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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for September 2010

Deputy nominated for life-saving award

 A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy has been nominated for a Red Cross award for saving a man who drove into a South Hill swimming pool last winter.

Deputy Brandon Armstrong rescued a 76-year-old man from a sinking car after the motorist drove off Glenrose Road and into a swimming pool in February.

Armstrong dove in the pool, and firefighters helped pull the man to safety. He had suffered a medical emergency but survived, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Armstrong and the firefighters, who were not identified in a Sheriff’s Office news release, are candidates for the American Red Cross Water Safety Hero Award.

Winners will be recognized at the annual Honoring Hometown Heroes luncheon, Nov. 10 at Northern Quest Resort and Casino.

Accused child killer mad over lack of pot

A 22-year-old Spokane man already under investigation for abusing a baby girl was arrested late Tuesday after his girlfriend’s 1-year-old son was found beaten to death in their Hillyard apartment. 

James R. “J.R.” Cooley, 22, (left) told detectives he squeezed and shook little Santiago McCreight repeatedly because he was frustrated with the child’s crying “and his own lack of having marijuana,” according to a probable cause affidavit prepared by Spokane police. 

The affidavit was filed Wednesday to support a first-degree murder charge against Cooley, who was ordered jailed on $1 million bond during his first court appearance. 

Police also will recommend assault charges against Cooley for an alleged beating on May 5 that left his then-girlfriend’s 6-month-old daughter blind and mentally disabled, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Police didn’t have probable cause to arrest Cooley in that case until his interview with detectives late Tuesday, DeRuwe said.

Read my full story here.

Santiago’s aunt, Angela Gilbert, is pictured above holding a photo of her sister and the boys. A memorial for Santiago is pictured at right.

Harvey guilty of 2 murders over car trade

A Spokane man faces a minimum of 45 years in prison after a jury convicted him Wednesday of two counts of murder that followed a dispute over a car swap.

The jury convicted 28-year-old Merle W. Harvey of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death Sept. 26, 2009, of 41-year-old Jack T. Lamere.

The jury also convicted Harvey of second-degree murder for the killing of 45-year-old Jacob J. Potter, who just happened to be with Lamere on the day of the shooting.

Spokane County Prosecutor Deputy Dale Nagy said Harvey faces a minimum of 45 years because the murder convictions must be served consecutively.

The jury found that Harvey used a gun in the commission of the killings, which added 10 years to the murder sentences. The sentencing date is set for 3 p.m. on Oct. 22.

“I think it was a just verdict,” Nagy said. “And most importantly … the family is pleased.”

Terry Eaglefeather, 67, who is Lamere’s uncle, yelled “all right” as Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen read the verdict.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

View photos of the victims and read background on the case here.

Tips sought on purse theft at Spokane spa

Spokane County sheriff’s detectives are asking for help identification a woman who stole a spa employee’s purse last month.

The victim was working at Planet Beach Contempo Spa at 12908 N. Highway 395 Aug. 29th when a woman snatched her purse from behind the counter.

Stolen checks were later forged at the Wandermere Fred Meyer gas station. Surveillance cameras captured images of a young woman wearing sandals, a turquoise tank top and jean shorts.

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

No charges in fatal Rathdrum stabbing

No charges will be filed against a Rathdrum man in the Sept. 24 stabbing death of his daughter’s boyfriend, Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh announced today.

Based on the investigation by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, 47-year-old Scott A. Johnson was acting in self-defense when he fatally stabbed Brandon S. DeLuca after an argument in their Rathdrum home.

“This is a tragedy that no one, including the Johnson family, wanted to take place,” McHugh said in a news release.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach’s story here.

Past coverage: Sept. 27: Slain man is deputy coroner’s grandson

Check fraud costs Valley stores $25,000

More than 50 counterfeit checks wort>h at least $25,000 have been passed at three

Spokane Valley businesses, and Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to arrests. 

The culprits used a business banking account number to create, forge and p

ass more than 50 checks at Home Depot, Hastings and O’Reilly Auto Parts, according to Crime Stoppers.

The men use the names Timothy Daugherty and Joe Crawford, Jr. and represent themselves as employees with Reliable Construction. 

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

Gang murder suspect jailed in Spokane

A gang member arrested near Compton for the January shooting death of a rival is back in Spokane.

Edward L. “TD” Thomas, 25, will remain incarcerated on a probation hold and $600,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court today via video from the Spokane County Jail, where he was booked just after 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Thomas, wearing a dark blue jail jumpsuit, appeared stoic in court, replying “Yes, your honor,” to each of Judge Annette Plese’s procedural questions. Described by police as a member of a Compton, Calif.,-based gang, Thomas was arrested Sept. 9 in Los Angeles on Spokane County warrants charging him with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. He’s also charged with bail jumping for an unrelated robbery case and with escape from community custody.

Thomas stopped checking in with his probation officer around the time of the Jan. 17 shooting death of John S. Williams, 38.

Police say Thomas shot Williams in the face outside a birthday party for a reputed gang member at 5405 N. Crestline Street. He’s also accused of trying to kill Williams’ son during the shooting.

Police believe the shooting resulted from lingering tensions between Thomas and a rival gang member who has a child with the mother of Thomas’ child. The rival, who reportedly belonged to the same gang as Williams, was with Williams’ son when he pulled a gun on Thomas a couple weeks before the party, and Thomas felt he needed to retaliate, police said.

One witness told police there was a feud brewing between older Spokane gang members like Williams and younger members like Thomas.

Six other men were charged in connection with the homicide. Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, 23, sentenced to five years in prison this month for driving Thomas from the murder.

Past coverage:

June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

Police: CdA man broke young boy’s leg

A Coeur d’Alene man is accused of breaking the leg of his fiance’s child over the weekend. 

Michael R. Edinger, 27, is jailed on two counts of cruelty to children after he and his fiance, Rebecca L. Mullin, took Mullin’s 2-year-old son to Kootenai Medical Center on Saturday with what nurses said was an “unexplainable broken leg,” according to a police report.

Mullin sobbed during interviews with police, but Edinger “sat emotionless,” according to the report, which was prepared by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Mullin said the boy was out of their sight when they heard a loud scream and found him at the bottom of a stairway.

But nurses said the boy’s injury - a spiral fracture of the left femur - is extremely rare and most likely caused by abuse.

The boy also had broken bones that appeared to have been inflicted several weeks ago, nurses said.

The couple, who work at Buck Knives in Post Falls, blamed the boy’s injuries on his clumsiness, but Edinger eventually told police he’d lost his temper and broken the boy’s leg while changing his diaper on Friday, police said.

Edinger’s parents arrived as he was being arrested, and Edinger reportedly told them what he’d done. Investigators “heard Edinger’s mother tell him that he shouldn’t be apologizing to her, but to the little boy that he injured,” according to the report.

Edinger remains in the Kootenai County Jail on $100,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled Oct. 7.

Deliberations begin in double-murder trial

A jury of six men and six women began deliberating this morning whether a Spokane man murdered two men last September or was defending himself when he gunned them down.

 Merle W. Harvey, 28, faces two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the killings on Sept. 26, 2009, of 41-year-old Jack T. Lamere and 45-year-old Jacob J. Potter.

Jurors have the option of convicting Harvey of lesser charges like second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Harvey, a convicted felon, claims he shot Lamere in self-defense after Lamere brought a gun to a dispute over a vehicle. Harvey said he thought he saw Potter - who was with Lamere at the time - put a gun in his shirt, but it turned out to be a flashlight.

After the shooting outside an apartment complex at 1310 W. Boone Ave., Harvey stole a truck in Spokane. He drove it to Coeur d’Alene where he stole another vehicle before he was finally apprehended in Kennewick on Oct. 10, 2009.

Testimony in the trial, which began Sept. 16, included a host of familiar names as witnesses described the weeks of unreported threats - and one unwanted haircut - that led to the gunfire.

Past coverage:

Sept. 23: Forced haircut preluded double homicide

Sept. 16, 2010 : Trial begins in double homicide over cars

Sept. 28, 2009: Suspect at large after shooting

Sept. 29, 2009: Victim had sought new life

Oct. 9, 2009: Hells Angels vowed to kill murder victim 10 years ago

Oct. 17, 2009: Man says he killed in self defense

Oct. 19, 2009: Stolen jeep had ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ coin inside

Cyndi Steele: Let me talk to Edgar

The alleged victim in a murder for hire plot is trying to get rid of the no contact order between herself and the suspect, who is also her husband. 

Through her lawyer, Wesley Hoyt, Cyndi Steele filed a motion Monday to vacate the no contact order. A hearing is set for Oct. 7, the same day Larry Fairfax, the alleged hitman turned FBI informant, is to plead guilty and be sentenced on two federal weapons charges. (Hoyt and Steele are pictured above at a press conference Sept. 20.)

Cyndi Steele is objecting to Fairfax’s plea, saying he’s the real mastermind of the murder plot, not her husband, Edgar Steele (right).

In a 13-page motion, Hoyt alleges FBI Special Agent Mike Sotka improperly influenced Cyndi Steele’s perception of the case. Hoyt argues phone calls between the Steeles don’t influence Cyndi Steele’s perception “nor will any future communications with her husband have any influence on her testimony,” according to the motion.

Cyndi Steele “evaluates information independently based on her own perceptions and refused to be influenced by others such as her husband or S.A. Sotka,” the motion reads.

The couple relies on each other for financial advice, and Edgar Steel has extensive knowledge of the family’s websites and business interests that are crucial to Cyndi Steele, according to the affidavit.

Read the entire motion here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 21: Cyndi Steele alleges conspiracy

WSP chief denies accidental shooting rumors

The chief of Washington State Patrol said Tuesday he has no reason to believe last week’s shooting of an unarmed pregnant woman in Spokane was accidental.

“I don’t have anything to lead me to believe that,” Chief John Batiste said Tuesday during an interview with The Spokesman-Review editorial board.

The possibility that the Friday shooting by WSP Sgt. Lee Slemp during a drug raid in Spokane was accidental has been reported by Spokane television station KXLY this week, which cited unnamed sources.

Read the rest of my story here.

Spokane police investigating baby’s death

Spokane police are investigating the death of a baby boy and say his mother’s boyfriend is the only suspect.

 The 1-year-old boy was not breathing when officers arrived at an East Everett Avenue home in Hillyard just before 5 p.m., according to a news release by Lt. Dave McGovern.

“Detectives are interviewing the family and are currently questioning a suspect, the boyfriend of the child’s mother,” McGovern wrote at 8 p.m. “No arrests have been made as of yet. There are no other outstanding suspects. The investigation is ongoing and there is no further information at this time.”

Report: Rape suspect posed as cop

A man accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in a Spokane park early Saturday claimed to be a police officer, then told her he would take her to jail for illegally possessing alcohol if she didn’t have sex with him, police said Monday.

According to police, Christopher M. Clough, 29, met the woman, who had been walking on Monroe Street, at about 1 a.m. in the McDonald’s parking lot at Monroe and Indiana Avenue, where he told her he was investigating rapists and offered to give her a ride home.

Believing Clough was an undercover officer, the woman got in his car but was soon handcuffed by Clough, who pointed to a cup of alcohol she was carrying and said she wouldn’t go to jail “if I gave him a piece of me,” the woman told police.

Read the rest of my story here.

Injured owl at Geiger gets lots of attention

Here’s a dispatch from Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office:

“It was not so much a jail break as it was a wing break. Sgt. Jon Simbler at the Geiger Corrections Center discovered a large owl inside the perimeter fence Sunday and noted that it appeared to have a broken wing. It was cranky, he added.

Not wanting to risk the bird’s talons, he began calling around to see if he could locate professional help for the owl. A call to sheriff’s dispatch produced no results, nor did a call to the Washington State Patrol.

The WSP dispatcher said that although they dispatch for the state game department, they would only come if it was a spotted owl. Sgt. Simbler said it didn’t appear to have spots.

Finally, Lt. Mike Rohrscheib called a wild animal rescue group who put him in touch with a bird rescue specialist. “Marilyn” said that she hadn’t been in the business for a number of years, but knew of a veterinarian who treated birds if they could catch it.

“Watch out for the talons,” she added.

Rohrscheib kept looking and located a private wildlife specialist who took the owl into “custody” and drove it to the Jerry Ponti Veterinary Clinic. By now the bird was looking quite lethargic and its survival was in question.

However, on Monday the owl was described as getting stronger and eating and drinking. X-rays were planned and surgery is in the future if needed. On Tuesday, he was downright feisty.

Simbler Tuesday humbly reported that it was the entire staff at Geiger who displayed an overwhelming sense of duty to see that the owl survived.”

Man jailed for drunk chat w/ off-duty cop

A home-invasion robbery suspect set to go to trial next month is back in jail after the Spokane police detective who investigated the case said the man drunkenly approached him at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

 Nathaniel Jay Dishneau, 30, was prohibited from leaving Spokane County or contacting case witnesses when he approached Detective L. Tofsrud Sept. 3 about 7 p.m. at the Coeur d’Alene Resort and said, “You know I can’t do life, man,” according to court documents, apparently a reference to Dishneau’s possible consequences under the state’s three-strikes law.

Dishneau was arrested over the weekend after prosecutors alleged he violated his release conditions on burglary, assault and armed robbery charges when he left the county and approached a witness.

Prosecutors wanted $750,000 bail; Superior Court Judge Michael Price imposed $50,000. Dishneau already was out on $35,000 bond. Dishneau’s lawyer, Stephen Heintz, had asked for his client to be released on his own recognizance, saying he’s kept in great contact about the upcoming trial.

Police say Dishneau is a gang member. His criminal history includes several assault convictions, including convictions tied to a shooting in 1998 outside a fast-food restaurant, and to a shooting in 2004 at a Spokane Valley restaurant.

His new charges stem from an alleged home-invasion robbery at 1618 E. Liberty on Christmas Eve. Witnesses said Dishneau was armed with a gun when he and two other men burst in stole electronics.

Detective Tofsrud was off-duty at the resort earlier this month when Dishneau approached with a cup of beer.

“Dishneau appeared emotional and indicated that he wanted to talk to me about this investigation and the fact that he was being criminally charged,” according to a police report.

Dishneau denied have a gun during the incident and said he’d “just went over there to get my stuff back,” Tofsrud wrote. Dishneau continued to drink his beer, told the detective he has children “and wanted me to consider this as a deciding factor in whether or not he should be incarcerated,” Tofsrud wrote.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla was notified of the contact and issued an arrest warrant on Friday. Dishneau remains in the Spokane County Jail.

2 sex offenders register in Spokane Co.

Two sex offenders considered likely to reoffend have registered in Spokane County.

Jesus Lopez, 35, (right) is living in the 12000 block of E. Marietta in Spokane Valley.

He was released from prison in 2005 after being convicted of first-degree rape in Grant County in 1994, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

His victim was a 27-year-old female who was not a stranger, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Christopher Lee Godwin, 29, (left) is living as a transient in Spokane County.

He was released from prison in September 2009 after serving 18 months for an indecent liberties conviction in Spokane County, the Sheriff’s Office said. His victim was a 14-year-old female stranger whom he sexually assaulted after persuading her to visit his motel room, police said.

Godwin is being supervised by the state Department of Corrections.

Lopez and Godwin are level 3 sex offenders, the classification considered most likely to reoffend.

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

Purse-snatching suspect turns self in

A man who robbed a 71-year-old woman of her purse in a South Hill grocery store parking lot last week turned himself into police today, according to Crime Stoppers.

 Justin R. Meyer, 21, (right, allegedly) was booked into jail on one count of second-degree robbery after surrendering at the Spokane police front desk at the Public Safety Building Monday morning.

Surveillance cameras captured the robber’s face, and the picture was widely disseminated as Crime Stoppers offered a reward for tips on his identity. More than 30 have come in since Wednesday.

“It’s unknown if the intense public scrutiny led Meyer to surrender,” sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release.

Police say Meyer stole a 71-year-old woman’s purse Sunday about 1:15 p.m. in the west parking lot at Albertsons, 3010 E. 57th Ave.

The woman was not injured but lost cash, credit cards and keys to her car, home and business.

Past coverage:

Sept. 22: Purse-snatching robber caught on tape

Stories change in deputy shooting probe

Deputies who initially said an armed assault suspect fired on them before they shot back, wounding him last week, now say they’re unsure if the man shot at them at all. 

The newly disclosed doubts over who fired first in the Sept. 16 showdown are contained in investigative documents filed in Spokane County Superior Court.

Investigators recovered no forensic evidence at the scene corroborating the deputies’ initial statements that “multiple shots” had been fired at them, and in subsequent interviews with Washington State Patrol investigators this week the deputies have acknowledged it’s possible the suspect didn’t fire his gun.

Either way, deputies Thad Schultz (left) and David Westlake (right) say they feared that hostile fire was imminent.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 22: No conclusion in shooting probe

Sept: 18 Deputies shoot, wound man

Reagan: No update on shot pregnant lady

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the investigation into last week’s shooting of an unarmed pregnant woman by a Washington State Patrol sergeant, said Monday it had no idea whether the woman was still in the hospital, whether her condition was improving or if she’d given birth.

Sgt. Dave Reagan, the department’s spokesman, said he didn’t check on the woman’s condition because the primary focus of the sheriff’s office probe is on the shooting, adding that he lacks the authority to publicly disclose her identity because a separate law enforcement agency is in charge of the investigation into alleged drug activity at her home.

Meanwhile, the woman’s family declined comment Monday but a Spokane TV station reported that labor was induced at a local hospital and that she gave birth over the weekend. The woman, who was 39 weeks pregnant, was shot once in the shoulder area Friday while investigators served a search warrant at her apartment, 1405 N. Lincoln.

Past coverage:

Sept. 24: WSP sergeant shoots unarmed pregnant woman

Cemetery owners’ dispute leads to gunfire

A domestic dispute between two cemetery owners erupted in gunfire Sunday in Moses Lake, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office announced today. 

Mark L. Benson, 55, is charged with attempted first-degree murder after his wife, Susan L. Benson, said he fired several rounds, striking her left shoulder, as she fled in her car.

Susan Benson, also 55, remains hospitalized today with a non-life threatening gunshot wound, according to the Sheriff’s Office. She called 911 about 6:30 p.m. Sunday and said she was fleeing her husband after being shot and was going to drive herself to Samaritan Hospital, the Sheriff’s Office said.

She’d been working at the Moses Lake Cemetery, which the couple owns, when Mark Benson arrived and wanted to talk about their pending divorce and whether their marriage could be saved, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Susan Benson said she left the cemetery, located about eight miles east of Moses Lake on Road 2, without saying anything but was followed by Mark Benson, who fired several shots.

Mark Benson called 911 and advised of his location. He was arrested without incident and remains in the Grant County Jail.

Under 3-strikes law, robbers’ fates differ

A Spokane man whose accomplice is serving a life sentence for a home investigation robbery last year was sentenced recently to eight years in prison. 

Derick D. Taylor, 30, (pictured) pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted first-degree robbery and was ordered to serve nearly 97 months in prison.

The convictions stem from March 2009 when Taylor and Thomas A. Butler, 26, forced their way into a home at 4113 E. 16th Ave., where three Eastern Washington University seniors lived.

One of the residents shot Butler, who was then convicted by a jury of six felonies last April and sentenced to life in prison without parole under the state’s three-strikes law.

Detectives believe the men had an inflated impression of what they might find in the home.

Taylor originally was charged with first-degree kidnapping, robbery, burglary and two counts of first-degree assault. He was sentenced Sept. 20 by Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque.

Feds charge casino-going meth suspect

A Spokane man arrested with large amounts of cash and several ounces of methamphetamine on three occasions this year has been charged in federal court.

David B. Hill, 42, was arrested Aug. 24 after a confidential informant told Spokane police he sold large quantities of meth from Spokane motels and frequently gambled with large amounts of cash at Northern Quest Casino.

Police traced him to the Apple Tree Motel, 9508 N. Division St., where he was staying with his 22-year-old girlfriend, Hailey B. Smith.They arrested him on an Adams County drug warrant and found more than $5,000 and 7 ounces of meth in the room.

Hill left jail on bond but was arrested again Sept. 19 as he drove from a home at 2802 N. Locust with a stolen Beretta handgun, more than $14,000 and three baggies of meth weighing more than 3 ounces. He hasn't left jail since - he was charged in U.S. District Court Sept. 22 with two counts of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of meth.

The charges are connected to 18 ounces of meth seized from Hill on Jan. 18 near Northern Quest. Police also found a gun and more than $15,000 cash. Hill and his 20-year-old passenger, Tara Radar, were arrested, but no charges were filed until the grand jury indictment last week.

A convicted felon, Hill also could face charges for the seized handgun. He's being held without bond at the Spokane County Jail.

Slain man is deputy coroner’s grandson

A 22-year-old Rathdrum man stabbed to death by his girlfriend’s father Friday night in what investigators say was self defense is the grandson of Kootenai County Deputy Coroner and Democratic candidate for coroner Jody DeLuca Hissong.

Brandon S. DeLuca initiated the fight with Scott A. Johnson, 47, during an argument with DeLuca’s 23-year-old girlfriend in a trailer they shared at the Prairie Schooner Estates, 2215 E. Highway 53 in Rathdrum, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

An autopsy is being conducted today at Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, which conducts criminal-related autopsies for Kootenai County, Major Ben Wolfinger said. Investigators will then forward the case to the prosecutor’s office for a charging decision.

Johnson has not been arrested.

“It’s looking a lot like it was self defense,” Wolfinger said.

DeLuca was arguing with his girlfriend when Johnson intervened and the two began brawling, Wolfinger said.

The fight prepared to break up, but DeLuca then lunged at Johnson, and Johnson stabbed DeLuca in the chest, investigators said.

DeLuca collapsed in a nearby trailer. Witnesses rendered first aid, but he was pronounced dead at Kootenai Medical Center. The initial 911 call came in at 7:55 p.m.

Rape trial halted after suspect’s suicide

A Spokane man on trial for rape killed himself at his home during a break in court proceedings Thursday.

Harvey S. Marshall, 49, was charged with third-degree rape for an alleged incident in August 2008; the alleged victim was not a stranger to him, according to court documents.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza dismissed the charge on Thursday after Harvey fatally shot himself while at home during a lunch break.

The jury trial began Monday; closing arguments were scheduled Thursday afternoon. Marshall was arrested in February 2009 but was out of jail on bond.

The Spokesman-Review does not identify suicide victims, but Marshall’s death halted a public proceeding.

1st woman in 5 years executed in U.S.

JARRATT, Va. (AP) — The first woman executed in the United States in five years was put to death in Virginia on Thursday for arranging the killings of her husband and a stepson over a $250,000 insurance payment.

Teresa Lewis, 41, died by injection at 9:13 p.m. Thursday, authorities said. She became the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century. Supporters and relatives of the victims watched her execution at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.

Lewis enticed two men through sex, cash and a promised cut in an insurance policy to shoot her husband, Julian Clifton Lewis Jr., and his son, Charles, as they slept in October 2002. Both triggermen were sentenced to life in prison and one committed suicide in 2006.

Lewis appeared fearful, her jaw clenched, as she was escorted into the death chamber. She glanced tensely around at 14 assembled corrections officials before being bound to a gurney with heavy leather straps.

Moments before her execution, Lewis asked if her husband’s daughter was near.

Kathy Clifton, Lewis’ stepdaughter, was in an adjacent witness room blocked from the inmate’s view by a two-way mirror.

“I want Kathy to know that I love her and I’m very sorry,” Lewis said.

Then, as the drugs flowed into her body, her feet bobbed but she otherwise remained motionless. A guard lightly tapped her on the shoulder reassuringly as she slipped into death. (A medical examiners truck is pictured above leaving the prison.)

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

No gas leads to car theft suspect’s arrest

An 18-year-old transient was arrested on suspicion of car theft this morning after the vehicle ran out of gas about a block from a police station.

Spokane Valley police found David R. Yeager  putting fuel into a stolen 1990 Jeep Cherokee after the owner’s son reported the theft to the Spokane Valley Police Precinct, 12710 E. Sprague Ave., about 7:15 a.m.

He said the Jeep wouldn’t have gotten too far from his East Alki home because it didn’t have much gas, police said.

The man then returned a few minutes later and said he spotted the stolen Jeep in a parking lot about a block from the station.

Police booked Yeager into Spokane County Jail on count of theft of a motor vehicle.

Forced haircut preluded double homicide

Testimony in a Spokane County double-homicide trial expected to end next week includes a host of familiar names as witnesses describe the weeks of unreported threats - and one unwanted haircut - that led to the September 2009 gunfire.

Merle W. Harvey, 28, (right) feared Jack T. Lamere and had been threatened by him several times, Harvey’s mother and best friend testified Wednesday.

Lamere’s friend Dare Douglas had brawled with Harvey’s girlfriend, Diane L. Richardson, and tow truck driver Richard Ziesmer had reportedly taken calls from Harvey lamenting a car trade and threatening Lamere. According to testimony, Lamere often visited Harvey’s home, including once with a man prosecutors called Matt Short - a 6-foot-1, red-haired man who was Wednesday’s Crime Stoppers’ fugitive.

Harvey killed Lamere, 41, and Jacob J. Potter , 45, (left) on Sept. 26, 2009, in what he says was self defense but prosecutors say was a planned murder out of revenge for weeks of problems with Lamere over a car dispute. Harvey said Lamere took his Chevy Blazer for a test drive and never returned, leaving him with a title-less Cadillac he couldn’t drive.

Court testimony on Wednesday described a bizarre altercation weeks before the homicides in which Lamere arrived at Harvey’s East Rich Avenue trailer, instructed him to sit down and be quiet, then forcefully cut Richardson’s hair.

When Harvey visited Lamere later, Lamere had knives and scalping instruments displayed on a table, along with Richardson’s braided hair, according to court testimony.

Some time later, Richardson brawled with Douglas, said Harvey’s mother, Faith Harvey. Lamere learned of the fight and called Harvey, threatening him, according to court testimony.

“He said that Merle was going to be dead,” Faith Harvey testified.

She said her son and his girlfriend were so frightened they went camping for several days. Lamere (right) visited the home several times while they were gone. He often bragged about his past time in federal prison and told Faith Harvey he’d committed “violent, heinous crimes,” she said. (Read more about Lamere here.)

Faith Harvey was the first defense witness to testify.

The prosecution’s last witness, Spokane police Detective Chet Gilmore, testified Wednesday morning, saying that though both Lamere and Potter had brass knuckles, Harvey didn’t mention the weapons after his arrest.

Gilmore said Harvey told him he shot the men on purpose and said Potter “was ready to F us up.”

He said Potter was wearing spiked brass knuckles and carrying a pistol-gripped black flashlight, but that Harvey claimed Potter had hidden a black handgun under his shirt. Gilmore said it would “probably” be difficult to hide the flashlight under a shirt.

It’s undisputed that Lamere was carrying a handgun when he was killed. Lamere’s girlfriend, April Fletcher, also had a knife, but Gilmore said Harvey admitted to never seeing Fletcher, thus the knife has no bearing on the case.

Harvey’s friend Aaron Cunningham (left) testified that he feared Lamere because Lamere held a gun to his head during a meeting over the car trade.

He said Lamere bragged about his history as a torturer “and said that he’s not afraid to do it again,” Cunningham said.

Testimony is to resume Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Past coverage:

Sept. 16, 2010 : Trial begins in double homicide over cars

Sept. 28, 2009: Suspect at large after shooting

Sept. 29, 2009: Victim had sought new life

Oct. 9, 2009: Hells Angels vowed to kill murder victim 10 years ago

Oct. 17, 2009: Man says he killed in self defense

Oct. 19, 2009: Stolen jeep had ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ coin inside

WSP: Details expected today on shooting

More information is expected to be relased today regarding the deputy-involved shooting in north Spokane County last week.

Although witnesses at the scene of the Thursday night shooting said Spokane County sheriff’s Deputies Thad Schultz (left) and David Westlake (right) were fired on first by assault suspect Sean P. Houlihan, investigators are awaiting forensic analysis of firearms found in Houlihan’s pickup before concluding whether Houlihan also fired shots, according to a probable cause affidavit signed on Saturday by Washington State Patrol Trooper Ryan Spangler.

Wasington State Patrol spokesman Trooper Troy Briggs said Wedneday that both deputies have been interviewed. He plans to release more details this afternoon.

A Moses Lake lawyer representing Houlihan said he’s hoping forensics will help determine what happened, but he also said Houlihan and the deputies all were carrying a Glock 9 mm.

Read the full story here.

Past coverage:

Sept: 18 Deputies shoot, wound man

Vigil set to remember murder victims

A vigil to remember homicide victims will be held Thursday in the Spokane County Public Works Building next to the courthouse.

Friends and family of victims as well as others impacted by homicide will gather in the Spokane County Commissioners hearing room at 1026 W. Broadway Ave. as part of the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

The event is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is sponsored by the victim/witness unit of the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.

The unit has documented 609 murders, vehicular homicides, manslaughters and unsolved violent crimes in Spokane County.

“While a few of these cases occurred in other areas, the victims’ families are located here and all too often, they are still struggling to cope with the murder of a loved one,” according to a news release.

On Friday, victim/witness coordinator Annette Ingham will place pairs of shoes on the lawn next to the Law Enforcement Memorial to reflect the number of people impacted by homicide.

For more information on the events, contact Ingham at (509) 477-3640.

Purse-snatching robber caught on tape

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help identify a man who robbed a 71-year-old woman of her purse as his shocked companion looked on. 

The woman and her 45-year-old daughter were walking Sunday about 1:15 p.m. in the west parking lot at Albertsons grocery store, 3010 E. 57th Ave., when two teenage men walked out of the store toward them.

The teen in a dark hooded sweatshirt (pictured at right) grabbed the woman’s purse as she screamed, then ran westbound across Regal with the purse before jumping a fence in the Cedar Hollow Estates apartment complex, Crime Stoppers announced today.

The woman was not injured but lost cash, credit cards and keys to her car, home and business.

“The suspect’s companion stayed with the victim for a minute and appeared shocked at the robbery,” according to a news release. “He eventually walked into the apartment complex through the regular entrance.”

Surveillance photos show the robber and his friend leaving the store.

Anyone with information on either man is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect the reward.

4 misdemeanors for alleged cat hoarder

A Spokane Valley homeowner whose 31 cats were seized last week has been charged with four misdemeanors. 

Julianna O. Bauer (left, in 2009) “was basically overwhelmed” by the situation and wants to cooperate with animal protection officers, said Nancy Hill, director of the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.

Bauer contacted SCRAPS on Saturday and relinquished ownership of the felines, which were seized Sept. 15 from Bauer’s home at 4616 N. Larch Road. Officers described the home as “horrific.” Bauer said she was living there but sleeping in her car because of the mess, Hill said.

“She said basically that she was overwhelmed,” Hill said. “She wanted to cooperate to resolve this.”

Bauer’s cats, who had no major long-term health problems, are available for adoption, along with hundreds of other cats.

Forty-five cats were adopted last week at discount prices, but 118 were brought in, prompting SCRAPS to continue the special this week.

Today through Saturday, adoption fees are $25 cor one cat and $40 for two cats, which includes spaying or neutering, vaccines, microchips and licenses.

SCRAPS issued misdemeanor citations to Bauer for second-degree animal cruelty, one count of confinement in an unsafe manner and one count of operating an unlawful kennel.

Her case is a smaller-scale version of a hoarding case in west Spokane in summer 2008 that drew felony animal cruelty charges.

In the 2008 case, the suspect’s lawyer said the fumes inside her home may have affected her ability to reason; animal experts said her case showed how cat advocates can quickly transform into cat hoarders because of the region’s animal overpopulation problem.

Unregistered sex offender sought by cops

A Spokane sex offender with a history of not checking in with authorities is wanted again.

David J. Lappin, Jr., 30, is accused of failing to register as a sex offender in a $50,000 arrest warrant issued Sept. 15.

Lappin was convicted of first-degree child rape in 1993 and is a level 1 sex offender, which is the classification considered least likely to reoffend. He was then convicted of failing to register as a sex offender in October 2009.

Lappin also has convictions for second-degree theft, refusal to cooperate, possession of controlled substance, making false statements, second-degree vehicle theft and second-degree possession of stolen property, according to Crime Stoppers.

Lappin, 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, last gave 2318 W. Dean as his address.

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

Tips sought on alleged armed robber

An alleged home-invasion robber is wanted by Crime Stoppers after missing a court hearing.

Matthew L. Short, 44,and two well-known felons are accused of bursting into an apartment in the 700 block of North Monroe Street on Jan. 26 and stealing cash and other valuables at gunpoint. He was charged with first-degree robbery in May and posted bond in July; an arrested warrant was issued Sept. 20.

Also charged in the case are George W. Butrick and Dustin C. Rauscher. Butrick faces about 10 other felony charges in different cases; Rauscher was arrested after a police standoff in April.

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

Short, 6-foot-1 and 275 pounds, has convictions for possession of a dangerous weapon, drug possession and violation of a domestic violence court order.

He last gave his address as 814 E. Joseph.

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

Ringtone about breasts interrupts court

There are inappropriate ringtones, and then there are epicly inappropriate ringtones that blare during a quiet court proceeding.

A spectator attending first appearances in Judge Michael Price’s courtroom Tuesday had the latter.

The man’s cell phone rang for several seconds in the midst of a suspect’s appearance on a felony arrest, eliciting uncomfortable murmurs from the courtroom and a scolding from Price.

The song?

“I Love Tits!” apparently by an artist named Dr. Sausage. The lyrics are probably how you might imagine them: not quite appropriate for a courtroom.

The man sent the call to voicemail, but the phone blared again when the message went through a few seconds later.

He told Price he’d silenced the phone, but the damage was done: Price instructed him to go out in the hallway. The man left without seeing his buddy’s court appearance. No word on who he was there to see.

911 recordings released in Creach shooting

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Dispatch traffic from night of Creach shooting

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office released the 911 and police dispatch tapes documenting Deputy Brian Hirzel’s transmissions surrounding his fatal shooting of Spokane Valley pastor Wayne Scott Creach.

The transcript is largely as Spokane police officials described. Hirzel called “code 6,” which means he needs help. 

A few seconds later he says: “I’ve got shots fired, one down, shots fired.” A few seconds after that, Hirzel said: “respond medics.”

He made that call a second time from 14208 E. 4th Ave. before a dispatcher acknowledged the call and informed Hirzel that medics were en route.

Hirzel was in full uniform but in an unmarked car the night of Aug. 25 when Creach, who owned the property Hirzel was parked on, approached with a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other.

Hirzel said he told Creach repeatedly to drop the gun but that he refused and tucked it into the back waistband of his pants instead, then refused Hirzel’s orders to lay on the ground.

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker now has the case and has said he hopes to quickly decide on any potential charges against Hirzel.

Idaho man jailed for poaching bull moose

A Genesee, Idaho, man convicted of poaching a bull moose lost his hunting privileges and will spend 45 days in jail.

Mitchell Sisler, 22, was sentenced last week on the felony charge of poaching. Another Genesee resident, Roy Wallace, pleaded guilty earlier. The men were jointly fined $10,000.

The case began n October 2008, when officers received a tip that the head and antlers of the moose had been hidden under a bridge.

Sisler and Wallace admitted to shooting the moose from the road without a tag and leaving most of the meat to rot.

In addition to 45 days in jail, Sisler also was sentenced to five years probation and had his hunting privileges revoked for life. But the court retained jurisdiction over his hunting privileges, which could be reinstated at a later date.

“There is a heavy price for poaching, and hopefully this sentence will deter others from doing it,” said Idaho Fish and Game District Conservation Officer Barry Cummings.

To report wildlife crimes, contact the Citizens Against Poaching hotline, (800) 632-5999.

Hoyt: Feds ‘can make you say anything’

“They can make you say anything,” Wesley Hoyt said of the federal government. “They can say you murdered a 100 nuns and set the Vatican on fire.”

Hoyt, a Colorado-based attorney representing Cyndi Steele pro bono, was talking about a key component of Edgar Steele’s defense theory - that the tapes depicting Steele plotting the murder of his wife and mother-in-law with Larry Fairfax aren’t authentic.

Hoyt, a former Idaho County prosecutor who writes a column for the Central Idaho Post, joined Cyndi Steele at a press conference at a Coeur d’Alene motel Monday, blasting the government for prosecuting Edgar Steele and calling on the media to investigate what they say is a corrupt case.

He said murder-for-hire is a charge used by federal prosecutors to target specific people.

Hoyt pointed to the case David Roland Hinkson, (left)a wealthy North Idaho businessman convicted in 2005 of plotting to kill federal officials involved in a separate, federal tax case against Hinkson’s water business.

Described as a “hard-core patriot” by his anti-government associates, Hinkson was convicted by a jury and is to be released from prison in 30 years.

Edgar Steele mentioned another murder-for-hire defendant when talking with his wife June 13: Matt Hale, (right) a neo-Nazi convicted of soliciting a federal judge’s murder in 2003. In the phone call, which led to a witness tampering charge against Steele, the North Idaho lawyer calls the recording of him speaking to Fairfax “a mission impossible world class level production.”

“This is coming from the very top level, and they are after me. They are not going to settle for anything less than putting me in prison for 20 or 25 years. I guarantee you that,” Edgar Steele said. “This is going to be just like the Matt Hale case- exactly - and he’s in there on 25 years right now.” (Federal prison records show Hale actually isn’t scheduled to be released until 2037.)

Hale solicited the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow after she enforced a court order that Hale’s racist group change its name after losing a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Both Hale and Hinkson were convicted by juries and are serving lengthy sentences in federal prisons.

Read my full story on Cyndi Steele’s press conference here.

Spokane photog on trial for murder in Cali

A former Spokane photographer accused of killing his wife 27 years ago is on trial in Southern California. 

William G. Mordick, 64, was arrested in Spokane on Feb. 11, 2008. He’d owned and operated Photography by Gregory in Spokane since the early 1990s.

He’s charged with murder for the death of his wife, Katherine Mordick, who was found dead with her throat slashed in the couple’s Anaheim Hills home on Jan. 22, 1983. He faces life in prison if convicted.

A jury couldn’t reach a verdict after Mordick’s first trial last fall. His second trial began Thursday and is expected to last until early October, the Orange County Register reports.

Authorities say DNA linked him to his wife’s murder, which they allege he committed to keep custody of the couple’s two children and avoid child support payments.

Past coverage:

Feb. 12, 2008: Spokane photographer held in wife’s 1983 slaying

Convicted killer found dead in Spokane jail

A man sentenced to life in prison last week for murdering one of his accusers in a 2007 assault case was found dead in the Spokane County Jail early Monday.

Christopher H. Devlin, 57, didn’t get out of bed when served breakfast about 6:30 a.m., but a jailer thought he saw his leg move, assumed he was refusing to eat, and removed the meal, said sheriff’s Lt. Aaron Anderton.

Another employee found Devlin dead about 8:30 a.m., Anderton said.

Devlin was found face down in his bed. There were no obvious signs of violence.

Anderton said Devlin’s death appears to have been self-inflicted or from natural causes but said investigators are awaiting an autopsy. An estimated time of death will help investigators determine if procedures were followed when Devlin didn’t retrieve his breakfast at 6:30 a.m., Anderton said.

The situation is similar to the Nov. 11 death of Fredrick James Juhnke, who had died from a burst artery but lay in his cell for eight hours before jail deputies found him. Two deputies were disciplined in that case: one was fired and one resigned, including a deputy who falsified jail logs to try to hide the fact that they didn’t make half-hourly checks on inmates as required.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 16: Killer gets life in prison after contradictory verdict

Aug. 18: Jury convicts Devlin in Stevens County slaying

Aug. 11: Hoskins doesn’t testify; defense rests

July 26: Trial opens in murder of crime witness

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

Oct. 31, 2009: County balks at case transfer

May 18, 2008: Homicide victim was Chattaroy man

Glenn Beck inspired alleged grenade maker

A Spirit Lake man accused of making grenades in his home over the Fourth of July weekend fears a communist takeover but has never threatened anyone, his lawyer said in recently filed court documents. 

Though federal agents have emphasized statements Kenneth B. Kimbley, Jr., 58, made about militias and his dislike for President Barack Obama, the suspect “made absolutely no threats to harm anyone at anytime,” according to court documents prepared by Kimbley’s public defender, Kim Deater.

Kimbley is appealing a U.S. magistrate’s decision to keep him in jail before his trial, currently set for late November, saying he poses no threat to the community.

“In fact, everything said by Mr. Kimbley is no different than what his idol, Glenn Beck, typically states on the air and is protected free speech.” 

Deater writes that though Kimbley was “frequently baited” by an undercover agent, he and his friends “simply discussed their concerns of a communist takeover and the need to be prepared to defend themselves and the country if in fact a takeover occurred.”

Deater points out that Kimbley was not charged with making threats or with unlawful militia activity.

Instead, he’s charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and one count of making a firearm in violation of the national firearms act.

The first charge stems from Kimbley, prohibited form possessing firearms because of a felony conviction, allegedly selling an undercover agent a .22 caliber handgun in October 2009.

The second stems from his arrest on July 3, when federal agents found grenade component in his home at 28128 Highway 41. Steven Eugene Winegar, 52, also is charged.

Deater described Kimbley as “a hardworking, taxpaying citizen” who’s lived in the area for 30 years and worked as a truck driver for the last four. He’s concerned his wife may be homeless in the next few months because of financial problems.

U.S. Magistrate Mikel H. Williams allowed Winegar to leave jail before trial but ordered Kimbley held without bail. He rejected Kimbley’s appeal Sept. 9, but Kimbley filed another appeal Sept. 16.

No hearing has been scheduled.

Past coverage:

July 6: Illegal grenade manufacturing uncovered in Spirit Lake

Mont. man’s drug binge ends in Spokane

A Great Falls, Mont., man who told Spokane police he was on a seven-month drug binge is accused of an armed robbery that led detectives to a suspected stolen vehicle ring.

Ronald J. Schneider, 38, (left) and his girlfriend, Jeanette E. Menghini, 43, (right) are accused of breaking into a disabled man’s motel room at knifepoint on Sept. 10, then stealing his 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix, prescription drugs and $6,000, according to court documents filed this week. 

Spokane County detectives found him with a motorcycle stolen in Great Falls - leading detectives there to travel to Spokane to interview the suspect.

Schneider led Great Falls police to several locations in the north central Montana town which were searched last week, according to The Great Falls Tribune. Police recovered at least six vehicles in Spokane that had been stolen from Great Falls, the paper reported.

Police there said about 20 additional arrests are expected.

Also arrested in Spokane was Daniel A. Wakeford, who allegedly possesed a stolen motorcycle.

Schneider told police he’d spent the last seven months high on methamphetamine, OxyContin “or anything he can get his hands on,” according to a search warrant.

Schneider also said a man named Kentucky alerted him to an old man at the Airway Express Motel, 3809 S. Geiger Blvd., with cash and prescription medication, according to the warrant.

The warrant authorized Spokane County sheriff’s detectives to search a white 1998 Doge Ram truck, license plate JIMSRYD. Motel employees alerted detectives to the truck after Thomas A. Scharp, 53, who’s lived at the motel for about two years, said he’d been robbed at knife point.

Schneider reportedly confessed to the robbery and said he and Menghini planned to “hide out” at Northern Quest Casino but were stopped in the parking lot by police. Scharp “positively and unhesitatingly” identifiied the two, according to a probable cause affidavit prepared by police.

The couple is to be arraigned Wednesday.

Schneider remains in the Spokane County Jail; Menghini and Wakeford were released last week because neither has been formally charged.

Alleged murder plot victim to speak out

The wife of a North Idaho lawyer accused of hiring someone to kill her will hold a press conference this afternoon in front of the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.

Cyndi Steele is standing by her husband, Edgar Steele, and railed against federal prosecutors in a 16-page affidavit filed earlier this month.

Cyndi Steele says the U.S. Attorney’s Office has violated her rights as a victim by striking a plea deal with Larry Fairfax, who the FBI says was hired to murder Cyndi and her mother but instead helped build a case against Edgar.

Fairfax was to plead guilty to two federal charges Sept. 7, but the hearing was postponed until October.

Edgar Steele remains in the Spokane County Jail, where prosecutors have accused him of violating a no contact order with his wife by mailing her a birthday card in late July.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said her office plans to investigate the origins of the affidavit signed by Cydni, which Whelan said appears to be an attempt to bolster Edgar’s defense.

But Steele’s advocates say the couple is simply a victim of an out-of-control federal government.

They’ve created a website chronicling their efforts and thoughts on the case. Cyndi Steele is expected to speak today at 4 p.m.

Hirzel’s order to drop gun was lawful

Although the Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms, state laws passed since then dictate how citizens can legally carry and use weapons.

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker and other legal experts say the law is crystal clear on this point: A person must follow a lawful order from police.

“When an officer asks you to drop a weapon, you drop it,” Tucker said this week. “Even in the Old West, if a deputy sheriff comes up on an outlaw and says ‘Drop the gun,’ you drop the gun or a gunbattle starts.”

But Alan Creach, son of Wayne Scott Creach, who was killed Aug. 25, said it’s also clear that his father was no “outlaw,” and was well within his rights to carry a gun to protect his property as he had done for years.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Sept. 17: Police report details pastor’s shooting

Nuns deny devilish claims of skulduggery

Accusations of stolen cash and silver, forged business records and slander have been hurled between two groups of nuns.

The episode has resulted in a police investigation at the request of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Ghost, who claim that two members of their convent left, but not before stealing the items and turning them over to a rival convent at Mount St. Michael.

Read the rest of John Stucke’s story here.

Police get search warrant for man’s rectum

Spokane police officers recently obtained a search warrant for a man’s rectum.

The 31-year-old Spokane man was arrested Sept. 10 on misdemeanor warrants after a traffic stop just before 1 a.m.

Police found a knife, marijuana, a digital scale and cash in his backpack, according to court documents. He was being booked into Spokane County Jail on a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver when a corrections deputy noticed a foreign object “possibly inside his anal cavity.”

“The suspect refused orders to bend over, spread his buttocks and cough,” according to the warrant. “He stood with his buttocks clenched tightly and refused to cooperate with any further instructions.”

A judge then signed a search warrant authorizing officers to search the man’s body cavity, and he was transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. The search came up empty.

“A jailer thought he saw something,” said Officer Brian Eckerlsey, spokesman for the Spokane Police Department. “But for whatever reason, it didn’t come out.”

Lesser verdict still means life for Lucious

A Spokane man faces life in prison under the state’s 3 strikes law after a jury convicted him in connection with a July 2009 shooting that injured two women.

 Jurors were split on attempted murder and first-degree assault charges against Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious by Spokane County prosecutors, citing questions over whether another man may have fired shots at the women.

But the jury foreman said all 12 believed Lucious had banged on the car window and threatened the women with a gun, justifying a second-degree assault conviction.

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese ordered Lucious, 39, held without bail until sentencing on Oct. 14.

Described as a gang member by Spokane police, Lucious already has convictions for two violent crimes.

Under state law, Thursday’s conviction earns him a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Public defender Steven Reich said prosecutors “grossly overcharged” Lucious and said while he’s pleased jurors wouldn’t convict on the murder charges, the outcome is the same for Lucious under the 3-strikes law.

“I have a real problem with the three-strikes law,” Reich said. “It takes discretion away from judges.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 16: Lawyer: Shooting suspect may be wrongly accused

Sept. 14: Prosecution could rest today in 3-strikes trial

June 8: 3-strikes suspect backs out of pro-se plan

March 15: ‘Hardball’ means more charges for Lucious

Jan. 19: Attempted murder charges dropped against Gardner

July 24, 2009: Crosstown melee erupts in gunfire

Idaho lawyer jailed on sex abuse charges

A North Idaho attorney is being held without bail in San Diego following allegations he sexually abused a teen girl, including “dates” at Southern California hotels. 

David C. Jacquot, 52, also is under investigation in Bonner County for a suspicious fire that destroyed his rural home just days after the girl first told his family about the alleged abuse.

Fire officials reportedly found more than 40 firearms, including a grenade launcher, while searching the remains of the anti-tax attorney’s scorched home in March.

Authorities say the fire appears to be arson and question whether Jacquot targeted his family because of his adopted daughter’s allegations.

“Attempted murder charges are very difficult to prove,” Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said this week. “But certainly the timing is being looked at.”

Jacquot, his wife, lawyer Ann Jacquot; and the couple’s son escaped the fire; the girl was not at the home.

A federal grand jury in San Diego indicted David Jacquot last month on federal child exploitation charges. He was ordered held without bail at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Southern California earlier this month. His lawyer, Michael Crowley, filed a notice of appeal Sept. 9. He did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Jacquot was indicted Aug. 13 on three counts of transportation of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity. Marshall said he considered charging Jacquot with sex crimes under Idaho state law, but the federal charges carry much longer prison sentences.

Jacquot faces a maximum federal prison sentence of 90 years, but his standard sentencing range is 12 to 15 years, according to court documents.

The charges come at the same time Jacquot is preparing for trial on federal accusations that he filed false tax returns in 2002 and 2003 while vice president and general counsel for Xelan, Inc., a financial management company.

Jacquot is licensed to practice law in Idaho but did most of his work in the San Diego area, Marshall said.

His now-defunct website described him as an aggressive “tax hero” who served nine years in the U.S. Army before retiring because of injuries suffered during the Gulf War. He graduated Oregon State University in 1984 and earned a law degree from Gonzaga Law School in 1989. He practiced law in Coeur d’Alene, according to his website, and also kept an office in San Diego.

Federal agents raided that office in 2007 while investigating accusations that Jacquot understated his earnings by more than $250,000. He was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial but was given strict release conditions - including that he not posses firearms.

He was jailed in Bonner County about a month after the fire ripped through his home at 2041 Bandy Road, about 15 miles northeast of Spirit Lake, just days after the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office learned of abuse allegations lodged against Jacquot by the teen girl.

In March 2010,the alleged victim told her high school counselor that David Jacquot had been sexually abusing her. Federal prosecutors say David Jacquot began raping the girl several years ago. He flew her from Spokane to San Diego three times in May and June 2006 “with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with her,” according to court documents. Federal investigators say Jacquot stayed with the girl at hotels and rented sexually explicit movies.

Sanders gets 4 emails in disclosure case

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — An unanimous state Supreme Court on Thursday awarded Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders four additional documents and additional legal fees in his public records lawsuit against the state.

Sanders (pictured) sued the state in 2005 after he was admonished for talking with residents at the state’s center for violent sexual predators at McNeil Island while some residents had pending court cases. He wants all documents related to the visit, including e-mail among state attorneys.

But the high court affirmed much of an earlier Thurston County Superior Court ruling that held that most of the more than 100 exempt documents Sanders was seeking were properly withheld.

The Supreme Court said four additional e-mails were improperly withheld and should have been released.

The court granted Sanders’ additional legal fees incurred during the appeal, and awarded him a penalty based on the additional documents released, but rejected his request for an increase in the penalty rate against the state.

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

Drive-by shooting kills New Mexico goat

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Police in Santa Fe are searching for the suspect or suspects in a drive-by shooting that killed a pet goat. 

The shooting happened Sunday evening and killed Maria, a Nigerian dwarf goat who lived with two other goats and other animals at the home in a central-Santa Fe community.

Someone in a blue-green minivan drove up to the fenced yard where the goats are kept and fired three shots from a small-caliber pistol, hitting the animal once in the abdomen and once through a nasal passage. (Two goats who survived the shooting are pictured.)

Maria’s owners, one of whom is an emergency medical technician, tried for more than an hour to care for the dying goat.

“The fact that this was a goat getting killed is bad enough,” Santa Fe Police Chief Aric Wheeler said. “But this is also a drive-by shooting of a home in the middle of the city. That’s a major concern for us.”

Wheeler told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the suspect could face felony charges of animal cruelty, shooting at an occupied building and negligent firearm use.

The goat was one of three owned by two women who live in the home. They also have 12 chickens, four cats, a dog and a duck, most of them rescue animals.

The owners, who didn’t want to be identified, and neighbors said the goats were a local fixture that drew adults and children alike to the yard. Maria in particular would come up to the fence when people walked by.

Police urge caution after jogger attacked

Coeur d’Alene police are warning women to take extra caution while exercising outdoors after a jogger said she was assaulted Sunday morning.

The 29-year-old woman was jogging on a dirt road in the 6700 block of N. Courcelles Way when a man pushed her down, then grabbed her left shoulder and head and turned her toward him, police announced today. The area is on the north side of Skyway Elementary School, north of the soccer field and east of a cluster of trees.

The woman stood up and hit the man several times. He ran away when a car approached, police said. The woman scrapped her knees and the palm of her hand.

The assailant is described as white, 20 to 30 years old, 6-foot-2 with an average build. He had short, dark brown hair was unshaven and wore a yellow shirt and red running shorts.

Police don’t know if the attack was sexually motivated but “due to the aggressiveness” of the attack, they’re urging women to take precaution.

Anyone with information on the attack is asked to call Coeur d’Alene police at (208) 769-2320.

Suspects sought in CdA Pita Pita assault

Two men assaulted another man in downtown Coeur d’Alene last month, and police are asking for help identifying them. 

The victim, Nicholas Casqueiro, declined medical attention after the Aug. 22 assault outside the Pita Pit, 320 E. Sherman Ave., but his mother called police a few days later and said he’d suffered “extensive injuries to his face and mouth,” police announced today.

Police released surveillance photos showing two men attacking Casqueiro about 12:24 a.m. as he sat with a woman in the restaurant’s outside area.

Witnesses said the fight appears to have started when the woman said something to the men as they walked by. One man hit Casqueiro in the face with a chair; another kicked him after he fell to the ground. A third possible suspect (pictured) was pictured sitting near Casqueiro.

Anyone with information on the men’s identities is asked to call police at (208) 769-2320.

Trial begins in double homicide over cars

Trial began Wednesday for a man accused of gunning down two others in a dispute over a car trade last September. 

Merle W. Harvey said he shot Jack T. Lamere, 41, and Jacob J. Potter, 45, in self defense after the men, who were high on methamphetamine, threatened him with weapons.

But prosecutors contend 28-year-old Harvey, convicted of felony first-degree assault for a shooting 10 years ago, planned the slayings and then lied about what happened to investigators when he was arrested after two weeks on the run.

Opening statements were given Wednesday afternoon, followed by testimony from one of the first responding police officers. The trial is expected to last through next week, said Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy.

  Harvey shot Lamere and Potter to death Sept. 26 in the parking lot of Lamere’s apartment at 1310 W. Boone Ave., then fled with his girlfriend at the time, Diane L. Richardson.

They were arrested Oct. 10 while walking in a field in Kennewick after allegedly stealing jeep in Coeur d’Alene, then crashing it into a canal in the Tri-Cities following a shoplifting incident at a convenience store.

Richardson pleaded guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance in February and was sentenced to six months in jail with credit for time served.

Harvey is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He’s said since he was first arrested that he shot Lamere and Potter in self defense after the men surrounded his truck with guns.

He said he wasn’t looking for the men that night but spotted his Chevy Blazer in the parking lot while driving with Richardson.

Harvey said Lamere, who had been released from prison in September 2008, had taken his Blazer for a test drive but never turned it and left Harvey with a Cadillac but no title.

Harvey said he called Lamere (left) repeatedly asking for the title but didn’t get anywhere.

“The problem was compounded by the fact that Merle was aware of Jack’s history of violence and torture,” according to court documents prepared by Merle’s lawyer, Scott Mason. “Jack was a convicted felon, known as a debt collector (“taxman”) and enforcer. He often carried a knife and/or brass knuckles.” 

Harvey said Lamere refused to give him his Blazer without the Cadillac, so Richardson borrowed and STA security guard’s cell phone to have the car driven to the parking lot.

While Richardson was gone, Lamere and his girlfriend, April Fletcher, armed themselves with a gun and knife. Lamere and Potter each had a pair of brass knuckles; Potter’s were spiked, according to court documents.

Police photos show a metal baseball bat and knife on the floor of the car Lamere had been working on; a loaded gun was in a nearby toolbox, and another knife was in the bed of a truck, according to court documents. Lamere and Potter had high levels of meth in their bloodstream.

Harvey shot the men with two guns but “it was not until the scene became hostile and Merle felt Diana’s and his life were being threatened that he revealed the weapons and fired,” Mason said in court documents.

But other witnesses dispute Harvey’s account, prosecutors say. According to court documents, one man told police he heard the shooter “say something to the effect of, ‘This is for ripping me off.’”

And Richard Ziesmer, a tow truck driver who worked with Lamere, said Harvey had called threatening the men in the days leading up to the shooting.

Ziesmer told The Spokesman-Review in June that his court paperwork had been getting mistakenly mailed to Harvey’s mother’s home. Ziesmer says he learned of the mix up when he found the paperwork stuck to his tow yard fence with the word “snitch” scrawled on it.

Harvey’s mother, 55-year-old Faith M. Harvey is expected to testify. She was jailed Tuesday on a material witness warrant.

The trial resumes this morning before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

Past coverage:

Sept. 28: Suspect at large after shooting

Sept. 29: Victim had sought new life

Oct. 9: Hells Angels vowed to kill murder victim 10 years ago

Oct. 17: Man says he killed in self defense

Oct. 19: Stolen jeep had ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ coin inside

Killer gets life after contradictory verdict

A Stevens County man who murdered a man he was already accused of assaulting will spend the rest of his life in prison under a sentence imposed Wednesday.

A jury convicted Christopher H. Devlin, 57, of aggravated first-degree murder last month for the May 2008 slaying of Daniel Heily, who was shot to death a day before he was testify again Devlin in an assault case.

But the jury ruled Devlin was not armed with a firearm - a contradiction that Spokane County Superior Judge Jerome Leveque said may affect the case upon appeal.

“Whether or not the verdict is going to survive challenges, I don’t know,” Leveque said.

Defense lawyer Mark Vovos said Wednesday that he intends to appeal.

Heily’s family spoke at the sentencing, describing Heily as a loving man and calling Devlin a “psychopath,” “thug,” “despicable individual” and “tyrannical plague.”

The only sentences for aggravated murder in Washington are life in prison or the death penalty. Leveque ruled out the death penalty in February because prosecutors withheld from defense lawyers information about where the murder was committed.

Devlin had no prior criminal record. He remains in Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Past coverage:

Aug. 18: Jury convicts Devlin in Stevens County slaying

Aug. 11: Hoskins doesn’t testify; defense rests

July 26: Trial opens in murder of crime witness

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

Oct. 31, 2009: County balks at case transfer

May 18, 2008: Homicide victim was Chattaroy man

Lawyer: Shooting suspect wrongly accused

A Spokane man facing life in prison for a July 2009 shooting may be wrongly accused, his lawyer told jurors during closing arguments Wednesday .

Police halted their investigation into the shooter’s identity after the alleged victims identified Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious (right) as the gunman, said public defender Steven Reich.

Nearly a year after the shooting, authorities learned that another man - possibly armed with a .45 handgun - was with the women. But the group had lied about Antonio E. Cook’s presence because his probation prohibited from being out after 10 p.m. and “they would have continued to lie had it not been discovered,” Reich said.

“They haven’t earned your trust,” Reich told jurors.

Reich suggested that Cook fired, likely on accident, the shots that injured Donna M. Dansby and Zsaja J. Branch.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said Reich may wish a .45 was present during the shooting, but the evidence just doesn’t support that claim.

Jurors are to continue deliberations this morning. Lucious is charged with six counts of attempted murder; first-degree assault is included as an alternative charge.

His defense focuses on what Reich said is a shaky case built on testimony from women who may be protecting the real shooter.

Though most witnesses said Cook (left) did not have a gun, one said he did, and Reich said it was likely the others were lying to protect Cook. He pointed to what Branch told doctors at the hospital - that she’d been shot with a .45.

“How would she know?” Reich said.

Police have said Lucious used a 9 mm handgun in the shooting.

Cipolla said in his rebuttal that if Branch had rally been shot in the chest with a .45 “she would have been split in half.”

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese sustained Reich’s objection because no experts ever testified about the impact of a .45.

Reich told jurors that Cook has been convicted of crimes that contest his character, including witness tampering and theft. He reminded jurors that Cook was forced to testify, despite Lucious allegedly trying to kill Branch, who is the mother of Cook’s daughter. He also pointed out that Cook fled the shooting scene despite Branch being rushed to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Cipolla said the facts of the case speak for themselves.

“This man right here used a gun on a car full of women for no apparent reason,” Cipolla said.

The jury deliberated for about an hour Wednesday afternoon and will be back at the courthouse at 9 a.m. today.

If convicted of attempted murder or the lesser charge, first-degree assault, Lucious will be sentenced to life in prison without parole because he already has two violent crime convictions.

Jurors are not allowed to know his possible punishment, but Reich emphasized that “any decision you make will have a a longstanding impact on Mr. Lucious.”

A codefendant, Michael R. Gardner, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in January and was credited for time served.

Past coverage:

Sept. 14: Shooting proceeded fight w/ heeled shoes, butcher knife

Reports detail Pastor Creach’s gun use

Pastor Wayne Scott Creach not only routinely carried his .45 caliber pistol on his property, he was known by police to hold theft suspects at gunpoint until officers could arrive and once chased a fleeing suspect several blocks before apprehending him by threatening to “blow his head off.” 

That report was among the 21 contacts Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputies had with Creach or his business, the Plant Farm, over the last five years, according to records obtained by The Spokesman-Review.

On April 14, 2008, for example, Creach saw someone just after midnight riding away on a bicycle from his nursery complex at 14208 E. 4th Ave. in Spokane Valley with what looked like a plant hanging out of the suspect’s backpack.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Cops raid pot shop 100 ft from WSP office

A Greenacres man who operated a medical marijuana dispensary about 100 feet from a Washington State Patrol office could face felony drug charges in the latest example of Spokane County’s tough stance on the confusing voter-approved law.

Paul E. Ellis, 52, was described by detectives as eager and talkative when they approached him at his dispensary, Med Mar Dis, at 7604 E. Sprague Ave., last month. He showed them his marijuana, explained how he tracks his transactions with about 200 customers and invited them to his home to see his marijuana crop.

The detectives accepted his invitation – then contacted Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso, who has long argued that anyone distributing medical marijuana to more than one patient is violating state law.

Read the rest of my story here.

Oct. 19: New federal orders have no effect on Spokane pot raids

Sept. 14: Protesters ask to keep medical marijuana dispensaries open

Sept. 10: Police arrest medical pot dispensary owners

Aug. 26: Medical marijuana seller busted during buying trip

June 28: Pot’s legal ambiguity clouds law enforcement

Cocaine, guns, $10,000 seized in Grant Co.

More than a 1 1/2 pounds of cocaine was seized last week in Grant County.

Investigators found the drugs, along with three guns, on Sept. 6 while searching two homes - one in Quincy and one in Moses Lake - and arresting four people, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday.

The first search in the 300 block of E Street NE in Quincy recovered about 18 ounces of cocaine. Investigators also seized a late-model BMW convertible and a 2002 Toyota Camry.

Arrested on charges of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver were Felix Torres Maciel, 34, of Moses Lake, and Cesar Alejandro Ayala, 36, of Quincy.

Another search in the 9000 block of Road H. 6 in Moses Lake seized more than eight ounces of cocaine, two semi-automatic handguns, a .22 caliber rifle and more than $10,000.

Suspected illegal immigrants Ricardo Pimentel Maciel, 60, and Estella Torres Maciel, 58, were arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance and alien in possession of a firearm.

Nabbed fugitive part of big skinhead group

A fugitive arrested at a Spokane Valley motel on Sunday is a suspected member of a white supremacist group investigated for murders, robberies and assaults that targeted minorities in Southern California.

Cory A. Dearing, 52, remains in the Spokane County Jail awaiting extradition to Riverside County, where he’s charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

The charge was filed in May 2009 after a raid that targeted the Inland Empire Skinheads.

Officials with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office told told the Press-Enterprise that the group has ties to the national white supremacist group the Hammerskins and uses social networking websites to recruit members, including high school students under age 18.

Seven of Dearing’s alleged associates were arrested on April 20, 2009. The suspected leader, Raymond Williams, was arrested at a hospital where his wife was giving birth. Police said the woman and another pregnant woman and been considering inducing labor so their children could be born on Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Williams later committed suicide in jail.

He, Dearing and Jeremy D. Brower were charged with criminal street gang activity conspiracy to commit a crime with a violent gang activity enhancement, according to Riverside Superior Court records available online.

Coeur d’Alene police announced late Friday that Dearing may be in Coeur d’Alene visiting relatives. Witnesses placed him at a home on Woodside Avenue, just north of Interstate 90 and east of Huetter Road in Coeur d’Alene, about 5 p.m., then at a home in Hayden on Tessa Way later that evening.

He was arrested in Spokane Valley on Sunday about 11 a.m. as he walked from the Maple Tree Motel, 4824 E. Srpague Avenue, where a U.S. Marshals task force had been watching him for several hours.

Woman sues under domestic violence law

MOSES LAKE, Wash. (AP) — An Eastern Washington woman has filed suit against her former employer, claiming the company failed to provide time off to deal with a domestic violence case and ultimately fired her.

Attorney Eric Gutierrez of Columbia Legal Services says this is the first case under the state’s 2008 Domestic Violence Leave Act. The law requires employers to give employees reasonable time off to attend court and ensure their family’s safety if they are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

The woman, who filed suit under the pseudonym “Jane Doe,” filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Grant Count Superior Court against Genie Industries Inc., which is based in Redmond but has a manufacturing facility in Moses Lake.

Company officials did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

Woman strips naked, steals cab in Louisiana

COVINGTON, La. (AP) — Police in Louisiana say a woman stripped in the back seat of a cab, demanded the driver take her to her home state of Michigan and when he refused, stole his cab. 

Covington Police Capt. Jack West told The Times-Picayune that the driver picked up 29-year-old Jennifer Gille of St. Clair Shores, Mich., about 1 a.m. Sunday. West says Gille refused to get out when they reached their destination, stripped and demanded the cabbie take her home.

West says the driver went to a police station for help and when inside, Gille drove off.

Police found the cab parked about a block away and Gille was still naked. Police booked her on charges of unauthorized use of a movable vehicle and obscenity.

She was released from jail late Tuesday on a $75 signature bond. No phone listing for her could be found in either state.

Candidate wants WSP to probe shooting

The Democratic challenger for Spokane County prosecutor on Monday called for the Washington State Patrol to take over the investigation into the fatal shooting of a Spokane Valley pastor.

Spokane lawyer Frank Malone said he had not contacted the WSP, but noted they were already involved in the investigation of the Aug. 25 shooting by Deputy Brian Hirzel as part of a protocol that is designed to avoid having a department investigate itself. “

This investigation is already compromised,” Malone said. “The deputy being allowed to go on vacation was ill-advised and created an unnecessary appearance of coziness with the legal system. The deputy is as interested in a credible investigation as anybody else. He doesn’t want this cloud hanging over him, either.”

Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.

Idaho man admits ‘07 slaying in Coolin

A North Idaho man set to go to trial this week instead pleaded guilty to charges that carry up to 15 years in prison.

Keith Allan Brown, 49, (right) entered Alford pleas last Wednesday in Bonner County District Court to voluntary manslaughter and accessory to grand theft in connection with the January 2007 shooting death of Leslie Carlton Breaw of Priest Lake. 

Brown’s Alford plea means he did not admit guilt involving the killing of Breaw (left), who was shot to death he in Coolin on Jan. 23, 2007, but acknowledged a jury likely would convict him.

Brown and his wife, Tyrah B. Brown, then 25, were arrested in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., in March 2007, accused of using Breaw’s debit card. Authorities seized a station wagon and a sailboat the Browns had purchased, allegedly with money they obtained from a $55,000 escrow check of Breaw’s that had been forged.

The couple returned to Idaho and were charged with first-degree murder; Tyrah Brown (right) pleaded guilty in February 2009 to harboring a wanted felon and theft by recovering/possessing stolen property and received light jail time and probation, according to court records.

 Shortly after his arrest, Brown told the Bonner County Daily Bee that he was trying to get control of a .22-caliber rifle held by Breaw when he accidentally shot Breaw.

Voluntary manslaughter carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years in Idaho. Brown is to be sentenced Nov. 5.

The lengthy case was linked to the resignation of a Bonner County Jail chaplain who publicly objected to an early ruling that Brown was mentally unfit to stand trial.

State could rest today in 3-strikes trial

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla expects to wrap up his case against Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious today after testimony from four or five witnesses, including a man authorities apparently didn’t know was connected to the July 2009 shooting until a few months ago. 

Antonio E. Cook, Jr., 29, (left) was with a group of women when they drove to meet another group for a fight early July 24 to settle a dispute that began at a north side bar. Two of the women testified Monday that they’d brought Cook along for “protection” during the fight.

But the women hadn’t told investigators about Cook until long after Lucious’ arrest, according to court testimony. Lucious’ lawyer, Steve Reich, said repeatedly that Cook was known to carry a .45 handgun.

Lucious, who already has two convictions for violent crimes under the state’s three strikes law, faces six counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of drive-by shooting for the shooting on July 24, 2009. First-degree assault is listed as an alternative charge. The trial opened Monday before a jury of eight women and five men (one juror is an alternate). As is customary, jurors are not allowed to know Lucious’ possible punishment.

Lucious (right, in 2009) wore black slacks, black shoes and a white pine striped shirt with buzzed hair and a beard and mustache.

Witnesses included alleged attempted-murder victim, 18-year-old Ebony Branch, who said she didn’t tell police about Cook, the father of her sister’s baby, because Cook was prohibited from being out after 10 p.m. by the state Department of Corrections.

Reich said Branch didn’t tell him that during an interview in March, either.

Branch said she didn’t tell investigators until “a couple of months ago” but denied conspiring with the other women to hide Cook’s involvement.

Testimony from Branch and another alleged victim, Donna M. Dansby, portrayed a wild fight between several women that led to a showdown in a park on the lower South Hill, near 7th and Newark.

Dansby testified that she removed her heeled shoes and used them as weapons while charging a woman who later grabbed a butcher knife after spitting a razor blade from her mouth. Dansby and her friends then traveled from the bar to an after party, where they met the women again and agreed to meet at the park for a fight.

When they arrived at the park, Lucious was there with a gun, Branch said. Lucious fired several shots at the car as they drove away, Branch testified, then was still there with the gun when they realized they’d forgotten Zsaja J. Branch, Ebony’s older sister.

They turned around to picked her up, and Zsaja was shot by Lucious as she ran to the car, Ebony Branch testified.

Branch was shot in the chest and survived, though police initially considered the wound life threatening, according to court documents. Dansby was shot in the arm during the melee but testified that she doesn’t remember how it happened.

Testimony is scheduled to resume today at 9:15 after Cook, also a witness in the John S. Williams murder case, is sentenced in a separate case.

Report: Sex toys sold from Hirzel’s home

Deputy Brian Hirzel, already under investigation for fatally shooting a Spokane Valley pastor, now is the subject of a new probe.

Hirzel failed to disclose, as required under sheriff’s department rules, that he and his wife are co-owners of a business that sells sex toys online, and could face disciplinary measures if investigators determine he’s taken an active role in the company’s operations, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Monday.

“He told us his wife runs it. If his wife runs it, I can’t control what a spouse does,” Knezovich said, adding that an anonymous tipster advised the Sheriff’s Office on Friday of Hirzel’s connection to the sex toys company. “If he was part of it, there will be some kind of disciplinary action. The discipline will be determined by the facts of the matter.”

RRead the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Shoppers turn burglars after store closes

Burglars stole nearly $1,000 in merchandise from the Salvation Army thrift store in Spokane over the weekend.

The intruders apparently entered the store at 2020 N. Division Street when it was open and were able to stay inside after it closed Saturday at 5 p.m., according to the Salvation Army.

Several boxes of merchandise were stolen from large display cases, including jewelry and other expensive items.

The thieves broke the fire exit as they fled, according to a news release.

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

Hoopfest suspect pleads to riot, gun charges

One of four men arrested after shots were fired at Hoopfest is expected to leave jail this week. 

Rashjel G. “Reggie” Cage, 24, pleaded guilty to felony riot and unlawful possession of a firearm today in a plea deal that dismissed about a dozen attempted murder charges.

Prosecutors have decided also to drop the attempted murder charges against the three remaining defendants and will instead seek five counts of first-degree assault, one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault along with riot and firearms charges.

Cage was accused of passing a gun to Miguel C. Garcia at Hoopfest on June 26.

Garcia, 19, fired several shots into the crowd after approaching rival gang members, police say. The bullets hit three bystanders.

Prosecutors say the men conspired to commit the assaults as part of long-standing rivalry between two gangs. Garcia remains in jail, along with Adam Doe, 19, and Marquis D. Johnson, 22, who prosecutors say were with the men at the time of the shooting.

Cage faces 26 to 34 months in prison when he’s sentenced Dec. 14, but Deputy Prosecutor Steve Garvin said he’ll ask for an exceptionally low sentence if Cage cooperates.

Garvin also recommended Cage be released from jail before his sentencing. Cage’s family said they expect him to be home within a couple of days.

Past coverage:

June 29: Hoopfest shots not ‘surprising’

June 27: Shooting hurts 3, leads to 5 arrests

Burton: ‘I know I didn’t murder this man’

Six days after tanking a plea deal by professing his innocence, a Spokane man who drove the suspected gunman from a murder in January pleaded guilty to four felonies but maintained he played no role in the gang-related slaying.

“In my heart, I know I didn’t murder this man or help murder this man,” said Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton.

Burton, 23, said he knew the victim, John S. Williams, “personally.”

“He was a nice guy to me, too. He was real cool,” Burton said. “…I do feel sorry for him.”

He lamented the lifestyle that leads to shooting deaths like Williams’.

“I’m from Cali. I see it constantly, everyday,” Burton said.

He said he felt Williams’ family’s pain because people close to him have been murdered, too. He mentioned his cousin, Aaron Bascomb, who was shot to death in Los Angeles in April.

“I know the severity of what you have to deal with this,” Burton said to the members of Williams’ family who sat in the courtroom. “I’ve lost so many people I grew up with…We go through it constantly down there.” 

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese approved Burton’s plea deal, which sentenced him to 60 months in prison. He’ll serve the sentence the same time as a 63-month sentence for a second-degree assault conviction handed down by a jury last month.

He pleaded guilty today to harassment, bail jumping, and two counts of rendering criminal assistance. The deal reduced robbery and assault charges to rendering (Burton drove a man who robbed and assaulted a woman from the scene) and dropped an additional count of bail jumping. The harassment charge stemmed from text messages Burton sent to the mother of his 14-month-old daughter.

Burton said his child is his impetus for resolving his criminal charges quickly.

“Being deprived of your freedom, it teaches you a lot,” he said.

Burton has a previous assault conviction for a 2005 gang shooting in which Demetrius Route was convicted of murder and Deric D. Burton was convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.

That conviction coupled with his assault conviction from last month makes two strikes for Cedric - one more and he’ll be sent to prison for the rest of his life. His public defender, Mark Hannibal, said Burton understands that.

“He is a young man,” Hannibal said. “He does have a few goals in his life; one is to continue his education.”

Burton said he trusts in God and said though he’s made a lot of mistakes, “Regardless of what’s on my record, I’ve never intentionally assaulted anyone or robbed anyone.”

“I was becoming a victim to the lifestyle I was getting myself into,” he said. “A second of freedom, a second with my daughter, it’s worth more than a lifetime of bondage.”

Burton acknowledged Williams’ supporters as he was taken from the courtroom back to jail.

“God bless you guys,” he said.

Williams’ mother, Cindy, said she appreciated Burton’s kind words about her son and said she isn’t sure Burton even knew who’d been killed when he drove the alleged shooter, Edward L. “TD” Thomas, from the party at 5405 N. Crestline Jan. 17.

Thomas, who was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for John Williams’ slaying and the attempted slaying of his son. Police say Thomas had a gun pointed at him by a gang member associated with Williams and felt he needed to retaliate.

Past coverage:

June 4: Seven face charges in shooting death

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

March 9: Homicide case not a ‘simple’ investigation

18 years for addict busted after casino win

A Spokane methamphetamine dealer arrested after trying to collect a casino jackpot while on the lam was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison. 

Michael D. “Bull” Luce, 31, avoided arrest for weeks despite a federal indictment filed nearly a year after 2 1/2 pounds of methamphetamine and an AK-47 assault rifle were seized from his East Rowan Avenue home in April 2009.

Detectives monitored jail phone calls and used GPS trackers and covert surveillance, but their break came when Luce tried to cash a $5,000 jackpot at the Coeur d’Alene Casino on April 16. Security recognized him from a police flyer.

His wife, Amanda G. McIntyre, 29, also was arrested and was sentenced Friday to 71 months in federal prison. She had pleaded guilty to distributing 5 grams or more of meth; Luce had pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a firearm and to possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of meth. He received 10 years in prison for the firearm and 216 months for the meth; the sentences will be serve concurrently.

McIntyre will be on probation for 10 years; Luce will be supervised for life.

U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush recommended they both undergo a 500-hour drug treatment program, which can knock a year off their sentences.

Past coverage:

May 18: Casino jackpot leads to fugitive’s arrest

Gang member’s 3-strikes trial begins today

A Spokane gang member facing life in prison for a shooting that injured two women in July 2009 is to stand trial this week in Superior Court. 

Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious, who already has two convictions for violent crimes under the state’s three-strikes law, faces six counts of attempted murder for the shooting on July 24, 2009. First-degree assault is listed as an alternative charge.

Spokane County Deputy mark Cipolla filed four additional attempted-murder charges against Lucious in February after the suspect turned down a plea deal, according to court documents. (Details on the proposed deal are not available.)

Lucious now stands accused of attempting to murder Donna M. Dansby, Zsaja J. Branch, Marquetta M. Scales, Summer R. Abrahamson, Amber C. Branch and Ebony V. Branch. Zsaja Branch suffered a gunshot wound to her chest, Dansby was shot in her left arm.

The melee began when the women were at the now closed Lefty’s Steak and Sports and a woman “was yelling to Dansby something about Spokane girls all being bitches,” then continued to the area of 7th and Newark, when Lucious allegedly showed up with a gun, according to court documents. A co-defendant, Michael R. Gardner, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault for his role in the incident.

A jury of 12 Spokane County resident was to be selected by Friday. Opening statements are to begin this morning.

A judge allowed Lucious to act as his own lawyer in May, but he changed his mind a couple weeks later and Steve Reich was reappointed. Lucious’ Aug. 10 request for a new public defender was denied.

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese is presiding over the trial.

Past coverage:

March 15: ‘Hardball’ means more charges for gang member

Gunpoint car repossession leads to arrest

MARYSVILLE, Wash. (AP) — Police in Marysville have arrested three men from Cheney for investigation of kidnapping and robbery after the men allegedly tried to repossess two vehicles at gunpoint.

The men — 19, 33 and 45 years old — were in a pickup truck Friday night when they confronted a Mount Vernon man and his teenage in a sport utility vehicle outside a restaurant, police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureaux tells The Daily Herald of Everett. Police allege the men pointed a handgun and a shotgun at the man and son, then took the boy out of the SUV and put him in the pickup.

Officers say another man got into the SUV and demanded to go to the man’s home to repossess the other car. Police, alerted by witnesses, then stopped the car and truck and arrested the men.

Off-duty WSP trooper shoots home intruder

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — An off-duty Washington State Patrol trooper shot and killed an intruder who attacked him at his south Kitsap home, according to the Kitsap County sheriff’s office.

An investigation continues, bu the sheriff’s office says it appears the trooper went outside Saturday shortly before midnight to check out a car on his property. When he identified himself as a law enforcement officer to the driver, a fight began and the trooper was struck in the head by a steel rod. Deputies say the trooper was able to struggle to his feet and when his attacker refused to comply with his commands, resorted to lethal force.

The name of the shooting victim, believed to be a 30-year-old South Kitsap man, was not immediately released. He was pronounced dead at Tacoma General Hospital. The trooper was taken to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Gig Harbor for treatment.

GU professor protests at killer’s execution

(AP) A law professor at Gonzaga University who drove to Walla Walla from Spokane to protest the execution of Cal Coburn Brown told the Associated Press she was embarrassed by Brown’s mandated fate. 

“I want to make a very strong statement to the citizens of Washington and to Gov. Gregoire that many of us are opposed to killing people in our names,” said Mary Pat Treuthart, 57. “And I’m angry, saddened, and embarrassed that the U.S. is still using the death penalty to punish anyone for their crimes.”

Treuthart joined about two dozen people opposed to capital punishment inside a gated area outside the prison where Brown was executed early today. (Treuhart is pictured, with Nancy Nelson, also of Spokane, at the protest Thursday night in Walla Walla. Trehart is at the left, Nelson is at the right.)

A separate gated area for death penalty supporters drew three people. Construction worker Mark Clark, 36, of Kennewick, said he thought for several days about coming to the execution. 

“My thought is you’ve got to pay for what you’ve done,” Clark said. “You’ve got to be accountable for your actions.”

Brown (right) was executed for 1991 rape, torture and murder of 21-year-old Holly Washa. Brown confessed to killing Washa during an interrogation in California for an alleged assault on a woman there. He later led authorities to Washa’s battered body, which was inside the trunk of a car.

 Brown met Washa near Sea-Tac airport in Washington when he helpfully pointed to Washa’s rear tire, indicating a problem. When she stopped to check it out, he carjacked her at knifepoint.

For the next 36 hours, Brown robbed, raped and tortured Washa, before stabbing and strangling her.

University Ministry and Catholic Charities sponsored a vigil against the death penalty Thursday night at Gonzaga University’s Crosby Center. The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane organized a nondenominational ceremony followed by another vigil on the steps of the Spokane County Courthouse.

Brown was the first Washington inmate to die by a one-drug lethal injection.

Brown spent much of Thursday talking on the telephone with his attorneys and family members, said Belinda Stewart, communications and outreach director for the state Department of Corrections.

His last meal included meat pizza and apple pie.

  “He is resigned to what is going to happen tonight,” Stewart said Thursday. “He’s aware, he knows and he’s resigned.”

Washa’s father, brother and two sisters of witnessed the execution, as did King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg (left).

Just before his execution, Brown protested sentencing disparities, saying that criminals who had killed many more people, such as Green River killer Gary Ridgway, were serving life sentences while he received a death sentence. 

“I only killed one victim,” he said. “I cannot really see that there is true justice. Hopefully, sometime in the future that gets straightened out.”

Brown did not apologize to the family of the victim, but said he understood their emnity for him. He said he forgave that hatred, held no emnity toward them and hoped the execution would give them closure. He also said the prison staff had been most professional and that he had no complaints about his treatment there in 17 years.

After his comments, Brown, who was lying on his back strapped to a gurney, looked up at the tubes sticking out of the wall and connected to his body. When the drug was administered, his chest heaved three times and his lips shuddered, then there was no movement.

The Washa family showed little emotion during the execution. Both sisters sat in the front row holding unopened tissue boxes, while brother Roger sat in the back with his father, his arms folded across his chest.

“Closure has finally come to the family,” said John Washa, Holly’s father, of Ogallala, Neb. “Why he did what he did to my daughter Holly I guess I’ll never understand.” (Holly’s mother is pictured left in 2009)

“Now it’s finally over, I don’t have to think about him anymore,” said sister Becky Washa of Sioux Falls, S.D., as family members held a picture of the victim.

Brown’s attorney and members of his family were not present at the execution, though he spoke with them by phone on Thursday.

Brown was the first Washington inmate to die by a one-drug lethal injection. His was the fifth execution since 1993, and the third in a row by lethal injection. All the others were by hanging.

Read an Associated Press story about the executions by clicking the link below.

Spokane teen’s crimes don’t surprise judge

A short crime spree by a Spokane teenager earned him 22 months in prison today as the family of a man he was convicted of helping kill looked on. 

Christopher E. Hooper, 19, said he hopes to turn his life around but said, “I don’t have really no goals going for myself right now because I don’t really know how to do anything.” He vowed to seek drug treatment and finish school.

Judge Richard B. White, who sentenced Hooper to the maximum term recommended by prosecutors, told him to work hard and be careful in prison.

“I don’t think anyone’s really surprised by the family background that you have that you’re going to be in prison, too,” White said.

Hooper told White that his mother is in prison for assault and he doesn’t often see his father. He knew he was on the wrong path, but “I didn’t really have any feelings for it, because I was busy getting high.”

Hooper’s charges stem from police finding drugs on him after stopping him on suspicion of vehicle prowling. He was arrested again a few days later after he crashed a stolen car filled with stolen property on state Route 291 near Rutter Parkway.

Hooper pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance (methylene), possession of a stolen motor vehicle, second-degree burglary and second-degree possession of stolen property. He’ll serve the sentences at the same time; the stiffest was second-degree burglary, which carried 17-22 months. The plea deal drops several charges of possession of stolen property. Deputy Prosecutor Bob Sergeant said Hooper’s required restitution to victims could be as high as $15,000.

Hooper’s public defender, Mark Hannibal, said Hooper has “at least figured out that the path he was on before this point was not a good path.”

“He didn’t want to fight about what he had or hadn’t done,” Hannibal said. “He wanted to accept responsibility and make some changes.” Hooper has a second-degree assault conviction for the January 2009 death of Shannon A. Cochran. Hooper handed the knife to Cochran’s killer, Michael L. Summa. Summa is serving eight years for manslaughter.

Cochran’s family, including his mother, Tracey, attended Hooper’s sentencing today.

“At least he’s back in jail,” she said after the hearing.

Past coverage:

Aug. 9: Warrant issued for teen after 3 jail releases

July 7: Teen back in jail after 2nd arrest in 6 days

July 2: Accomplice in fatal stabbing jailed again

Fairfax deal postponed; victim hires lawyer

A plea hearing for an alleged hitman-turned-informant has been postponed until October.

Larry A. Fairfax, 49, has agreed to plead guilty to two federal weapons charges connected to a pipe bomb placed under Cyndi Steele’s car as part of a murder plot the FBI says was hatched by her husband, former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar Steele.

But Fairfax was reluctant to admit on Tuesday that the device had the potential to explode, and a hearing scheduled for Thursday was postponed because of scheduling conflicts with the judge, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan.

Cyndi Steele has hired a lawyer and filed a 16-page affidavit objecting to the proposed plea deal, alleging her rights as a victim have been violated. Fairfax’s new hearing is set for Oct. 7. Steele’s lawyer is Wesley Hoyt, who unsuccessfully defended a wealthy North Idaho businessman convicted in 2005. of plotting to kill federal officials.

 At the time, Hoyt had said the case against David Roland Hinkson, described as a “hard-core patriot” by his anti-government associates, was brought by witnesses who were seeking to take over Hinkson’s business or wanted large amounts of money from him.

Hinkson (pictured) was convicted of soliciting the murders of U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy D. Cook, and Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Steven M. Hines.

All three had been involved in a separate, federal tax case against Hinkson’s water business. None of the officials was harmed.

Hinkson is imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colo., and is to be released in 30 years.

Hoyt, former prosecuting attorney for Idaho County, is a member of Robert J. Hopp and Associates and is licensed to practice in Colorado and Idaho, according to his website.

Past coverage of the Hinkson case: 

Jan. 29, 2005: North Idaho businessman convicted in murder plot

July 2, 2004: Trial set in alleged plot to kill officials

June 30, 2004: Convicted tax evader charged in murder plot

Reward offered for tips on theft suspect

 A Spokane woman accused of stealing a woman’s purse from a southeast home in January is wanted by police after failing to show up for court.

Jodi A. Vincelet, 35, is charged with a felony or allegedly stealing a purse from a home in the 700 block of South Freya on Jan. 5. Her sister, Christy L. Graham, 32, also is charged.

The sisters also are accused of cashing more than $5,000 in fraudulent checks stolen from a woman in the 3300 block of East Donora Court, according to court documents.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips on the location of Vincelet, who is wanted on two counts of second-degree theft. She was convicted of the same crime in February 2009.

Her last known address was 712 W. Augusta #2. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Fugitive’s claim to fame: 21 mug shots

Fourteen years ago, a fugitive apprehension organization touted a suspect’s 36 convictions in 10 years when asking for tips on his location. 

This week, it focused on his impressive number of mug shots: 21. 

Frank Anthony Orden, 42, is wanted for possession of a controlled substance (heroin) after he failed to show up for court last month.

Orden is an armed career criminal with a 26-year history that includes at least 14 drug and property crime-related felonies. A news story about a reward for his capture in 1996 said Orden, then 28, had been convicted of 36 crimes since he’d turned 18.

Court documents show one of his most recent convictions came in 2009 for possession of a controlled substance.

He was riding a bike June 26 near East 5th Avenue and South Lacey Street when a police officer said he had to swerve to avoid hitting him because he rode through a stop sign. The officer found heroin in Orden’s pocket, according to court documents.

Orden, 5-foot-4 and 180 pounds, last gave 1924 E. Riverside Ave., as his address. Anyone with tips on his location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Gang murder suspect arrested in Compton

A Spokane gang member accused of shooting to death a rival outside a party in January was arrested today in Compton, Calif., police announced tonight.

 Edward L. “TD” Thomas, 25, wanted since June for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, was captured by the fugitive squad of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Compton station, according to a news release by Matt Rose of the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team.

Spokane police detectives have been in close contact with Southern California law enforcement regarding the Jan. 17 murder of John S. Williams, 38, because “many of the suspects were known to have ties to the South Central Los Angeles area,” Rose said.

Police say Thomas shot Williams in the face outside a birthday party for a reputed gang member at 5405 N. Crestline Street. He’s also accused of trying to kill Williams’ son during the shooting.

Police believe the shooting resulted from lingering tensions between Thomas and a rival gang member who has a child with the mother of Thomas’ child. The rival, who reportedly belonged to the same gang as Williams, had pulled a gun on Thomas a couple weeks before the party, and Thomas felt he needed to retaliate, police said.

One witness told police there was a feud brewing between older Spokane gang members like Williams and younger members like Thomas.

Six men are accused of helping Thomas avoid arrest or of lying to police to cover up the murder. Five - Eric “Smalls” Burton, Jr., 25; Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, 23; John E. Burton, 27; James Henderson, 33; Christopher J. “Baby Boy” Route, 24 - have been arrested. Only Marc A. “Bookie” Carter remains at large.

Police say most of the men are cousins; Cedric and John Burton are half-brothers.

Route, Thomas, Cedric Burton and Eric Burton were convicted of felony assault or riot for a January 2005 gang murder outside Crazy 8’s bar. Demetrius Route was convicted of that murder and remains in prison. Deric D. Burton was convicted of two counts of second-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault. He also remains in prison.

Past coverage:

June 4: Seven face charges in shooting death

March 9: Homicide case not a ‘simple’ investigation

Witnesses: 7-Eleven run-in led to stabbing

A man accused of stabbing another man in downtown Spokane claimed self defense and said the victim made him “go crazy,” according to court documents prepared by police.

Eugene A. Young, 36, told police he had “mental health issues” after he was arrested about 7:10 p.m. Wednesday near Pacific Avenue and Division Street where he’d argued with a couple after bumping into them at 7-Eleven convenience store, officers said.

Police say Young stabbed Mark E. Norton in the chest with a small pocket knife after following Norton and his girlfriend from the store.

Norton’s girlfriend said Young had bumped into her as she exited the story and became belligerent when she said “it’s nicfe to say ‘excuse me’.” The store clerk, who was Young’s girlfriend,”defused the situation enough” so the couple could walk away, but Young followed and stabbed Norton, police said.

Young told police “the things the victim said to him ‘made me go crazy,’” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Young is a felon who was sentenced to 20 months in prison in September 2008 for third-degree assault.

He remains in Spokane County Jail on $75,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court today on a first-degree assault charge. He’s prohibited from visiting 7-Eleven stores in Spokane County.

Unregistered child rapist sought by police

UPDATE: Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan announced Monday that Eillison is actually in prison. Thanks, Dave.

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

Robert R. Ellison, 28, has been living in the Spokane area since August 2000 after serving time at a youth correctional camp for communicating with an 11-year-old girl for immoral purposes, according to news archives. He also has a first-degree rape conviction for attacks on two 8-year-old boys.

Along with convictions for drunken driving and possession of drug paraphernalia, Ellison has at least three convictions for failing to register as a sex offender.

Prosecutors issued a new $25,000 warrant for his arrest Aug. 20. Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to his capture.

Ellison has been classified as a level 3 sex offender, the type considered most likely to reoffend, but it’s unclear if he’s still classified that way.

He last gave his address as 1423 N. Wall, #7. Anyone with information his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

State prepares for 1st execution since ‘01

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — In a state where executions are uncommon, Cal Coburn Brown’s lethal injection on Friday will be the first time since 2001 that Washington has carried out its capital punishment. 

Barring a last-minute stay of execution from the state or U.S. Supreme Court, the 52-year-old will become the first death row inmate in the state to die by a one-drug method of execution, a recently changed protocol from a three-drug cocktail. Washington is the second state in the nation, after Ohio, to change to the one-drug method.

Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday denied clemency for Brown, who had petitioned for his death sentence to be commuted to a life sentence.

The governor said she found “no basis to change the death sentence that was imposed by the jury in accordance with the laws of our state.”

The state Supreme Court also denied a stay, though Brown’s attorneys immediately asked for an emergency stay and another review. An appeal challenging the qualifications of the state’s execution team is before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Eighteen months ago, Brown, who was convicted in the 1991 murder of Seattle-area woman Holly Washa was just hours from a lethal injection when he received a stay of execution. (Washa’s sister, Becky Washa, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is pictured outside the Washington State Penitentiary in March 2009 with a picture of her slain daughter)

The state Supreme Court granted the stay because another inmate had been granted a hearing on the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection policy. Since then, Washington’s execution method has changed, as has the four-member team assigned to carry out the injection.

The previous team resigned, fearing its members might be identified after several inmates challenged the state’s previous method and questioned the qualifications of the execution team.

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

Past coverage:

July 29, 2010: Wash. Supreme Court lifts stay of execution for Brown

March 12, 2009: Wash. Supreme Court stays Brown execution

June 5, 2007: U.S. Supreme Court reinstates killer’s death sentence

Sheriff ruing flap over deputy’s vacation

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is frustrated and caught off-guard by the public reaction to the decision to allow Deputy Brian Hirzel to leave for vacation just hours after he shot and killed a Spokane Valley pastor late last month. 

Knezovich acknowledges that everything with his department ultimately is his responsibility. But he believes he’s been unfairly portrayed in the decision to allow Hirzel to leave town before explaining the encounter that resulted in the death of 74-year-old Wayne Scott Creach.

Hirzel “was already on vacation when I found out he was on vacation,” Knezovich said. “How do I un-ring that bell? I could have said bring him back in. But I would have just countermanded everything that the (investigative) team had done. That was not my role in the investigation. My role was to stay out of it and not influence it.”

Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.

Murder charges dropped in Hoopfest case

Spokane County prosecutors will not pursue the dozens of attempted murder charges filed against four men arrested after shots were fired at Hoopfest.

Deputy Prosecutor Steve Garvin said in court documents filed this week that he will instead seek assault charges against the men, whose lawyers had argued for the dismissal of the charges in court last week, citing lack of probable cause. Superior Court Judge Michael Price was to make a decision on Friday. 

Garvin declined to say why prosecutors decided against attempted murder charges.

“I don’t think that that’s something useful to get out in the public domain,” Garvin said Wednesday. “Call me in a year when the case is done.”

Miguel C. Garcia, 19; Adam Doe, 19; Marquis D. Johnson (right), 22; and Rashjel C. “Reggie” Cage, 24 (left); have been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, 10 counts of attempted first-degree murder and single counts of riot and unlawful possession of a firearm for a June 26 shooting in which police say Garcia fired several shots into a crowd, targeting rival gang members but striking three bystanders. Two were hospitalized with minor injuries.  

Under the prosecutor’s proposal, the men, who are in jail, will be charged with five counts of first-degree assault, one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault along with riot and firearms charges. Doe also is charged with third-degree assault after a Spokane police officer said the teen struggled violently when he was arrested with the gun used in the shooting.

Spokane County public defender Kari Reardon, who represents Cage, said in court last week that investigators are mistaken to believe the men were conspiring together simply because they were standing together when one allegedly fired the gun.

Prosecutors say Garcia said “we are going to do this” before he fired the gun, but Reardon said that isn’t evidence that the other men knew what he planned to do.

Prosecutors say the men conspired to commit the assaults as part of long-standing rivalry between two gangs.

Two of the alleged assault victims, Kalen J. Bedford and Andre Conway are members of the Blocc Hustlers gang, which is rival to Doe and Cage’s Murder One Crips gang, according to police.

Police say Cage is a gang leader and has been involved in past shootings targeting the Blocc Hustlers.

Bedford and 21-year-old Tyrone Carell, were cited for disorderly conduct after the Hoopfest shooting.

Cage’s brother, Rakee Cage (left, in 2007), told The Spokesman-Review that only Garcia is responsible for the shooting.

“They think we share the same brain,” Rakee Cage said of police and prosecutors. “They’ve got three innocent people in jail.”

He said the shooting was not planned.

“Who plans to do something in front of thousands of people? You might as well walk down to the county jail and knock on the door,” Rakee Cage said.

Rakee Cage, who has a conviction for a gang-related stabbing outside a Spokane nightclub last fall, said police were exaggerating the problem between the two gangs.

“I’ve talked to the Blocc Hustlers,” Cage said. “There might be feuding between two groups, but it’s not really a rivalry.”

Tips sought on off-the-grid child molester

A convicted child molester already on probation for failing to register as a sex offender is wanted by police for failing to register again. 

Joshua J. Wilson, 18, was convicted of second-degree child molestation in 2006.

He pleaded guilty to failure to register as a sex offender in June and was credited for eight days in jail and given three years probation. But authorities allege he hasn’t checked in with them as required, so Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to his capture.

Wilson, 5-foot-7 and 219 pounds, last gave his address as 3754 W. Indian Trail Road, according to Crime Stoppers.

Wilson is a level 1 sex offender, the classification considered least likely to reoffend. Anyone with information his whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

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

UPDATE: Cheney police arrested Wilson on Thursday after a brief foot chase.

Murder plot victim slams federal prosecutors

In a 16-page affidavit prosecutors suggested may have originated with her jailed husband, alleged murder plot target Cyndi Steele rails against a plea deal arranged with FBI informant Larry Fairfax and accuses the U.S. Attorney’s Office of violating her rights as a victim.

The document, filed under seal but emailed to the Spokesman-Review by an associate of Steele’s, can be read here

In it, Steele calls for Fairfax to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder or attempted murder and says the FBI told her about murder plot co-conspirators who still have not been arrested. She claims the FBI knew of the 12-inch pipe bomb affixed to her SUV (pictured) before auto shop employees discovered it June 15 and says they allowed her to drive from Oregon to North Idaho knowing the device was on her car. 

Steele says her fear over the bomb was fueled by death threats made against her family, including her children, “whenever my husband would take political positions on various issues,” according to the affidavit. “Death threats occurred quite often when my husband was acting as a First Amendment defense lawyer protecting the individual’s right to freedom of speech….Some of these death threats were made by persons affiliated with the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that has professed a strong dislike for my husband and some of his political positions.”

The Anti-Defamation League did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Steele called for the plea hearing to be postponed, but U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill declined, noting she’d filed her request that morning despite knowing of the hearing for two weeks.

“I have to question either the motive or the sincerity of their request,” Winmill said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said the affidavit contains opinions and statements she believes aren’t true. She said Cyndi Steele has made it clear she wants nothing to do with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She’s been in contact with the office in two occasions - to retrieve her husband’s computer and to retrieve silver she says Fairfax stole but investigators say was given to him as a partial payment in the murder-for-hire plot, Whelan said.

Fairfax’s plea hearing was instead postponed because he was reluctant to admit that the bomb he attached to Cyndi Steele’s car had the potential to explode.

Read my full story here.

Deputy says pastor was reaching for a gun

Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel said he ordered Pastor Wayne Scott Creach to drop his gun multiple times, struck the 74-year-old man in the leg with a police baton and fired only after the property owner began to draw the gun out of his waistband, an investigator said Tuesday in the first detailed account of the Aug. 25 incident that resulted in Creach’s death.

At no time did Creach aim his weapon at Hirzel, according to Spokane Police Lt. Dave McGovern, who supervises the detectives who investigate major crimes.The autopsy following the shooting showed no corresponding mark on Creach’s leg from a baton strike, McGovern said.

“But then again, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t struck,” the police lieutenant said. “It’s just that there were no marks of it.” Further forensic testing will be done to determine if there are marks on Creach’s trousers or fibers on the baton. Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.

Past coverage: Sept. 6: Deputy says he hit pastor with baton

Plea delayed for informant in murder plot

A plea hearing for the hit-man-turned-informant in an alleged North Idaho murder plot was postponed Tuesday because the suspect was reluctant to acknowledge that the pipe bomb he’s accused of placing under the would-be victim’s car could have exploded. 

The move to delay the approval of Larry A. Fairfax’s plea deal came the same day an affidavit signed by his alleged target, Cyndi Steele, was filed in U.S. District Court objecting to the proposed deal with Fairfax. The affidavit said approving the deal “would be like letting Charles Manson off with a traffic ticket.”

Read my full story here.

Pellet gun shootings, vandalism on the rise

A rash of vandalism in Spokane has involved people wielding BB and pellet guns, and police say they’re taking the problem seriously.

 From about Aug. 18 through the end of the month, the Spokane Police Department saw a surge in cases of malicious mischief – property damage in which the vandal does not enter a home or business. During an average week, police see 40 to 50 incidents of malicious mischief; in the last couple of weeks in August, there were more than 100 incidents per week, and 70 percent or more were caused by BB or pellet guns, said Tom Michaud, a crime analyst for the police department.

Read Asia Hege’s full story here.

Plea deal halted after suspect complains

A Spokane gang member set to plead guilty today to several felonies changed his mind at the last minute and is now set for trial.

Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton (right), accused of helping a murder suspect avoid arrest, told Judge Tari Eitzen that he was going to plead guilty because “I don’t want to jeopardize any more time,” but then insisted “I’m not guilty of any of these allegations at all, and I know I can beat 90 percent of these allegations.” 

Eitzen questioned him repeatedly about his intention and asked if he wanted to plead guilty because he was worried about what would happen if he went to trial (the basis for an Alford plea.)

Burton, 23, said he wasn’t worried about a trial.

“I don’t think I can be found guilty,” Burton said. “I know I’m not guilty of any of these crimes.”

Burton was to plead guilty to harassment, bail jumping and two counts of rending criminal assistance, one in connection to the Jan. 17 murder of John S. WIlliams.

The deal would have dropped first-degree robbery and second-degree assault charges, as well as an additional bail jumping charge.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla was to recommend Burton receive 5 years in prison, which he would serve concurrently with a 63-month sentence imposed last month after a jury convicted him of second-degree assault. The charges stemmed from Burton skipping a court hearing, threatening to kill the mother of his child, helping a man who robbed and assaulted a woman escape the home, and for helping murder suspect Edward L. “TD” Thomas after Thomas (left) allegedly shot Williams to death in January.

Burton said Cipolla’s version of the events was wrong and said he missed court because he had a flat tire.

“My speedy trial rights have been violated…just a lot of things,” Burton said. “I don’t feel I have been treated fairly.” Burton said he had a 15-month-old daughter and was “already off the scale with all these strikes, you know what I mean?”

Etizen replied that she didn’t.

“It really truly doesn’t matter to me,” Eitzen said. “We can halt this process and you can go to trial.”

The judge did just that, sending the case to Judge Michael Price to be assigned a trial date.

Burton was taken back to the Spokane County Jail, where he’s been since early May after being arrested in Los Angeles. He said he’d left the state to attend his cousin’s funeral.

Burton is among six men facing charges for the Jan. 17 fatal shooting outside 5405 N. Crestline. His cousin, 33-year-old James C. Henderson, pleaded guilty to riot on Friday and was credited for 102 days served in jail.

Thomas, the alleged triggerman, still is at large. Anyone with tips on his location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Police say group stole man’s bling, pants

An $18,000 piece of jewelry worn during the filming of a rap music video led to a robbery and assault that included theft of the victim’s pants, according to court documents filed Friday.

Spokane police gang unit members as well as police and sheriff’s SWAT teams raided two homes Thursday in an ongoing investigation targeting eight suspects.

Three suspects, Monica R. “Boo” Sanders, 32, Tasha M. Tensley, 26, and Roderick J. Thomas, 21, remain in Spokane County Jail on $75,000 bond each after appearing in court Friday. Police still were looking for five others late Friday.

The group is accused of beating Jeffrey J. Frazier, 29, and shocking him with a stun gun before stealing his jewelry, including the diamond-studded, acorn-shaped gold medallion, then removing his jeans.

Read my full story here.

Stevens Co. warns of convicted rapist

The Stevens County Sheriff’s Office is warning of a sex offender who is considered likely to reoffend and lives in Colville. 

Daniel I. Buchmann, 38, is not wanted by authorities, but he is on probation for a 2001 conviction for fist-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping and the sheriff’s office wants the public to be aware of his presence. His victim was a 14-year-old female neighbor.

Buchmann, 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, is prohibited from entering bars, taverns, lounges, parks, playgrounds, schools or any place frequented by minors.

Buchman is living in the 1000 block of Middle Basin Road in Colville. He’s a level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend.

Deputy says he saw armed man approach

Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel told investigators Friday that he saw Pastor Wayne Scott Creach approaching his unmarked patrol car from a distance of about 30 feet with a gun in his hand before they had a verbal confrontation. 

Hirzel said in a videotaped interview that he fired one shot that killed Creach on Aug. 25, according to a news release sent Friday by Spokane Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

“According to Officer Hirzel’s statement and evidence collected at the scene, ultimately there was a close encounter between the officer and Mr. Creach near the officer’s car,” the release said. “Officer Hirzel stated there was a verbal exchange between himself and Mr. Creach prior to the single gunshot being fired. Officer Hirzel’s statement and the evidence confirms only one shot was fired.” 

The news release offered no explanation of what was said or by whom, or why Hirzel felt the need to pull the trigger, killing the 74-year-old pastor in the parking lot of his nursery business at 14208 E. 4th Ave. in Spokane Valley.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here

Read the full news release by clicking the last link at the end of this post.

Past coverage:

Sept. 3: Pastor buried in Oklahoma

Sept. 1: Deputy’s vacation delays probe into fatal shooting

Sept. 1: Son offers insight into pastor’s fatal encounte

Aug. 31: Officer involved in fatal shooting identified

Aug. 31: Mourners note ‘good example’ set by slain clergyman

Aug. 28: Sheriff offers condolences, withholds details

Aug. 27: Valley officer kills pastor at nursery

Supremacist w/ assault rifles to stay jailed

A judge today ordered a white supremacist and convicted felon charged with unlawfully possessing two assault rifles and a handgun to stay in custody pending trial.  

Wayde Lynn Kurt, 52, also is suspected of using counterfeit identification cards to obtain a post office box and order merchandise from a gun store. He’s been in Spokane County Jail since his arrest on Monday.

Now he’ll stay there without bail after U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno ruled he was a flight risk and a danger to the community because of his history of failing to show up for court and disobeying court orders.

 Assistant U.S Attorney Earl Hicks described Kurt as a “known white supremacist” and “perpetual criminal” when arguing for Kurt’s detainment Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Kurt’s arrest is the latest for a convicted currency counterfeiter whose experience with the criminal justice system dates back to at least 1988, when he was acquitted of murder in Snohomish County.

Kurt was under investigation for counterfeiting when he removed a government tracking device from his car in 2004, then hid it in a storage unit he’d rented under a fake identification, Hicks said. Federal agents searched his home that year and found dozens of counterfeit social security cards, drivers licences and employment cards (pictured.)

Kurt is considered such a flight risk that the FBI didn’t give him a chance to surrender Monday - an agent ran up and tackled him. Read more in the past coverage:

Sept 3: Detention sought in supremacist’s weapons case

Sept. 1: FBI raid targets man with white supremacist ties

Attorney seeks stay for death row inmate

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Attorneys for a death row inmate who is scheduled to be executed this month have filed a request for an emergency stay with the Washington state Supreme Court. 

Cal Coburn Brown argues that his death sentence should be reversed because information related to his mental illness was not adequately considered during sentencing.

Brown reportedly suffers from bipolar disorder. He is scheduled to be executed on Sept. 10 for the 1991 torture and murder of 22-year-old Holly Washa, a Burien woman.

Brown also has filed an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He is challenging, among other things, the state’s new one-drug system for lethal injection.

Brown is incarcerated at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

Past coverage:

July 29, 2010: Wash. Supreme Court lifts stay of execution for Brown

March 12, 2009: Wash. Supreme Court stays Brown execution

June 5, 2007: U.S. Supreme Court reinstates killer’s death sentence

Car thief arrested after chase w/ stolen car

A Spokane man convicted of car theft last week is back in jail after police say he led them on a high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle.

 Tyrar H. Munter, 23, (left, in 2007) remains in Spokane County Jail on a $10,000 bond and a probation hold.

A K-9 tracked Munter after police say the convicted felon abandoned the car in the area of North Stone Street and East Francis Avenue after fleeing a police stop near North Crestline Street and East Empire Avenue at 11:10 p.m. Police ended

the search after less than two minutes because Munter was driving dangerously, according to a news release. Citizens told police what direction he’d fled.

Munter was booked into jail on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and attempting to elude police.

He’d pleaded guilty Aug. 25 to second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and use of drug paraphernalia and was credited for 43 days served in jail, records show.

Mug shot spotlight: Idaho heroin suspect

A three-month investigation into heroin dealing has led to the arrest of a 63-year-old man in Shoshone County.

Michael Clyde Ward, who lives on Burke Road, was arrested on Wednesday when the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force served a search warrant at Ward’s address, according to Detective Lt. Darell Braaten of the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office.

Ward was booked on charges of trafficking in heroin and delivery of a controlled substance.

Braaten said the investigation could lead to more charges.

Man gets 5 years for 600 child porn videos

A Spokane man with no previous criminal record was ordered Thursday to serve 5 years in federal prison for possessing child pornography.

Richard L. Parham, 58, had nearly 600 explicit videos on his computers when investigators raided his home in July 2008.

A Washington State Patrol detective discovered Parham uploading some of the files to the Internet through a file sharing program that spring. Parham has been on electronic home monitoring since his indictment in August 2009.

He pleaded guilty in June to receiving child pornography and was ordered Thursday in U.S. District Court to serve 60 months in prison. He will be on probation for life and will be required to register as a sex offender.

Parham’s lawyer, David Hearrean, said in court documents that his client has never spent even an hour in jail. He had asked the court to impose a sentence on Parham that would allow “for full recognition of what made him become intrigued with child pornography,” according to a sentencing memorandum.

Parham worked for nearly 30 years at a Spokane laboratory but was forced to retire after he was charged, Hearrean wrote.

Parham told a psychologist he began looking at child pornography a few years awhile browsing adult pornography.

Investigators say he downloaded the nearly 600 videos between December 2007 and July 2008. The videos depicted children as young as one years old, and some were sadistic and masochistic in nature. Parham said he began viewing the material while looking at adult pornography online, according to court documents.

Parham will self report to federal prison.

Killer’s boyfriend: ‘I have lost everything’

Murder charges against Brian L. Moore, boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye Stark, were filed Aug. 26 - exactly one year after he was indicated on U.S. District Court in the Central District of California on two federal weapons charges. 

Moore was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison in the federal case. He’s already served about 16 months. Spokane police hope federal authorities will transport him here. If not, detectives will go get him.  The charges are the second try for prosecutors.

Moore’s federal public defender, Sean Kennedy, had objected to federal prosecutors in California discussing the Stark murder case in Moore’s sentencing documents, saying the “salacious” details had nothing to do with Moore.

But Spokane investigators believe Moore masterminded the plot to murder Dale Stark, helped control his assets and trained Shellye to use firearms.

He was arrested in an Orange County warehouse in April 2009 with unregistered guns and homemade silencers.

In a letter to the judge, Moore said he kept the weapons because they reminded him of happy memories with his father. Working with guns was “how my father and I perpetuate our relationship,” Moore wrote. “This is how I heard him say, “I love you.”

Moore said the effects of his arrest and imprisonment have been “to say the least, dramatic.”

“I have lost everything, from my good name, to the respect of my son,” Moore wrote. Ii can not begin to express my shame.”

Read my full story on the new charges against Moore here.

This story about Moore’s first arrest on murder charges provides more details:

April 28, 2009: Boyfriend accused of helping plan Stark murder

Deal set for informant in Edgar Steele case

A Sagle man who investigators say was hired by Edgar Steele to kill Steele’s wife and mother-in-law is expected to plead guilty to federal weapons charges next week.

Larry A. Fairfax, 49, faces a maximum 10 years in prison but federal sentencing guidelines show he could receive as little as 18 months.

A plea hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene, said Traci Whelan, assistant U.S. attorney.

Sentencing has not been scheduled. Fairfax has agreed to cooperate fully with investigators, but a plea agreement filed Aug. 20 said the deal “is not contingent upon the conviction of any person.”

Read my full story here.

Read background on the Edgar Steele case here.

Sheriff: Ending vacation could taint probe

The interview that should finally explain why a deputy shot and killed a Spokane Valley pastor will come Friday morning – after the deputy returns from a week-long vacation approved by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Deputy Brian Hirzel left town the day after an Aug. 25 encounter with Pastor Wayne Scott Creach at his sprawling nursery business, the Plant Farm at 14208 E. 4th Ave.

Officials have only said that Hirzel and Creach had some sort of “confrontation” that ended when Hirzel shot Creach moments after the shirtless 74-year-old grabbed his pistol and went outside to investigate what he may have thought was a prowler.

Knezovich said at a hastily called news conference Wednesday that he approved Hirzel’s vacation partly because the county would have been on the hook to pay for the plane tickets and travel costs for Hirzel and his wife.

But the sheriff said his greatest concern was that he didn’t want to “taint” the investigation by making it appear he was forcing Hirzel to submit to the interview.

“This case is more important” than a vacation, Knezovich said. “We have to ensure the integrity of this investigation and I’m not about to do anything that looks coercive that would jeopardize this investigation.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

On Tuesday, Alan Creach said his mother heard a shout and what sounded like three shots. But a deputy kept Imogene Creach from approaching her husband and she didn’t see anyone providing medical aid, her son said.

Read more in this story: Son offers insight into pastor’s fatal encounter

Past coverage:

Aug. 31: Officer involved in fatal shooting identified

Aug. 31: Mourners note ‘good example’ set by slain clergyman

Aug. 28: Sheriff offers condolences, withholds details

Aug. 27: Valley officer kills pastor at nursery

Meth-addicted sex offender sent to prison

A Plummer, Idaho, man who sexually abused a child then failed to register as a sex offender was sentenced this week to just over two years in federal prison.

Jeremy Bohlman, 31, was required to live at the Port of Hope drug treatment facility in Coeur d’Alene when he left on March 23. He was arrested on April 21 in Fairfield, Wash, after a high-speed police chase that began in Idaho, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Bohlman was charged because he left the center and didn’t report his change of address. He’d already been convicted of violating his parole. He had been sentenced in January 2007 to 50 months in prison for sexually abusing a child on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation.

In a sentencing memorandum, Bohlman’s lawyer said his client’s methamphetamine addiction led to that abuse as well as his decision to leave the treatment center.

Along with 27 months in prison, Bohlman will be on probation for five years, U.S District Judge Edward Lodge ordered on Tuesday.

Family seeks answers in guard’s death

Eight years ago, Bassam Al Hayek left a little town near Bethlehem to start a new life away from the political and religious crossfire.

He and his wife settled in Spokane, far away from the Middle East violence he saw as an Arab Christian in the Palestinian territories.

“We knew we would be killed sooner or later,” Al Hayek said of living in the midst of fighting between fundamentalist Muslims and Israeli troops, according to a 2008 Spokesman-Review article. “It was just a matter of by whom and when.”

This week, Al Hayek sat in the living room of his northwest Spokane home, examining pictures of his youngest son’s body. His son, George B. Al Hayek, 26, was the private security officer who was shot to death last week during an altercation with a group of people in an alley outside an east Spokane apartment complex. (Al Hayek is pictured right with son Issa. A memorial to George is pictured above.) 

Police found the gunman, Jason M. Hartell, performing CPR on Al Hayek when they arrived after the shooting, which occurred before 11 p.m. Aug. 24 between the Pepsi bottling plant at 4014 E. Sprague Ave. and the Pacific Plaza Apartments, 4023 E. Pacific Ave. Hartell says he fired in self-defense. 

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 26: Witnesses say slain security guard confronted group

Bassam Al Hayek is a celebrated Palestinian artist (he’s pictured at right in 2008).

Here are past stories about him:

May 22, 2005: Carving a new life

Dec. 24, 2005: Spreading his wings

March 20, 2008: Far away from West Bank, part 1

April 10, 2008: Far away from West Bank, part 2

FBI raid targets man with skinhead ties

A felon who attracted federal attention for his contact with a jailed white supremacist leader is part of an ongoing investigation that includes a series of raids at Spokane County locations Tuesday.

Wayde Lynn Kurt, 52, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to a federal weapons charge alleging he unlawfully possessed two assault rifles and a handgun as a felon on Aug. 21. He’s due back in court Thursday.

Kurt was arrested Monday in an investigation authorities with the FBI declined to discuss.U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno warned Kurt Tuesday against improper use of the jail phone after Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks said a man tried removing evidence from a property being searched by the FBI after Kurt called him from jail.

Read my full story here.

Jury indicts 3-time bank robbery suspect

A man arrested in Spokane on suspicion of bank robberies in Omak, Wenatchee and Moses Lake is to be arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court.

A grand jury indicted Cameron Len Gaunt, 28, of Chelan, on three counts of bank robbery Aug. 25, more than one month after he was arrested as he stepped outside a Spokane motel room.

Gaunt is accused of robbing the Bank of America in Omak July 13, a Washington Trust Bank in Wenatchee on July 16 and a Washington Trust Bank in Moses Lake on July 20.

The robberies netted more than $12,000, but a citizen’s tip led federal authorities to identify Gaunt as a suspect.

The first robbery came less than a month after Gaunt was released from federal prison for passing counterfeit currency across the Pacific Northwest. He had a prior history of passing forged checks and told police he was released from jail in June 2007 but soon became addicted to methamphetamine and “started hanging around the wrong crowd,” according to sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors.

Before his sentencing in August 2008, prosecutors predicted that, without “significant effort” on Gaunt’s part, his criminal behavior would continue after prison, according to court documents.

Gaunt is being housed at the Spokane County Jail. He’s due in federal court Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Firefighters sent to wrong home in fatal fire

Spokane firefighters were sent to the wrong address when responding to a fatal house fire early Sunday.

Investigators believe James L. Stowell, 46, died of smoke inhalation, but they’re still trying to determine what caused the fire at 1003 E. Ermina Ave., said Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer.

Initial response was delayed when Firefighters were dispatched to the wrong address but were rerouted before arrival.

They arrived at Stowell’s home at 1:22 a.m. and found it engulfed in flames; police already were on scene. The initial 911 call was made at 1:12 a.m.

The fire at the 700-square-foot home was under control within 15 minutes. Nearly 30 firefighters, three engines, two senior ladders and a heavy rescue rig battled the blaze.

Meth seller on CdA Indian rez gets 5 years

A Worley, Idaho woman will spend five years in federal prison for buying and selling methamphetamine on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation.

 Jackie L. Moffitt, alias Jackie Allen, 44, also admitted to transporting about two pounds of the drug from the Tri-Cities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Moffitt was sentenced Tuesday to 60 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Coeur d’Alene. She’ll be on probation and will be required to take random drug tests, undergo drug treatment and maintain employment or go to school.

Moffit is among 16 people prosecuted in a sweeping methamphetamine bust.

Moffitt’s lawyer said she played a small role in the group and sought only to feed her addiction, not to profit financially.

Moffitt “cased her association with her co-defendants and her criminal activities long before she was arrested,” according to a sentencing memorandum.

Moffitt cooperated with investigators but was arrested after her co-defendants, meaning “the information she provided was not as productive as it might otherwise have been.”

Moffitt had at least three drunken driving convictions but no felony convictions until now.

Toby Keith fan arrested after Ohio melee

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio police say a Toby Keith fan named Forrest Frankenstein threatened them and beat his head against a partition in their cruiser after his arrest.

The 39-year-old Frankenstein appeared Monday before a judge who asked why he “went crazy” at the Aug. 27 concert in Cincinnati. Frankenstein replied that he had been drinking and didn’t really remember anything.

Frankenstein, of Hamilton, is being held on $80,000 bond on counts of menacing, disorderly conduct and vandalism.

Keith’s hits include a song that states: “You ain’t much fun since I quit drinkin’.”

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