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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for August 2010

Girlfriend’s mom turns in robbery suspect

A man suspected of robbing a north Spokane credit union was turned in to police by his girlfriend’s mother. 

Eric C. Mason, 41, pleaded not guilty this morning to first-degree robbery, more than four months after police say he handed a threatening note to a teller at Spokane Teachers Credit Union, 8703 N. Indian Trail Road, then fled with about $1,200. 

Surveillance photos from the April 23 robbery showed a man with a black jacket and black knit cap.

Police say Mason’s driver’s license photo matched the robber’s image; detectives looked at it after Mason’s girlfriend mother called and said her daughter drove Mason to the robbery.

Mason later admitted to his girlfriend that he’d robbed the credit union, police said. He didn’t display a weapon but wrote in the note: “Put money in envelope do not alarm! No dye pac’s no tracking devices! No problems,” according to court documents.

Mason reportedly told his girlfriend he planned to turn himself in, but Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern said he left town instead.

A warrant was issued May 4; Mason was booked into Spokane County Jail Aug. 20, where he remains after his arraignment in Spokane County Superior Court this morning.

Sex offender indicted on child porn charges

A child molester considered likely to reoffend was arraigned on child pornography charges in federal court Monday.

Donald D. Holloway, 50, has been in Spokane County Jail since December after federal authorities said he’d uploaded child pornography to the Internet.  Holloway was on probation for a 2002 marijuana conviction; he was booked into jail Dec. 22 for violating his probation.

According to his probation officer’s report, Holloway uploaded pornographic images of teen and pre-teen boys in March, April and July 2009.

A grand jury indicted Holloway last Thursday on a federal charge of receipt and attempted receipt and child pornography for alleged activity between Sept. 18 and Dec. 21 in Valley, Wash. Holloway had lived in the 2900 block of Bakie Road in Valley since at least April 15, 2009, when the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office issued a notice warning residents of his presence.

Holloway was convicted of indecent liberties in 1981 and second-degree and third-degree child molestation in 1992. His victims were between the ages of 8 and 16 and were male and female, according to the sheriff’s office.

Holloway, a level 3 sex offender, pleaded not guilty to the new federal charges on Monday and remains in jail.

Valley officer who shot pastor identified

The deputy who fatally shot a Spokane Valley pastor and business owner last week was identified Monday as Brian Hirzel, a two-year veteran of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office who also has held law enforcement positions in Kootenai County and in Southern California. 

Hirzel, 41, (right) has agreed to meet Thursday with detectives investigating the shooting death of 74-year-old Pastor Wayne “Scott” Creach (left), Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich confirmed.

The investigation is being conducted by the Spokane Police Department. 

Although authorities still have few details about the encounter, Knezovich described Hirzel as cooperative and noted that he has agreed to the interview with detectives even though he has the same constitutional right to remain silent as anyone else.  

“This isn’t a friendly interview he is heading for. This is a criminal investigation,” Knezovich said. “After that, there will be an administrative review,” which will determine whether any disciplinary measures are warranted.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

The release of Hirzel’s name came the same day as Creach’s funeral, which took place at the Greenacres Baptist Church that he founded. (Pictured above.) Friends, family and parishioners filled the sanctuary, youth building and a large event tent erected on the church lawn. Some attendees had to stand outside and watch video feeds of the service.

“Pastor Scott loved his wife and his family. He will be greatly missed,” colleague Eric Walsh said during the service. “The Creach family finds great comfort as they see God’s plan unfolding through this tragedy.”

Past coverage:

Aug. 28: Sheriff offers condolences, withholds details

Aug. 27: Valley officer kills pastor at nursery

Reward offered for tips on ‘top 10’ criminal

A man considered one of Spokane County’s top 10 repeat offenders is wanted by Crime Stoppers. 

Daniel J. Maddock, 22, is accused of violating his probation on a Bellevue criminal conviction by attempting to elude Spokane police, according to Crime Stoppers. The Washington Department of Corrections issued a warrant for escape from community custody.

Maddock already is charged with attempting to elude police, second-degree vehicle prowling and unlawful possession of payment instruments after neighbors called police to the area of 427E. Euclid early June 21 to report a suspected vehicle prowler. Police say Maddock fled in small black Toyota, then bailed out of the car after hitting a fence at 2810 N. Standard.

He was arrested in a nearby field, then posted bond June 24. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 25.

Maddock’s 15-year criminal history includes convictions for second-degree theft, first-degree theft, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, second-degree taking a motor vehicle without owner’s permission, attempting to elude a police vehicle, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, vehicle prowling, making false statements and malicious mischief, according to Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Suspects in gang murder headed to prison

Two cousins charged in a gang-related mucrder are headed to prison on unrelated convictions.

Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, 23, was sentenced to 63 months in prison on Friday for second-degree assault.

Eric “Smalls” Burton, Jr., 25, also was sentenced recently to 20 months in prison for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.

Cedric Burton had been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for trying to run over two men in a downtown Spokane parking lot in November, but a jury convicted him of only assault, which is his second strike. A co-defendant, Charles Willy Jackson, is charged with second-degree assault, third-degree malicious mischief and possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) after police say he shot out the back window of the men’s Hummer. His trial is set for September.

Eric Burton received the low-end of the standard sentence for his crack cocaine conviction, which stemmed from him having 26 baggies of the drug when Spokane police stopped him last summer.

Authorities have said he may face federal charges for allegedly possessing the gun used to kill John S. Williams on Jan. 17.

Both cousins have convictions related a 2005 gang murder, and both still are charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance in connection with Williams’ murder in January.

The accused triggerman, Edward “TD” Thomas, still is at large.

Past coverage:

June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

May 21: Lawyer: Fugitive was in Cali for cousin’s funeral

May 3: Warrant issued for accused would-be killer

Photos show bike-riding CdA bank robber

Surveillance photos show a masked gunman who police say robbed a Coeur d’Alene bank on Friday, then escaped on a bicycle. 

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that identify the man, who police say threw a cloth grocery bag at employees at Wells Fargo, 114 E. Appleway, about 6 p.m. while telling them to hurry and waving a “large-caliber handgun.”

 The robber left with an undisclosed amount of cash and was last seen riding a gray, three-speed bicycle south on Government Way. 

He wore a black mask, a black bike helmet, denim shorts, a long-sleeve button-down shirt and white shoes with red “squiggly” lines.  He was carrying a white cloth grocery bag with an American flag on it and the phrase “Freedom is not free,” and was described as being in his late 20s or early 30s, police said.

Anyone with information about the robbery or the robber is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (208) 667-2111 or toll free at (888) 667-2111. Tipsters do not have to give a name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number. 

Investigators do not believe the robbery is related to a series of bank robberies in Spokane that have been attributed to a man who typically escapes on a bike.

“There’s nothing inclusive at this point to indicate that was him,” said FBI supervisory senior resident agent Frank Harrill.

The FBI in Spokane still is seeking tips on that robber, who they believe is responsible for six robberies since December. The most recent was a noon-hour armed robbery at the Indian Trail branch of the Spokane Teacher Credit Union July 28.

Anyone with information on those robberies is asked to call the FBI’s Spokane office at (509) 747-5195, extension 2. If it’s after hours, call (206) 622-0460.

Man’s case is perfect ‘welcome back’ post

A report from the Coeur d’Alene police report caught my attention a couple weeks ago.

A flower shop owner said a man who claimed to be an Iraq war veteran duped her out of a $100 order, and police said the suspect had recently been jailed for similar crimes. After some initial reporting I wavered on whether it was worth a story. Then I left for two weeks.

Imagine my reaction when I learned the same guy made news after he failed to return to the Kootenai County Jail after a one-day furlough and was arrested in Seattle with the help of a TV news crew.

Registered sex offender Ferrell David Arnold II, 32, (right) returned to custody after talking to a TV news crew at Seattle’s Hempfest, who recognized him and alerted authorities.

Arnold had been given a furlough Aug. 18 after pleading guilty to grand theft and forgery in two cases. He was to be sentenced Oct. 15; the plea deals dropped two felony theft and fraud charges.

The forgery conviction stemmed from him reportedly stealing checks and debits cards from a girl’s mother’s home after he met the girl at a Coeur d’Alene bar.

Like the alleged flower shop theft, Ferrell allegedly lied to the victims about his military service. One victim “is active military and said he was able to find several lies in Ferrell’s stories of being in the military and just returning from Afghanistan,” according to a July 21 report from Spokane police. Arnold also allegedly stole a debit card and cash from a woman he stayed with after meeting at a Coeur A’lene bar. (The Coeur d’Alene Press wrote a hilarious story about the theft here.

Arnold also is charged with failing to register as a sex offender. He was convicted of lewd conduct with a minor under 16 in Washington County, Idaho, in 1997, according to state records.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department released his photo the media late Aug. 19 after he skipped town, but that didn’t stop Arnold from yakking away to a Seattle TV station while hanging out in a busy park.

Sex video leads police to suspected burglars

ELMA, Wash. (AP)  — A sex video identified the suspects in a break-in at a rural home at Elma.
The Grays Harbor County sheriff’s office says a neighbor who had come to collect the mail while the owner was away Monday surprised a man and woman were having sex on the floor.
Chief Deputy Dave Pimentel says the naked couple fled, leaving behind the camera, which had been stolen elsewhere.
Pimentel said Tuesday that deputies who checked the video recognized the couple from previous contacts.
The 39-year-old woman was arrested in Montesano for investigation of burglary. An arrest warrant was issued for the 31-year-old Elma man.

Warning: Light posting ahead

I will be out of the newsroom until Monday, Aug. 30.

My colleagues may update this blog occasionally, but don’t expect anything substantial until I return.

Prison-bound federal felon adds to record

A Spokane career criminal already headed to federal prison for 15 years pleaded guilty to a slew of felonies in Spokane County this week.

Casey D. Beckham, 34, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but that sentence will run the same time as his federal sentence of 188 months.

Beckham was sentenced in June under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act, which mandates a minimum 15-year prison term for career criminals charged with unlawful firearm possession.

Beckham objected to the classification, saying his burglary convictions didn’t qualify as violent felonies.

Now the longtime drug addict has 15 more felony convictions after Judge Maryann Moreno accepted his guilty pleas Thursday.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of delivery of a controlled substance, five counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and single counts of second-degree identity theft, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, second-degree possession of stolen property, attempting to elude a police vehicle and second-degree burglary.

Moreno sentenced him to 120 months in prison and ordered him to pay $1,444 in restitution.

Beckham’s lawyer, Terrence Ryan, said he’ll likely serve about 6 1/2 years of the state sentence. But his federal sentence likely won’t be reduced. He’s to be on probation for 10 years once he’s released.

Beckham was arrested in May 2009 after a day-long SWAT team standoff at a north Spokane apartment complex. He broke through an apartment ceiling and hid in the rafters, where police found him with a pound and a half of methamphetamine and $8,500.

About a dozen stolen firearms were found nearby with a felon, David L. “Cowboy Dave” Harwood, who said he was to sell the guns to Beckham to clear a $600 meth debt. Harwood, 40, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on gun charges in Superior Court in May.

Past coverage:

June 10, 2010: Career criminal in denial gets 15 years

May 28, 2009: Man arrested after seven-hour standoff

Fugitive was drug mule for racist group

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona fugitive’s accomplice was acting as a drug mule for a white supremacy group and agreed to become a police informant weeks before she helped him escape from prison, authorities said today.

Casslyn Welch, and her fiance and cousin John McCluskey, are now considered among the most wanted fugitives in America after authorities say Welch helped McCluskey and two other men escape from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman by throwing wire cutters over a fence. Daniel Renwick and Tracy Province have since been captured.

Welch was visiting McCluskey at the medium-security prison in June when a random search of Welch and her vehicle turned up marijuana, heroin and drug paraphernalia, Mohave County sheriff’s spokeswoman Trish Carter said. 

Welch wasn’t jailed because she agreed to become an informant, and she provided information about the suppliers of the drugs, Carter said.

Welch told investigators she was being paid by members or associates of supremacists to smuggle heroin into the prison as she had successfully done three times before, but she declined to say who the items were intended for at the prison.

Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. marshal for Arizona, said authorities believe Welch and McCluskey have minimal ties to white supremacy groups in or out of prisons and “we’re not expending much resources on that right now.”

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

Edgar, Cyndi Steele allowed to meet at jail

The alleged victim in a North Idaho murder-for-hire plot will be allowed to visit the man suspected of hiring someone to kill her.

Cyndi Steele is allowed to meet with Edgar J. Steele once at the Spokane County Jail to discuss “their common property and interests, as well as financial issues related to their chidlren,” according to an order filed in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday.

“If the defendant or Mrs. Steele attempt to discuss the case or anything related to it, Mr. Peven shall immediately terminate the visit,” the order from U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill reads.

The couple’s meeting will be monitored by Public Defender Roger Peven, and a recording of the meeting will be given to Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan. Whelan did not object to the request.

The Steeles were ordered not to contact each other after Edgar Steele, 65, was arrested at their Sandpoint-area home near Shepherd Lake in June, accused of plotting to kill Cyndi Stelee and her mother.

Cyndi Steele is supporting her husband and attended his arraignment July 28 on a murder-for-hire charge and other charges, including a victim tampering charge related to phone calls Steele made to his wife from the Kootenai County Jail.

Past coverage:

July 21: Steele indicted on 3 new charges

June 21: No bail for suspect in pipe bomb murder plot

June 20: Arrest puts Steele back in public eye

June 17: Pipe bomb suspect in federal custody

June 16: Steele: ‘This is a very emotional situation’

June 16: Bomb found on SUV registered to suspect

Valley synagogue vandalized with swastika

A swastika was painted on a sign outside a Spokane Valley synagogue last weekend.

The congregational leader at the Kehilat HaMashiach, David D’Auria, discovered the swastika painted in red on a white sign Sunday morning outside the building at 13506 E. Broadway Ave.

The vandal, or vandals, left “no discernible evidence at the scene,” said Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane Valley Police Department.

“I was really shocked,” D’Auria said.

It was painted between 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Saturday, D’Auria said.

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

Arizona prison escapee could be ‘anywhere’

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The trail has gone cold in the search for an escaped Arizona inmate and his suspected accomplice, with baffled federal authorities saying they have no idea where the couple is and warning travelers stopping at campgrounds and truck stops to be alert.

John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch, two of the most wanted fugitives in America, are unpredictable and have long-haul truck driving experience, meaning they are used to driving long distances over short time periods, Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. Marshal for Arizona, said Thursday. Their route has crossed more than 1,900 miles from their July 30 escape from a medium security prison in Arizona to the last concrete sighting in Billings, Mont., last Friday

“At this point in time, because they move so quickly and easily, we have no idea,” Rivera said. “In two-and-a-half days they could have traversed the entire United States. They can be anywhere.”

Marshals are asking travelers at truck stops along highways and in campgrounds across the nation to watch out for the couple, who may have dyed their hair and otherwise changed their appearance. They may be sleeping in campgrounds and using truck stops to clean up as they travel in a 1997 Nissan Sentra that has been described separately as gray, gold and tan, Rivera said.

Authorities believe McCluskey, 45, and Welch, his 44-year-old cousin and fiancee, are dangerous and have been paying for their getaway by robbing businesses along the way. They and fellow escaped convict Tracy Province, who split from the group and was arrested in Wyoming on Sunday, also are suspects in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple whose burned bodies were discovered last week in eastern New Mexico.

“We’re concerned that these individuals will commit more crimes,” Rivera said. “They’re desperate. These guys are not thinking rationally.” Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

Aug 10: Do the Arizona escapees have Aryan ties?

Aug. 11: Hunt for prison escapees turns cold in Arkansas

Fugitive ‘jackrabbits’ police; tips sought

 A Coeur d’Alene man wanted since January on an assault charge is being targeted by Crime Stoppers after eluding police at least twice recently. 

Adam Sabastian HIll, 38, “jackrabbits from us every time we get near him,” said Sgt. Christie Wood, spokeswoman for the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

Hill missed a hearing for an assault charge in January, according to court records.

Police recently chased him around the Fruitland Lane area, then tried catching him near Appleway Avenue a couple weeks ago, Wood said. Hill got away each time.

“We’re gong to have to send (Chief Wayne) Longo after him,” Wood laughed, referring to a successful chase and take down administered by the chief on Tuesday.

Now wanted on a $60,000 arrest warrant in Kootenai County District Court, Hill could earn a tipster cash if he or she gives up his location.

Anyone with information on Hill is asked to call (208) 667-2111 or toll free at (888) 667-2111. Tipsters do not have to give a name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Despite deal, murder witness doesn’t testify

COLVILLE – Spokane County prosecutors ended their first-degree murder case against Christopher H. Devlin without calling the only person they believe witnessed the killing.

Defense attorneys Mark Vovos and Roger Hunko implored Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque to allow them to tell jurors that prosecutors Larry Steinmetz and Dale Nagy agreed to give Carl A. Hoskins a deal in exchange for testimony – that as it turns out never came.

“He’s the only guy who saw anything, supposedly,” Vovos said. “If they didn’t believe him, why would they give him the 27 months?”

Steinmetz refused to comment about why he didn’t call Hoskins as a witness in the trial against the 57-year-old Devlin, who is charged with the May 2008 slaying of 52-year-old Daniel Heily.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

July 26: Trial opens in murder of crime witness

Feb. 3: Prosecutor’s mixup takes death penalty off table

Oct. 31, 2009: County balks at case transfer

May 18, 2008: Homicide victim was Chattaroy man

CdA police chief chases down fleeing man

Coeur d’Alene’s police chief chased down a man suspected of stealing a motorcycle and arrested him at gunpoint this week.

 Chief Wayne Longo (left) was backing up Officer Hank Dunham on a stolen vehicle stop when Daniel W. Bisher, 35, took off on foot through heavy traffic in a commercial area at Appleway Avenue and Government Way just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Longo chased Bisher as Dunham ran to Appleway to intercept him. Bisher twice reached to the front of his coat and ignored Longo’s demands, saying “he was not going to jail,” police said. 

Longo pulled his gun on Bisher, but Bisher (right) continued running before Dunham and Longo caught up with him.

Bisher had a loaded .40 caliber Glock handgun in his jacket and a knife in his pants pocket, as well as methamphetamine.

The gun had been reported stolen in Coeur d’Alene; the motorcycle had been stolen from Spokane, police said.

Coeur d’Alene police Capt. Steve Childers called Longo “a street partolman at heart.”

Department spokeswoman Sgt. Christie Wood said Longo always monitors his police scanner and frequently backs up patrol officers.

Bisher has a criminal history that includes a pending felony charge in Spokane County of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Police said he lives in Spokane, but newspaper archives show he’s also lived in Coeur d’Alene, Spirit Lake and Rathdrum.

Father, daughter wanted for theft, burglary

A father and daughter suspected in a series of burglaries late last year is wanted by Crime Stoppers after failing to show up for court. 

The burglary spree included thefts at a barn, several units at Valleyway Self Storage and a Spokane Valley landscaping company.

Sara A. Payne, 19, and William R. Payne, 48, also are accused of pawning the stolen property, which included elk antlers, a bear skull, duck decoys, saddles, leaf blowers and a Wii video game console.

Prosecutors issued arrest warrants after the Paynes didn’t show up for arraignments July 7. Crime Stoppers announced a reward for tips on their locations Wednesday.

William Payne reportedly told a Spokane County Sheriff’s detective he was addicted to OxyContin and pawned items stolen between Dec. 4 and Dec. 7 from All Pro Landscaping, 13409 E. Trent Ave., and from a barn burglary on South Ben Burr Road between Dec. 10 and Dec. 13.

Sara Payne reportedly admitted to pawning property stolen from storage units at 15302 E. Valleyway between Sept. 12 and Sept. 15, including the bear skull and elk antlers. She is charged with four counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of third-degree theft, two counts of trafficking in stolen property, and single counts second-degree theft and second-degree malicious mischief. 

 Her father is charged with nine counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property, two counts of second-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree theft.

Also charged in the case is Tyler J. Cruz, 26, (right) who faces two counts of second-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree theft for the burglaries at All Pro Landscaping and the Ben Burr Road barn. He’s to be arraigned Aug. 18.

Cruz and the Paynes lived in a duplex next door to the landscaping company, where the company owner said he found hist stolen ladder. The Paynes also rented storage units at Valleyway, according to court documents.

Anyone with information on the Paynes’ whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

2 men sentenced for home-invasion robbery

A Spokane man arrested in Las Vegas after a home-invasion robbery last spring was credited for time served in the jail after pleading guilty to riot this week. 

Taveus M. Brown, 30, took a plea deal that greatly reduced his charges and saved him from the prison sentence imposed on his co-conspirator, Wesley I. Veazie.

Veazie, 22, (right) was sentenced to 43 months in prison with credit for 101 days served last month after pleading guilty to second-degree robbery. He’s now at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.

The men originally faced charges of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary and attempted first-degree robbery arrested after a man said they’d burst into his apartment at 2500 E. South Riverton on March 2 and held him at gunpoint.

A SWAT team searched a home at 1921 E. 4th Ave. the next day but didn’t find the men.

A Spokane police dog, Bennie, later captured Veazie after he ran from traffic stop on the North Side.  Brown was captured in Vegas.

Idaho farmer unwittingly tends to pot crop

JEROME, Idaho (AP) — Authorities say a southern Idaho farmer unknowingly watered and fertilized more than 300 marijuana plants while tending to his corn field. 

The Jerome County sheriff’s office says the farmer found the plot of pot growing between his tall, green stalks of unripened corn early Monday and called authorities.

The sheriff’s office says the 314 low-grade marijuana plants are valued at $628,000 and would have been ready for plucking in the next month or so — just before the corn harvest.

A detective says the pot was started from seed and relocated to the field, a common way marijuana growers hide their plants.

Authorities have ruled out the farmer as a suspect, saying there have been at least two other similar reports in the past year.

Hunt for escapees turns cold in Arkansas

GENTRY, Ark. (AP) — They fancy themselves a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde who pulled off a brazen prison escape in Arizona and allegedly went on a bloody, multistate crime spree. They have dyed their hair and stuck to out-of-the-way places to avoid drawing attention to themselves. 

 John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch have become two of the most-wanted fugitives in America over the past two weeks as they traversed far-off towns across the West and eluded capture at every turn.

On Wednesday, the manhunt shifted from the wild, open lands of northern Montana near the Canadian border to a tiny town in the Arkansas Ozarks where McCluskey and Welch were briefly suspected of robbing a beauty salon.

Investigators later said they believe someone else carried out the heist.

Benton County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Doug Gay said photographs and descriptions of the suspects give authorities in Gentry “no reason to believe these are those individuals.”

It was the latest maddening turn in the manhunt. 

Investigators had thought they may have boxed in the escaped Arizona inmate and his fiancee — who is also his cousin — near Glacier National Park in recent days.

Federal, state and local authorities began checking vehicles at the border and patrolling tiny towns near the park on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were notified as well.

But the leads that put the couple in Montana have been getting stale, with the last possible sighting on Sunday. Then a beauty store owner hundreds of miles away in Gentry got robbed at gunpoint and tied up by two people matching the couple’s description.

Dozens of officers from various law enforcement agencies descended on Gentry just at the suggestion earlier that the fugitive couple could have committed the robbery, and Gay said their extensive search would continue.

He acknowledged McCluskey and Welch could be anywhere, including Arkansas.

“They could be in Las Vegas, Nevada, they could be in Akron, Ohio,” he said.

Suspect’s non-violent history kept him free

A felon suspected of a robbery that led to a police officer fracturing his neck in a car crash already was out of jail when his sentencing was postponed in June.

Christopher W. Hardwick, 30, was required to post additional $1,000 bond on each of his three cases to remain out of jail.

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office agreed to move his sentencing back after he pleaded guilty to two drug charges and a burglary charge because Hardwick had a family member in the hospital and had no history of violent crimes. 

“He’d already pleaded guilty; I wasn’t concerned about him not showing up at that point,” said Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso. “He was already out. We just continued that status.”

Hardwick had failed to show up for court several times but had no convictions for violent crimes.

By posting an additional bond after the guilty plea, Hardwick faced a bail jumping charge if he missed his sentencing Monday. That sentence would be in addition to the prison time he already faced in the burglary and drug cases, Grasso said.

“I’m just absolutely sick about what happened here,” Grasso said. “But given the circumstances and the evidence that I had, there just wasn’t that perception that he was going to go out and commit these types of crimes.” 

Hardwick now is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 18. Grasso said he’ll recommend an alternative drug offender program that would give Hardwick 30 months in prison and 30 months of intensive drug treatment on probation, but Hardwick’s new robbery and assault charges could prompt the judge to reject that offer.

Officer Rhian Wilkinson left a hospital Monday after fracturing his neck when a teen driver allegedly broadsided him as he sped to a report of a robbery, emergency lights activated.

Hardwick and suspect Kevin Nichols were later arrested after a chase. Both men remain in jail.

Read my full story here.

Flight attendant’s exit draws charges, fans

NEW YORK (AP) — No fed-up worker has ever said “I’ve had it” quite like Steven Slater.

Prosecutors say the JetBlue flight attendant flipped out over a fight with an agitated traveler Monday, cursing over the intercom before grabbing some beer from the plane’s galley and making a grand exit down the emergency slide at Kennedy Airport.

He has been charged with felonies but elevated to folk-hero status by thousands who shrugged off allegations that Slater endangered others and praised him for his take-this-job-and-shove-it moment.

Slater, whose father was an airline pilot, wore a slight smile Tuesday as he was led into a state court in Queens to be arraigned on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing, counts that carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

The judge set his bail at $2,500.

Hours later, Slater exited a Bronx lockup after posting bail. Stephen Morello, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Correction, didn’t have details on who posted bail.

“It seems like something here has resonated with a few people. And that’s kinda neat,” Slater told reporters as he left the Vernon C. Bain Center before being whisked away in a car.

Slater, a 38-year-old airline veteran who lives steps from the Queens beach a few miles from the airport, had been flying long enough to see much of the gleam of the air travel experience tarnished by frayed nerves, rising fees, plummeting airline profits and packed cabins.

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

Cops report stolen elk horns, other oddities

Here’s the latest dispatch from Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane Valley Police Department:

“Sometime overnight Monday, someone stole a set of unmounted elk horns from behind Moffat’s Taxidermy in the 8900 block of E. Euclid. The medium set of 6x6 horns was valued at $400. Lousy hunter, better thief?

A 76-year-old woman living in the 1500 block of North Bowdish Road reported that security cameras installed in her apartment carport on Sunday were immediately stolen. Value of the cameras is unknown, and the following day her car was prowled.

On Tuesday, a man and woman stole a $300 fan from the Target store at 13724 E. Sprague. The female suspect hid the fan underneath her shirt. The man reportedly had many tattoos, and the woman must have been wearing an XXXXL blouse. They left in a red Impala with Washington plates.

Earlier this week a 60-year-old woman living in the 100 block of North Adams Road reported that a transient had been sleeping in her backyard gazebo for several days. On Tuesday, she awoke to discover him gone, as well as the cushions to her outdoor furniture.

On Monday, an employee at Kindercare at 205 S. Sullivan Road reported that someone had entered their transport bus and discharged a fire extinguisher all over the interior. The bus did not appear to have been on fire at the time. It had to be towed to a detail shop for cleaning.”

Anyone with information about any of the incidents is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Pic shows rope used to bind murder victim

A Spokane man was bound with a rope before being thrown to his death off the Sunset Bridge in June. 

Police on Monday released a photo of that rope, which was used to bind William P. “Bill” Pickard’s hands and neck, to bring attention to a murder that’s provided few clues.

 “We’re hoping this may generate a lead or two,” said Lt. Dave McGovern. “We believe there’s more than one person involved in this crime.”

Pickard died after being thrown from the Sunset Bridge early June 30 in what detectives suspect may have been a drug-related murder.

Pickard’s hands and neck were bound with a nylon rope that McGovern described as “a flat rope that’s black and white in design…It’s kind of like a shoelace but it’s bigger.”

The rope is about three-quarters of an inch in diameter.

“We think it’s unique enough that there’s not too many of these out there,” McGovern said.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 7: Victim’s family, friends hold vigil below bridge

July 26: 2 recent Spokane homicides, few clues

July 1: Police hope car holds clues in man’s death

Do the Arizona escapees have Aryan ties?

Two convicted killers who escaped from an Arizona prison are reported by CNN to be members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, and federal authorities say the men “may have been trying to reach fellow believers in the Northwest.”

But the search for the remaining fugitive and his cousin/fiancee appears to be focused on western Montana and southwest Canada, and federal authorities in Spokane offered no further information today.

“We have received no information that we’re able to pass along at this time,” said a deputy U.S. marshal. 

Meanwhile, authorities said the only remaining escapee, John McCluskey (right), and his suspected accomplice, Casslyn Welch (left), fashion themselves a present-day “Bonnie and Clyde.”

U.S. marshals said there have been reports that Welch was spotted Sunday at a restaurant in St. Mary, Mont., near Glacier National Park. Montana’s acting marshal, Rod Ostermiller, said there were multiple other tips from the Glacier area, but he didn’t say whether any included sightings of McCluskey.

Ten miles north of St. Mary, residents of Babb have been frightened by the presence of police cars patrolling the streets. The town of 700 normally sees a patrol car every other week, said Tedi Burns, a bartender at the Babb Bar Cattle Baron Supper Club.

“This is a small town and nobody can find them,” said Burns, 19. “They could be hiding in the woods. We have mountains around us. We have a bunch of backwoods they could be hiding around.”

Another prisoner who escaped with McCluskey, 42-year-old Tracy Province, waived his right to fight extradition to Arizona.

Province (left) appeared in court in Cody on Tuesday, one day after he was captured as he walked in sleepy Meeteetse, Wyo., steps from a church where he sat in the pews a day earlier and sang “Your Grace Is Enough.”

A woman he talked to after church recognized him from a photograph shown on television, but he went undetected at one of the town’s two bars the night before, even though his photo was broadcast on The Cowboy Bar’s television during the news.

Owner Jim Blake recalled Province staring straight at the TV screen but Blake said no one “put it together” because the photo wasn’t a good likeness.

Butch Cassidy was arrested at the bar before being sent to prison in 1894 and Blake said Province was interested in hearing outlaw stories. He also talked about getting work as a ranch hand.

“To tell you the truth, I realize he’s a terrible person, but he actually was a pretty friendly fellow,” Blake said. “He actually was a pretty nice guy.”

Rancher Tim Gould, the treasurer at the church, told NBC’s “Today” that Province told him he was trying to get to Indianapolis, where he was from, but didn’t have enough money.

The church paid him $40 to mow the lawn and cut weeds.

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

Hate-crime suspect gets 9 years for firearm

One of three Coeur d’Alene brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic man last August was sentenced today to nine years in prison for being a felon in possession of a handgun.

Ira Tankovich (pictured), 48, will be eligible for parole in three years. 

Adding to Tankovich’s potential sentence was his status as a persistent violator which gave Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster the option of imposing up to life in prison.

During an Aug. 16 incident at the home of Kenneth Requena in Coeur d’Alene, police arrested Tankovich after seeing him throw his .22-caliber handgun into a nearby driveway. Tankovich later pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Court documents show Tankovich’s previous felony convictions stretch from 1989 to 2001 and consist of voluntary manslaughter, grand theft by possession of stolen property, first-degree burglary and receiving stolen property.

In connection with the Aug. 16 confrontation with Requena, a jury found Tankovich guilty on April 19 of conspiracy to disturb the peace, a misdemeanor.

The jury split 11-1 in favor of not guilty on two felony counts of malicious harassment against his brothers, William M. Tankovich, 50, and Frank J. Tankovich, 47.

The latter two are scheduled to be retried in October.

Luster also sentenced Ira Tankovich on Tuesday to six months in prison each for the misdemeanor convictions of conspiracy to disturb the peace and for obstructing a police officer during the Aug. 16 incident.

Tankovich, who has been in the Kootenai County Jail for almost a year, will receive credit for time served.

In the April trial, Ira Tankovich was found not guilty of the more serious felony charge of conspiring to commit malicious harassment.

The jury deadlocked 8-4 in favor of not guilty on similar conspiracy counts against his brothers.

Jail mail soon restricted to only postcards

Mail to and from Spokane County Jail inmates will be restricted to postcards beginning Sept. 1.

The change will reduce the amount of time spent inspecting mail, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s office.

“Potentially hazardous substances can be secreted into envelopes which corrections officers have to open,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release.

Legal correspondence in envelopes still will be accepted, and inmates still are allowed to receive approved magazines, book and newspapers.

Incoming and outgoing mail will be restricted to 5.5” x 8.5” postcards.

Senders must include their full names and address, as well as the inmate’s first name, middle initial, last name and inmate identification number.

Postcards that don’t fit the requirements beginning Sept. 1 will be returned to sender. Mail without a return address will be returned to the post office.

Tips sought on unregistered sex offenders

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest two transient sex offenders who haven’t registered with authorities. 

Anthony Daniel Wayne Miles (left), 24, was convicted of first-degree child molestation Benton County in 2000.

Miles, 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds, is a transient with a three-year arrest history but now new convictions, according to Crime Stoppers.

Miles has been wanted since November 2008 for failure to register as a sex offender, according to court records.

Also wanted is James Michael Wells, 36 (right). 

Wells was convicted of third-degree assault with sexual motivation in Spokane County in 2002. 

Wells, 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, is on probation after pleading guilty to failure to register as a sex offender last October.

His 19-year local criminal history also includes a conviction for drug possession, according to Crime Stoppers.

A warrant was issued on the new charge June 23.

Both Miles and Wells are level 1 sex offenders, the classification considered least likely to reoffend.

Anyone with information on their locations asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Police probe 3rd kid-for-sale Craigslist ad

For the third time in six months, Spokane-area law enforcement are investigating a child-for-sale advertisement on Craigslist.

A citizen called 911 to report the posting on July 29, but a dispatcher noticed the ad had been removed from Craigslist .

The man brought a copy of the ad to the Spokane Police Department, which had been posted July 29 at 12:56 p.m. and was titled “7 year old boy - $3000 (Spokane).” The ad reads “nice boy needs home will trade for anything.”

Spokane police Detective Curtis Kendall obtained a search warrant for the Internet protocol address used to post the ad, according to a search warrant filed Monday in Spokane County Superior Court.

Kendall said probable cause exists to charge the ad’s author with felony child selling/buying, according to the search warrant.

Police recommend that same charge against Gregory Edison for an ad posted last month that his girlfriend has said was just a bad joke.

In April, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Sandpoint police determined a boy-for-sale ad discovered a month earlier was the work of a bored teen.

Flight attendant flees w/ beer after spat

NEW YORK (AP) — A JetBlue flight attendant got into an argument with a passenger on a jetliner arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday, cursed the passenger, grabbed a beer from the galley and then deployed an emergency exit slide and fled the plane, authorities said.

Flight attendant Steven Slater was arrested at his nearby home in the Belle Harbor section of Queens by Port Authority of New York And New Jersey police on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing.

Slater, 39, remained in custody Monday night. (A screen grab of MySpace page his pictured.) His attorney’s name wasn’t immediately available, and there was no home telephone number listed for him. A woman who answered a phone at a previous residence listed for Slater in Thousand Oaks, Calif., identified herself as his mother but said she wasn’t speaking to the media.

JetBlue Airways Corp. said in a statement that it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Port Authority police to investigate the matter. It said the safety of its customers and crew members was never at risk.

Slater was working on JetBlue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh when he got into an argument with the passenger, who was pulling down baggage from an overhead bin, the Port Authority said. The luggage apparently struck the attendant in the head and he asked for an apology, but the passenger refused, the agency said.

As the plane was landing, Slater got on the public-address system and cussed at the passenger, the Port Authority said. He then grabbed at least one beer, activated the slide, slid down and went to his car, it said.

Port Authority police were notified about 25 minutes later.

JetBlue would not say how long Slater had been employed by the company.

By Monday night, several Facebook pages had been set up in tribute to Slater, with many users of the social networking site expressing support for him for walking off the job.

6-month spree nets 68 months, 17 felonies

A six-month crime spree that earned a Spokane man a spot in the city’s list of most active criminals also earned him 17 felony convictions and nearly six years in prison.

Aleksey Y. Solodyankin, 31, was sentenced Friday to 68 months in prison. He’s been in Spokane County Jail since April, when police arrested him after a wild pursuit that took spike strips, a dozen officers and two tries of force over two miles to halt.

Solodyankin was arrested for vehicle prowling in September, then again Dec. 16 after police say they followed his footsteps from a stolen car to a Spokane Valley bar after a chase.

He was picked up again in January after he was charged with two December burglaries in which stolen vehicles rammed storefronts. He also was charged for a Dec. 20 chase with a Washington State Patrol trooper. He never posted bail after his April arrest.

Now Solodyankin’s bound for a state prison after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree malicious mischief, two counts of second-degree burglary, first-degree theft, two counts of theft of a motor vehicle, unlawful imprisonment, third-degree assault, three counts of attempt to elude, two counts of possession of meth, two counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and one count of first-degree vehicle prowling.

His sentences for the charges will be served at the same time; his maximum sentence was the high-end of the standard range for second-degree burglary, 68 months

Robbery suspect has history of eluding

A Spokane police officer whose neck was fractured when his patrol car was broadsided by another vehicle was en route to catch a suspect with a lengthy criminal history - including a pursuit seven years ago that led to the death of a sheriff’s deputy. 

This time, the officer, whose name has not been released, was hit at Riverside Avenue and Browne Street at 2:30 a.m. as he drove through a flashing red light with his car’s emergency lights flashing while responding to robbery call involving Christopher W. Hardwick (pictured), the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The officer suffered non-life threatening injuries; police this morning did not have an update on his condition.

The driver accused of hitting him, 19-year-old Taylor R. Shockman, sustained minor injures and was arrested for vehicular assault, then released to her parents.

Hardwick, 30, was arrested with Kevin W. Nichols, 26, accused of stabbing a man in the stomach and stealing his wallet near the Cenex gas station at Mission Avenue and Ruby Street just before 2:30 a.m.

Nichols and Hardwick allegedly drove a stolen Honda Civic to Riverfront Park, where one jumped into the Spokane River, and officers followed on foot.

It’s a tragedy that mirrors a a bad collision in 2003 that fatally injured a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy.

In both cases, the law enforcement officials were pursuing Hardwick.

And in both cases, Hardwick seemingly had little to do with the actual injuries.

In 2003, Deputy James Slater suffered fatal head injuries when his patrol car left Grove Road, southwest of Spokane, on a sharp curve while responding to back up another deputy who was following a stolen car with Hardwick inside, according to previously published reports. Slater died at a hospital the next day.

Hardwick and Nichols are due in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon, on charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, first-degree robbery and first-degree assault.

Hardwick faces additional charges of attempting to elude police and second-degree possession of stolen property.

The felon’s lengthy criminal record includes convictions for attempting to elude police, first-degree possession of stolen property, first-degree theft.

He was sentenced to 6 months in federal prison and three years federal probation for a counterfeit money scheme busted in 2005.

Nichols pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a firearm in that same case and was released from prison in July 2009, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Convicted conman accused of fraud, again

A former state legislative candidate convicted in a federal fraud case four years ago is back in trouble, this time related to a proposed condo development in North Idaho and an alleged Internet-based scam similar to his previous crime.

Travis J. “TJ” Sneed, 27, also is accused in Spokane County Superior Court of using a pilfered bank account number to cash nearly $3,000 in checks under the name of a New Jersey loan company.

The six felonies he pleaded innocent to Tuesday, coupled with an indictment in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene charging him with a form of racketeering and 22 counts of wire fraud, are the latest in the legal saga of a convicted con man who once worked as a legislative aide to Jim West. Sneed served time in federal prison for fraud and sued the Spokane County Jail alleging sexual abuse by a cellmate.’

Read the rest of my story here.

Warrant issued for teen after 3 jail releases

A Spokane teen who said he was high on meth when he handed a knife to an assailant-turned-killer two years ago is wanted again, this time for a stolen property case that began when he crashed an Eastern Washington University basketball player’s stolen car. 

Christopher E. Hooper, 19, is charged with five counts of second-degree possession of stolen property, one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and one count of possession of a controlled substance.

Hooper was arrested three times last month but continued to leave jail because charges weren’t filed within 72 hours.

Now that prosecutors have issued arrest warrants, Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to Hooper’s capture. (And with that offer comes a new mug shot. Kid’s really growing up.)

Hooper was arrested in early July with prescription drugs and suspected burglary tools, then again July 6 after state troopers said he crashed a Honda Accord that had been stolen from an Eastern Washington University women’s basketball player July 3.

Hooper was allowed to leave jail pending trial but was arrested again July 14 on new stolen property charges, along with 18-year-old Bowe T. Frank. A 17-year-old boy also was arrested that day after a standoff at 2510 W. Boone. (A search warrant shows Washington State Patrol detectives had heard the boy may have been a person of interest in the unsolved homicide of Nathan “Trigger” Gilstrap, but Spokane police say there’s no connection.)

Hooper left jail again after prosecutors didn’t file charges within 72 hours. New warrants were issued July 23.

Hooper already is on probation after in April in connection with the January 2009 murder of Shannon A. Cochran.

Anyone with information on Hooper’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Last Hoopfest suspect now in Spokane

The last of four men charged with attempted murder for a shooting at Hoopfest has been transported to the Spokane County Jail. 

Marquis D. Johnson, 21, (right) appeared in Superior Court today on two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, 10 counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of riot after arriving in Spokane from the Benton County Jail on Thursday.

Johnson was being held on a probation violation after he was arrested at Hoopfest on June 26. He’d only been out of prison since June 6 after serving about three years for a gun-related assault conviction.

Prosecutors allege Johnson was with Miguel C. Garcia, 19; Adam Doe, 19; and Rashjel C. “Reggie” Cage, 23, when Garcia fired a gun at least three times, injuring three bystanders.

Witnesses said Cage passed the gun to Garcia, who fired it and passed it to Doe, who was arrested at gunpoint after trying to flee the scene, police said.

Johnson was identified “as being present at the time of the shooting in close proximity to Cage and Garcia,” according to court documents. “They were both actively involved in the argument before and after the shooting.”

Kalen J. Bedford, who was arrested the day of the shooting on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge, apparently was targeted by the gunfire - he is listed as the intended victim in a fist-degree attempted murder charge.

Five of the 10 alleged attempted-murder victims are identified only as Jane or John Doe. First-degree assault is included as a an alternative charge in each case.

Defense attorneys told a judge last week that prosecutors don’t have a legal basis for the charges, but Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Garvin said the “theory” of his office is quite straightforward: “When you point a gun at someone … what other intent do you have but to cause their death?” 

Defense attorney David Partovi, who is representing Garcia, said after last week’s hearing that under Garvin’s theory, prosecutors should have charged former Spokane police Officer Jay Olsen with attempted murder in connection with his shooting of Shonto Pete on Feb. 26, 2007.

Read more here.

King Co.’s ‘Judge Judy’ faces reprimand

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A King County judge who has been compared to TV’s “Judge Judy” should be suspended without pay for five days for being rude to defendants in her courtroom, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The sharply divided court said that King County District Judge Judith Eiler violated rules requiring judges to be “patient, dignified, and courteous” to defendants, lawyers and others when she used the terms “idiot” and “stupid” when talking to litigants.

While five justices signed on for the five-day suspension, four others felt she should have faced a longer suspension.

Eiler, who was first elected to the bench in 1992, handles mostly small claims and traffic infractions out of a courtroom in Issaquah.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct said Eiler (right) frequently cut off defendants when they tried to speak, belittled them and didn’t allow them to present evidence — the same conduct that drew a reprimand for Eiler from the commission in 2005. 

Eiler completed sensitivity training following the earlier reprimand. The justices cited a few court exchanges from 2008 that sparked the most recent complaint, including one where a defendant had received a ticket for driving over the speed limit.

The defendant argued that they were just going with traffic, and mentioned they had out-of-state-plates.

Eiler responded that the license plates didn’t make a difference in why the car was pulled over, because “we don’t troll for stupid people out of state who speed over the speed limit.”

The next day, Eiler asked another defendant why she should reduce the cost of the ticket, “other than telling me that you were an idiot and driving with the cars around you(?)”

In another case a month later, she told another defendant, “You can see your picture on the headlines of the Seattle Times, stupid young man who shouldn’t be driving.”

“One or two rude, impatient, or even slightly condescending comments might be understandable — after all, no jurist is perfect,” Justice Jim Johnson wrote for the lead opinion that called for the five-day suspension and affirmed the commission’s censure of her last year. “But more than a dozen such instances is not understandable; rather, it evidences an unacceptable pattern of misbehavior.”

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

Theft charge dropped against killer’s dad

Identity charges have been dismissed against the father of a prostitute convicted of murdering her husband.

The dismissal of the first-degree identity theft charge against Curtis A. Johnson, 69, comes about a month before his daughter’s boyfriend, Brian L. Moore, (pictured) is expected to be sentenced to two years behind bars for two federal weapons convictions. Moore has been in jail since April 2009 and likely will receive credit for time served.

Spokane County investigators have vowed to refile murder charges against Moore for the Dec. 9, 2007 murder of Dale Stark, who was shot to death by Johnson’s daughter, Shellye L. Stark in their Spokane home.

Police believe Moore helped Shellye Stark plot the murder to get Dale Stark’s assets.

But prosecutors moved to dismiss the original charges of against Moore last October after a judge ruled critical evidence from a private investigator hired by Stark and Moore was not admissible.

Johnson was accused of cashing two checks with signatures forged to look like Dale Stark’s after the murder.

According to court documents, someone transferred $9,500 from Dale Stark’s home equity line on Dec. 28, 2007, into a credit union account Shellye Stark (left) took control of after her husband’s murder. 

Less than a week later, Johnson reportedly cashed the two checks from that credit union account - one for $3,000, the other for $9,500 - in Newport, Wash. He lives in Priest River.

Moore is to be sentenced to 24 months in prison and 51 months probation on Aug. 30, assuming a federal judge follows the sentence recommended in the plea agreement. 

It’s unclear if a deal was reached with Johnson to testify against Moore, but the felony charge against him was dismissed without prejudice, meaning prosecutors can refile, according to an order signed by Superior Court Judge Michael Price on July 23.

In a plea agreement filed in June in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, Moore admits to possessing an unregistered rifle and a firearms silencer found in his Orange County, Calif., warehouse by Spokane police on April 27, 2009. Police found diagrams in the building “showing the design and construction of a firearm silencer,” according to the agreement.

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.

A Spokane County jury rejected her claim in March 2009, and Judge Tari Eitzen sentenced her to 50 years in prison. She’s at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor.

Read past coverage of the case here.

Crenshaw declines to speak at sentencing

In the end, after 2 1/2 years and a two-week trial, the killer had nothing to say.

“No thank you, your honor,” said Justin Crenshaw when Judge Tari Eitzen asked him if he had anything to say for the murders of Sarah Clark and Tanner Pehl. “I don’t want to take away anything from the families. My attorney covered it, and I’ll leave it at that.”

Eitzen pressed the 22-year-old, reminding him it was his only opportunity to speak.

“That’s correct. I understand that your honor,” said Crenshaw, dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit and sporting newly buzzed hair and scruffy facial hair. “Thank you.”

Crenshaw sat stoically through more than three hours of emotional testimony from Clark and Pehl’s loved ones.

He watched witnesses but typically sat with his chin resting on a closed fist, appearing uninterested. 

At least five jurors attended the sentencing; the group of 12 took four hours to convict Crenshaw of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder July 27.

Eitzen sentenced the recovering heroin addict from Las Vegas to two consecutive life terms this afternoon, the only punishment available other than the death penalty, which prosecutors already ruled out. 

Eitzen said she felt the grief in this case “more acutely than I have before, ever.”

“To look at the mothers, and to see the pain on Ms. Pehl and Mrs. Clark’s faces for all these weeks, it was an extraordinary experience in my life,” the judge said.

“I can’t make it any better,” she said. I can’t give you closure. There isn’t any. There won’t be any.”

Etizen said that anyone who sat through the trial “won’t forget.”

“That’s all I have to tell you, that nobody will forget,” she said.

Eitzen said her sympathy extends to Crenshaw.

“Because I think, Mr Crenshaw, you’re just, you’re a damaged person that you could find yourself in these circumstances,” Eitzen said. “I don’t know how someone could be that hurt and damaged. You’re so young. And I think it’s a terrible, terrible tragedy for anyone to sit in a courtroom…with someone your age and to look at the destruction and havoc that’s been caused by your behavior.”

She said she sentenced Crenshaw to lief terms because the law requires and “because it’s the right thing to do.”

“I think you are a dangerous person,” Etizen told Crenshaw. “I don’t say that with animosity or hatred.”

Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said the murder case was the most brutal he’d seen.

“I’d look at the pictures, I’d have to go for long walks just because it was horrible,” Driscoll said.

Police: Oxy robber dead after shooting self

A suspected serial OxyContin robber who shot himself after a police chase Tuesday died at a Spokane hospital the next day.  

Nicholas T. “Niko” Burden, 31, worked as a car salesman and lived with his girlfriend and baby daughter before detectives say he began feeding an apparent OxyContin addiction by robbing pharmacies.

He was hospitalized Tuesday after police say he shot himself in a stolen Jeep he used to flee an armed robbery at the Rite Aid at 2929 E. 29th Ave.

He was on life support Wednesday, and later died, according to a nursing supervisor at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Read the rest of my story here.

Driver crashes into home day before bday

A woman wanted on a felony warrant in Idaho crashed her car into a northeast Spokane home early today after trying to flee a traffic stop, police said.

Erin R. Cain, who turns 26 on Friday, was booked into jail on eluding and gun charges after officers say they found the convicted felon with a firearm after a pursuit that began when she failed to signal before making a right-hand turn, according to an affidavit filed in Superior Court today.

Cain, alias Erin R. Hardgrove, was driving a white 4-door SUV when she turned onto East Bridgeport Avenue from North Nevada Street, then fled police at speeds of about 60 mph in a 25 mph zone, police said.

Cain tried turning left onto North Pittsburg Street from East Liberty Avenue but collided with a fence and into the north side of a home at 1714 E. Liberty Ave. just after midnight.

She tried running from the crash but was arrested near Liberty and North Madelia Street, police said.

Cain has felony convictions for attempting to elude in 2006, car theft in 2008 and drug possession in 2004. Cain was wanted on a warrant for an alleged probation violation related to the eluding conviction. She told police that’s why she fled, according to the affidavit.

Records detail discipline after inmate’s death

Penalties against four Spokane County Jail deputies who allowed an inmate’s death to go undetected for eight hours range from dismissal to a reprimand.

Workplace charges in the Nov. 11 death of Fredrick James Juhnke were filed in February and March. Video surveillance and interviews revealed that Kenneth Downey, Lloyd Nolan, David Hatton and Jeff Way failed to make required half-hourly checks on inmates’ welfare, but there was no allegation that they caused or could have prevented Juhnke’s death.

An autopsy showed Juhnke, 58, died of a ruptured aortal aneurism – a burst artery.

Documents obtained by The Spokesman-Review under the state Public Records Act indicate Nolan previously had been reprimanded for verbal abuse and harassment.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

June 9: Jailer who failed to discover inmate death fights firing

Crenshaw sentencing on break till 1:30

The sentencing of convicted double murderer Justin Crenshaw will continue at 1:30 p.m.

Judge Tari Eitzen requested the break after more than 2 1/2 hours of emotional testimony from grieving family and friends of Sarah A. Clark, 18, and Tanner E. Pehl, 20, who Crenshaw, now 22, stabbed to death on Feb. 28, 2008. A few more people are expected to speak, and Crenshaw will have a chance to address the court.

State law allows only two punishments for aggravated first-degree murder, of which Crenshaw was convicted of July 27: The death penalty or life in prison without parole. Prosecutors already decided not to seek the death penalty.

The packed courtroom this morning included at least four jurors from the two-week trial. Testimony came from Pehl and Clark’s parents, their siblings, other relatives and close friends, including Clark’s piano teacher of five years.

Tanner’s aunt described how surreal it is to hear Tanner’s grandmother say that visiting his grave “is part of her routine.”

She said “she visits Tanner’s grave every couple of days because that’s what grandmas should do.”

“No,” Tanner’s aunt said. “That’s not what grandmas should do.”

Tanner’s aunt ended with a message for Crenshaw, who sat next to his lawyer, Chris Bugbee, wearing a blue jail jumper and sporting newly buzzed hair and scruffy facial hair.

“Justin you’ve taken two precious lives and I hope you suffer the rest of your life,” she said. “I hope you have nightmares the rest of your pathetic life…I do not believe you deserve the air you breathe….Long after the world has turned its back on you, Tanner and Sarah’s memory will live on.”

Sarah’s sister, Emily Gant, said Crenshaw not only murdered Sarah and Tanner, “he also murdered what would have been our lives.” She cited what her mother, Teesha Clark, said after the July 27 verdict: “The murders gave us a life sentence, and he deserves no less.”

Gant said Crenshaw “shows no remorse” and displays an “arrogant smile for the friends and families of Sarah Clark and Tanner Pehl.” Teesha Clark said her life has become consumed with thoughts of her daughter’s murder, and irrational fear that her five other children may be hurt.

Losing her child to such horrific violence “has become my living nightmare.”

Tanner’s brother-in-law, a deputy with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, said he was working as a police officer in Medical Lake when he learned of a fire at the Pehl home on TV. Soon, he and his wife learned of Tanner’s death, and he saw the crime scene. The bloody scene was “just like out of a horror film.”

“It brings me peace that you will be in there forever, never having the opportunity to crush two families again,” he said.

Sarah’s father, Steve Clark, described harrowing grief. “It’s agonizing, debilitating, incomprehensible grief…It makes you dizzy,” he said. “You can never understand it unless you experience it yourself.”

“I try not to think about her pain from the stab wounds; her screaming,” Clark said. “How cold someone do that to another person?”

A close friend of Sarah’s told Eitzen that she spoke with Sarah about Crenshaw a few days before the murder.

“She told me Justin was receiving a new start in the midst of her world, and she was eager to give that to him. She invested her heart into helping him start over,” she said. “…Evil now has a face, and he is unremorseful.”

Tanner’s sister, Katie Pehl (pictured left with brothers Matt and Cameron after the verdict last week,) recalled a conversation Tanner told her he’d had with Crenshaw. Tanner had said he wanted to donate his organs if he died. Crenshaw apparently felt differently.

“Not me,” Katie Pehl recalled Crenshaw saying. “When I die, I’m taking all my s**t with me.”

Katie Pehl told Crenshaw she hopes to someday forgive him.

“That is something I will try for the rest of my life,” Pehl said. “I know that’s what Tanner would want me to do.”

Vigil set for bridge murder victim’s birthday

A candlelight vigil will be held Friday for the victim of an unsolved homicide under the Sunset Bridge near High Bridge Park. 

Friends and family of William P. “Bill” Pickard scheduled the vigil to coincide with what would have been his 39th birthday. 

Pickard’s brother, Daniel Pickard, of Chico, Calif., helped create a memorial fund to help Pickard’s teenage stepson and daughters.

Send donations to the Golden One Credit Union, 239 W. 2nd St., Chico, CA 95928. Include account number 1167448. The vigil is scheduled from 7:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Spokane police still are looking for clues in Pickard murder. They believe Pickard, who was studying to be a drug counselor, was alive when his killer, or killers, threw him from the bridge, said Lt. Dave McGovern.

Pickard told his family he was going to a bar June 29, the night before his body was found, but staff said he never showed up. His car was found in the 1500 block of West Glass Avenue the next day.

McGovern said detectives recovered a fingerprint, but it belonged to a family acquaintance who was quickly ruled out as a suspect.

Pickard’s close friend, Bobby Caruso, said Pickard had a methadone prescription that he refilled each week, but that his supply was missing after his murder. McGovern said investigators are considering all aspects of the case.

Anyone with information on his murder should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Crenshaw to be sentenced today for murders

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Double murderer Justin Crenshaw is to be sentenced this morning by Judge Tari Eitzen.

The hearing, set to begin at 9:30 a.m. could last about two hours. Family and friends of victims Sarah A. Clark, 18, and Tanner E. Pehl, 20, are expected to speak, as are members of Crenshaw’s family.

Crenshaw’s mother and grandmother attended the two-week trial, which ended when 12 jurors convicted the 22-year-old of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder on July 27. Crenshaw has been in Spokane County Jail since Feb. 29, 2008, one day after he stabbed Clark and Pehl to death in Pehl’s home at 512 E. Elm Road, then torched the home.

The only punishment for aggravated first-degree murder in Washington state is the death penalty or life in prison without parole; prosecutors already have decided not to seek the death penalty.

So the pressing question this morning is: What will Crenshaw say?

Eitzen will give the young man a chance to address the court before she sentences him.

The California native, who moved to Las Vegas as a young teen or preteen and is a recovering heroin addict, has spoken to her at court hearings against the wishes of attorneys, including a rejected request just before the trial to undergo a test in which he drinks alcohol and an expert analyzes how drunk he becomes .

Four months after his arrest, he successfully asked Eitzen for a new attorney, saying an employee with the public defender’s office is close friends with Clark’s family.

Crenshaw maintained his innocence early on, but he never denied his responsibility at the trial. His lawyer, Spokane County prosecutor candidate Chris Bugbee, told jurors Crenshaw suffers from a rare alcohol disorder that cause bizarre and violent behavior and asked for a manslaughter conviction.

Jurors took about four hours to reject that argument last week. Check my Twitter page for occasional updates from the courtroom.

Past coverage:

July 27: Crenshaw guilty of ‘08 double murder

July 27: Crenshaw murder trial heads to jury

July 12: Killer: Trust no one, broken hearts, knives

Wigged woman sought in 2 bank robberies

A woman who wore a red wig to rob a Spokane bank in late June may have struck again this week.

A robber matching the description of the culprit in the June 30 heist at Banner Bank, 933 E. Mission, stole an undisclosed amount of cash from Banner Bank, 3919 N. Market, just before 1 p.m. Monday, Spokane police announced Wednesday.

The woman did not display a weapon and appears to have worn a black wig (left). 

Police say she appeared 45 to 50 years old, 5-foot-5 with black hair and dark sunglasses.

In the June 30 robbery, police say the same woman wore a wig and sunglasses (left, right) while demanding cash from  employees at the bank,  which is located inside a Safeway grocery store.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to an arrest.

Anyone with information on the woman is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

The woman is the second alleged serial bank robber operating in Spokane. The FBI still is looking for a bicycle-riding bandit linked to six robberies since December.

Davenport Hotel rape case dismissed

Rape charges have been dismissed against a man arrested for an alleged incident at the Davenport Hotel Tower last month. 

Benjamin F. Cooper, 25, left jail last week after Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price last Wednesday approved a request by Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz to dismiss first-degree rape and first-degree robbery charges.

Evidence problems in the case mean prosecutors “can’t prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to court documents.

Spokane police had said that the alleged victim in the case changed her story and was not seen as credible.

The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning prosecutors can refile.

Cooper met his accuser and her boyfriend at a bar July 16 and walked the woman to her hotel room after her boyfriend said he wanted to say out drinking, according to court documents. He was arrested early July 17.

Court officials said at Cooper’s first court appearance July 22 that he is being investigated in two sexual assaults involving minors, one in Pend Oreille County.

He has an extensive criminal record beginning in at least 1999, including 12 assault convictions (three felonies and nine misdemeanors).

Report: No ‘aha’ fix for prosecutor’s office

A consultant says he found no “aha” solution to a budget-driven slowdown in the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.

“A budget cut of the size imposed upon the prosecutor’s office is bound to have serious repercussions, as it appears that it did,” longtime Florida prosecutor Randy McGruther reported.

McGruther, chief assistant state attorney for a five-county Florida judicial circuit, conducted a $5,000 study in May at the request of county commissioners and criminal justice consultant David Bennett.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

Past coverage:

March 24: Deadlines bedevil prosecutor’s office

Burglary ring leads to marijuana grow house

A string of apartment burglaries led police to a marijuana growing operation after the theft suspects admitted to stealing hydroponic grow equipment.

William F. Searight, 22, is to be arraigned today on charges related to nine burglaries at Spokane Valley apartment complexes in March.

Jonothan A. Delay, 19,  is also charged with two of those burglaries and is due in Superior Court this afternoon..

The men also are accused of a Feb. 17 burglary at Spokane Organic & Hydroponic, 4823 E. Sprague.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office detectives say Searight targeted flat-screen televisions in the apartment burglaries. Surveillance video from one complex showed a dark Toyota Four-Runner with a bulldog decal in the back window; detectives identified the truck’s owner as Searight’s brother, who told them Delay or Searight had driven the vehicle, according to court documents.

Detectives searched a home at 5069 Rail Canyon Road in Springdale in April and found Searight, who they say confessed to committing the apartment burglaries.

“Searight had an accomplice which he refused to name, but identified him as a young kid with minimal criminal history,” according to a search warrant.

The next day, after a short chase, police arrested Delay for a burglary at Allied Building Supplies, 2808 E. Boone Ave.

Delay reportedly admitted to detectives that he’d burgled the grow shop for marijuana grow equipment, and that he’d stolen chainsaws from Country Home Power, 5323 E. Sprague, as well as a stealing as guns and a  200-gallon fuel pump tank from a property in Whitman County,a according to a search warrant.

Delay said he sold stolen items to 19-year-old Dustin W.  Riggles, and that he had a “shopping list” of marijuana grow items to steal for a woman police identified as Allison E. Hubbard, 29, accoridng to court documents.

Police searched Hubbard’s home at 106045 E. 6th and dismantled a marijuana  growing operation. She’s charged with manufacturing a controlled substance. Her sister, Marcy D. Hubbard, 28, is charged with two counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property. Delay and Riggles face the same charge.

Delay also is charged with two counts of second-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree theft, and Searight faces 10 counts of second-degree burglary and eight counts of second-degree theft. Charges were filed July 30.

Both men, who are in jail, also are charged with one count of residential burglary and two counts of possession of a stolen firearm.

  • Feb. 17: Spokane Organic & Hydroponic, 4823 E. Sprague (Delay and Searight)
  • Feb. 20: residential burglary, 8000 block of E. Utah (Delay and Searight)
  • March 9: Forest Creek Apartments, 13100 N. Addison
  • March 13: Country Homes Power Equipment, 5323 E. Sprague (Delay and Searight)
  • March 13: Graymayre Crossing Apartments, 636 E. Magnesium
  • March 13: Sullivan Court Apartments, 511 S. Sullivan
  • March 18: Oakwood Club Apartments, 726 N. McDonald
  • March 18: Montgomery Court Apartments, 2301 N. Wilbur
  • March 18: River Rock Apartments, 12721 E. Shannon
  • March 18: Pasadena Ridge Apartments, 4710 N. Pasadena Lane
  • March 18: Whimsical Pig Apartments, 13303 E. Mission

 

Tips sought on off-the-grid sex offenders

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest to sex offenders who haven’t registered with authorities.

Gary L. Scott, 56, (left) was convicted of first-degree statutory rape in Kitsap County in 1988. He has an 18-year local arrest history but no convictions, according to Crime Stoppers.

Scott, 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, is wanted for failure to register as a sex offender.

Also wanted on that charge is William L. Schriver, 41.

Schriver (right) was convicted of first-degree and second-degree child molestation in Clark County in 1991. His 11-year arrest history in Spokane County included convictions for failing to register as sex offender. 

Schriver, 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, was living as a transient last time he checked in with authorities.

Both he and Scott are level 1 sex offenders the group considered least likely to reoffend.

Anyone with information their whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Internet fueling wide spread of child porn

WASHINGTON (AP) — The spread of child pornography, fueled by technology and the Internet, is outpacing efforts to combat it, the Justice Department said Monday in a report to Congress that promises more arrests, prosecutions and better coordination among federal, state and local authorities.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the distribution of child pornography, the number of images being shared online and violence against child victims all have increased. “Tragically, the only place we’ve seen a decrease is in the age of victims,” Holder said in a speech at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.

The report, ordered by Congress in legislation approved two years ago, concedes that the market for child pornography continues to grow rapidly and determining its size is impossible. “The number of offenders accessing the images and videos and the quantity of images and videos being traded is unknown,” the report said.

Creating or possessing images that depict the sexual abuse of children is illegal. There is no First Amendment protection for child pornography.

In announcing a national strategy for preventing child exploitation, Holder laid out several steps that he said would help authorities make progress:

— The U.S. Marshals Service will target the “top 500 most dangerous” sex offenders who have not registered with authorities in the states where they live.

— The Justice Department is creating a database intended to increase cooperation among authorities at all levels of government that investigate child porn cases.

— Thirty-eight new prosecutors will be hired for child porn cases.

The increased attention to fighting child pornography already has led to record numbers of prosecutions and tips. More than 8,600 people have been prosecuted at the federal level since October 2006. State and local authorities focused on the use of the Internet in child sexual exploitation reported that documented complaints of online enticement of children more than tripled from 2004 to 2008 and complaints of child prostitution rose more than 10 times.

Driver arrested in year-old fatal crash

A driver accused of killing a Mead woman in a drunken, head-on crash has been charged with a felony, nearly one year after the crash. 

Waiting to charge Lucian G. Brisan, 30, saved taxpayers thousands of dollars in medical bills, said Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Dave Thornburg.

“He had a long rehab period,” Thornburg said. “We were just waiting until he was healthy.”

Brisan spent months in a hospital and at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Center. He was in a wheelchair and wore a halo brace for five months, Thornburg said.

“If we had arrested him we’d have to start paying for it,” Thornburg said.

Brisan has been out of rehab for the past few months but required in-home care. He was arrested at his home Monday, where Thornburg said detectives found marijuana.

Brisan appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Tuesday via video feed from the jail, where Judge Michael Price ordered him held on $10,000 bond. 

He’s prohibited from consuming alcohol if he posts bond.

Brisan is charged with vehicular homicide and riving with a suspended license for an Aug. 7 crash that killed Janice M. Pulliam, 57 (right).

Pulliam was helping a friend move when Brisan’s Plymouth Voyager crossed the center line on Magnesium Road near Market Street and struck her pickup head-on about 2:30 p.m., according to court documents. She died the next day.

Investigators say Brisan was driving at least 68 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Initial tests said his blood-alcohol level was .23 about 2 hours and 20 minutes after the crash. The Washington State Toxicology report put it at .19. The legal limit for driving is .08.

Pulliam was a married mother of three who was active in the Mormon church, according to her obituary.

Driver: ‘I am drunk. I don’t need the test’

A Spokane man arrested in a drunken car that injured two teen girls told police they didn’t need to bother giving him a sobriety test.

“I drink every day,” said Mark E. Red Bear, Jr., according to a probable cause affidavit prepared by Spokane police. “This would be a waste of time. I am drunk. I don’t need the test.”

Red Bear, 25, reportedly admitted to consuming two alcoholic drinks and smoking three marijuana joints before striking two girls walking near Walnut Avenue and 10th Street with his 1995 Ford truck.

Red Bear posted $2,500 bond and was to be arraigned today on vehicle assault charges for the July 24 crash, which occured about 10:40 p.m., but the hearing was postponed.

Witnesses said Red Bear appeared to be driving 35 to 45 mph in the 30 mph zone.

One girl fractured a rib, broke several teeth and suffered a concussion, then suffered a seizure after leaving a hospital two days later, according to the affidavit. Another girl sprained an arm, a hip, broke several teeth and also suffered a concussion.

Both are undergoing physical therapy.

U.S. judge to Jerry Carlson: Pay attention

The 30-year veteran federal judge made it clear at the beginning of what turned out to be a 2 1/2 hour hearing: Jerry Carlson, school booster and Coeur d'Alene insurance giant, was going to prison. 

“Probation is not an appropriate sentence,” U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush (left) said Monday. “What message would such a sentence send to the people of this community both young and old who have been misled by Mr. Carlson?”

Carlson appeared frustrated throughout the hearing, folding his arms over his chest and looking away. 

At one point, Quackenbush scolded him.

“Might I suggest, Mr. Carlson, what the court has to say may be of some interest to you?” Quackenbush asked.

“Yeah,” Carlson replied, looking up. 

Quackenbush sentenced Carlson to 27 months in federal prison for his role in an undercover cocaine sting that exposed his addiction to the community in February 2009. He could be released after about 13 months.

Quackenbush also ordered Carlson to serve four years on probation but declined to impose further forfeitures, besides $20,000 Carlson's already paid. The judge said further forfeiture would unfairly burden Carlson's family.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Cook said Carlson still has not accepted full responsibility for his role in the case, which she said began in late January or early February 2008 when Carlson bought a kilo of cocaine from Theodore Bruck, a former Bayview, Idaho, contractor now in federal prison for marijuana distribution.

Carlson admitted Monday that he split that kilo with a known dealer, someone Cook said had a large impact on the community. Carlson says Bruck set him up to buy the next kilo, which led to his arrest, by offering it to him for the exceptionally low price of $2,000.

Cook says he'd already given Bruck $19,000; Carlson says that cash was a loan for Bruck's construction business. When Carlson stopped lending Bruck money, Bruck found another way to Carlson’s wallet - his addiction or his “Achilles tendon.”

Carlson went to rehab for alcohol addiction several years ago but soon relapsed and was using cocaine occasionally. After he began dealing with Bruck, Carlson said he consumed more than two pounds of cocaine in two to three months.

“He was using as much as he could get his hands on,” said his lawyer, James Siebe. “Neither his family nor his clients knew he was back into the problem.”

Read much more from the sentencing in my full story: School booster in cocaine sting gets 27 months

Past coverage:

May 26: DEA shuts down alleged CdA cocaine ring

Jan. 29: Ex-Bayview contractor helped bust Carlson

Sept. 21, 2009: Feds wants Carlson's car, cash

Feb 23, 2009: CdA businessman faces federal cocaine charges

Man in rejected sentencing deal jailed, again

A Spokane man who returned to jail just weeks after promising to make better decisions earlier this year is again back behind bars.

 Michael R. “Mikey Mike” Gardner’s arrest on robbery and drunken driving charges came about about six weeks after he served a sentence imposed by Judge Kathleen O’Connor, who had rejected a proposal to give the 24-year-old credit for time served in April.

O’Connor instead had sentenced Gardner to six months. He served about four months and was released June 4.

Now Gardner is to be arraigned today on charges related to a July 24 arres after a man said Gardner assaulted him and stole his black Honda Civic.

The alleged victim said he was leaving Matthew’s Bar and Grill on North Pines Road when Gardner, who was sitting outside on a curb, asked him for a ride him. Gardner said he lived “just down the road” but couldn’t give directions, so the victim drove to his apartment complex at 2718 N. Bowdish.

Gardner fought with the victim it the parking lot, then stole his car, which was recovered in the 2800 block of North Cherry.

Police believe Gardner asked for a ride home as a rouse to steal the car. He’s charged with first-degree robbery, drunken driving and driving with a suspended license.

His arrest was the one-year anniversary of a shooting melee that led to a third-degree assault conviction against Gardner. He received credit for time served in January, then was arrested in a stabbing case two weeks later.

Past coverage: April 15: Man gets 6 months after judge rejects deal 

Biker shoots to stop driver; driver arrested

An alleged road rage incident between a driver and motorcyclist Sunday in North Idaho led to the arrest of a 44-year-old Athol man after the biker fire a shot at him.

Keith W. Williams is charged with battery and aggravated assault after a man identified in court documents as Thomas Helton told police he had to fire a small handgun at Williams’ front car tire to stop an attack about 4 p.m.

Witnesses in the area of U.S Highway 95 and Neider Avenue told police that Williams punched Helton in the head as they were stopped at a light, then drove northbound toward Helton and his motorcycle, police said.

Helton fired one round into Williams’ car’s front tire. Williams is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly using his vehicle as a weapon. He’s out of Kootenai County Jail on bond.

Witnesses to the incident are asked to call Coeur d’Alene police at (208) 769-2320.

CdA cop avoids head-on freeway crash

 A Coeur d’Alene police officer responding to a domestic violence stabbing had to swerve to avoid a wrong-way - and allegedly drunk - driver on Interstate 90 last weekend.

Officer J. Noble crashed into a concrete barrier while eastbound on the freeway about 9 p.m. Sunday when he saw a driver later identified as Jodi L. Warner, 43, alias Jodi Turbin, headed westbound in his lan, according to the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

Warner, of Post Falls, continued driving the wrong way on I-90 until crashing into a guard rail near Atlas Road, where she was arrested, police said.

Warnerwas booked into the Kootenai County Jail on charges of drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident and is out on

bond. Noble scraped his arm during the crash, police said.

Bank robber foiled by mother gets 10 years

A Spokane bank robber turned in by his mother will spend more than a decade in prison. 

Douglas E. Labish, 35, was sentenced to 129 months in prison Thursday by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Conner after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery.

Labish also is to repay $1,650, the amount of cash he stole from Banner Bank (pictured), inside the Safeway grocery store at 933 E. Mission, on Feb. 22.

Labish was arrested outside Banner Bank in the Safeway at 3919 N. Market on Feb. 25 after employees reported someone matching the robber’s description pacing in front of the store.

His mother already had called police after she recognized Labish from surveillance photos of the Feb. 22 robbery.

Labish, who police say lived at the House of Faith homeless shelter, spent time in federal prison for robbing three banks in 2002 - including an old bank located at the same location where Banner on Mission now is.

Kids help bust meth-making Idaho couple

A methamphetamine-making Rathdrum couple turned in by their children will spend at least five years in prison. 

Gregory R. Klundt, 42, and Marjory A. Barnes, 46, were engaged to be married when one of Klundt’s children reported drug activity at their home, leading to a raid by the Rathdrum Police Department and Idaho State Police Sept. 25, 2009, according to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office.

Investigators seized meth ingredients such as cold medication with pseudoephedrine and manufacturing equipment. They believe Klundt and Barnes had their children buy some of the ingredients.

A jury convicted Klundt and Barnes after a three-day trial in May in which the couple admitted to being drug addicts.

Both were convicted of trafficking in methamphetamine by manufacturing, manufacturing drugs, manufacturing, selling or possessing drugs when children are present as well as trafficking in cocaine.

Judge Fred Gibler on July 26 sentenced Klundt to eight years in prison with eligibility for parole after five, and Barnes to seven years with eligibility for parole after five.

Klundt has a previous conviction for possession of a dangerous drug, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutor Barry McHugh said the sentenced “adequately punish Mr. Klundt and Ms. Barnes.”

“It is reprehensible that they exposed children to the dangerous manufacturing of methamphetamine,” McHugh said in a prepared statement.

Reward for tips on off-the-grid rapists

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest two convicted rapists who haven’t registered with local authorities as required.

Christopher James Miller, 37, (right) is accused of violating his probation for a 1998 third-degree rape conviction in Spokane County. He’s been wanted since January for failure to register as a sex offender.

Court records show mail related to his 1998 case started being returned to the court in February 2009.

Miller’s criminal history includes a conviction for fourth-degree assault, according to Crime Stoppers. Miller is 6-feet tall, weighs 200 pounds and last gave his address as 2622 W. Fairview Ave., in Spokane.

Roth McPheeters, 65, (left) was convicted of first-degree rape and second-degree assault in King County in 1974. His eight-year local criminal history includes convictions for reckless driving and negligent driving.

Now McPheeters is wanted for failing to register as a sex offender, according to Crime Stoppers. McPheeters is 5-foot-8, weighs 170 pounds and last gave Route 2, box 198C in Cheney as his address.

Anyone with information on Miller or McPheeters is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

FBI hunts for bicycle-riding bank robber

A masked gunman believed to have robbed six banks since December still is being sought by the FBI. 

A noon-hour armed robbery at the Indian Trail branch of the Spokane Teacher Credit Union last Wednesday is similar to others heists attributed to a man who usually flees on a bicycle.

“It’s likely to be the same individual, although we are still actively investigating,” said FBI supervisory senior resident agent Frank Harrill. 

The suspected serial robber last struck May 25 at U.S. Bank, 621 E. 30th Ave., about 11:30 a.m., prompting lockdowns at nearby Sacajawea Middle School and Jefferson Elementary School.

The crime spree is believed to have started Dec. 22 at Sterling Savings Bank, 3000 S. Grand Blvd., then continued Feb. 13 (top left) and April 19 (right) at Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd. 

On May 18, the gunman wore a motorcycle helmet (left)and forced an employee at Chase Bank, 3007 E. 57th Ave., to the floor at gunpoint. 

Witnesses in at least one of the robberies said the gunman appeared to be familiar with how banks operate and knew which cash drawers to request.

The robber is described as white, 6-feet tall, in his 30s with a thin-to-medium build and fair complexion.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI’s Spokane office at (509) 747-5195, extension 2. If it’s after hours, call (206) 622-0460.

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