Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Archive for May 2010

26 felonies against trio of burglary suspects

What a difference an arrest makes.

Hours after a man already suspected in a string of burglaries last fall was arrested in a new break-in, prosecutors filed felony charges recommended by detectives in April.

Michael L. Yamaguchi, 29, and Stephen Victor, 19, appeared in Superiro Court today on 26 charges related to eight burglaries at gas stations and convenience stores on Nov. 21, Dec. 11 and Feb. 1.

The men were arrested in February with Samantha A. Wynne, 20, who also is charged. Detectives finished the investigation April 1. They’d searched apartments and found video games system and a flat-screen TV that Victor reportedly said he’d bought with the stolen cash.

Wynne reportedly admitted to babysitting Yamaguchi’s son during the burglaries and said the three split the proceeds. Yamaguchi said he sold the stolen cigarettes for $3 a pack or $30 a carton, according to court documents.

Yamaguchi was arrested Wednesday in another burglary at Hico Mart, 1201 North Barker Road. Charges were field for the burglaries that day.

He, Victor and Wynne are charged with burglary, theft and malicious mischief for each break-in, as well as theft of a motor vehicle.

Detectives say the trio made spare keys while test driving vehicles, then returned at night to steal the cars.

Here’s a list of the alleged crimes:

  • Nov. 21, burglary at Conoco, 3333 W. Indian Road
  • Dec. 11, burglaries at Divines, 10222 N. Division and 1428 W. 2nd; Quick Stop, 2508 Northwest Blvd.; Tesoro, 3158 E. 17th
  • Jan. 30 or Feb 1: Car thefts at Haven Street Motors, BJ’s Used Cars and Neighborhood Auto.
  • Feb. 1: burglaries at Shell, 1520 N. Argonne and 1007 N. Sullivan, and Taco Bell, 10620 E. Sprague. Jan. 30 or Feb 1: Car thefts at Haven Street Motors, BJ’s Used Cars and Neighborhood Auto.

Teens in crash were drinking, charges filed

Two teenagers had alcohol in their systems when the crashed their cars last winter, killing a 19-year-old Spokane woman.

Brooke A. Reese’s blood-alcohol level was .06 and Taylor D. Marean’s was .12 after the Feb. 14 crash on Hatch Road near 54th Avenue that killed Jacoby N. Bryant, (pictured) according to documents filed this week in Spokane County Superior Court.

Vehicular homicide charges were filed Wednesday against Reese and Marean, but no arraignment has been scheduled.

Detectives found meth in Reese’s purse, but she has not been charged with drug possession.Court documents indicate only alcohol was detected in her system.

The sheriff’s detective who investigated the crash said Reese and Marean likely be in court in mid-June after school is out. Marean is a student at the University of Washington.

Investigators believe he and Reese were racing when their cars collided on southbound Hatch Road near 54th Avenue early Feb. 14.

Bryant was in the passenger seat of Reese’s 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, which struck a tree after colliding with Marean’s 2005 BMW about 2:24 a.m., according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

At least one person witnessed the crash, according to the newly filed documents. Ralph Reyes-Lao was driving northbound on Hatch with a Karra Skinfill when a white car being tailgated by a black car sped past them.

Reyes-Lao knew they wouldn’t make the curve at 57th and looked in his rear-view mirror as the cars collided with the tree.

 A woman at the crash scene told them “everything was fine,” according to court documents.

Detectives believe Marean’s BMW was going 51 mph when it struck Reese’s Pontiac (pictured). The speed limit on Hatch is 30 mph.

Reese later reportedly admitted to drinking four shots of Vodka at a party near 25th and Grand before the deadly crash.

She cried at the hospital to detectives, saying “she was responsible for her friend’s death and had to live with it the rest of her life,” according to court documents.

Past coverage:

April 5: Charges recommended in crash that killed teen

Crime Stoppers fugitive already behind bars

A stabbing suspect wanted by Crime Stoppers has been in state prison since February.

Jacob M. Maravilla, 20, has been in Department of Corrections custody since Feb. 22, according to the DOC.

He was given a drug offender sentencing alternative for possession of a motor vehicle, but that sentence was revoked in February and he returned to prison. He’s at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla and is due out in May 2011.

A warrant was recently issued for Marvailla on several charges, including first-degree assault, in connection with a Feb. 10 attack at 907 E. Wabash. Crime Stoppers offered a reward for tips on his location Thursday.

No word if the prison guards are eligible for the reward.

Past coverage: May 21: Suspects named in retaliatory Feb. stabbing

Man arrested with 140 grams of heroin

A suspected heroin dealer was arrested Thursday with more than 140 grams of the drug.

Douglas A. Jones, 42, is in jail on two felony drug charges. Police believe he gets the heroin outside Spokane, then sells it for $70 a gram locally.

Jones had seven, 25-gram packages on him at the time of his arrest, police said.

The Spokane Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit has been investigating him for months.

Killer’s Spokane family to testify in Reno

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Convicted murderer and rapist James Biela grew up in a poor and abusive household where his father routinely beat his mother and the children cowered in fear, sometimes using a bucket in their bedroom as a toilet.

A jury in Reno trying to decide whether to sentence the 1999 West Valley High graduate to death heard about his traumatic childhood Friday in testimony from a psychiatrist and one of his two sisters.

Dr. Melissa Piasecki says Biela’s mother, Kathy Lovell, who lives in Spokane Valley, suffered broken teeth and ribs. Earrings were ripped from her ears and she had wrist surgery because she was bound so many times.

The doctor says Lovell sometimes sought shelter by hiding under the kids’ beds. But they would end up watching as he dragged her out and beat her again.

The jury deliberated for just over six hours before finding Biela, who police believe worked in the Moses Lake area after the crimes, guilty on Thursday of all five counts tied to the 2008 killing of the 19-year-old Denison and assault of the others.

District Attorney Dick Gammick says it is cases like this that always strengthen his faith and belief in the jury system.

Past coverage:

May 28: WV grad guilty of rape, murder

May 25: Defense rests in ex-Spokanite’s murder trial

May 25: Prosecution rests in WV grad’s murder trial

May 14: Ex-Valley man on trial for murder in Reno

Nov. 27, 2008: WV grad held in Reno killing

CdA killer sentenced to prison, deportation

A man who shot and killed a college student home for Mother’s Day after a fight at a Coeur d’Alene bar last year will serve at least 20 years in prison before he’s deported to his native Honduras. 

Juan C. Aldana Villanueva, 23, (right) was sentenced today to 20 to 28 years in prison for the murder of Timothy I. Wolfe, 21, on May 9, 2009.

Villanueva, who worked at a Post Falls restaurant, had argued with Wolfe (left), a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe who was attending college in Montana, at a Coeur d’Alene bar before Villanueva drove to the Post Falls home where he lived with his girlfriend and child to get a gun, according to court documents. 

Wolfe was shot to death near Third Street and Indiana Avenue about 2:15 a.m.

Villanueva had been charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in March.

Read more on the sentencing here.

Past coverage:

May 11, 2009: Police: CdA murder suspect waited for victim

‘Judge Judy’ spot helps ID fraud suspect

An appearance on the TV reality show “Judge Judy” has brought a Spokane man more than just 15 minutes of syndicated fame.

Joshua J. Mulvey, 26, now faces new criminal charges in an Internet fraud scheme after a Snohomish County man who saw the episode recognized Mulvey as the same person who conned him out of $2,500 last year, police say.

Mulvey appeared on the courtroom drama within the last two years with his ex-girlfriend, who he was suing for repayment on a car he said he sold to help her financially.

But the show’s host, former family court judge Judith Sheindlin, was unsympathetic.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we try to deceive,” Sheindlin said. “Goodbye Mr. Mulvey; from this court you get nothing. You’re a con man.”

Watch the episode below, and read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

April 28: Teen killer accused of assault at jail

Feb. 19: Craigslist fraud suspect arrested

Spokane locals on tv from john moham on Vimeo.

Suspects may be linked to car-theft hangout

A fugitive sex offender arrested after a police chase on Monday and a repeat criminal arrested at a pawn shop on Tuesday may be connected to the same stolen-car hot spot in the 1100 block of West Jackson.

Chris L. Gilbert (right) was arrested with a stolen Honda after fleeing police from that area of West Jackson on Monday.

Another Crime Stoppers fugitive who jumped out of the car, 31-year-old Amy J. Hunter, was arrested near Monroe and Indiana later that day on theft and stolen property charges. 

About the same time and in that same area of West Jackson, police recovered a car that had been stolen from St. Charles Catholic Church, 4515 N. Alberta St., during Mass on Sunday. 

The next day, Allen S. Easley (right) and Brittnei Fawver were arrested at Pawn One trying to sell guns police believe were stolen from the car outside the church.

Police investigation into car theft activity in the 1100 block of West Jackson continues, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

Man accused of pepper spraying girl, 3

A 31-year-old Medical Lake man is accused of assaulting a family with pepper spray in a dispute over a tricycle.

Andrew Nelson Evans was arrested after sheriff’s deputies found a couple and their 3-year-old daughter with orange stains on their faces and arms from the spray about 5 p.m. Wednesday in the 500 block of North Brower.

The girl’s skin and her mother’s skin appeared to be blistering, and sheriff’s deputies said all three reported “severe pain.” One deputy said the girl was crying and said she “hurt real bad.”

Read more here.

Ex-Spokane man convicted of murder, rape

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A former Spokane man was convicted today of raping and strangling a 19-year-old college coed during a string of attacks that had the city of Reno on edge two years ago.

A Washoe County District Court jury found James Michael Biela guilty of all five counts tied to the murder of Brianna Denison and sexual assault of two other young women.

Biela (left, on May 18) showed little emotion, standing with his hands crossed in front of his waist as the verdict was read.

“It’s a good verdict, well deserved,” District Attorney Dick Gammick said. “Cases like this always strengthen my faith and belief in the jury system.”

The same jury that took about six hours to reach a verdict now must decide whether the 1999 West Valley graduate whose mother lives in Spokane Valley and attended his trial, should be sentenced to death.

Police believe Biela lived and worked in the Moses Lake area for several months after the attacks.

He sold the truck believed to have been used in the crimes to a car dealership that then sold it to a Coeur d’Alene resident. The truck was seized shortly after Biela’s arrest.

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

Past coverage:

May 25: Defense rests in ex-Spokanite’s murder trial

May 25: Prosecution rests in WV grad’s murder trial

May 14: Ex-Valley man on trial for murder in Reno

Nov. 27, 2008: WV grad held in Reno killing

Reward offered for tips on stabbing suspect

A man accused of stabbing another man in what police believe may have been retaliation for an earlier fight is wanted by Crime Stoppers.

The organization is offering a reward for tips that help arrest Jacob M. Maravilla, 20.

Maravilla (right) is wanted on several charges, including first-degree assault, in connection with a Feb. 10 attack at 907 E. Wabash. A resident, Michael P. Dennis, suffered a non-lief threatening stab wound to his back.

Oscar Rodriguez, 24, was arrested last week and remains in jail. Another suspect, Richelle R. Swinkels, 20, was arraigned in Superior Court Wednesday and was given an August trial date. A warrant has been issued for a fourth suspect, Meghan L. Jeske, 21, after she did not show up for her arraignment yesterday.

Witnesses said Rodriguez punched one victim, and woman struck him with a hammer. Maravilla was identified was Dennis' attacker, according to the court documents.

Maravilla was arrested the next week on charges of first-degree burglary and second-degree assault, but the investigation was ongoing and charges weren't filed until May 10. A warrant was issued May 13.

Maravilla, whose moniker is Baby Joker, is considered a gang associate and repeat offender.

He has convictions for driving on a suspended license, possession of a dangerous weapon and possession of a stolen vehicle and last gave 1508 E. Hartson in Spokane as his home address.

Past coverage:

May 21: Suspects named in retaliatory Feb. stabbing

Child molester registers as local transient

A child molester considered likely to reoffend will be living as a transient in Spokane County.

 Elijah P. Stanford, 47, was convicted in 1998 and served 68 months in prison for first-degree child molestation in Walla Walla County. His victim was an 11-year-old girl.

Stanford is white, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 350 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes. His right middle finger is missing.

He is not wanted by law enforcement at this time but recently moved back to the area from Chelan County, and authorities want people to be aware of his presence.

Felony warrant issued for missing gangster

A man named in an ongoing homicide investigation is wanted on an escape from community custody charge.

Edward L. “TD” Thomas, 24, hasn’t been located by his Department of Corrections supervisor since on or about Jan. 19, according to Superior Court documents filed last month.

Now he’s wanted on two felony charges of escape from community custody and bail jumping. The bail jumping allegedly occurred in June 2009 on a first-degree robbery and second-degree assault case.

Thomas is believed to have been at the party on Jan. 17 in which John S. Williams was shot to death.

One witness told detectives that Williams was shot to death after he punched out a passenger-side window in a car in which Thomas was riding, according to court documents. “His whereabouts are currently unknown,” prosecutors wrote of Thomas.

Thomas has a felony conviction for riot resulting from an incident two years ago in which a woman was attacked and her purse stolen at 6128 N. Wiscomb.

Also charged in that case is Cedric E. Burton, who remains in jail.

Thomas and Burton were charged in a gang-related murder in 2005. Both have been named in documents related to the ongoing Williams’ murder investigation.

Serial robber suspected in latest holdup

Federal investigators believe a serial robber is responsible for a bank hold-up on the South Hill Tuesday that locked down two schools.

“It’s almost certainly going to be the same individual,” said FBI supervisory senior resident agent Frank Harrill.

  The gunman robbed U.S. Bank, 621 E. 30th Ave., about 11:30 a.m. Sacajawea Middle School and Jefferson Elementary School were locked down for about an hour.

FBI agents believe the robber may be fleeing the banks on a bicycle, but he may have other transportation also, Harrill said.

The robber is first believed to have struck Dec. 22 at Sterling Savings Bank, 3000 S. Grand Blvd., then Feb. 13 and April 19 at Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd. (The Feb. 13 robbery is pictured.)

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

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

Investigators aren’t sure if the knowledge possible is from bank experience or criminal experience, “but we’ll find out,” Harrill said.

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

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

Past coverage and photos:

May 19: Serial robber suspect in bank holdups

March 4: Police: Man robbed 2 banks in 2 months

Repeat offender busted at pawn shop

A burglary suspect arrested after reaching 100 mph during a freeway chase two weeks ago but later released from jail is back behind bars after police say he tried pawning stolen guns.

Allen S. Easley (right), 23 and considered one of Spokane top 10 repeat offenders, was picked up Tuesday at Pawn One, 3705 N. Market, along with Brittnei J. Fawver, 19 (left).

Easley’s current stay at the Spokane County Jail is his fourth since mid-April.

“This is a chronic pattern of crime sprees committed by prolific repeat offenders who continue plague our community,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe in a news release. 

Easley was arrested earlier this year on car theft and drug charges but spent little time in jail, documents show. He left jail after appearing in Superior Court on car theft and drug charges but was back by the end of April, however, after a suspected check forger told police it was Easley who stole the check during a burglary at a car dealership.

During questioning in connection with that case, Easley reportedly admitted to another burglary and told police of a woman who has equipment to make bogus checks using legitimate bank account numbers stolen from bills left in mail boxes, according to court documents. Easley appeared in court May 3 but left jail shortly after, and prosecutors have not yet filed burglary charges.

Police arrested the woman accused of making checks, Kristina Fricke, as well as Easley’s girlfriend, Randi Shepherd, April 30 in connection with the burglary investigation, but neither has been charged.

Also arrested was 36-year-old Kimberly L. Fawver (right), on charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, forgery and identify theft. She was arraigned on Tuesday and remains in jail.

Easley said he used Kimberly Fawver’s car to commit at least one of the burglaries, according to court documents. It’s unclear if Brittnei and Kimberly Fawver are related.

Easley returned to jail after a high-speed police chase May 9. He posted $20,000 bail May 14 but remains behind bars after appearing in Superior Court today on new charges.

Police believe Easley and Britteni Fawver may be responsible for other thefts in Spokane and released their mug shots Wednesday in hopes alleged victims will file reports with Crime Check, (509) 456-2233.

Easley has a swastika tattooed on the back of his head, police said.

CdA bar raided, 6 arrested in cocaine bust

For 20 years, federal agents allege, a Coeur d’Alene cocaine dealer went undetected by law enforcement, thanks in part to a tight-knit group of traffickers that included his friends and family. 

But James Roy “Slim” O’Neill’s alleged criminal enterprise imploded Tuesday when he and six other suspects were arrested after a months-long drug investigation involving a Coeur d’Alene bar now targeted in a federal forfeiture. 

A federal complaint filed Friday says O’Neill used proceeds from drug sales to finance an expensive lifestyle, including cars, recreational vehicles and annual trips to the Daytona 500 race in Florida.

O’Neill and his wife, 44-year-old Lecia D. O’Neill, were arrested Tuesday, as were Gary A. Votava, 51; Christopher B. McFarland, 48; Stephen J. McCabe, 51; and Debra L. Margraff, 48, all of Coeur d’Alene. Arrested in Kennewick was Manuel Rivera, 34.

Read the rest of my story here.

Pictured above: Top row, left to right: James O’Neill, Lecia O’Neill and Christopher McFarland. Bottom row, left to right: Stephen McCabe, Debra McGraff and Gary Votava.

Cops: Woman ran over husband with SUV

A Rathdrum woman is accused of running over her husband in an SUV. 

Joyce Wilhite, 45, remains in Kootenai County Jail on a hit-and-run charge. Her husband, Timothy Wilhite, 51, is in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Police say Joyce Wilhite dragged her husband more than 100 feet in a gold Chevrolet SUV about 12:30 p.m. on Thursday ater an argument.

“From what she reports he jumped on the hood of the car and she still drover down the street,” said Rathdrum Police Chief Kevin Fuhr. “She thought he had rolled off the side of the car when in fact he had rolled under the car.”

Police found Timothy Wilhite lying in the road with “severe injuries to his head and body,” police said. His wife returned home without calling police, Fuhr said.

Joyce Wilhite was arraigned Friday on a charge of leaving the scene of an injury accident.

Lawyer: Court mishap led to fugitive status

A man wanted by Crime Stoppers since December was released from jail on his own recognizance after a judge said notification of his arraignment had been mailed to California instead of his Spokane address.

Charles Willy Jackson, 24, is accused of shooting out the back window of a Hummer during a confrontation in in a parking lot across the street from Club Uno, 515 W. Sprague Ave., early Nov. 22. He’s charged with second-degree assault, third-degree malicious mischief and possession of a controlled substance (cocaine.)

A second suspect, Cedric E. Burton, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly trying to run over two men, Bradley Hollibaugh and Jacob Schreiber, just before the shooting.

A warrant was issued for Jackson’s arrest after he didn’t show up for an arraignment in December. But Jackson didn’t know he’d been charged, said his public defender, Ed Carroll, in court Tuesday.

Jackson turned himself in as soon as he realized there was a warrant, Carroll said. Jackson’s girlfriend is pregnant and he doesn’t plan on leaving Spokane, where he’s been since his arrest.

“Everyone thought” he’d gone to California, Carroll said. Prosecutors asked for $25,000 bond, but Judge Ellen Kalama Clark released Jackson on his own recognizance after noting that his arraignment notice had been sent to California instead of his Spokane address.

His standard release conditions prohibit him from contacting Burton, who remains in jail after being arrested in Los Angeles May 4. He was back in court Monday on a new harassment charge and a new warrant for a 2008 robbery case and got $50,000 bail for each charge. The robbery charge stems from when Burton allegedly attacked a woman and stole her purse inside 6128 N. Wiscomb on April 3, 2008.

Burton’s public defender, Mark Hannibal, said the warrant was filed after a judge rejected a $1.5 million bail request from prosecutors.

“It looks like, your honor, they were grumpy at the court at Mr. Burton’s expense,” Hannibal said.

Suspect in burglary ring arrested for burglary

A man suspected in a string of burglaries in February is back in jail after police say he broke into a convenience store then fled officers early today.

Michael L. Yamaguchi, 29, and Cullen J. Snodgrass-Gibson, 30, were arrested after a chase with Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake police. A delivery driver followed the suspects after he spotted a white van parked in front of Hico Mart, 1201 North Barker Road.

Snodgrass-Gibson jumped out of a passenger’s seat before Yamaguchi blew a tire and crashed the van in Liberty Lake, according to police. Spokane police officer Paul Gorman and his K-9 Maximus tracked Yamaguchi to a nearby housing area.

The van will be searched later today. Police said a cash drawer and spilled coin rolls are inside. Stolen from the Hico were cigarettes, coins and a small amount of cash.

Yamaguchi was arrested in February after burglaries at two gas stations in a Taco Bell.

Police believe Yamaguchi, Stephen Victor, 19, and Samantha Winne, 19, are responsible for a string of break-ins that began in November. Detectives say the trio made spare keys while test driving vehicles, then returned at night to steal the cars. The cars were then allegedly used in store burglaries.

Detectives sent an investigation to Spokane County prosecutors in April that recommends 30 felony charges, but no charges have been filed.

Yamaguchi and Snodgrass-Gibson are due in Superior Court this afternoon on burglary charges. Yamaguchi also faces a charge of attempting to elude police.

Jail deputy fights firing over use of force

An arbitrator is reviewing the case of a Spokane County corrections deputy fired after sheriff’s officials determined the used excessive force on an inmate.

Wayne Green (right) was fired last summer after an investigation into claims that he beat an inmate inside the Spokane County Jail booking area.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Green “made a very rude comment” and provoked the situation.

“I deemed it was unnecessary force,” Knezovich said Tuesday.

Another deputy filed a report about the incident, which led to the investigation.

Green filed a grievance that was denied, then asked for an arbitrator to review his dismissal. That investigation is ongoing.

Memo delays council’s ombudsman vote

Two dozen people urged the Spokane City Council to let the city police ombudsman listen to someone other than police about police misconduct, but a confidential legal memo stood in the way Monday.

Councilman Bob Apple was the lone opponent of an effort to delay for a month any decision on his proposal to let ombudsman Tim Burns conduct his own investigations into complaints of police misconduct.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

Hash-oil makers burned after butane ignites

Three men trying to make hash oil from marijuana in Moses Lake today ignited a flash fire that left them severely burned, authorities said.

Jeffrey A. Beavin, 30, Ray A. Jones, 28, and Sean M. Jensen, 28, all of Moses Lake were using butane to extract resin from marijuana when one lit a cigarette about 9 p.m., according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

Butane that had accumulated in the shed, adjacent to 4421 Airway Drive NE, ignited and several injured the men.

The men were taken to Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake and then transferred to Harborview Medical Center’s burn unit in Seattle. The sheriff’s office is investigating.

Defense rests in ex-Spokanite’s murder trial

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The jury is expected to begin deliberations in James Biela’s rape and murder trial on Wednesday after his public defenders abruptly ended presentation of their case with the calling of only one expert witness about DNA evidence.

The judge said he anticipates the case going to the jury sometime Wednesday afternoon following closing arguments from both sides in the trial that began 12 days ago.

  “Sooner than I thought we are done with the evidence in the first part of this case,” Washoe District Judge Robert Perry said before sending the jury home for the day about 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Biela, a 1999 West Valley High graduate whose mother lives in Spokane Valley, told the judge earlier Tuesday he wanted to testify but decided against it on the advice of his attorneys.

The 28-year-old accused of raping and murdering 19-year-old Brianna Denison and sexually assaulting two other young women in a string of attacks from October 2007 to January 2008 on the edge of the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. He also faces a kidnapping charge.

(Denison’s mother, Bridgette Denison, is pictured above talking to Washoe County deputy district attorney Elliott Sattler.)

Police believe Biela lived and worked in the Moses Lake area for several months after the attacks. He sold the truck believed to have been used in the crimes to a car dealership that then sold it to a Coeur d’Alene couple.

The truck was seized shortly after Biela’s arrest.

Read the rest of the AP story on today’s happenings in the case by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

Today: Prosecution rests in WV grad’s murder trial

May 14: Ex-Valley man on trial for murder in Reno

Nov. 27, 2008: West Valley grad held in Reno rapes, murder

Tips sought on downtown bar assailants

Spokane police are looking for tips identifying two assailants who attacked a man early Saturday outside the Blue Spark, 15 S. Howard Ave.

The assault occurred between midnight and 1 a.m. and sent the victim to a hospital with head trauma.

One man was described as white, bald, 6-feet tall and 200 pounds with a black t-shirt and possibly in his early 30s. The second man was described as black, in his 30s, 6-foot-1 with a medium build.

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

Oreskovich defends city’s legal strategy

The attorney defending Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. spent a good portion of a hearing Monday defending the city of Spokane’s legal strategy.

The attorney, Carl Oreskovich, told a federal judge that no conflict exists between his roles defending Thompson on criminal charges stemming from a fatal confrontation with mentally ill janitor Otto Zehm and his work representing Thompson in a $2.9 million civil suit.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

UPDATE: A judge has ruled that no conflict of interest exists in the legal representation. Read more here.

Spokane man walks free from robbery case

A man charged in a home invasion robbery last fall walked out of court a free man today after pleading guilty to riot.

Maurice D. Lofton, 29, pleaded guilty to the felony in a plea agreement reached after Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell said the victims failed to identify Lofton in a police lineup.

Lofton was sentenced to 14 days in jail and credited for 14 already served.

The deal dismissed two burglary charges, three counts of kidnapping, one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and four counts of first-degree robbery related to an Oct. 8 invasion at a home in the 500 block of East Garland Avenue.

Haskell said several people were in the home when a man came to the door asking to use the phone, then was followed inside by several gunmen who stole marijuana and other valuables. Police used a GPS in a stolen cell phone to track down Lofton about 30 minutes later, who they say tried to dispose of the pot and stolen cell phones.

“I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Lofton told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno. “I was messing around with the wrong friends.”

Lofton said he had moved to Spokane from Detroit “to change my life.”

“Yet here you are,” Moreno said. “I think you got pretty lucky this time. And next time, you are looking at a lot of prison time.”

Robbery driver is sound pro for local radio

Just after police arrest two people described as major sources of OxyContin in the region, Spokane County see its first pharmacy robbery in several months.

But the incident early Saturday at 12 E. Empire Ave was “not the typical OxyContin theft,” the accused getaway driver’s lawyer said in court Monday.

David L. Ratener, 55, is the senior sound engineer for seven Spokane radio stations. He says he met the other suspect, 26-year-old Robert K. Morris, at a bar Friday night.

“I think he was purely a victim of circumstance on this,” said Ratener’s lawyer, Tim Note.

Read my story: Driver was victim of circumstance, lawyer says

Prosecution rests in WV grad’s murder trial

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The ex-girlfriend of a former Spokane man standing trial in the killing of a Nevada college coed and sexual assaults of two other young women said Monday she watched from her office window the day victim Brianna Denison’s body was found in a field outside her workplace.

Carleen Harmon also testified that defendant James Biela told her the only reason anyone cared about the case was because the 19-year-old Denison was “hot” and came from a wealthy family.

The prosecution rested its case Monday in Washoe District Court after more than two hours of emotional testimony by Harmon, who lived with Biela and is the mother of his son.

Prosecutors contend Biela is a serial rapist who was motivated in part by a fetish for women’s thong underwear and eventually graduated to murder in a string of attacks in 2008.

Biela’s mother, stepfather and at least one sibling live in Spokane and are reportedly in Reno for the trial.

Biela, a 1999 West Valley High School graduate, could face the death penalty if convicted.

The jury is expcted to begin deliberations this week.

Read the rest of Monday’s AP story on the case by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

May 14: Ex-Valley man on trial for murder in Reno

Nov. 27, 2008: West Valley grad held in Reno rapes, murder

Felon’s hit-and-run reveals firearm stash

A felon with a history of fleeing police is accused of ramming a library-bound couple’s car in Spokane Valley before briefly escaping inside an apartment.

Spokane Valley police reportedly found seven firearms in John K. Gooch’s truck after his arrest Friday.

Gooch, 33, appeared in Superior Court Monday on six felony charges related to the incident, which began when a stolen Ford truck he was driving allegedly sideswiped a 2004 Toyota Camry occupied by Charles and Merleen Fox, who were trying to turn into the library parking lot. The Foxes followed the truck from Main and Perriner to an apartment at 10321 East Main, where police arrested Gooch, according to court documents.

Police found a semi-automatic pistol in Gooch’s truck, along with a bag full of ammunition. A duffel bag with six rifles were In the back of the truck.

Gooch is a convicted felon, which means he’s prohibited from possessing weapons. Gooch was arrested after a police chase in Idaho in 2001, according to news archives

He was sentenced to 33 months in prison in May 2008 after pleading guilty to second-degree possession of stolen property, second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty to the same charges - minus the gun charge - in December 2006 and was sentenced 12 months and one day in prison with credit given for 134 days served.

Gooch is in Spokane County Jail on $25,000 bond after appearing in court on charges of hit and run, reckless driving, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of second-degree assault.

Fugitive rapist flees police in stolen car

A fugitive sex offender armed with a knife and driving a stolen vehicle led officers on a chase through west Spokane today, Spokane police said. 

Chris L. Gilbert, 40, drove in reverse for several blocks after Officer Terry Preuninger, tipped that Gilbert (left) had a warrant, approached him in the 1100 block of West Jackson Avenue about 2:30 p.m.

He lost control, then slowed to let a woman out of the car before speeding away. Preuninger struck the back bumper of Gilbert’s Honda with his police cruiser, forcing it into a spin and bringing it to a stop. Gilbert raised his hands but then sped away again, this time westbound on Grace Avenue through Monroe as Preuniger got out of his cruiser.

” Gilbert was clearly unconcerned for the heavy afternoon traffic on Monroe Street,” according to a news release.

Officers Erin Raleigh and Bruce Palmer helped block Gilbert’s car and arrest him. Police say he had two knives - one with a blade more than a foot long.

Police found suspected stolen property in the Honda, which was stolen from the area of Ash Street and Glass Avenue Saturday night. Its plates were stolen from another car Sunday in the 1100 block of West Spofford.

Gilbert was booked into jail on charges of attempting to elude a police officer, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, possession of stolen license plates and a warrant for failing to register as a sex offender.

He has convictions for third-degree rape, as well as theft, possession of stolen property, malicious mischief, reckless driving, refusal to cooperate, domestic violence assault, violation of a no contact order, unlawful possession of a firearm and driving while license suspended, according to Crime Stoppers.

Man arrested at U.S. border with $520,000

A Canadian man arrested while crossing the border with $520,000 in cash remains in Spokane County Jail after appearing in U.S. District Court today.

Richard Paul Neumeyer, 66, of Kelowna, B.C., told federal agents he’d been transporting cash into the United States for a fee after he was arrested Friday at the border crossing in Laurier, Ferry County, according to court documents.

Federal agents say they found the cash - $510,000 in U.S. currency and $10,000 Canadian - in two hidden compartments in the floor of his 2006 Volvo about 11 a.m. Neumeyer said he had only $1,600 in cash when he arrived at the crossing, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

When first interviewed by law enforcement about 7:25 p.m. Friday, Neumeyer said he was driving to Las Vegas for a three or four-day vacation but he had no plans once there and hadn’t secured a hotel room, according to court documents filed today. He reportedly confessed to transporting cash - for a 2 percent cut - to Wickenburg, Ariz., about 60 miles northwest of Phoenix, 45 minutes into the interview.

Border records show Neumeyer crossed through Laurier on Jan. 7, Feb. 8, March 6, and April 21, according to court documents. He told federal agents he made $9,000 his first trip and $10,000 his second trip.

Neumeyer is to return to court on Thursday for a bail hearing on one count of failing to report currency under the Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act.

Take 25 event to promote child safety

An educational event, Take 25, will offer ways to keep children safe during a day of activities Tuesday at the Spokane Valley Mall.

To raise awareness for National Missing Children’s Day, the program encourages parents, educators and law enforcement to take 25 minutes to talk to children about safety.

Among the activities planned from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the mall’s second floor near the food court:

  • Operation Family ID will allow guardians to make identification kits of their children, including photographs and fingerprints. A donation of $1 is requested per kit, which parents keep.
  • Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies will discuss Offender Watch, a nationwide program that monitors sex offenders’ location and status.
  • Internet safety guides will target parents and children, providing online security toolkits and tips.

Police seize bank records after UPS finds pot

Detectives are investigating a 20-year-old Spokane man for money laundering after they say he tried to mail a pound of marijuana to Missouri.

A search warrant authorizes detectives to access Johnathon A. Delay’s Bank of America account, “and to seize any and all U.S currency located therein.”

Delay was arrested last week on one felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance after a United Parcel Services employee smelled marijuana on a package he mailed. A police officer with the Spokane County Regional Drug Task Force posed as a UPS employee and told Delay to go to a UPS store to report the package stolen.

Investigators searched Delay’s cell phone after his arrest and found pictures “of large quantities of u.s currency, as well as photographs depicting a large scale, indoor marijuana grow operation,” according to a search warrant used to seize Delay’s records with Bank of America.

“Detective McClary believes that photographs of this nature present on Delay’s cell phone strongly suggest that he may be involved in the illegal growing and/or distributing of marijuana….(and) that drug traffickers often utilize bank accounts to collect drug debt over long distances quickly,” according to the warrant.

Judge Sam Cozza authorized the warrant on Thursday. It was filed Friday in Spokane County Superior Court.

2 sex offenders register as transients

Two sex offenders considered likely to reoffend are living as transients in Spokane County, the Sheriff’s Office announced today. 

Allan R. Cruz-Masga, 23, (right) was convicted of indecent liberties in Spokane County in May 2002. His victim was an 11-year-old girl.

Steven Garcia, 34, (left) was convicted of second-degree assault of a child and released from prison in February 2006. His victim was his 2-month-old son. 

Garcia also served 15 months in prison for third-degree child molestation involving a 15-year-old girl in Grant County. He was sentenced to prison when he was 17 on two counts of second-degree rape involving a mentally handicapped 18-year-old male.

Neither Cruz-Masga nor Garcia is under supervision, but the Spokane County Sheriff’s office wants the public to be aware of their presence.

Both are level 3 sex offenders, the classification considered most likely to reoffend.

Driver on the run after car hits house

Police are looking for the driver of a car that slammed into a Volvo in north Spokane on Sunday, sending the Volvo careening into a house.

No serious injures were reported. The Volvo and its four young occupants remained at the scene after striking the house at 2102 W. Mallon Ave., but the driver that hit them is at large.

Police have no description of the driver; they say his or her car is a late model, white four-door sedan.

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

Read more a story on the crash here.

Council to consider SPD ombudsman boost

An effort to expand the powers of the city of Spokane’s police ombudsman may go before the City Council tonight.

The proposed ordinance would allow Ombudsman Tim Burns to go beyond simply observing internal police probes and allow him to publish reports on those investigations – with a few exceptions – and contact the people who make complaints against police officers. He would also be allowed to interview witnesses of the incidents that led to complaints.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Trial continues in YWCA ex-director’s lawsuit

Monica Walters, the former longtime Spokane YWCA executive director who’s suing the organization, is expected to continue testifying at a bench trial today in Superior Court.

The trial began last week before Judge Jerome Leveque.

Walters, who was director for 13 years, left the YWCA in February 2009. She filed a lawsuit in April 2009, alleging breach of contract, disability discrimination and privacy invasion.

Deborah Booth, president of the YWCA board at the time, released a statement in February saying Walters resigned for medical reasons:

“Everybody loves Monica, but it’s time for her to get out of the hectic crossfire of all this and get some time for herself.”

Booth retracted the statement a couple days later, saying  “my suggestion that Ms. Walters resigned for medical reasons was not accurate.” Oops!

A lawsuit by Walters’ attorney, Paul J. Burns, says the board breached Walters’ contract by interfering with her ability to manage day-to-day operations, including making hiring and firing decisions, causing “severe, medically diagnosable stress, mental anguish and emotional distress,” the lawsuit states.

Walters said that the medical condition was a disability and that the YWCA failed to accommodate it. The decision to discharge her “constitutes unlawful disability discrimination,” according to the lawsuit.

Walters’ invasion of privacy allegation stems from the YWCA’s disclosure to the media that Walters had resigned. Walters is seeking damages for economic loss, mental anguish and emotional distress.

Walters’ testimony began Thursday; no testimony was heard Friday.

Jury acquits gunman in rapper Dolla’s killing

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury has acquitted a man of killing Atlanta rapper Dolla during a shooting at an upscale Los Angeles mall.

Jurors on Friday rejected prosecutors’ contentions that the killing of Dolla, whose real name was Roderick Anthony Burton II (left), was a callous act of apparent revenge.

Burton and his accused shooter, Aubrey Louis Berry, had been involved in a fight at an Atlanta club less than two weeks before the shooting last May.

Berry (right) hugged his attorney after the verdict was read while Burton’s family sobbed.

Berry’s attorney had contended the shooting was an act of self-defense, emphasizing that Burton glorified a violent gangster lifestyle in his rap lyrics and online videos.

The rapper was a protege of hip-hop artist Akon. 

According to an LA Times story available on the AP wire, gangster rap has long drawn fire for its violence-laced lyrics. Critics have blamed the genre for inciting real crime. Some successful rappers have been accused of violent crimes, and in other cases, suspects have told authorities that gangster rap songs provoked them to violence.

But the murder trial of Berry, a 24-year-old events promoter from Atlanta, is unusual in the way it has focused attention on the artistic work of someone who was the victim of violence.

Read the full story by clicking the link below.

Child abuser, porn peddler gets 20 years

A Wenatchee man will spend 20 years in federal prison for distributing photos of himself sexually abusing children.

Russell D. Riker, 51, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

The investigation began with an undercover New York detective who busted a child porn peddler from Georgia.

The porn distribution chain was traced to Riker, and federal agents spotted one of the victims playing in Riker’s yard, according to federal court documents. At least one of the children said the abuse had gone on for about eight years.

Riker was arrested on Aug. 7, 2008. He pleaded guilty to producing child pornography in February and was sentenced to 240 months in prison. He’ll be on probation for the rest of his life and will be required to register as a sex offender.

“In our society, some like Mr. Riker must be locked up to protect our children,” U.S. Attorney Jim McDevitt said in a prepared statement. “The scars he inflicted will take a lifetime to heal.”

Riker is in Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Suspects named in retaliatory Feb. stabbing

Four suspects were named recently in a February stabbing that police believe may have been retaliation for an earlier fight.

Oscar T. Rodriguez, 24, was arrested Tuesday on eight assault and burglary charges connected to a Feb. 10 attack that left Michael P. Dennis with a stab wound in the left side of his back.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Jacob M. Maravilla, 20. Two other suspects, Meghan L. Jeske, 21; and Richelle R. Swinkels, 20, have been summoned.

The four are accused of an early-morning break-in and assault at 907 E. Wabash Feb. 10.
Dennis' brother, Andrew Heatwole, told police he and friends were drinking and playing dice when several people pulled up in three cars and confronted him outside the home.

A man Heatwole identified as Rodriguez punched him in the face as the group entered the home, and a woman struck him with a hammer, according to court documents.

The other man said “something to the effect of, 'you messed with my homegirl Dawn!'” - reportedly in reference to an earlier assault at the home.

Dennis was sleeping when the group burst in but awoke and confronted them. He was stabbed in the back and treated at a hospital for a non-life threatening injury.

Maravilla and Swinkels were arrested the next week, but charges weren't filed until May 10.

Court documents show detectives were tipped on Feb. 24 that Rodriguez may have been involved. Swinkels then came forward and provided the knife police say was used in the stabbing. Dennis later picked Rodriguez and Maravilla out of a phone lineup.

A suspect arrested the day of the attack, 39-year-old Preston R. Tensley, has not been charged. Witnesses first identified Tensley as one of the attackers but then identified Rodriguez in his place.

Decades-old skeleton found in Priest Lake

While the Bonner County coroner examines skeletal remains recently brought up from the bottom of Priest Lake, researchers and historians hope that clothing and a boat found nearby will provide clues to the victim’s identity.

Authorities believe the remains, found near Eight Mile Island, are 50 to 100 years old.

Read the rest of Asia Hege’s story here.

4 police raids part of ongoing OxyContin case

An ongoing investigation into OxyContin distribution in Spokane has led to at least four arrests and raids at several Valley apartments this month.

Suspects Kevin D. Miles, 28, and Tashina A. Perkins, 26, are believed to be large distributors of the powerful pain medication.

They were arrested Thursday after an early-morning raid at their apartment at 12112 E. Alki Ave.

Spokane Valley police detectives found almost 700 OxyContin pills and nearly $160,000 in cash.

They believe Miles, who moved to Spokane from California about five months ago, was preparing to return to California to get more pills.

Read the rest of my story here.

Driver in fatal hit-and-run gets 3 years

Even the judge shed tears today as family members expressed the grief left behind after a Canadian woman was hit and killed by a drunken driver in downtown Spokane last November. 

The driver, 25-year-old Cameron B. Olsness (right), cried as he faced the family of 63-year-old Elaine Price-Cornell (left) and accepted blame for consuming several drinks, running a red light, crashing into Price-Cornell in an intersection before fleeing from police on Nov. 20.

Olsness pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide as charged and received three years in prison.

 “I am without words to explain the pain and loss I have caused so many,” Olsness said. “I would do anything to give you back Elaine. Though I wish for forgiveness, I cannot ask it of you.”

Superior Court Judge Neal Rielly said he was brought to tears because Price-Cornell’s family said she lived by the advice that he tries to impart on those who come into his courtroom.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 8: Victim’s family wants bars held responsible

Nov. 30: Victim in downtown hit-and-run crash dies

Lawyer: Fugitive was in Cali for cuz’s funeral

A Spokane man accused of trying to run two men over with his car last fall left the state to attend his cousin’s funeral in the Long Beach/ Compton area of California.

But Cedric E. Burton, 23, wasn’t allowed to leave the county, and he never sought permission to do so.

Now he’s back in Spokane County Jail after being arrested in Los Angeles County.

His public defender, Mark Hannibal, said Thursday that Burton had a round-trip plane ticket that would have put him back in Spokane in time for his next court appearance on attempted murder charges.

“It was a family-type emergency,” Hannibal said.

A warrant was issued for Burton’s arrest after his girlfriend told police he’d assaulted her and threatened to take their young daughter to California.

Prosecutors said that violated Burton’s release condition on the attempted murder charges from last fall.

Judge Ellen Kalama Clark, saying she was “real concerned about Mr. Burton’s behavior,” increased Burton’s bail on two counts of bail jumping from 10,000 to $30,000. She also increased his bail on the attempted murder charges to $200,000 from $100,000. That’s in addition to a new harassment charged filed today that includes a $100,000 bond.

Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz, sitting in for Mark Cipolla, had requested $1.5 million bail. Shortly after Clark rejected that request, prosecutors filed an additional charge against Burton relating to an alleged violation connected to a 2008 case. He’ll be back in court on that charge, along with the new harassment charge, today.

Hannibal said prosecutors “overcharged” Burton for the alleged incident last fall.

“I’m a little bit surprised that the state’s charged that as two count of first-degree attempted murder,” he said.

Court documents show police investigated the incident as a second-degree assault case.

A second suspect, Charles Willy Jackson, still is wanted. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.

Police say Burton, who has convictions for drug dealing and second-degree assault, is a gang member and was present at a party in January in which John S. Williams was shot to death, according to court documents related to theongoing investigation. Burton’s previous conviction for second-degree assault stems from a fatal gang shooting in 2005. The list of defendants in that case includes at least four men involved in the ongoing Williams murder investigation.

Past coverage:

May 3: Warrant issued for accused would-be killer

‘One-man crime wave’ accused of assault

A Maryland fugitive described by local police as a “one-man crime wave” is accused of assaulting a nurse at Deaconess Medical Center Wednesday night.

Ricky W. Everett, 33, appeared in Superior Court this afternoon on a third-degree assault charge after hospital staff and jails deputies said Everett dug his fingernails into a nurse’s right hand, causing a cut and red marks, according to court documents. The nurse was trying to put a breathing mask on Everett when he became uncooperative about 9:40 p.m., documents allege.

Everett’s bail was set at $200,000 today. That’s in addition to $150,000 bond set Wednesday for a theft of a motor vehicle charge.

Everett, who has 30 felony convictions in six states, was arrested Tuesday after police said he paid for a Honda Accord with a bad check. Police on Wedensday searched a Queen Avenue home (pictured above) where he’d been staying.

Everett left federal prison in March after serving time for impersonating a U.S. marshal in Oregon. In court documents, federal prosecutors described Everett’s mental state as “a puzzle, to say the least.”

Spokane detectives say he carries a Taser and has told citizens he’s a police officer.

Anyone who has had contact with Everett or has accepted a check from Ricky’s PI Service is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Everett’s probation officer and a Portland police detective “are glad he’s gone because he caused a lot of trouble,” said Deputy Prosecutor George Gagnon at Everett’s first Superior Court appearance on Wednesday.

Read my story: ‘One-man crime wave’ with 30 felonies hit Spokane

Spokane Co. Superior Court judge to retire

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Neal Rielly announced today that he will retire from the bench in August.

Rielly, who served 15 years as a judge and 6 ½ years as a court commissioner, said he will step down Aug. 29.

“I’m really thrilled about it,” said Rielly, 66. “I want to take my life in a new direction. I don’t feel burned out, but I feel a younger person should take the helm.”

Rielly leaves two unfilled years on his term. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire will appoint someone to fill the term prior to the next election.

“It’s been a great time,” Rielly said. “I have truly loved it.”


Gangster will act as his own lawyer at trial

A Spokane gangster facing life in prison for a shooting last summer is now representing himself.

Timothy L. “Stoney Boy” Lucious, 39, (right) will act as his own lawyer at his trial, which is set to begin June 24.

Lucious is charged with six counts of attempted first-degree murder for a July 24 shooting that injured two women after a cross-town melee.

“I am the only one in my case who cares enough about justice to go to the levels that need to be gone to, to show my innocence,” Lucious wrote in a motion filed May 17. “…It is my belief that I am the only one with an undivided loyalty to the defense of these charges.”

Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark approved Lucious’s request this morning and ordered Lucious’ public defender, Steven Reich, to provide his case materials.

Clark rejected Lucious’ request to push back his trial and re-interview witnesses, but Lucious was to participate in two new witness interviews with Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla after the hearing.

The convicted felon faces life in prison under Washington’s three-strikes law.

Past coverage:

March 15: ‘Hardball’ means more charges for gangster

Jan. 19: Attempted murder charges dropped

July 24: Two women shot in crosstown melee

Police: Sister’s ID theft brings felony charges

A Spokane woman’s alleged attempt to hide her identity during a drunken driving arrest apparently backfired - twice.

Police suspected Megan M. Managhan, 28, was drunk when she was stopped last week at University and Springfield for an alleged vehicle equipment violation.

But Managhan added to her charges when police say she used her 26-year-old sister’s name.

Turns out the younger Managhan has a suspended license. But that additional misdemeanor was dropped when police learned Managhan’s true identity after checking her mug shot and tattoos. In its place are four felony forgery charges related to paperwork Managhan signed using her sister’s name, police said.

Managhan, who had been cited and released, was re-arrested Wednesday. She’s already on probation for a drunken driving conviction March.

Avista dispute leads to police response

A Coeur d’Alene man who owns a historic bed and breakfast was taken into custody by police Wednesday after threatening Avista Corp. employees over the phone when a serviceman delivered a power shut-off notice.

It’s an extreme example, but by no means unique, an Avista spokesman said: So many similar incidents have occurred in the past month that the Spokane utility is considering additional security measures for its service people in the field.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs’ story here.

Hearing in Otto Zehm case set for Monday

By Thomas Clouse

A hearing is set for Monday on the conflict of interest claim brought by prosecutors in the Karl Thompson case.

Earlier this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals appointed U.S. District Court Judge Philip Pro of Las Vegas to decide the issue. Judge Fred Van Sickle had asked for a new judge to be appointed.

Pro held a telephone conference Wednesday in which U.S Attorney Tim Durkin explained why he believes a conflict exists with Thompson’s defense and defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich presented a waiver by Thompson (left) saying he’s willing to wave his right to “be represented by counsel with undivided loyalties,” he wrote in part.

“I am aware of the potential conflicts of interest that could arise with the continued representation of Mr. Oreskovich, Mr. (Stephen) Lamberson, and other members in their firm,” Thompson wrote.

Durkin’s motion asks for Oreskovich to either be disqualified or for a detailed review into how the city has handled Thompson’s defense.

The Spokane City Council twice voted last year to hire Oreskovich to represent the “City and its employees” in the $2.9 million civil suit brought on behalf of the estate of Zehm by the public interest law firm Center for Justice.

Thompson later hired Oreskovich to represent him in the criminal case, Oreskovich wrote in court documents. Oreskovich also wrote that he signed an addendum to his contract in 2009 to specify that he was only representing Thompson.

Assistant Chief Jim Nicks, Detective Terry Ferguson and Officer Jason Uberuaga could be called to testify at Monday’s hearing.

Nicks was the acting chief and he maintained for months that Zehm “lunged” and “attacked” Thompson until the release of the surveillance video clearly showed no such lunge or attack. Ferguson investigated the confrontation and forwarded her report to Spokane County prosecutors indicating she had no evidence that Thompson used excessive force.

However, Durkin has alleged in court documents that at least three witnesses are expected to testify that they saw Thompson hit Zehm in the head with a police baton, which would constitute illegal lethal force.

And Uberuaga initially gave federal agents statements saying he believed Thompson used excessive force. But Durkin wrote in court filings that Uberuaga asked to change his statements after consulting with Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi.

FBI: Serial robber suspected in bank holdups

A man who targeted Chase Bank on Tuesday may be a serial robber responsible for three other holdups at two banks since December.

 The FBI is investigating the robberies, which began Dec. 22 at Sterling Savings Bank, 3000 S. Grand Blvd. Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd, was robbed Feb. 13 and April 19.

  In each of those robberies, the gunman wore a mask and a hooded jacket, though a different one each time. 

In Tuesday’s robbery, the culprit wore a motorcycle helmet and forced an employee to the ground at gunpoint.

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

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

Photos of the Tuesday’s robbery and the robbery on April 19 are posted.

For photos of the Feb. 13 and Dec. 22 robberies, check out this post from March 4:  Police: Man robbed 2 banks in 2 months

Spokane Co. to lay off 57 jail employees

Spokane County will lay off 57 jail employees next month to offset a big drop in the number of inmates.

The employees were notified Tuesday evening, and formal layoff notices were to be distributed today.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said his jail budget would have been $8 million in the hole by the end of year if county commissioners hadn’t approved the cuts.

The layoffs will include 30 corrections deputies at the Geiger Corrections Center – more than 40 percent of the deputies at the center. At the main Spokane County Jail, 14 of 140 deputies will lose their jobs.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

Oxy dealer, pharmacy robber pleads guilty

An OxyContin dealer who helped rob two pharmacies faces at least five years in prison after pleading guilty to five felonies Tuesday.

 Aaron M. Weyrauch, 28, has been in jail since Sept. 15 after he led Spokane police on a chase through the South Hill, abandoned his car then was arrested in the back of another car with his robbery accomplice, Dustin J. Rockstrom and his roommate, Dalen J. McMillon.

Rockstrom, 27, was sentenced in March to 13 months in prison for two counts of second-degree robbery for pill heists at the Shopko at 4515 S. Regal St. on Aug. 24, then the Rite Aid across the street on Sept. 5.  Weyrauch was his getaway driver.

Weyrauch pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of attempted second-degree robbery, two counts of delivery of a controlled substance (OxyContin) and one count of attempting to elude police.

The plea deal with Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy amended the original second-degree robbery charges and will recommend a judge sentence Weyrauch to 60 months in prison, the low end of his standard sentencing range for the robbery charges. He could be sentenced to as many as 120 months.

The drug-dealing charges are related to transactions with a confidential informant on Sept. 8 and Sept. 10. McMillon, 27, also is charged in those incidents. He’s out of jail on bond.

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

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

Past coverage:

March 9: Wigged OxyContin robber gets 13 months

March 3: Suspect’s roomie accused of selling Oxy

Nov. 18: Another charge for Oxy robbery suspect

Sept. 22: Searching for robber, police find possible Oxy ring

Happy 1st birthday, Sirens and Gavels!

One year ago today, this blog was born.

It’s been an evolving experiment since then, filled with news and tidbits aimed at giving you, the reader, an informative, entertaining and digestible look at crime and court cases in the Inland Northwest and beyond. 

And it all started with the devil-worshipping sex offender.

Since the inaugural post about Danny Schertz (who has left Spokane) being very upset at the suggestion he wasn’t a true Satanist, this blog has become a hub of history for Spokane crime hounds.

One thing I’m most pleased with is the collection of ‘tags’ that appear at the top of each post.

While their presence at the top of the post instead of the bottom may seem clunky, clicking on the links takes you to every Sirens post ever marked with that tag.

Consistency in tags has given Sirens quite e a collection of easily accessible information.

Popular tags include sex offenders, murder, jury trials and homicide. I encourage you to check out the sentencings tag and the caught on tape tag for looks at how punishment is handed down and at surveillance photos from past - many likely still unsolved - crimes. (Also, I decided yesterday on a new tag: Neck tattoos.)

Above all, I want to hear from you.

What are your favorite features and what do you think I should do more or less of?

Suggestions on the timing of posts are invited, too. Just in the last week or so I’ve started post-dating entries at the end of the day so that they show up early in the morning, when more people are looking at the website. It seems to be increasing traffic.

I’ve also started integrating a few links to past stories throughout posts instead of listing them all at the bottom.

Feel free to comment on this post or email me at If you swear or say something truly offensive on the blog it will get deleted, so use the email for those comments.

Feds: Counterfeiter passed mostly $5 bills

A Spokane man is accused of manufacturing counterfeit money then spending the bills on at least two occasions last summer.

Dudley W. Adcox, 48, was indicted in U.S. District Court on charges that he made fake $5, $10 and $50 bills between June 1 and July 24, then tried passing four bills on July 1 and July 8 in Spokane County. Three were $5 bills, another was a $20, according to court documents.

Adcox was arrested May 13 in Walla Walla.

He’s in Spokane County Jail after pleading not guilty to two federal felonies last week of manufacturing counterfeit federal reserve notes and passing counterfeit federal reserve notes. A bail haring set for Tuesday was postponed.

Adcox has previous convictions for delivery of methamphetamine and intimidating a witness in 1997.

‘Muscle’ in mom-daughter robbery: Guilty

A Spokane man who prosecutors say helped a mother and daughter beat and rob a man last fall pleaded guilty to three felonies today but was given an extra week before sentencing to allow him to say goodbye to his family.

Prosecutors will recommend Robert L. Hensley, 21 and already a four-time felon, receive nearly five years in prison for the Nov. 29 kidnapping, robbery and beating of Jeremy Brotherton.

Brotherton was working at Denny’s in Spokane Valley when Hensley and, allegedly, Alisson D. Taylor, 34, (aka Alisson D. Hall) and Breeanna C. Sims, 18, picked him up and said they had money Taylor owed him.

Instead, Hensley assaulted Brotherton to the point where he lost consciousness as they drove to his apartment at 9015 E. Cataldo. Hensley further assaulted Brotherton inside the apartment after he (and Sims, allegedly) forced Brotherton into a room as Taylor helped, according to court documents.

Taylor devised the plan “to feed her addiction to hydrocodone pills” and recruited Hensley as “the muscle,” Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell said today.

Hensely is a Sureno gang member, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty today to first-degree robbery, residential burglary and unlawful imprisonment. Haskell dimissed other felonies ” to reward Mr. Hensely for stepping forward and taking a gaint chunk of responsiblity for what happend that day.” Hensley faces 57 months in prison under the plea agreement. The high-end of his standard sentencing range is 75 months.

Sentencing was set to May 26 to allow Hensley time “to see his family and children and just say goodbye,” said his public defender, Thomas Cooney.

Sims and Taylor are out of jail on bond. Trials for the mother-daughter duo are set for June.

Transient pleads guilty to molesting boy, 12

A Spokane Valley transient pleaded guilty today to molesting a 12-year-old boy over a five-month period last year.

Sean M. Hofer, 27, faces up to three years in prison at a sentencing scheduled for July 7.

Hofer was a transient who had been staying in a trailer in a Spokane Valley RV park when he was invited to live in the same home as the boy, according to court records and testimony. He babysat the victim while the father went to work, according to court records.

Hofer admitted to molesting the boy between February and July 2009 Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Ed Hay allowed Hofer to plead guilty to second-degree child molestation and assault of a child in the third degree. Hofer originally had been charged with child molestation in the first degree.

The agreement calls for a recommended sentence of 27 months for the molestation charge and eight months for the assault charge. It was not clear if the sentences will consecutively or at the same time.

- Thomas Clouse

Tips sought on Nordstrom purse snatchers

Spokane police are looking for two women who stole expensive purses from Nordstrom on Sunday. 

Surveillance photos show the women in the downtown Spokane store about 3:30 p.m, police said. They left in a red, four-door car. 

One woman had her dark hair in a pony tail and wore a blue hooded sweatshirt. She has what police describe as a “distinguishing tattoo” on her neck, but the photos don’t show it in detail.  

The other woman wore a gray sweatshirt with “PINK” written on the back. 

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS, or submit tips online here.

Delaware man accused of duping Harvard

WOBURN, Mass. (AP) — A Delaware man who attended Harvard University for two years before getting kicked out pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he fabricated a perfect record of academic achievement to get into the Ivy League school.

Adam Wheeler (right) was tossed from Harvard when he tried to get the school’s endorsement for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships, and a professor reviewing his applications found evidence he had plagiarized from another professor, prosecutors say.

Wheeler’s parents gave him up to a Yale official who called to ask about their son’s transfer application.

At his arraignment Tuesday, Wheeler was ordered held on $5,000 bail on 20 counts of larceny, identity fraud and other charges. If he makes bail, he must stay away from Harvard and the other academic institutions involved in the alleged scheme, surrender his passport and remain in Massachusetts, a Middlesex Superior Court judge said.

The 23-year-old Wheeler claimed he got a perfect score on the SAT, straight A’s at prestigious prep school Phillips Academy Andover and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on his application to Harvard in 2007, prosecutors said. In reality, he had never attended either school, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said.

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

Suspect arraigned in Dishman Hills murder

A man accused of beating another man to death in the Dishman Hills Natural Area pleaded not guilty today to one count of first-degree murder.

Roland E. Benton II, 34, appeared in Superior Court via video feed from the jail, where he’s been since May 5, nearly a week after Douglas J. Klages, 46, was found beaten to death in a small cave where he camped. Klages’ pants pockets were turned inside out, and his cell phone was missing.

A Rosauers receipt found with Klages helped police identify Benton, who had left the store with Klages just hours before the April 30 murder. Benton also reportedly told a friend on the day of the killing that he had done something that would be on “the national news,” according to court documents.

Klages’ family and friends, including his parents and one of his daughters, attended Benton’s arraignment today before Judge Linda Tompkins.

Benton’s public defender, Victoria Blumhurst, did not ask for a reduction in bond, which was set at $500,000 during his first court appearance May 6.

His next court appearance is set for June 22.

Past coverage:

Police: Suspect admitted Dishman killing to friend

Homicide suspect left jail just before murder

Homicide victim hoped for fresh start

Rasmussen may testify for Chism defense

Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen is out of the Todd Chism case after Chism’s lawyer said he intends to call him as a witness.

Judge Al Nielson appointed Ferry County Prosecutor Mike Sandona today to prosecute Chism on felony charges related to a brawl with Washington State Patrol troopers April 6. Chism pleaded not guilty today to the charges in Stevens County Superior Court.

Chism’s lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, expects Rasmussen to testify about his prior prosecution of a hit-and-run suspect in 2004, who is one of the arresting WSP troopers in the Chism case. WSP is the same agency that arrested Chism two years ago on child pornography charges that were later dropped.

Chism, a lieutenant, was placed on unpaid layoff status from the Spokane Fire Department last week pending the resolution of the charges. He had been on paid leave since April 8. Chism earned $93,535 per year. His trial is set for Aug. 2.

Past coverage:

April 23: Chism threatened to kill troopers, WSP said

April 9: Firefighter Tasered in DUI arrest

Casino jackpot leads to fugitive’s arrest

A Spokane couple caught last year with 2 1/2 pounds of methamphetamine went through “great lengths” to avoid arrest on new federal charges, according to court documents.

But Amanda G. McIntyre and Michael D. “Bull” Luce couldn’t pull it off: Both are in custody after weeks of investigation by detectives that included monitored jail phone calls, GPS trackers and covert surveillance. In the end, it may have been Luce’s gambling that did them in.

McIntyre, 28, and Luce, 30 (right), were arrested during a raid April 30, 2009, at 1421 E. Rowan that also uncovered an AK-47 assault rifle. They were indicted in March on one federal charge each of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of meth. Luce also is charged with felon in possession of a firearm.

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives say they’ve been looking for Luce since February because of probation violations in Washington and California.

The couple owns a coffee stand at 603 W. Hastings, according to warrant used to search a home at 623 S. Rebecca St. on Thursday.

But investigators never saw the two at the coffee stand. The break came when Luce tried to cash a $5,000 jackpot at the Coeur d’Alene Casino on April 16. Security recognized him from a police flyer, and Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies booked him into jail on a warrant. He was transferred to Benton County Jail, where police recorded phone calls between him, McIntyre and an unidentified man. In the calls, Luce makes references to what police believe are drug sales.

“Luce asked the male how business was going and the male replied that it was a lot slower since Luce was locked up,” according to the search warrant prepared by Detective Shawn Hause. “…In another phone call, McIntyre talks about “The Mexicans” showing up at her house and wanting to collect a debt and that she wasn’t about to pay it.” Luce told her to point the “thing” in their face should they return, which police took to mean a firearm, according to the warrrant.

Detectives followed vehicles registered to other people to help locate McIntyre. They believe McIntyre and Luce registered cars in associates’ names to try to avoid police detection.

McIntyre was arrested Thursday. She remains in Spokane County Jail.

Man who hit 100 on I-90 is burglary suspect

A 23-year-old Spokane man arrested after he reached 100 mph during a police chase on Interstate 90 is a suspect in two burglaries that occurred about a week before the chase.

Allen S. Easley appeared in court on May 3 on charges of forgery and two counts of second-degree burglary after a suspected check forger told Spokane police that Easley stole the check from Alfonso Motors, 3206 N. Division, according to court documents.

A suspected accomplice, 36-year-old Kimberly L. Fawver, appeared in court today on possession of a stolen motor vehicle, forgery and identify theft charges.

Easley reportedly told police that he used Fawver’s car during a second burglary in the 600 block of W. Kiernan. Easley also told police that Kristina Fricke has equipment to make checks using account numbers stolen from mail boxes, according to court documents.

Detectives arrested Fricke and Easley’s girlfriend, Randi Shepherd, April 30.

All three left jail but Easley quickly returned after allegedly fleeing a police officer who tried pulling him over for driving reckless in a stolen vehicle May 9. Easley was arrested after spike strip flattened a tire.

He’s already out of jail. It was his third stint in a month - he was arrested around April 12 on charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and possession of a  controlled substance.

Gangster’s sister charged with perjury

The sister of a Spokane man sentenced to 15 years in prison for a gang-related shooting is accused of lying while under oath last fall.

Jasmine N. Singh, 26, pleaded not guilty Monday to one count of first-degree perjury in connection with testimony at an evidence hearing Nov. 23 before Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor.

Singh told Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell during that hearing that she never talked to her brother, Anthony D. Singh, about his case, but police recorded jail phone calls between the two that show otherwise, according to court documents.

Anthony Singh, 22, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a jury convicted him in December for a July 2008 shooting that didn’t injure anyone but made his Crips gang affiliations the center of the trial.

Jasmine Singh, who said her brother is not a gang member, appeared in court on the felony perjury charge today after receiving a summons.

Her public defender, Dana Beard, asked Judge Linda Tompkins to allow Singh to skip the jail booking process, saying it violated her due process rights, is an unfair burden and is “embarassing.”

Tompkins declined.

Singh said after court that the accusation against her is false.

“They’re charging me for something in Anthony’s case that I had nothing to do with,” she said.

Past coverage:

Feb. 11: Gang ties mean long sentence for gunman

Dec. 14: Crips gangster on trial for ‘08 shooting

Gang task force arrests well-known felon

A 29-year-old man with an extensive criminal history but only brief stays in prison is back in jail after an arrest Friday by the local gang task force.

Joseph A. Bercier, a self-proclaimed member of the Sureno gang, was wanted on a fourth-degree assault charge after his girlfriend, Diedra West, told police on Wednesday that he’d assaulted her at her home in the 11507 E. Mission Ave., where he’s lived for a couple months. 

West told police that Bercier, a convicted felon, had a gun, according to a warrant used to search a green Ford Explorer on Friday.

Police set up surveillance on the Mission Avenue location Friday and saw Bercier open the trunk of a the Explorer before leaving in a gold Chevrolet Tahoe. He was arrested by members of the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team that afternoon.

Bercier has been involved in police investigations and chases for several years.

His criminal history dates back to a malicious mischief conviction in Douglas County when he was 15. It includes at least six adult felonies, including posession of a controlled susbtance and unlawful possesion of a firearm and a conviction in April 2009 for second-degree robbery in connection with a shooting in July 2008. Bercier eluded capture at least once after that shooting.

He’s been a Crime Stoppers fugitive several times and once had a special $250 reward for his arrest eluding police in a stolen car after the July shooting. But he’s never served much time in prison.

News archives show he received 20 months in prison with credit for 20 months already served for a May 2009 conviction for theft of a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to 22 months about that same time for the robbery conviction, but he was in state prison only from May to October, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Bercier returned to state prison for two weeks in March for violating his release conditions. Now he’s back in jail on a Department of Corrections hold and new misdemeanor assault

Family dispute leads to SWAT team arrest

A 22-year-old Cheney man was arrested by a SWAT team this morning after his father told police he threatened him with a rifle and hit him with an ashtray.

Mitchell W. Blakely was booked into Spokane County Jail on a charge of second-degree assault after the 10 a.m. arrest at his Lance Hill Road residence.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team made the arrest because Blakely had past contacts with police, had several dogs, access to firearms and no telephone, authorities said. Blakely was arrested without incident.

He was treated at the scene for injuries suffered in the quarrel with his father.

Two .22-caliber rifles were taken from the residence, including one with a homemade silencer.

Ex-gym teacher sentenced for sexual abuse

A former high school gym teacher could be released from custody in six months after admitting to having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

Darin J. DeBolt, 26, was sentenced to four to eight years in prison on Friday, but a Benewah County District Court judge retained jurisdiction over the case.

That means DeBolt will undergo treatment at the North Idaho Correctional Institute in Cottonwood and the judge will hold hearing in six months to determine if he should he released or sent to prison.

DeBolt was arrested in February at the 130-student Lakeside High School in Plummer, where he had worked for five years.

The sexual abuse occurred in October, according to the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office. DeBolt was on the cheer squad at Eastern Washington University (he’s pictured above in September 2008) and was a cheerleading coach for a private organization in Spokane Valley.

Past coverage

Feb. 3: Gym teacher accused of sexual abuse

2nd officer faces charges in Zehm case

A second Spokane police officer has received a letter indicating that federal prosecutors intend to seek further charges in connection with the Otto Zehm investigation.

Spokane attorney Rob Cossey said he represents three or four officers as a federal grand jury continues to gather information in the case. He confirmed that one of his clients has received what’s known as a target letter, which essentially informs the person that federal officials intend to charge him or her with a crime.

“The person is right square in the sights of the U.S. attorney’s office. I can’t tell you the name of the person,” Cossey said. “It’s more definite than a target letter. We will know more next week for sure.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Man w/ meth lab on back knows drug well

A suspected burglar who police say had a methamphetamine lab in his backpack has been caught with the drug several times, including a September incident in which neighbors called police to report a strong smell of chemicals.

Helmut U. Borchert, 52, was not charged with a crime after police found powdery resident and meth lab remnants, include a hot plate, coffee filters and chemicals, on the floor of a home at 2409 E. Sharp about 4 a.m. on Sept. 12.

But Borchet (left, in 1999) faces meth possession charges after police arrested him at 2728 N. Cook late Saturday. He’s to be arraigned next week.

According to court documents, Borchert was struggling with a Spokane police officer when another officer put him in handcuffs – then began coughing due to smoke and chemicals coming from Borchert’s backpack.

Borchert told the officer he had a meth lab in the backpack and that he uses the drug for “his personal use,” according to court documents. A silver coffee pot with a blueish-white powder inside was near the bag.

A hazardous materials team disposed of the chemicals.

The case is Borchert’s third pending methamphetamine charge in Spokane County. He was arrested in December 2008 after a search at 717 E. Ermina turned up meth.

He’s also charged with possession of meth, tampering with evidence and attempting to elude police for a Nov. 1 arrest in which police allege he threw meth and two glass jars out his car window while fleeing police.

Back in September, officers responding to a report of a strong chemical smell forced their way into an apartment after Borchert refused to open the door, according to a search warrant.

Borchert remains at Geiger on $15,000 bond.

Past coverage:

Sept. 21, 2009: Authorities bust 2 meth labs in 2 days

Hunt for arsonist on after apartment fire

Investigators continue to search for an arsonist responsible for leaving more than two dozen low-income people homeless last weekend.

Firefighters were called to the HiFumi En Apartments, 926 E. Eighth Ave., early Saturday morning. The blaze did extensive damage: Officials said it could take six weeks to reopen the upstairs of the building and even longer for the bottom floor. 

Steve Cervantes, executive director of Housing Solutions, said 41 people lived in the building, but 15 found temporary housing with friends or family. On Friday, social service agencies moved the last 22 low-income, elderly or disabled residents from a Post Falls motel where they had been staying since fire broke out.

Temporary accommodation was found at numerous area hotels, group homes and nursing centers, according to a SNAP spokesman.

“I don’t think SNAP has ever been involved in a situation where we had to find residence for so may people in such a short time,” Ron Hardin said.

Meanwhile, fire investigators hope to make an arrest shortly, said Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer.

Cervantes said two other recent fires at the HiFumi En building also were suspected arsons. About six months ago, someone threw a cigarette in a trash can.

That incident caused little damage, but a second fire about three months ago was more serious. That time, someone set fire to a mattress left in a hallway. Cervantes said quick action by a resident prevented serious damage.

Past coverage:

May 13: Residents adrift after fire

May 14: Fire evacuees face a dilemma

Ex-church volunteer could be free in months

A former Post Falls church youth leader could be out of custody in about six months after being sentenced Thursday for three counts of statutory rape.

Jordan C. Vernon, 20, was sentenced by Kootenai County District Court Judge John Mitchell to three consecutive sentences of two to six years.

But Mitchell retained jurisdiction over the case, which means Vernon will go to the North Idaho Correctional Institute in Cottonwood for treatment.

The judge will hold a hearing in about six months to decide if Vernon should be released on probation or sent to prison in Boise, where he could stay for as long as 18 years.

Vernon was arrested in December on charges that he had sex with at least two girls, ages 14 and 17, and had inappropriate contact with at least two others, ages 12 and 14, from 2007 to 2009.

Police say he met and began grooming the girls for sex while serving as a youth leader in training at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls.

A statement from the church at the time of Vernon’s arrest said he had been dismissed from his volunteer positions in July 2008. Church records showed he had not attended the church since November 2008.

Similar retained jurisdiction sentences were handed down in two vehicular homicide cases last year. Read about it here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 14: Man back in jail on rape charges

Jan 6: More charges likely in sex abuse case

Jan 5: Ex-church leader accused of rape

DNA on disguise leads to 6-month sentence

A Spokane man arrested after DNA from a fake beard connected him to a grocery store robbery will be in a diversion program for six months after being sentenced this week.

Donald R. Wright, 35, was given six months in jail and 18 months probation, but Superior Court Judge Michael Price allowed the sentenced to be served in partial confinement. Wright was told to contact a diversion program within 48 hours of his sentencing on May 10.

Wright was arrested in February for a June 23 robbery at the Grocery Outlet at 7810 N. Division after the state crime lab matched his DNA to DNA found on the beard.

Police found the beard and a wig in a yard near the store. Wright escaped in car after telling the driver he needed a ride because he was being chase, according to court documents. When the driver learned of the robbery, he told police he may have inadvertently driven the culprit from the scene.

Wright was sentenced based on a criminal history that included just one previous drug felony, despite two robbery and two burglary convictions in Los Angeles in 1994, as well as a conviction for felon in possession of a firearm in Los Angeles in 1995.

Court documents cited the case State v. Ford when stating the out-of-state convictions couldn’t be factored in Wright’s sentence. State v. Ford emphasizes that in order to classify out-of-state convictions, the state must show that the conviction is comparable to Washington crimes.

Past coverage:

Feb. 10: DNA on fake beard nabs suspect

Ex-Spokane man on trial for murder in Reno

A former Spokane Valley man is on trial in Nevada for the murder of a 19-year-old college coed and sexual assaults of two other women near the University of Nevada, Reno.

James Michael Biela, a 1999 West Valley High School graduate, could face the death penalty if convicted.

His mother, Kathy Lovell, of Spokane Valley, told the Reno Gazette-Journal she believes her son is innocent. Lovell and Biela’s stepfather and sister, of Spokane, reportedly are in Reno for the trial. 

Biela was arrested in Reno in November 2008 after an anonymous tip led authorities to his ex-girlfriend, who confided to a friend of finding two pair of women’s thong underwear in his truck while they drove back to Nevada from Moses Lake in September 2008.

Police later matched Biela’s DNA to that found on the body of Brianna Denison, who was home from college when she disappeared in January 2008. Her body was found three weeks later in a vacant lot in south Reno.

Biela, who trained at a martial arts school alongside Reno police, had been working as a pipefitter in the Moses Lake area since March 2008. Denison’s slaying is a high-profile case that shook the city, officials said.

“We assume he went up to Washington to get out of this area, because the heat was on,” Lt. Rob McDonald of the Reno Police Department said in November 2008.

Shortly after his arrest, detectives seized from a Coeur d’Alene couple a truck Biela sold to an Inland Northwest car dealership. Police believe the truck was used in the three crimes - they say one of the victims described the car’s interior in detail. 

Biela, a former Marine, has lived in Reno since 2002. He graduated from basic military training in San Diego in fall 1999, newspaper archives show.

His trial, expected to last three weeks, opened Wednesday with Deputy District Attorney Chris Hicks telling jurors that Biela is a man with a fetish for women’s thong underwear who escalated from rapist to killer.

Tucked beneath one of Denison’s legs when her body was found was a pair of women’s thong underwear. One belonged to the friend Denison was staying with the night she disappeared, and forensic experts believe it was used to strangle her, Hicks said.

But Public Defender Jay Slocum urged jurors not to view the evidence with sympathy or anger, but the “cold light of reason.”

Slocum said DNA evidence was not conclusive, and that while authorities say they’ve linked the three crimes to a single assailant, each has “very distinct facts” that shed doubt on the prosecution’s theory.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Past coverage:

Nov. 27, 2008: West Valley grad held in Reno killing

Read an AP story on the trial’s opening day by clicking the link below.

City of Spokane no longer paying Chism

Spokane firefighter Todd Chism has been placed on unpaid layoff status pending the resolution of felony charges that he assaulted Washington State Patrol troopers in Stevens County last month.

City Administrator Ted Danek informed Chism, a lieutenant, of the change during an afternoon meeting at City Hall today, said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist. The change takes effect Friday. Chism earned $93,535 per year.

Chism had been on paid leave from the Spokane Fire Department since April 8, two days after an early-morning confrontation with two troopers alongside Highway 291 just outside the driveway to Chism’s home.

Unpaid layoff status means Chism is no longer employed by the city of Spokane but could be reinstated if felony charges are dropped or reduced to misdemeanors. That happened to Spokane police Detective Jay Mehring and Officer Jay Olsen, but Olsen then resigned before Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired him.

Mehring and Olsen both received back pay for their time on unpaid layoff status because neither was convicted of a felony.

Past coverage:

April 23: Chism threatened to kill troopers, WSP said

April 9: Firefighter Tasered in DUI arrest

Lord Jesus Christ hit by car on East Coast

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — The victim might have forgiven the woman who ran him down in a Massachusetts crosswalk, but police haven’t.

Police say a Pittsfield woman has been cited for running down a man named Lord Jesus Christ as he crossed a street in Northampton on May 4.

The 50-year-old man is from Belchertown. Officers checked his ID and discovered that, indeed, his legal name is Lord Jesus Christ. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor facial injuries.

Police say 20-year-old Brittany Cantarella was cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

No serious injuries when house falls on man

A man escaped serious injury Thursday when a house fell on him.

The man, who was not identified, was trying to move the home at 3633 E. Second Ave., which had been sold by the state Department of Transportation as part of the North Spokane Corridor.

He apparently was working alone when the house shifted and collapsed onto what was left of the foundation.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Bank robbery suspect: Voices made me do it

A man accused of robbing a downtown Spokane bank told police voices in his head told him to commit the crime, according to court documents prepared by detectives.

It’s not the first time David D. Thometz, 47, has blamed crimes on the voices. He was sentenced to a year in jail after burning down his Spokane Valley home in May 2008 and telling investigators a voice in his head named Jack told him to do it, according to court records.

Thometz remains in jail on $50,000 bond after a security officer at Sterling Savings Bank, 11 N. Wall St., detained him until police arrived Tuesday. Thometz was trying to leave with stolen cash after he handed a teller a threatening note about 9:20 a.m., police said.

Police recovered the stolen money and say Thometz had an additional $400 in his wallet. Thometz also had a knife in his pocket but did not display or mention it during the robbery, police said.

Thometz told police “the voices in his head had been telling him to rob a bank and he had been dreaming of committing the robbery for three weeks,” according to court documents.

After Spokane police Detective Tim Madsen read Thometz his rights, Thometz said he understand then said, “What the hell, go for it,” according to the documents. “Thometz stated he wanted to talk to Det. Madsen and he realized an attorney would tell him not to. Thometz stated that he had been through this before when he was arrested for arson.”

Thometz then asked for a lawyer after the audio recording began and the interview ended.

2 men accused of 3 robberies in CdA

Three robberies in Coeur d’Alene late Wednesday and early today are believed to be the work of two men arrested with OxyContin stolen from a pharmacy. 

Michael D. Frank (right), 20, and Stephen J. Beck (below, left), 23, were arrested after police spotted them in Nissan that matched the description of the getaway car used in an attempted robbery Piggies Deli & Market, 2001 E. Sherman Ave., about 8:30 p.m.

In that case, a store clerk refused to hand over cash to the gunman, who fled in the Nissan.

  Police say Frank and Beck robbed Walgreens, 335 W. Appleway Ave., of a small amount of OxyContin about 5 a.m. after another failed robbery attempt at Taj Market, 1003 N. 15th St., about midnight.

Witnesses to the Piggies incident described the getaway driver as a woman, but Sgt. Christie Wood said only Frank and Beck appear to be responsible for the crimes.

Wood said the men are not suspects in other robberies in the area. The men were booked into Kootenai County Jail on robbery charges.

Beck was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant in Oneida County, Idaho and has a previous conviction in Montana for drug possession. Frank, alias Michael Daniel Lehti, went to prison for robbing a woman at gunpoint outside the Silver Lake Mall in 2007. He’s on parole, police said.

Couple in pot-case murder plot sentenced

A Post Falls couple targeted in what federal agents describe as a murder plot by a former developer received probation this week for a 2008 marijuana bust. 

Charles Hatridge, 49, was ordered to serve one month in federal prison in addition to four years probation.

His wife, Karrie Hatridge, 48, received no prison time and three years probation. The Hatridges, who had no previous criminal records, also will forfeit $50,000 to the federal government.

Lawyers for the couple requested probation in lieu of standard prison stences in part because the two accepted responsibility and were minimal participants.U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge sentenced the Hatridges on Monday.

 The Hatridges were main witnesses in the case against Kelly J. Polatis, a businessman acquitted of a marijuana distribution charge by a federal jury last month.

Shortly after Polatis’ acquittal, he was indicted on a charge of using interstate commerce for the commission of murder for hire and tampering with a witness. He’s also suspected of plotting to kill an assistant U.S. attorney working the case.

New court documents say the Hatridges live in fear of Polatis and have taken extra precaution “in living arrangements, travel and association, believing (and we submit knowing) that Mr. Polatis had the ability to punish or seek retribution…,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed May 6. “..From the outset, Mr. Hatridge was fully aware and fully concerned about the dangerousness of Mr. Polatis and expressed his concern over his personal safety to debriefers on more than one occasion.”

Polatis, 40, (left) recently was transferred from the Bonner County Jail to Utah, where he was arraigned Friday, according to federal court records. He’s represented by noted Las Vegas litigator Gavin Grasso, whose past clients include reputed gangsters and former football great O.J. Simpson.

Polatis and the Hatridges were arrested November 2008 after Idaho State Police seized hundreds of marijuana plants from a Post Falls home owned by the Hatridges, owners of American Mortgage Solutions in Rathdrum.

The Hatridges pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana in August 2009. They told jurors last month that Polatis was the mastermind of the grow operation and approached them about using their rental properties after learning that Charles Hatridge “had limited hydroponic growing experience” and was growing tomato plants at his mortgage office, according to a court documents.

The couple, married since 1981, started the mortgage company in 2006, two years after they moved to Idaho.

They now own Highlands Upholstery, which opened in December 2008, and have returned to their religious roots as Jehovah’s Witnesses, documents say.

Past coverage:

April 21: Feds: Murder plot uncovered in pot case

Tabloid looks at Brosnan MySpace murder

A 2008 Spokane Valley murder in which the killer impersonated his victim on MySpace to try to cover the crime is featured in the National Enquirer this month.

Sandwiched between an appalling story speculating about the health of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s children and an equally trashy story about Dale Earnhardt Jr. reportedly running off with a football coach’s wife is an article rehashing the tragic story of Uriah (top) and Becky Brosnan (right).

That’s right, the publication that actually thought it deserved a Pulitzer Prize for exposing John Edwards’ love child apparently sent a staffer to Spokane for Brosnan’s sentencing back in January (he’s pictured above at that hearing).

The article by Philip Smith describes Uriah Brosnan as a “coldblooded” killer whose “desperate” and “fiendish scheme” to cover his crime by sending Becky’s family MySpace messages from her account failed miserably.

The article includes quotes from Enquirer interviews with Becky Brosnan’s sister, Tina Crone, and Spokane County Deputy Gayle Ervin. It also quotes Judge Tari Eitzen lamenting the fact that she could only give Brosnan 18 years for the Jan. 28, 2009, killing because prosecutors amended his charge to second-degree murder instead of first-degree.

The article is in the May 10 issue.

Past coverage:

Jan. 22. 2010: Wife killer receives 18-year sentence

Dec. 29, 2009: Brosnan pleads guilty to beating death of wife

Feb. 11, 2009: Man impersonated wife online after killing her

Felon with copper wire triggers investigation

Detectives are trying to locate the owner of a large amount of copper and aluminum wire seized from a longtime felon last week.

Metal has been increasingly targeted by drug-addicted thieves in the last few years because it can be sold for cash at scrap yards.

So when police found William L. Moore, 44, with gloves, flashlights, saw tools and more than 70 feet of aluminum and copper wire after a traffic stop at Argonne Road and Sinto Avenue on May 4, they figured he was up to something criminal.

Read the rest of my story here.

Stolen mail tied to Spokane ID theft scheme

An investigation into stolen mail led detectives to an identity theft scheme allegedly orchestrated by a Spokane woman they say was “kind of relieved” when she was arrested.

“She dw.ckltold us we were good,” Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Dean MeyerÖ said of the suspect, Jacquelyn A. CrawfordÖ. “She just began injecting methamphetamine, so in way she was thankful she was caught.”

Crawford, 40, and Charlene M. HaggardÖ, 42, are accused of stealing mail and prowling cars, then creating bogus checks with pilfered bank account numbers that were passed at stores throughout Spokane County and in North Idaho. The women allegedly used driver’s licenses stolen along with the check information to complete the scheme.

Read the rest of my story here.

Gunman in Halloween shooting gets 35 years

A Spokane man who shot and killed another man outside a downtown bar after a Halloween celebration in 2008 was sentenced today to 35 years in prison.

Jonathan H. Espinoza received 339 months for first-degree murder and 93 months for first-degree assault, police said in a news release.

Espinoza, 26, killed Joshua D. Ridgely, 22, and injured two of Ridgely’s friends, Ryan R. Jackson and Michelle M. Wilcox, in a shooting outside The Blvd Tavern on Nov. 1, 2008.

Espinoza opened fire on a crowd after grabbing a gun from a friend, Matthew R. Jones. Jones, 26, told police he’d fired one shot into the air before Espinoza grabbed the weapon and said “This is how you do it.”

Jones pleaded guilty last summer to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Past coverage:

April 26, 2010: Shooter pleads guilty in Halloween murder

June 11, 2009: Man pleads guilty in killing

Nov. 3, 2008: Shooting victim always wore smile

Man w/ 12+ felony charges adds a few more

A man charged with more than 10 felonies since last fall is now accused of an armed home-invasion robbery that targeted a woman with a safe full of cash.

George W. Butrick, 32, (left, allegedly) appeared in Superior Court Tuesday on robbery charges connected to a Jan. 26 incident at an apartment in the 700 block of North Monroe Street.

Matthew L. Short, 43, also is charged in the case and is due in court soon.

A third suspect has not been identified, but court documents show police believe a felon arrested after a standoff late last month, 25-year-old Dustin C. Rauscher (right), is a person of interest.

The alleged victim, Ardythe M. McGough, told police she knew Short and recognized him and Butrick when they forced their way into her apartment and stole cash and valuables, according to court documents.  McGough identified Butrick through a photo on the TV news, and through a photo montage.

She said Butrick and the unidentified man were armed with handguns and threatened to kill her before tying up her friend, William O. Armstrong, with zip ties and stealing his cash and cell phone, then cash from a safe, according to court documents.

Armstrong followed the robbers and heard Short speak on the phone with someone referred to as “Swift” and “Dustin.”

Short’s girlfriend told police that Short and Rauscher “are close personal acquaintances (homies) and have been for a number of years,” according to court documents. Short denied knowing Rauscher, police said; Butrick said Rauscher was living at Butrick’s home while Butrick is in jail.

Butrick was arrested in the fall but posted bail on about a dozen charges in December. He returned to jail in February after allegedly threatening a bail bondsman with a gun.

Police say Butrick worked with Ronald Foreman, who has been charged with leading organized crime.

Police: Robber held toddler at knifepoint

A home-invasion robber held a toddler at knife-point to coerce a woman who later used a MySpace photo to identify him, according to police.

The suspect, Pierre J. Davis, 21, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on Tuesday, more than four months after police say he held a knife to a 2-year-old boy’s throat while demanding debit card information from the boy’s mother.

Detectives used interviews and a search warrant for cell phone records to develop a case against Davis after the woman spotted his photo on MySpace. He was booked into jail on Monday. Court documents do not identify two additional suspects but said each was armed with a knife. 

Read the rest of my story here.

It’s not the first time Davis has been linked to a crime connected to the once-popular social networking site.

He has a conviction for riot in connection with a February 2008 gang-related shooting that stemmed from a message posted on a Murder 1 Crips gang member’s MySpace page. The message targeted a rival gang, the Blocc Hustler Crips, of which Davis was reportedly a member, according to court documents. Read more here.

14+ years for child-molesting counselor

The longtime psychologist for the Colville School District was ordered Monday to serve at least 14 1/2 years in prison for molesting one of his students and attempting to molest another.

Superior Court Judge Al Nielson sentenced 59-year-old Craig L. Figley to 174 months in prison. However, his case will go before a state board that reviews the sentences of sex offenders, and that board could decide to keep Figley in prison for life, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

March 24: Guilty plea in molestation case

Did Thompson use divorce to hide assets?

Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. divorced his wife to shield his assets and force taxpayers to foot the bill for his criminal defense, the federal prosecutor in the Otto Zehm case alleged in court documents filed last week.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Durkin filed a motion asking U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle to allow the government to tell the jury in Thompson’s upcoming trial about the divorce agreement, which Durkin called a “fraudulent transfer” under Idaho law.

Thompson’s attorney, Carl Oreskovich, called the fraud allegation “unsubstantiated.”

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage and a document containing federal allegations about Thompson’s divorce filing can be found here.

Oxy addict, mom tied to church burglaries

A series of church burglaries busted by police last week apparently began four months ago when a young man stole a purse from a Mormon church with his mother.

The suspect, Andy W. Hoke, 24, told police he used stolen credit cards to buy expensive electronics that he would then trade to a man he knew as “Stevie D” for OxyContin. Police identified that man as 50-year-old Steven D. Kinard, brother of Terrence “T-Baby” Kinard.

Hoke said Stevie Kinard gave him lists of items, including computers, video games and kitchen equipment, to locate each day in exchange for OxyContin.

Hoke told police he uses up to ten 80 mg OxyContin pills a day, valued at up to $800. Hoke also reportedly told police he traded stolen property to a man named Daniel I. Heinzen, 23.

Police searched two locations associated with Kinard last week - 16 S. Fiske St and 2503 E. Seventh Ave. (The Seventh Avenue home is where a judge was to allow T-Baby to spend Thanksgiving during a during a five-hour jail furlough.) Heinzen’s home at 1016 E. Montgomery also was searched.

At the Fiske address, deputies arrested Raymond E. Coble, 45, on a felony warrant from the Department of Corrections, along with Kinard on a charge of possession of crack cocaine.

“We recovered multiple TVs, computers and gaming equipment. We also found narcotics, including OxyContin, crack cocaine and methamphetamines,” said Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Kirk Keyser.

The thefts occurred at 18 churches in Spokane County, 12 in Spokane and several more in North Idaho.

“Hoke further admitted that he had done several church thefts with his mother until the last month or so when he began doing them on his own,” according to a search warrant.

The scheme fell apart when employees at Mt. Spokane Church called police May 5 and said they’d caught Hoke in the church and believed he was planing a theft. Hoke’s brother, Jeremiah L. Hoke, 26, was with him.

Andy Hoke, who remains in jail, has an eight-year local criminal history that includes convictions for burglary, trafficking stolen property, theft, obstructing a police investigation, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license. according to Crime Stopppers.

He, Kinard and Heinzen are to be arraigned May 18.

Police search for murder victim’s cell phone

Police are searching for the cell phone of a man found murdered in the Dishman Hills Natural Area late last month.

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives hope information from AT & T on the time and location of calls made since Douglas J. Klages’ murder will help them solidify their case against Roland E. Benton, who was arrested for first-degree murder last week.

Benton, who’s in jail on $500,000 bond, is to be arraigned May 18.

Klages used his cell phone to call his parents the day before he died.

“At the time the body was discovered, the victim’s pants pockets had been turned inside out, as if someone had gone through them,” according to a search warrant filed today in Superior Court. “(This detective) believes that it is possible that the cell phone, as well as other items, may have been taken from the victim at the time of his murder.”

A Rosauers receipt found with Klages helped police identify Benton, who had left the store with Klages just hours before the murder.

Benton also reportedly told a friend on the day of the killing that he had done something that would be on “the national news.”

Past coverage:

Police: Suspect admitted Dishman killing to friend

Homicide suspect left jail just before murder

Homicide victim hoped for fresh start

Injured baby still improving at hospital

A 2-month-old baby who suffered what Spokane police initially feared would be fatal injuries continues to improve at a hosptial, family said.

SkyeLynn A. Jamison is to be released next week, a family member said Saturday on a Facebook page created for the girl.

SkyeLynn's father, 18-year-old Tyler L. Jamison, pleaded not guilty today to a charge of first-degree assault. He was arrested last month.

Read a story on his arraignment here.

Past coverage:

April 12: Injured baby improving at Spokane hospital

April 8: Police: Baby brain dead after assault by father

Court upholds ‘road rage’ sentencing

By Kevin Graman

The state Court of Appeals let stand the sentencing condition imposed on a Spokane motorist who assaulted a bicyclist during a road rage incident two years ago – that he keep his anger in check.

When a jury convicted Dylan T. Anstrom, 32, of second-degree malicious mischief and fourth-degree assault last year, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen gave him two years’ probation, provided that he had no further road rage incidents.

Anstrom appealed, saying the condition violated his due process rights. This week, the Court of Appeals for Division III refused to review his appeal because he could not show that “he has been harmed by the condition in any way.”

In July 2008, Anstrom was driving near the Centennial Trail when he drove up behind two bicyclists and started honking his horn before speeding past them, nearly hitting one of them.

When Anstrom stopped at a traffic light one of the bicyclists rode up and told Anstrom he had nearly caused a serious accident, according to court documents.

Enraged and believing the bicyclist had damaged his car, Anstrom chased the bicyclist through a nearby parking lot. Unable to catch the first bicyclist, Anstrom stopped the second bicyclist and demanded to know the name of the first.

When the second bicyclist refused to give him the name, Anstrom knocked him off his bicycle, kicked him, punched him, threw the bicycle on top of the cyclist and then threw the bicycle against a telephone pole, according to court documents .

Coke smuggler in ‘copter bust gets 10 years

The last of two drug smugglers arrested in Utah with cocaine bound for a young helicopter pilot in the Colville National Forest has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. 

Ross N. Legge, 54, (right) pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine last week in U.S. District Court in Utah and was sentenced to 120 months in prison, followed by 60 months probation according to documents filed on Friday.

  Legge and Leonard J. Ferris were arrested Feb. 21, 2009, near Ogden, Utah, after state troopers found 83 kilograms of cocaine in their car. The bust was part of the ongoing Operation Blade Runner drug investigation. 

Ferris (left) was sentenced in December to six years in prison in a hearing that was closed to the public. 

The men had a storage unit in Spokane Valley where they kept an ATV, trailer, and other items used in drug trafficking. They were driving from Las Vegas to Eastern Washington to trade the cocaine to Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown when they were arrested.

Brown (bottom right) was arrested after federal agents infiltrated the operation following Legge and Ferris’ arrests and caught Brown landing a helicopter with 400 pounds of marijuana. He committed suicide in Spokane County Jail on Feb. 27, 2009.

Ferris pleaded guilty about two months after his arrest, but Legge fought the charge. His guilty plea came after a federal judge rejected a motion to suppress evidence obtained through the search of the truck. Legge was driving the truck but Ferris gave troopers permission to search it because it belonged to him.

Authorities have described Legge and Ferris’ stop as a routine traffic stop, but the motion shows the men were stopped by a state trooper who had already pulled over another vehicle for speeding.

The trooper said he stopped the black Ford F-150 truck Legge and Ferris were in because it didn’t move to the left lane when they passed the trooper, who was stopped alongside the highway’s right lane.

Legge said he lived in Spokane, and he and Ferris gave conflicting stories about why they had traveled to Las Vegas, according to court documents.

U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson rejected Legge’s motion to suppress on March 15.

Legge pleaded guilty and was sentenced on May 5.

Federal agents believe the drug ring was headed by four Canadian men, one of whom offered to cooperate if investigators let him continue his operation for a decade. Read more here.

Traffic stop turns into police chase in Valley

A man driving a car without its lights on last night led police on a high-speed chase that ended with residents shoving him off their front porch.

Jason M. Tittman, 30, was in a Subaru without its headlight on when police tried to stop him near Sixth and University about 8:30 p.m. Monday.

Tittman ran a red light at University and Fourth, according to police, then continued west on Sprague before turning northbound onto Gillis, striking the sidewalk and coming to a stop. Tittman ran from the car but was arrested after police found him “being shoved off the front porch of a home by its residents,” according to a news release.

Tittman was bleeding from his mouth and told police he fell while scaling a fence. He was taken to a hospital, along with his passenger, a 26-year-old Spokane Valley man who complained of stomach pain from the car’s impact with the sidewalk.

The passenger was released without charges; Tittman was booked into jail on charges of attempting to elude police and third-degree driving with a suspended license. He also was served with two Spokane Municipal Court warrants for theft and possession of marijuana.

Police found a ring of shaved keys in the Subaru but haven’t located the car’s owner.

6 months for CdA boater who injured boy

 A Coeur d’Alene man is serving six months in jail for leaving the scene of a boating accident on Lake Coeur d’Alene that injured a 5-year-old boy.

Anthony James Judge, 33, was sentenced Thursday by Kootenai County District Judge John Mitchell, who also ordered five years of supervised probation. He was booked into jail that day.

A jury convicted Judge in March after he hit the boy with his boat trailer after pulling a boat out of the water at the Blackwell Island launch on May 31, 2009. The boy suffered broken facial bones, scrapes and bruises, according to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office.

Mitchell left open the possibility of further restitution for two years in case the boy needs additional medical treatment.

“The incident could have resulted in a much more serious injury,” Prosecutor Barry McHugh said in a prepared statement. “With the busy boating season approaching, this case is a reminder to all of us to be careful and patient when using the area boat launches.”

3+ years for robber arrested 11 months later

An armed robber arrested in Montana in February is back behind bars after recently being convicted of a knife-point holdup at a Spokane store more than two years ago.

Joshua T. Bodey, 37, is in jail awaiting transport to a state prison after a jury convicted him last week of first-degree robbery for a February 2008 heist at 50% Off Card Shop on East Sprague.

Bodey got away from police that night but was charged with robbery in December 2008. U.S. Marshals and Billings police arrested him in Red Lodge, Mont., in January 2009.

He posted $10,000 after about a week but returned to jail after his conviction Wednesday.

He was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in prison with credit given for 27 days served in jail.

Photos show OxyContin robbery suspects

Surveillance photos show two men who police believe robbed a Post Falls pharmacy of OxyContin on Sunday.

The men did not display a weapon but handed an employee a threatening note demand the powerful prescription painkiller about 11:10 a.m.

The robbers entered and exited through the front door of Walgreens, 706 E. Seltice Way, and were last seen leaving on foot, police said.

Both men are described as in their late 20s to early 30s.

One suspect has a medium build and round face with a mustache and slight beard, along with short, dark hair. He wore a black baseball hat, wire-framed glasses, a black long-sleeved shirt, dark jeans and white tennis shoes.

The second suspect has a thin build, “pointed features,” dark, trimmed hair, a lsight beard and wore a blue, long-sleeved shirt, tan pants, a brown belt and brown shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Post Falls polite at (208) 773-3517 or (208) 777-COPS. Tips can be submitted anonymously at

The same Walgreens was robbed Sept. 30.

Due in court: McBride the wedding crasher

A woman who crashed weddings and looted the gift piles is in trouble again.

Pamula K. McBride, 46, was in a felony diversion program for stealing a cart full of groceries from Fred Meyer when police arrested her last August on theft charges in connection with a looted Spokane wedding reception.

But no one in the program has heard from her since she skipped an appointment Aug. 12 - one week after her wedding-crashing scheme screeched to a handcuffed halt.

Now Spokane County prosecutors want a judge to review her compliance with the program, which could lead to an arrest warrant. McBride is to appear before Judge Maryann Moreno Monday afternoon.

She was sentenced in February to serve 45 days in the Nez Perce County Jail after pleading guilty to grand theft in connection with a wedding last June.

Police tracked McBride through stolen gift cards after the Lewiston wedding party noticed missing gifts and the off-duty police officer told them he’d seen a high school classmate who seemed nervous when he asked what she was doing.

Past coverage:

Feb. 26: Wedding crasher now has jail date

Witness in 2 gang crimes sought by police

A witness in criminal cases against two reputed Spokane gangsters hasn’t been staying in contact with court officials, and Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest her.

Summer R. Abrahamson, 32, is to testify in the upcoming attempted-murder trial of Timothy Lucious, who faces life in prison under the three-strikes law for a shooting last summer.

Abrahamson also is the alleged victim in a first-degree robbery and second-degree assault case against Antono E. Cook, Jr., 29.

Cook is accused of punching Abrahamson and stealing a knife Sept. 6 in a fight over a sexually suggestive text message, according to court documents. Cook also is charged with illegally possessing the gun used in the Jan 17 murder of John S. Williams.

In Lucious’s case, Abrahamson was with a group of women when a fight that began at a bar festered at a party, then erupted on the other side of the city with two women shot and another punched unconscious. Lucious is the alleged shooter.

Prosecutors want Abrahamson jailed to assure her presence at trial.

“Based on her numerous unfavorable contacts with law enforcement and the courts, it is doubtful she would voluntarily appear for trial,” according to court documents.

Abrahamson has previous convictions for robbery, drugs, assault and malicious mischief.

A $100,000 material witness warrant was issued April 23. Crime Stoppers offered a reward for tips on her location this week.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS, or submit tips online here.

Former sheriff Sterk mulls run for sheriff

Former Spokane County Sheriff Mark Sterk may give his successor, Ozzie Knezovich, a run for his money. 

It’s a daunting prospect, Sterk acknowledges, because state Public Disclosure Commission records show Knezovich already has raised $38,778 and spent $17,959.

“That’s one of the things we will look at very carefully, as to whether we can win it or not,” Sterk said Wednesday after registering his potential candidacy with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Also Wednesday, Knezovich announced he will kick off his re-election campaign with a $35-a-plate breakfast at the Red Lion River Inn today at 7:30 a.m.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

City attorneys out of Thompson defense

Attorneys employed by the city of Spokane no longer will represent Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson in the legal battles stemming from the 2006 death of Otto Zehm, according to a recent court filing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Durkin, in arguments filed last month, said the city’s simultaneous representation of Thompson and other police officers created “obvious and apparent conflicts.”

That filing singled out Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi’s role in the Zehm incident, in which the mentally ill janitor was beaten, shocked with a Taser and hogtied on the ground by police before dying in a hospital two days later.

Read Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Also, Thompson’s defense is looking to exclude any evidence that Zehm had not committed a crime, and to exclude the testimony of two young women whose 911 call sparked the incident. Read that story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 13, 2009: Feds unhappy with city attorney

March 25, 2007: Treppiedi zealous, effective

(The top picture of Treppiedi shows him at the scene of the police shooting death of Jason Poss last July.)

Suspect was jailed 2 days before murder

A Spokane transient was arrested Wednesday for the murder of a man found beaten to death in the Dishman Hills Natural Area on Friday.

Roland E. Benton, 34, was booked into Spokane County Jail about noon Wednesday – one week after he was released on a domestic violence charge.

Jail records show it’s his third booking this month: He also spent two days behind bars on a warrant for not complying with court orders for a 2006 misdemeanor hit-and-run.

Benton is the only suspect in the murder of Douglas J. Klages, 46, said Sgt. Dave Reagan. No other arrests are expected.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Homicide victim hoped for fresh start

Man in ‘caffeine psychosis’ crashes acquitted

(AP) A Moscow man whose lawyer blamed caffeine-induced psychosis for alleged hit-and-run crashes at Washington State University in December has been acquitted by reason of insanity.

Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier ruled today that Daniel Noble, 31, was temporarily insane during the Dec. 9 incident and acquitted him of two felony counts of vehicular assault, two felony counts of hit-and-run and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Frazier granted a defense motion to acquit Noble based on Noble’s attorney’s intent to use an insanity defense at trial.

The two crashes injured pedestrians, Neil Waldbjorn, 19, of Malaga, Wash., and Hogun Hahm, 23, of Pullman. Each suffered a broken leg. Officers used a Taser to subdue Noble.

Noble’s attorney, Mark Moorer, had previously said his client was suffering from caffeine-induced psychosis brought on by too much coffee and energy drinks.

Past coverage:

March 11: ‘Caffeine psychosis’ defendant fit for trial

Dec. 9: Lawyer: Blame it on the caffeine

Twisp man gets 5+ years for child porn

A Twisp, Wash., man will spend more than five years in prison for receiving child pornography over the Internet.

Timothy J. Schmekel, 36, was sentenced to 68 months in federal prison today after a investigators found 519 images of child pornography on computers and storage devices at Schmekel’s home in April 2008.

He was indicted in U.S. District Court in August 2008 and convicted by a jury after a three-day trial in Spokane in September 2009.

Schmekel will be supervised for five years once he’s released from prison. He’ll be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Youth Center director accused of child rape

The director of the Spokane Tribe’s Youth Center is accused of raping a teen boy during an alcohol-fueled party in March.

Rodney R. McCoy, 42, appeared in U.S. District Court Wednesday. He’s being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail pending a bail hearing next Monday.

The investigation began when the alleged victim, an inmate at Martin Hall Juvenile Detention Center in Medical Lake, told a counselor he’d been sexually abused by “the youth center director” on the Spokane Indian Reservation, according to court documents.

The boy told police he drank beer and hard liquor before McCoy forced him to perform oral sex at McCoy’s home on March 2.

The boy said McCoy was worried about losing his job if minors were caught drinking at his home “but if (the boy) stole it, it was okay,” according to a court documents filed Wednesday.

McCoy told police he was very intoxicated that night but remembered walking in on the boy and another man, then fondling one of them, documents said.

Mont. crash sends Spokane man to prison

SUPERIOR, Mont. — A 41-year-old Spokane man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for a June 2008 drunken driving crash in western Montana that killed his friend.

David L. Gunning, 41, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide while under the influence. He was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in prison with 20 suspended by District Judge Douglas Harkin.

The crash in Mineral County killed Gunning’s passenger, Lester Chandler, of Airway Heights.

The two men were on their way to a swimming hole when Gunning lost control of the vehicle.

Gunning has convictions in Spokane County for possession of methamphetamine and third-degree retail theft.

Rare rifle helps catch Boundary Co. burglar

A 21-year-old North Idaho man will spend at least two years in prison for ransacking a Boundary County vacation home last fall.

Cory S. Eccles, of Eastport, threw a 5-pound rock through the window of a vacant cabin on Deep Creek Loop in November and took several items.

Police traced the burglary to Eccles after he attempted to sell a rare Winchester rifle stolen from the home.

After rejecting a plea deal, Eccles changed his mind and pleaded guilty to burglary April 26, just before his trial was to begin in Boundary County District Court.

Judge Benjamin Simpson sentenced Eccles to two to five years in prison for burglary, theft and unlawful possession of a firearm. A charge of malicious injury to property was dismissed.

Prosecutor Jack Douglas said Eccles, whose criminal history dates back to 2005, was disciplined in jail after his arrest for trying to make alcohol from fruit juice.

Dragging-death lawsuit settled for $1 million

A wrongful death suit filed against a Spokane man who served 27 months in prison for the dragging death of a college student has been settled for $1 million, lawyers announced today.

Jerid Sturman-Camyn, 20, died Nov. 24, 2007, after Wendell C. Sinn Jr., 46, of Newman Lake, tied a noose around his neck and attached it to the back his truck, then ordered his son, Justin Sinn, to drive away.

 Wendell Sinn (left) entered an Alford plea to second-degree manslaughter in September 2008, meaning he admitted no guilt but acknowledged he could be found guilty if taken to trial. He was sentenced to the maximum penalty, 27 months in prison.

The elder Sinn claimed self-defense and said Sturman-Camyn, an Eastern Washington University student, had been threatening Justin Sinn, who was not charged in the case, and other campers.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor denied a motion for summary judgment in the case on April 27.

Sturman-Camyn’s mother, Koni Buell, an elementary school teacher in Silverdale, and his stepfather settled the lawsuit with Justin Sinn’s insurance company, according to John Christensen, an attorney with the Messina Bulzomi Christensen law firm who represented Buell.

A portion of the settlement will go to the Jerid Sturman-Camyn Athletic Memorial Fund, which was created by his parents and the Klahowya Secondary School to assist children who can’t afford to participate in school sports.

The fund has helped more than 50 children with participation fees, supplies, shoes, uniforms and sports physicals. Donations to the fund can be sent to Karen Varnum at Klahowa Secondary School, 7607 NW Newberry Hill Rd, Silverdale, WA 98383 or by calling the school at (360) 662-4000. The family also is sending a portion of the settlement money to help victims of violent crimes.

Past coverage:

Sept 23, 2008: 27 months in dragging death

Nov. 28, 2007: Dragging victim ‘out of control,’ official says

Nov. 27, 2007: Self defense claimed in dragging death

Sept. 16, 2008: Man convicted in camper’s dragging death

Reward offered for tips in stolen check case

Thieves recently stole a woman’s purse from a car in the Indian Trial area then tried cashing stolen checks at two Spokane stores.  

Now Spokane police are looking for help identifying suspects caught on camera at both stores. 

The car prowling occurred April 27, the same day police say the thieves went to Nordstrom in downtown Spokane. They were seen at the Albertsons at Division Street and Farwell Road on April 30. 

Four photos released by police this week show a man and two women, as well as a white car believed to belong to the suspects.

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

Insanity leads to acquittal in machete attack

A man arrested in a machete attack that sliced a Spokane teenager last summer has been acquitted of the crime by reason of insanity.

Douglas W. Harmon, the brother of the man who went on an apparent LSD-fueled shooting spree in Spokane in 1971, was accused of attacking a teenage couple with the blade outside Harmon’s Spokane apartment June 17.

Eddie Ramsey required more than 100 stitches after the machete sliced his face from his life ear to his jaw, shattered a bone in his life wrist and took a chunk out of his hair

Harmon was charged with assault but quickly transported from the jail to Eastern State Hospital. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on April 14, and Judge Ellen Kalama Clark acquitted him that day, according to court records.

His brother, Larry Harmon was 21 when he stormed St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church with a .22-caliber rifle Nov. 11, 1971, killing a janitor and injuring four others before being shot to death by police.

The men’s late father, E. Glenn Harmon, was a journalist and prominent Spokane attorney who represented The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Chronicle.

Past coverage:

June 24: Suspect in machete attack is brother of GU gunman

June 18: Machete victim: ‘I thought I was going to die’

$500,000 bond for CdA rape suspect

A man accused of raping a Coeur d’Alene woman early Saturday remains in jail on $500,000 bond.

Thomas C. Dickerson, 40, appeared before Kootenai County District Judge Scott Wayman on Monday on charges of rape and battery with intent to commit rape.

Dickerson remains in jail on $500,000 bond after appearing before Kootenai County District Judge Scott Wayman on Monday on charges of rape and battery with intent to commit rape.

When asked by Wayman if he wished to comment on his bond amount, Dickerson said: “It doesn’t really matter. This is a bunch of a bull … .” He declined a jailhouse interview.

Dickerson has previous convictions for failing to register as a sex offender in Pierce County, along with convictions for drug and stolen property possession.

But he wasn’t required to register as a sex offender - a plea deal stemming from a debate over the legality of the registry requirment led to his dmissmal.

Read my story here.

Homicide victim was beaten to death

When Douglas Klages last talked to his parents, he was planning for the future. The 46-year-old Spokane native struggled with alcoholism but wanted to clean up. He told his parents so in a phone call last Thursday.

“He said, ‘I know you’ll be happy: I’m lining myself up for a treatment program,’” said his father, Don Klages. “It was a terrible addiction.”

The next day, Don and Karen Klages learned of their son’s murder. Hikers found his body in a small cave inside the Dishman Hills Natural Area Friday afternoon, where Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives believe he’d been camping.

An autopsy showed he died from blunt-force trauma to his head, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Now, as detectives search for his killer, Doug Klages’ friends and family are struggling to understand how a man with no enemies and a generous heart could end up beaten to death. Klages’ death is the first homicide investigated by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office this year.

“This community is grieving,” said Dean Whisler, day room manager at the Union Gospel Mission, where Klages stayed on and off for several years. “Everyone loved him.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Federal trial for killer’s boyfriend delayed

A federal weapons trial for a man Spokane police believe helped prostitute Shellye L. Stark murder her husband, then concoct a sordid tale of spousal abuse to try to dupe investigators, has been postponed.

Brian L. Moore, 43, is now scheduled to go to trial on June 15 in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. A pre-trial conference is set for June 7.

Moore was previously scheduled to go to trial May 11 on two federal charges of possession of an unregistered firearm in connection with a rifle and firearm silencer on a pistol seized from a warehouse where he was staying in Orange County, Calif.

Spokane police raided that building in April 2009 when they arrested Moore on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale Robert Stark.

Shellye Stark is serving 50 years in prison after a jury convicted her of first-degree murder in March 2009.

Spokane County prosecutors moved to dismiss murder charges against Moore last year after a judge threw out key evidence from a private investigator hired by Moore and Stark.

The dismissal came just before Moore’s public defenders were going to ask a judge to permanently dismiss the charges because of lack of evidence. This way, prosecutors still can recharge Moore with murder, which they say they plan to do.

Also charged in relation to the case is Shellye Stark’s father, Curtis A. Johnson. Johnson is set to go to trial June 14 on one count of first-degree identity theft after police say he cashed two checks with signatures forged to look like Dale Stark’s.

Read past coverage of the Stark/Moore case here.

Mont. fugitive brawls with Spokane deputies

A Montana fugitive accused of assaulting two Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies early Sunday remains in jail.

Michael J. Daniels, 26, was arrested after deputies said he struck one of them in the leg before brawling with the other after a foot chase through a north Spokane neighborhood.

Daniels, 26, is in custody on $10,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court Monday of third-degree assault against a law enforcement officer, obstructing a police investigation, resisting arrest, and fourth-degree assault.

The fourth-degree assault charge stems from Daniels alleging assaulting a 27-year-old man in a home in the 400 block of East Hawthorne Road “over a years-old family dispute,” according to the Sheriff’s Office. Daniels has two felony escape warrants out of Great Falls.

His accomplice, Eric B. Fowler, also is charged with fourth-degree assault and possession of a marijuana and remains in jail on $500.

Dorn gets device that led to Thoma’s lawsuit

State schools Superintendent Randy Dorn received an automatic 90-day driver’s license suspension when he pleaded guilty last month to drunken driving.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t drive.

The Associated Press reports that Dorn (left) is driving with an ignition interlock device - the same device Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick wouldn’t allow now former Sgt. Brad Thoma to use in his patrol car after a DUI arrest last fall. Thoma is suing the city of Spokane, alleging wrongful termination.

The 2008 Washington Legislature adjusted drunken driving laws beginning in January 2009 to allow all offenders to regain their driving privileges if they install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles, instead of simply suspending their driving privileges for a period of time. The devices test a driver’s blood-alcohol level and prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected.

Even first-time offenders who chose an intensive, five-year deferred prosecution program, like Thoma, must use one.The option also is available for DUI suspects facing license suspensions because they refused blood or breath tests, like Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Darin Schaum.

It’s unclear what that could mean for a Sheriff’s Office policy that calls for employees to be fired only after their second drunken driving offense. Kirkpatrick wouldn’t allow Thoma, a first-time offender, to use one because she doesn’t feel its appropriate for someone in law enforcement to drive with the device on their patrol car.

Past coverage Feb. 3: Ignition device law a test for agencies

Dishman Hills homicide victim identified

A man who authorities believe may be Spokane County’s first homicide victim this year has been identified as Douglas J. Klages.

Hikers on Friday found Klages, a 46-year-old transient, dead in a small in a small cave at Camp Caro Community Park, south of Sprague Avenue, in the Dishman Hills Natural Area.

An autopsy was conducted Monday afternoon, but investigators have not release Klages’ cause of death.

Investigators found trauma on his body but no cause of death was immediately determined. They searched the area for several hours Friday but found no additional evidence, Sgt. Dave Reagan said

Klages has been in and out of homeless shelters and was apparently camping in the area around the time of his death, Reagan said.

The only other homicide in the Spokane area this year was the still-unsolved shooting death of John S. Williams, 38, outside a party at 5405 North Crestline on Jan. 17. Spokane police are investigating that case.

Klages gave his address as Cusick, Wash., when he was arrested in a drunken driving incident in 2004 that included a man accidental riding on his car’s roof.

Klages was sentenced to 150 days in jail with credit for 97 days served for driving under the influence, hit and run and operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock.

Read a brief on the crash by clicking the link below.

Man gets 15 years for baby girl’s murder

A judge sentenced an admitted baby killer to 15 years in prison today but denied the slayer’s mother a final request: a hug before deputies hauled him back to jail.

Jereme J. Bassett, 24, last month pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 7-month-old Nevaeh Alana Miller, who was the daughter of Bassett’s girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Wilcox.

Bassett also pleaded guilty to third-degree assault that stemmed from him choking Wilcox’s 8-year-old son after he learned Nevaeh was brain dead. Superior Court Judge Annette Plese sentenced Bassett to 15 years in prison, followed a plea agreement between Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald and Assistant Public Defender Kevin Griffin.

However, Bassett will get credit for more than two years he has served in jail since he harmed Nevaeh on March 20, 2008, in the room he and Wilcox shared at the West Wynn Motel on Sunset Boulevard.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

April 13, 2010: Girl’s killer faces 12 to 20 years in prison

March 27, 2008: Girls organs given to 3 babies

March 26, 2008: Troubles started early for man accused in baby’s death

Warrant issued for accused would-be killer

A Spokane gang member accused of trying to kill two people by running them over with his car last fall is wanted by police after an alleged domestic dispute.

Police say Cedric E. Burton, 23, assaulted his girlfriend on April 13 and threatened to take their young daughter to California so she “would never see her again,” according to court documents filed in Superior Court.

Prosecutors say that incident violated the terms of Burton’s release from jail on two counts of attempted first-degree murder, and Crime Stoppers issued a reward on Friday for tips that lead to his arrest.

Burton is accused of trying to run over two men, Bradley Hollibaugh and Jacob Schreiber, in a parking lot across the street from Club Uno, 515 W. Sprague Ave., early Nov. 22. Hollibaugh and Schreiber got inside a 2007 GMC Hummer, which then had its back window shot out by a man who was with Burton in a Chevrolet Camaro, Charles Willy Jackson, according to police.

 Jackson, 23, (right) who told police he lived in Lancaster, Calif., has been wanted since mid-December on charges of second-degree assault, third-degree malicious mischief and possession of a controlled substance (cocaine).

Burton, posted $7,500 on Dec. 14 after about two weeks in jail, last gave his address as 5914 N. Ash in Spokane. He has felony convictions for delivery of controlled substance and second-degree assault.

Police say Burton is a gang member and was present at a party in January in which John S. Williams was shot to death, according to court documents related to the ongoing investigation.

In January 2009, Burton was arrested with another gang member, Eric Burton, who’s charged with possessing the gun that killed Williams.

Also arrested in relation to that stop was Edward L. Thomas, 24, who detectives say fled to California shortly after Williams’ murder and hasn’t been located. One witness told detectives that Williams was shot after he punched out a passenger-side window in a car in which Thomas was riding, according to court documents.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest Jackson and/or Cedric Burton. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or submit tips online here.

UPDATE: Cedric Burton was arrested May 4 in Los Angeles County.

Rape suspect is unregistered sex offender

A man accused of raping a Coeur d’Alene woman early Saturday was convicted in 1990 of raping a child in Washington but wasn’t required to register as a sex offender in Idaho.

Thomas C. Dickerson, 40, was charged with failing to register as a sex offender in Idaho in May 2003 after moving from Washington.

But the Idaho state Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 2006, saying the law requiring him to register violated the U.S. Constitution.

According to the Associated Press, the case largely came down to timing. Idaho’s sex offender registry law was enacted on July 1, 1993, requiring that any people who moved to Idaho after that date be required to register as a sex offender if they’d been convicted of a sex crime in another state.

But the same law did not require long-term Idaho residents convicted before 1993 to register, unless they were still in prison or on probation or parole. That anomaly essentially created a disadvantaged class of new Idaho residents, holding them to stricter laws than long-term residents, the appellate court found. Because the law worked against those moving to Idaho, it effectively violated the federal Constitution’s right to travel from state to state, the court ruled.

An order dismissing Dickerson from the sex offender registry requirement was filed in Kootenai County District Court on Nov. 4, 2008.

Now Dickerson is in Kootenai County Jail, accused of raping a female acquaintance in the area of West Clady Lane and North Fruitland Lane in north Coeur d’Alene.

The woman told police Dickerson hit her in the face, strangled her and raped her before fleeing the home. Police arrived about 3 a.m. and spotted Dickerson driving in the area.

The woman was treated and released from Kootenai Medical Center, officials said.

Dickerson, who’s in jail on charges of rape and battery with intent to commit a serious felony, is due in Kootenai County District Court on Monday.

Hayden man accused of shooting at deputies

A Hayden man is accused of shooting at Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies, then surrendering after they returned fire.

Kerry Noel Damiano, 22, was arrested early Saturday after deputies responded to East Chilco Road near Chilco Lake, north of Hayden, about midnight on a report of trespassers causing a disturbance.

Damiano is accused of firing one shot at the deputies before they returned fire and he surrendered.

Damiano was booked into the Kootenai County Jail on one count of aggravated assault.

He has past convictions in Kootenai County for providing false information to law enforcement regarding offense/identity and driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent, according to news archives.

Man w/ “Deadliest Catch” ties arrested in CdA

A 22-year-old Alaska man is accused of pointing a shotgun at a group of people in downtown Coeur d’Alene on Saturday.

Jason H. Fennimore was arrested after the alleged victims told police of the shotgun after an officer stopped the car in which Fennimore was riding for driving the wrong way in the 300 block of North Third Street about 2:30 a.m.

The victims said Fennimore pulled the gun from the trunk at threatened them after he and his friends “said something to the victim group, making the stop,” according to a news release. Police found a double-barrel, 12-gauge shotgun in the trunk.

Fennimore, who appeared on past seasons of the reality TV show “Deadliest Catch,” is in Kootenai County Jail on one count of aggravated assault.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Sirens & Gavels.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here