-year-old girl.

Ronald G. Sever faces charges of rape, kidnapping and lewd conduct with a minor after the girl ran to a neighbor’s house crying and the neighbor called police about 7:14 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

The girl and her sister had been walking around their neighborhood in the 3600 block of Government Way when the sister left and Sever grabbed the 13-year-old and dragged her into his house, police said.

He locked the door and raped the girl, striking her in the face during the attack, police said, adding that the girl broke free of him at one point and escaped.

Police arrested Sever at his home Tuesday night.

Sever’s past criminal convictions include battery, resisting or obstructing officers, drunken driving and careless driving.

Big day tomorrow for killer’s boyfriend

Will the charges against the boyfriend of the woman convicted of killing her husband stand?

We’ll find out tomorrow in Spokane County Superior Court.

Lawyers in the Brian L. Moore case are set to argue a motion to dismiss first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Moore.

Moore is accused of helping Shellye L. Stark plan her husband’s murder, then concocting a sordid tale of spousal abuse to try to dupe authorities into thinking the slaying was self defense.

Moore’s public defender, Jeff Compton, is asking that charges against Moore, who’s accused of helping Stark with the plan to kill her husband, be dismissed because of lack of evidence. Moore was arrested in California in April. (Read about it here.)

Private investigator Ted Pulver is considered a key witness against Moore, but a judge has denied prosecutor access to material regarding Pulver and Moore that had been part of Stark’s case.

Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell has said he believes he still has a case. Judge Sam Cozza will preside over the motion hearing, which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

$100,000 warrant for OxyContin robber

A man accused of robbing two Walgreens didn’t show up to his sentencing today in Spokane County Superior Court, leading to a $100,000 warrant for his arrest.

Adam J. Dally, 25, is accused of robbing the store at 2830 S. Grand Blvd on Nov. 26 and the Liberty Lake store on Dec. 5. An investigation by Liberty Lake police led to his arrest, according to court documents.

Liberty Lake Det. Ray Bourgeois spent months building a case against Dally, who was in Seattle when an arrest warrant was issued, records show.

People who led Bouregois to Dally included a former girlfriend who claimed to have been having sex with him in exchange for drugs and heard him brag about robbing the pharmacy, records show. 

Witnesses said Dally used a gun in the robbery, stealing nearly 900 OxyContin pills. He’s accused of brandishing a gun in the South Hill Walgreens robbery, too.

Employees from the store were in Judge Sam Cozza’s courtroom today to testify at Dally’s plea and sentencing, but Dally, who is free on $50,000 bail, never showed. 

His public defender, Al Rossi, said Dally had left a message about 5 p.m. yesterday saying he couldn’t make it.

Rossi’s secretary got the message the next morning but didn’t tell him about it until 45 minutes before the 10 a.m. court appearance, he said.

Cozza issued the arrest warrant when Dally failed to show by noon.

This all happened the day I wrote a story on Walgreens new secruity safes. Read it here.

Courthouse watch: 9.1.09

A career criminal whose defense attorney said he’d “about run himself out of rope” at his sentencing four years ago is back in the court system, accused of something police say he does for a living: burglary.

Christopher J. Cannata, 37, was scheduled to plead not guilty today to charges of second-degree burglary and possession of burglary tools. He was arrested Aug. 21 with Joseph A. Gariepy, 38, after watchful neighbors in Rockford spotted the men breaking into a storage unit.

The residents gave the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office a description of the men and their vehicle, and a deputy saw a 1997 White Chevy Lumina matching that description pass him northbound on state Highway 24 as he headed to the burglary scene.

Other deputies set up stop sticks on the highway at 32nd Avenue, which disabled a front tire. Deputies found a bolt cutter and items stolen in the burglary, including a $450 air conditioner and wood frames and oil paintings worth $200, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County District Court.

Cannata was sentenced to prison in 2005 on charges of residential burglary and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

His mother and new wife pleaded with the judge for leniency at the time, blaming Cannata’s 19 criminal convictions on an untreated drug problem. When he sought treatment at 13, he was molested by a priest, his lawyer said, leading to a successful lawsuit.

Read the story from May 2005 here.

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