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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for July 2010

Extortion claim leads to $2,500, SWAT team

A 28-year-old Spokane man suspected of kidnapping and extortion remains in Kootenai County Jail after escaping a friend’s home during a SWAT standoff Thursday in Post Falls, only to be caught later.

Post Falls police responded to a house at 204 W. 17th Ave. just before noon Thursday, where Joshua M. Moses allegedly held and beat up Joshua M. Branam, 34, on Saturday, Post Falls police Chief Scot Haug said.

Police believe Branam, of Coeur d’Alene, owed Moses money, but the investigation is ongoing. Branam’s family paid Moses $2,500 for his release, Haug said.

The homeowner told officers as they toured the scene of the beating  that Moses was in the house, and that he had a gun. Officers called the SWAT team, but Moses sneaked out the back door, Haug said.

Police apprehended Moses around 6:30 p.m. at the Post Falls Club, a bar at 611 E. Seltice Way. A 15-year-old runaway also was arrested today in connection with the Saturday incident. Branam was arrested Wednesday on an outstanding warrant, Haug said.

Drug-swallowing car theft suspect jailed

After leading a police on a chase in a stolen car Wednesday, and then spending 36 hours in a hospital for swallowing drugs, Kurt C. Lamarr, of Spokane, landed in jail Thursday evening.

Early Wednesday, a Spokane police officer spotted a stolen silver Nissan sedan driven by Lamarr, 25, into the Jack in the Box parking lot near North Foothills Drive and Division Street, according to Spokane police. Lamarr left the lot and drove the wrong direction on Division.

When the car stalled, Lamarr, who appeared intoxicated, took off on foot, but was eventually captured, police said. Police said they found a bag of methamphetamine and a handgun in the car.

Lamarr’s charges include possession of a stolen vehicle, drug possession and possession of a firearm, DUI and driving with a suspended license.

As Lamarr was booked into jail, he said he swallowed drugs earlier, police said.

Lamarr was taken to Deaconess Medical Center, where he was guarded by officers.

He was back in jail by Thursday night. Lamarr was convicted of second-degree robbery in 2007.

Donations to prosecutor’s charity probed

What do David Miller, John C. Cooney, Dallas Cooney; Christian Phelps, Ronnie Rae, Frank Cikutovich, Paul Mack, Frank Bartoletta, John Clark, Rob Cossey, Tony Hazel, Jared Cordts and Larry Steinmetz have in common, other than law degrees?

All apparently donated to a Guatemalan orphanage supported by Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

Two Stevens County judges have asked the state bar association to investigate, saying they are concerned about Rasmussen’s practice of encouraging defense attorneys to contribute to the fund.

They submitted a copy of a February 2009 telephone message from Miller that says: “He had a good month. Does your charity need anything?” Miller said this week that he was “really offended” by the complaint.

Read John Craig’s story here.

Cops arrest ‘Megazord’ tag suspect, again

Police rearrested an alleged graffiti artist this week on felony charges after a judge allowed him to leave jail on misdemeanor counts of malicious mischief.

Zakk M. Holder, 21, was ordered held in Spokane County Jail on $5,000 bail after appearing before Superior Court Judge Michael Price Thursday on second-degree burglary and malicious mischief charges.

His public defender, Steven Reich, said the charges are for the same graffiti allegations Holder for which Holder was already arrested Monday.

“I think the police were upset that he was released,” Reich said.

Police say Holder prides himself on tagging “Megazord” on downtown buildings and is suspected in a string of graffiti tags. They say he’s caused thousands of dollars in damage over the last four years.

This week, downtown employees spotted Holder tagging the Cathedral Plaza Apartments, then damaging a soap dispenser in a bathroom at Riverfront Park, where he’d been banned from going for a year.  He’s also suspected of tagging a Spokesman-Review building at 1023 W. Riverside Ave.

Holder told police his nickname is Megazord but denied tagging graffiti, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police say Holder’s cell phone’s wall paper was picture of a Megazord tag.

Police ask anyone who feels they’ve been victimized to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Liberty Lake man accused of voyeurism

A 26-year-old man is accused of peeping into windows in Liberty Lake over the last six weeks in search of undressed women and sexual activity.

Samuel J. Hall appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Thursday on a voyeurism charge after a man said he’d spotted him looking into windows Tuesday night.

The tipster said the man ran into an apartment at the Bitterroot Lodge Apartment in the 21000 block of East Mission, where police contacted Hall’s wife early Wednesday.

She told detectives she worked the graveyard shift; her husband arrived during the interview and reportedly “made admissions that indicated he was probably responsible for the recent prowler calls.”

A similar incident had been reported July 10 in the 2100 block of N. Sedge, and residents had been reporting prowlers at Hall’s apartment complex since June.

Hall told police he moved to the area in June and that he often went out at night to look for nudity and sexual activity in open windows, police said.

“He indicated he got a thrill while watching,” according to an affidavit prepared by the Liberty Lake Police Department.

Judge Michael Price allowed Hall to leave jail on his own recognizance after his court appearance Thursday.

Police: Woman broadcasted child sex abuse

A Grant County woman is accused of sexually abusing children over an Internet camera that was viewed by people across the county.

Pamela K. Ortega, 29, pleaded not guilty this week to four counts of first-degree rape for alleged incidents in March and April.

The investigation began in April when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children contacted the Grant County Sheriff’s Office about possible child pornography or child prostitution involving Ortega through the Internet. An anonymous tip from Europe said Ortega offered a young girl for sex.

Ortega was interviewed at her apartment at 800 S. County Road in Warden in May, where she reportedly admitted to sexually abusing two relatives and a 2-week-old boy she babysat. Ortega told police she was a methamphetamine addict who filmed herself abusing the children at the behest of people she chatted with on the Internet.

Police investigated a bestiality claim against Ortega and a Moses Lake man’s dog, but no charges have been filed.

Ortega was arrested last week and remains in the Grant County Jail.

2 sex offenders wanted since summer ‘09

UPDATE: Cheney pleaded guilty in March 2011 and is no longer wanted by authorities.

Crime Stoppers is offering rewards for tips that help arrest two unregistered sex offenders wanted since last summer

Gregory D. Cheney, 32 (left), was convicted of two counts of first-degree child molestation in Spokane County in 1992.

Cheney, 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, is a transient with an 18-year-criminal history, according to Crime Stoppers. He's been wanted since last August for failing to register as a sex offender.

Also wanted is Steven V. Latterman, 39 (right).

Latterman, who has a nine-year criminal history, was convicted of third-degree assault with sexual motivation in 2003 in Spokane County.

A warrant was issued in July 2009 for one count of failure to register as a sex offender.  Lattreman, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, last gave 1905 W. 2nd Ave. #L in Spokane as his address.

Cheney and Latterman are level 1 sex offenders, the classification 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.

CdA seeks legal costs in dismissed lawsuit

The city of Coeur d’Alene is seeking recovery of legal fees after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed police assaulted her.

Shannon Kanda had a blood alcohol level of .28 when she had a neighbor call police to report she’d been assaulted, according to court documents.

Police responded to an apartment in the 1800 block of Legends Parkway around 9:20 p.m. May 7, 2009, where they say Kanda was uncooperative and hit an officer’s hands, then swung at an officer.

An officer deflected a punch and struck Kanda in the chin, the both offers “took hold of Kanda and put her down face first on the stairwell landing,” according to U.S District Judge Edward Lodge’s judgment, filed this week. One officer “informed Kanda that she had hit her head on the iron stairwell in the process.”

Kanda’s lawyer, Larry Purviance, said his client was unsteady because of alcohol and resisted a police order because she was afraid, according to the lawsuit.

Kanda injured her left eye and required surgery. Idaho State Police investigated the case. Kanda pleaded guilty to battery in February.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Wayne Longo said he’s “pleased but not surprised” buy the dismissal.

“Every day our officers do their best to respond in a professional manner in very difficult situations like this,” Longo said in a prepared statement. “It is unfortunate that as a result they become targets of meritless lawsuits.”

Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Mike Gridley said he’ll “definitely ask the court to order the plaintiff to pay the city’s legal costs.”

Kanda’s lawsuit was one of several filed by Purviance.

Two others mentioned in this story from last summer still are pending.

Hoopfest shooting brings 50+ felony charges

Four men arrested after a shooting at Hoopfest each have been charged with 12 murder-related felonies.

Miguel C. Garcia, 19; Adam Doe, 19; Marquis D. Johnson, 21 (right); and Rashjel C. “Reggie” Cage, 23, (left) all are in custody.

Garcia, Doe and Cage appeared in Superior Court Wednesday afternoon via video from Spokane County Jail; Johnson is in the Benton County Jail in Kennewick. 

The men are charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, 10 counts of attempted first-degree murder and single counts of riot and unlawful possession of a firearm.

First-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault are included as alternative charges.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 30: High bonds set for Hoopfest suspects

June 29: Hoopfest shots not ‘surprising’

Spokane woman admits to bilking Medicaid

A 55-year-old Spokane woman avoided jail but was ordered to repay $16,575 after admitting this week to bilking Medicaid.

Dea Ann Wagner’s 30-day jail sentence was converted to 240 hours of community service. She’ll be probation for a year, according to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Wagner pleaded guilty in Spokane County Superior Court to first-degree theft, second-degree theft and five counts of filing a false Medicaid statement.

The Attorney General’s Office says she charged full-time hours while working part-time, and falsely claimed specific chore were performed.

Abortionist threat may bring home detention

A Spokane man could serve his sentence on home dention after pelading guilty Wednesday to threatening a Colorado doctor who offers late-term abortions three weeks after the killing of a Kansas doctor who also provided the procedure, according to a plea agreement.

Donald Hertz, 70, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Spokane to one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and one count of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.

The charges carry up to six years in federal prison and up to $350,000 fine at his Oct. 27 sentencing, but the plea agreement says prosecutors won’t oppose Hertz’s request to serve an incarceration sentence in home detention.

Hertz admitted that he intentionally intimidated Dr. William Hern of the Boulder Abortion Clinic and his employees. According to court records, Hertz contacted the clinic and stated that two of his associates were driving to Boulder, Colo., to kill members of the doctor’s family.

Hertz made the threat just after the May 2009 killing of Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita, Kan., physician who was one of a few doctors in the nation who performed late-term abortions.

“The defendant’s conviction should sent a clear message to others who would carry out similar criminal acts that they will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Perez said in a news release.

Past coverage:

Aug. 28, 2009:  Threat to abortion doctor may have stemmed from news article

Steele’s friends call him a ‘political prisoner’

The reported victim in an alleged murder-for-hire plot appears to be supporting the main suspect in the case – her husband, former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar J. Steele.

Cyndi Steele joined her husband’s supporters in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene Wednesday as Edgar Steele, 65, pleaded not guilty to four additional felonies, one that carries a mandatory sentence of at least 30 years in federal prison.

She spent several minutes talking to her husband’s public defender, Roger Peven, and to her husband’s friends before leaving without speaking to a reporter.

Several of Edgar Steele’s supporters said the case against him is a fraud and called him a “political prisoner” targeted because of his legal work against the federal government. They pointed to voice impersonation software they say was used to fabricate recordings of Steele discussing the murder plot with Sagle man Larry Fairfax, who the FBI said wore a hidden recording device after telling investigators of Steele’s plan.

Read the rest of my story here.

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

Barefoot Bandit doesn’t like all the attention

SEATTLE (AP) — The “Barefoot Bandit” has received movie and book offers but is not interested in telling his story — nor does he want anyone else to do it, according to his attorney.

Colton Harris-Moore, 19, is being held in Seattle on a federal count of interstate transportation of stolen property related to a plane theft at the Boundary County Airport in Bonners Ferry last fall.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Harris-Moore is the primary suspect in at least 80 crimes committed since he escaped from a group home near Seattle in April 2008.

They include stealing five airplanes, three of which were wrecked in crash landings, dozens of break-ins at homes and businesses, and the theft of cash, food, electronics, firearms, cars and boats across nine states, British Columbia and the Bahamas, where he was captured.

His attorney, John Henry Browne (pictured), told ABC News that Harris-Moore’s time as a fugitive wasn’t planned and he eluded authorities because he was afraid to turn himself in.

“He was sleeping in culverts, in ditches — and on occasion in a Porta-Potty or two,” he said.

Browne said he spoke with Harris-Moore for four hours on Saturday and found him to be “fascinating, intelligent and introspective.”

“He wanted me to give the message to the public that what he did was not romantic, that he shouldn’t be a role model,” Browne said during an interview on “Good Morning America.” ”He actually doesn’t like the attention he is getting.” (Seattle print shop owner Adin Stevens is pictured last October displaying a t-shirt he said he print on whim to celebrate Harris-Moore.)

Harris-Moore doesn’t plan to profit from his story and doesn’t want anyone else to either, Browne said.

“He felt if he told it or gave it away, it would no longer be his story,” Browne said. “Almost like, if you look in a mirror, your soul is stolen. It was really interesting.”

Asked about whether Harris-Moore flaunted his “Barefoot Bandit” image by drawing bare feet with chalk at one burglarized store, Browne said Harris-Moore intended it as a spoof.

“It was kind of like silly 19-year-old humor,” he said.

At a court hearing Friday, Harris-Moore did not contest his detention and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His next court appearance will likely come after a grand jury indictment.

Read an in-depth story on Harris-Moore’s time in the Bahamas, written by a Seattle Times reporter who traveled there, by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

July 23: Bandit’s lawyer: He was scared to death

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

1 man sought in 2 OxyContin robberies

,One “very dangerous” man is responsible for two gunpoint OxyContin robberies at different Albertsons pharmacies in Spokane County this month, police announced today.  

Detectives released photos of the robber pulling a gun near a young girl July 23 at the store at 57th and Regal and pointing the firearm at a store employee as he ran out the westside front doors.

He ran to the west and then south before hew as picked up by someone in a white SUV “virtually identical to a 2007 or older Toyota Sequoia” according to a Crime Stoppers news release. (That model is pictured.)

Photos showing a hooded Hurley sweatshirt and makeshift mask worn in a July 9 armed robbery at the Albertsons at Trent and Argonne in Millwood, then discarded in a dumpster behind a nearby school district building, already are available. The outfit is similar to that worn during last week’s robbery.

  Purdue Pharma, the company that makes the powerful prescription drug, is offering a $1,000 reward through Crime Stoppers for tips that lead to an arrest.

The robber is described as a white man in his 20s, 6-feet to 6-foot-4 and thin.

Anyone with information is asked to call 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.

Sex offender gets 8 years in 2nd rape case

A man cleared of rape charges in 2008 after a Spokane County jury couldn’t reach a verdict was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison for a string of sexual assaults last year.

Justin L. Dehn, 23, was arrested last August after three women said Dehn assaulted them at a home in the 6700 block of N. Standard after they returned from a party.

One woman told police she awoke to Dehn raping her on Aug. 2; two others said he’d groped them, according to a probable cause affidavit. One victim’s boyfriend was sleeping next to the bed and called 911 when he awoke to her screaming that she’d been raped, according to the affidavit.

Dehn pleaded guilty in June to two counts of third-degree assault and one count of indecent liberties. He was originally charged with second-degree rape and two counts of indecent liberties.

Dehn was charged in June 2008 with second-degree rape for an incident a woman said happened in December 2006. A jury couldn’t reach a verdict after a two-day trial in March 2009, and prosecutors dropped the charge the next month.

Now Dehn will register as a sex offender for life after he’s released from prison for his recent convictions.

The sentencing recommendation approved in Superior Court on Tuesday gave him 84 months in prison, with credit for time served in jail.

Congress eases crack cocaine penalties

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress on Wednesday changed a quarter-century-old law that has subjected tens of thousands of blacks to long prison terms for crack cocaine convictions while giving far more lenient treatment to those, mainly whites, caught with the powder form of the drug.

The House, by voice vote, approved a bill reducing the disparities between mandatory crack and powder cocaine sentences, sending the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature. During his presidential campaign, Obama said that the wide gap in sentencing “cannot be justified and should be eliminated.” The Senate passed the bill in March.

The measure alters a 1986 law, enacted at a time when crack cocaine use was rampant and considered a particularly violent drug, under which a person convicted of crack cocaine possession gets the same mandatory prison term as someone with 100 times the same amount of powder cocaine.

The legislation reduces that ratio to about 18-1.

The bill also eliminates the five-year mandatory minimum for first-time possession of crack, the first time since the Nixon administration that Congress has repealed a mandatory minimum sentence.

“For Congress to take a step toward saying ‘we have made a mistake’ and this sentence is too severe … is really remarkable,” said Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project, which in studies of sentencing practices has referred to crack cocaine mandates as a “‘poster child’ for the injustices of mandatory sentencing.”

Under current law, possession of five grams of crack triggers a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence. The same mandatory sentence applies to a person convicted of trafficking 500 grams of powder cocaine.

The proposed legislation would apply the five-year term to someone with 28 grams, or an ounce, of crack.

Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, said 28 grams is about what the average crack dealer might carry around.

She said politicians and the U.S. Sentencing Commission have for years acknowledged the unfairness of the system, “but no one wanted to look soft on crime.” The legislative change, she said, is “much more about being smart on crime.”

She cited Sentencing Commission estimates that almost 3,000 people a year subjected to the mandatory sentence would be affected by the change. The average sentence in these cases would be reduced from 106 months to 79 months.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the main sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said last year close to 1,500 people were convicted for possession of somewhere between five and 25 grams of crack cocaine, subjecting them to mandatory minimum sentences.

Some 80 percent of those convicted of crack cocaine offenses are black.

In the 2008 campaign, Obama said the sentencing disparity “has disproportionately filled our prisons with young black and Latino drug users.” He cited figures that blacks serve almost as much time for drug offenses — 58.7 months — as whites do for violent offenses — 61.7 months.

The Congressional Budget Office said the bill would save the government $42 million over five years because of the reduction in prison populations.

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, was the only lawmaker to speak against the bill, saying the 1986 law was enacted at a time when the crack cocaine epidemic was bringing a sharp spike in violence to minority communities and it would be a mistake to change it.

“Why do we want to risk another surge of addiction and violence by reducing penalties?” he asked. “Why are we coddling some of the most dangerous drug traffickers in America?”

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., noted that the bill also requires the sentencing commission to significantly increase penalties for drug violations involving violence. “This way the defendant is sentenced for what he or she actually did, not the form of cocaine involved,” Scott said.

Man accused of ‘Megazord’ graffiti spree

A 21-year-old man police say prides himself on tagging “Megazord” on downtown buildings is suspected of a string of graffiti tags, Spokane police announced Tuesday.

Officer Shaney Redmon is looking for people who think they have been victimized by alleged graffiti artist Zakk M. Holder.

Holder was arrested Monday after 5 p.m. on a misdemeanor malicious mischief, but police believe he’s responsible for thousands of dollars worth of damage to downtown businesses over the last four years. 

“He concentrates on buildings, structures, dumpsters, windows, any piece of property located in the downtown corridor,” according to a news release. “Holder spray paints “Megazord” or “OSN” or “MZ” in different variations.”

Anyone who thinks they may have been victimized by Holder is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Justin Crenshaw in 2008: ‘I didn’t do it’

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“Right now, everyone’s looking at me like I’m guilty.”

Justin Crenshaw told a reporter that in July 2008, nearly five months after the brutal slayings of 20-year-old Tanner E. Pehl and 18-year-old Sarah Clark. 

“It’s hard to look at people with them thinking I’m guilty of taking their son or daughter’s life, when I didn’t do it,” he said after a court hearing attended by the victims’ families. “I can’t even imagine how they feel. As much as I got to know them, they (Clark and Pehl) were great people.”

Two years later, Crenshaw faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole after a jury convicted him of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

The 22-year-old never denied his responsibility for the deaths of Clark and Pehl during the two-week trial.

But he blamed a rare alcohol disorder, and his lawyer, Spokane County prosecutor candidate Chris Bugbee, argued he couldn’t have premeditated the crimes. 

  It took a jury of five men and seven women about four hours to reject that claim on Tuesday. Family and friends of Pehl and Clark cried after the verdict and shared hugs. (Tanner’s sister, Katie, is pictured hugging Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll.)

Crenshaw has been in the Spokane County Jail since the day after the murder.

He’s had several attorneys and successfully argued for his case to be transferred from the county public defender’s office because Clark’s family is close friends with an office investigator. 

Crenshaw, described by a childhood friend after his arrest as “the nicest, sweetest guy”, served 18 months for an assault conviction in Nevada after he stabbed a man in the neck.

In June, Judge Tari Eitizen rejected a request from Crenshaw to allow him to undergo a test in which he drinks alcohol and an expert analyzes his bizarre or violent tendencies. Eitzen also had to order Crenshaw to be examined by an expert for the prosecution after he refused to meet with the doctor.

Crenshaw will be sentenced to life in prison next Thursday.

Check out our full coverage of the case: 

July 27: Crenshaw guilty of ‘08 double murder

July 27: Crenshaw murder trial heads to jury

July 22: Crenshaw’s defense calls two witnesses

July 13: Jurors see swords used in double slaying

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

July 12: Crenshaw double-murder trial begins today

$1,000 reward for tips on OxyContin robbery

The company that makes OxyContin is offering a  $1,000 reward for tips that solve a robbery at an Albertsons pharmacy in Millwood July 9.

Detectives last week released photos of the jacket and a knit hat used as a mask, which were in a dumpster behind a school district building.

The robber ran north to the building after leaving the Albertsons at Trent and Argonne with stolen OxyContin at 9:17 a.m. on July 9, Crime Stoppers said today.

The robber tried to flee out a back door, but ran out the front door after an alarm sounded. The man had a black semi-automatic handgun he kept pointed at an employee. He’d entered the store wearing a dark hooded Hurley jacket with the hood up, along with gray or faded denim jeans.

“He was hunched over with his arms crossed as if he was sick or injured,” according to a police news release. The man is described as white, about 6-foot-4 with a thin to medium build.

Along with the jacket and knit mask with makeshift holes for his eyes and mouth, the robber wore black running shoes and faded grey jeans.

OxyContin giant Purdue Pharma is offering the $1,000 reward through Crime Stoppers.The robbery is the second in the Sopakne area this month - the Albertsons at 57th and Regal was robbed of OxyContin Friday morning.

Anyone with information on the July 9 robbery is asked to call 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.

Defense calls murder case ‘classic cover-up’

COLVILLE – Defense attorney Mark Vovos on Monday told a jury of Stevens County residents that the murder trial they are about to decide amounts to a “classic cover-up” by detectives who willingly bought the shaky story of a co-defendant.

But Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Dale Nagy said 57-year-old Christopher Devlin killed a longtime-friend, 52-year-old Daniel Heily, who was just about to testify against Devlin in a trial where he was charged with breaking into Heily’s home and assaulting him on Aug. 2, 2007.

“Mr. Devlin told people that he was looking at four to eight months in prison if he was convicted in that case,” Nagy said. “He told people, ‘Mr. Heily will be 6 six feet under before I ever go to jail.’”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 3: Prosecutor’s mix up takes death penalty off the table

Oct. 31, 2009: County balks at case transfer

May 18, 2008: Homicide victim was Chattaroy man

Prosecutor: Crenshaw is a sociopathic killer

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker once told a reporter that questions about motive contributed to his decision not to seek the death penalty against Justin W. Crenshaw.

Investigators initially suspected Sarah Clark’s growing interest in Tanner Pehl may have motivated Crenshaw to kill, but testimony never pointed to that.  (In fact, witnesses said Pehl was excited about an upcoming date with a new girl.)

During his closing argument on Monday, Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll told jurors motive has no bearing in a first-degree murder case but suggested Crenshaw became enraged because Clark wasn’t interested in having sex with him.

But Crenshaw’s lawyer, Chris Bugbee, said there is no motive for the crimes, because Crenshaw didn’t have the ability to think about what he was doing.

The ransacked Pehl home showed signs of Crenshaw’s bizarre behavior: family photos were overturned and candles were stacked from smallest to largest.

Driscoll didn’t explain the candles but offered a simple explanation for the overturned photos: “He knew what he was doing was wrong, and he didn’t want those people looking at him.”

Bugbee said Crenshaw suffers from a rare disorder called pathological intoxication, or alcohol idiosyncratic intoxication, that causes bizarre and sometimes violent behavior.

But Driscoll said the explanation is a bit more simple: Crenshaw is a sociopath.

“He lacks a conscience,” Driscoll said. “The crime scene photos show you that.”

The question for the jury of five men and seven women: Were the murders premeditated?

Bugbee, who urged jurors to convict Crenshaw of first-degree manslaughter, said the possibility of Crenshaw having the disorder is enough to raise reasonable doubt. Jurors also have the option of a second-degree murder conviction.

Driscoll, who asked for a conviction of aggravated first-degree murder, reminded jurors that Crenshaw chose to fetch a knife from the kitchen, constituting premeditation.

“It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan. It doesn’t have to be a good plan. It doesn’t have to be a well thought out plan. It just has to be that moment in time when you decide you’re going to do it,” Driscoll said.

Bugbee pointed to testimony from Crenshaw’s aunt, Kate Crenshaw, who said her nephew told her he was the happiest he’d ever been the day before the murders.

“Is he just somebody, who, on the happiest day of his life, just decided in a very horrendous and gruesome fashion, to kill two of the only people he could consider friends in Spokane, Washington?” Bugbee said. “Or does it make sense that his brain was overcome with this condition?”

Read much more from the closing arguments in my story here: Grisly double-murder case goes to jury

The jury reconvenes in the morning. I’ll update my Twitter page as soon as I hear a verdict has been reached.

Past coverage:

July 22: Crenshaw: You can call 911 after I leave

July 13: Jurors see swords used in double slaying

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

July 12: Crenshaw double-murder trial begins today

Parents of Tasered bridge jumper file suit

The parents of a mentally ill man who died after jumping from the Monroe Street Bridge three years ago are suing the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office for $4.7 million.  

Joshua Levy, a 28-year-old with paranoid schizophrenia, jumped after a standoff with police that began July 26, 2007, and lasted into the next day.

Through lawyer Breean Beggs, Levy’s parents Susan Levy (left) and David Breidenbach, filed suit Monday in federal court against the city and county, as well as Chris Kehl of the Sheriff’s Office and Michael McCasland and Sgt. Sam Yamada of the Spokane police. The suit also includes 10 unnamed defendants.

The suit alleges police never consulted with a psychiatrist recommended by mental health professionals.

Police abandoned a “no hands” policy of dealing with Levy “without obtaining the assent of any of Joshua’s current or former mental health providers or the psychiatrist,” according to the lawsuit.

Levy left the ledge but quickly returned after McCasland deployed a Taser at him. He jumped to his death after he saw Kehl and other officers approaching him.

“David Breidenbach had no warning from either department that their tactics would be changing and thus was watching his son when he was rushed by department members and then jumped to his death,” according to the lawsuit.

Past coverage:

July 27, 2008: Levy’s parents speaking out on suicide

Aug. 2, 2007: Police feared dramatic ending in bridge suicide

July 29, 2007: Jumper’s father questions Taser use

Crenshaw murder case to go to jury today

A Spokane County jury is expected to begin deliberating this afternoon in the case of confessed killer Justin Crenshaw.

Crenshaw faces life in prison without parole if convicted of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for the Feb. 28, 2008 s

tabbing deaths of 20-year-old Tanner E. Pehl and 18-year-old Sarah A. Clark. His defense law

yer, Chris Bugbee says the 22-year-old suffers from a rare disorder that causes him to behavior bizarrely after drinking alcohol and is asking the jury to convict him of a lesser offense like second-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter.

Closing arguments were scheduled to begin today at 9:30 a.m., but delays in getting jury instructions ready pushed them to this afternoon after 1:30 p.m.

Family and friends of Clark and Pehl have been at the courthouse since early this morning, as well Crenshaw’s grandmother, Sandy Morningstar, and mother, who are here from Las Vegas.

Past coverage:

July 22: Crenshaw: You can call 911 after I leave

July 13: Jurors see swords used in double slaying

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

July 12: Crenshaw double-murder trial begins today

2 recent Spokane homicides, few clues

Police continue to hunt for clues in the recent murders of two Spokane men - one a gang member and the other an aspiring drug counselor with a methadone prescription.

 Longtime friend Bobby Caruso said William P. “Bill” Pickard (left), who was found dead under the Sunset Bridge June 30, had a methadone prescription that he refilled each week. He’d had the prescription for three or four years “to help wean him off other drugs,” Caruso said.

Caruso said Pickard’s methadone supply was missing after his body was found and wonder if drug addicts knew of his supply.

“Word travels fast in those dark underworld circles,” Caruso said. 

Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern said detectives are looking at all aspects of the case as they continue to piece together Pickard’s final hours.

Detectives believe Pickard was alive when his killer, or killers, threw him from the bridge, McGovern said.

Pickard, 38, told his family he was going to a bar 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. Police said they recovered a fingerprint, but it belonged to a family acquaintance who was quickly ruled out as a suspect. 

Another murder still under investigation is the shooting death of Nathan D. “Trigger” Gilstrap, 29, (right) on July 13.

A woman who lives at 2105 W. Boone woke to gunfire, but she didn’t see vehicles or anyone other than Gilstrap when she looked out her window.

Police have no witnesses to Gilstrap’s murder, and no description of a possible getaway vehicle.

Gilstrap is described by police as a gang member with several enemies.

Anyone with information on the murders of Pickard or Gilstrap is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Accused witness killer on trial in Colville

Opening statements are expected today in the case of a Deer Park man accused of murdering a witness in an assault case against him.

Christopher H. Devlin had faced the death penalty for the May 2008 shooting death of Daniel D. Heily, 52, of Chattatory, but a judge took it off the table last February because of mismanagement by prosecutors.

Devlin now faces life in prison without parole if he’s convicted of aggravated first-degree murder.

A co-defendant, Carl A. Hoskins, had faced the same charge but has been offered a plea deal for second-degree assault if he testifies against Devlin. He left jail on Aug. 31 and will be sentenced to 27 months in prison with credit for time served if he continues cooperating, according to court documents.

Heily, who was disabled, disappeared on May 13, 2008, the night before he was to testify against Devlin at a second-degree assault trial.

Heily’s body was found in the cab of his pickup truck behind a Deer Park liquor store the next day. Hoskins and Devlin were arrested that night. The slaying qualified for the death penalty because the victim was a state witness.

A jurisdictional squabble broke out between Stevens and Spokane counties regarding where the murder took place. Spokane County prosecutors are handling the case, but the trial will be held before a Stevens County jury in Colville.

Pictures show armed OxyContin robber

A gunman robbed a South Hill pharmacy of OxyContin Friday morning.

The robber pointed a semi-automatic pistol at employees at the Albertsons  at 57th and Regal just after 9 a.m.

The man pulled the gun from his waistband as he approached the pharmacy from the dairy section and fled westbound from the store with the powerful prescription pain killer.

The robber ran south along the west side of Regal before a small white car picked him.

The gunman was described as white, in his late 20s or early 30s, 6-feet tall or slighter taller. He had  “bright blue eyes” and wore a gray hooded sweatshirt with the hood up and a piece of dark fabric across his face, along with blue, baggy jeans.

The store is the second Albertsons robbed of OxyContin this month. Crime Stoppers still is offering a reward for tips that help solve the July 9 robbery at the Trent and Argonne store.

Detectives don’t know if the robberies are related.

Walgreens, a once-prime target for OxyContin robbers has only been hit once since installing time-release safes to store the drug last fall. The company expanded the time-release safes to Idaho and Oregon this week.

Anyone with information on today’s robbery is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Chris Bugbee: I’ll retire as prosecutor

When defense attorney Chris Bugbee (right) addressed a room full of Republicans in June, he told them that he not only intends to defeat incumbent Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker (left), Bugbee said he intends to retire from the office. 

The bold prediction not only illustrates Bugbee’s quick emergence as a front-runner but how contentious the primary contest has become. 

The five-way race also features Republican David Stevens (right), Democrat Frank Malone (bottom right), unaffiliated candidate Jim Reierson (bottom left) and Tucker, a Republican, who has repeatedly said that his opponents don’t understand what it takes to manage 140 employees and points to his experience as the reason he is the best choice.

All of the candidates are experienced lawyers.

 “I am the only one with law enforcement experience. I have more management experience than all the others and more time in the prosecutor’s office,” Tucker said. “It gives me a better base to make decisions.”

 But Bugbee, who up until 2002 worked under Tucker, deadpanned: “What good is experience if you are not actually doing the job?”

 Bugbee, 43, has raised twice as much money as his closest rival – Tucker – and has racked up the most influential law enforcement endorsements, landing the Spokane Police Guild, the Spokane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Fraternal Order of Police, which is made up of retired law enforcement.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouses’s story here.

Read more about the candidates here.

Family: Murder-suicide suspect was unstable

The man who fatally shot his ex-fiancée and her 9-year-old son in Spokane Valley this week had been suicidal in the past and owned several guns, new court documents say.

Jan R. DeMeerleer’s brother-in-law, John F. Schweitzer, told police DeMeerleer (pictured) “is bipolar and you never know what he is going to do,” according to a warrant used to search DeMeerleer’s home at 8324 E. Briant Lane on Sunday.

“Schweitzer said that he knows Jan DeMeerleer has been suicidal in the past,” according to the warrant prepared by Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Michael Drapeau and filed this week in District Court. “Schweitzer told (detectives) that if DeMeerleer has not committed suicide ‘he soon will.’”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 20: Credit union to match donations after slaying

July 20: Homicide victim had overcome much

July 19: Suspect found dead after 2 killed, 1 injured

Bandit’s lawyer: ‘He was scared to death’

After Colton Harris-Moore’s brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle Thursday, his prominent Seattle defense lawyer had a message for the teen’s apparent admirers. 

“For any of the kids out there that think this is fun, it is not,” John Henry Browne told news reporters, according to a video from the Seattle Times. “He was scared to death most of the time…and he’s concerned that kids will think this was fun.”

Browne described Harris-Moore as “very smart but not terribly mature.”

“He seems like a kid… the whole media thing creeps him out…He doesn’t know what’s going on…He’s confused about it.”

Browne’s associate, Emma Scanlan, said Harris-Moore is “very relieved, actually, to be done with being lonely and being on the road by himself. I think things got out of control for him.”

Harris-Moore did not contest his detention Thursday and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His next court appearance will likely come after a grand jury indictment.

The 19-year-old, captured after a boat chase in the Bahamas July 11, is accused of stealing a Cessna 182 from the Boundary County Airport last fall and crash landing it near Granite, Falls, Wash.

Past coverage: Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Tips sought on unregistered child rapist

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help capture a convicted child rapist who has failed to register with authorities as required. 

 Ryan A. Borland, 27, was convicted of third-degree child rape in Asotin County in 2007 and is a level 1 sex offender, the classification considered least likely to reoffend.

Borland is listed as non-compliant on the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office website, and Crime Stoppers says a warrant has been issued for failure to register as a sex offender.

Borland, who also has conviction for second-degree theft and violation of a domestic violence order, has several tattoos, including the Playboy bunny and the word ‘sexy’ on his chest, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

He’s 5-foot-6 with brown hair and brown and eyes and last gave 3224 N. Madison in Spokane as his home address.

Anyone with information on Borland 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.

Death-bound cows on the lam in Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Police say 12 cows being driven to the slaughterhouse made a break for freedom when the truck that was transporting them overturned in west Michigan.

Police say the bovine escapees hoofed it over highway guardrails, forced traffic detours and caused at least one accident.

The 42-year-old truck driver suffered minor injuries in the accident in Kent County about 4 a.m. Wednesday.

All but five of the fugitive cattle had been rounded up by Thursday morning.

The animals from a farm in Farwell, Mich., had been destined to end their days at a slaughterhouse in Milwaukee, Wis.

Michigan State Police Trooper Joe Young said when all the animals are captured they will be euthanized.

1 man sought in 3 Valley sexual assaults

New evidence shows one man is responsible for three sexual assaults in Spokane Valley in December 2008 and September 2009, police announced Thursday.

The man is suspected of fondling women in unlocked homes in the North Pines Road and East Mansfield Avenue area on Dec. 10, 2008, and on Dec. 15, 2008, then attacking a woman in the 400 block of South Pines on Sept. 27, 2009.

In the last case, the woman was walking home from dinner and drinks with friends when the man crossed Pines Road and grabbed her hair about 2:30 a.m., police said.

The man threw the woman to the ground and tried to unbutton her pants; friends on the other end of her cell phone call heard the struggle. When the phone rang again, the assailant threatened to kill the woman and the caller if she answered it, police said.

Detectives recovered evidence at each scene that tied them to one man; Sgt. Dave Reagan declined to elaborate.

The assailant is described as a white man, 28 to 30 years old, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-10 and 150 to 170 pounds.

Police say the sketch is so accurate that a victim “was visibly shaken by the close resemblance.”

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

Charges against Steele carry 30+ years

A former lawyer for the Aryan Nations jailed in an alleged murder-for-hire plot is to appear in federal court in Coeur d’Alene next week on three additional charges related to jailhouse phone calls and explosives discovered after his arrest. 

The new charges against Edgar J. Steele, 65, could put him in prison for at least 30 years. Steele already faced a possible 10 years in prison for an alleged plot federal agents say began in December and targeted his wife, Cyndi Steele, and mother-in-law.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 20: Arrest puts Steele back in public eye

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

Spokane police leaders criticize news media

An association of Spokane police supervisors is speaking out about perceived bias and negative press coverage of Spokane officers.

Released to Spokane media and city officials Wednesday, a letter – written by the Spokane Police Lieutenants and Captains Association to commissioned officers on the force – states that “The time has come to tell the citizens of Spokane in plain language that their police department is a good one.”

Read the rest of Sara Leaming’s story here.

Read the entire letter, as well as The Inlander’s response, by clicking the link below.

Davenport rape suspect probed in 2 attacks

A man accused of raping a woman at the Davenport Hotel last weekend also is a suspect in two sexual assaults involving minors, court officials said Wednesday.

Benjamin F. Cooper, 25, remains in jail on $150,000 bond after a woman he met at a bar late Friday said he raped her in the hotel room she’d rented with her boyfriend. Cooper had walked the woman to the hotel after her boyfriend said he wanted to stay out drinking.

“I’ve been trying to get off the alcohol but I was drinking too much that night and I don’t know what happened,” Cooper said in court Wednesday.

A court official said the alleged victim, who lives in Idaho, is afraid to leave her home because of Cooper.

Along with first-degree rape, Cooper faces a first-degree robbery charge after the woman said he stole her cell phone and cash and ripped the phone cords out of the wall.

According to Spokane police, video surveillance shows the two at the hotel, and Cooper leaving alone about 35 minutes later. He told police he’d only kissed the woman.

A court official said Cooper is a suspect in two sexual assault investigations in the last six weeks, including one in Pend Oreille County. Cooper said he hadn’t appeared in court the last two days because of asthma problems.

Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady said Cooper already has robbery conviction that counts as a strike under the state’s three strikes, life in prison law.

“Just because he’s intoxicated, that doesn’t give him the right to be a danger to the community,” Brady said.

Brady requested $300,000 bond; Price approved half that amount after noting Cooper has several criminal conviction but just one failure to appear in court.

“He does seem to make it to court,” Price said.

Money, tips sought after fundraiser robbed

The city of Spokane’s Parks and Recreation Department is urging the public to donate to the Northeast Youth Center after a fundraiser was robbed on Saturday. 

The benefit car wash at the Yoke’s parking lot on North Foothills Drive aimed to raise money to send low-income kids to camp this summer, but a man stole the cash box about 2 p.m. and fled in a waiting car, described as a burgundy Chevy Lumina.

The cash box was later found, empty.

“Saturday’s fundraiser was the only one scheduled to raise the needed funds to send kids to camp,” the Parks and Recreation Department said in a news release.

“The need remains.”

To help the Northeast Youth Center, mail or bring donations to the Parks and Recreation reception desk on the 5th floor of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. An account also has been set up at Banner Bank. For more information, click here.

Anyone with information on the robber, described as white, 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-11, 170 to 185 pounds, with dark hair, should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233. He was wearing a blue shirt and dark pants. The driver was a black woman, and there was another woman in the car.

Witnesses sought in fatal scooter crash

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a Friday crash near Wandermere Road and Glencrest Drive that fatally injured a Spokane woman who traveled to work by scooter.

Rene Blaume, 54, was riding to her job as an in-home health care provider for a night shift around 11 p.m., when a red 1985 Pontiac Firebird driven by Jonathan Bales, 20, turned in front of her, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.

A sheriff’s deputy driving on Highway 395 noticed Bales’ vehicle just before the crash because it had one head light out.

When the deputy went to stop Bales, he came upon the crash. Bales called 911 immediately after the crash and gave the police a voluntary blood draw.

He told them he had been drinking earlier in the evening while helping a friend work on a car, said sheriff’s Detective David Thornburg. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash.

Anyone who witnessed the crash should contact Thornburg at, or (509) 477-2710.

Crenshaw: You can call 911 after I leave

When admitted killer Justin Crenshaw stabbed a friend in 2004, he did so after his friend refused to drive him to buy methamphetamine from a man named Spike. 

Crenshaw, who served 18 months for the attack, stabbed the teen in the upper shoulder as he tried to walk away, then handed the friend a towel to control the bleeding.

After the victim pleaded for Crenshaw to leave him alone, the killer grabbed his car keys and said, “You can call 911 after I leave,” according to court testimony.

Psychiatrist Dr. Jerry Larsen testified about that incident Wednesday as one of just two witnesses for Crenshaw’s defense.

The 22-year-old is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for the stabbing deaths of Tanner E. Pehl, 20; and Sarah A. Clark, 18; on Feb. 28, 2008.

The charges carry life in prison without parole; defense lawyer Chris Bugbee will ask juror to convict him of a lesser charge like manslaughter.

The defense hinges on the argument that Crenshaw, who started using drugs and alcohol at age or 12 or 13, suffers from a disorder known as pathological intoxication, or alcohol idiosyncratic intoxication.

Along with a childhood friend who spoke of a strange incident with Crenshaw as a teen, Larsen spoke of another incident at a casino where Crenshaw was beating his own head with a rock and then put a knife to his throat and threatened to kill himself while claiming that his girlfriend had broken up with him.

A friend later told authorities that Crenshaw was mistaken – that the girlfriend had not ended the relationship.

Read Thomas Clouse’s story on the defense case, which ended Wednesday, here. 

An expert for the prosecution is expected to testify today to refute Larsen’s testimony. Closing arguments are expected Monday, then the jury gets the case.

Past coverage:

July 20: Crenshaw defense could begin this week

July 13: Jurors see swords used in double slaying

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

July 12: Crenshaw double-murder trial begins today

Felon accused of rape: It was consensual

A 14-time felon accused of raping a woman in an abandoned house in downtown Spokane told police the sex was consensual, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Kelvin D. McCauley, 43, was arrested Tuesday night near 3rd Avenue and Monroe Street after a woman told police she’d jumped from a second-floor window in the 1100 block of West 5th Avenue to escape him.

The 21-year-old woman was taken to a hospital with broken ribs and a broken wrist; police aren’t sure if the injuries came from an assault or from the jump.

She told police she was walking downtown when she met McCauley “and began talking to him about God,” according to court documents. He had invited her to his house to see his children when he forced her upstairs at knife point and raped her, police said.

McCauley, who has 38 misdemeanor convictions, was ordered held on $150,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court Wednesday on charges of second-degree rape and first-degree burglary.

He declined to speak with police other than to say the sex was consensual.

“I think I just answered the most important question,” McCauley said, according to court documents.

McCauley, whose convictions include theft and money laundering, is to stay at the House of Charity if he posts bail. His arraignment is set for Aug. 3.

Barefoot Bandit returns to Washington state

SEATTLE (AP) — The alleged “Barefoot Bandit” is back in Washington state, where authorities say he began a two-year multistate crime spree.

Colton Harris-Moore arrived Wednesday afternoon from Miami on a U.S. Marshals plane and was promptly transferred to a federal detention facility in SeaTac, Wash., according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie said the 19-year-old is scheduled to make his initial court appearance before Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida on Thursday, when he will be advised of the charge against him and possible penalties. He’s been charged with stealing a plane in Bonners Ferry and crash-landing it in Granite Falls, Wash., last fall

Harris-Moore was arrested July 10 in the Bahamas a week after he reportedly crash-landed in a plane stolen from an Indiana airport.

Authorities in the sun-bathed Caribbean country launched an extensive manhunt for the teenager and arrested him as he tried to flee in a boat. His arrest ended a run from the law that started when he escaped from a halfway house in Washington state in April 2008.

The self-taught pilot is suspected of more than 70 crimes — including stealing several boats and five planes — across nine states.

Police dubbed Harris-Moore the “Barefoot Bandit” because he allegedly committed some of his crimes without shoes.

His spree turned him into a sort of folk hero, with more than 90,000 followers on a Facebook fan page.

Harris-Moore, who made an initial court appearances in Florida last week after returning to the country, faces a federal charge in the crash-landing of a plane stolen from Idaho last year.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office last week declined to comment on how the prosecution will proceed, except to say it is reviewing crimes attributed to Harris-Moore to see which might be prosecuted in federal court.

Police suspect he took stolen cars, a boat and planes across state lines, and interstate transportation of stolen property is a federal offense with a 10-year maximum sentence.

Messages to his mother, Pam Kohler, and his attorney, John Henry Browne, were not immediately returned.

Past coverage:

July 13: Barefoot Bandit’s tale turns to tricky legalities

July 11: Barefoot Bandit arrested after boat chase in Bahamas

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

2 more men charged in Hoopfest shooting

UPDATE: Marquis Johnson is in the Benton County Jail.

A $600,000 felony arrest warrant has been issued for a Spokane man in connection with a shooting at Hoopfest last month.

Spokane County prosecutors have filed assault charges against Marquis D. Johnson, 21 (right); and Rashjel G. Cage, 23, for the June 26 shooting that injured three bystanders. Police identified them from video and witness reports as being involved in the argument that led to gunfire.

Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for Johnson’s capture.

He and Cage (bottom left) are charged with three counts of first-degree assault and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault. District Court Judge Vance Peterson approved $600,000 bonds for both men.

The accused gunman, 19-year-old Miguel C. Garcia, remains in jail on assault charges.

A 19-year-old suspect also arrested the day of the shooting, Adam Doe, also is in jail on gun and assault on law enforcement for the Hoopfest shooting and assault and escape charges related to an October 2009 stabbing. Cage already pleaded guilty last month to second-degree attempted assault for that same stabbing.

Witnesses said Cage passed the gun to Garcia at Hoopfest in downtown Spokane, who fired several shots before passing the gun to Doe.

An off-duty Spokane police detective witnessed the shooting and followed the men as on-duty officers swarmed the area.

Johnson, who had been released from prison June 6 after serving nearly three years for assault, also was arrested June 26 for a probation violation. It’s unclear when he left jail; a warrant was issued on the new assault charges July 6.

Anyone with information on the men should 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.

Past coverage:

June 30: High bonds set for shooting suspects

June 29: Hoopfest shots not ‘surprising’

June 28: Shooting suspect already charged in stabbing

Man accused of rape at Davenport Hotel

A Spokane man is accused of raping a woman last weekend at an upscale downtown hotel. 

Benjamin F. Cooper, 25, was arrested early Saturday after the alleged victim said he attacked her in a room she’d rented with her boyfriend at the Davenport Hotel Tower.

The woman and her boyfriend met Cooper at a bar, and the woman asked Cooper to walk her back to her hotel when her boyfriend wanted to stay out, according to court documents filed in Superior Court this week.

Read the rest of my story here.

20 felonies for ‘nemesis’ of property owners

A suspected serial burglar who tried fleeing court in April is to be arraigned Wednesday on 20 felonies related to a six-month string of break ins in the Spokane area.

Cole T. Monson, 36, described by law enforcement as the “nemesis” of property owners, is accused of 13 burglaries that ended in March, just before several raids by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office netted a slew of stolen property.

Spokane County prosecutors filed charges last week. Monson faces 13 counts of second-degree burglary, as well as second-degree assault, car theft, eluding police and possession of a stolen car for an alleged police chase March 13.

His suspected methamphetamine dealer, 28-year-old Tamara D. Geurin is charged with possession of a stolen car, but she’s already serving a seven-year federal prison sentence for meth distribution that was handed down July 2.

Also charged in the case is 48-year-old John “Animal” Rose, who is accused of one count of second-degree possession of stolen property for items found in his home during the March 23 raid.

A fourth suspect, 36-year-old Terri Lynn Burkhart, alias Gunderson, is charged with second-degree possession of stolen property, second-degree theft and second-degree burglary after detectives say she helped Monson rob the coffee shop she used to own of a computer with information pertaining to a lawsuit.

According to a 26-page, (mostly single-spaced with few paragraph indents) statement of facts, Monson admitted the burglaries to police and said he “wrote the book on pursuits with the police.”

Monson reportedly told police after the March 13 chase that “he was so high at the time that all he could do was focus on not getting caught and not getting killed in a crash,” according to the statement.

Here’s a list of Monson’s alleged burglaries:

  • Sept. 25: Dale’s Maintenance, 11323 E. Dishman-Mica Road
  • Oct. 16-Oct. 19: Inland Construction, 1620 N. Mamer
  • Oct. 20 or Oct. 30: 8704 E. Bigelow Gulch Road
  • Nov. 16: Ashgrove Cement Co., 1312 N. Thierman
  • Dec. 5: Sunbeans Tanning and Espresso, 3117 N. Argonne Road
  • Dec. 14: B & B Towing, 5603 E. Broadway Ave.
  • Dec. 23: Transpro Industrial, 6519 E. Riverside Ave.
  • Dec. 25: Pohl Springs, 6415 E. Nixon
  • Feb. 28: East Valley School District, 18202 E. Euclid
  • March 2: Terex Utilities, 3020 N. Flora Road
  • March 3: General Dynamics, 12825 E. Mirabeau Parkway
  • March 9: Precision Electrical, 2205 N. Woodruff.
  • March 13: Barton Jeep, 10819 E. Sprague

Knezovich’s ‘support’ falls in gray area

A testament to the popularity of Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich may be the level to which candidates for Spokane County prosecutor are seeking his support.

The situation came to a head last week when incumbent Steve Tucker announced during a debate that he had the support of Knezovich (pictured).

Asked to clarify that support, Tucker made it clear that the sheriff has not endorsed his candidacy.

But Tucker’s opponents – fellow Republicans Chris Bugbee and Dave Stevens, Democrat Frank Malone and unaffiliated candidate Jim Reierson – all said they believe the average voter may not know the difference between support and an official endorsement.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

B.C. woman busted at border with $150,000

A B.C. woman is due in federal court in Spokane today after being arrested at the United States border at Oroville last week with nearly $150,000 in unreported cash.

Marina Cantarero-Cruz, 48, was driving a 2004 Acura when border agents discovered a secret compartment July 14 about 2:10 p.m.

Cantarero-Cruz, of Oliver, B.C, and two passengers had said they were traveling to the Rancho Chico restaurant in Tonasket and had denied transporting more than $10,000, according to court documents.

A K-9 dog detected the cash in the compartment, documents allege.

Agents seized $132,980 in U.S. cash and $12,200 in Canadian cash. An additional $2,100 in U.S. currency and $870 in Canadian was falling out of her underwear, documents allege.

Her bail hearing for a cash smuggling charge is set for today at 3 p.m. She remains in Spokane County Jail.

Heroin near school leads to federal prison

Three Spokane heroin addicts will spend between three and seven years in federal prison after being charged with distributing the drug within 1,000 feet of a school.

Richard J. Bordwell, 48; his girlfriend, 53-year-old Susan L. Goin and her 30-year-old son, Lonnie Roid Goin II, were arrested in March after a raid at 807 E. Augusta Ave., #2, which is about a block from St. Aloysius School.

Bordwell, who had several drug convictions in Spokane County, pleaded guilty to five federal drug charges and received 84 months in prison earlier this month.

Susan Goin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin in a deal that dropped the drug distribution near a school charge and gave her three years in prison, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court last week.

Lonnie Goin took the same plea as his mother and was sentenced to five years in prison and will be on probation for 15 years after his release.

The youngest Goin began injecting heroin at age 11 because of his interest Nirvana rocker Kurt Cobain, according to a sentencing memorandum. He “only vaguely remembers” fathering a child at age 14 but remember his mother, now wheelchair bound with dental problems, telling him the ‘might as well” do heroin together after he flunked drug rehab at age 19 or 20, according to the memo.

“Considering what effect his parents have had on him can only cause a person to shake their head in disgust. Where was the love and nurturing from them?” wrote Goin’s layer, John Nollette. “How did he obtain the serious mental deficiencies? Pre or post-natal? Likely, no one can truly answer those questions. But, as they say, life must go on.”

Bordwell and the Goins are in Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to federal prison.

Man caught w/ 18 monkeys at Mexico airport

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A man with a mysterious bulge under his T-shirt was stopped, searched and detained at Mexico City’s international airport after authorities found 18 tiny endangered monkeys in a girdle he was wearing.

The Public Safety Department said in a statement Monday that 38-year-old Roberto Cabrera arrived on a commercial flight Friday from Lima, Peru, when authorities noticed the bulge and conducted a body search.

The department says Cabrera was carrying the 6-inch titi monkeys in pouches attached to the girdle. Two of the monkeys were dead.

Cabrera was arrested on charges of trafficking an endangered species.

Cabrera told authorities he was carrying the monkeys in a suitcase but decided to put them in his girdle “so the X-rays wouldn’t hurt them.”

In December 2008, a 29-year-old Spokane woman and her mother were convicted of federal charges related to smuggling a monkey into the United States.

In other monkey news, a truck crash in Ohio left animal carcasses all over a road and the driver’s pet monkey stranded atop a utility pole, the AP reports.

The truck was hauling carcasses for a meat processing plant late Monday afternoon when it flipped while going into a curve on a local road in northeast Ohio’s Medina County, the state Highway Patrol said. The frightened monkey scampered up the pole after the accident.

Troopers say the truck driver was OK. The monkey had to be coaxed down from its perch.

The meat plant sent another truck to pick up the carcasses. State and county highway crews were sent to help clean up the mess.

Child porn posesser to self-report to prison

A Moses Lake man will spend four years in prison for possessing more than 2,000 images of child pornography.

Keith Marshal Ivers, 50, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Spokane after pleading guilty in March to possessing child pornography.

The case began in November 2007 when the FBI in New York traced a child pornography website to Ivers’ home, which agents searched in January 2008.

Ivers, who had no previous criminal record and was downloading and uploading child porn on his computer, surrendered in July 2009 and has been on electronic home confinement.

He was ordered to report to federal prison on his own once he’s been assigned, according to federal court documents. He’ll be on probation for five years after his release and will be required to register as a sex offender of the rest of his life.

Son, dad charged in wildlife officer attack

A Grant County teen faces five felony charges, including attempted murder, after police saw he fired shots at a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police captain Saturday.

Jose J. Garcia-Meraze (left) is charged with unlawful imprisonment for the incident at Crab Creek near Beverly after “he basically disarmed a Fish and Wildlife agent at gunpoint,” said John Turley, Grant County undersheriff.

The 18-year-old also is charged with second-degree assault, attempting to elude and alien in possession of a firearm, Turley said. His father, 60-year-old Nicolas Garcia-Godinez (right), is jailed on a second-degree assault charge for allegedly pulling a knife on another officer.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed holds on both men.

Garcia-Meraze, was fishing without a license at Crab Creek when he pulled a gun on an approaching officer and fled in a car, police reports said. The teen allegedly turn around and drove toward the officer’s marked police vehicle, firing shots and penetrating the driver’s side door with one round. An officer returned fire after the teen attempted to shoot at him a second time, police said.

Garcia-Meraze was arrested after his car stalled on state Route 28 near Ephrata, police said. Both men are in Grant County Jail.

Homicidal rampage leaves layers of tragedy

Tragedy struck Rebecca Schiering early and often in life.

The Spokane Valley woman struggled with drug addiction and abuse for years but picked herself up, escaping the crime-addled father of her twin boys.

That part of her life was a distant memory when he was killed in a drug-related robbery four years ago.  But despite her best efforts, tragedy struck the 36-year-old and her children again this weekend.

Police say her ex-fiancé, a seemingly stable mechanical engineer who once embraced her children as his own, ended her life in a violent rampage that also killed one of her 9-year-old twin boys and left her teenage son with knife wounds to his neck.

The second twin, who is autistic, was not harmed in the attack and is staying with family.

“Her children were her inspiration,” said Schiering’s aunt, Bonnie Bickler, who traveled to Spokane from Billings.

She said the boys, like the rest of the family, are struggling.

 “We’re just trying to get our arms around it,” Bickler said. “It’s just so hard to deal with.”

Police believe Jan R. DeMeerleer (left), 39, shot Schiering and 9-year-old Phillip Schiering in the woman’s duplex at 622 N. Ella Road before trying to cut the teen, who called 911 about 3 a.m.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 19: Suspect found dead after 2 killed, 1 injured

Crenshaw defense could begin this week

After earlier conceding his client’s guilt in a grisly double homicide, defense lawyer Chris Bugbee had no questions Monday for the lead detective in the case against 22-year-old Justin W. Crenshaw. 

Now in its second week, the trial has included testimony from Crenshaw’s aunt, Kate, and his sister, Nikki Vanvlyman, who said she’s drank with Crenshaw and observed no bizarre behavior, witnesses said. Crenshaw’s defense against two aggravated murder charges - and life in prison with no parole - for the Feb. 28, 2008, deaths of 20-year-old Tanner E. Pehl (bottom right) and 18-year-old Sarah A. Clark (below) hinges on his claim that he has a condition that causes him to act bizarre and violent after ingesting even a small amount of alcohol.

Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said he hopes to finish the state’s case by Wednesday.

Along with Detective Jim Dresback, Detective Doug Marske testified Monday about bloody clothing found inside a plastic container in Kate Crenshaw’s garage in April 2008. The blood-soaked jeans were still moist when Marske pulled them from the plastic bag.

As Driscoll emphasized in his opening statement, on the jeans was a belt that read “Trust No One” and was adorned with broken hearts, a gun, along with a heart with a dagger sticking through it.

Also Monday, Amanda Wynona, who was renting a room in Pehl’s basement at 512 E. Elm Road, testified that she had briefly met Crenshaw two nights before the killings. He had come over to drink with Clark, Pehl and a couple other people.

“I guess Justin was new in town and Tanner wanted to introduce him to people,” she said.

Crenshaw had moved to Spokane a couple weeks before from Las Vegas to reunite with Vanvlyman, who was close friends with Clark. Crenshaw talked to Wynona about Clark.

“He said that they started seeing each other but he wasn’t interested in her,” she said as she started to cry. Clark, a senior at Mead High School, was to graduate that spring.

Her family and friends fill the courtroom each day, along with Pehl’s. Crenshaw’s grandmother also is attending the trial.

July 13: Jurors see swords used in double slaying

July 12: Crenshaw double-murder trial begins today

Computer tech charged in child porn case

A man accused of illegally entering the United States in May with a laptop computer containing child pornography is to appear in federal court in Coeur d’Alene this afternoon.

Scott Andrew Henry told border agents he owns a computer company in British Columbia and may have picked up the photos while serving clients computers, according to federal court documents.

Henry said the serviced computer’s files transfer to his Dell laptop in the same places they were saved on the original computer, but a federal agent said the information is actually stored in one spot, not in various files.

Investigators found inappropriate images of young children in a file-sharing folder under the computer profile “DrScott,” documents allege. Henry said he and three business partners own a computer sales and service company in Castlegar, B.C., called Komputer Clinic.

Henry was arrested May 3 for unlawful entry into the country after border agents found him with a red Dodge Neon on Boundary Creek Bridge east of the Porthill, Idaho, entry. He had his computer connected to a GPS receiver and to Google Maps and appeared to be trying to ram a locked gate before his car got stuck, according to federal court documents. He’s been in the Boundary County Jail ever since.

He’s to be arraigned today in U.S. District Court on one count of possession of child pornography.

Fiery 3-car crash leads to fugitive’s arrest

A Spokane drug addict who ditched a rehab program last month returned to custody in dramatic fashion recently in a fiery three-car crash that began with a 100 mph chase.

Antonio M. Mitchell, 32, was in the hospital under police guard after the crash last week near East Sprague Avenue and North Fancher Road, according to a Crime Stoppers news release on Sunday.

Mitchell was a passenger in a black Grand Am driven by Penny R. More, 43, (alias Harrison) when More sped away from a traffic stop eastbound on Sprague Thursday about 10:30 p.m., hitting speeds of 100 mph and running a red light at Sprague and Havana.

The police officer ended the search for safety reasons, then continued driving on Sprague, where he spotted the three-car crash. The Grand Am had crashed into three cars before its engine caught fire, according to a news release. Two officers extinguished the blaze as medics tended to the victims, who suffered minor injuries.

More, who was described as uncooperative with police, fire and ambulance personnel, was taken to a hospital with minor injuries and remains in jail on $10,000 bail for vehicular assault.

Mitchell suffered non-life threatening injuries. Crime Stoppers had offered a reward for his capture July 9 after he failed to report to the Department of Corrections and failed to complete rehab in June for a drug conviction, according to court documents. His 11-felony record includes convictions for drug possession, riot and domestic violence.

Bro of cop-crash driver in prison for porn

CORRECTION: Tonia S. Vansant, 36, who is accused of striking a Spokane police cruiser Friday, injuring three detectives, is the sister of Richard Vansant, Jr., who was sentenced to prison for child pornography possession July 14, family members said. Tonia Vansant’s relationship to Richard Vansant, Jr., was misidentified in the post below, which has since been corrected. Richard Vansant’s wife, who was not involved in the crash, is named Tonya L. Vansant, 39.

The brother of a woman accused of crashing into three Spokane police detectives Friday was sentenced two days earlier to federal prison for child pornography possession.

Richard L. Vansant, Jr., 44, was a BNSF Railway employee when employee found his lost iPod with images of child pornography. Federal agents served his home at 11907 E. Railroad Ave. in November 2008 and found more than 10,000 explicit images of children, according to federal court documents. Vansant also told investigators “he uses his Xbox gaming system to communicate with children through the Internet,” according to a plea agreement filed in March.

Vansant, 44, was ordered last Wednesday to serve five years in federal prison. 

Two days later, police say his sister, Tonia S. Vansant, 37, was drunk when she crashed into an unmarked patrol car driven by Mark Burbridge, (right) a detective with the Spokane Police Department’s major crimes unit, at 7:15 a.m.

Also injured were sexual assault Detective Jan Pogachar (left) and Douglas Orr, (bottom right) a computer forensics specialist for the sexual assault unit. 

The crash occurred when Vansant allegedly ran a red light and broadsided the police car at Division and Sharp Avenue.

Burbridge strained his back; Pogacher broke her pelvis and Orr suffered broken ribs, a broken collar bone, a fractured sternum and punctured lung.

All were released from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and are recovering at home, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe. 

“While they remain in a lot of pain, they are healing and expected to make a full recovery,” according to a news release.

Tonia Vansant spent the weekend in jail and appeared in Superior Court Monday on three counts of vehicular assault.

Police said she smelled of alcohol after the crash and had poor coordination.

She remained in jail Monday evening on $75,000 bail.

Crack addict gets 10 years for murder

A homeless crack cocaine addict from the Seattle area will spend 10 years in prison for his role in the stabbing death of a man he and an acquaintance planned to rob for drug money.

Aaron D. Lyon, 30, was sentenced to 123 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder last week. 

Terry L. Conner, 53, (pictured) was sentenced to 31 years in prison last month after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and second-degree burglary. 

The men killed Timothy G. Eby, 50, in an apartment at 2614 E. 3rd Ave. on Dec. 7, 2008. A woman staying in their hotel room at 1303 E. Sprague said she was awakened by Conner yelling at Lyon after the murder, saying Eby should have had $2,000, according o court documents.

When the woman asked what was wrong, Conner “grabbed her by the sweatshirt and said that he just ‘stabbed the (expletive deleted) 15 times for $7.25, what do you think of that you dumb (expletive deleted)?”

A man who was living with Eby said he’d recently met Lyon, who was a drug addict from Seattle. Lyon is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Burglar hits preschool, Christian school

Police are looking for help identifying a burglar who stole electronics from two Spokane Valley schools in early July.

The thief ransacked the Valley Christian School, 10212 E. Ninth, and the Early Learning Center, 10304 E. Ninth, the first weekend of July.

Security video shows a man at Valley Christian School about 2:30 a.m. July 3 walking through hallways and trying to open doors and windows. An Ipod and a small amount of cash were stolen, along with three laptops from the Early Learning Center.

The burglar is a then white man who wore Carhartt-style overalls and a black sleeveless shirt. Anyone with information on him is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Ferry Co. man convicted in ‘07 fatal shooting

A Ferry County man faces at least 11 years in prison after a jury convicted him of recklessly killing a man who’d let him stay at his rural home.

Philip J. “Jeb” Strong was convicted Monday of first-degree manslaughter for the April 2007 death of Trent V. Irby, 37.

Strong had been living with Irby and Irby’s girlfriend at the home on Tonasket Creek Road about 20 miles north of Republic, Wash., but the couple had asked them to move out.

Strong claimed self defense and “claimed that he was harassed by the victim on numerous occasions leading up the use of force,” said Strong’s lawyer, Stephen Graham. Strong was originally convicted of second-degree murder, but that was overturned on appeal because the jury didn’t have the option of manslaughter, Graham said.

“The prosecution’s contention was that Strong simply snapped and went in there and executed the guy,” Graham said.

But Graham said Irby had a gun that his girlfriend hid from police, because both were felons prohibited from possessing firearms.

Strong has been in the Ferry County Jail since his arrest. He faces 11.5 to 13.5 years in prison when he’s sentenced today.

Past coverage:

April 6, 2007: First-degree murder charges planned in shooting

Bugbee earns another endorsement

The Spokane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association has endorsed defense attorney Chris Bugbee for the race for Spokane County Prosecutor, according to a campaign news release.

Bugbee, who is currently defending double-homicide suspect Justin W. Crenshaw, said he was informed of the decision late Wednesday. It adds to his list of endorsements that includes the Spokane Police Guild, the Fraternal Order of Police, Local Lodge #20mand a split endorsement from the Republicans of Spokane County.

However, incumbent Steve Tucker earned the other half of the endorsement from the Republicans of Spokane County. But, Deputy Prosecutor David Stevens received the official Republican Party endorsement.

Tucker, Stevens, and Bugbee, all Republicans, face Democrat Frank Malone and Jim Reierson, who has no political affiliation, in the August 17 primary election. The two candidates with the most votes will advance to the general election.

19 arrested in gangs, drugs, guns sweep

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One man was targeted by gunfire twice in 5 weeks. Another already faces an attempted murder charge for a June shooting. And several others are alleged to have sold large quantities of crack cocaine and methamphetamine throughout Spokane.

Those men were among 19 suspects arrested today as part of an 18-month drug and firearms investigation targeting Spokane-area gangs.

The arrests are not connected to Tuesday’s homicide in the West Central neighborhood, nor to a gang shooting last month at Hoopfest.

“That’s an indication of the pervasiveness of the gang problem,” said Frank Harrill, agent in charge at the Spokane office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Read the rest of my story here.

Above is video of the raids shot from a sheriff’s helicopter.

Man admits to exposing himself at library

Steven J. Snedden does most of his work in college libraries. Unfortunately, none of his efforts can be characterized as research.

The 47-year-old registered sex offender, whose exploits have helped the Washington Supreme Court define criminal law, pleaded guilty today to yet another charge of indecent exposure stemming from a 2008 incident in which he twice masturbated in front of a student at the JFK Library on the Cheney campus of Eastern Washington University.

He appeared Thursday before Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Barefoot Bandit appears in Miami courtroom

MIAMI (AP) — The teenager dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit” by authorities will cool his heels in a Miami jail at least two more days while he sorts out which attorney will represent him.

At his first U.S. court appearance Wednesday since his arrest in the Bahamas, Colton Harris-Moore, 19, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube he thought his mother had hired a lawyer but he didn’t know the attorney’s name.

“I’d like to speak with my mom first,” said Harris-Moore, dressed in a standard tan prison jumpsuit, sandals and white socks. He added that he last spoke to his mother, Pam Kohler, “about a week ago.”

“She said that she hired one,” he said. “I have not met with him yet.”

Dube set another hearing for Friday morning to determine Harris-Moore’s legal representation, whether he should be released on bail and when he should return to Seattle to face an alleged two-year string of crimes.

Harris-Moore is suspected in about 70 burglaries, thefts and other property crimes in eight states and British Columbia, including thefts of aircraft — one of which he allegedly flew from Indiana to the Bahamas.

Kohler has asked Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne to represent her son in the criminal case, which currently involves the alleged theft of a plane in Bonners Ferry that was crashed in Washington state.

Browne has said he will handle it if Harris-Moore agrees. Another attorney, O. Yale Lewis, is helping Kohler with media and entertainment requests.

Harris-Moore was deported by the Bahamas to the U.S. on Tuesday, shortly after pleading guilty to illegally entering the island nation east of Miami.

Harris-Moore’s long odyssey on the lam ended Sunday after police ended a high-speed boat chase by shooting out the vessel’s engine. Harris-Moore’s attorney in the Bahamas, Monique Gomez, said the U.S. Embassy there would pay the teenager’s $300 fine.

Authorities say he earned the “Barefoot Bandit” nickname by committing some crimes while shoeless, and in February he he allegedly drew chalk-outline feet all over the floor of a grocery store during a burglary in Washington’s San Juan Islands.

Harris-Moore told police in the Bahamas that he came there because it has numerous islands, airports and docks.

The teenager claimed that he told islanders he was trying to get to Cuba so he could throw police off his trail, but he intended to make his way to the Turks and Caicos Islands southeast of the Bahamas, police said.

Past coverage:

July 13: Barefoot Bandit’s tale turns to tricky legalities

July 11: Barefoot Bandit arrested after boat chase in Bahamas

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Car w/ stolen loot leads to police standoff

A police standoff in West Central Spokane closed part of Boone Avenue today as Washington State Patrol detectives arrested a suspect in dozens of vehicle prowlings. 

The investigation began July 6 after a troopers found stolen property in a Honda Accord that had been stolen from an Eastern Washington University women’s basketball player July 3, said WSP Sgt. Dave Bolton.

The Accord’s driver, 19-year-old Christopher E. Hooper, was arrested that day for possession of a stolen motor vehicle after police say he crashed the Accord on state Route 291 near Rutter Parkway.

Hooper was allowed to leave jail pending trial but was arrested again today on new stolen property charges, Bolton said. Also arrested earlier today was Bowe T. Frank, 18. He faces a second-degree theft charge related to property found in the car.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested after the standoff at 2510 W. Boone this afternoon.

Hooper already is on probation after in April in connection with the January 2009 murder of Shannon A. Cochran. His July 6 arrest came just a few days after Spokane police arrested him with prescription drugs and suspected burglary tools.

Photos show robber’s clothes; tips sought

Crime Stoppers if offering a reward for tips that help identify the masked gunman who robbed a pharmacy of OxyContin last week. 

Detectives released photos of the jacket and a knit hat used as a mask today in hopes someone will recognize them and call for the reward.

Police found the items in a dumpster behind a school district building. The robber ran north to the building after leaving the Albertsons at Trent and Argonne with stolen OxyContin about 9:10 a.m. on July 9.

The man had a black semi-automatic handgun he kept pointed at an employee. He’d entered the store wearing a dark hooded Hurley jacket with the hood up, along with gray or faded denim jeans.

“He was hunched over with his arms crossed as if he was sick or injured,” according to a news release. 

The man was described as in his early to mid-20s, 6-feet tall to 6-foot-5.

Anyone with information on the robbery 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.

Tips sought on ‘top 10’ criminal’s location

A man whose alleged property crimes include the theft of a sheriff detective’s gun and FBI identification card is wanted by Crime Stoppers. 

James W. Peterschick, 28, is wanted for driving with a suspended license, but he’s also suspected in a series of property crimes that began with an arrest near Pullman in February.

Then in April, a jail inmate looking for a break on drug charges told police he saw Peterschick with a gun stolen from a sheriff’s detective’s squad car. Detectives found Peterschick at the Motel 6, 1508 N. Rustle, as well as two fishing poles stolen from Detective Leroy Fairbanks’ government-issued vehicle on April 21, according to court documents.

Investigators believe Peterschick smashed out the car’s window, then stole a backpack containing electronics, a Glock handgun, handcuffs, a flashlight, badge and IDs for the Sheriff’s Office and FBI.

He’s out of jail on bail, but police want him back because of the driving while suspended allegation.

Anyone with information on Peterschick 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.

Cable show to feature Yates serial killer case

The case of a Spokane serial killer who stalked prostitutes in the 1990s will be featured on a cable TV show next week. 

Death row inmate Robert Lee Yates, Jr., a former Army helicopter pilot and state prison guard, will be the subject of an hour-long episode of “Unusual Suspects” on Investigation Discovery, a sister channel to the Discovery Channel.

Yates (pictured) was a married father of five children when police detectives identified him as a serial killer who killed 10 women in Spokane between 1996 and 1998.

Yates confessed to 13 murders and was sentenced in 2000 to 408 years after Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker declined to seek the death penalty.

But the Pierce County prosecutor charged Yates with two murders there, and Yates was sentenced to death in 2002. He remains on death row at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

The cable TV show calls Yates the “monster in Spokane.”

A news release reads: “A multi-agency task force follows every possible lead, and they gather the murder weapon, a sketch of the killer, and even his DNA, but investigators still have no suspect. Finally, the reexamination of an old clue helps investigators zero in on the culprit. Can they discover the identity of this unlikely murderer before he strikes again?” Sorry to spoil it for you.

The episode airs Monday at 10 p.m. and includes interviews with retired Spokane County sheriff’s detectives Rick Grabenstein and Fred Ruetsch, as well as Detective John Miller of the Spokane Police Department, Lynn Everson of the Spokane Regional Health District, and retired sheriff’s Capt. Doug Silver.

Fatal gang shots fired outside activist’s home

Gunfire awoke Spokane community activist Cheryl Steele just after midnight Tuesday. 

The founder of the city’s first police substation looked out a window of her home at 2105 W. Boone Ave. and saw a bleeding man laying near her neighbor’s front yard.

Police later identified him as 29-year Nathan D. “Trigger” Gilstrap (left): the city of Spokane’s third homicide victim this year. No suspects have been identified.

Gilstrap’s murder comes after months of deteriorating conditions in the West Central Neighborhood, Steele said.

She started the first police substation in 1992 after two neighborhood girls were kidnapped and murdered. Crime dropped over the next 15 years, Steele said, but assaults, drug houses and gang graffiti are on the raise again as volunteers at the police stations decline.

Read the rest of my story here.

Jurors see swords used in double slaying

Jurors today saw gruesome photos of two young Spokane people slain by a Las Vegas man who claims to suffer from a rare disorder. 

Two swords used in the murders of 18-year-old Sarah A. Clark and 20-year-old Tanner E. Pehl were displayed for the 16 jurors - four are alternates - this morning, along with photos of the deceased.

Clark was found under a blanket slumped next to a bed by a nightstand with her head nearly severed; a Samurai sword was resting on her neck, but detectives believe killer Justin W. Crenshaw (pictured) placed it there after she was dead. About six cut wounds were found on her neck; a firefighter who first found her body testified Monday that it appeared her throat had been cut.

Pehl was found in the hallway with a broadsword through his chest that investigators say was inflicted after he died and after his body had been covered by a blanket. Detective Mike Drapeau displayed the swords, which already were in the home the night of the murders, during testimony today.

Also testifying were witnesses who heard screams coming from the Pehl home about 3:40 a.m. The fire, which Crenshaw set after the murders, was reported at 4:30 a.m.

Crenshaw, 22 and a recovering heroin addict, faces life in prison if convicted of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

Defense attorney Chris Bugbee is asking jurors to convict the killer of a lesser charge, citing a rare disorder called alcohol idiosyncratic intoxication. Crenshaw had been in Spokane about two weeks when Clark and Pehl were slain on Feb. 28, 2008. He was here visiting his sister, who was close friends with Clark, and got a job at a restaurant where Pehl worked.

Past coverage

July 13: Crenshaw defense admits slayings

July 12: Crenshaw double murder trial begins today

Condiment crime suspect nabbed again

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Police have arrested a 74-year-old woman who is accused of repeatedly dumping maple syrup, corn syrup, ketchup and mayonnaise into a library book drop in Boise. 

Authorities had previously issued a pair of warrants for Joy Cassidy’s arrest earlier this month after she failed to appear in court. But she turned herself in at the Ada County jail on Monday.

Cassidy was originally arrested on June 13.

That’s after police say she poured mayonnaise in the library’s book drop box that day — and was a person of interest in at least 10 other condiment-related incidents at the Ada Community Library in Boise since May 2009.

Steele seeks to keep feds out of client files

A former lawyer for the Aryan Nations is asking a judge to stop federal investigators from searching materials seized from his North Idaho home law office.

Edgar J. Steele is concerned government searches may compromise attorney-client privilege, according to documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. 

“There is a concern that Mr. Steele represents clients and groups that are of interest to the government,” wrote Steele’s federal public defenders, Roger Peven and Kailey Moran.

Steele is accused of hiring someone to kill his wife and mother-in-law. He’s being housed at the Spokane County Jail after a raid June 11 at his home on Talache Road, east of Shepherd Lake near Sagle, where the FBI believes he plotted with Sagle resident Larry Fairfax to use pipe bombs kill Cynthia Steele and her mother-in-law. Fairfax went to the FBI and secretly recorded Steele talking of the plot, leading to Steele’s arrest, according to court documents.

Fairfax was arrested June 15 after Coeur d’Alene auto shop workers found a pipe bomb under Cynthia Steele’s car - the FBI says Fairfax put it there but never told investigators.

Fairfax waived a grand jury indictment last week and is charged through complaint with possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful manufacturing of a firearm. He’s being held without bail.

Steele’s lawyers say they’ve received copies of conversations between Fairfax and Steele, but no other evidence, including the items seized from Steele’s home, has been provided. The motion filed Monday seeks a preliminarily injunction to stop the search of Steele’s computers and files “until the warrant can be received to determine if proper procedures are in place to protect the privacy of the information seized.”

Moran did not return a phone call seeking comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office hasn’t yet filed a response, and no hearing for the motion has been scheduled.

Past coverage:

June 22: Steele’s phone calls to wife, son released

June 20: Arrest puts Steele back in public eye

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

Barefoot Bandit’s tale turns to tricky legalities

SEATTLE — With Colton Harris-Moore locked up in a Bahamian jail, federal prosecutors in Seattle are compiling evidence of his alleged crimes on U.S. soil over the past two years, a process made even more difficult by the numerous jurisdictions claiming visits by the so-called “Barefoot Bandit.”

The number of federal and state charges that could be filed against the 19-year-old Camano Island man, let alone the amount or prison time he could face if convicted, is not yet clear. Once Harris-Moore is extradited to Seattle, a grand jury will review a case involving the theft of an airplane in Idaho — the sole federal charge filed against Harris-Moore — and additional charges could potentially be tacked on at that time, authorities said.

Over the past several weeks, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts has been in contact with police and prosecutors in states where Harris-Moore is suspected of committing crimes — a list that includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Wyoming and Nebraska — to find out how the prosecution should proceed, said Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle. He is suspected of burglarizing dozens of homes, and stealing cars, boats and at least five airplanes during a run from the law that began with his 2008 escape from a Seattle-area halfway house.

Read the rest of the story by Seattle Times reporter Jennifer Sullivan by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

July 12: Barefoot Bandit to face Bahamian judge

Feb. 11: Stolen plane, chalk drawn feet: Teen burglar back?

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Killer: Trust no one, broken hearts, knives

When detectives found the clothes admitted killer Justin Crenshaw wore during the slayings of Sarah Clark and Tanner Pehl, they found a clue that Spokane County Chief Criminal Prosecutor Jack Driscoll emphasized at the trial’s opening this morning.

 Inside the plastic container with the bloody jeans and black Nike shoes was a belt “that had the symbol: Trust no one, broken hearts and knives,” Driscoll said.

The belt belonged to Crenshaw.

Driscoll stopped short of offering a motive for the heinous crimes during his opening statement but said evidence will lead jurors to one conclusion: 22-year-old Crenshaw is guilty of two counts of first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances.

Crenshaw doesn’t deny killing 18-year-old Clark and 20-year-old Pehl on Feb. 28, 2008. But he has no memory of it, said defense attorney Chris Bugbee, and did not plan the murders because he suffers from a rare disorder that causes bizarre and often violent behavior after ingesting alcohol.

“Mr. Crenshaw is responsible for the deaths of Sarah Clark and Tanner Pehl. This is not about who caused their deaths. It is to what level of responsibility he should be held,” Bugbee said. “What was his state of mind when these crimes were committed?”

Childhood friends of Crenshaw’s are expected to testify about the all the bizarre stuff he used to do when he got drunk.

“Don’t dismiss this condition because you haven’t heard of it,” Bugbee told the jury. “The issue is, how did this condition affect his ability to think?”

Bugbee said details support the theory, such as the fact that pictures of Pehl’s family members were taken off the walls and placed upside down in the home at 512 Elm Road.

“It is in fact bizarre,” Bugbee said, “Which is consistent with the condition I’m talking about. This is as senseless case. There is no way to justify these deaths.”

Investigators initially believed jealousy may have motivated Crenshaw.

According to court documents, after the murders, “Detective Drapeau told Justin that he understood how things can happen involving relationships and betrayal that could possibly lead a man to do things he normally would not do. Detective Drapeau reports that Justin shook his head and said “shit happens.”

A judge ruled last fall that that statement is not admissible at this trial.

What is admissible is fingerprint and DNA evidence that even Bugbee admitted today was “powerful evidence.”

“This is terribly damaging evidence, you’ll be tempted to conclude early on,” Bugbee told jurors.

But Bugbee urged jurors to remember prosecutors must prove Crenshaw planned the murders and was able to think about the consequences ahead of time.

Crenshaw’s “last memory was sitting on the couch drinking with Tanner Pehl who was playing the guitar,” Bugbee said. “His next memory is waking up the next morning with pain in his hand. He sees the bodies.”

But Bugbee left out an explanation for why the house was intentionally set on fire.

He said he’ll present jurors with lesser charges during deliberations. He expects a guilty verdict, but said evidence doesn’t support a conviction for aggravated premeditated murder.

The first witnesses Monday were the victims’ mothers, Teesha Clark and Laurie Pehl, who identified their children through photographs. Pehl helped provide the trial’s first light moment when discussing Tanner’s tendency to hide a kitchen knife he used for cooking.

“He was afraid we’d dull the edges when we tried to cook,” Laurie said. “Didn’t respect your cooking skills?” Driscoll lightly prodded. Jurors and courtroom watchers, including Pehls’ family, laughed.

Also testifying were first responders to the fire and crime scene, including a firefighter who described the horrific discoveries of Pehl and Clark’s bodies.

“I’d never seen such a thing or hope to ever see anything like that in my life again,” he said.

The trial, expected to last three weeks, continues Tuesday.

Man accused of holding girl, 2, at knifepoint

A 22-year-old man is accused of holding a 2-year-old girl at knifepoint during a confrontation with tribal police on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

Samuel G. Laverdure appeared in U.S. District Court in Spokane on Thursday, where he’s charged with kidnapping after investigators say he held a girl hostage after police were invited inside his trailer regarding a domestic dispute on May 10.

Laverdure first gave a false name, but when police confronted him about an arrested warrant he pulled a knife and grabbed a 2-year-old girl.

Police shocked him with a Taser after he charged at an officer with the girl, according to an affidavit.

Laverdure already is a convicted felon, including conviction in 2005 for assault and obstructing a law enforcement officer. He’s in custody at the Spoakne County Jail.

Crenshaw double-murder trial begins today

A double-murder trial two-and-a-half years in the making begins this morning in Spokane County Superior Court, where a jury is expected to spend three weeks hearing the case of 22-year-old Justin W. Crenshaw.  

Crenshaw is accused of killing 18-year-old Sarah A. Clark and 20-year-old Tanner E. Pehl on Feb 28, 2008, just a few weeks after he arrived in Spokane from Las Vegas to reunite with his long-lost sister, who he tracked down through MySpace.

Clark and Crenshaw’s sister were best friends. Crenshaw, a recovering heroin addict, worked with Pehl at the now-closed Brooklyn’s Woodfire Grill on the North Newport Highway.

The brutal slayings at Pehl’s home on Elm Road, near the restaurant, came after a night of drinking, according to court documents. Clark’s head was nearly severed; Pehl’s abdomen had four stab wounds that were inflicted after he died.

A bloody fingerprint linked Crenshaw to the crime scene, and detectives saw small cuts on his hands believed to have been inflicted by the victims, court papers show. According to a trial memorandum filed just late last month, the suspected killer’s bloody palm print was found on a can of Easy-Off believed to have been used to try to clean the home before he torched it.

Clark’s car was found parked a few blocks away; she’d told her parents she was staying the night at a friend’s home.  Crenshaw’s sister had been angry with the two for dating. She and her aunt found Crenshaw’s bloody clothing in a container in the garage during a neighborhood yard sale in April 2008.

Crenshaw is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder. Prosecutors decided against the death penalty; Crenshaw instead faces life in prison if convicted.

Crenshaw denied committing the murders in an interview with a Spokesman-Review reporter in July 2008. But it now appears his defense will focus on the ‘diminished capacity’ theory - meaning his attorney, Spokane County prosecutor candidate Chris Bugbee, will argue Crenshaw was incapable of intentionally causing death, or the aggravating circumstance of cruelty, because of his mental capacity. The defense apparently will focus on Crenshaw’s inability to control his actions when intoxicated. (A prosecution request to exclude that testimony was denied on Friday.)

Crenshaw has been in the Spokane County Jail since the day after the murder. He’s had several attorneys and successfully argued for his case to be transferred from the county public defender’s office because Clark’s family is close friends with an office employee.

Crenshaw served 18 months for an assault conviction in Nevada after he stabbed a man in the neck. A childhood friend who may testify at the murder trial called him “the kindest, most sweetest guy” just after his arrest. She and other friends may testify about Crenshaw’s violent tendencies when blacked out drunk.

The case drew an unusually large jury pool; both victims have large families and extensive local ties. Four alternate jurors were selected; the jury has had a week break because of scheduling conflicts with trial witnesses.

The families of Clark (above, left) and Pehl (right) are expected to pack Judge Tari Eitzen’s courtroom early today. Opening statements begin at 9:30 a.m.

Clark was a senior at Mead High School who worked at Albertsons and dreamed of being a hair dresser; Pehl graduated from the same school and had recently moved back to Spokane from Western Washington. He loved to cook and play guitar and had taken to playing music with his father when he was murdered.

Past coverage:

June 8, 2010: Judge rejects murder suspect’s

Nov. 6, 2009: Judge rules on evidence in Crenshaw trial

Oct. 16, 2009: Motion to suppress filed in Elm Street homicides

4th suspect charged in May home invasion

A fourth suspect has been charged in a home-invasion robbery in which one suspect reportedly said she wanted to give the victim “a taste of his own (BS).”

Braiden M. Connor, 18, appeared in Superior Court Friday on several felonies connected to a May 11 incident at 2922 E. Providence.

Already charged are Aaron T. Vanscoik, 18; the victim’s ex-girlfriend, Lisa Jo Wareham, 40; and Wareham’s 17-year-old son, Levi R. Ehli.

Wareham reportedly told detectives she recruited the teens to give the victim “a taste of his own bulls**t,” according to an affidavit. “She said that no one was supposed to get hurt except “maybe a broken kneecap was OK.”

Connor reportedly told police June 16 that he was with Vanscoik and Ehli but only walked about five feet into Dahlen’s home, according to an affidavit. He also said he was in the car when Wareham and Ehli used the victim’s food stamp card at Wal-Mart, and when either Ehli or Vanscoik tried to use a stolen credit card at an ATM, according to the affidavit.

Connor was booked into Spokane County Jail Thursday but had posted bond by Friday night.

Barefoot Bandit arrested on boat in Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — The teenage “Barefoot Bandit” who allegedly stole cars, boats and airplanes to dodge U.S. law enforcement was nabbed today as he tried to make a water escape then brought handcuffed — and shoeless — to the capital, abruptly ending his two-year life on the lam.

Colton Harris-Moore was arrested before dawn in northern Eleuthera, said Sgt. Chrislyn Skippings, a spokeswoman for the Royal Bahamas Police Force. A contingent of high-ranking officers traveled to the island and took the suspect to Nassau, the country’s capital, where he faces possible extradition to the United States.

True to his nickname, the 19-year-old suspect was barefoot as he stepped off the plane. He kept his head down and ignored questions shouted by reporters.

Escorted by six police cars and SUVs, the teen had close-shorn hair and wore short camouflage cargo pants, a white long-sleeved shirt and a bulletproof vest. Police blocked traffic on the route to the Central Detective Unit where he was taken for processing. Island police had been searching for the wily fugitive since he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane a week ago on nearby Great Abaco Island, where he was blamed for a string of at least seven break-ins.

Authorities caught Harris-Moore on Harbour Island, a small tourist destination just off mainland Eleuthera, police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade told a news conference.

Harris-Moore was carrying a handgun that he tried to throw away and shots were fired during a water chase, Greenslade said. He did not say who fired them.

“It was like something you might see in the movies,” Greenslade said.

Earlier Sunday, a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to discuss the case said Harris-Moore initially attempted to flee but police shot out the engine on his boat.

He added that the suspect was examined by a doctor and appeared to be in good health. He will be taken to court this week and arraigned on charges including theft and burglary in the Bahamas, the commissioner said, noting that these charges will take priority over those pending against him in the United States.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Jeff Dubel, praised the “outstanding efforts” of the Bahamian authorities who captured the teen.

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

Pot suspect with ailing brother granted bond

A Canadian truck driver arrested with 300 pounds of marijuana bound for an Avista plant in Kettle Falls will be allowed to leave jail before trial, a U.S. magistrate ruled Friday. 

Matthew G. Tutt, 31, has an older brother who has been diagnosed with cancer and given 18 months to live, said his public defender, Amy Rubin.

Tutt’s mother and father traveled to Spokane from Vancouver Island, B.C, from the hearing, which U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno said weighed heavily on her decision to release hm from custody.

Tutt was driving a load of wood chips for Middleton Trucking in Maple Ridge, B.C., when border agents found marijuana in five wooden crates hidden inside the load at the Kettle Falls plant.

He pleaded not guilty Friday to a grand jury indictment charging him with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and importation of marijuana. Both charges carry five to 40 years in prison.

An assistant U.S Attorney requested bond be set to equal the value of the fine B.C marijuana Tutt is alleged to have imported into the country - she estimated $400,000 - but Imbrogno granted a bond of $50,000 - $25,000 cash and $25,000 through a U.S. bond company.

Tutt’s parents will be required to pay a $100,000 appearance bond if he doesn’t show up for court.

Tutt will live in North Vancouver and report monthly to a federal office in Blaine, Wash. He’s allowed only to Blaine and to Alberta to visit his ailing brother.

2nd SWAT search for man comes up empty

A Spokane police SWAT team in training got real-life experience today after tip that a fugitive who sparked a standoff in April was in an east Spokane neighborhood.

But the search in the area of East Mallon Avenue and North Helena Street showed no sign of domestic violence suspect Pedro J. Garcia (pictured), who police believe may be armed, said Officer Glenn Bartlett.

“We had a SWAT team that was training anyway, so we called them out,” Bartlett said. “They were able to go and clear the area to verify that he was not there.”

In April, Garcia, 35, was reported to be suicidal when police arrived in the 2900 block of E. Diamond to check on the safety of a woman there. When the SWAT team entered the home after a four-hour standoff,

Garcia wasn’t inside. More than two months later, he still being sought on charges of domestic violence, violating a protection order, burglary, unlawful imprisonment and harassment.

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

Teen bandit may have stolen boat to escape

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas (AP) — A teen fugitive from Washington who has successfully eluded teams of local police and FBI agents may have slipped off the island where he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane nearly a week ago, police said today.

Authorities are investigating a report that Colton Harris-Moore, dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit,” has fled Great Abaco Island and was spotted on Eleuthera, about 40 miles to the south, two police officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the search. Bahamian National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest declined to comment.

It was unclear how the 19-year-old fugitive might have escaped the island, but a powerboat was stolen in Marsh Harbour.

The 44-foot boat was reported missing Thursday from the marina on Great Abaco Island, said Harry Mountain, a regional manager for The Moorings hotel and marina resort in Marsh Harbour.

The teen already is accused in a federal complaint of stealing a small plane from the Boundary County Airport last fall.

Investigators have been searching the 120-mile-long, boomerang-shaped island for Harris-Moore since he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane in a marsh at its southern tip Sunday.

Working with the FBI, island soldiers and police have also been patrolling ports and airports to cut off potential escape routes for the wily convict, accused of dozens of burglaries in the U.S.

The marina where the boat was stolen is next door to a restaurant, Curly Tails, where the teen was allegedly caught on surveillance footage during a break-in about 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Police were investigating at least six other burglaries stretching from the island’s southern point to Marsh Harbour, a town of about 5,500 people.

About a dozen boats are stolen from the area each year, mostly by drug traffickers who target those with powerful outboard engines, said boat renter Tim Roberts. The latest theft, however, involved a cruiser with an inboard engine — a boat resembling one which Harris-Moore allegedly stole while fleeing the law in the United States.

Harris-Moore, who grew up in the woods of Washington state’s Camano Island, has been on the run since escaping from a halfway house more than two years ago. The teen had several run-ins with police by the time he was 13 and is suspected of stealing cars, boats and at least five planes during his run, despite no formal flight training.

Harris-Moore earned the “Barefoot Bandit” nickname because he allegedly went shoeless for some of his crimes and once left behind chalk footprints as his calling card.

Accomplice of man killed by trooper indicted

An Idaho man faces six months in federal prison for allegedly beating a state trooper during a traffic stop that led to a fatal shooting.

Ricardo D. Rodriguez, 39, of Culdesac, appeared today in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene on a misdemeanor assault charge. He’s been in federal custody since early this week.

A grand jury indicted him in May, one year after Trooper Jeffory Talbott shot and killed Vern Ellenwood and injured Rodriguez.

The men attacked Talbott after fleeing a traffic stop on May 18, 2009, on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rodriguez was a passenger in Ellenwood’s truck.

Talbott was cleared of wrongdoing.

Rodriguez’s bail hearing is set for Tuesday.

Accused baby seller’s wife: It was a joke

The wife of a man accused of trying to sell their 6-month-old daughter on Craigslist said her husband meant the ad to be a joke.

“We all have different understanding(s) of jokes,” Michelle Edison said in an e-mail to the newspaper. “We have discussed it and he now realizes how others took it.”

She described her husband, 44-year-old Gregory G. Edison, as a “great dad” and said she has “no worries about him.”

Police are requesting prosecutors charge Gregory Edison with attempted child selling. The ad was posted Monday but removed by Craigslist within an hour.

Police learned of it from a TV news station. Police say Greg Edison called the station, then police, after learning of the investigation.

The Edisons live with their baby and 2-year-old child; police don’t believe Michelle Edison knew of the ad.

Hells Angel’s federal bail greatly reduced

A Canadian Hells Angel in federal custody at the Spokane County Jail had his cash bail requirement drastically reduced Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Brian L. Hall, 43, will be allowed out of custody if he posts $100,00 cash bond and a $300,000 surety bond, not $400,000 cash as previously ordered. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno approved Hall’s request today.

Federal prosecutors, who appealed Imbrogno’s original decision to grant Hall bond, didn’t directly object to the request but said the change “turns the case bond amount in to a bail facilitation conditions, rather than an appearance assurance condition,” according to court documents.

Hall faces drug and money laundering charges for alleged crimes in 2003 and 2004. He fought extradition from Canada for nearly two years before arriving in Spokane in May.

Imbrogno cited Hall’s lack of criminal history and his strong family support when granting bond; Judge Fremming Nielsen later upheld her decision.

In a motion filed June 30, Hall’s lawyer, Todd Maybrown of Seattle, said Hall and his fiancee, Kristina Kieler, got $100,000 cash from a home equity loan and have obtained a $200,000 surety bond from Lacey O’Malley Bail bonds in Seattle  based on property a friend of Hall’s owns on Vancouver Island. The motion also says Kieler tried visiting Hall June 29 but was detained at the border “and interrogated for more than four hours.”

“The officers demanded to know how Mr. Hall would be able to post the bail that had been set by this Court,” according to the motion.

Past coverage:

June 9: Judge upholds Hells Angel’s release

June 2: Feds fight to keep Hells Angel in custody

Man faces felony for Craigslist baby ad

Police are recommending a felony charge against a Spokane man they believe advertised his 6-month-old daughter for sale on Craigslist.

Gregory G. Edison, 44, listed himself as the seller on the ad, which was posted on Monday but removed by Craigslist within an hour, police said Thursday.

A TV news station told police of the ad after a citizen called. Police spoke with Edison, who lives with his wife, the baby and a 2-year-old child, and believe only he was responsible for the ad, according to a news release.

The ad included photos of an infant and said: “We don’t get along. She won’t let me feed her or hold her. She cries from the time she wakes up til the time she goes to bed. She lets my friends male or female hold and feed her. Her and her mom are always fussin’. We had a 4 hour standoff just to get her to take the bottle from me. She will be on the porch waiting on you…LOL.”

A similar advertisement for a 4-year-old boy in February was linked to a Sandpoint teenager who said he posted it as a joke.

Police are requesting prosecutors charge Edison with attempted child selling.

Edison is a felon with convictions for first-degree robbery in King County in 2001, fourth-degree assault in Spokane in 2008, as well as a drug conviction from 2007.

Hoopfest suspect was on home detention

A teenager arrested in connection with a shooting at Hoopfest last month was prohibited from leaving his home unless he was at school or with his parents.

That allegation from prosecutors gave Adam Doe, 19, his third felony charge related to the June 26 shooting - a second-degree escape charge that was filed this week.

Doe appeared on the charge in Superior Court today via video from the jail, where he’s held on $200,000 bail for assault and gun charges, and $50,000 bail for riot and assault charges related to an October 2009 stabbing.

Judge Sam Cozza imposed an additional $7,500 bond today for the escape charge.

If Doe posts bond, he’ll be on home detention and will only be allowed to leave his home between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. if accompanied by his mother or father.

Doe is accused of assaulting a police officer who tried to detain him with a gun investigators believe Miguel C. Garcia, 19, fired at least three times during a gang fight at Hoopfest. The bullets struck three bystanders. Garcia remains in jail on $750,000 bond.

Past coverage:

June 30: High bonds set for shooting suspects

June 29: Hoopfest shots not ‘surprising’

June 28: Shooting suspect already charged in stabbing

Hoopfest escapee arrested in car theft

An inmate who escaped from a Hoopfest work crew is back in jail after police say he tried to steal a car.

Gary J. Todd, 29, was arrested Monday after a homeowner in the 3700 block of E. 13th Ave. found Todd trying to steal his 2004 Chevy Cavalier, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Todd fled on a black BMX bike but was arrested in the 300 block of South Lacey about 20 minutes later after someone reported a man “saying he had escaped from Geiger and was running form the police.”

Police had been looking for Todd since June 28, when he never returned from a bathroom break while working with an inmate crew at Hoopfest.

A guard found his discarded jumpsuit and goggles inside the portable toilet. Geiger officials believe the escape was planned because Todd apparently had a change of clothes waiting for him.

Todd was to be released Oct. 11 on a drunken driving charge but faces a new felony charge of attempt theft of a motor vehicle. He appeared in Superior Court on that charge Wednesday, where his bond was set at $7,500.

Car thief’s cycle gets 43-month prison break

All investigators had to do was watch Richard P. Hoffman’s house and wait until he hopped into a car and began to drive away. 

Each time he did, detectives got new felony charges against the prolific car thief. 

Hoffman, 34, had no driver’s license, which gave Spokane detectives the authority to pull him over on the spot, and they typically would find drugs or stolen property in his possession. But each time they booked him into jail, someone would bail him out.

That pattern ended Wednesday in a Spokane County courtroom as Hoffman was sentenced to 43 months in prison for nine charges, including stealing cars, possessing stolen property and drugs. His plea agreement did not include assurances that he would testify in two other cases in which investigators linked car theft rings with two shootings.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 24: Vehicle thefts part of wide web

Dec. 22: Debt cited in carjack shooting

Man shot to death by police in Kent, Wash.

KENT, Wash. (AP) — Police in Kent say officers fatally shot a man Wednesday when they believed he was reaching for a weapon.

A police statement did not say whether a weapon was found.

Police described the 42-year-old man as agitated and said he was suspected of striking a woman during a fight Wednesday morning. The man drove off as officers responded.

They later found the disabled car and saw the man run toward a nearby water tower. Police say he was clutching a “shiny object” they believed to be a weapon.

After climbing the tower, the man reportedly told police he was armed and would shoot anyone who approached him. He also said he wanted to die.

Police say the man climbed down after two hours but then threatened officers again before reaching into his pocket. The officers involved are on administrative leave.

Renton police are investigating.

2 plead innocent to murder-related charges

Two men pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges related to a fatal gang-related shooting in January.

James C. Henderson, 33, is charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance and conspiracy to commit second-degree assault, though his public defender, John Stine, said the case is “pretty thin.”

Henderson “was no where near this crime when it occurred, he’s not involved in it in anyway,” Stine said. “Mr. Henderson was at home - he actually has several police officers as alibi witnesses.”

Henderson is named as a co-conspirator with alleged triggerman Edward “TD” Thomas, (left) who is a fugitive wanted on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder for a Jan. 17 shooting that killed John S. Williams.

Stine asked for hHenderson’s bond to be reduced to at the most $5,000, but Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza noted Henderson’s bail jumping conviction and kept it at $100,000.

Also arraigned Wednesday was Henderson’s cousin, Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, (right)who pleaded not guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance. His bond remains at $100,000.

He’s also charged with attempted murder and bail jumping for an alleged incident in a nightclub parking lot last fall.

Henderson and Burton join Christopher J. “Baby Boy” Route, 24, as the only incarcerated suspects charged in the murder.

Their cousin, Eric “Smalls” Burton, Jr., pleaded not guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance last month and is out on bail.

Accused killer Thomas still is at large, as are Cedric Burton’s brother and Route’s cousin, John E. Burton, 27; and Marc A. “Bookie” Carter, who are accused of first-degree rending criminal assistance.

Anyone with information on the three is asked to call 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.

Past coverage:

June 24: Witness in gang murder agrees to secret deal

June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

March 9: Homicide case ‘not a simple investigation’

Barefoot Bandit linked to Bahamas break-ins

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas (AP) — A teenage fugitive from Washington with a celebrated history of escapes has allegedly committed several nighttime burglaries in the Bahamas, eluding an FBI-aided manhunt on the sliver of an island where he crash-landed a stolen plane.

Investigators pursuing Colton Harris-Moore were following a trail of break-ins from the southern tip of Great Abaco Island, where the 19-year-old convict ditched the plane Sunday, to the main town of Marsh Harbour 50 miles away where the teen was recognized on surveillance footage of a restaurant burglary.

The Bahamas caper of the teen dubbed as the “Barefoot Bandit” began when he guided the single-engine Cessna into clear blue, knee-deep waters at a sparsely populated corner of the sun-soaked island. He apparently followed a peninsula of land to the town of Sandy Point, and he was reportedly seen walking across a road around the time a service station was burglarized Sunday night.

His arrival coincided with an annual regatta that may make it easy for him to blend in among the crowds of visiting tourists. It also came just before the unsealing of a complaint in U.S. District Court that accuses him of stealing a plane from the Boundary County Airport last fall.

A Royal Bahamian Police Force bulletin warned that the 19-year-old should be considered “armed and dangerous.” The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to his capture.

Bar and restaurant owner Alistair McDonald said he was one of the thief’s latest victims.

McDonald said surveillance video captured the suspect inside his establishment in Great Abaco’s Marsh Harbour (pictured above) before dawn Tuesday. He said the teen at one point looked directly into a security camera, then shone a flashlight into it to blur the image and turned all three security cameras to face the wall.

“He seemed pretty relaxed and at ease,” McDonald said, adding he thinks the thief was looking for money or got spooked because he left without stealing anything, not even a bottle of water. He gave the tape to police.

Service station owner Dwight Pinder (right) said his shop on the southern tip of Great Abaco was burglarized Sunday night, shortly after the plane crash in a nearby marsh. The thief stole a Gatorade and two packets of potato chips, leaving a bundle of food and drinks on the counter — a sign he apparently left in a rush.

Pinder told The Associated Press that the thief was so skilled that he didn’t even scratch the lock he picked.

A nearby house was also burglarized, with the thief making off with a brown Chevrolet Tahoe that was later found abandoned in the town of Marsh Harbour.

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

Suspect: ‘Maybe a broken kneecap was OK’

Three suspects recently have pleaded not guilty to charges related to a May home-invasion robbery - including a teen charged in a similar robbery two weeks prior.

Aaron T. Vanscoik, 18, reportedly admitted to police that he and two others attacked William Dahlen in his home at 2922 E. Providence as he slept just before 1 a.m. on May 11, according to court documents.

The assailants beat Dahlen with bats before they stole his wallet, then used Dahlen’s stolen food stamp card a few minutes later the Wal-Mart on North Colton.

Surveillance video helped police identify 40-year-old Lisa Jo Wareham - Dahlen’s ex-girlfriend - as a suspect. She was arrested at her home in the 4900 block of North Washington June 10 and reportedly told detectives she recruited her son and three others to give Dahlen “a taste of his own bulls**t,” according to an affidavit.

“She said that no one was supposed to get hurt except “maybe a broken kneecap was OK,” according to the affidavit.

Wareham’s 17-year-old son, Levi R. Ehli, was arrested that day and is charged as an adult with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery.

Vanscoik was arrested June 14 and pleaded not guilty July 1. He’s also charged with a robbery April 29 in which he and two others are accused of kicking in an apartment door at 1223 E. Hoffman and stealing a TV and an Xbox 360 video game console. A 14-year-old boy also is a suspect.

A third suspect, 22-year-old Tony A. Darling, Jr., pleaded not guilty to robbery and burglary charges in Superior Court on Tuesday. Police say Darling is a Norteno gang member.

All robbery suspects are in jail except Ehli, who is out on $20,000 bond.

Teen back in jail after 2nd arrest in 6 days

A teenager convicted of assault for his role in a fatal stabbing last year is back behind bars after his second felony arrest in a week.

Released on his own recognizance last Friday on a drug charge, Christopher E. Hooper, 19, was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly crashed a stolen Honda Accord on state Route 291 near Rutter Parkway Road. The Honda had been discovered stolen early Saturday from the 5800 block of N. F. Street.

Witnesses said Hooper lost control of the Honda as he drove northbound on the highway and collided with a rock embankment. Hooper “was acting unusual and very nervous, wanting to get away from the scene,” according to court documents.

Washington State Patrol detectives are sorting through a large amount of property found in the car, some already identified as loot from vehicle prowlings. Hooper was treated for minor injures at Providence Sacred Heart before being booked into jail for possession of a stolen motor vehicle. His bond was set at $2,500.

Police already suspect Hooper of vehicle prowlings - he was arrested early July 1 after police patrolling for vehicle prowlers said he lied about his identity and was found with burglary tools and prescription drugs.

Hooper already is on probation after pleading guilty to second-degree assault in April in connection with the January 2009 murder of Shannon A. Cochran. The teen said he was high on methamphetamine when he handed Michael L. Summa the knife that Summa used to kill Cochran.

12 years for cross-country child porn case

A man who fled child pornography charges in West Virginia will spend 12 years in federal prison after he was arrested in North Idaho with more than 200,000 explicit images of children on his computer.

Dennis J. Burke, 52, was sentenced today to 144 months in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene to transporting sexually explicit images of minors.

Burke was arrested in March 2009 after Bonner County Sheriff’s deputies responding to an assault call at a Sandpoint motel learned of the pornography from the alleged assault victim.

Along with photos, investigators found 500 videos with explicit images of children in Burke’s possession.

Investigators with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children identified photos from 14 previously known child pornography cases involving children in Washington, Montana, Florida, Kentucky, California, England, Russia, Belgium, Paraguay, Brazil, Australia and France, according to federal court documents.

Burke will be on probation for 10 years after his prison sentence.

According to the News and Sentinel in Parkersburg, W.V., Burke left jail in September 2008 on $30,000 bond. Several people protested outside the courthouse at his next hearing, saying his bond was much too low.

Barefoot Bandit’s mom: Phone home, Colt

As authorities search the Bahamas for Colton Harris-Moore, his mother has sent a message to him through The Associated Press.

“Colt is not to be flying a single engine-plane,” said Pam Kohler, saying she was worried about engine failure. “When I heard that, that just upset me. The rules are, he carries a parachute with him and he takes two-engine planes. Tell him he needs to call me.”

Kohler said she wasn’t surprised her 19-year-old son might be able to make the 1,000-mile trip after teaching himself how to fly. She has publicly defended him and claims the allegations against him are exaggerated.

She told the AP that she would have preferred a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States. ”

The furthest he gets from the U.S., the better,” Kohler said from her home in Camano Island in Washington state. “I’m glad he’s able to enjoy beautiful islands, but they extradite. It doesn’t help matters at all.”

Authorities are now hunting for Harris-Moore — known as the Barefoot Bandit for allegedly committing some crimes while shoeless — on an island hosting hundreds of tourists for an annual sailing regatta that could help the lanky, blue-eyed teen pull off another escape.

“He’s not in custody as yet. We’re following some leads and we’re working with the Abaco community to try and find him. Hopefully we should find him,” Assistant Police Commissioner Glenn Miller said Tuesday.

Police in the Bahamas launched a fruitless search for him Monday night in wooded areas around Sandy Point, near the mangrove wetlands at the island’s southern tip where a plane stolen in Indiana landed on Sunday.

Caroline Smith, a clerk at a marina in Marsh Harbour, a town on Great Abaco, said the manhunt on the typically sleepy island of 16,000 has inhabitants buzzing with rumors.

“I’ve heard he stole a car. Someone else says he stole a boat. Everybody’s talking a whole lot,” Smith said today. “But I can tell you, there were three break-ins on Monday night, which is really unusual for us.”

A federal complaint was unsealed Tuesday charging Harris-Moore with the theft of a small plane from the airport in Bonners Ferry last fall. Read my story here.

Past coverage

June 22: Has the Barefoot Bandit hit the Midwest?

June 3: $50,000 for Barefoot Bandit’s surrender

Feb. 11: Stolen plane, chalk drawn feet: Teen burglar back?

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Oct. 2: Teen fugitive may have stolen Cessna

Homicide victim’s funeral set for Friday

A memorial service for the man found dead under the Sunset Bridge is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m.

Family and friends of William P. “Bill” Pickard, 38, will gather at the Family Faith Community Church, 708 W. Nora, for a service, then at Linwood Park, 7720 N Country Homes Blvd., for a potluck.

Spokane police detectives continue to search for clues on Pickard’s death, which was ruled a homicide after his body was found under the bridge last Wednesday. His car was found in the 1500 block of West Glass Avenue the next day. He told his family he was going to a bar Tuesday, but staff said he never showed up.

Pickard was a few classes away from earning his chemical dependency counselor degree at Spokane Falls Community College.

He graduated from North Central High School in 1990, where he helped lead the wrestling team to a league championship.

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

Past coverage: July 1: Police find dead man’s car, hope for clues

Idaho raid seizes grenades, guns, ammo

Two North Idaho men are in custody following an undercover federal probe into illegal explosives manufacturing that included the seizure of hand grenades, firearms and more than 10,000 rounds of rifle ammo. 

Kenneth B. Kimbley, Jr., 58, (right) and Steven Eugene Winegar, 52, were arrested Saturday on federal firearms charges after agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms found grenade components at Kimbley’s home at 28128 N. Highway 41 in Spirit Lake, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene.

Winegar told an undercover agent “he had 12 to 14 of these destructive devices at his own residence in Harpster, Idaho,” according to the documents.

Read the rest of my story here.

Missing lady’s husband pleads to gun charge

 The husband of a Clarkston woman last seen shortly after she filed for divorce will remain in federal custody after pleading guilty to a federal weapons charge Tuesday in Coeur d’Alene.

Charles A. Capone pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He’s to be sentenced in September.

Capone is the last person known to have seen his wife, Racheal Anderson, a 40-year-old who’s been missing since April.

Capone has felony convictions for aggravated assault, burglary and bank larceny, which prohibits him from possessing weapons. He was arrested in May after police learned Capone had bought a Glock .40 pistol that he was storing in an acquaintance’s safe.

That acquaintance told police Capone gave him the gun for storage in February, according to federal court documents. Investigators seized the gun, leading to the federal charge against Capone.

Capone is in federal custody in the Bonner County Jail.

Robbery, threats, thefts tied to 4 juveniles

Four juveniles have been accused of a crime spree that includes allegations of burglary and death threats.

The spree began Sunday night with an armed robbery in the 2100 block of East 6th Avenue, followed by a burglary by the pool area in Liberty Park a few blocks away.

Two boys arrested at Liberty Park were identified as suspects in the robbery, and they led Spokane police to a third suspect.

A fourth juvenile was arrested for another commercial burglary. Interviews with the suspects revealed one was connected to two burglaries, the armed robbery and a malicious mischief case.

The boy also is accused of beating another boy and threatening him with a knife.

He’s also accused of going to the robbery victim’s house and threatening his family and sister “by stating he would stab them to death,” according to a news release.

olice recovered items stolen from two burglaries.

300 lbs of pot seized at Avista power plant

A Canadian truck driver was arrested at an Avista Utilities power plant with 300 pounds of marijuana on Friday.

Matthew G. Tutt, 31, appeared in U.S. District Court in Spokane today after border agents found the marijuana in a load of wood chips he drove to the power plant in Kettle Falls.

Tutt, a trucker with Middleton Trucking in Maple Ridge, B.C., had five wooden crates in the wood chips that contained marijuana in heat-sealed bags, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

Border agents from the crossing in Laurier , Ferry County, had traveled to the biomass facility with Tutt to watch him unload the truck Friday afternoon.

Tutt remains in the Spokane County Jail.

Has the Barefoot Bandit hit the Bahamas?

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Police were hunting across a tourist island Tuesday for signs of a pilot who vanished after wrecking a small plane in the Bahamas and investigators in the U.S. turned their suspicions toward an American teenager on the run dubbed “the Barefoot Bandit.”

The single-engine Cessna that crashed in shallow waters off Abaco island was apparently stolen from an airport in Bloomington, Indiana. By the time  rescuers arrived on Sunday, nobody was inside.

The 2009 Cessna 400 Corvalis was stolen over the weekend from the Monroe County Airport, the facility’s manager, Bruce Payton said. It was unclear how the thief got into the airport, which has a 10-foot security fence with barbed wire and coded access gates.

U.S. authorities said the heist has similarities to other thefts attributed to 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, a Washington state teenager who has no formal flight training, including the theft of a Cessna from the airport in Bonners Ferry last fall.

The teen got his nickname for allegedly committing crimes while shoeless. He is suspected of stealing cars and small airplanes to evade authorities since escaping from a halfway house near Seattle in 2008.

Payton said a detective with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department told him authorities had recovered a stolen vehicle about a half-mile from the Indiana airport and the “the details of the stolen vehicle seemed to fit that of the pattern known as the Barefoot Bandit.”

FBI Special Agent Steven Dean said surveillance video taken from the Monroe County Airport also indicates that Harris-Moore is responsible for the theft, according to KOMO-TV in Seattle.

An FBI statement posted on the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Nassau said Harris-Moore may have recent injuries and urged anyone who sees him to contact the nearest Bahamas police station. It said the FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

A team of detectives in this island chain off the Florida coast traveled from Nassau, the capital, on Tuesday to join the investigation and aid the search for the pilot in Abaco, police Sgt. Chrislyn Skippings said. She said authorities had not confirmed the plane was the same aircraft stolen from Indiana.

The plane was reported missing Sunday after the owner received a call from the U.S. Coast Guard that the emergency locator transmitter on the plane was sending out a beacon signal off the coast of the Bahamas, Payton said.

Meanwhile, Bahamas police received a report of a wrecked plane and requested assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, which dispatched a Falcon jet from Miami to fly over the area. The jet did not find any sign of bodies, said Petty officer Sabrina Elgammal, a Coast Guard spokeswoman in Miami.

Last week, police in Nebraska issued a warrant for his arrest, and police in South Dakota confirmed his fingerprints were found at a burglary scene.

Past coverage:

June 22: Has the Barefoot Bandit hit the Midwest?

June 3: $50,000 for Barefoot Bandit’s surrender

Feb. 11: Stolen plane, chalk drawn feet: Teen burglar back?

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Man deported in Jan. charged with murder

The roommate of a man found shot to death near Green Bluff last fall has been charged with his murder.

But detectives haven’t arrested Miguel A. Rodriguez-Barbosa for the October slaying of Jesus Torres Valdovinos, 25 (pictured).

The 19-year-old was deported to Mexico in January after being convicted of a felony related to marijuana found in the north Spokane home he shared with the victim.

Court documents supporting a first-degree murder charge against Rodriguez-Barbosa, 19, were ordered sealed June 24 by Superior Court Judge Michael Price, one week after Judge Ellen Kalama Clark approved a $1 million warrant for the suspect’s arrest.

The charge ends an eight-month investigation that was aided by fingerprint evidence and cell phone call records, but begins a search for a young man long considered a murder suspect who was not charged until months after his return to his home country.

“He didn’t disappear. We disappeared him,” said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 11: Pot conviction least of teen’s problems

Jan. 5: Murder victim’s roommate eyed as suspect

Oct. 27: Homicide victim’s roommate arrested on drug charges

Oct. 26: Homicide victim linked to drug sales

Spokane war vet puts life in peril - again

This William Wallace did not set out to win independence for Scotland. But the 80-year-old Korean War veteran did take a knife in the heart for another cause: keeping some “punk” car prowler from getting away with stolen loot. 

“I got mortared and shot in Korea and then I came home and got knifed,” Wallace said Thursday in his northwest Spokane home, a day after the culprit was ordered to serve just over three years in prison for the attack. 

The incident began on April 14, 2008, as Wallace and others were leaving a Spokane Chiefs hockey game at the Spokane Arena. Wallace said he heard a man yelling about someone breaking into his truck.

Wallace, an ex-Marine and Purple Heart recipient from Korea, rushed over to help.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Xanax, not alcohol, a factor in pole crash

A woman who police say sheared a power pole with her car Thursday, leading to the injury of a pursing motorcycle officer, was not drunk but may have been under the influence of prescription medication, according to court documents filed Friday.

No alcohol was detected on Susan L. Troyer after a breath test, but she admitted to taking the anti-anxiety drug Xanax that morning and said she’d left work early because she wasn’t feeling well, according to an affidavit prepared by Spokane police.

 “She said that she thought it was the Xanax that was making her feel strange,” according to the affidavit. “She said she doesn’t normally take it in the morning, she usually take it at night.” 

Troyer was released from jail on her own recognizance Friday after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court on a charges of vehicular assault and felony hit and run.

She was arrested Thursday morning after her 1997 Honda Accord crashed into a power pole, and a downed power line that got stuck to the car’s bumper flung backward and wrapped around Officer Tyler Cordis’ neck, police said. 

Cordis (right) was pursuing Troyer after he saw her driving recklessly on Northwest Boulevard near G Street. Troyer struck the pole then stopped a couple blocks away, where witnesses said she tried to flee before police arrived.

Troyer, who has no criminal record, told police her brakes “went out,” according to an affidavit.

Troyer is the wife of Spokane International Airport Police Chief Peter L. Troyer, who filed for divorce last month.

She works as an administrative assistant to the vice president for nursing at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, her public defender said Friday.

Prints link Barefoot Bandit to South Dakota

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) — Fingerprints found at the scene of a Yankton burglary match those of the “Barefoot Bandit,” South Dakota authorities confirm. 

Yankton assistant police chief Jerry Hisek says he was notified today that state Division of Criminal Investigation found three of 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore’s fingerprints at the scene of a June 18 break-in.

The teen (pictured) had already been named a suspect. Harris-Moore, of Camano Island, Wash., has evaded authorities since April 2008, when he escaped from a halfway house south of Seattle.

He is accused of breaking into dozens of homes since and committing burglaries across the region and into the Midwest, including the theft of a small airplane from the Boundary County Airport.

Police in Nebraska issued a warrant for Harris-Moore’s arrest this week.

Past coverage

June 22: Has the Barefoot Bandit hit the Midwest?

June 3: $50,000 for Barefoot Bandit’s surrender

Feb. 11: Stolen plane, chalk drawn feet: Teen burglar back?

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Babysitter accepts plea in Idaho sex case

After making national news last summer, a babysitter sex scandal in North Idaho was plea-bargained out Thursday after the alleged victim gave the accused a perfect alibi: He said the sex acts occurred on dates when the babysitter was living out of state. 

Summer Kelli Ashle Hughes, 29, also known as Summer Nelson, will be on supervised probation for two years after entering an Alford plea to four lesser counts of misdemeanor injury to a child.

Kootenai County prosecutors were prepared to take her to trial on felony lewd-conduct charges before her teenaged accuser, who was 14 at the time of the crimes, testified at a preliminary hearing in May.

Read the rest of my story here.

Accomplice in fatal stabbing jailed again

A teenager who blamed his methamphetamine addiction for his role in a fatal stabbing last year returned to jail Thursday on suspicion of drug possession and vehicle prowling.

Police say Christopher E. Hooper, 19, lied to police about his identity but granted them permission to search his backpack, where they found a prescription pill bottle with his true name, according to an affidavit filed in Superior Court.

Police had been paroling the area of North Martin Street and East Rich Avenue about 2 a.m. Thursday after a rash of vehicle prowlings when they spotted Hooper dressed in dark clothing “ducking behind cars when the patrol car approached,” according to the affidavit. He first told police his name was Chris E. Collins “and removed shaved keys and a mini flashlight from his pants pockets in an attempt to prove he was not lying about his name.”

Police found prescription drugs, along with rubber gloves, cell phones “and other vehicle prowling items” in Hooper’s backpack, according to the affidavit.

He was booked only on a charge of possession of a controlled substance and was released on his own recognizance by Judge Michael Price. Hooper left jail about 3 a.m. today, records show.

Hooper already is on probation after pleading guilty to second-degree assault in April in connection with the January 2009 murder of Shannon A. Cochran.

Hooper said he was high on methamphetamine when he handed Michael L. Summa the knife that Summa used to kill Cochran. Hooper was sentenced on April 22 to a year in jail but credited for about 10 months already served.

Summa pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in May and was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison with credit for 562 days served in jail.

An accomplice, Tylor T. Buttolph, 19; was sentenced to five years in prison last month after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter.

Car could hold clues in Spokane man’s death

The night before his body was found underneath a Spokane bridge, William P. Pickard told his family he was going to one of his favorite bars.

But staff at the Swinging Doors in north Spokane say they never saw the longtime customer that night.

Pickard, 38, was found dead about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday under the Sunset Boulevard bridge on the west bank of Latah Creek in High Bridge Park.

An autopsy didn’t immediately reveal his cause of death.

Homicide detectives know Pickard fell from the bridge, but they don’t know if he was dead or alive when it happened, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe. They hope his 2007 white Mercury Mariner will provide clues.

Read the rest of my story here.

Man accused of extorting boss after firing

A former employee at a Spokane landscaping company is accused of trying to extort money from his ex-boss.

Tony W. Jones, 31, was arrested Thursday in an undercover sting at a convenience store on East Francis Avenue in which the victim gave him $1,000 in marked bills as undercover detectives watched.

Jones was arrested after he took the cash, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

His victim had called Crime Check this morning to say a recently fired employee “was threatening to cause him trouble with state business and financial agencies” if he didn’t get the cash by noon, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Jones, who has a felony conviciton for drug dealing in 2007, was booked into jail on a second-degree extortion charge about 2:30 p.m. Investigators said he admitted to the crime.

Downed wire snags bike cop during chase

A Spokane police motorcycle officer was yanked from his bike Thursday morning when a line from a falling utility pole wrapped around his neck after he turned to pursue an out-of-control car. 

The officer was rushed to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries to his neck. The 9:30 a.m. incident closed Northwest Boulevard from Providence Avenue to D Street for nearly four hours.

Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said the motorcycle officer, a veteran whose identity wasn’t disclosed, was pulled off his motorcycle by the utility line, which was attached to the pole damaged by the out-of-control car. The driver of the car he was pursuing was Susan Troyer, the wife of Spokane International Airport Police Chief Peter L. Troyer. She is pictured above sitting on the grass.

Read the rest of Mike Prager’s story here.

2 assaulted outside Spokane grocery store

Three men assaulted two other men in a grocery store parking lot Monday, and police are asking for help identifying the assailants.

Surveillance photos show thee men police considered persons of interest in the assault, which occurred about 5:15 p.m. near G & B Grocery, 2104 E. Francis Ave.

The victims exited their car and were approached by three men who “began trash talking” before one man punched one victim and two others assaulted the second victim, according to Spokane police.

The men fled eastbound on Francis. One of the victims was treated for his injuries at a hospital.

Witnesses describe the “persons of interest” as white or Hispanic, 16 to 25 years old with baggy clothes.

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

Pro fighter accused of raping young girl

A competitive mixed-martial arts fighter pleaded not guilty Wednesday today to raping and molesting a young girl.

Michael L. Mininger, 28, is represented by John Clark, who said his client denies all the allegations.

He “is looking forward to clearing his name,” Clark said. “He’s willing to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence.”

According to court records, Mininger sexually molested the girl, who is 9, over a period of three years.

The girl told a forensic interview specialist that the sexual abuse occurred after dark when her mother, Mininger’s girlfriend, was asleep and when Mininger was drunk, according to court records.

Mininger — who is charged with first-degree rape of a child and first-degree child molestation — appeared before Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno, who granted Mininger’s request to be able to travel to Boise, Lincoln and Grant counties.

Clark said it was for Mininger’s job — not his fight schedule.

 Mininger was arrested June 16. He’s out of jail on $10,000 bond.

Photos show woman robbing Spokane bank

Spokane police are still looking for a woman robbed a bank inside a Spokane grocery store on Wednesday. 

The woman left with an undisclosed cash after threatening a teller at Banner Bank in Safeway, 933 E. Mission, about 1:25 p.m., police said.

The robber is described as a white, 45 to 50, 5-foot-5, heavy set and wearing red hair and dark sunglasses.

She fled out the north door of the store. Police converged on the area but haven’t located a suspect. 

The same bank was robbed in February.

Douglas E. Labish, already convicted of three bank robberies in 2002, is set to enter a plea for that robbery on July 8.

Anyone with information on today’s robbery is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

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