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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for October 2010

2 dead in Post Falls murder-suicide

Police have identified two people who were found dead inside a Post Falls home Thursday evening.

Christina K. Mandriguez, 38, and Jeffrey A. Hayes, 54, each died of a single gunshot wound to the forehead in a homicide/suicide, said Post Falls Police Chief Scot Haug. 

The couple’s landlord found Mandriguez’s body around 5:15 p.m. and called police.

Investigators found her slumped up against the front door, with a cell phone in her hand, Haug said.

.Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach’s story here.

Hayes was working as a store clerk at Stateline in 2005 when he shot and killed a robber. Read more here.

Brothers guilty in CdA hate-crime case

Following the third trial in eight months, two Coeur d’Alene brothers  were found guilty Thursday of racially harassing and threatening a Hispanic man in August 2009.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 13 for Frank James Tankovich, 47, (right) and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 50, (left) who were found guilty of malicious harassment and conspiracy to commit malicious harassment against Kenneth Requena, a Puerto Rican man.

“For a while there, I felt like I was on trial,” said Requena, who felt so threatened when the Tankovich brothers drove by his home on Aug. 16, 2009, that he pulled a gun and had his wife call 911. Defense attorneys said it was Requena’s actions that escalated the incident.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs’ story here.

Police: Burglary foils fleeing felon

A Spokane felon wanted on a Department of Corrections warrant ran from police in the South Perry Neighborhood Thursday night but was captured after he tried breaking into a nearby home, police said.

Members of the Spokane gang unit saw Brian J. King, 39, while patrolling the area of East 7th Street and South Perry Avenue, but King fled.

Then at 11:05 p.m., residents in the 600 block of South Ivory Street, just east of the vacant lot, reported a white man in a dark-colored sweatshirt trying to break into the home.

Spokane police Officer Shawn Kendall and his K-9, Stryder, found King hiding near South Ivory Street and East Newark Avenue.

King was booked into jail on a DOC warrant. His criminal record includes felony convictions for taking a motor vehicle without permission, unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance, residential burglary, third-degree assault, possession of stolen property, riot, theft and stalking

Jury convicts felon in Blockbuster caper

A career criminal already on probation was convicted this week of robbing a Spokane Valley video store in April. 

Shaun L. Rockstrom, 38, faces 10 years in prison for second-degree robbery when he’s sentenced Nov. 19, a court clerk confirmed.

Rockstrom was arrested on April 8 after employees at Blockbuster Video, 11510 E. Sprague Ave., identified him as the man who stole DVDs and punched an employee on April 2.

The punched employee lost his prescription glasses, which Rockstrom then ran over with his car as he fled, court documents say.

Police found some of the stolen DVDs in a truck parked at Rockstrom’s home, 12919 E. Forrest Road.

Prosecutors had sought a first-degree robbery against Rockstrom, who has more than 30 convictions, including felony convictions for leading organized crime, theft, burglary, possession of stolen property, escape and forgery.

Prosecutors will ask for a 10-year prison term; Rockstrom had already turned down a plea offer for seven years, a court clerk said.

The trial before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza went to the jury late Tuesday, and a verdict was returned Wednesday afternoon. Jury selection began Monday.

Thieves trim tail hair from Mont. horses

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — At least two southwest Montana horse owners are reporting thieves trotted off with tail hair from their horses.

Such hair can be valuable to makers of handcrafted horse bridles or other items or used as tail extensions for show horses.

Sandy O’Rourke tells the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that someone entered a Three Forks corral on Oct. 17 and cut off the tail hair of two horses and part of the mane of a third horse. The hair was cut off below the bony section of the tail. The horses were not injured.

In Dillon, Bob and Connie Riley are offering a $500 reward for information leading to whoever snipped the tail off their horse about a month ago.

“They took everything from his tail bone down to the ground,” O’Rourke said of her white appaloosa, Luke. “So they took probably a good 4 or 5 feet.”

She said they also lopped the tail off her friend’s black-and-white spotted appaloosa and black hair from the mane of a third horse (one horse, Sam, is pictured above). The Riley’s Morgan horse is missing auburn tail hair.

In both cases, the owners say the horses are gentle, used to people and easy to approach.

Bob Riley said he has given Beaverhead County Sheriff Steve Donner the descriptions of two pickup trucks and license plates, but no one has been arrested.

“We put our corrals on top of our land to keep our animals away from the roads and possible abuse,” Riley wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “In the end that made it possible for the thieves not be noticed.”

Riley said an unbroken rescue mare foiled a second attempted theft on his property.

“Too bad she didn’t stomp them,” he wrote.

Unmanned fire engine rolls into home

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A parked Spokane Fire Department engine with nobody at the wheel rolled into a home where firefighters were making an aid call.

Fire Chief Bobby Williams said the truck had been parked about 100 yards from the home Wednesday night. Shortly after medics walked inside, they heard the crash.

KXLY-TV reported the engine knocked down porch supports and punched a hole in the living room wall.

No one was hurt. Investigators are trying to figure out how the runaway truck made the trip down the street, over a curb and hit the home.

Kick fends off pumpkin-masked intruder

 MAYFIELD, Ky. (AP) — An feisty 88-year-old Kentucky woman says she must have had perfect aim when she fought off an intruder by kicking him.

Kathryn Byassee says she came upon the intruder, who was wearing a pumpkin mask, at 5 a.m. Tuesday in her kitchen. Byassee tells WPSD-TV that she asked him who he was and what he wanted and he never answered her, instead wrestling her into her bedroom and trying to smother her with a pillow.

That’s when Byassee says she was “mad enough to do almost anything,” so she kicked him. She says she thinks she “hit a vital spot, and he left.”

Mayfield police are investigating.


ISP trooper passes counterfeit $20

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Police say an Idaho State Police trooper used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy a meal at an Idaho Falls restaurant.

Officer Jessica Hunt says the bill felt real, but it was missing a watermark. She also says there were marks on the bill from being checked by a counterfeit marker and they were the color showing it was fake.

Hunt says Trooper Terry Murdock told her he noticed the marks, but did not know it was counterfeit.

Murdock told investigators the bill was one of five $20 bills he got from an ATM at a convenience store.

The Post Register reports that Murdock returned to the restaurant to pay with real money. The paper could not reach Murdock for comment.

Convicted burglar convicted of burglary

A convicted burglar accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of rare coins in August was convicted today of a separate home burglary.

Gary D. McCabe, 45, faces up to seven years in prison when he is sentenced in connection to the conviction Thursday.

In that case, McCabe broke into a home in the 2000 block of South Glenrose St. in October 2009. A retired school resource officer saw McCabe force open the home’s front door. Deputies arrived and found McCabe leaving the covered entryway of the home. They found stolen jewelry, silver ingots and Egyptian currency in his pockets.

McCabe - who has five previous convictions for residential burglary - also faces a trial in December in a case where a local coin collector arrived at home to find his 60-year-old gold and silver coin collection missing.

When McCabe was arrested in that case, a deputy found a certificate of authenticity from one of the coins in his pocket. He faces an additional seven years if convicted in that case, according to court records.

Past coverage:

Oct. 12: Burglar stole more than gold

March 27, 2009: Arrests may crack burglaries

Tips sought on graffiti vandals in CdA

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help solve three graffiti cases in Coeur d’Alene. 

Surveillance photos from the Pita Pit, 320 E. Sherman Ave., show three men spray painting the back door area of the store on Oct. 14 at 2:36 a.m.

Then sometime between Oct. 20 and Oct. 21, someone spray painted the brick walls and basalt columns at the Fallen Heroes Plaza in Cherry Hill Park. Also, the water tower on Tubbs Hill was spray painted between Oct. 14 and Oct. 21.

Police don’t know if the cases are related.

Anyone with information on the culprits is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (208) 667-2111 or toll free at (888) 667-2111.

Pic shows weapon in Sunday shooting

 Police on Wednesday released a photo of the weapon deputies say Quentin D. Dodd was carrying when he was shot and killed Sunday night. 

Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Rustin Olson said Dodd charged at him with the weapon after repeatedly yelling “shoot me,” Spokane police said.

In an an interview with investigators on Tuesday, Olson and Deputy Todd Miller had spotted Dodd dressed in black and carrying an obsidian knife on Valleyway Avenue near Progress Road, about a block from the halfway house where Dodd was staying at 507 N. Sommer Road.

Olson was involved in a nonfatal police shooting last November.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 27: Man killed by deputy had been suicidal

Oct. 26: Family questions fatality

Cops: Man robbed 3 stores in 2 days

Spokane police are looking for a gunman suspected of three armed robberies in two days. 

Surveillance photos from Conoco, 3501 E. Francis Ave., show a man in a blue hooded sweatshirt pointing a gun at a clerk and demanding cash on Sunday about 7:45 p.m.

He left with an undisclosed amount of money.

Police believe the same man may have robbed Kwik Stop & Go, 4713 N. Crestline, about 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, then again on Sunday about 9:30 a.m.

Police describe the robber as a light-skinned, Hispanic or Native American man.

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

Elton gets credit for time served in jail

A man convicted of harassing the Spokane city council president and the chairwoman of the company that owns The Spokesman-Review was sentenced today to credit for time already served in jail. 

David H. Elton, 44, will be on unsupervised probation for two years. He was sentenced to a year in jail with 351 days suspended. Elton already spent two weeks in jail after his arrest in February 2009.

A jury convicted him of misdemeanor harassment against Council President Joe Shogan and Cowles Co. chairwoman Betsy Cowles for emails sent in December 2008 and February 2009.

Prosecutors had sought felony convictions against Elton for threats to kill, but the jury ruled the victims did not reasonably fear for their lives.

A third charge alleging Elton harassed his ex-wife has been dismissed.

This morning, Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy asked Judge Maryann Moreno to prohibit Elton from consuming alcohol while on probation, but the judge declined, saying there was no way to enforce the requirement.

Past coverage:

Oct. 8: Jury convicts Elton of 2 misdemeanors

Oct. 6: Shogan, Cowles testify against Elton

Oct. 5: Elton on trial for Shogan, Cowles threats

Hate-crime trial begins in Coeur d’Alene

The third round of a hate crime trial opened Tuesday in Coeur d’Alene, with two brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic man in the summer of 2009.

The first trial ended in mistrial in March after the first witness took the stand and referred to the incident on a 911 tape as a “racist thing,” offering an opinion for which Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster said the prosecution had not laid proper foundation.

The second trial ended in April with a hung jury on the two counts against William (right) and Frank (left) Tankovich.

Jurors voted 11-1 in favor of acquittal on the charge of malicious harassment and 8-4 in favor of not guilty on a second charge of conspiracy to commit malicious harassment. The verdict must be unanimous.

The jury foreman at the time said the jury had struggled to connect the threats with race.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs’ story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 10: Hate-crime suspect gets 9 years for firearm

2 rapists register in Spokane County

Two rapists considered likely to reoffend have registered at new addresses in Spokane County, the Sheriff’s Office announced today. 

Christopher Michael Labertew, 37, (left)  will be living in the 1400 block of West Smythe Road.

He was convicted in 2000 of second-degree rape of a child in Spokane County and left prison in 2007, the Sheriff’s Office said. His victim was an 11-year-old girl. A 1996 article said he had a “White Pride” tattoo on the back of his neck. 

Justin Jay Stevens, 33, (right) will be living as a transient in Spokane County.

Stevens was convicted of first-degree rape in 1995 for breaking into a 78-year-old woman’s home and assaulting her at knife point. He was released from prison in 2004 and has been wanted several times since then for failing to register as a sex offender.

In July, Stevens was convicted of obstructing an officer and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

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

Neither is wanted by authorities, but police want the public to be aware of their presence.

Man shot by deputy had been suicidal

A man shot and killed by a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy on Sunday underwent a mental evaluation after trying to commit suicide last summer. 

A police report obtained Tuesday said Quentin Donald Dodd, 50, told officers “he was upset with his life and didn’t want to live anymore” when he walked down to the train tracks at Perry Street and Indiana Avenue in Spokane in July.

The 3-month-old report portrays the latest target of police gunfire to be a mentally unstable man who told police he’d considered fighting with the arresting officer “because he wanted to die.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 26: Family questions fatality

Bones belong to man missing since ‘98

The family of a Spokane man missing since 1998 may finally have closure.

Arrangements have been made to transfer the remains of Carl D. Woracker to his mother in England. Woracker, who was born in 1971, was reported missing in June 1998. His car was found abandoned near 3600 W. Rosamond, and he was never seen again.

Then in April  2004, a shin bone was found in a wooded area near Indian Canyon Golf Course.

In July 2009, a thigh bone was found near where Woracker’s car was abandoned, then a thigh and shin bone were found about 100 yards away. Detectives used power tools to uncover about 10 more bones, police said today.

A forensic anthropologist determined the person had been dead for 10 to 12 years. Detective Mark Burbridge discovered Woracker’s case in missing person reports and obtained a DNA swab from Woracker’s mother, Joy Woracker.

The DNA and bones were sent to the University of North Texas, which determined the bones likely belonged to a child of Joy Woracker, police said.

Foul play is not suspected in Woracker’s death, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Wanted: Owner of 310 lbs of Ecstasy

Federal drug agents are trying to find the owner of more than 310 pounds of Ecstasy seized near Curlew this month. 

A resident tipped the U.S. Border Patrol to several backpacks filled with pills hidden under brush along a trail near the Canadian border Oct. 18.

Border Patrol dogs found two other backpacks of the drug in what federal agents described as a record Ecstasy seizure along Washington’s northern border, according to a news release.

Authorities estimate the value of the drugs to be $9.3 million.

“This significant seizure is a direct result of the valued partnership that we share with our local residents and the importance of them reporting any suspicious activity to law enforcement,” Gloria Chavez, chief patrol agent of the Spokane Border Patrol, said in a prepared statement.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating.

Man shot by deputy ‘not a happy person’

Before Quentin Donald Dodd’s fatal confrontation with a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy on Sunday, his landlord said she’d had enough.

 “He was very aggressive and threatening, so I said, ‘You need to go,’“ said Melinda Seymour. “By that time, the police had already been called.”

Dodd, 50, (pictured) was holding an arrowhead-type knife when a deputy found him standing in the middle of Progress Road, about a block from his faith-based halfway house at 507 N. Sommer Road, where he’d lived for about 2 1/2 months.

Read my full story here.

Elevator malfunction injures jail deputy

A corrections deputy received minor injuries when an elevator at the Spokane County Jail malfunctioned.

Janice A. Bauer was treated and released at Spokane hospital after the elevator suddenly dropped, then abruptly stopped, throwing her to the floor on Sunday.

The elevator operator saw Bauer on her knees and asked if she was OK, but didn’t respond for several seconds. The elevator was stuck between the jail annex and the second floor. Deputies pried open the doors and pulled Bauer to the second-floor annex.

“Jail staff report that malfunctions with the elevators have become an ongoing problem in the aging facility, and other deputies have reported incidents of the elevators dropping and stopping suddenly,” according to a news release.

One jailer recently was trapped with inmates in the elevator for several minutes, officials said.

DNA links man to ‘86 Spokane murder

DNA has linked a Montana man to a Spokane woman’s 1986 murder, and police are checking to see if his biological profile is a match in at least three other unsolved murders in Spokane that bear striking similarities.

 Gary L. Trimble, 62, of Lincoln, Mont., faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Dorothy E. Burdette, who was found dead in High Bridge Park on Christmas Day 1986.

Police said she’d been severely beaten and appeared to have been sexually assaulted. She died from asphyxiation. In the other cases – Ruby Jean Doss, 27; Mary Ann Turner, 30 and Kathleen DeHart, 37 – the women suffered blows to the head, most were sexually assaulted and all were strangled. The women were killed between 1986 and 1987.

Read the rest of Jody Lawrence-Turner’s story here.

Spokane man busted with 20 lbs of pot

 A Spokane man recently was arrested in Oregon with 20 pounds of marijuana. 

Ryan Michael Buley, 25, was driving a 2002 Mercury Cougar when an Oregon State Police trooper stopped him on Friday about 2:16 p.m. for failing to maintain a lane of travel, according to a news release.

The stop at milepost 107 on Highway 97, about nine miles south of Madras, yielded 20 1/2 pounds of marijuana (pictured), police said.

Buley was booked into the Jefferson County Jail in Madras on charged of unlawful possession and delivery of marijuana and unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance.

Triplet named new Superior Court judge

Spokane County Court Commissioner James Triplet had to keep the secret all of Sunday night: He’d been chosen by Gov. Chris Gregoire to replace Neal Rielly as Superior Court Judge.

“She swore me to secrecy until she could make the announcement today,” Triplet said of the governor. “It’s both an honor and a privilege to get this appointment.”

Gregoire picked Triplet over fellow finalists Mark Vovos, a prominent defense attorney, and former Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession.

“There was some stiff competition out there,” Triplet said. “I’ve been a fulltime court commissioner since 2004 so I feel I’m prepared for the next step in my career.”

Gregoire said in a news release that Triplet will continue to bring innovation to the court.

“As commissioner, he continually worked to provide understanding and accessibility to the general public regarding our court system,” Gregoire said in the release. “His passion and background will make him a strong addition to the Superior Court.”

Triplet — who earned his law degree in 1988 from Gonzaga University School of Law — said he’s currently working to transfer to another commissioner the cases involving 150 children in dependency and 300 family-law cases.

Earlier this year, the Washington State Bar Association named him Family Law Section Professional of the Year in recognition of his contributions to establishing a unified family court model.

Triplet said he worked for years under Rielly, who retired on Aug. 29.

“I have big shoes to try to fill,” Triplet said of Rielly. “But I think he got the better end of the deal. He’s retiring and gardening and playing golf. I have a lot of things I have to transition out of and into. That’s what I’m stressing about today.”

Vovos could not be reached late Monday for comment. Hession said he was disappointed but honored to have been considered a finalist.

“Jim Triplet is just a very good judicial officer,” Hession said. “He’s well respected and he will be an excellent Superior Court Judge.”

Tips sought on off-the-grid sex offender

A convicted rapist with a history of not checking in with authorities is wanted for failing to register as a sex offender.

Jason N. Geske, 25, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years probation in March for failing to register in March. A $25,000 warrant for his arrest was issued Oct. 11 for the same charge.

Geske was convicted of third-degree rape in December and is a level 1 sex offender, the classification considered least likely to reoffend. He also has convictions for domestic violence assault and third-degree malicious mischief

He is 5-foot-9 and 135 pounds and has an Insane Clown Posse tattoo on his left arm, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office sex offender registry.

Geske last gave 240 W. Sprague Ave. as his home address. Anyone with tips on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Lawsuit claims jail inmate was tortured

A Spokane County Jail inmate claims in a federal lawsuit that he was beaten without warning by a cell extraction team and later tortured with blows to his genitals.

One problem: As Nicolas Garcia’s recent lawsuit notes, the Sept. 21, 2009, incident was filmed by a Discovery Channel television crew.

The video, which aired in a February episode of the “Behind Bars” show, belies much of what Garcia alleges.

“It would be almost laughable if it weren’t such serious stuff that he’s saying,” said jail Lt. Aaron Anderton.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

Firefighter gets another last chance

A Spokane firefighter who was caught skipping work in 2007 to teach high school will get another “last chance” and has served a second 60-day suspension after violating sick leave policy earlier this year.

The Spokane Civil Service Commission this week voted unanimously to uphold the new disciplinary action for Firefighter James Frederick who appealed the new punishment, arguing that mental impairment led him to violate sick leave policy earlier this year.

“The current medical research shows that chronic back pain, diabetes and steroid treatment all cause cognitive problems,” Frederick wrote in a letter to the commission. “I have had all three of these conditions this past year.”

Read Jon Brunt’s story here.

U.S. Marshals arrest shooting suspect

A man who police say shot a Spokane teenager in both legs was arrested in Browne’s Addition early Friday by a federal fugitive task force.

Albert J. Reeves, III, 19, is expected to appear in Superior Court on Monday on one count of first-degree assault.

Spokane police believe Reeves shot a 19-year-old man during an argument near Sharp Avenue and Hamilton Street about 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 5.

Police released surveillance photos that showed the gunman, who was in a wheelchair, enter the Tesoro convenience store, 901 E. Sharp Ave., prior to the shooting. Reeves was identified as a suspect on Tuesday.

U.S. Marshals Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force arrested Reeves about 8:40 a.m. Friday in the 300 block of South Cannon Street. Reeves has previous convictions stemming from a January 2009 beer robbery.

His father, Albert J. Reeves, Jr., is a former high school standout athlete and notorious criminal who won a $2.5 million lottery in 2000, then was arrested the next year in a drive-by shooting investigation.

“He blew threw that money fast,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

2nd bank extortion suspect arrested

The girlfriend of a man accused of a botched bank extortion has been arrested on a conspiracy to commit robbery charge. 

Cheryl A. Siekerman, 33, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today via video from the jail, where she was booked Thursday.

She’s accused of helping Donnell L. Winston, who police say called Inland Northwest Bank, 518 W. Francis, on Oct. 14 and threatened to blow up five school if he didn’t receive $10,000.

Police say Winston asked for the money to be dropped off at 13th and Arthur - where his home is located. Police saw him talking on his cell phone on porch, then watched him retrieve a package dropped off by an undercover detective.

Winston, 37, was convicted of bank robbery in 2004 and was arrested the night of the incident on a probation violation and remains in jail. Police have recommended he be charged with attempted first-degree bank robbery, along with five bomb threat charges.

Police divvy drugs to catch dealers

Two men looking for drugs found help quickly on East Sprague Avenue in Spokane last April. A drug user eager for his next high took them to a west Spokane parking lot, where he handed them a rock of crack cocaine he’d bought from a dealer in a nearby car.

The men gave their assistant a small portion of the drug and drove back to Sprague, but they didn’t join him in getting high. Instead, the remaining crack cocaine was secured at the Spokane police evidence room and the man suspected of selling it was charged with a felony.

The investigation was detailed in a court hearing Thursday that provided a rare look at the Spokane Police Department’s undercover drug unit, where confidential informants are used daily and some drug users have no idea they’re actually helping police.

Read my full story here.

Bike-riding robbery suspect arraigned

A Spokane man suspected of a series of armed bank robberies that began in December pleaded not guilty to two federal felonies on Thursday.

Lucas G. Woodard, 33, was arrested Oct. 14 after an armed robbery at Washington Trust Bank, 1906 W. Francis. The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes he may be the bicycle-riding bank robber responsible for six other robberies beginning Dec. 22. (A July 28 robbery at Spokane Teachers Credit Union on Indian Trail is pictured.)

Woodard was arraigned Thursday on a grand jury indictment charging him with armed bank robbery and using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. The robbery charge carries a maximum 25 years in prison; the weapons charge carries a minimum seven years and a maximum sentence of life.

Investigators have searched his rental home at 410 E. High Drive on the South Hill, where they believe Woodard lived alone.

Woodard has no criminal record, is employed at Woodard Construction and was reportedly a regular at Maggie’s South Hill Grill. He’s being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail after waiving a bail hearing Thursday.

Westboro protest costs police $10,000

Spokane police estimate they’ll spend between $9,000 and $10,000 on overtime costs to pay for the police presence at Westboro Baptist Church protests and counter protests Thursday.

That doesn’t include money for Spokane County Sheriff’s Office employees and the jail’s critical response team. 

Police said no one was arrested and no citations were issued during the protests, took place at Whitworth University, Ferris High School and Eastern Washington University. The group is picketing today at Lake City and Coeur d’Alene high schools and at NIC.

“The officers and CRT members on site showed amazing professionalism and restraint over the course of a long day,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Read Kevin Graman’s full story on the protests here.

District judges’ schedules hard to track

An effort to prevent political use of information about their daily duties seems to have backfired on Spokane County District Court judges.

Instead, they handed critics an opportunity to accuse them of being secretive. “What do they have to hide?” asked attorney Timothy Note, who is running against Judge Debra Hayes in the Nov. 2 general election. 

Note has raised questions during his campaign about how many days district judges actually work.

The judges decided at their Oct. 6 weekly meeting to quit distributing daily lineup sheets that indicate which judges are presiding over which dockets.

Read the rest of the story here.

Masked gunman robs Rathdrum bank

A gunman in a large parka and an orange ski mask robbed a bank in Rathdrum Thursday.

Surveillance photos show the man entering the Wells Fargo, 16234 North Highway 41, at 11:37 a.m. Police say he pointed a gun at a teller and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The robber, who police believe was alone, is described as a white man in his 20s, 5-foot-5 with a thin to medium build.

He drove away southbound on Highway 41 to westbound Highway 53 in a two-door silver compact car, possibly a newer Honda, that was parked in the bank parking lot.

Anyone with information is asked to call Rathdrum police at (208) 687-0711 or the Coeur d’Alene division of the FBI at (208) 664-5128.

The robbery occurred about 40 minutes after a bomb threat was called into Garwood Elementary School, which is about five miles from the bank, but police do not know if the incidents are related.

Escaped ape attacks Kansas police car

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 300-pound chimpanzee that broke free from its chains has been captured after briefly wandering around a Kansas City neighborhood and smashing out the window of a police car.

Police Capt. Rich Lockhart tells The Kansas City Star the department got a call about noon Tuesday that a primate was on the loose a few miles from the Kansas City Zoo.

Lockhart says the ape was actually a pet that escaped from its chains. Lockhart says efforts to shoot the animal, named Sueko, with a tranquilizer dart failed. The chimp climbed on a patrol car and struck the passenger-side window with its fist before running off.

It’s owner was eventually able to coax it into a cage. Lockhart says the owner has been cited for having a dangerous animal within city limits.

Conn. law firm keeps drive-thru window

MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — Legal service at one Connecticut firm can now be as easy to get as a hamburger and fries.

The Kocian (KOH’-see-ehn) Law Group has opened a drive-through office in a building that once housed a former Kenny Rogers Roasters.

Attorney Nick Kocian tells WVIT-TV that clients can use the drive-through at the law firm’s Manchester, Conn., site to drop off and pick up documents. He says it’s more convenient for his clients.

A paralegal works at the window, handing out documents and answering questions. Consultations and meetings with lawyers will still be scheduled for the office.

Women guilty in mail, identity theft scam

Two Spokane women who stole mail to perpetuate an identity theft scheme aimed at fueling a methamphetamine addiction pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court.

Jacquelyn A. Crawford, 40, and Charlene M. Haggard, 43, pilfered bank account numbers and used stolen driver's licenses to manufacture and pass more than 100 counterfeit checks that bilked Spokane area businesses of about $40,000.

The two ransacked rural mail boxes and prowled cars from February until April, when investigators searched Haggard's home at 5904 N. Regal St. and Crawford's room at the Apple Tree Inn, 9508 N. Division Street. Crawford said she was “kind of relieved” when she was taken into custody, investigators said.

“She just began injecting methamphetamine, so in a way she was thankful she was caught,” Spokane County Sheriff's Office Detective Dean Meyer said in May.

Crawford and Haggard pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 17; they're incarcerated at the Spokane County Jail. Their plea agreements call for each to serve prison time, pay restitution to their victims and forfeit criminal proceeds, including property obtained with counterfeit checks.

The U.S Postal Service offers these tips to protect mail:

•Use the letter slots at your post office to mail letters, or give them to a letter carrier.

•Pick up your mail promptly after delivery. Don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight. •Don’t send cash in the mail.

•Ask your bank for checks that can’t be altered.

•Tell your post office when you’ll be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.

Report mail theft here.

Feds: ‘World of Warcraft’ led to porn

SEATTLE (AP) — A 33-year-old Centralia woman is accused of photographing herself having sex with a 16-year-old New Jersey boy she met through an online game.

The reports child pornography charges were filed in federal court in Tacoma recently against Jessica Pearce. She’s accused of beginning a relationship with the boy in 2008 after they met playing “World of Warcraft.”

Prosecutors say she flew to meet the boy in New Jersey three times, once bringing her 6-year-old child with her. They flew back to Washington together on her final visit. Pearce was arrested Tuesday and is due in court Friday.

Sheriff: Murder-suicide in Asotin County

CLARKSTON, Wash. (AP) — The Asotin County Sheriff’s Office reports two people are dead in a murder-suicide.

Officers were sent to a home last night and found 38-year-old Shannon M. McCullough dead from a gunshot wound. Her husband, 45-year-old Craig A. McCullough, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The sheriff’s office says three other family members in the home were not harmed.

Stevens says he voted for Frank Malone

Dave Stevens, a Republican who lost his bid this summer for Spokane County prosecutor to incumbent Republican Steve Tucker and Democrat Frank Malone, said Wednesday that he cast his vote for Malone in the November election.

Jon Brunt has the full story at the Spin Control blog.

Past coverage:

Feb. 18: Stevens releases letter to Tucker

Bank extortion was like ‘a bad movie’

The request was clear: $10,000, or bombs would detonate at five Spokane elementary schools.

Police say that phone call to a north Spokane bank turned out to be nothing more than a poorly executed crime by a convicted bank robber who led detectives to his doorstep.

It’s like out of a bad movie,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, Spokane Police Department spokeswoman. “The sad thing is we do have to treat it as real, because the reality is this stuff happens.”

Now police are recommending six felony charges against Donnell L. Winston, 37, for the Oct. 14 phone call to Inland Northwest Bank, 518 W. Francis Ave.

Read my full story here.

$100k bond for arson suspects in murder

Two men who police believe helped a murder suspect burn his victim’s home were ordered to stay in jail on $100,000 bond today.

Detectives say Mark A. Hoffman, 23, told them he went to William F. Hanel’s home with Ryan D. Corkery, 27, (pictured) and knew Corkery was planning to burn the residence to hide evidence of a murder, according to court documents prepared by Spokane police.

Police say Hoffman identified Eric M. Andersen, 45, as an accomplice and told police he hadn’t stopped the men from burning the home, nor had he called police.

Andersen was arrested at Holy Family Hospital, where family said he was being treated for possible pneumonia. Andersen told police he knew Corkery and Hoffman but “denied being involved in the arson,” police wrote.

Corkery, who was identified by Hanel’s friends as his boyfriend, has said he killed Hanel, 56, Oct. 8 or Oct. 9 because Hanel molested him and a relative. Hanel’s body was discovered in his burning home at 12036 S. Player Drive on Oct. 12.

The three men remain in Spokane County Jail on first-degree arson charges. Corkery also is charged with first-degree murder.

Past coverage:

Oct. 14: Suspect: Sex abuse claim triggered slaying

Oct. 13: Man arrested for murder in Hangman Valley fire

Woman wanted in drug-binge robbery

A drug robbery suspect released from jail because no charges had been filed now has a warrant out for her arrest.

Jeanette E. Menghini, 43, is wanted on a first-degree robbery charge after failing to show up for an arraignment Oct. 6. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to her arrest.

Menghini was arrested in September with her boyfriend, Ronald J. Schneider, who told police he was on a seven-month drug binge when he and Menghini broke into a man’s hotel room and robbed him of cash, prescription drugs and his car at knife point, according to court documents.

Schneider, 38, also is under investigation for a stolen car ring in Spokane and in Great Falls, Mont., where he resides. Great Falls police have traveled to Spokane to examine stolen vehiclen and motorcycles Schneider is suspected of selling at the Tire Shop, 2515 E. Trent Ave., Tire Shop owner Bryan K. Rapp, 47, is in jail on drug and stolen property charges; Washingotn State Patrol detectives searched the business with Spokane police Sept. 15.

Schneider reportedly confessed to the robbery at Airway Express Motel, 3809 S. Geiger Blvd., and said he and Menghini planned to “hide out” at Northern Quest Casino but were stopped in the parking lot by police.

Schneider has pleaded not guilty to several felonies and has been in jail since his arrest, but Menghini was released within three days because no charges had been filed.

Menghini, 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, has convictions for delivery of controlled substances, possession of controlled substances with intent to deliver and second-degree robbery. Her last known address was 11910 E. Broadway #21 in Spokane Valley.

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

Luring suspect’s girlfriend: He’s innocent

The girlfriend of a Spokane Valley man accused of trying to lure teenage girls while masturbating in his car says he’s wrongly accused.

“I know 100 percent for a fact he didn’t do those things,” Marina Corbin told The Spokesman-Review. “I’m with him everyday.”

Michael J. McBride, 28, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of indecent exposure and one count of luring. He was arrested Oct. 6 after police aid two of three alleged victims identified him from a photo montage. Corbin said McBride plans to take the case to trial and will obtain phone records and witness statement to prove his innocence.

Police, however, say the case against McBride is solid. It began Sept. 22 when a 13-year-old girl said a man who was masturbating in his car asked if she wanted a ride home.

Another 13-year-old girl reported a similar incident Sept. 24, then another girl reported an incident that occurred Sept. 12. Detectives said they saw McBride in the area after a 911 caller reported a man trying to get a 14-year-old into his car. A police news release said McBride said he’d dropped off a student whom he couldn’t name, but Corbin said she knows the man McBride dropped off and said he’s willing to talk to police.

Police said a third victim who didn’t identify McBride in a photo montage accurately described his white Subaru, but Corbin said McBride’s Subaru is actually grey.

He remains in Spokane County Jail on $50,000 bond.

Steeles allowed weekly jail meetings

The wife of a North Idaho lawyer accused of hiring someone to kill her will be allowed to meet with her husband every week. 

Cyndi and Edgar Steele can meet once a week at the Spokane County Jail or over the phone, according to a ruling issued Monday by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill. 

Edgar Steele’s lawyer, Roger Peven, must be present, and the visits must be recorded. Peven is required to end the meeting if the Steeles try to discuss the murder-for-hire case, and the couple are prohibited from exchanging notes or documents.

Magistrate Candy Dale will review the jail recordings on a regular basis. Cyndi Steele had asked for the no-contact order to be lifted, but Winmill said she hasn’t provided evidence that prosecutor’s concerns about witness tampering and victim protection have been addressed.

It isn’t the first time the two have met since Edgar Steele’s June 11 arrest - they had an hour meeting supervised by Peven during the summer. Also this week, Winmill delayed Steele’s trial until early next year.

Peven had asked for a six-month continuance of the November trial date, but prosecutors said the case isn’t complex and could go to trial soon.

Winmill imposed a four-month delay, with jury selection now set to begin March 7. 

Past coverage:

June 20: Arrest puts Steele back in public eye

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

Sept. 12: Cyndi Steele alleges conspiracy

Oct. 8: Pipe bomb planter pleads guilty

Fire crews wear pink for breast cancer

Spokane Valley firefighters are taking part in a national emergency responder campaign aimed at supporting breast cancer research. 

Firefighters will wearing pink t-shirts with the Spokane Valley Fire Department logo on Oct. 25 - Oct. 27. Crews ordered 70 extra shirts that were sold to family and friends.

The fire department will donate $5 for each shirt worn to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

“Together we can raise awareness about this devastating disease and make an impact in our community by committing to regular screenings,” Bill Clifford said in a news release.

The Northern Lakes Fire Station in Hayden, Idaho, is selling similar t-shirts.

Find Sirens & Gavels on Facebook

Sirens & Gavels has a Facebook page! Check it out and ‘like’ it today.

A few people said it could serve as daily reminder to visit the blog, so I figured I’d gave it a try. I’ll be posting one or two items a day.

A link is at the top of the right rail.

Suspect named in double-leg shooting

A gunman who shot a Spokane teenager in both legs Oct. 5 has been identified as Albert J. Reeves III, 19, police announced today. 

Reeves is accused of shooting a 19-year-old man during an argument near Sharp Avenue and Hamilton Street about 12:30 a.m.

Police released surveillance photos (above) last week that showed the gunman in a wheelchair entering the Tesoro convenience store, 901 E. Sharp Ave., prior to the shooting, which helped identify Reeves as a suspect.

He faces first-degree assault charges and is wanted on a probation violation, police said.

Reeves was arrested in January 2009 for a botched beer robbery in which he told a police officer “he was the member of a gang that owned Spokane,” police said at the time.

Anyone with information on Reeves’ location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (509) 327-5111 or 1-800-222-TIPS.

CdA lawyer imprisoned for OxyContin

A Coeur d’Alene defense lawyer and former deputy prosecutor was sent to prison recently after police said he recruited a client to help feed his OxyContin addiction. 

Shawn C. Nunley, 39, was sentenced to five years in prison with eligibility for parole in two years after he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance.

But 1st District Judge Ben Simpson retained jurisdiction over the case, meaning Nunley could be released after six months. Nunley arrived at the Idaho State Correctional Institution, just south of Boise, on Oct. 15.

Police reports at the time of his arrest in December 2008 said Nunley’s paid for a man to pick up hundreds of OxyContin pills in California each month. The man later went to police and acted as a confidential informant while detectives monitored a transaction between the two. Federal drug charges were dismissed in June 2009, but Kootenai County prosecutors charged Nunley in March. He pleaded guilty in August and was sentenced Oct. 7.

Nunley, who represented himself, filed documents from the Kootenai County Jail last week asking for another hearing to reconsider his prison sentence.

He called himself “a perfect probation candidate” and said he completed a drug rehabilitation program and has “been sober ever since.” He said he is a group counselor for a detox group in Orange County, Calif.

Nunley graduated near the top of his class at the University of Idaho and spent time at a large Boise law firm before moving to North Idaho and joining the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office. The prosecutor at the time, Bill Douglas, said Nunley “did a very good job.” He worked there for three years before opening his own firm.

Now Nunley and his firm are being sued in Kootenai County District Court by The Bear Mill, Inc., a stuffed animal manufacturing company in  Coeur d’Alene that claims Nunley botched a trademark lawsuit against a rival Canadian company, Teddy Mountain, Inc., then demanded payment of nearly $59,000.

Nunley was arrested in a grocery store parking lot in Coeur d’Alene on Dec. 16. Police found an open beer in his car as well as drugs, a handgun and more than $2,200 in his hotel room, according to a police report.

According to the report, Nunley told a detective he consumed about nine 80 mg pills of OxyContin a day and spent up to $100,000 on the drug each year.

He also admitted to sometimes using heroin, but Nunley said in a document written Oct. 13 that he used only one dosage of the drug over two hours “to avoid withdrawals from OxyContin.”

“It was one dosage,” Nunley wrote.

Nunley was admitted to the Idaho State Bar Association in 2002, but his license is now inactive.

Feds: Trucker helped illegal immigrant

A Canadian truck driver is accused of trying to help a man illegally cross the international border into Boundary County, Idaho.

Border patrol agents spotted Brian Meszarosi trying to pick up Darwin S. Canonizado on Highway 1 just south of the border on Oct. 12.

Meszarosi, recognized by agents as wood chip hauler who frequently crosses the border, said he met Canonizado at a small gas station just west of Creston, B.C., and agreed to help him get into the United States for $500, according to an affidavit prepared by investigators.

Meszarosi was to pick up Canonizado after the Philippines native crossed the border on foot and Meszarosi in his truck, investigators wrote. Meszarosi was to then drive Canonizado to Spokane, investigators wrote. Canonizado told investigators he is a Filipino citizen whose Canadian work VISA is set to expire. He hoped to find employment in California.

Meszarosi and Canonizado are in the Boundary County Jail. Their ages were not available.

Bike-riding bank robbery suspect ID’d

A 33-year-old man with no substantial criminal record appeared before a U.S. magistrate today, accused of robbing a north Spokane bank at gunpoint last week.

Lucas G. Woodard also is being investigated for a series of robberies that began in December and typically involved a masked gunman escaping on a bicycle. (A Feb. 13 robbery at Chase Bank on Northwest Boulevard is pictured.)

He is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail after appearing in U.S. District Court Monday, where he is charged with armed bank robbery and using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. The robbery charge carries a maximum 25 years in prison; the weapons charge carries a minimum seven years and a maximum sentence of life.

Read my full story here.

Busy heroin dealer now prison bound

A Spokane heron dealer arrested with drugs at least four times in two years is headed to state prison. 

Michael D. Stone, 34, was sentenced to 57 months in prison this month after pleading guilty to possession of a stolen motor vehicle, delivery of a controlled substance, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and two counts of delivery of a controlled substance.

Stone was charged in July 2009 with several heroin and gun violations for incidents with a confidential informant at Stone’s home at 1431 W. Knox Ave. He already faced a heroin possession charge connected to a June 2008 arrest. Stone posted bail, then was charged again after selling heroin to a confidential informant in the parking lot of Arby’s, 328 W. Third Ave., in September, according to court documents.

Then on two occasions in February, Stone, who was again out on bond, sold heroin to a confidential informant and was arrested on charges of delivery of a controlled substance. He’s been in jail ever since. He’s now awaiting transport to a state prison.

Church pastor popped for pilfering pills

A Spokane church pastor accused of stealing prescription medication from a parishioner left jail this weekend and was ordered to remain free pending trial after he appeared before a Superior Court judge today. 

Greg Scott Glover, 35, was arrested Friday after a Spokane Valley police detective hide in the victim’s home as Glover stole Hydrocodone pills, police said.

Glover, pastor of ConnectPoint Church, 1316 N. Lincoln, is to be arraigned Nov. 8 on two counts of possession of a controlled substance. He’ll partake in Superior Court’s early case resolution program, which is designed for suspects without substantial criminal records who are facing low-level felonies.

Glover, who was accompanied by his wife, declined comment, as did a group of businessmen who also declined to say if they were affiliated with the Christian church.

Detective Mark Fox arrested Glover at a ConnectPoint member’s North Park Road home in Spokane Valley. The woman, who had foot surgery and uses a wheelchair, told a Crime Check dispatcher on Oct. 1 that she suspected Glover had been stealing 45 to 60 Hydrocodone pills a month for about six months. A friend set up a video camera in the woman’s home and recorded Glover stealing pills Sept. 30.

Fox said he found 14 Hydrocodone pills when he arrested Glover on Friday - the exact amount of pills missing from the woman’s supply.

Police say Glover has stolen drugs from the woman on at least four prior occasions and may have other victims. Anyone who feels they may be a victim is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Suspect in cop-car crash was on cocaine

A woman accused of crashing into an unmarked police car in July, seriously injuring three detectives, tested positive for cocaine, new court documents show. 

Tonia S. Vansant, 37, is scheduled to go to trial next month for three counts of vehicular assault. Police say she ran a red light at Division Street and Sharp Avenue on July 16 and t-boned an unmarked patrol car driven by Detective Mark Burbridge (right) of the Spokane Police Department’s major crimes unit.

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

 Police thought Vansant might be drunk. A search warrant filed recently says Vansant’s blood test showed traces of cocaine as well as benzoylecgonine, the major metabolite of cocaine; and topiramate, which is used to treat seizures but can be used to treat cocaine addiction.

The warrant was used to search Vansant’s 1994 Isuzu Trooper for evidence of drug use and to take photographs and measurements of the SVU “for collision reconstruction purposes,” police wrote. 

Though the detectives’ injuries were not considered life threatening, all three missed work and are undergoing physical therapy for extensive injuries.

Burbridge strained his back; Pogacher broke her pelvis and returned to work on light-duty status only. 

Orr perforated a lung and fractured his ribs, collar bone and sternum. He underwent surgery to place pins and plates in his body and has not yet returned to work, according to the search warrant, which was signed Oct. 13 by Cpl. Dave Adams. Vansant remains in jail. Last month, Judge Ellen Kalama Clark rejected Vansant’s request for a two-day furlough to move her possessions into storage because of an eviction. Clark cited Vansant’s previous conviction for bail jumping and her history of skipping court.

Past coverage:

July 19: Brother of cop-crash driver in prison for porn

Arbitrator calls deputy’s force excessive

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A Spokane County Jail officer was properly fired last year for discourteous behavior and excessive force against an inmate, according to an arbitrator’s ruling. 

Any force used by Deputy Wayne S. Green, 42, (pictured) would have been excessive because there was no reason for it, arbitrator Luella Nelson ruled Thursday.

Green had requested the arbitration after a grievance filed by his union was denied, according to previous news accounts.

Nelson said a grainy, soundless surveillance video and the testimony of other officers indicated that Green turned on bar-fight suspect Daniel W. Clinger after an angry confrontation with Deputy Shawn Smith.

Read John Craig’s full story here

Past coverage:

June 5: Fired deputy faces charge

Canadian gangster arraigned in Spokane

A reputed Canadian gangster who authorities say is responsible for major drug distributions in Eastern Washington has arrived in Spokane to face three-year-old Ecstasy charges.

Joseph P. Curry, an associate of imprisoned B.C. drug lord Clay Roueche, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court Friday to importation of Ecstasy, possession of Ecstasy with intent to distribute and entry without inspection. He faces a maximum 20 years in federal prison and is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail, where he was booked Thursday evening.

He was ordered extradited to the United States from Canada in February, according to the Vancouver Sun.

The case began on Aug. 10, 2007, when federal agents say Curry, 49, abandoned a small Cessna about 35 miles from the Canadian border in Okanogan County. Three duffel bags containing Ecstasy pills were found nearby; Curry has told investigators the drugs were not his and said he knew nothing about them, according to court documents. 

Curry was named as a suspect in the 2009Operation Blade Runner international drug bust, which also included arrests in Eastern Washington and North Idaho and led to the suicide of young helicopter pilot Samuel Lindsay-Brown (left) in the Spokane County Jail.

About a week after Lindsay-Brown's death on Feb. 27, 2009, another young Canadian man, Jeremy Snow, was arrested near Priest Lake with a helicopter filled with marijuana. The helicopter belonged to a friend of Curry's, and authorities believe Curry helped load the helicopter in Canada, according to court documents.

Federal agents say Curry is an associate of the United Nations gang in Vancouver, B.C. Roueche, the gang leader, was sentenced to 30 years in prison last December. Prosecutors say the gang ran a drug ring that used a network of helicopters, planes, semi-trucks and other methods to move tons of marijuana and cocaine and millions of dollars through Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.  

Curry and Roueche are pictured at right at the funeral of a UN gang member who was killed in a drug-related shooting in Canada. The photo was included in Roueche's case file.

Court documents prepared by investigators in August 2007 called Curry “a known suspect in multiple narcotics trafficking cases in Eastern District of Washington.”

In May 2006, a law enforcement helicopter spotted Curry's car meeting with a helicopter in a remote location in B.C. More than 100 kilograms of marijuana in duffel bags was transferred to the helicopter, which was intercepted by law enforcement at a remote location in Eastern Washington.

Authorities never identified the driver of the vehicle, but Curry's name came up about a year later when federal agents found the abandoned plane and nearby Ecstasy stash. The plane had a “for sale” sign that listed Curry's phone number.

Curry's lawyer called authorities on Aug. 13, 2007, and asked for the plane back, saying his client had experienced engine problems and bad weather.

A grand jury indicted Curry the next month. He was extradited to Western Washington before arriving in Spokane last week, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice.

20 months for 10 burglaries, 50 for 4

A string of apartment burglaries that led police to a marijuana growing operation earned a Spokane man about 2 1/2 years in prison.

William F. Searight, 22, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of second-degree burglary and received 29.75 months in prison. Searight burglarized a string of Spokane Valley apartment complexes in March, as well as a hydroponic grow shop in February.

Searight’s alleged accomplice in at least two of the burglaries, Jonothon A. Delay, 19, told detectives he’d burgled the grow shop for marijuana grow equipment, which led police to dismantle a grow at 106045 E. 6th.

Allison E. Hubbard, 29, is wanted on a $10,000 warrant for manufacturing a controlled substance after she didn’t show up for an arraignment in September, according to court records.

Delay pleaded guilty earlier this month to four counts of second-degree burglary and was sentenced to 50 months in prison. He also has convictions for theft and second-degree robbery. Searight doesn’t appear to have previous convictions.

Suspect arraigned in baby’s assault

A 21-year-old man accused of critically injuring his girlfriend’s 5-month-old son pleaded not guilty Friday in Whitman County Superior Court.

 Nathan J. Cranfield was arraigned on a first-degree assault charge as his alleged victim, Seth Bold, remains in critical condition at a Spokane hospital.

Medics responded to a report of the boy not breathing Monday at 1:47 a.m. at 407 Main Street in Albion, where Cranfield and Sarah Young lived with the infant.

Read my full story here.

5 women report run-ins with fake cop

Authorities are warning of a police imposter who is targeting women near the Gonzaga University campus.

After a student told police she’d been pulled over last week by a uniformed man who claimed to be a police officer, four other women reported similar incidents, including one in north Spokane and one in the lower Logan Neighborhood.

No violence has been reported, but police are concerned the man’s behavior may escalate, said Tom Michaud, crime analyst for the Spokane Police Department.

Read my full story here.

Pics show cleaver seized outside debate

Police arrested a man around 5 p.m. Thursday outside KSPS studios after he drove by a group of Sen. Patty Murray supporters waving a meat cleaver.

Johnny J. Sieler, 50, first drove by the group with a knife, shouting profanities about Murray, Spokane police said.

He upgraded his weapon to a meat cleaver and drove by a second time, according to police. As he drove by, he slowed his vehicle down and made chopping motions as he held the cleaver out his car windows.

Some of the supporters felt so threatened they backed away from the suspect, police said. Spokane police were on the scene when Sieler drove around the third time.

Officers stopped Sieler, who reached for the knives as they approached him.

He was arrested for intimidation with a weapon and booked into Spokane County Jail. Officers found several knives in his car.

“The police were right on him,” said Dave Hawkins, who was waving signs for Murray.

The studio was preparing to host a debate between Murray and Republican candidate for Senate Dino Rossi. Sieler remains in jail on $500 bond.

Ann Rule’s new book has Spokane ties

Ronda Reynolds graduated from Cheney High School in 1983 and enjoyed quick success as a State Patrol trooper in Western Washington.

But by 1998, her marriage was ending and she eagerly planned a trip to Spokane for Christmas to visit her mother and grandmother.  She bought a plane ticket and arranged a ride, but Reynolds, 33, (right) never arrived at the Spokane International Airport. She was found dead in her Toledo, Wash., home of a gunshot wound to the head. 

The Lewis County coroner ruled her death a suicide, but Reynolds’ mother, Spokane resident Barb Thompson, didn’t believe it. Thompson (pictured above) worked for years to get the case reopened, and in 2009, a Lewis County jury overturned the coroner’s decision.

Now one of the nation’s most prolific crime writers is telling the story.

Read my full story here.

FBI mum on bank robbery suspect

A gunman suspected of robbing a north Spokane bank on Thursday remains in federal custody as investigators probe his possible role in a series of robberies since December.

Federal agents said they had no new information to release about the man, who has not been publicly identified. 

“I think it’s going to be Monday or Tuesday before we see him in court,” Frank Harrill, FBI supervisory senior resident agent, said today.

The FBI has been hunting for a bicycle-riding bank robber believed to be responsible for at least six hold ups since December. (A robbery at Chase Bank in April is pictured.)

The suspect arrested Thursday had a bike, wore a mask and displayed a gun, which is consistent with the other incidents.

“Clearly, there are commonalities,” Harrill said.

A Spokane police sergeant on his way home arrested the suspect, who witnesses say robbed the Washington Trust Bank, 1906 W. Francis Ave., just before 4 p.m.

Suspect: Sex abuse triggered slaying

A suspect in the murder of a Spokane man told investigators he beat and strangled the victim with an electrical cord after the man began talking about molesting a relative of the suspect, documents released today say.

 Ryan D. Corkery, 27, was ordered to stay in jail on $1 million bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court Thursday on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree arson.

Sheriff’s investigators say Corkery admitted killing William Frazier Hanel, 56, in Hanel’s home at 12036 S. Player Drive on Oct. 8 or Oct. 9 while the two were drinking.

Corkery said he returned to the home early Tuesday with two unnamed people and set Hanel’s home on fire, according to a probable cause affidavit prepared by Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Mike Ricketts. Corkery told KHQ in a jailhouse interview Thursday that Hanel, who was convicted in 1994 of of patronizing a juvenile prostitute. had molested him and a relative years ago.

Read my full story here.

Man to Pa. cops: ‘Alcohol, Crown Royal’

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Authorities in southwestern Pennsylvania say they charged two men with public drunkenness after they knocked on a police station door.

A Uniontown police report says 30-year-old Alan Scritchfield, of Uniontown, and 30-year-old Peter Dominick, of McClellandtown, came to the police station about 9 p.m. Sunday.

A police sergeant says Dominick was slurring his words while Scritchfield was drinking out of a plastic cup. Asked what was in it, Scritchfield allegedly told police, “alcohol, Crown Royal” before saying he was drunk.

Scritchfield’s home phone is disconnected. The Associated Press could not immediately locate a listed number for Dominick.

Police say they subdued Dominick with a stun gun when he realized he was being arrested and tried to run away.

Victim’s apology leads to deal in Ohio

CINCINNATI (AP) — A Las Vegas man who pleaded guilty in a Cincinnati beating was sentenced on a reduced charge after the victim apologized to his attacker and told prosecutors he can be belligerent when he drinks.

A Hamilton County Common Pleas judge on Tuesday sentenced Michael Taylor to 18 months for aggravated assault. The prosecutor agreed to a reduced charge from the original felonious assault.

The 56-year-old victim, Robert Meehan, said he didn’t remember what happened and apologized in court to Taylor for the way things turned out, saying he had a worse criminal record than Taylor, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Wednesday.

“This is probably the most ironic case I’ve ever had,” Judge Charles Kubicki Jr. said. “The victim apologized to the defendant for assaulting him.”

Meehan couldn’t remember what happened because his injuries from the beating left him in a coma, Assistant Prosecutor David Prem said.

Authorities said Taylor, a 38-year-old who goes by the nickname “Madness,” punched Meehan and hit him over the head with a beer bottle outside a bar on Jan. 24.

Prem said two witnesses were willing to testify that Taylor was punching the unconscious Meehan so brutally that they saw Meehan’s head bounce off the concrete with each blow. His injuries included seven facial fractures, Prem said.

After his recovery, Meehan was beaten with a board in an unrelated encounter, breaking his collar bone, Prem said. A message was left Wednesday for Taylor’s attorney, Rhett Baker.

Cops: Okla. donut thief offers officer sex

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (AP) — Police say an Oklahoma woman tripled her trouble when she stole a doughnut from someone’s truck, peed in a parking lot and offered to perform a sex act on an officer for money.

The 27-year-old Tulsa woman was being held Thursday in Washington County Jail on charges of vehicle burglary, trespassing, indecent exposure and soliciting prostitution. Jail records do not show if she has a lawyer.

The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports that the truck owner complained to police that the woman stole the doughnut at about 2 a.m. Wednesday. Aconvenience store clerk asked police to charge the woman because he said she relieved herself outside the store.

Officer R.S. Detherow says that when he told the woman she was under arrest, she offered to perform a sex act for money.

Man faces life in prison for wife’s murder

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A man who worked for years as a commercial photographer in Spokane - including family photos for police employees - was convicted Wednesday of murdering his estranged wife in Southern California 27 years ago.

A jury found William G. Mordick, 64, guilty of one felony count of murder in the throat-slashing death of Katherine Mordick, which prosecutors said he committed to avoid paying child support and losing custody of his daughters. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he’s sentenced next month, the Orange County District Attorney’s office said.

Mordick was arrested in Spokane in 2008 after DNA evidence from blood smears linked him to the crime scene. He has said that he is innocent.

Mordick drove to the Anaheim Hills home of his estranged wife on Jan. 22, 1983 to pick up his children for a birthday party. Prosecutors said he put the girls, then 2 and 4, in his car, went back inside and slashed the 29-year-old woman’s throat.

The woman’s body was discovered the following day by her brother and her boyfriend, who went to check on her after she didn’t return calls.

Mordick later moved to Spokane with the girls, lived in a home at 2705 W. Grace Ave and became a commercial photographer. His business, Photography by Gregory, was known largely for family portraits and wedding pictures. After his arrest in February 2008, police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe said she knew of police employees who had gotten their family photos through him.

Mordick and his wife had been separated for about three months at the time of the death.

Anaheim Police Detective Robert Blazek wrote in court filings that in 2001 Mordick provided investigators with several personal journals that included his “anxiety that a marital dissolution will lead to him losing his kids.”

In a journal entry on Sept. 13, 1982, Mordick wrote: “The thought of us not making things work and be separated from my little ones just drives me crazy.”

20 lbs of pot seized in Bonner County

About 20 pounds of marijuana was seized from a home in Bonner County on Wednesday.

Marcus S. Starks, 42, and Laura D. Baker, 51, were trimming marijuana from a recently harvested grow near an elementary school when Bonner County Sheriff’s Office investigators contacted them at their home on Rapid Lightning Road, northeast of Sandpoint.

The home was full of bags and boxes of marijuana, as well as seven growing marijuana plants, Sgt. Marty Ryan said.

Starks had a large grow near Colburn Culver Road and the bridge over the Pack River, near Northside Elementary School, according to the Sheriff’s Office. 

Starks and Baker were booked into jail on charges of trafficking in marijuana and manufacturing/cultivating a controlled substance.

A portion of the marijuana is pictured above.

$100k bond for HIV assault suspect

A Spokane Valley teenager with HIV remains in jail on $100,000 bond, accused of having unprotected sex with two girls. 

Edward I. Casto, 19, told his 15-year-old girlfriend he had HIV when their relationship began in May but didn’t use a condom when he had sex with her and didn’t tell her friend, also a minor, that he was infected. The friend had unprotected sex with Casto at his apartment at 12710 E. Shannon.

Police seized seized computers, an iPhone and other electronics Tuesday after learning Casto may have filmed the sexual encounters. Casto was arrested on two counts of first-degree assault.

Casto’s girlfriend told police she knew h had HIV but didn’t tell her friend, according to a probable cause affidavit supporting two counts of first-degree assault in Casto. He was ordered to stay in jail on $100,000 bail after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court Wednesday.

Police believe other girls may have had sex with Casto without knowing he has HIV. Possible victims are asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Casto has known since he was 13 that he’s had HIV since birth, police said. His arrest comes less than a week after another Spokane Valley man, Zuriel E. Roush, 23, was sentenced to 87 months in prison for lying to his sex partner about his HIV status. His lawyer said he could be released in about five years.

GU students warned of police imposter

Gonzaga University is warning students of a police imposter after a man impersonated an officer stopped a student near campus.

The man was wearing a dark blue uniform and told the woman she had failed to yield to pedestrians after he stopped her about 3:15 p.m. Oct. 5 at Cincinnati and Desmet.

He asked for her identification and had the woman open her glove compartment and trunk before leaving. The student reported the incident to Spokane police. The man was driving a tan Cadillac Escalade with Washington plates. The Cadillac had red and blue flashing lights across the top of the windshield, but no other police markings.

Gonzaga security reminded students in an email Wednesday to pull over in a visible location and to call 911 for verification of an officer’s identity if suspicious.

The impostor is described as a white man in his early 40s, 5-foot-11 with a medium build and buzzed blond hair.

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

Cellmate loses eye in fight w/ killer

A violent inmate who tortured and killed his cellmate at the Spokane County Jail six years ago, resulting in a $180,000 settlement by the county, is suspected of gouging out another cellmate’s eye at Airway Heights Corrections Center this week. 

Michael L. West, 34, (right) attacked Chad E. Bolstad, 25, (left) in a cell the men shared with another inmate Sunday night, officials confirmed Wednesday. 

“(Bolstad’s) left eye was gouged out at the socket and the right eye was damaged to the point where it appears he’s going to lose sight, too,” said Airway Heights Police Chief Lee Bennett. “It was pretty graphic. He was using his bare hands.”

West threatened to attack the third cellmate, Gary L. Welch (right), telling Welch “about how he’s Lucifer and he wants him to bow to him,” Bennett said. 

Welch pressed a panic button to notify prison staff, and West attacked him, according to police. Prison guards arrived to find West trying to strangle Welch with a towel, Bennett said. Bolstad’s left eye was hanging out of its socket.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 19, 2007: County to pay $180,000 in inmate’s murder

July 27, 2005: Man gets 46 years for rape, jail killing

Oct. 15, 2004: Homicide witness say he tried to warn jailers

Oct. 14, 2004: Man strangled in jail feared for his life

Man accused of murder in Hangman fire

A felon already wanted by the state Department of Corrections was arrested today on murder and arson charges related to a suspicious fire near the Hangman Valley Golf Course. 

Ryan D. Corkery, 27, was detained at a North Hutchinson Road motel today, near where police found a car belonging to William Frazier Hanel.

Hanel, 56, was found dead in burning home at 12036 S. Player Drive early Tuesday.

Firefighters were called to the home at 7:11 a.m. after a neighbor saw smoke; they found Hanel’s lifeless body face down in the kitchen, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Read my full story here.

Site details sheriff’s helicopter activity

Hear a helicopter circling and wonder what it’s up to? You’re not alone.

To quench that curiosity, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office now will log the helicopter unit’s activities on its website. Click on the “Air Support Unit” link, then on “Incident Reports.”

“Area residents frequently contact media for information after hearing Air One circling their neighborhood at night or seeing it above during daytime searches,” the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Tuesday.

Crews will try to update the log at the end of each flight, although some sensitive material, such as assistance to active police investigations, won’t be included, the sheriff’s office said.

Man arrested on I-90 w/ 3 lbs of pot

A California man was arrested with more than 3 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop on Interstate 90 near Spokane Tuesday.

Donald James Stollmeyer, 24, is in jail on a felony charge of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

Sheriff’s deputies smelled marijuana coming from the Santa Margarita, Calif., man’s GMC pickup when they stopped him near the Fishtrap exit.

Deputies say Stollmeyer allowed them to search the truck, where they found marijuana and a pipe under the driver’s seat and 3 1/4 pounds of pot in the bed of the truck.

Stollmeyer was released from jail on his own recognizance today after appearing before Judge Michael Price.

Child porn found in Valley man’s home

A Spokane Valley man is accused of possessing child pornography after investigators found more than two dozen sexually explicit images in his email.

Cory R. Greer, 28, “was cooperative and not considered a threat to the community” when police searched his apartment at 19221 E. Buckeye Tuesday about 1:35 p.m., police said today.

Detectives are awaiting forensic examination of a computer and other seized items before arresting Greer.

The investigation began when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children told local law enforcement that child pornography was being sent through America Online email coming from a local Internet Protocol address. Deputy Damon Simmons traced the address to Greer.

Idaho baby sitter: ‘It was all my fault’

A Post Falls baby sitter accused of murdering a 3-year-old boy told police after failing a polygraph test, “I hurt a poor little defenseless boy … And it was all my fault,” documents released Tuesday say.

Amanda L. Skogen, 25, remains in Kootenai County Jail on $1 million bail after appearing in First District Court on a first-degree murder charge Tuesday.

Skogen replied “uh, yes,” when asked if she understood the charge against her, which is punishable by up to life in prison or the death penalty.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said Skogen is a flight risk and emphasized that while she cooperated with investigators, she didn’t confess until she failed the polygraph exam.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 11: Baby sitter jailed on murder charges

Book helps WSP manager detect liar

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A Washington State Patrol manager arriving at the Olympia headquarters for a meeting noticed a book on the seat of a parked car about “how to beat the lie detector.”

The Patrol says Criminal Records Manager Heather Anderson called the Human Resources division last Wednesday and was told a job candidate was in the process of taking a polygraph exam.

When the patrol matched the candidate to the car he was told he would not be considered for the job, a civilian manager in the property management division.

Spokesman Dan Coon said Tuesday that past misdemeanors, such as marijuana possession, don’t automatically disqualify someone for a job with the patrol, but lying does.

‘Toothless’ armed robber gets 14 years

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A toothless burglar responsible for a string of armed robberies at Spokane coffee stands was sentenced Tuesday to 14 years in prison.

Shawn M. Westlie, 45, was arrested in January after a police SWAT team standoff at 2109 W. Mansfield Court and confessed to a series of crimes that included a gunpoint robbery at the Sunset Market in Browne’s Addition last November (a video is above). The robber wore a military-style gas mask.

Westlie’s arrest came after he’d been identified as suspect in a home intrusion in which a toothless burglar was whacked with a stick by the homeowner.

Westlie pleaded guilty Tuesday to seven counts of first-degree robbery, four counts of second-degree assault, four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property and first-degree burglary.

Westlie, who has previous felony convictions, was sentenced to 171 months in prison by Judge Annette Plese.

Robbery accomplice Jeremy L. Hubbard was sentenced in June to 16 months in prison. Another suspected accomplice, Victor A. Hackett, 46, is in jail awaiting trial.

Past coverage:

Jan. 19: ‘Toothless burglar’ linked to multiple robberies

Fatal crash gets drunk driver 2+ years

A Spokane man was sentenced Tuesday to 2 ½ years in prison for killing a Mead woman in a drunken head-on collision last year.

 Lucian G. Brisan, 30, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide for the Aug. 7, 2009, that killed 57-year-old Janice M. Pulliam. 

Pulliam (pictured) was helping a friend move when Brisan’s Plymouth Voyager crossed the centerline of Magnesium Road near Market Street and struck Pulliam’s pickup head-on about 2:30 p.m. Brisan’s blood alcohol content was .19 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit for driving.

Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke sentenced Brisan, who had no prior felony convictions, to 31 months in prison. He was also given credit for about 70 days in jail.

The charge wasn’t levied against Brisan until this August to allow him to recover from serious injuries that otherwise would have had to been paid by tax dollars if he was in jail.

Cops: Pics show gunman in wheelchair

New surveillance photos show a suspect in an Oct. 5 shooting entering a convenience store in a wheelchair prior to the incident, which injured a teenager in both legs. 

Spokane police do not believe the man needs the wheelchair and described him as a Hispanic man in his late teens or 20s.

Photos released today from Tesoro, 901 E. Sharp Ave., show the suspected gunman wearing a dark sweatshirt and being pushed by a man wearing baggy pants and a gray sweatshirt about 12:15 a.m..

After the men left the store, police believe the man in the wheelchair shot a 19-year-old Spokane man in both legs during an argument involving four men at Sharp Avenue and Hamilton Street about 12:30 a.m. The gunman fled before police arrived.

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

Crime author Ann Rule to visit Spokane

True-crime author Ann Rule will introduce her new book Saturday at Auntie’s Bookstore in downtown Spokane. 

“In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds” chronicles the unsolved case of a Spokane native and Washington State Patrol trooper who died of a gunshot wound to the head in 1998.

Her death was ruled a suicide, but her mother, Spokane resident Barb Thompson, never believed it.

Thompson tried for years to reopen the case. Then last year, a Lewis County jury reviewew the coroner’s suicide ruling and judge ordered it reversed. Thompson is accompanying Rule on the book tour.

The event on Saturday is free and begins at 2 p.m. Look for a bigger story on Rule’s book later this week.

Spokane burglar stole more than gold

Dennis Miller had been collecting gold and silver coins since 1950, but this summer he began selling some to help finance a move to a retirement home.

Then Miller and his wife, Bette, returned home two months ago to find their basement ransacked and the coins missing. Although property crimes aren’t routinely investigated – and only a small percentage are ever solved – the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office located the suspected thief.

But so far, only three or four of the rare coins have been recovered. In this case, the Sheriff’s Office arrested Gary D. McCabe, 45, a prolific burglar who has three cases pending and property crime convictions that date back to 1976, when he was 12.

“This is downright personal,” said Miller, a 67-year-old retired highway engineer. “I was 7 years old when I started this collection.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

March 27, 2009: Arrests may crack burglaries.

Biker gang arrested in Idaho drug probe

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A yearlong drug investigation in Bonner County has led to the arrests of members of a local motorcycle gang and could result in the seizure of a houseboat and closure of a restaurant near Sandpoint’s landmark Long Bridge. 

More than 20 people, including five members of the biker gang, face charges in what investigators describe as an unprecedented case that began with an undercover drug probe last fall and led to infiltration of the Hermanos motorcycle gang, a chapter of the international Bandidos outlaw biker gang.

Undercover detectives developed relationships with area drug dealers to build credibility with the bikers. They learned of extensive criminal activity involving the Bandidos.  Bonner County sheriff’s Sgt. Marty Ryan called the Hermanos the “foot soldiers” for a larger operation.

A grand jury began issuing indictments in August. Arrests began last week with a series of raids in the Sandpoint and Ponderay areas.

Bryan M. Lukezich, (pictured) president of the Hermanos local chapter, faces a felony charge of recruiting gang members.

Read the rest of my story here.

Sex abuse lawsuit settled for $1.7 million

A Spokane man molested in the 1970s after being placed as a foster child in the home of a convicted child molester will be paid $1.7 million by the state Department of Social and Health Services as part of a settlement that avoids a civil trial that was to begin Monday. 

Attorneys informed Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen that they reached the settlement Sunday night, which avoided a civil trial scheduled to last five weeks.

As part of the agreement, DSHS will pay 47-year-old Michael Phillip Smith $1.7 million. DSHS also will pay $65,000 to Smith’s brother, 45-year-old Matthew Smith, who alleged that he had been molested by the same man.

The cases had been joined, according to court records. Michael Smith (pictured above and right) was placed in the care of Gerald “Jerry” Duane Allen, then a 40-year-old truck driver.

About 15 years earlier, Allen had been convicted of molesting an 11-year-old boy. Two years later, in 1963, Allen pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent liberties with a 10-year-old boy, according to court records.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Read an in-depth story on Michael Smith’s case here.

Baby sitter jailed on murder charge

A 25-year-old baby sitter accused of murder declined to speak with investigators after her arrest Friday and has asked for an attorney. 

Amanda L. Skogen has no criminal history and was never suspected of abuse before 3-year-old Cohen Johnson suffered a traumatic head injury that led to his death last week. Cohen died at a Spokane hospital Friday and Skogen, a family friend who had been watching the boy since June, was arrested on a first-degree murder charge.

She’s being held without bail at the Kootenai County Jail and is expected to appear in court Tuesday. (I’ll be talking to TV pundit Nancy Grace about the case tonight at 5:30 p.m. Here’s a clip from my previous appearance.)

Skogen called 911 last Monday about 4:30 p.m. to report Cohen unresponsive and not breathing. She lied to investigators about what happened but eventually confessed Tuesday afternoon to shoving the boy to the ground after he wet his pants, said Post Falls Police Chief Scot Haug.

Cohen’s 2-year-old sister was present at the time.

“This is not a freak accident or fluke,” Haug said. “This is somebody who acted out of anger, shoved a child and caused his death.”

Skogen had cared for the boy since June. Her husband apparently knows the boy’s father from high school, Haug said.

Cohen’s parents are separated, and Skogen had been caring for him at her home on North Elm Road since about June while his parents worked during the day. Cohen apparently wet his pants while on Skogen’s couch, which angered her, Haug said.

Haug said the boy “flew across the room” and hit the back of his head on a concrete floor. He was taken to Kootenai Medical Center, where a CT scan revealed a bleeding skull fracture. He was airlifted to Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane, where he was pronounced dead Friday at 1:21 p.m. Skogen was arrested shortly after.

Under Idaho law, homicides involving children under 12 are to be charged as first-degree murder.

Man w/ HIV gets prison time for assault

An HIV-positive Spokane man who lied to his sex partner about his condition will spend at least the next five years in prison.

Zuriel E. Roush, 23, was sentenced to at least 87 months in prison but will be credited for 17 months already served in jail and is eligible for time off for good behavior.

“He could be out in about five years,” said his lawyer, Terence Ryan.

Roush pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree assault with sexual motivation.

Roush had told the victim, a married man with children, he was not HIV positive, but the man did not contract the virus from their encounter, Ryan said.

Roush was arrested in May 2009. A friend told police that Roush, a fast food worker, met men on the website and had anonymous, unprotected sex in People’s Park without disclosing he was HIV positive.

Roush was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, but Ryan said the second charge was dismissed because the other alleged victim was not truthful.

“It was somebody who was jumping on the bandwagon after the charges hit the press,” Ryan said.

Roush, who took special-education classes in school and underwent a mental evaluation after his arrest, apologized for his crime at his sentencing last week, Ryan said.

Roush is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and was ordered by Judge Maryann Moreno not to frequent sex websites and to disclose his HIV status to all sex partners. Prosecutors recommended the low end of the standard sentencing range - 87.75 months - but Roush could serve up to 10 years under the state’s indeterminate sentencing law for sex offenders. He’ll undergo assessments when he’s eligible for release.

Past coverage:

May 29, 2009: Dozens may face HIV risk

May 21, 2009: HIV-positive man accused of assault

Defense lawyer John Clark dead at 58

The common man has lost one of his best advocates.

John Clark, a prominent local defense attorney, died this morning following a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

Earlier this year, the Spokane Bar Association honored Clark with the 2010 Smithmoore P. Myers Professionalism Award for Clark’s passion in working — often without pay — to help residents in legal trouble.

“There was once a comment made by Gandhi,” said Robert Crary, Clark’s partner of 30 years told The Spokesman-Review in March “that nobody is beyond redemption. It’s the way (Clark) looks at the world.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Jury acquits man in Club Uno stabbing

A jury on Friday acquitted a Spokane man of an assault charge connected to a stabbing outside a downtown nightclub last fall.

John D. Proctor, 25, was found not guilty of first-degree assault and not guilty of a lesser included offense, riot.

Proctor said he was wrongly accused. He criticized news stations for reporting he was the assailant without calling him a suspect and said the case has affected his wife and three children.

“It was a terrible thing,” Proctor said. “I’ve been nervous just going out.”

Proctor said he was present the night two men were stabbed during a large fight outside Club Uno, 515 W. Sprague Ave., but that he didn’t stab anyone.

Jurors apparently agreed, deliberating less than half a day before finding Proctor innocent.

Proctor, who has been out of jail on $75,000 bond, said his arrest has made him much more careful about who he hangs out with.

The Oct. 28 stabbing injured Kenneth R. Budik and Charles L. Lucious. Witnesses said one of defendants said, “There’s Kenny! Murder One Crips!” and “You messed with Murder One,” before the attack, according to court documents. Budik was a victim in a shooting in 2007 that killed gang member Adama Walton.

Budik testified, and jurors viewed a video taped deposition from Lucious, who is in federal custody for a case based in Nevada.

Also testifying during the four-day trial was Rashjel G. “Reggie” Cage, 24. Cage and his brother, Rakee D. Cage, 23, have pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault for their roles in the case. Parrish J. Johnson pleaded guilty to riot; William Alexander-Durr’s charge was reduced to a gross misdemeanor then dismissed.

The only remaining suspect is Adam Doe, who also is charged in connection with the shooting at Hoopfest in June.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Steve Garvin prosecuted the case; Proctor’s lawyer was John Stine.

Tim Note vs. District Court Judge Hayes

A young attorney who has big ideas on how to make court more efficient is taking on a one-term judge who said her life experiences have made her better at making tough decisions.

Defense attorney Timothy Note (left), 35, is challenging Spokane County District Court Judge Debra Hayes (right) in the Spokane area’s only contested judicial race on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Hayes, 54, cited her four years of experience on the job, life experiences and community service. “I think that looking at the two of us, it is a pretty clear choice,” Hayes said. “I’m committed to being a fair and impartial judge.”

But Note, an attorney since 2004, said he has more than 100 fellow lawyers endorsing his campaign to bring more structure and accountability to District Court.

“My platform is not endearing me to the judges who are working there,” Note said. “But at some point, the gravy train needs to end and we need to get back to the people’s work.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Accidental shooting kills vengeful beau

A Bonner County woman accidentally shot and killed her boyfriend as she tried to stop him from seeking revenge on her assailant, investigators said today. 

Lorraine K. Kenitzki, 45, is in jail on $10,000 bond for involuntary manslaughter after Erik Foust, 41, died of a gunshot wound Wednesday.

Foust had grabbed a gun and was trying to leave the couple’s motor home, parked north of Priest River, to find the man who assaulted Kenitzki in Pend Oreille County Sept. 28, said Lt. Doug Harris of the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office.

“She tried to sop him by taking the gun away,” Harris said. “As she was pulling way from him, it went off and he got shot in the chest.”

Harris described Kenitzki as remorseful. She was arrested the day of the shooting, which was reported about 2:30 a.m.

The couple’s motor home was parked outside the Green Owl Tavern, 4558 Peninsula Road, about five miles north of Priest River.

Kenitzki is from Clark Fork; Foust owned a home in Pend Oreille County where Kenitzki was reportedly assaulted Sept. 28 as Foust was out of town, Harris said. The Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office is investigating that case.

Pipe bomb planter pleads guilty in Idaho

An informant in a federal murder-for-hire case who planted a pipe bomb under the intended victim’s car pleaded guilty to two federal weapons charges Thursday in Coeur d’Alene. 

Larry A. Fairfax, 49, faces a maximum 10 years in prison but federal sentencing guidelines show he could receive as little as 18 months. He’s to be sentenced Dec. 16.

Fairfax, of Sagle, Idaho, has been in custody since June 15, the day employees at a Coeur d’Alene auto shop found a pipe bomb beneath a car belonging to Cyndi Steele, wife of former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar Steele. Cyndi Steele had taken the car in for an oil change before her husband’s first court appearance on charges that he hired Fairfax to kill her and her mother.

Cyndi Steele criticized Fairfax’s plea deal before U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Thursday, saying he should be charged with attempted murder.

Read my full story here

Read Cyndi Steele’s full statement to the court, emailed to The Spokesman-Review by her attorney Wesley Hoyt, by clicking the link below.

Winmill has yet to rule on a request from Edgar Steele’s lawyer, Roger Peven, to delay the November trial and declare the case complex. The U.S. Attorney’s Office rejected to the request, saying they could present the case in two to three days.

Thieves target area motor home dealers

Someone with a penchant for flat-screen televisions and stereo equipment is targeting local motor home dealers.

Thousands of dollars worth of TVs and stereos have been stolen from vehicles and trailers at lots from Spokane Valley to Post Falls, police announced this week.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest a suspect.

According to a news release, victim businesses include RVs Northwest, 18919 E. Broadway, which was struck during the night of Sept. 29, and R&R RVs at 23203 E. Knox during the night of Sept. 28. Blue Crick RV at 13915 W. Highway 2 in Airway Heights has been hit, as well as Blue Dog RV at 4490 N. Riverbend in Post Falls, Idaho.

Blue Dog was hit twice (Sept. 29 and Oct. 1) and lost 12 flat screens in the second burglary.

Post Falls police believe the thieves damaged cabinetry and cut wires connecting the TV walls. Investigators believe channel locks were used to break door locks.

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

NY police hunt for stolen weiner stand

ORANGEBURG, N.Y. (AP) — Police in a suburb northwest of New York City are searching for a stolen hot dog stand.  

Owner Fred Martucci tells the Journal News that he’s devastated over the loss of “Fred’s Franks.” He used the 10-foot-long, 7-foot-wide stainless steel trailer to support his family in Orangeburg for more than a year.

Orangetown Police Detective Sgt. George Garrecht says the hot dog heist happened on the evening of Sept. 30. Three men pulled into a parking lot, cut the trailer’s locks and cables, hitched it to their pickup truck and drove north on Route 303.

Police have viewed surveillance footage. But they have a limited description of the suspects and vehicle, because it happened on a rainy night.

Pregnant lady shot by WSP faces charges

An unarmed pregnant woman shot during a drug raid in Spokane nearly two weeks ago faces felony crack cocaine charges under a police recommendation announced Wednesday.

Keamia D. Powell, 24, gave birth shortly after she was shot in the shoulder Sept. 24 at 1405 N. Lincoln St. No. 11, where she lives with her mother, Aletha A. Robinson, 41.

Investigators are recommending Powell and Robinson each be charged with felonies after detectives found crack cocaine in their apartment as part of an ongoing probe into drug dealing in the Moscow-Pullman area.

The apartment is where police arrested a woman caught on tape assaulting her young son at the downtown bus plaza in November. Powell is the woman’s niece.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 6: WSP sergeant says shooting was accidental

Oct. 1 Sergeant who shot pregnant woman is 25-year veteran

Sept. 24: State patrol officer shoots unarmed pregnant woman

Heroin suspect faces federal gun charge

A suspected heroin dealer arrested after a Spokane police SWAT team standoff in June has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Jacob E. Snizik, 25, is charged with one count of felon in possession of a firearm under an indictment filed this week in U.S. District Court.

Snizik is accused of possessing a Para-Ordnance .45 ACP caliber pistol on June 17, the night police said he tried to run from a SWAT team in the 6800 block of North Napa Street but retreated to his home and armed himself. He surrendered without incident a short while later after a SWAT sergeant talked to him over the phone, police said.

Police say they seized five firearms and found heroin and drug sale supplies in Snizik’s home.

Snizik is in Spokane County Jail on one count of possession of a controlled substance and five counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. His trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 18 in Superior Court.

If convicted of the new federal firearm charge, Snizik faces up to 10 years in prison, or at least 15 if he’s found to be an armed career criminal.

Snizik has previous convictions for second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, residential burglary, second-degree theft, first-degree theft and three counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Valley man accused of trying to lure girls

A 28-year-old man is accused of trying to lure teen girls into his car while masturbating near Spokane Valley schools.

Michael J. McBride was arrested just before noon Wednesday after two of three alleged victims identified McBride from a photo montage. He’s expected to appear in court today.

The investigation began Sept. 22 when a 13-year-old girl said a man stopped his car near East Marietta Avenue and North Center Road and asked if she wanted a ride home.

he girl said she could see the man masturbating and ran away, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Read my full story.

Plea hearing today in murder-for-hire plot

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In an unsurprising move, U.S. Attorney’s Office is opposing Cyndi Steele’s motion to lift the no contact order between her and her husband, Edgar J. Steele. 

A judge is to hear the motion this morning in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. Also set for this morning is alleged hitman-turned-informant Larry Fairfax’s plea hearing.

Fairfax (pictured) is expected to plead guilty to two federal weapons charges in connection with a pipe bomb found under Cyndi Steele’s SUV on June 15, four days after Edgar Steele’s arrest. The FBI says Fairfax never told them about the bomb. Fairfax says he rigged it so that it couldn’t explode.

Cyndi Steele (pictured below) slammed the investigation into her husband at a press conference last month and said Fairfax is the real criminal.

She believes her husband is innocent and suggests tapes of him discussing plans to kill her and her mother with Fairfax were manufactured by the federal government to retaliate against Edgar Steele. Steele is a former lawyer for the Aryan Nations who describes himself as the “attorney for the damned.”

Cyndi Steele’s attorney, Wesley Hoyt, filed a motion last month to lift the no contact order between the Steeles. 

In a seven-page memorandum filed Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said Steele has provided no basis to lift the order. She included a transcript of a phone call Edgar Steele made to his wife form the Kootenai County Jail the weekend after his arrest.

In it, Steele urged her to tell authorities the voice on the recording does not belong to him.

“No matter what you hear, no matter what you think, no matter what you feel, you have to say the following: ‘No, that is not my husband’s voice,’” Steele said. “Then like a rhinoceros in the road, you have to stand your ground and refuse to say anything but that.”

The call led to a witness tampering charge against Edgar Steele.

Whelan also cited a birthday card that Steele addressed to his daughter but investigators say is clearly written to his wife. Read the motion here.

Steele’s public defender, Roger Peven, recently filed a motion requesting that federal authorities disclose information about other informants in the case. Read that motion here.

Witness sought in Valley jogger’s death

Detectives are looking for a witness who helped alert Spokane Valley authorities last month to an injured jogger who later died.

A motorist found retired pastor David W. Thorin, 71, at East Fourth Avenue and South Adams Road about 6:45 a.m. Sept. 18 with an “obvious head wound,” the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Medics described Thorin as “uncooperative and combative” and said he didn’t say how he’d been injured. He later died at a hospital.

Read my full story here.

Thorin is pictued above in July 2009 while volunteering at Spokane Valley Partners, a non-profit that runs the Valley Food Bank.

Houlihan arraigned; probe continues

A Spokane man shot by sheriff’s deputies two weeks ago pleaded not guilty to a single assault charge this week as investigators examined his medical records and searched the scene of the shooting for the second time.

Sean P. Houlihan, 37, is charged with first-degree assault after a friend said he fired a gun at him during an argument in the basement of Houlihan’s home at 909 E. Brentwood Drive on Sept. 16.

Sheriff’s deputies David Westlake (right) and Thad Schultz (left) fired several shots at Houlihan, striking him twice, after he returned to the home in his Dodge pickup.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said last week that Westlake has always said Houliahn fired no shots but Schultz believed Houlihan did fire shots. Investigators have said Houlihan faces two additional assault charges related to the confrontation with Schultz and Westlake, but prosecutors have not filed them.

“They are telling me the investigation is ongoing,” Houlihan’s lawyer, Robert Schiffner, said Wednesday. “But I suspect if they had hard evidence they would have charged him yesterday.”

Houlihan pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a single count of first-degree assault. He’s out of jail on $75,000 bond.

Lester J. Doyle, who argued with Houlihan earlier in the night, said the deputies were in the doorway of the home when twice ordered Houlihan to put is hands in air.

Doyle heard three shots but doesn’t believe they came form the deputies “because he was looking at the deputies when he heard the shots,” according to a search warrant.

Doyle, 33, said he heard Houlihan say “Oh, I’m hit. I’m down. I’m not doing anything,” according to the warrant, which was used to examine the shooting scene again Monday.

Investigators already recovered a .40 caliber handgun from the street near where Houlihan fell. They recovered a .40 caliber casing from the bed of the truck but have found no other casings. The state crime lab already has several bullets and fragments that were found next to the truck and in the truck.

“Immediately after Houlihan was shot, the deputies and medics repeatedly walked through the area where Houlihan was lying,” according to the warrant. “Casings from rounds fired by Houlihan could have easily been stepped on and forced deep into the grass or into the ground.”

Investigators recovered two bullets from the scene Monday. 

Then today, they obtained a search warrant for Houlihan’s medical records at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

WSP Detective Ryan Spangler wrote that he was hoping to establish “Houlihan’s position in reference to the Deputies at the time he was shot as it related to the injuries he received.”

Houlihan’s trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 27, but Schiffner said it likely will be postponed. “I doubt that the crime lab will have completed its tests by then,” he said.

Past coverage:

Oct. 1: Sheriff deputies haven’t changed their stories

Sept. 24: Shooting details get less certain

Sept. 22: No conclusion in shooting probe

Sept. 18: Deputies shoot, wound man

Shogan, Cowles testify against Elton

According to court testimony Tuesday, Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan sent a mass email this week describing his near-death experiences at war.

“These look like, for lack of a better word, scary experiences,” said Mark Hodgson, lawyer for David Elton, who’s on trial for felony harassment against Shogan and Cowles Co. Chairwoman Betsy Cowles. “And David Elton didn’t make the list?”

“No,” Shogan replied. He then asked if he could explain why he was looking to rooftops after learning of threats from Elton in February 2009. Hodgson replied that he couldn’t.

“Oh? OK,” Shogan said huffily. A male juror smiled at the exchange.

Shogan later got a chance to explain his fixation on rooftops - saying he’d heard that “Mr. Elton considered himself a superb marksmen.”

The testimony came Tuesday afternoon, the first day of a trial that’s expected to end tomorrow morning. Shogan, city council president for five years, was the last witness to take the stand Tuesday. Read my full story on the opening day here. 

Here are a few additional tidbits:

Shogan recalled a confrontation with Elton at City Hall on Election night 2007. Elton ended his public comment by saying “May I say Mayor Vernor?” which violated council rules on political speech because Verner hadn’t yet been elected. Shogan banged his gavel and told Elton he was out of order, then was confronted by Elton outside council chambers.

“We talked really toe-to-toe together,” Shogan said. “He told me he didn’t like the way I run the meetings. I told him I didn’t like that he couldn’t follow instructions.”

Shogan said he feared for his life when he learned from Spokesman-Review blog contributor John Olsen that Elton had threatened Shogan.

“When I saw the line about decapitation, I really wondered whether there was someone else out there who sort of did this work for him,” Shogan said, referring to December 2008 email in which Elton said he would “enjoy the decapitation of Joey boy.”

Olsen had called Elton after receiving an email in February 2009 in which Elton listed seven poeple, including Betsy Cowles, he wanted to kill. Shogan was not mentioned until Olsen called Elton to discuss the email. The administrators of the Community Comment blog, Dave Laird also received the email and notified the Spokesman-Review.

 Hodgson emphasized the fact that neither email was sent directly to Shogan or Cowles, and that neither directly threatened to kill. In the February 2009 email, Elton writes, “That is the crux of the problem, I want to murder the following people,” and lists seven names, including Cowles and her brother, S-R Publisher Stacey Cowles.

“Does Mr. Elton say he will murder the following people?” Hodgson asked.

“No, he just says he wants to,” Olsen said.

In the phone call, Olsen said Elton never said he was going to kill Cowles or Shogan, nor did he saw he was going to harm them. He just wouldn’t agree to contact Olsen if decided to.

“I was still concerned,” Olsen said.

Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy asked Olsen if Elton can be “cunning.”

“Mr Elton has led me to believe that he could subvert the truth and pull things off in a wily way if that’s what you’re asking,” Olsen replied.

Tips sought on tasered wrong-way driver

A wrong-way driver accused of causing a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy to drive off the road last summer is wanted by Crime Stoppers. 

Joseph W. Davis, 26, alias Joseph Boyce, left jail just after his arrest in June because prosecutors hadn’t filed charges. He was charged with attempting to elude police last month but didn’t show up for his arraignment; a $10,000 arrest warrant was issued Sept. 27.

 Davis was shocked with a Taser after he fled a sheriff’s deputy June 21 while driving the wrong way in the 11100 block of McFarland Road. He spat out a glob of white substance in the squad car that was determined to be methamphetamine, police said.

In April, Davis and Jumah A. Robinson, 32, were suspected of stealing a woman’s backpack and purse and gunpoint before their car ran out of gas near the Splash Down Water Park by Interstate 90.

At the time, Davis told police he was a drug addict with no money who threatened a woman from whom he’d arranged to buy meth. Police found a pornographic video, a sex toy, condoms, syringes and plastic baggies alongside the victim’s backpack.

Davis, 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, is a transient. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Boy’s murder suspect faces more charges

A man accused of beating to death his girlfriend’s 1-year-old son has been charged with a previous assault on another child. 

James R. “J.R.” Cooley, 22, already jailed on $1 million bond for first-degree murder, was ordered held on an additional $250,000 bail Tuesday on two counts of first-degree assault for the beating of a baby boy in May.

Cooley was considered a person of interest in the assault, which left the boy mentally disabled, since it was reported May 5, but he was not charged until he confessed during a police interrogation after his arrest for murder last week, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday.

Cooley wrote a letter of apology to that baby’s mother, April Fagan, during the interrogation, saying, “I’m so sorry for what happened. I didn’t think it would hurt him that bad,” according to the affidavit.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 30: Boyfriend arrested after baby found dead

Convicted killer backs out of pro se plan

Convicted killer Joseph Edward Duncan, already condemned to die for a murderous North Idaho rampage in 2005 and about to stand trial in California for an earlier slaying, has reconsidered plans to represent himself in the new death penalty case.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge David Downing on Monday appointed Gail O’Rane, an attorney from the Riverside County public defender’s Capital Defense Unit, after Duncan said he had changed his mind about representing himself.

Neither Duncan nor his newly appointed attorney gave a reason for why he wanted an attorney. He requested to represent himself last year after a jury ruled he was fit to stand trial and capable of assisting an attorney. (Duncan is pictured at right, photo by Stan Lim of The Press-Enterprise)

Duncan was brought to Indio, Calif., in January 2009 to face murder and torture charges in the 1997 death of Anthony Martinez, a 10-year-old boy from Beaumont, Calif., who was taken at knifepoint and discovered 10 days later beaten to death with a rock and bound in duct tape.

Duncan was extradited to Southern California after being given nine life terms and three death sentences for the murder of an Idaho family and the kidnapping, torture and murder of a little boy. Brenda Groene, Slade Groene and Mark McKenzie were beat to death at the family’s Wolf Lodge Bay home; and 9-year-old Dylan Groene, who was abducted along with his 8-year-old sister, Shasta Groene, was shot and killed at a Montana campground after being tortured in a cabin. Shasta was rescued at a Coeur d’Alene restaurant, where Duncan was apprehended.

Read the full story by John Asbury at the Riverside Press-Enterprise by clicking the link below

Elton on trial for Shogan, Cowles threats

Trial begins today in the case of a Spokane man accused of threatening to kill the Spokane City Council president and the chairwoman of the company that owns The Spokesman-Review. 

David H. Elton, 44, is charged with two counts of felony harassment - threats to kill in connection with e-mails sent to Joe Shogan and Betsy Cowles in early 2009. UPDATE AFTER TODAY’S TESTIMONY: Elton did not send the messages directly to the two, rather they learned of the messages through concerned citizens.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. before Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno . A jury of 12 Spokane County residents, with two alternates, was selected Monday.

Elton, who was arrested Feb. 10, 2009, has said the emails were a joke and that he would never hurt anyone. Elton also was suspected of threatening to kill Cowles’ brother, Spokesman-Review Publisher Stacey Cowles, but the publisher declined to pursue charges.  (Stacey Cowles and Betsy Cowles are pictured.)

Spokane police Detective Corey Turman said in January that Elton said he wanted the Cowles family to sue him so he could use the evidence process to obtain company records. 

But Elton, who described himself as a “hyperactive political activist,” claimed “he was not willing to commit a crime just to get them in court,” Turman said.

Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy has read portions of the e-mails naming Shogan (left) and Cowles at pre-trial hearings. They discuss Elton’s knowledge of high-powered rifles and his intended victim’s schedules, Nagy said. Elton also advises that getting him locked up won’t do any good because he’ll tell experts everything they want to hear, then cause mass destruction when he’s released, Nagy said at a past court hearing.

The case has gone through seven judges and at least one defense lawyer. Elton faces a second trial on a charge that he threatened to kill his ex-wife, Robin Stewart.

In June, Moreno ordered Elton to undergo a mental evaluation to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial. She cleared him for trial in August.

Betsy Cowles and Shogan are expected to testify. Nagy said he expects to wrap up his side of the case by Wednesday. Elton is represented by Mark Hodgson.

Previous coverage:

June 16: Candidate will undergo mental evaluation

April 15: Elton avoids jail after violating court orders

April 3: Elton’s wife donated to Stevens’ campaign

Jan. 21: Trial set for Elton on threat charges

Feb. 12, 2009: ‘Murder’ email meant as joke, suspect says

Feds: U.S. judge used cocaine w/ stripper

By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP) - A veteran federal judge faces drug and firearms charges after an exotic dancer at an Atlanta strip club told authorities he used cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs with her. 

Senior U.S. District Judge Jack T. Camp was arrested Friday minutes after he handed an undercover law enforcement agent $160 for cocaine and Roxycodone, a narcotic pain medication, that he intended to use with the exotic dancer, authorities said in a court document released Monday. They said they also found two firearms in the front seat of his vehicle.

Camp, 67, (pictured) who has presided over some high-profile cases, was released Monday on a $50,000 bond. His attorney, William Morrison, said after a brief hearing that the judge intends to plead not guilty. Morrison said Camp would probably take a leave of absence and would not preside over any more cases until the charges are resolved.

“This is really a case between Judge Camp and his wife,” said Morrison. “It’s not about Judge Camp being a judge. It’s about him being a husband.”

Camp’s arrest set up an unusual domino effect in the federal courthouse. The district’s federal judges all recused themselves, so Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody of Alabama was brought in to hear the case. Federal prosecutors from Washington also flew in to handle the government’s arguments.

The charges against Camp were laid out in a shocking eight-page affidavit released after the emergency hearing was finished.

Camp met the confidential informant, who recently began cooperating with the FBI, at the Goldrush Showbar in Atlanta in early 2010 and he soon began paying her for sex and buying cocaine from her at $40 to $50 a pop, according to the records.

In June 2010, Camp followed the informant to a drug dealer in Marietta to buy Roxycodone. He was also recorded in a wiretapped telephone call on Sept. 28 talking with her about getting together over the weekend to split more pills and cocaine with her, according to the charges.

He showed up at a Publix parking lot in northeast Atlanta around 7:15 p.m. Friday to meet with the an undercover agent posing as the dealer. When the informant told her she was worried about his safety, the judge told her, “I not only have my little pistol, I’ve got my big pistol so, uh, we’ll take care of any problems that come up,” according to the affidavit.

He handed over $160 in cash to pay for the drugs around 7:35 p.m. Ten minutes later, authorities arrested the judge and seized the two guns from the front seat of his vehicle.

The judge faces four drug-related charges and one count of possessing firearms while illegally using drugs.

It’s a stunning turn for Camp, a Vietnam War veteran who was appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987. He is a former chief judge for the Northern District of Georgia.

Known for wearing suspenders around the courtroom, he handled hundreds of cases before taking senior status — and a lesser caseload — in 2008.

In 2004, he sentenced two men accused of killing DeKalb County Sheriff Derwin Brown to life in prison without parole. He also handled litigation from voting rights groups who sought to block Georgia from asking new voters to prove their identities and citizenship before casting their ballots.

The judge also handled several high-profile drug cases, including the May 2009 sentencing on prescription-related charges of the personal doctor to a professional wrestler who killed himself, his wife and their 7-year-old son.

Camp, wearing a pinstripe suit, said little during the brief hearing Monday but turned to flash a smile at his family after he walked in. He hired four defense attorneys over the weekend to represent him, and Morrison said his client was in “good spirits.”

“Judge Camp’s wife is an extraordinarily strong woman and she’s going to stand by her husband,” said Morrison. “And this is a very strong man. He’s going to overcome these circumstances.”

Valley crime spree lands man back in jail

A young man sentenced last month for property crimes is back in jail, accused of a car-prowling and window-breaking spree in Spokane Valley. 

The suspect, Chad A. Radden, 20, was spotted skateboarding away from Northwest Tire and Automotive, 324 N. Pines Road, as a business alarm sounded just before 1 a.m. Friday.

One witness said she saw him in the area of Main and Pines the same time she heard broken glass - police found him with a Game Boy stolen from a 2005 Nissan Murano in the 12500 block of East Main, according to court records.

Radden also is accused of smashing seven windows on a GMC bus parked at Raggedy Ann and Andy Child Care, 12504 E. Main. Police also believe he broke windows at Instyle Hair and Skin Car Studio and H & R Block, 321 N. Pines.

Surveillance video at Holiday Gas Station, 411 N. Pines, shows a man fitting Radden’s description trying to break out a window with a baseball bat, police said. Sheriff’s deputies who arrested Radden said he appeared intoxicatied. He remains in Spokane County Jail on $10,000 bond, charged with two counts of second-degree malicious mischief, two counts of third-degree malicious mischief, and single counts of car prowling, third-degree theft and minor in possession of alcohol by consumption.

Records show Radden was given two years probation and credited for 16 days served in jail after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary last month. He’s also on probation for a drunken driving charge in North Idaho and for second-degree vehicle prowling and hit-and-run attended vehicle convictions in Spokane County.

Report: ‘Disruptive’ court-goer altered file

Editor's note: The charge was later amended to making a false or misleading statement to a public official, a misdemeanor.

A Spokane man described by Superior Court clerks as “disruptive” has been charged with a felony after a court employee said he altered documents in his divorce file.

Matthew C. DeRyan, 43, was arrested on a $5,000 warrant Saturday and appeared in court this afternoon on a charge of injury to public record. He's accused of crossing out dates and writing in new dates in the file in August.

Clerks said he admitted to defacing the documents “because he needed a new court date,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

A Spokane police officer said he was “familiar with DeRyan and his adverse behavior toward the court,” according to the affidavit. The officer said he's monitored DeRyan “on different occasions due to his behavior in the court reference to his custody case.”

DeRyan was released on his own recognizance.

Spokane detective in lawsuit on leave

A case that was settled in criminal court two years ago is still percolating in the Spokane Police Department, with a detective suing the city for defamation and his boss, Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, putting him on paid leave, saying his claims of emotional distress make him unfit for duty. 

Detective Jay Mehring (pictured) was removed from duty the same day Kirkpatrick was to give a deposition in the $3.5 million lawsuit, said Mehring’s lawyer, Bob Dunn.

Kirkpatrick declined comment, citing personnel issues and ongoing litigation. City spokeswoman Marlene Feist confirmed Mehring, who makes $79,364 annually, has been on leave since Sept. 9 but said she couldn’t provide details.

Dunn said Mehring was put on paid leave the same day a scheduled deposition with Kirkpatrick was cut short because she didn’t want Mehring in the room with his department-issued handgun.

Read the rest of my story here.

Read past coverage of the case here.

Stevens Co. couple busted w/ 9 oz heroin

A Stevens County couple are accused of selling large amount of heroin in a criminal venture that allowed them to live well beyond their means, federal court documents allege.

Carl K. Conner III, 33, (pictured) and Janine J. Bryan, 28, are in the Spokane County Jail without bail, charged in U.S. District Court with possession of 100 grams or more of heroin with intent to deliver.

A confidential informant told the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office in July that Bryan and Conner traveled to Seattle once or twice per week to pick up 10 ounces of heroin that they distributed throughout Stevens County.

The Sheriff’s Office already had revived complaints about heavy foot traffic at the the couple’s apartment. Detectives noted that neither was employed but “appeared to be living a lifestyle above their means,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.

The couple were stopped July 28 near Deer Park while driving back from Seattle. Conner was arrested for driving without a license. Detectives said they were going to obtain search warrant for the vehicle.

“Det. Manke told Bryan “you know what we do” and Bryan responded, “and you know what I do,” according to the affidavit.

Detectives found two chunks of black tar heroin weighing 127 grams each (nearly nine ounces). Conner and Bryan were charged in Stevens County Superior Court, but the case was transferred U.S. District Court on Sept. 24.

Both were ordered held without bail Sept. 30.

Sheriff: Deputies’ stories haven’t changed

Two deputies involved in a shooting last month near Wandermere have not changed their stories about what happened that night, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said. 

A search warrant stating that interviews with Deputies David Westlake and Thad Schultz indicate it’s possible Sean P. Houlihan didn’t initiate the gunfire Sept. 18 was misinterpreted, Knezovich said in an interview last week week.

Schultz and Sgt. Martin Tucker “are adamant and have always been adamant that they were shot at,” and Westlake has always said he doesn’t believe shots were fired at him, Knezovich said. 

The warrant, which was used to examine Houlihan’s Dodge pickup, said initial investigation “had not confirmed the statements of (Houlihan’s alleged assault victim) and both Deputies regarding shots fired at the Deputies.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 24: Deputies no longer assert that suspect fired first

Sept. 22: No conclusion in shooting probe

Sept. 18: Deputies shoot, wound man

Firefighters: Brave enough to wear pink

Firefighters at the Northern Lakes Fire Station in Hayden will be wearing pink t-shirts this month to raise awareness for breast cancer research. 

 ”Due to their compassionate nature, firefighters have a long history of taking on noble causes,” according to a news release. “Once again that compassion is manifesting itself.”

Local 4045, stationed at 125 Hayden Ave., are selling the shirts to raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. T-shirts are $15 each or two for $25.

Buy the shirts at the fire station in Hayden, or call Firefighter Luke Michael at (208) 277-8525.

Fire crews will wear their typical protective suits if called out on blazes but will don the pink shirts at all other times, Michael said.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Sex w/ girl gets CdA man at least 8 years

A Coeur d’Alene man with a history of sexually abusing girls will spend at least eight years in prison for having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

Michael W. Brady, 24, was sentenced Thursday to up to life in prison for five counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor. The first eight years are fixed; the remaining life term is indeterminate, according to a news release from Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office.

At the time of the encounters, Brady was on parole for an aggravated assault conviction that stemmed from an allegation of sex with a minor girl. A misdemeanor assault charge followed the alleged rape of a third girl, and while in custody Brady wrote to another teen hoping to arrange a future meeting, the release said.

“Mr. Brady is an adult who has preyed on teenage girls. His prior convictions did not deter him from this conduct, and even while in jail he was unable to curb his predatory practices,” Prosecutor Barry McHugh said in the release. “The sentence will protect society from Mr. Brady for at least eight years. After that, even if released from prison, he will be on parole for the rest of his life.”

Pics show beer robber in clerk’s stabbing

Spokane police are looking for help identifying a beer-toting robber who stabbed a convenience store clerk last week.

The man grabbed beer and ran from the Zip Trip at 1503 E. Illinois Ave. about 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to police, then stabbed a store clerk in the back after the clerk chased him down.

A police dog was unable to track the robber, who police believe was on foot and likely lives in the area.

Grainy surveillance photos released Friday show a man wearing a black “DC” t-shirt, black pants and a black and royal blue hat.

  He is described as Native American, about 5-foot-5 and in his late teens or early 20s with long dark hair and a thin build.

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

Sheriff drops the wait in shooting probes

Investigators probing officer-involved shootings will no longer be required to wait at least 72 hours before interviewing Spokane County Sheriff’s Office employees.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich (pictured) announced the change Thursday, ending a departmental practice common at many law enforcement agencies but seen as contradictory and confusing outside of police circles.

The move comes amid continuing public outcry over the nine-day lapse between the Aug. 25 shooting of Spokane Valley pastor and businessman Wayne Scott Creach by Deputy Brian Hirzel, who was allowed to take a scheduled vacation to Montana and Las Vegas before being interviewed by detectives investigating the fatal encounter.

Read the rest of my story here.

Deal gives Hoopfest suspect light sentence

One of four men arrested after shots were fired at Hoopfest was given an exceptionally low sentence of six months in jail this week.

Marquis D. Johnson, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in a plea deal that came nearly a month after prosecutors decided to drop about a dozen attempted murder charges filed after gunshots injured three bystanders at Hoopfest in downtown Spokane June 26.

Johnson has been in jail since the day of the shooting. He’ll be credited for time served and will be on probation for a year.

He faced a standard sentencing range of 43 to 57 months because of his criminal history, which includes convictions for second-degree assault, third-degree assault, car theft and theft, but Deputy Prosecutor Steve Garvin agreed to recommend an exceptionally low sentence. Garvin declined to comment today. Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno sentenced Johnson on Wednesday.

Johnson had been out of prison for an assault conviction just three weeks when police say he, Rashjel G. “Reggie” Cage, Adam Doe and Miguel C. Garcia approached rival gang members and Garcia fired several shots.

Cage pleaded guilty to felony riot and unlawful possession of a firearm on Sept. 13 and was released from jail. He faces 26 to 34 months in prison when he’s sentenced Dec. 14, but Garvin said he’ll ask for an exceptionally low sentence if Cage cooperates.

Doe and Garcia have trials scheduled. Both are in jail.

Past coverage: June 29: Hoopfest shots not ‘surprising’

WSP sergeant says shooting was accidental

A Washington State Patrol sergeant who shot an unarmed pregnant woman during a drug raid last week has told investigators it was “an accidental discharge,” sheriff’s officials announced Thursday.

Sgt. Lee Slemp (left, in 2006) said he accidentally fired his weapon as the woman, whose name has not been released, attempted to flee out a window at 1405 N. Lincoln St. on Sept. 24, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.

Slemp, a 25-year WSP veteran, described the shooting to investigators in his first in-depth interview on Wednesday.

The news comes two days after Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste told The Spokesman-Review that he had no reason to believe the shooting was accidental.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 29: WSP names officer in shooting

Sept. 24: State patrol officer shoots unarmed pregnant woman

Money-for-sex suspect out of jail on bond

A Spokane Valley man accused of offering young girls money for sex after posing as a young man on Internet is out of jail on $20,000 bond.

Bradley Thomas Oliver, 44, left the Spokane County Jail Wednesday about 5:50 p.m., a few hours after his lawyer told a judge he’d been unjustly arrested and that she was violating the law by imposing bond. 

“There simply is not one shred of evidence that he will commit a violent crime,” lawyer Phillip Wetzel told Superior Court Judge Annette Plese. He said Oliver should have been summonsed to an arraignment but instead was arrested at his work, which likely cost him his job.

Wetzel described Oliver as a Spokane resident since 1988 who owns a home and pays $500 each month in child support. He said Plese would be violating the law if she didn’t allow him to leave jail on his own recognizance.

Deputy Prosecutor Ed Hay had a short response: “We can (downplay) sexual abuse of a minor, your honor, but I’d ask you not to.”

Hay cited Oliver’s previous conviction for soliciting a prostitute. “These are indeed dangerous offenses to the young women involved and we’re concerned about what he might do in the community if he’s released,” the prosecutor said.

A woman who identified herself as the mother of Oliver’s children urged Plese to prohibit him from seeing their children.

Plese said Oliver is prohibited from having unsupervised contact with anyone under 18 - including his own children. Wetzel said he may appeal the $20,000 bond also imposed by Plese.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Oliver in June after three girls said they agreed to meet a teen boy at Target, 13724 E. Sprague Ave., but were instead confronted by Oliver, who offered them each $200 for sex, according to court documents.

The girls, who had arranged the meeting through, declined and called police. Oliver allegedly asked for sex again through text messages.

Past coverage:

Sept. 28: Police: Man posed as teen boy online to lure girls

Ex-insurance agent gets 20 days for fraud

A former Mutual of Omaha insurance agent from Rathdrum is to spend 20 days in jail for submitting a life insurance policy application in a client’s name without her knowledge.

Wesley Bruce Thompson, 58, submitted the life insurance policy application by scanning the client’s signature from another policy and photocopying it onto the false application, according to a news release. He pleaded guilty to insurance fraud on July 29.

On Tuesday, Judge John Mitchell ordered Thompson to serve 20 days in jail, complete 400 hours of community service and pay $4,210 in restitution, the news release said.

The Special Prosecutions Unit of the Attorney General’s Criminal Law Division and the Idaho Department of Insurance investigated the case at the request of Mutual of Omaha.

Egg tossed in court gets Ill. man jail time

WHEATON, Ill. (AP) — Tossing an egg in a suburban Chicago courtroom has gotten one man a 90-day jail sentence.

DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Blanche Fawell handed down the sentence Monday against 40-year-old Agim Demiri, who pleaded guilty in August to damaging state property.

The egg narrowly missed Judge Timothy McJoynt when it was thrown in March. Prosecutors say the mess caused $616.78 in damage.

The Daily Herald in Arlington Heights reports that Demiri also was ordered to pay restitution for the cleanup.

Prosecutors say the Naperville man had appeared before McJoynt numerous times before as part of an ongoing child support issue.

Man douses himself in paint to deter Taser

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Cheyenne man who doused himself with white latex paint in hopes of avoiding a police Taser was hit with the stun gun anyway.

The Taser chase happened Sept. 16, when Cheyenne police went to Brian Mattert’s house on a domestic violence call. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that when police arrived, Mattert thought they’d use a Taser on him, so he hastily covered himself in paint and told officers that if they shot him with the stun gun, he’d die.

Officers told him the paint wouldn’t affect the Taser’s capability. According to police, Mattert scuffled with officers and was hit with a Taser twice before officers handcuffed him.

He faces several criminal charges. Police say the officers’ uniforms had to be cleaned.

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