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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for August 2011

Man sought in Rainbow disappearance

STEVENSON, Wash. (AP) — The Skamania County sheriff's office has released a sketch of a person of interest in the search for a California woman missing after this year's Rainbow Family gathering.

Fifty-four-year-old Marie C. Hanson of South Lake Tahoe was last seen on the evening of July 6 leaving the Gifford Pinchot National Forest with a man. The witness said he appeared to be in his 40s or 50s, about 5-foot-8 with a slim build. He wore many silver necklaces with medallions, had rings on his fingers and carried a cane.

Hanson's family says she made a spur-of-the-moment decision to attend a “peace rally” and lost touch with the neighbors who took her to southwest Washington.

About 20,000 people attended the counter-culture campout over the Fourth of July weekend, which was originally planned to take place in the Colville National Forest.

Past coverage:

Aug. 8: Woman who went to Rainbow Gathering still missing

New gun charge for white supremacist

A white supremacist arrested on gun charges last year has been indicted on a new charge related to additional firearms.

Wayde Lynn Kurt, 53, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to being a felon in possession of a firearm for allegedly possessing five firearms on Aug. 21, 2010. Court documents say he's expected to argue at trial that he was entrapped by an FBI informant.

The charge carries up to 10 years in prison. Kurt, who appeared in U.S. District Court Tuesday with long hair and a shaggy beard, has been in the Spoakne County Jail since last August on a felon in possession charge related to three guns; the new, superseding charge comes as prosecutors are preparing for trial next month.

The guns belonged to a confidential informant who was targeting shooting with Kurt on the informant's property. Kurt also brought two of his own firearms to the property, prosecutors say.

Spokane-area investigators believe Kurt, a convicted currency counterfeiter, used fraudulent identities to obtain guns and ammunition. He was considered such a flight risk that the FBI didn't give him a chance to surrender last August - an agent simply ran up and tackled him.

Defense attorneys are expected to argue at trial that Kurt was entrapped by the informant.

Prosecutors have filed documents asking for defense testimony regarding entrapment be limited, pointing to what they imply was Kurt's predisposition to commit the crime. Prosecutors are objecting to a request from the defens to close the courtroom for the testimony of two witnesses, whom reportedly fear retaliation from Kurt's violent white supremacist group, the Vanguard Kindred.

Kurt and the informant left the group in 2009 or 2010, accoridng to court documents.

The informant began working with the FBI in February 2010 as part of an ongoing investigation into the group, documents say.

Prosecutors say the informant recorded Kurt talking about his firearms and plans for improvement.

A judge has not yet ruled on the prosecution's motion to limit defense entrapment testimony.

Past coverage:

Sept. 3: Supremacist with assault rifles to stay jailed

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

Cop on paid leave in bounty hunter probe

A senior Spokane police officer has been on paid leave for seven months as detectives probe his ties to a self-styled bounty hunter and convicted felon who’s facing kidnapping and burglary charges related to his apprehension techniques.

 Senior Officer Alan D. Edwards is not facing criminal charges, his attorney says, and police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said the case should be resolved shortly, while declining to discuss details.

Kirkpatrick suspended Edwards from the police force on Jan. 23 amid what she said were possible criminal charges and an internal investigation, which Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said is ongoing. The 21-year police employee continues to receive his $76,886 annual pay as the criminal probe continues.

Read the rest of my story here.

Aryan in hate crime faces 5 years to life

A Coeur d'Alene man and reputed racist faces five years to life in prison if convicted of a hate crime under Idaho's repeat offender law.

 Joel Townsend Diekhoff, 29, an associate of local Aryan Nations member Jerald O'Brien, remains in the Kootenai County Jail on $50,000 bond for malicious harassment.

Diekhoff was arrested Saturday after Demetrius K. Lee, 39, said a white man with several Aryan tattoos yelled slurs and threatened him for walking in front of his house near South 19th Street and East Mullan Avenue

Lee said the man, whom police identified as Diekhoff after interviewing witnesses, came out of the house with three other men to “beat him up.”

Lee returned to the area with a baseball bat and had a heated conversation with Diekhoff before calling police.

Diekhoff has previous convictions for felon in possession of a firearm in Washington state in 2005 and theft in Georgia in 2000, according to court documents filed this week in Kootenai County District Court. Idaho law calls for criminals to serve five years to life in prison for felony crimes if convicted of two previous felonies.

Cops: Truck not involved in homicide

Police believe a pickup truck caught on camera near where a woman was found dead earlier this month was not involved in the homicide.

 Detectives identified the truck and driver after releasing two surveillance photos of the vehicle to the public on Monday, Officer Teresa Fuller said Tuesday.

“At this time, investigators do not believe that the truck was involved,” Fuller said.

Evon M. Moore, 48, was found dead near Ralph Street and West Riverside Avenue Aug. 13. Her cause of death has not been determined pending the police investigation, but an autopsy confirmed her death was a homicide, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Anyone with information about Moore’s death is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Past coverage:

Aug. 15: Slain woman was dedicated student, family says

Police seek ID of Valley garage thief

Police are asking for help identifying a thief who stole an MP3 player from an unlocked 2002 Dodge Dakota inside a Spokane Valley garage this month.

The victim's security video system captured images of the thief, who appears to be a white man about 25 to 35 years old with crew-length brown hair, thin and wearing a reddish t-shirt, shorts and dark shoes.

  The burglary occurred Aug. 9 about 6:30 p.m in the 11400 block of East Railroad Avenue.

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

Man escapes work release amid probe

A 21-year-old man escaped a work release program recently after police interviewed him about a series of vehicle thefts in North Idaho.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of William V. Woods, who left the Brownstone Work Release Program while serving a sentence for third-degree assault, according to a news release.

He faces charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and two counts of first-degree possession of stolen property for the theft of two cargo trailers and a truck in North Idaho, in addition to a fresh count of escape from community custody.

Woods, 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds, is a transient with a previous felony conviction for second-degree theft. Anyone with information on his current location 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 a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Questions linger in fatal hit-and-run

Helen Widener, wife of the bicyclist who died following a hit-and-run crash in June, says she is taking it day by day. (SRPhoto/Colin Mulvany)

For Helen Widener, the days haven’t gotten easier.

When Spokane police first identified a suspect in the hit-and-run crash that led to the death of her husband, Dennis Widener, last month, she wondered if she might be able to meet with her and make peace.

But as the days passed, she realized how impossible that seemed.

“I wake up with a broken heart every morning,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who did it. He’s still gone.”

Spokane police Cpl. Brad Hallock this week recommended prosecutors charge the suspected driver, 18-year-old Megan C. Skillingstad, with failure to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in death.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 6: Suspect in hit-and-run identified

July 6: 'People have got to stop doing these things'

Aryan in hate crime jailed on $50k bond

A Coeur d'Alene man and reputed racist remains in jail on $50,000 after appearing in court on a hate-crime charge Monday.
Joel Townsend Diekhoff, 29, an associate of local Aryan Nations member Jerald O'Brien, was arrested Saturday after Demetrius K. Lee, 39, said a white man with several Aryan tattoos yelled slurs and threatened him for walking in front of his house near South 19th Street and East Mullan Avenue. Lee said he was on his morning walk to Sanders Beach and has lived in the area for six years.

Lee said the man, who police identified as Diekhoff after interviewing witnesses, came out of the house with three other men to “beat him up.”

Lee ran to his friend's house and got a baseball bat, police said, then returned to the area and had a heated conversation with Diekhoff. He then left and called the police.

Diekhoff was holding his baby daughter in his arms when he confronted Lee, police say.

Coeur d'Alene police Sgt. Christie Wood said Diekhoff was a suspect in a battery investigation last November that never led to charges after police heard reports that he beat a man who refused to chase after a black man with him and O'Brien.

The alleged victim, William Moore, said he was staying with O'Brien because of his Aryan ties when the men were outside O'Brien's house on Thanksgiving Day and yelled “White Power” at two men who were walking by. One of the men said he was black, and Diekhoff ran after him as O'Brien followed, according to a police report.

When they returned, they attacked Moore and struck him several times in the head, saying he was angry Moore hadn't backed them up. Moore tried to superglue his head wound but went to the hospital the next day.

O'Brien told police he'd kicked Moore out of his home because “he couldn't be a true Aryan if he would associate with members of the other churches,” according to the police report.

“He called members of other churches 'the enemy' and said there was only one true church.' He then almost immediately calmed down,” according to the report.

Thieves return to KPBX Radio site

Thieves returned to the KPBX Radio antenna site atop Mica Peak last weekend.

The culprits stole items left over from a previous burglary in which pieces of the station's radio antenna were stolen, according to a news release by Spokane County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan.
 
On Monday, an employee discovered a red fuel tank missing, as well as eight stainless steel “saddle” or “L” brackets, Reagan said.  A coil of 3 1/8-inch and a coil of three-inch plastic coated copper coax also were stolen, along with two 10-foot long pieces of ½-inch copper antenna pool. A large pair of bolt cutters was seized as evidence.
 
The thefts come just after employees on Aug. 23 discovered a spare antenna had been looted of cooper coax cable and stainless steel fittings, which are often stolen and resold as scrap metal.
 
Anyone with information on either burglary is encouraged to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233

Suspected ring thief arrested in Valley

Here's a news release from Sgt. Dave Reagan:

Officers arrested a 29-year-old Spokane Valley man Saturday after determining that he had stolen a pair of expensive rings from an elderly neighbor.

The victim told Officer Cindy North-Jones that Landon A. Carothers had done yard work and other odd jobs for her in the past.  At about noon Saturday, she let him into her apartment to discuss other work he might do for her.

During the visit, Carothers asked to use the victim’s bathroom.  After he left, she discovered a pair of rings that had been on the bathroom shelf missing.  One ring was valued at $2,000 and the other at $500.

North-Jones was joined by Officer Ryan Smith and they attempted to contact Carothers at his apartment.  No one answered the door, but the suspect and his girlfriend were found on bicycles at Appleway and Sprague.  Neither claimed any knowledge of the theft.

North-Jones went to Pawn One and learned that the girlfriend had attempted to pawn one of the rings, but was offered only $20 and decided to keep it.  Confronted with this information, the suspects pointed out in a nearby field where they had stashed the stolen jewelry.

North-Jones arrested Carothers and drove him to the Spokane County Jail to be booked on a felony count of Second-Degree Theft.  The girlfriend may face criminal charges for her participation at a later date.

Speeding I-90 driver arrested with pistol

A motorist stopped for driving 83 mph in a 70 mph zone Monday was arrested on felony charges after Spokane County sheriff's deputies found marijuana and a loaded pistol in the vehicle.

Juan C. Cervantes, 22, of Moses Lake, was stopped on Interstate 90 about 2 p.m. after deputies Jeffrey Thurman and Chuck Sciortino noted he was speeding and driving a Chevrolet Tahoe registered to a woman with a suspended license and warrant for city theft, according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.
 
The owner, Tina M. Zarate, 28, of Moses Lake, was in the passenger's seat. Deputies say they smelled a strong odor of marijuana” and were told by Cervantes that his license was suspended and thee was a small amount of marijuana in the Tahoe, Reagan said.
 
Zarate and Cervantes gave deputies permission to search the vehicle, where they found a glass pipe with partially burnt marijuana and a loaded Rossi .38 caliber pistol wrapped in a bandanna. The gun's serial number had been filed off, Reagan said.
 
Cervantes has four previous felony convictions, which prohibit him from possessing weapons. He was booked into jail on charges of altering/obliterating identification marks on a firearm, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana and third-degree driving while license suspended. 
 
 Zarate’s warrant was non-extraditable, so Sciortino cited and released her for possession of marijuana. 

Manslaughter trial begins for 2 suspects

Trial is set to being today in the case of two men charged with manslaughter after a homemade bomb killed a 28-year-old man outside a party north of Chattaroy last fall.

Opening statements are to begin at 9:30 a.m. in front of Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza.  Christapher A. Harris (left) is charged with first-degree manslaughter and James J. Crouchman second-degree manslaughter for the Nov. 6 explosion that killed Cody R. Hathaway (below).

Harris also is charged with possession of a stolen firearm and possession or manufacture of an incendiary device. If convicted, he faces 95 to 125 months in prison, prosecutors said in February. If convicted of second-degree manslaughter, Crouchman faces 26 to 34 months in prison. Harris was arrested on an explosives charge just after the incident.

Police say he brought the device and other homemade bombs to the party, then removed bomb-making materials from his Spokane apartment and dumped them in Idaho to avoid investigators.

Crouchman told police he ignited one of the devices in a poorly lighted area, then saw Hathaway emerge from the area and collapse after the explosion.

Medical Examiner Sally Aiken recovered a metal fragment from Hathaway’s neck that appeared to be from a CO2 canister. Aiken believes Hathaway died when the canister struck the left side of his neck and severed an artery and jugular vein, according to court documents.

Harris is represented by James Kirkham. Crouchman is represented by Chris Phelps. Dale Nagy is prosecuting.

Past coverage:

Feb. 28: Manslaughter charges filed over deadly explosion

Nov. 8: Man killed in explosion outside party ID'd

Facebook asked to disable inmate pages

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington prison officials have asked social media giant Facebook to disable inmate accounts.

Department spokesman Chad Lewis says inmates are not allowed to have Internet access. He says Facebook accounts are sometimes set up by relatives or by inmates with contraband cell phones.

Lewis tells Northwest News Network that so far the communications have mostly been with friends and family and not for criminal activity. But the department is asking Facebook for the same deal the company recently struck with California prisons, where some sinister activity had been alleged.

California officials say they found an inmate who used social media to track down his victim.

4th conviction in Craigslist murder

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The fourth and final defendant in the robbery and killing of a man who advertised a ring on Craigslist has been convicted in Tacoma.

The Pierce County prosecutor's office says 24-year-old Clabon Berniard will face the equivalent of life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 9 in Superior Court.

The jury found him guilty Monday of robbery, burglary, assault and murder charges for the April 2010 home invasion shooting of 43-year-old James Sanders of Edgewood.

Three others who went to the home pretending to be interested buyers, Kiyoshi Higashi, Amanda Knight and Joshua Reese were convicted and sentenced to lengthy terms in prison. 

Berniard's lawyer argued he wasn't in the home at the time.

Past coverage:

May 5, 2010: Craigslist murder suspects arrested in California

Clues sought on truck in murder case

Police are asking for help identifying a pickup truck that may be connected to the homicide of a woman found dead behind an east Spokane warehouse.

 Investigators released two photos of the pickup today in hopes that people will come forward with information on who the driver may have been in the early hours of Aug. 13.

Evon M. Moore, 48, was found dead near Ralph Street and West Riverside Avenue later that day. Her cause of death has not been determined pending the police investigation, but an autopsy confirmed her death was a homicide, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.

 Moore had felony drug and burglary convictions from 2005 but was studying at Spokane Community College to be a legal administrative assistant.

Anyone with information about the truck or Moore’s death is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Past coverage:

Aug. 15: Slain woman was dedicated student, family says

Scrapper arrested for Valley burglary

Here's a news release from Sgt. Dave Reagan:

Officers arrested a 45-year-old Spokane man Sunday after they caught him inside a vacant house apparently looking for copper wire to steal. 

At 1:30 p.m., a man called to report a suspicious vehicle parked behind his mother’s vacant East Broadway home.  Officers Brian Hert and Chan Erdman approached the home and noted “No Trespassing” signs on both the front and back doors.

The two ordered the person they heard inside the home to exit and Todd E. Hickman walked out.  He acknowledged not knowing the owner of the home.

Hert’s investigation revealed that Hickman was on his way to the East Broadway Wal-Mart when he noticed two vacant homes across the street and decided to enter. 

Hert checked Hickman’s truck and found a large amount of copper wire in the back.  He also saw pieces of copper plumbing and a crowbar, hacksaw and other hand tools.

The officer determined that much of the wire had come from a vacant house just east of where they found Hickman.  Although they were unable to contact the owner of that home, they did establish that the suspect had cut and removed the power cord from the home’s electrical dryer.

Hert drove Hickman to the Spokane County Jail and booked him on a single count of Residential Burglary.

Father, son accused of Valley assault

Two Spokane men were arrested on felony assault charges Saturday after they severely beat a Spokane Valley resident near the Centennial Trail, police said.

Steven Robert Dreyer, 24, and his father, Christian K. Schuster, 42, were arrested after police found the 47-year-old victim with a large gash around his right eye and his left eye swollen shut in the  2800 block of North Mirabeau Parkway about 7:20 p.m., according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.

The man said he visited a homeless friend at the Spokane River each each and on Saturday found him with a black eye. He said the two talked with other men on the river bank and “believe the assault matter was settled,” but that Dreyer then punched him in the face for no reason. Schuster pinned him to the ground while Dreyer continued assaulting them.

While police were talking to the victim, “a shirtless and intoxicated Dwight Lee Hubbard, 54, came out of the bushes and challenged the officer to fight,” Reagan said. “He was quickly overwhelmed and handcuffed.”
Schuster and Dreyer were booked into jail for second-degree assault; Hubbard was arrested on a warrant for trespassing.

 The victim was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he received stitches.

Feds sought meetings w/ city re: Zehm

U.S. Department of Justice officials two years ago had significant enough “ethical concerns” with the city of Spokane’s legal department that they asked to meet with Mayor Mary Verner, police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and City Council President Joe Shogan.

But none of the three ever responded, and it’s unclear whether City Attorney Howard Delaney even informed them of the request that an assistant U.S. attorney labeled “urgent.”

Shogan said last week that city attorneys never told him that federal officials wanted to meet.

When shown emails on file in federal court from the U.S. attorney’s office asking Delaney to set up a meeting, Verner said last week: “I have not read this before, and that’s the extent of what I’m going to say about it.”

Read the rest of Jonathan Brunt's story here.

Fatal crash leads to ‘substantial’ payout

The family of a 9-year-old girl killed in a car crash that led to an infraction against the stop-sign running driver will receive a “substantial” amount of money in an out-of-court lawsuit settlement, their lawyer says.

Olivia Chaffin (pictured) died June 10, 2010, after a pizza delivery driver who was slightly speeding ran a stop sign and crashed into her parents' vehicle. Her grandmother, Shirley Chaffin, broke her neck.

The driver, Echo Henderson, received a $500 ticket for negligent driving. Spokane County prosecutors said the girl's father, Richard Chaffin also was speeding and that running a stop sign, while a bad driving error, is not criminally negligent.

The Chaffins sued for wrongful death and personal injury, and four insurance companies, including Argo for Westside Pizza and Progressive for Henderson, settled out of court on Thursday “for the maximum amount of available insurance,” lawyer James Sweetster said in a news release. Details are confidential. The

Chaffins were driving to Olivia's school play when the crash occurred at Monroe and Hazard roads in north Spokane County. The girl's organs were donated.

An 11-year-old boy received her heart, two sisters in their 60s in Spokane received her kidneys, an unknown recipient revived her corneas and a Philadelphia woman in her 50s receive one of her lungs.

A soccer tournament names in Olivia's honor is to be an annual event.

Her parents, who are teachers in the Mead School District, have pleaded 10,000 to start a scholarship for underprivileged girls who play sports. Sweetser is donating $5,000.

Teen gets 6 years for 5 armed robberies

A Spokane teenager who participated in an armed robbery spree last winter has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Aaron L. Goldstein, 19, is to spend 74 months in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of second-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery.

Goldstein was arrested after armed robberies in November and December at the Holiday gas station on North Argonne Road, Sam’s Stop and Shop on East Sprague Avenue, Nevada Street Brew Espresso, McQuick Mart on South Regal, and the Zip Trips at Fourth Avenue and Sullivan Road and at Illinois Street and Perry Place.

Three other suspects, Sean T. Smith, Vanessa E. Orr and Orr's brother, Donald Lindquist, also are charged.

Goldstein was charged with second-degree escape for leaving a drug rehabilitation center after his arrest, but that charge was dropped in a plea deal.

Another ‘winner’ loses in lottery scam

Here's a news release from Spokane Valley police Sgt. Dave Reagan:

A 63-year-old Spokane Valley man is out $250 after he sent a “fee” to a company that told him he had won 3.5 million dollars and a new Mercedes in a lottery. 

The victim reported that he sent the money, but was called a second time and told to send an additional $350 to cover a “federal stamp to go through the IRS.”  He refused to send the second payment.

The victim reported that he received news of the lottery winnings in a phone call from two men, a Mr. Washington and a Duane Moore, both of whom had Jamaican accents and said they represented Global West Moon Fruit of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The lottery scam is an ongoing fraud where victims receive word by phone call or e-mail that they are a winner and must pay a “fee” or “taxes” to collect their prize.  It is unknown how many intended victims don’t fall for the scam, but enough people are duped to keep the fraud alive and well in Spokane County.

Crime Check sees recurring reports from victims who have mailed or wired money to the “lottery officials” only to see their money disappear with no prize ever received.

The easiest way to avoid becoming a victim is to ask if you have actually entered any sweepstakes or purchased any lottery tickets for the stated event.  If you haven’t, you aren’t a winner - keep your money in your pocket.

UI officials met w/ Benoit before slaying

University of Idaho officials met with Kathryn “Katy” Benoit on the day she was killed and cautioned her to remain vigilant and keep in contact with the Moscow Police Department, according to the university.

In a news release, UI President M. Duane Nellis also announced that he has directed university attorneys to seek court approval for the release of personnel information from former professor Ernesto Bustamante, who shot Benoit 11 times on Monday outside her Moscow apartment.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 26: Vigil honors slain UI student

Aug. 24: Family: Slain student had complained about suspect

Chism filed $10M claim as suit proceeds

A suspended Spokane firefighter’s wrongful arrest lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol over a botched child pornography investigation is headed to trial after an appellate court ruling Wednesday.

A three-person panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says false statements made by WSP investigators amounted to intentional and reckless conduct that infringed on Spokane fire Lt. Todd Chism’s civil rights. The two WSP employees named in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, Detective Rachel Gardner and Sgt. John Sager, shouldn’t be granted immunity because of their actions, the court ruled.

The ruling was issued the same day $10 million claim was filed against against the state of Washington alleging WSP Troopers Greg Birkeland and Greg Riddell used excessive force when they arrested Chism in a separate incident in April 2010.

Read the rest of my story here.

Crime Stoppers targets 2 drug suspects

Crime Stoppers is offering rewards for tips that lead to the arrest of two accused drug dealers.

Tysen R. Foster, 25, is charged with four drug felonies related to alleged cocaine transactions with confidential informants in February, March and April, and from a jail strip searched that revealed cocaine in his anus, according to court documents.

A $20,000 arrest warrant was issued Aug. 15 after Foster didn't show up for his arraignment.

Also wanted is Darcy Deanne Kern, 44, who is accused of selling heroin on two occasions last summer. She also faces possession charges for heroin that was found during a traffic stop on Aug. 18, 2010. Kern told detectives she bought the heroin in Seattle, according to court documents.

Police found a Jennings .22 caliber semi-automatic in her 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix, which she's prohibited from possessing because of a previous felony drug conviction, documents say.

Kern is charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and four felony drug charges. A $5,000 arrest warrant was issued Aug. 17 after she didn't show up for an arraignment.

Kern, 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, last gave a home address in the 5800 block of North Elgin Street in Spokane County.

Foster, 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, is a transient, accoridng to Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information on their current location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

$100k in jewelry found after safe heist

About $100,000 in stolen jewelry was recovered Thursday after police arrested a burglary suspect who claimed to be addicted to OxyContin.

Cody Michael Sutton, 20, is accused of burglarizing a home in Veradale after the owner's 12-year-old son allowed him inside about 4 p.m. thinking he knew his father, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Sutton left the home in a Jeep while carrying a resident's pink gym bag after the boy saw him going through kitchen cabinets, the Sheriff's Office said. The boy discovered his parents' safe containing the jewelry missing, and his mother called a family friend who said the suspect description sounded like Sutton.

A sheriff's deputy spotted the bag inside the Jeep outside Sutton's apartment in the 1700 block of North Union. Deputy Darrell Rohde and other deputies saw gold jewelry spread out on a table when another man responded to a knock on at Sutton's apartment door.

“The man was standing as if to hide something behind him,” according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan. “When Rohde told him to show his hands, the man dropped a handgun to the floor.”

Deputies handcuffed the apartment's six occupants for safety purposes and seized the pistol, which was loaded an had an obliterated serial number.

Nearly all stolen items were recovered “with the notable exception of a three carat diamond ring,” Reagan said.

Rohde believes the safe was dumped along Saltese Road, but it has not been located.

Sutton was booked into jail for residential burglary and possession of a controlled substance  for Suboxone found in his backpack, Reagan said.

Citizen helps police find fleeing fugitive

A citizen helped officers find a fleeing fugitive early this morning in west Spokane, police said.

Christopher A. Hill, 31, was wanted on suspicion of bank robbery in Pendleton, Ore., and on a $250,000 bail jumping charge related to a meth possession case in Benton County when the Pacific Northwest Violent Crimes Task Force told Spokane patrol units he was in the area about 2 a.m., according to a news release.

Hill drove away from police in the area of U.S. Highway 195 and South Thorpe Road, but an alert citizen who watched the chase from her home called 911 and said she'd seen the man turn his headlights off and turn down Canyon Woods Road.

Hill again fled officers but high-centered his truck on a boulder, police said. Spokane police K-9 Leonidas found Hill about 60 feet from the truck. He was booked into jail on the warrant, as well as a new charge of attempting to elude police and harming a police dog for allegedly punching Leonidas and trying to pry open the dog's mouth, according to court documents.

“This is yet another fine example of Spokane's citizens assisting officers in apprehending a wanted individual,” Officer Teresa Fuller wrote. “Our community is always doing a great job of being that extra set of eyes and ears for us so, “THANK YOU!”“

Squirrel blamed for flag thefts in Ohio

In a Wednesday, photo, a squirrel makes off with a flag from the Toledo Police Memorial in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/Toledo Blade via Toledo Police Dept, Lt. James Brown) 

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Police in Ohio have discovered that small flags being swiped from a police memorial were being squirreled away.

 Two Toledo officers watched on Wednesday as a squirrel quickly snatched a flag off its wooden dowel and ran off with it. Lt. James Brown told The Blade newspaper the bushy-tailed critter was too quick to catch.

Later, police noticed a squirrel hanging out on a tree branch outside a third-floor window at their headquarters building. They also spotted a squirrel's nest made of leaves and branches — and at least two of the little flags.

Brown says at least three of the flags have gone missing in recent days.

He's careful to point out he can't prove all were the work of the same squirrel.

Victim’s friends ID’d professor to 911

Hundreds of students, staff and friends gathered in Friendship Square in downtown Moscow Idaho to honor slain U/I grad student Katy Benoit on Thursday. (SR photo/Christopher Anderson)

By JESSIE L. BONNER,Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — In the immediate aftermath of a brutal killing on their back porch, the roommates of a slain Idaho graduate student told a 911 operator that they could think of only one person who could have fired the fatal shots — a university professor whom their friend had recently dated.

Meghan Walker-Smith and Emma Gregory were heard on the 911 recording released Thursday telling a dispatcher that Katy Benoit (left) had been involved with a University of Idaho professor named Ernesto Bustamante, (right) who police say alternately referred to himself as a “psychopathic killer” and “the beast.”

Benoit's roommates told the dispatcher Bustamante had just been asked to leave the school. The operator asked the two, who could both be heard speaking on the call, whether Bustamante's departure was because of Benoit, one roommate replied, “Yeah.”

“He just got asked to leave the university,” she said. “That's why I'm assuming this would happen.”

Read the rest of the story on the 911 call by clicking the link below.

Friends of Benoit held a candlelight vigil in her honor Thursday night in Moscow. Read the story here.

Burning stolen cars spark brush fire

Two stolen cars were set on fire in the Indian Trial area Wednesday night, sparking a small brush fire.

Spokane firefighters responded to reports of flames and explosions from a remote forested hilltop east of Indian Trial Road.

Crews accessed the area through gates and narrow trail and found the car fully engulfed, with flames spreading to less than an acre of land.

The Spokane Fire Department assisted Fire District 9 in controlling the blaze. No injures were reported.

One car, a 2000 VW Passat, was stolen from a home in the 12000 block of North Hemlock Street on Sunday or Monday.

The other, a 2010 Ford Escape, was stolen from the 600 block of East Lakeview Lane on Friday or Saturday.

Both were taken from garages after the owners left the keys inside, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The burned cars are pictured courtesy KHQ-TV.

Middle-finger salute leads to gunfire

A father and son were arrested Wednesday after a neighborhood dispute that began with a middle finger led to a pistol being fired into the ground.

Stephan R. Day, 53 is accused of firing the pistol while his son, Stephan D. Day, 18, is accused of trying to hide his father's guns before police arrived. Police say the incident began about 9:15 p.m. when the elder Day “extended his middle finger” at a neighbor and his friends, according to a news release by Spokane Valley police Sgt. Dave Reagan.

The neighbor said Day has a history of harassment. He and his friends were leaving when Day again flipped them off, so they “decided to return and respond in kind,” Reagan said. Day retrieved a .44-caliber pistol from his home and fired it into the ground at the men's feet, who retreated and called 911. No one was injured.

Police arrived to find the victims hiding behind a car and saw a man later identified as Day, Jr., drop a gun over the fence at the home. Police ordered him to drop the weapon and located three rifles on the ground, as well as two guns along the fence line. Day, Jr., was arrested for possession of a pistol by a minor and evidence tampering.

His father, who has felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing firearms, was arrested for five counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and single counts of harassment – threats to kill and reckless endangerment.

Police seized the pistol as well as a .330-magnum rifle, a 7mm rifle, a .45-caliber muzzle-loader rifle and a final rifle of unknown caliber. The Days are due in Superior Court today.

CdA lawyer ordered back to prison

A Coeur d'Alene defense lawyer and former deputy prosecutor is going back to prison after a judge ruled he'd violated his probation on OxyContin charges.

Shawn C. Nunley, 40, was ordered to prison late last week after his probation officer said he smelled faintly of alcohol when he reported to his office May 9, and that his blood alcohol level registered at .017.

Nunley admitted to consuming alcohol that day and the day before and said “he didn't think it was a big deal,” according to court documents. He also refused to provide a urine sample as requested. His probation officer said Nunley agreed not to travel to Orange County as previously allowed but that he left the probation office without asking and boarded a plane at the Spokane airport the next day, court documents say.

Nunley was placed on supervised probation in February after 1st District Judge Ben Simpson retained jurisdiction over his drug case and sent him to get treatment with the Idaho Department of Correction in October 2010. Simpson ruled last week that his probation violations warranted his prison sentence reinstated, so he's to serve two years in prison and four years probation.

Nunley was arrested July 29. A Kootenai County Jail official said he listed his occupation to be an attorney, but Idaho state bar records saw his license is suspended.

Nunley was first arrested in December 2008 after police said he recruited a client to help feed his OxyContin addiction. The man later went to police and acted as a confidential informant while detectives monitored a transaction between the two.

Federal drug charges were dismissed in June 2009, but Kootenai County prosecutors charged Nunley in March 2010.

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

Tips still sought in horse hit-and-run

Detectives are asking for the public's help to find a driver who seriously injured a horse and rider in a hit-and-run crash in North Idaho last week.

Lauren Johnson, 20, and Rebecca Lobato, 21, were riding horses along the side of Garwood Road between Rimrock Road and U.S. Highway 95, north of Hayden, about 8:40 p.m. Aug. 16 when Johnson's horse was struck by a speeding truck.

Johnson suffered serious injuries, her horse, Blondie, suffered cuts and bruises.

The truck is described as a dark-colored, full-sized pickup with a rack.  Anyone with information about the driver or the truck, which is likely to have body damage on its passenger side, is asked to call Detective Jason Austin at (208) 446-1300.

A fund has been set up to help with Johnson’s medical expenses. Contributions may be made at any Washington Trust Bank.

Family: Murder victim filed UI complaint

A Moscow police officer uses a video camera in a room rented by Ernesto Bustamante at the University Inn-Best Western in Moscow, Idaho, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Geoff Crimmins)

BOISE — A college professor who alternately referred to himself as a “psychopathic killer” and “the beast” committed suicide after killing a graduate student he had recently dated, police said in newly revealed court documents.

Meanwhile, Katy Benoit’s family said  Wednesday that the psychology student had become increasingly alarmed about Ernesto A. Bustamante’s behavior and had taken steps to get away from the man who police say eventually killed her.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

Federal medical marijuana suspect jailed

A medical marijuana advocate recently indicted in federal court is in jail after authorities found pot plants at his home in Lincoln County.

 Jerry Wayne Laberdee, 57, (pictured at a pro-marijuana rally in downtown Spokane, courtesy of the Inlander) turned himself in Tuesday after U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno issued a warrant for his arrest, said his lawyer, Doug Phelps.

Laberdee was prohibited from possessing firearms and from violating federal law when he was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial on federal charges related to his work with the Spokane medical marijuana dispensary Medical Herb Providers.

On Aug. 12, the Lincoln County sheriff's officials found marijuana plants at his home, as well as a dismantled handgun and ammunition rounds. Federal probation officer Richard Law contacted Laberdee on Aug. 16, and Laberdee  “made it very clear to this officer that he would not permit me inside his residence,”according to court documents.

Laberdee also refused to submit to a drug test as his release conditions require, documents allege.

Phelps said a hearing is scheduled Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to determine if Laberdee will stay in jail.

Phelps said Laberdee had about 45 plants and was complying with state medical marijuana laws.

“Federal law says you can't have anything, and state law says you can,” Phelps said.

Laberdee  and Medical Herb Providers co-owner Dennis Whited are among five medical marijuana advocates indicted by a grand jury after federal authorities warned them to shut down or face prosecution.

The men are charged with distribution of marijuana, which carries up to five years in prison; manufacture of marijuana, which carries five to 40 years; and maintaining a drug-involved premise, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

Phelps said his client is eager to bring attention to the federal case against medical marijuana.

“He's not trying to evade the process,” Phelps said.

Past coverage:

July 26: Medical marijuana suspect calls on Willie Nelson
  

Child seized after police find pot plants

A 30-year-old man was arrested and his child was taken into protective custody after police found six marijuana plants in a shed in the back of his home Tuesday.

Spokane Valley police found Christopher Anthony Tonnessen's 2-year-old son sitting in the dirt among broken toys, wires, dog feces, sharp tools and string fencing after a neighbor called Crime Check about 7:15 p.m. to a report a child wearing only a diaper who appeared to be locked out of the home in the 11000 block of East Valleyway Avenue, according to a news release.

Police looked though a window and Tonnessen sitting at a computer with a”very large” marijuana bong next to him. Officer Darin Powers stood at the window with the child for nearly a minute before Tonnessen responded to his knocking on the window. Powers said the home smelled of marijuana “and the stench of decaying food, unwashed clothing and other filth,” according to the release.

“The kitchen was so full of dirty dishes containing uneaten and rotting food, mold and insects it appeared to the officer that no one could cook there,” the release said.

Tonnessen had a medical marijuana card that expired 18 months ago, police said. He also had a large bowl of marijuana and several other bongs in the home, as well as a jar of marijuana within reach of the child, police said.

Tonnessen allowed police to search the home and showed them the plants in the back shed. Police also found three plants outside the shed in the yard.

Child Protective Services transported the boy to a relative, and a dog was turned over to Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services.

Tonnessen was booked into the Spokane County Jail on a felony count of manufacturing a controlled substance.

Cops: Man exposed himself to motorists

A 20-year-old Spokane man was arrested Tuesday after he exposed himself to motorists on the South Hill, officials said today.

Tyler Rexal Raymond Hall was booked into jail for indecent exposure after motorists told Spokane County sheriff's deputies he'd pulled his shorts down and revealed his penis as he walked westbound on East 57th Avenue and South Pittsburg Street about 2:45 p.m.

“Two of the witnesses said they wanted Hall arrested and a third said he wanted the suspect taken off the street and counseled,” Sgt. Dave Regan said in a news release.

Hall was handcuffed, and a deputy found a marijuana pipe and bag of marijuana during a search of his clothing.

“It was undetermined if the marijuana played a role in the exposure incident, but it certainly played a role in Hall’s additional arrest for possession of a controlled substance,” Reagan said.

3-strikes trial skipper gets life in prison

A Spokane man arrested for a shooting after skipping the last part of his robbery and assault trial was sentenced this week to life in prison under Washington's three-strikes law.

A jury convicted Larry A. Powell, 54, of second-degree assault and first-degree robbery in July for an incident at Kmart after he skipped the last part of the trial.

Crime Stopeprs was offering a reward for his capture when he was identified as a suspect in a July 30 Spokane Valley burglary in which shots were fired at a neighbor who tried to stop the thieves.

Powell is described by Crime Stoppers described as an armed career criminal with a 36-year arrest history that includes convictions for second-degree theft, first-degree theft, third-degree theft, second-degree burglary and second-degree theft.

He's in custody at the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Alcoholic in fatal crash pleads not guilty

A Whitworth University student and convicted felon pleaded not guilty Wednesday to vehicular homicide in connection with a crash in East Spokane on Aug. 9 that killed the passenger.

Michael S. Lindsly, 46, appeared before Superior Court Judge Michael Price and was given a trial date of Oct. 17. Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Stefanie Collins said Lindsly was driving an estimated “70 to 100 mph” in a 35 mph zone when he crashed his 2002 Mercury Sable near the intersection of Alki Way and Broadway Avenue, killing 31-year-old passenger Blair C. Riding.

Lindsly, a 10-time felon who carries a 3.8 grade point average at Whitworth, poses a risk to the community, Collins said.

Price agreed to lower the bond from $100,000 to $75,000, but he ordered Lindsly not to drive while the charge remains pending.

Lindsly is described as a leader in the substance-abuse recovery community.

2 plead not guilty to attempted murder

A man charged with attempted murder and kidnapping pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was ordered to remain in jail on a $750,000 bond.

 Gary L. Houchins, 29, appeared Tuesday before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price in connection with a July 11 incident in which he is accused of using duct tape and zip ties to trap a boy in a basement, then attacking the boy’s father.  Houchins pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault.

Assistant Public Defender Kari Reardon asked Price to release Houchins on his own recognizance and pointed out that he turned himself in as soon as he learned law enforcement issued an arrest warrant for him.

According to court records, Houchins and 19-year-old Cecelia L. Rocha – who also pleaded not guilty Tuesday on charges relating to the same case and remains in jail – visited a Mead home and inquired about a room to rent. They returned later that night wearing nylon stockings as masks and armed with a pistol and baseball bat. The assailiants secured the boy to a wall in the home’s basement.

When the boy’s father returned home, the pair attacked him, according to court records. During the attack, Houchins tried to snap the man’s neck, Spokane County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan said in an earlier news release. The boy freed himself, escaped out a basement window and alerted a neighbor.

The neighbor went to the home armed with an ornamental sword, but suffered a baseball bat wound to the head that required medical attention. The assailiants fled into the woods.

2 murder charges dropped in plea deals

Two Spokane residents arrested on murder charges in Benewah County face less than a year in custody under recent plea agreements.

  Kelly A. Miller, 40, (left) and Stephen Milton, 22, (right) pleaded guilty to felony criminal accessory charges for helping Miller's husband, Jody Miller, 40, and her son, Irael Kennedy, 21, after a fatal stabbing in Plummer April 17.  

Milton was sentenced to five years in prison, but a judge retained jurisdiction over the case, which means he'll undergo treatment with the Idaho Department of Corrections for three months to a year, depending on what prison officials decide, said Douglas Payne, Benewah County deputy prosecutor.

Kelly Miller has not yet been sentenced but faces the same time, Payne said.

Jody Miller (left) and Kennedy (right) are scheduled to go to trial in October on first-degree murder charges, but Payne said that likely will be delayed.

 The men are accused of killing Antowyn D. “Tony” Swiney, 37, (left) at his girlfriend's home in Plummer after Swiney left a Spokane bar to avoid a confrontation.

Jody Miller used to date Swiney's girlfriend, officials say.

The four were arrested in Spokane hours after the murder.

Past coverage:

May 25: Boy says he witnessed Plummer murder

April 23: Romantic tie figures in murder case

City council looks at police oversight

Spokane City Council members suggested they may need voters to save the stronger police oversight rules they approved last year, by working to place the concept on the ballot.

Passions were high during the council’s Monday meeting as they discussed overturning police oversight rules. The debate included a few shouting matches between attendees and Council President Joe Shogan.

Read the rest of Jon Brunt's story here.

Past coverage:

July 13: Police ombudsman rules downgraded

Man accused of threatening prostitute

A 48-year-old man who traveled to Spokane from California last week is accused of threatening a prostitute with a knife on East Sprague Avenue.

James L. Brewer, of Sacramento, is charged with second-degree assault after a prostitute told police he'd chased her with a knife and tried to grab her after stopping his silver 2001 Mercedes-Benz at Sprague Avenue and Spokane Street on Aug. 13 about 190:05 p.m.

The woman ran screaming to other prostitutes, who called 911. Police the next day spotted the Mercedes at Sprague and South Lee Street and contacted the occupants, one of whom identified himself as Brewer.

Brewer told police he'd just gotten into town the night before and had asked the woman for directions to a motel, but they ran way screaming “for no reason at all,” according to court documents. He denied pulling a knife on them. Brewer was arrested for intimation/display of a dangerous weapon, a misdemeanor and released from jail after appearing in Spokane County District Court.

A felony assault charge was just filed in Superior Court; Brewer, who gave court officials a Pines Road address, has not yet been arrested.

Knife-wielding man crashes into Subway

A knife-wielding man was arrested Friday after a police chase ended with his car striking a Subway sandwich shop in downtown Spokane.

Charles D. Fletcher, 43, is accused of waving a large hunting knife at passing motorists and scratching their cars while screaming near 9th Avenue and Grand Boulevard about 9:22 p.m., according to court documents.

Spokane police were responding to the area when they heard the suspect, who was driving a white Ford Bronco, had just entered the emergency Providence Scared Heart Medical Center with the knife. The man ran back outside and fled in the Bronco when he saw the police car, and officers pursued him down the lower South Hill and used PIT maneuvers to try to stop him.

Fletcher lost control of his car on westbound 3rd Avenue and crashed into a police, then into the Subway at Browne Street, where he was arrested. Fletcher also crashed into a car at 3rd and Browne and slightly injured the driver.

Fletcher told police he'd stabbed his knife into a car because the driver insulted him and his vehicle. He was booked into jail for hit and run, attempting to elude police and three counts of first-degree assault.

Felon accused of stabbing man in back

A suspect has been arrested for an assault in which a man was stabbed in the back.

Stephen J. Heidt, 26, was arrested Friday, one week after a stabbing that left Daniel Kelly, 30, with a stab wound in his back.

Spokane police responded to the 4800 block of North Lacey Street about 8:41 p.m. Aug. 12 and found Kelly with the non-life threatening injury. A K-9 team unsuccessfully searched for the assailant, whom Kelly identified as “Steve” or “Stephen,” according to police.

Witnesses identified Heidt from photo montages, and Heidt was charged last week with first-degree assault. He remains at the Spokane County Jail after appearing in court on Monday.

Heidt, who has previous felony convictions, was arrested in June 2010 after trying to flee police in a stolen car.

Officers found several weapons in the car, including a hatchet and meat cleaver. He pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen motor vehicle a month later.

Man sentenced for stealing aluminum

COLVILLE – A trusted supervisor whose thefts nearly bankrupted a Colville boat manufacturer was sentenced Monday to six years in prison – two years more than a deputy prosecutor recommended.

Stevens County Superior Court Judge Al Nielson said Chris Boring was “remorseless and relentless” in his theft of 360,799 pounds of aluminum sheet from his employer, Hewes Marine.

“It boggles the mind” that Boring accepted responsibility for investigating the missing aluminum and then selected other employees for layoffs when the thefts and the recession brought the company to its knees, the judge said.

Read the rest of John Craig's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 4: Metal thefts nearly sink Colville boat firm

Man in chase Tasered several times

A man who fled a police chase in the Four Lakes area was arrested after being shocked several times with a Taser late Sunday.

Jesse Ray Waldvogel, 25, ran from his car at milepost 267 on Interstate 90 about 5 p.m. as state troopers pursued him in a domestic violence investigation, according to the Washington State Patrol. He was believed to be armed, and law enforcement, including a helicopter and sheriff's K-9, scoured the heavily vegetated area but came up empty.

Waldvogel was arrested about 9:50 p.m. near Medical Lake-Four Lakes Road and Granite Lake Road but freed his right hand from cuffs and struggled with officers while saying “something to the effects of 'you're gonna have to kill me!'.” according to court documents. He continued to resist after one Taser shock, according to the WSP, so two to three more were applied.

“After the Taser cycled through Waldvogel stated that he was done resisting and asked something to the effects of 'why couldn't you guys just shoot me?,” according to court documents.

Troopers left the Taser probes in Waldvogel as he was examined by medics and told him he'd be shocked again if he resisted. Waldovgel had cuts on his forehead, hands and feet but declined hospital treatment, troopers say.

Waldvogel described the pursuit to police and said he'd been bit by a snapping turtle while hiding in the water, according to court documents.

He was booked into jail on charges of attempting to elude police and resisting arrest.

More charges in Colville murder probe

A 26-year-old man has been charged with stealing the firearm that was then used to kill a Stevens County man and retired U.S. Navy SEAL in what investigators believe was a botched burglary.

 Christopher George Nichols (left) remains in the Stevens County Jail on $500,000 bond after pleading not guilty last week to nine counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, nine counts of theft of a firearm, and single counts of residential burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and trafficking in stolen property in the first degree. 

Detectives believe Nichols, a convicted felon, burglarized the home of Robert Hannigan, 3294-H Bradeen Road, on June 28, with Eric Lee Booth, 26, (right) who is accused of shooting Gordon Feist to death on July 17.

Feist served three tours in Vietnam as a U.S Navy Seal and it was considered in character for him to confront prowlers outside his upscale home south of Colville, according to a police report. Booth had worked at the home before; detectives believe he told Feist he'd run out of gas when he was confronted, and that Feist trusted him and let his guard down.

The 63-year-old retiree was shot to death as he gave Booth a ride on his utility vehicle to his supposedly out-of-gas car, detectives believe, leading the vehicle to crash into a power pole. Booth was arrested three days later after a Washington Department of Corrections officer noticed cuts on his face consistent with the crash while talking to Booth's brother. It took four officers to restrain Booth and place his in handcuffs, according to a police report. He'd told his family he'd been injured in a motorcycle crash. When his mother learned he was a suspect in Feist's death, she approached him and yelled “Eric what the **** are you doing? Gordon is a family friend,” according to the report.

Booth told deputies he burglarized Hannigan's home with Nichols, and deputies located two stolen rings through the Spokane pawn shop database. Nichols denied pawning the items, but a receipt at Pawn 1 in North Spokane was signed by him, according to police.

 According to a previous report, Booth told detectives that 27-year-old Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin (left) and 26-year-old Collette M. Pierce were with him during the botched burglary at Feist's home.

Fellman-Shimmin remains in custody at the Ferry County Jail on a hold from the state Department of Corrections.

Pierce pleaded guilty to the drug charge last week and was sentenced to 90 days at the Stevens County Jail. Booth faces $750,000 bail for murder, burglary and gun charges. The investigation into Feist's death is ongoing.

Past coverage:

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Tasered man, 56, died of heart attack

A man who died after being shocked with a Taser by a sheriff’s deputy in North Idaho in May suffered a heart attack, officials said Friday.

Daniel L. Mittelstadt, 56, of Mount Shasta, Calif., had a pre-existing heart condition and a long history of mental health issues when Boundary County sheriff’s Cpl. Clint Randall responded to a report of a naked man blocking a road with his car about 1 a.m. on May 16.

Read the rest of my story here.

Ex-clerk faces probation for $139k theft

A former Kootenai County deputy clerk accused of embezzling $139,000 over 10 years pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of grand theft.

Sandra Martinson, 62, retired in November from her career with the county, which spanned more than three decades. The embezzlement is alleged to have occurred for 10 years, ending in October.

Martinson is to receive a suspended prison sentence and will serve supervised probation.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs' story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 15: Police: Clerk's bad checks were easy to spot

‘West Memphis Three’ free in murder case

Damien Echols, left, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., center, and Jason Baldwin sit at a table before a news conference at the Craighead County Court House in Jonesboro, Ark., Friday after the three were released after pleading guilty to the 1993 deaths of three West Memphis, Ark., children. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

By JEANNIE NUSS,Associated Press
JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Three men convicted in the nightmarish slayings of three Cub Scouts went free Friday, nearly two decades after they were sent to prison in a case so gruesome it raised suspicions the children had been sacrificed in a Satanic ritual.

Doubts about the evidence against the trio had persisted for years and threatened to force prosecutors to put on a second trial in 2012.

Instead, the so-called West Memphis Three were permitted to plead guilty to murder in exchange for time served, ending a long-running legal battle that had raised questions about DNA and key witnesses — and attracted support from celebrities such as Eddie Vedder.

The men entered the pleas under a legal provision that allowed them to maintain their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them.

“Although I am innocent, this plea is in my best interest,” Jessie Misskelley said.

Damien Echols had been on Arkansas' death row and in 1994 came within three weeks of execution. He remained defiant Friday, accusing prosecutors of using innuendo and faulty evidence to convict them.

In the event of a new trial, “they knew there would be more people watching, more attention on the case, so they wouldn't be able to pull the same tricks,” Echols said.

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

Fundraiser going on for homicide victim

Friends and family of homicide victim Evon M. Moore are holding a car wash today to raise money for her memorial. Moore's daughter, Tarah Krivenko, said she expects to be at West Buckeye Avenue and North Division Street for several more hours today, along with Moore's partner of 10 years, Marzelle Gower.

Krivenko said donations have been coming in none stop, and strangers have volunteered to help.

Spokane police still are trying to determine how Moore (pictured) ended up dead behind an east Spokane warehouse on Saturday, and who put her there.

She was studying at Spokane Community College to be a legal administrative assistant. Moore's memorial is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Ball & Dodd Funeral Home, 5100 W. Wellseley Ave.

Jury acquits Chism in WSP assault case

COLVILLE – Embattled Spokane firefighter Todd Chism won his latest legal battle with the Washington State Patrol on Thursday when a jury cleared him of all charges stemming from a violent 2010 confrontation that injured him and two Washington State Patrol troopers.

 A Stevens County jury exonerated the suspended Chism of four felony counts and a misdemeanor resisting arrest, stemming from an early-morning melee outside his Nine Mile Falls home on April 6, 2010.

But the jury not only found him not guilty, they ordered the state to pay for his attorneys’ fees.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

May 19, 2010: New prosectuor named in Chism case

April 23, 2010: Chism threatened to kill troopers, WSP said

April 9, 2010: Firefighter Tasered in DUI arrest

2 motorcyclists clocked at 110 mph

A motorcyclist was arrested after a chase that began when police clocked him driving 110 mph on U.S. Highway 195 Thursday.

Another motorcyclist driving alongside the biker at 110 mph escaped after crashing his bike in Moscow, Idaho, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The arrested rider, Ryan J. Peil, 22, of Cheney, told deputies he didn't know the other driver and apologized for fleeing arrest. He was booked into jail on a charge of eluding police and is to appear in Superior Court today.

Peil and the other rider were driving side-by-side while southbound on the 60 mph highway when Deputy Greg Lance, who was northbound, turned around and tried to stop the pair. The two easily escaped Lance and his Ford SUV, which has a top speed of about 95 mph, the Sheriff's Office said.

Deputy Ray Miller tried to stop the riders at 195 and Plaza Road, but the two slowed to about 20 mph then sped away while passing traffic in a prohibited area.

The motorcyclists split up, and Miller followed Peil into Rosalia, where citizens alerted him to a building Peil was hiding behind. Peil was arrested without incident.

Whitman County sheriff's deputies, along with Pullman and Washington State University police, chased the second motorcyclist to Moscow, where they found a helmet and jacket at the crash site but no rider.

Sgt. Dave Reagan said the crashed bike belongs to a man with warrants in Kootenai County but he did not identify him.

Bad Hair Bandit suspect was school nurse

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A former prison nurse suspected of robbing at least 20 banks in four states also worked as a school nurse in Western Washington during the crime spree.

Suspected “Bad Hair Bandit” Cynthia Lynn Van Holland's bail was increased to $500,000 when she appeared in court in Placer County on Thursday, where she's been custody since her arrest Monday on suspicion of bank robbery. 

The New York Times reports that Van Holland, 47, had a cat and litter box in her Chrysler Sebring when she and her husband, 26-year-old felon Christopher S. Alonzo, were stopped on a freeway outside Auburn, Calif., northeast of Sacramento.

Van Holland worked as a nurse for the Bethel School District in Spanaway, Wash., from September 2010 to March of this year, during which she allegedly robbed 10 banks in Western Washington.

She moved from school to school and as a contracted LPN with Soliant Health, said Krista Carlson, spokeswoman for the Bethel School District. The nurses typically help students with preexisting medical conditions, Carlson said.

Soliant conducted a background check, and “we also did several reference checks on her and found no flags and no priors,” Carlson said.

Van Holland is a longtime license practical nurse in Idaho who met Alonzo while working in the state prison system.

She worked part-time at the Kootenai County Jail from April until just last week. The FBI believes she robbed at least eight banks during that time, including one in Spokane on May 9.

The 20-robbery spree began in Tacoma in December, but investigators suspect Van Holland may be the same wigged woman who robbed two banks in Spokane last summer.

Several mail thefts reported in Valley

Here's a news release from Spokane Valley police Sgt. Dave Reagan:

Numerous Spokane Valley residents living in the area of 14300 to 14600 East Sixth reported their mail being stolen from street-side rural mailboxes between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon.

Residents found their mail opened and tossed on the ground along the roadway. It was unknown if the thief found anything of value to steal, but identity thieves frequently target mail to obtain personal financial information which they then use to victimize the intended mail recipient.

Outgoing personal checks provide thieves with the names, addresses and account numbers of checking account holders, and incoming mail can provide pre-approved loan applications which can be activated with a simple signature.

Although financial institutions usually cover the victim’s monetary loss, it can take months or years to fix the victim’s credit history damaged by the suspect’s thefts.

Law enforcement professionals encourage all area residents to purchase a locking roadside mailbox to receive incoming mail on rural routes, or to rent a mailbox at the nearest post office.

Outgoing mail containing checks or cash should always be deposited in the larger blue U.S. Postal Service mailboxes located at shopping malls, grocery stores or in front of post office annexes.

Fla. teen arrested in school bomb plot

By MITCH STACY and TAMARA LUSH,Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A year and a half before he was accused of plotting to bomb his high school, a shirtless and shoeless Jared Cano confronted police with a metal baseball bat when they came to his apartment looking for a stolen pistol, which they eventually found in his bedroom. He was 15 at the time, but already had several run-ins with police.

Cano's troubled history is outlined in police reports released after investigators uncovered what they say was a plan to attack the Tampa school that expelled him. None of the previous juvenile charges — from burglary to firearm possession — ended in a conviction.

Yet it appears that this week's bomb plot went beyond angry teenage bluster: Detectives said Cano had amassed shrapnel, plastic tubing, timing and fuse devices for pipe bombs. The attack plan investigators found on Tuesday was mapped out minute-by-minute.

Experts say the level of preparation shows how serious he was.

“Ninety-nine percent of the population who fantasize about harming someone because they are frustrated, or for whatever reason, don't actually make plans to carry it out,” said Charles A. Williams, a Drexel University psychology professor and expert on violent youth.

School safety expert Kenneth S. Trump agreed that the written plans showed a “high probability” that Cano would have carried out an attack.

“The good news is that since Columbine we still see kids coming forward to report the threats and the plots, such as in this case,” said Trump, president of Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services.

Tampa investigators were tipped off Tuesday that Cano was plotting to bomb Freedom High School, and they thought the information was plausible enough to search the apartment where he lived with his mother. Cano's past run-ins with the law had earned him a court-ordered curfew and a place on a police watch list.

“We've been very, very familiar with him,” police Maj. John Newman said. Police have declined to say who tipped them off.

Before this week, Cano's most recent arrest came when he was accused in March 2010 of breaking into a house and stealing a handgun, Tampa police said. According to the police report, the gun's owner — who was the grandfather of Cano's friend — said the weapon had three rounds in the clip.

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

Iraqi-Mexican drug ring busted in Calif.

United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy talks about the indictments evolving from arrest made in the undercover operation involving Iraqi Immigrants and Mexican drug cartels at a news conference Thursday in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

By JULIE WATSON,Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Federal officials said Thursday they've busted a drug trafficking ring involving Mexico's most powerful cartel and members of an Iraqi immigrant community in the U.S. who were caught selling illegal drugs, assault rifles, grenades and homemade explosives.

About 60 people from the Iraqi community were arrested after a six-month investigation carried out by the Drug Enforcement Administration and police in the city of El Cajon, a working-class city east of San Diego.

Many of the suspects are Iraqi Chaldeans — Christians who fled their homeland amid threats from al-Qaida and other extremists. Police say at least some of those arrested are suspected of being affiliated with the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate, an Iraqi gang based in Detroit.

Authorities say the suspects were working out of an Iraqi social club in El Cajon and shipping drugs supplied by Mexico's powerful Sinaloa cartel to Detroit, home to the largest Chaldean population in the United States, according to the federal indictment unsealed Thursday. El Cajon has the second largest Chaldean population.

 Officials were tipped off after neighbors and even some of the club members' spouses complained for years about the establishment's criminal activity, which has included attempted murder, sales of meth and marijuana, gambling and illegal firearms sales.

Authorities seized 18 pounds of methamphetamine, narcotics, cocaine and other drugs; more than 3,500 pounds of marijuana; $630,000 in cash; four IEDs; and more than 30 guns, including assault rifles.

In April, a DEA undercover operative was shown a hand grenade by one of the Iraqis and was told additional grenades were available from a Mexican military source.

Court: Internal police probes are public

By MIKE BAKER,Associated Press
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The public release of investigative records does not violate the privacy of law enforcement officers who are accused of misconduct but cleared of any wrongdoing, Washington's Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Justices agreed by a margin of 8-1 that the public has a right to know the details of internal investigations. But, in a split decision that led only four of the nine justices to write the lead opinion, the court determined that Bainbridge Island police officer Steven Cain's identity should be redacted when documents in his case are released.

Open government lawyer Michele Earl-Hubbard, who filed a brief in the case on behalf of newspapers, said she's concerned that setting a precedent of redacting the names of accused workers will make it difficult to expose those who have multiple complaints filed against them. Still, she said the ruling is a victory for disclosure because there was an increasing trend of law enforcement departments withholding documents.

“It's a practical victory,” Earl-Hubbard said. “It gives us a way to get some records and have some oversight and not leave us completely in the dark.”

Four of the justices agreed that disclosure with Cain's name redacted was the right decision, while four others, including Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, argued that the full document should be released. Justice James Johnson said the entire document should be kept private.

Madsen wrote that redacting the name does not align with the letter or the spirit of state public records law.

“The public has the right to know about allegations of such misconduct, investigation into alleged misconduct, and corrective measures that may have been taken,” she said. “Only by access to this kind of information can the people assure integrity of government action.”

A driver had accused Cain of sexual assault and strangulation during a September 2007 traffic stop. An investigation conducted by the Puyallup Police Department, at the request of the Bainbridge Island police chief, was turned over to prosecutors who determined that there was not sufficient evidence to establish that Cain had acted inappropriately.

After reporters requested the investigative records, the Bainbridge Island Police Guild and Cain filed a complaint to prevent Bainbridge Island from releasing the documents. A judge initially ruled that production of any portion of the reports would violate Cain's right to privacy.

Bob Christie, an attorney representing the Bainbridge Island Police Guild, said he would have liked to see the courts support the privacy of the full records. But he said the redactions will provide some protection for public workers so that their names won't be tarnished by unsubstantiated allegations.

“In today's communication world, once it's out there and connected with a name, a lot of members of the public wont looked past to the fact that it was unsubstantiated,” Christie said.

The case provides little refuge for Cain, whose name is on record because of the court case. But Cain's case will aid other workers in the future, Christie said.

2nd suspect arrested in hotel stabbing

Spokane police on Wednesday arrested a second suspect for an attempted gunpoint robbery at a motel last month.

Walter S. Reiter, 31, is due in Superior Court this afternoon on robbery, assault and unlawful possession of a firearm charges for an incident at the Comfort Inn, 923 E. 3rd Ave., on July 25.

A TV station employee recognized Reiter and suspect Jason M. Doyle, 32, from surveillance photos released to media.

The tipster told police he's known Reiter and Doyle since middle school and that suspects are best friends. Doyle was arrested last week on charges of first-degree attempted robbery, first-degree assault and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

The victim, Dustin T. Hayes, of Omak, told police he was staying with his girlfriend at the motel when he was assaulted by two men and threatened with a shotgun.

He said he prevented the men from taking his duffel bag “even though they were overpowering him and he was being stabbed,” according to court documents. Hayes wrestled the shotgun away from the men, but one grabbed it as the fled the motel. The men also stole Hayes' Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap after they couldn't get the duffel bag, police said.

Hayes said he didn't know the men but believes they were trying to rob him because they thought he had money in the duffel bag.

Rider, horse injured in hit-and-run

A North Idaho woman was seriously injured on Tuesday evening when a speeding pickup truck struck the horse she was riding north of Hayden. The driver fled the scene.

Lauren Johnson, 20, was in fair condition Wednesday in the intensive care unit at Kootenai Medical Center following the 8:40 p.m. hit-and-run incident.

Johnson and Rebecca Lobato, 21, were riding their horses along the side of Garwood Road between Rimrock Road and U.S. Highway 95 when they heard the sound of the speeding truck, Lobato said.

Read the rest of Kevin Graman's story here.

Bad Hair Bandit suspect worked at jail

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A series of bank robberies involving a woman wearing a variety of unattractive wigs may be the work of a nurse employed at the Kootenai County Jail until just last week.

 The FBI announced Wednesday that Cynthia Lynn Van Holland, 47, is believed to be the serial robber nicknamed the Bad Hair Bandit, who’s been on the FBI’s most-wanted list since June and is suspected in at least 20 robberies in three states.

Van Holland, of Hayden, Idaho, was arrested Monday after a bank robbery northeast of Sacramento. Her husband, 26-year-old Christopher S. Alonzo, also was taken into custody. The two remain in the Placer County Jail in Auburn, Calif.

 A family member said Van Holland met Alonzo while working as a nurse at a prison in Southern Idaho.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

May 12: Was the Bad Hair Bandit here last year?

Robberies attributed to the Bad Hair Bandit, not including the two in Spokane last year:

  • US Bank, Tacoma, WA—12/22/2010 
  • Key Bank, Tumwater, WA—01/05/2011 
  • Key Bank, Tacoma, WA—01/12/2011 
  • Wells Fargo Bank, Spanaway, WA—01/14/2011 
  • Heritage Bank, Tacoma, WA—01/21/2011 
  • Cathay Bank, Kent, WA—01/26/2011 
  • First Security Bank, Redmond, WA—01/27/2011 
  • US Bank, Auburn, WA—02/10/2011 
  • Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, WA—02/19/2011 
  • Sound Community Bank, Tacoma, WA—03/25/2011 
  • Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, WA—04/09/2011 
  • Cathay Bank, Bellevue, WA—04/21/2011 
  • Wheatland Bank, Ellensburg, WA—04/26/2011 
  • Key Bank, Moses Lake, WA—04/27/2011 
  • Chase Bank, Spokane, WA—05/09/2011 
  • Sterling Bank, Moses Lake, WA—06/07/2011 
  • Key Bank, Lake Oswego, OR—07/01/2011 
  • Yakima Federal, Richland, WA—07/18/2011 
  • Bank of Butte, Butte, MT—08/11/2011 
  • Bank of the West, Auburn, CA—08/15/2011

2 arrested in gunpoint home-invasion

A gunpoint home-invasion robbery in southwest Spokane County early Wednesday led to the arrest of two men.

Mario Casillas, 42, and James T. Harris, 36, are accused of forcing their way into a rental unit at in the 6200 block of South Pendell Lane about 1:15 a.m. and stealing money at gunpoint.

The victim, Nick Wright, told police he was struck in the head and threatened with the gun while the men said he owed them money, but the victim said he'd never met the men.

Police recovered $350, Wright's driver's license and other stolen property after stopping the suspects at North Nevada Street and East Garland Avenue. Their car had grass stuck in it that was consistent with vehicle marks left on the grass outside the victim's flat, according to court documents.

Harris and Casillas were booked into Spokane County Jail for first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.

Casillas has had a felony warrant out for his arrest since March because he didn't submit a DNA sample after a felony protection-order violation conviction.

Man who stole from elderly gets 1 year

A Spokane man who burglarized retirement homes was sentenced Tuesday to about a year in prison.

Pavel V. Altukhov, 24, is to serve 12.75 months in prison and pay $3,260 restitution after pleading guilty in Spokane County Superior Court to three counts of first-degree theft and second-degree theft.

Altukhov stole jewelry and other items from elderly residents at retirement communities on the South Hill and in Spokane Valley before police arrested him in December. They found more 1,000 pieces of jewelry in his car.

Witnesses said Altukhov posed as a family member of a resident and didn’t appear out of place until residents began reporting stolen items like TVs and jewelry.

He also approached residents in their rooms and offered services such as appraisals as he stole items, police said.

One victim told KREM news that she's still missing her engagement ring from her husband of 62 years.

  

Mayor pushes to resolve Zehm suit

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner announced Tuesday that she is seeking “all courses of action” to resolve the civil case surrounding the city’s handling of the fatal 2006 confrontation between Spokane police and mentally ill janitor Otto Zehm.

Verner said media attention over the past week has brought “raw emotions and ongoing frustration from our community, made worse by the complexity of legal processes surrounding the matter,” according to a news release.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Man accused of injuring police dog

A Spokane man was arrested on suspicion of injuring a police dog after during a domestic violence arrest call last weekend.

 Gerry R. Elerding, 39, is accused of violently fighting with Spokane police K-9 Leo as police responded to a report of an assault and no-contact order violation at an apartment in the 1300 block of South Adams Street about 4 a.m. on Saturday.

An officer forced the door open at the home and found Elerding's ex-girlfriend but could not locate the suspect, so he requested assistance from a police dog.

K-9 Leo entered the basement, and police heard him yelp “as if he had been hurt,” according to court documents.

Officers found Leo moving toward the basement stairs with his leg caught in his partially pulled off harness, documents say.

Police say the secured harness had never before come off “nor has Leo ever left a suspect during a fight or capture.” Leo has been involved in nearly 30 violent captures, according to police.

Elerding remains in jail on a state Department of Corrections probation hold, as well as $1,900 bail for charges of violating a no-contact order and harming a police dog.

He has previous convictions for drugs, eluding police and, just in June, violating a domestic violence no-contact order.
  

Doctor accused of killing partner, son

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — A doctor who failed to show up for his new job at a Seattle hospital was charged Tuesday with killing his partner and their young son, days after a hospital manager who went to his apartment to check on him discovered the grisly scene.

Louis C. Chen, 39, faces two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of Eric A. Cooper, 29, and Cooper Chen, 2, last Thursday. He remains hospitalized with undisclosed injuries, and it was unclear if he had an attorney.

The endocrinologist recently moved to Seattle from Durham, N.C., where he had completed a fellowship at Duke University. On Thursday, he was to begin work at Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center by meeting with a manager there for orientation, a detective wrote in a probable cause statement.

Chen didn't show up for his 7:50 a.m. Thursday meeting, and when the manager, Madonna Carlson, received a worried call from Chen's sister an hour later, she went to Chen's high-rise apartment to check on him. The building's property manager accompanied her.

Carlson heard some rustling noises and knocked several times, and finally Chen opened the door — nude, covered in dried blood, with his right eye swollen shut. He held a box in front of himself, and inside Carlson could see a man's body on the floor in boxer shorts.

Cooper, Chen's longtime partner, had been stabbed well more than 100 times, including wounds to his face, back, neck chest and hands, authorities said.

Police arrived to find Chen slumped down by the front door. In the bathroom tub off the master bedroom, they saw the couple's son, Cooper Chen, obviously dead.

The officers were about to leave the apartment when they noticed Dr. Chen moving his head and eyes. One nudged him and asked Chen for his name, according to the charging papers, and the following conversation ensued:

“Who did this?” the officer asked.

“What?” Chen answered.

“Stabbed you and him.”

Chen looked at the officer. “I did,” he said.

Friends told police they had not heard from Chen since Aug. 8, and a review of the electronic keys assigned to the apartment revealed that they had not been used since that afternoon.

Five large kitchen knives that might have been used in the attack were found in the apartment — including three on the bed in the master bedroom that were stained with blood, the charging papers said.

Aggravated murder is punishable only by life in prison without release or execution. Chen's arraignment is set for Aug. 29. The prosecutor will then decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Fatal DUI crash suspect was in recovery

A Spokane man accused of causing a drunken crash that killed his passenger is a leader in the addiction recovery community and is studying to get his master's degree at Whitworth University, his girlfriend said today.

Michael Shane Lindsly, 46, appeared in Superior Court today via video from the jail, where he was booked after being treated at a hospital for injuries sustained in the Aug. 9 crash.

A vehicular homicide charge was filed against Lindsly on Thursday.

His bail was set at $100,000 today after Judge Michael Price heard from his girlfriend, Lacey Jones. Defense lawyers did not ask for a lower bond.

Lindsly is accused of crashing a 2002 Mercury Sable  and killing Blair C. Riding, 31, while speeding on Broadway Avenue at Alki Way.

Witnesses said the car appeared to be going at least 70 mph. Police say they smelled alcohol in the car and on Lindsly’s breath.

Riding, who was wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Man who died after fleeing hospital ID’d

A hallucinating man who died early Saturday after fleeing a Spokane hospital has been identified as Steven Edward Escallier, 42.

Escallier was taken by ambulance to a hospital after police found him “suffering from hallucinations” at East Wellesley Avenue and North Standard Avenue Friday about 9:30 p.m.

Hospital staff called 911 at 12:04 a.m. Saturday and said Escallier had fled the hospital and that security was following him.

When police arrived, Escallier “had stopped breathing,” according to a news release.

Officers administered CPR and Escallier was taken back to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy confirmed his identity Monday, but the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet determined his cause of death.

Escallier is a longtime felon who has at least 40 criminal convictions dating back more than 25 years.

He was sentenced to a year of prison and year of drug treatment in 2009 after posing as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and trying to rob two men he thought were drug dealers.

The men were actually trying to complete a cell phone sale advertised on Craigslist. Escallier told Judge Maryann Moreno at his sentencing in August 2009 that he was a longtime drug addict who was ready to change.

Moreno was skeptical.

“I bet you’ve said all these things in court before,” the judge said at the time. “I hear it all the time…You’re going to figure it out or you’re probably going to die.”

A multi-agency team is investigating Escallier's death.

Expert says officers caused Zehm’s death

A medical expert hired by the Spokane police officer facing criminal charges over the fatal Otto Zehm confrontation is blaming other officers at the scene for causing the unarmed janitor’s death.

Court documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court indicate Dr. Daniel Davis is prepared to testify in Officer Karl Thompson’s excessive force trial that the asphyxiation that killed Zehm was caused by officers pressing down on him while he was hogtied on the floor of a Zip Trip convenience store.

Read the rest of Tom Clouses's story here.

Homicide victim was dedicated student

Spokane police Detective Chet Gilmore walks near an alley at Ralph Street and Riverside Avenue, where a woman's body was found Saturday. (SRphoto/Jesse Tinsley)

When Tarah Krivenko last spoke with her mother on Friday, she said the 48-year-old Spokane Community College student was planning to help a friend with her homework.

 But when her mother didn’t return home that night, Krivenko suspected something was wrong.

Those fears were confirmed Saturday after the body of Krivenko’s mother, Evon M. Moore, (pictured) was found in an alley behind an east Spokane warehouse.

“This is the biggest tragedy of so many people’s lives,” said Krivenko, who also is a student. “She’s such a loving person, and all these people are grieving her.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Police sergeant involved in car crash

A Spokane Valley police sergeant struck a young driver who turned in front of him as he approached the police station in his patrol car Monday, police said.

Sgt. Mark Nygren (pictured) was not injured but the airbag deployed in his car it was towed from the scene, along with a 1988 Honda Accord driven by Chandra LaMarr, 18, of Hayden, Idaho.

Nygren was driving east on Sprague Avenue when Lamar pulled out from the police station driveway and turned left on to Sprague after waiting for pedestrians, according to a news release. Nygren's car stuck the driver's door of LaMarr's Honda about 2:30 p.m., police said.

Lamarr had a minor cut on one of her wrists but was otherwise uninjured. She was given a $175 ticket for failing to yield the right away.

Organized crime suspect arrested again

A woman awaiting trial on a charge of leading organized crime was arrested early Sunday after a sheriff's deputy found her inside a stolen car.

 Kristina L. Fricke, 41, of Spokane Valley, told Spokane County sheriff's Deputy Phil Pfeifer about 3:30 a.m. that she'd stopped her white Ford Escort alongside East Upriver Drive at East Fruit Hill Road because the exhaust sounded funny, according to a news release.

But Pfeifer didn't believe the exhaust was the only thing that sounded funny - Fricke claimed to have just purchased the car, but a check of its license plates revealed it had been reported stolen.

Fricke had a bill of sale for the car, but it was missing a date of sale and the name of a purchaser, according to the Sheriff's Office. The key used to start the car was shaved, along with two other keys on the ring. Fricke was arrested and booked into jail for driving with a suspended license, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and three counts of possession of motor vehicle theft tools.

Fricke is scheduled for trial next month on a leading organized crime charge and a slew of identity theft charges for allegedly directing at least seven people to commit identity theft and check fraud in a drug-fueled scheme that victimized dozens of people, according to police.
  

Flaming bag of excrement leads to arrest

A flaming bag of human excrement left on a porch in Mead led to the arrest of three teenagers Saturday.

A security camera captured images of the teens' faces, and the homeowner's daughter identified them as two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old.

Spokane County sheriff's Deputy Terry Liljenberg was called to the victim’s home in the 3400 block of East Moody Road about 4:15 p.m. Saturday, where he was shown video of three people approaching the front door shortly before midnight, setting something afire and running away, according to a news release.

The fire burned out, but was inches away from a combustible floor mat on the porch of the home, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The boys were told they were under arrest for second-degree reckless burning. They will be contacted by Spokane County Juvenile Court later to resolve the charges, the Sheriff's Office said.

Spokane man sues over Abu Dhabi arrest

A retired Air Force officer in Spokane says a series of blunders involving international airlines and a global security contractor in Iraq led to his incarceration in a vermin-infested Middle Eastern prison.

A complaint recently filed in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington alleges James H. Hunter followed proper procedures for transporting personal firearms on a trip to Iraq in 2008 but was jailed after an airline sent him to another country and his employer denied knowing him.

“He suffered 60 days of frightening existence in one of the world’s most notorious prisons,” said Hunter’s lawyer, Thatcher Stone, of New York. “He picked up all sorts of illnesses when he was there, some of which have cleared up and some of which he still has.” Stone is handling the case with Coeur d’Alene lawyer Nicolas Vieth.

Read the rest of my story here.

Bad Hair Bandit is suspect in Butte hold up

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BUTTE (AP) — The FBI is investigating whether a Montana bank robbery is related to at least 18 bank robberies in Washington and Oregon attributed to “the Bad Hair Bandit.”

A woman wearing a short, dark-haired wig robbed the Bank of Butte Thursday, getting away with an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber implied she had a gun.

Butte-Silver Bow County Sheriff John Walsh tells The Montana Standard the FBI is looking into whether the bad hair bandit is involved. An FBI spokeswoman wouldn’t comment.

The FBI’s website says the Bad Hair Bandit robs banks by passing a note to the teller and claiming that she has a gun. She wears a variety of unattractive wigs during the robberies.

The FBI believes the same woman may have also robbed two Banner Bank locations in Spokane last summer.

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the bandit’s conviction.

1 arrested, 1 wanted in hotel stabbing

Spokane police have arrested a suspect in a stabbing and attempted robbery at Comfort Inn last month and are asking for help locating a second suspect.

Walter S. Reiter, 31, (pictured) is wanted for first-degree robbery, police said today. Anyone with information on his location should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Jason M. Doyle, 32, a felon, was arrested Thursday on charges of first-degree attempted robbery, first-degree assault and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He and Reiter are accused of using a shotgun to try to rob a man at the Comfort Inn, 923 E. 3rd Ave. on July 25 about 1 a.m.

The victim suffered a non-life threatening stab wound after reportedly bragging “about how much money and dope he had in his car,” police said at the time.

Surveillance photos released last week led police to identify Doyle and Reiter as suspects.
  

Crime Stoppers targets meth suspect

UPDATE: Haines is in custody.

Crime Stoppers if offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest suspected methamphetamine dealer caught with stolen property in May.

Anthony L. Haines, 24, didn't show up for a hearing in Spokane County Superior Court last month, leading to a $5,000 warrant for possession of a controlled substance and second-degree possession of stolen property.

Haines was arrested May 31 after police saw him driving a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass on a suspended license at West Dean Avenue and North Cedar Street about 3 a.m. Police found a checkbook and stolen credit card in the car, along with several bags of methamphetamine, a news release at the time said.

Haines was briefly in custody last month during a SWAT team raid at 1124 W. Nora Ave., where police arrested a man on unrelated robbery charges. But a warrant was issued for his arrest July 21 after he didn't show up for a court hearing.

Crime Stoppers offered a reward Thursday for tips that lead to his arrest. Haines is considered to be a gang associate by police.He's 5-foot-10, 155 pounds and last listed the Nora Avenue home as his address.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Reward for tips on fugitive sex offender

A sex offender already on probation for failing to register is wanted by authorities for failing to check in weekly as required.

 James Richard Gilmore, 22, was convicted of indecent liberties in Spokane County in 2005.

He was sentenced in March to a year of probation and nine days in jail with credit for nine served for failing to register as a sex offender, but a $15,000 arrest warrant was issued July 28, again for failure to register.

Gilmore is a transient, which means he's required to check in with authorities every week. He's a level 1 sex offender, the classification considered least likely to reoffend.

Crime Stoppers offered a reward Thursday for tips that lead to his arrest.

Gilmore, 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds last gave a home address in the 1100 block of Tacoma Avenue South in Tacoma, according to Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Barefoot Bandit movie worth up to $1.3M

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The young man dubbed the Barefoot Bandit after a cross-country crime spree brought him folk outlaw status has reportedly signed a movie deal worth as much as $1.3 million with 20th Century Fox. 

The Daily Herald reports that the money will be used to help pay the minimum $1.4 million that 20-year-old Colton Harris-Moore owes in restitution to the victims of his two-year-long crime spree, which included the theft of a small airplane in Bonners Ferry.

Seattle entertainment lawyer Lance Rosen negotiated the deal on Harris-Moore's behalf. He says it's an unusual amount of money to be paid for anyone's life story rights.

Harris-Moore pleaded guilty in June to seven federal felony charges. Sentencing is set for October; he's expected to receive 5 to 6 years in prison He still faces state court charges.

Past coverage:

June 8: Fed balk at sale of Barefoot Bandit story

Search warrant hunt ends for cartoonist

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The city of Renton is halting any further search warrant efforts to force Google to reveal the real name of the person who created animated Internet videos that mocked Renton police and some city employees.

Renton Chief Administrative Officer Jay Covington said Thursday that police so far have uncovered no relevant information to further a criminal investigation of what they had called a cyberstalking case. Police recently obtained a search warrant that sought to force Google to turn over the filmmaker's real name. The videos were posted on YouTube. A judge issued a stay of the search warrant this week.

Covington says police believe the filmmaker is a current police officer. He says an internal investigation will continue.

The cartoons parody everything from officers of an unidentified law enforcement agency having sex on duty to certain employees getting promoted without necessary qualifications. Renton Police Chief Kevin Milosevich says his officers and several city employees are the targets.

Crumps and Blood nabbed in meth bust

Six children were taken into protective custody in Bonner County today as detectives arrested three people for manufacturing methamphetamine.

Priest River residents Leuis Mark Blood, 44; Brandon N. Crump, 33; and Shauna L. Crump, 32, also face charges of injury to a child, according to the Bonner County Sheriff's Office. The suspects are pictured clockwise, left to right.

They were arrested today after investigators searched two homes at 352 and 358 Bandy Road in southern Bonner County, east of Hoodoo Lake and Spirit Lake Cutoff Road.

 The children are in the care of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Spokane dad arrested for selling coke

An unemployed Spokane father was arrested on suspicion of selling drugs after police found cocaine in his car during a traffic stop.

Thomas J. Boring's 7-year-old son was with him in his gray Ford pickup when a Spokane County sheriff's deputy stopped the vehicle near East Sprague Avenue and South Chronicle Road about 3:45 p.m., according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Deputy Jeff Thurman said Boring, 56, had tried to turn south on Chronicle in front of eastbound traffic but lurched back into the two-way turn lane to avoid a collision, Reagan said.

Boring was sweating and “extremely fidgety” with rapid speech when Thurman contacted him, Reagan said. He was arrested for driving with a suspended license, and Thurman found cocaine on him, then discovered a bag with another four packages of the drug on the truck's back floorboard.

Thurman also found a drug ledger in the vehicle; he says Boring lost his job in January and began selling cocaine in July to pay bills.

Boring said he'd just picked up his son “and that no drug sales occurred in his presence,” Reagan said.

Boring, who has a previous felony conviction for manufacturing a controlled substance, was booked into jail for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, third-degree driving while suspended. He also was cited for failure to wear a seat belt and failure to provide insurance. His brother picked up his son.

Steele asks for new murder-plot trial

The recently disbarred lawyer who defended North Idaho attorney Edgar Steele at his murder-for-hire trial says he acted ineffectively because he was distracted by his own legal problems.

 Robert McAllister said his thinking process during Steele's trial in Boise, which ended with his conviction on all counts in May, was disrupted by the pending disbarment proceeding in Colorado, which stemmed from allegations that he embezzled money from clients.

“…I assumed I could perform was well as I had performed previously, not understanding the full extent that the prospect of disbarment would have on me,” McAllister wrote.

McAllister's statement is included in a 50-page motion for a new trial filed this week in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has until Sept. 12 to respond to the motion. A hearing before a judge has not been scheduled.

Steele, 65, is to be sentenced Nov. 14 for four felonies related to a plan to kill his wife with a pipe bomb strapped under her car by a handyman he'd hired as a hitman.

 Steele faces at least 30 years in prison; he's been in custody since his arrest in June 2010.

An 11-woman, 1 man jury convicted him May 5 after a two-week trial in Boise.

The motion, drafted by Steele's new lawyer, Wesley Hoyt, who once represented his wife and alleged victim, Cyndi Steele, calls for a new trial based on ineffective counsel and alleged prosecutorial and FBI misconduct, among other issues. (Hoyt and Cyndi Steele are pictured after a jury convicted Edgar in May.)

Hoyt said McAllister failed to subpoena audio expert George Papcun, whom Hoyt says would have provided crucial testimony regarding the authenticity of audio recordings in which Steele discusses the plot to kill his wife with hitman-turned-FBI informant Larry Fairfax. Papcun traveled to Bora Bora with his wife during the trial and was unable to testify.

Coeur d'Alene lawyer Gary Amendola blames McAllister for failing to secure Papcun's presence. He said he believes McAllister didn't properly prepare for the trial.

“His cross examination of witnesses called by the United States was disjointed and random and often did not get to the issue that needed to be addressed,” Amendola wrote. “His examination of witnesses called by the defense was equally weak, disjointed and random. He also paid little attention to directives from Edgar Steele.”
Amendola calls McAllister's closing argument “rambling and ineffective” and said he failed to address key legal issues, including those raised in jury instructions.

McAllistter took over the case from Roger Peven, executive director of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Hoyt alleged Peven provided ineffective counsel because he was “seriously distracted” by legal proceedings regarding alleged poor management of the office.

“Peven and McAllister stand as proverbial 'bookends' of ineffectiveness,” the motion reads.

Steele has said he is the victim of a government conspiracy to silence him because of his views on politics and race.

Steele describes himself as the “attorney for the damned” and says he defends the politically incorrect. He defended late Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler against the 2000 civil lawsuit from the Southern Poverty law Center that bankrupted the racist group.

The motion alleges non-government organizations like the SPLC and Anti-Defamation League pressured the U.S. Attorney's Office to prosecute Steele. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson has said no one knew of Steele until Fairfax told the FBI he'd been hired to kill his wife.

The motion also said Steele's mental state was compromised “by his arrest, solitary confinement and sudden withdrawal of prescription pain medications” but his lawyers failed to explore the issue.

Valley woman, 84, scammed of $1,500

An elderly Spokane Valley woman lost nearly $1,500 this year to a con man who claimed she'd won a new car.

The Spokane Valley Police Department is reminding people to talk with their elderly parents about phone, mail and email scams after the 84-year-old woman's daughter reported the fraud to Crime Check and said the thief calls her mother daily seeking more money.

The victim sent $1,475 to an address in Jamaica in March after a caller claiming to represent Morgan Stanley International told her she had won a new car and only had to pay them sales tax to collect it, Sgt. Dave Reagan said.

Reagan said such swindles “are nearly impossible to investigates and prosecute” because the culprits typically live outside the country.

He said people with elderly relatives “should insist that elders discuss with them any contest, lottery or other prize offers before sending any money for “taxes,”  “border fees” or other claims of money owed.”

Duo in rape revenge charged w/ assault

A couple arrested for attempted murder in Airway Heights last week will instead be charged with assault.

Elijah J. Boxley, 33, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Wednesday on a first-degree assault charge while his girlfriend,  Molly E. Foote, 38, alias McBride, appeared on a second-degree assault charge.

The two were arrested Thursday after attacking Michael J. Martin, 46, in what they said was revenge because Martin raped Foote.

Detectives are investigating the rape allegation. Airway Heights police say Boxley and Foote attacked Martin with a knife in a car at a gas station at 220 S. Hayford Road in Airway Heights last week. Boxley allegedly struck Martin with his car.

Boxley told police he was “on fire and ready to go” after Foote said she'd been raped by Martin.

“It pretty much put me in a temporary insanity state when your best friend rapes your girlfriend,” Boxley said, according to court documents.

Police found a machete, hatchet and several knives in Boxley's car and arrested the couple for attempted murder, but prosecutors filed the lesser charges on Monday.

Boxley and Foote remain in jail.

Militia leader sentenced in grenade case

A self-described militia leader will spend a year and a day in prison for making grenades that he said were to fight off a communist invasion.

Kenneth B. Kimbley Jr., 60, was given an exceptionally low sentence this week in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene after his public defender described his health problems, which include lung cancer. He'll be on home detention for one year after his release, serve three years probation and is to perform 100 hours of community service.

Federal prosecutors had requested he be sentenced to 46 months in prison for amassing a a weapons collection at his property at 28128 Highway 4, just south of Spirit Lake, where he was arrested on July 3, 2010, while making grenades with other militia members.

He pleaded guilty in November to unlawful possession of a firearm and attempt to make a firearm in violation of the National Firearms Act.

Kimbley had previously discussed bombing local bridges with an undercover federal agent and made threatening statements toward President Barack Obama, according to court papers, but his lawyer, Kim Deater, said he never threatened anyone and was simply saying things similar to what his idol, Glenn Beck, says.

Codefendent Steven E. Winegar, 52, of Harpster, Idaho, was sentenced last month to eight months of house arrest and five years of probation for illegal possessing a .45 pistol.

An undercover agent had been tracking the men through their militia ties since at least October 2009, when he first saw Kimbley with an AK-47 equipped with an electronic optical sight and bought a .22-caliber Ruger handgun from him.

Kimbley was convicted of felony aggravated assault in 2004, which means he's prohibited from possessing firearms.

Retired Spokesman-Review reporter Bill Morlin covered Kimbley's sentencing for the Southern Poverty Law Center. He reports that Judge Edward Lodge said it was “far-fetched” to think the arsenal of weapons and homemade bombs “would have any impact one way or another if there was an invasion from a communist country.” Read Morlin's story here.

Cops tell gang not to retaliate for arson

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — Wenatchee police have contacted a gang that appeared to be the target of a fire that killed two children and warned it not to retaliate.

Sgt. John Kruse says the gang was told retaliation would be very detrimental to solving the homicide.

Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris says the boys, 4 and 6 years old, died of smoke inhalation.

The Wenatchee World reports the fire is being investigated as arson.

Police say the duplex has been a target of gang activity in the past, but no one in the house at the time of Thursday's fire is believed to be a gang member.

The boys' father suffered serious burns trying to save them and is in a Seattle hospital.

Army vet jailed for false mileage claims

A man who made more than $20,000 in false mileage reimbursement by lying to the Spokane Veteran Affairs Medical Center about where he lived is to spend six months in jail.

Michael Edward Harrison, 27, is to be on probation for three years and is required to pay $20,464.92 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs under a sentence imposed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Harrison, an Army veteran, pleaded guilty in May to four counts of making a false claim for travel benefits.

Veteran Affairs reimburses patients at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center 41.5 cents per mile driven to and from the hospital. Harrison lived on West Francis Avenue in Spokane, less than three miles from the hospital, but filed 202 claims between September 2009 and October 2010 that said he traveled from Omak - a 280-mile round trip, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

“The actions of this individual served to divert some of VA's limited financial resources, from deserving veterans, into his own pocket,” Michael Seitler, special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and Office of Inspector General's northwest office, said in a prepared statement. “VA OIG is confident that this successful prosecution will assist in deterring others from defrauding the VA in this manner.”

Harrison is to report to the U.S. Marshals Service by noon on Aug. 16.

Medical marijuana suspects arraigned

Four men facing federal prison time for operating medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Charles Wright and Jon Vivian, former owners of the THC Pharmacy on South Perry Street, and Jerry Laberdee and Dennis Whited, former owners of Medical Herb Providers, appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach's story here.

Past coverage:

July 20: Grand jury indicts Spokane medical marijuana dispensers

April 7: Spokane medical marijuana dispensaries on federal notice

March 17: Owners, law agencies disagree on legality of pot shops

Man in Ponzi scheme pleads guilty

A former Sandpoint real estate agent has pleaded guilty to six federal felonies for a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $2 million.

Dale Edward Lowell, 59, now of Colbert, faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced in October, but a plea deal approved Tuesday in U.S. District Court calls for prosecutors to ask for a low sentence and $1.7 million in restitution.

That doesn’t sit well with Jeffrey Bales of Sandpoint. His now ex-wife met Lowell when he worked as a pianist at the Church of the Nazrene in Sandpoint. The two began a secret affair, and Bales’ wife persuaded him to invest nearly $180,000 in Lowell’s investment scheme, “Dale’s Investment Club.

Read the rest of my story here.

Nicks changes story on Zehm’s death

 

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner Tuesday acknowledged that the city is re-evaluating its legal position in the Otto Zehm controversy after new court documents indicate officers violated use-of-force and other departmental policies in the fatal 2006 confrontation.

According to court records filed last week in the upcoming federal trial against Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson, Assistant Police Chief Jim Nicks is prepared to testify that major crimes detectives failed to analyze the video of the confrontation compared to Thompson’s statement; they never followed up on a report from an ambulance crew that Thompson struck Zehm in the head with a baton; and his own review of the video shows that Thompson violated several policies and procedures by applying unjustified force against the retreating Zehm.

Read the rest of the story here.

Con artist sought fake support letters

A former Washington legislative candidate and convicted conman will spend five years in prison for scheme that bilked a Coeur d’Alene woman out of her high-end riverside home and drew the wrath of a federal judge.

“I think the bottom line in all reality is that you’re a con artist,” U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge said to Travis “T.J.” Sneed (pictured) before sentencing him Tuesday in Coeur d’Alene to 63 months in prison. “You say one thing and you do something different. And it’s not a one time situation.”

Sneed’s sentence was higher than a plea agreement originally called for because federal prosecutors discovered a scheme by Sneed to solicit fraudulent character-witness statements to submit at sentencing. Sneed offered another man $1 for each letter and said he wanted 150 letters, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Cook.

“When we leave this world, the only thing that we really take with us is our reputation - good or bad,” Lodge told Sneed. “If you were to die today you would be seen as a con artist.”

Sneed, 28, pleaded guilty in March to three counts of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises.

Codefendant Samuel Thomas Geren Jones is awaiting trial on similar charges.

Sneed is to be on probation for three years, perform 320 hours in community service and pay about $732,000 in restitution. That’s the amount of money loaned to Sneed using victim Dawn Forest’s home as collateral.

“I’ll never see any of it,” Forest said. But she takes comfort in knowing that “for five-plus years he won’t be able to do this to anybody else.”

Forest allowed Sneed and Jones, who were in a romantic relationship, to live in the basement of her home on South Canal Street along the Spokane River and take out a loan on her mortgage. She learned her home was being foreclosed by reading the newspaper, she said.  Sneed also bilked three people of about $165,000 by selling them products via the Internet that he never gave them.

His lawyer, Sean Walsh, said it was an effort to try to repay Forest.

“In effect what we have here is an unintended Ponzi scheme,” Walsh said. “Mr. Sneed admits he was incompetent in business and that this project failed,” Walsh said.

Sneed, an Eagle Scout and former aide to late Spokane Mayor Jim West, apologized Tuesday and said he never meant to defraud anyone.

Sneed has previous federal convictions for wire fraud that resulted in an 18-month prison sentence in July 2005. The scheme was similar - federal investigators said he swindled more than $125,000 from Internet customers.

He was indicted in 2004 while campaigning as a Republican candidate for the state House from Spokane’s 3rd District.

Sneed still has unresolved charges in Spokane County that allege he used a pilfered bank account number to cash nearly $3,000 in checks.

“He learned nothing from his previous time in jail,” Cook said Tuesday.

Man who tried to blow up wife sentenced

A man who tried to blow up his wife with a homemade bomb will spend 25 years in federal prison, a judge ruled today in Coeur d'Alene.

 Levi Wayne Mendenhall, 31, transported the device from Omak, Wash., to his estranged wife's home in Kamiah, Idaho, where he placed it on the hood of her car. A homeowner found the box and called authorities after she noticed wires. No one was injured.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge called the act “an atrocious criminal attempt on the lives of others” before sentencing Mendenhall to 300 months.

Mendenhall pleaded guilty in May to stalking, transporting explosives with intent to kill, injure, or intimidate, and use of explosive material during the commission of a federal felony.

Mendenhall is required to seek mental health counseling. Lodge said mental health problems are the only logical explanation for the crime.

Mendenhall constructed the device using a three-inch plastic pipe filled with explosive powder, razor blades and BBs after buying the components at stores in northeastern Washington.

Lodge said though no one was physically injured, the case will have lasting effects on Mendnehall's children, who will grow up without a father.

Mendenhall apologized for his crimes in a rambling statement read in court. He said he spent two weeks in mental health ward after a suicide attempt. “It's pretty obvious I wasn't ready to be released,” he said.
  

Man arrested w/ gun at Newman Lake

A man was arrested with a gun in the Newman Lake area Saturday after threatening two people, officials said.

Edwin J. Valenzuela, 59, told deputies two men attacked him and punched him in his recently installed pacemaker, so he displayed his gun.

But the victims, including Jeffrey Morse, president of the homeowner's association, said Valenzuela had contacted residents at 11733 N. Honeymoon Bay looking for a key to the boat slip area about 9:45 p.m. and became angry when a woman said she didn't have one, officials say.

Morse and Lyle Putz went to give Valenzuela a key, but Valenzuela grabbed Putz around the neck and held a gun to his head, according to court documents. The men said Valenzuela repeatedly called them racial epithets that incorrectly describe their race.
  

Valenzuela was arrested, and deputies say they found a black pistol with two loaded magazines in his room.

He was released from jail on his own recognizance Monday after appearing in court on two counts of first-degree assault.

Man gets 6 mos. for mistreating mother

A 49-year-old Spokane man is to spend six months in jail for mistreating his elderly mother.

Scott Patrick Morris' mother, Patricia Morris, who has Alzheimer's disease, suffered from ulcers on her heels and ankles as well as bruising around her eyes, ears and arms when a social worker became concerned for her after Morris was admitted to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in December, according to court documents.

Morris had previously said he didn't want his mother at a care center and he would care for her 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

His mother lost 20 pounds between October and December 2010 and suffered extensive bruising and abrasions on her body, as well as other health problems.

A friend of Morris told police that he blamed her nursing center for her health problems and had threatened to shoot the staff, documents say.

Morris was arrested for first-degree criminal mistreatment in May. He pleaded guilty to felony second-degree criminal mistreatment Friday and was sentenced to six months with credit for 95 days served.

Trial skipper arrested after shooting

A Spokane man wanted by Crime Stoppers after skipping the last part of his robbery and assault trial case was arrested recently after shots were fired at a neighbor trying to stop a burglary.

Larry A. Powell, 54, is now awaiting sentencing and arraignment for separate assault and robbery cases after he was arrested last week, accused of stealing property from a home in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue in Spokane Valley, then shooting at a neighbor who tried to stop him.

The neighbor and his wife saw two men at the home on July 30 about 8:25 p.m. and confronted them, then contacted the homeowner who said no one should be at the home, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office

The neighbor followed the men as they left in a white mini-van before the car turned around and someone began firing at him with a handgun, missing him but disabling his vehicle, according to a search warrant filed Monday. The man was able to record the license plate number, which was a registered to a woman who said she'd left the car with Powell when she moved to Michigan two years ago.

The neighbor identified Powell from a photo montage.

The alleged shooting occurred just days after a Spokane County jury convicted Powell of assault and robbery for an incident at Kmart last fall.

Powell didn't show up for the last days of the trial, but court proceeded without him. Crime Stoppers last week had offered a reward for tips that led to his capture.

Powell was booked into jail Thursday.

Witnesses sought in fatal Cheney crash

A man killed in a single-car rollover crash Saturday southeast of Cheney has been identified as Eric Henager, 24.

Detectives have not determined who was driving the 2005 Subaru Outback in which Henager was found dead at 2:22 a.m.  on Cheney-Spangle Road, just south of Curtis Road, Spokane County sheriff's Cpl. Dave Thornburg said late Monday.

Officials say alcohol is believed to be a factor.

Mark Russo, 24, of Cameron Park, Calif., was injured in the crash, but officials don't know who was driving, Thornburg said.

Detectives hope two women who were given a ride home from the men just before the crash will come forward, as well as anyone else who may have been the vehicle that night.

Thornburg believes the men were coming from either Wild Bill's Longbar or Goofy's Tavern in Cheney before dropping the women off, Thornburg said. Anyone with information is asked to call Thornburg at (509) 477-2710.

Church burglaries lead to 23 felonies

A series of church burglaries last year has led to 23 felony charges against four suspects. 

The burglaries, which police say began when the main suspect and his mother stole a purse from a Mormon church, were done to feed the man's OxyContin addiction, according to court documents.

That man, Andy W. Hoke, 25, (pictured) appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today on 13 charges of second-degree theft, one count of second-degree identity theft and six counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property.

Hoke told police he burglarized the churches and exchanged stolen goods to Steven D. Kinard, 51, for drugs, according to court documents. Kinard is charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, clonazepam, cocaine and hydrocodone.

Hoke's older brother, Jeremiah L. Hoke, 28, is charged with second-degree theft for allegedly stealing a debit card for a church patron on May 4, 2010. A fourth suspect, Daniel I. Heinzen, is charged with six counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property for allegedly helping Andy Hoke trade stolen property to Kinard.

Victimized churches include Valley Bible Church, Whitworth Presbyterian Church, Intersection Church, Indian Trail Church, First Church of Nazarene and Turning Point Open Bible Church.

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

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

The scheme fell apart when employees at Mt. Spokane Church called police May 5 and said they’d caught Hoke in the church and believed he was planning a theft.

Hoke was sentenced to 14 months in prison in an unrelated case in April.

He returned to the Spokane County Jail this week to face the new charges.

Kinard posted $2,500 after his arrest last year has been summoned to court. Heinzen and Jeremiah Hoke have also been summoned.

Suspect ID’d in drinking-party stabbing

Two suspects have been arrested for a stabbing at an underage drinking party last month.

Brandon C. Hoppman, 22; and James D. Summa, 16, each are charged with two counts of first-degree assault fir a July 1 stabbing in the 2900 block of East Broad Avenue.

The victims, identified in court documents as Nicholas Kappelman and a juvenile, B.D, were treated for several stabbed wounds after someone kicked in the bathroom door and a fight ensued. The juvenile suffered two collapsed lungs and was hospitalized for several days, according to court documents.

The knife was recovered in the home, as well as a piece of shirt worn by an assailant as well as a piece of cell phone. Witnesses identified Summa and a third suspect who has not been arrested, Cole M. Kendall, 19; Kendall, from photo montages.

Summa already was in juvenile detention for an alleged July 5 beer robbery with Kendall when Spokane police Detective Jeff Barrington contacted him July 7 and submitted his clothing to the crime lab after it appeared to be stained with blood.

Summa was arrested for first-degree assault Aug. 2 and told police Hoppman kicked in the bathroom door, and that Kendall admitted to stabbing someone at the party.

Hoppman was arrested Aug. 3 and admitted to fighting with several people at the party, according to court documents.

Oregon cop says Spokane driver hit him

A Spokane man was arrested Sunday after his 2004 Ford Mustang struck an Oregon State Police trooper and knocked the trooper to the ground, officials said.

 Jacob John Melton, 31, (pictured) was pulled over for traveling 85 mph in a 65 mph speed zone on Interstate 84 west of The Dalles, according to the Wasco County Sheriff's Office.

OSP Trooper Mark Jubitz was talking to Melton after issuing him a traffic citation when Melton accelerated to leave, according to police reports. His Mustang fishtailed on the gravel shoulder and knocked Jubitz to the ground.

The incident occurred at about 1:17 p.m. Melton stopped and remained at the scene as Jubitz radioed for help.

Jubitz was treated for minor injuries at an area hospital and released.

Melton was arrested for reckless driving, recklessly endangering another person and attempted assault on a public safety officer. He was booked into a correctional facility in The Dalles.

Suspect identifed in fatal hit-and-run

A suspect has been identified in a June hit-and-run crash that led to a 66-year-old Spokane man’s death.

Spokane police on Friday seized a 1996 Nissan Sentra that they believe 18-year-old Megan C. Skillingstad was driving when she struck Dennis Widener on June 23. Widener (pictured) died of his injuries two weeks later.

Cpl. Brad Hallock said Skillingstad, who has not been arrested and has no criminal history, faces a charge of failure to leave information at the scene of a collision resulting in death.

Read the rest of my story here.

Harpham computers will be part of case

Evidence of racist postings found on domestic terroism suspect Kevin Harpham’s computers will used in his trial afer a federal judge on Friday denied motions from defense lawyers.

 U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush said the searches of Harpham’s home, at 1088 Cannon Way, near Addy, Wash., and at his father’s home in Kettle Falls fell “within the four corners of the search warrant.”

The judge also recalled FBI agent Joseph Cleary, who acknowledged that it was a mistake that neither he nor another agent read Harpham the arrest warrant even after Harpham, 37, asked why he was being taken into custody on March 9 near Addy.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 5: Pliers may be evidence in Harpham's trial

Attempted-murder suspect ‘was on fire’

A man arrested for attempted murder in Airway Heights told police he was “on fire and ready to go” after his girlfriend said she’d been raped by the alleged victim.

“It pretty much put me in a temporary insanity state when your best friend rapes your girlfriend,” said Elijah J. Boxley, 33, according to court documents.

Boxley and his girlfriend, Molly E. Foote, 37, alias McBride, are in Spokane County Jail on $200,000 and $250,000 bond, respectively, after appearing in Superior Court today on charges of first-degree kidnapping and attempted first-degree murder.

Spokane County sheriff’s sex crimes detectives searched a Trent Avenue motel and a home in the 400 block of West 21st Avenue on Friday and seized clothing and other items as part of an investigation into claims that Boxley and Foote’s alleged victim, Michael J. Martin, 46, raped Foote on Tuesday.

Foote told Boxley on Wednesday that she’d been assaulted, and Boxley arranged to meet Martin at a gas station at 220 S. Hayford Road in Airway Heights, according to police. Foote was hiding in the back seat under a blanket and held a knife to Martin’s throat after he entered the car about 3 a.m., police say.

Martin told police he fared for his life and fought with the couple before fleeing the vehicle. He said Boxley ran over his right foot and caused him to fall over and hit his head on the asphalt.

Boxley told police the three lived together for about six months two years ago. He told police he wasn’t sure if he injured Martin but said he didn’t have any weapons.

Police say when they asked Boxley if it was Foote who cut Martin, he replied “If anybody had a knife and was doing the cutting, it wasn’t me.”

Foote told police she’d place a rope around Martin’s neck because she wanted to “pay him back” for raping her, according to court documents.

“Foote told (police) she and Eli planned to make sure Martin never did this to another woman again,” police wrote.

But Martin was too big and strong, Foote said, and their plan to subdue him failed.

Police say Foote repeatedly said that “Eli should have just left it alone. Mike is too big and strong for us to think we could have pulled this off.”

Police found a machete, hatchet and several knives in Boxley’s car.

Both Boxley and Foote have previous convictions for felony theft and DUI; Martin, who suffered minor injuries, has several felony convictions for theft. The investigation into the alleged rape is ongoing.

Video shows suspect in GU law caper

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Here's a news release from Sgt. Dave Reagan:

Detectives are seeking the public’s help to identify a woman who stole a laptop computer from the Gonzaga Law Library.

Security video shows the thief (in front) entering the library with a child and a female companion about 7 p.m. on June 21.  Detectives also want to identify the second female.

Witnesses saw the lead female near the laptop which had been left on a table top.  No one in the library at the time recognized the thief as a student, and when she quickly exited the library carrying a backpack, one witness followed her.

The witness saw her retrieve the child and leave in a maroon or burgundy “American-looking” four-door car, according to police.

Gonzaga security staff was able to locate video of the suspect, the child and companion as they entered the library.  The white female suspect is in the lead and was described as between 35 and 39 years old, 5’03” tall and 180 pounds..

Anyone with information about either woman’s identity is asked to contact Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
  

New suspect in ‘07 murder arraigned

From a visitation room at the Spokane County Jail, Jeramie R. Davis talks last week about the recent break in his case. (SR/Colin Mulvany)

A Spokane man recently arrested for a 2007 slaying that authorities previously considered solved pleaded innocent Thursday to murder charges.

 The homicide case against Julio J. Davila comes as Jeramie R. Davis, an admitted thief convicted on largely circumstantial evidence in the beating death, remains jailed awaiting the outcome of an investigation that police have said could exonerate him of the murder.

DNA found on the baseball bat used to kill Sprague Avenue adult bookstore owner John Gordon Allen Jr., 74, in 2007 was recently identified as Davila’s, creating a legal conundrum in which authorities say it’s possible the wrong man was given a 45-year prison term for a murder he didn’t commit.

But because a Spokane County Superior Court jury convicted Davis – despite his insistence that he did not kill Allen – and a state appeals court upheld the verdict, authorities are trying to figure out how to proceed.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 28: Convicted killer hopes for freedom

July 26: DNA reveals new suspect in 2007 slaying

Reward for tips on ‘smoke weed’ graffiti

A reward is being offered for tips that lead to the arrests of those responsible for vandalizing an upscale subdivision in Coeur d'Alene.

Marijuana references, curse words and other vandalism were spray painted on fences and rocket features near North Atlas Road and West Newbrook Drive. The damage was discovered Wednesday.

The Landings Homeowners Association is offering the reward through Crime Stoppers. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (208) 667-2111 or toll-free at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Tipsters do not have to give their name but should leave a code name or number.

Niece found fit for trial in man’s death

ST. MARIES, Idaho (AP) — A psychologist has found a North Idaho woman is fit to stand trial in the shooting death of her uncle in May.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports Daniel Hayes of Hayden Lake found 28-year-old Melisa R. Bates could both understand the charge against her and help her attorney with her defense.

Bates is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Robert D. Marek at his house eight miles south of St. Maries. Court records say Bates had been staying with Marek.

Benewah County Prosecutor Douglas Payne said Marek was shot with a handgun and beaten with a metal rod and an attempt was made to burn his body.

Bates is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 22 in St. Maries before Magistrate Patrick McFadden.

Ellington road-rage trial set for Aug. 29

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A North Idaho man whose conviction of second-degree murder was overturned will stand trial again on the charge this month.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports that 50-year-old Jonathan W. Ellington’s three-week jury trial is expected to start Aug. 29 in front of 1st District Judge John Luster.

Ellington, of Hayden, was convicted in August 2006 after prosecutors said he was involved in a road-rage incident that turned deadly when 41-year-old Vonette Lee Larsen was run over.

But earlier this year, a unanimous Idaho Supreme Court threw out his convictions and granted him a new trial. The high court cited prosecutorial misconduct and the likelihood that an Idaho State Police officer committed perjury in its ruling.

Past coverage:

June 23: Ellington briefly leaves jail while awaiting new trial

Dec. 5, 2006: Ellington sentenced to 25 years in prison

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Woman finishes bar exam while in labor

CHICAGO (AP) — A pregnant suburban Chicago woman was so determined to finish the Illinois bar exam that she completed the test even after going into labor.

The Chicago Tribune reports 29-year-old Elana Nightingale Dawson had started the final portion of the exam last week when the Northwestern Law School graduate went into labor. The exam must be finished to be valid.

Nightingale Dawson says her goal was “to get through the exam as fast as I could and leave” unless anything more serious happened. Her contractions were about 15 minutes apart.

After finishing, she walked with the proctor about one block to a downtown Chicago hospital. The Downers Grove woman's son, Wilson, was delivered by C-section about two hours later.

She'll find out in October if she passed the bar.

Cops: Mass. man shaved nude on beach

SALISBURY, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts man is facing lewd charges after lifeguards say he refuses to stop shaving himself while nude on a beach.

The Eagle Tribune reports that Christopher Axford was arrested Monday on a beach in Salisbury.

According to a police report, the 45-year-old was shaving his armpits while his shorts were pulled down to his shins when police arrived to the scene.

Axford, who police said is homeless, was charged with lewd, wanton and lascivious conduct, public drinking and disorderly conduct and release on personal recognizance. Less than 12 hours after his release, Axford was arrested again on charges he stole a tip jar from a pizzeria.

He is being held without bail pending a pretrial hearing scheduled for Aug. 31. It was unclear if he had an attorney.

Metal thefts nearly sink Colville boat firm

A Colville boat factory nearly went out of business when a trusted supervisor sold an estimated $556,000 worth of stolen aluminum to a Spokane scrap metal dealer.

It took more than three years to catch the thief because he was in charge of the Hewes Marine Co. investigation.

Court documents say Christopher Randall Boring, who was considered an exemplary employee, set up cameras, conducted numerous audits and repeatedly claimed to be baffled.

Read the rest of John Craig's story here.

Police raid meth house for 4th time

Spokane police raided a suspected drug home in Hillyard for the fourth time in several months last week.

Suspect Thomas W. Grosstueck, 51, recently was released from jail because prosecutors didn't file charges within 72 hours as required.

Grosstueck already faces a felony meth distribution charge related to a SWAT team raid at his home at 3012 E. Olympic Ave. on July 6.

Spokane police Lt. Dave Richards said it was their third visit to the home in six months.

The police SWAT team raided the home again on July 29

Police saw 10 complaints about drug traffic at the home were filed between September 2009 and October 2010. That led police to employ a confidential informant, who once told them “there was a line of people waiting to purchase meth” at the home. “The CI sated that they were currently fourth in line,” according to a search warrant.

On July 26, police used confidential informant to buy meth at the home again. Grosstueck didn't have any of the drug for sale, but he smoked meth in front of the informant and had trace amounts of it on scales, which led to a judge authorizing the July 29 search.

Grosstueck to be arraigned on the drug charge from July 6 next week.

Caretaker’s alleged spending outlined

The man charged with draining 106-year-old Frances T. Swan’s retirement funds bought vehicles and a horse trailer and even paid for a man’s surgery in Texas, prosecutors alleged in court Wednesday.

 John H. “Herb” Friedlund, 78, of Kettle Falls, was released from jail Wednesday on the $25,000 bond posted in June by Carl “Rich” Jessen, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

While the court record has not yet been filed, Deputy Prosecutor Lech Radzimski said in court that as part of nine counts of theft, Friedlund is accused of spending Swan’s money on a surgery for a young man named Steven Smith in Texas, who in total received about $200,000 from Swan’s account, Radzimski said.

Friedlund, who also faces felony criminal mistreatment charges in the case, allegedly also bought a bulldozer, pickup, hay truck and several other items that appeared to provide no benefit to Swan, for whom he had the power of attorney. As a condition of his release, Friedlund was ordered to surrender his passport, checkbook, credit cards and any other means of accessing Swan’s accounts. Friedlund’s power of attorney over Swan’s accounts was removed Tuesday.

Past coverage:

Aug. 2: Elder neglect suspect arrested for felony theft

Aug. 2: Theft charges likely in 106-year-old's case

June 21: Man held after police find famished woman

Beauty shop operator arrested for rape

The operator of a beauty shop in the NorthTown Mall in Spokane is in jail on rape charges involving two of his teenage employees.

Thomas C. Rohn, 37, is accused of sexually assaulting the 18- and 19-year-old women on separate occasions at his apartment in Airway Heights after they were hired to work at the mall beauty and spa kiosk.

Rohn operates the business with his roommate, Kirk Willis, who said Wednesday that he doesn’t know what happened but added that he doesn’t condone the alleged acts.

Read the rest of my story here.

Wanted: Info on man who died in river

Police are asking for the public’s help to determine how a 40-year-old man ended up dead in the Spokane River on Friday.

 Keith A. Millheim’s body was pulled from the Spokane River after being spotted under the Sandifur Bridge in People’s Park about 5:12 p.m.

Millheim’s body was pinned by a log “in a particularly treacherous and fast moving section of the river,” according to the Spokane Fire Department.

The “very difficult and technically challenging” recovery was a joint effort by the fire department’s marine unit and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office dive team members.

Police say Millheim was released from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center on July 25. Investigators are trying to determine where he was and who he stayed with in the days after his release.

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

Downtown hotel robbed at gunpoint

A Spokane man robbed a downtown hotel at gunpoint recently, police say.

Alexander Feliciano, 44, is accused of stealing a $100 bill, along with a stack of $1 and $5 bills, after threatening a clerk at the Days Inn hotel, 120 W. 3rd Ave., with a gun about 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, according to police.

The robber first asked about the price of a room before walking around the counter while holding the gun in both hands and saying “Why don't you just show me where the money is at? Get on the ground so you don't get hurt,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

The robber fled eastbound on 3rd Avenue in a silver Pontiac Vibe, which police spotted a short while later. They arrested Feliciano and recovered $246.

The suspect was booked on a first-degree robbery charge at the Spokane County Jail, where he remains on $40,000 bond.

Judge skeptical of Hells Angel plea deal

Hells Angels sergeant-at-arms Ricky W. Jenks pleaded guilty in federal court in Spokane today to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, but the judge handling the case said he wants more time before accepting the plea.

U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush questioned why federal prosecutors accepted the plea agreement calling for only two years in prison when Jenks faced twice that prison time had the case proceeded to trial.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

March 7: Jenks' arrest pleases '01 victim's mother

March 31: Grand jury indicts Hells Angels leader

Photos show suspects in hotel stabbing

Spokane police are asking for help identifying two robbers who stabbed a man at the Comfort Inn last week.

The victim suffered a non-life threatening stab wound after reportedly bragging “about how much money and dope he had in his car” about 1 a.m. on July 25, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Police today released surveillance photos from the hotel at 923 E. 3rd Ave. that show two men who are believed to be the assailants.

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

Tip helps identify fuel theft suspects

Photos of two vehicles suspected in a series of fuel thefts led police to identify three suspects, officials said today.

Richard William Tennant, 24, (pictured) faces 17 felony charges for thefts in Spokane and Adams counties in which $5,000 in fuel was purchased using gas cards stolen from the Central Valley School District and a Spokane Valley company, according to police.
 
Surveillance photos were released last week showing a green Dodge pickup and a white Chevrolet or GMC Suburban prompted a citizen to report the pickup's location to Spokane police. 
 
Police say the truck's owner, Jacob Anthony Lorenzo, 38, tried to disguise the pickup by painting the silver door green and changing its wheels and tires. He faces a single count of first-degree trafficking stolen property, three counts of third-degree theft and one count of possession of stolen property.  
 
Suspect Sasha Stanton, 27, also faces three counts of first-degree trafficking stolen property, three counts of third-degree theft and one count of second-degree possession of stolen property. 
 
Police also located the white SUV, which was searched along with the truck and two homes. Police found evidence linking the suspects to the thefts and are asking for help locating Tennant, who faces four counts of first-degree trafficking stolen property, one count of first-degree theft, five counts of second-degree possession of stolen property, two counts of second-degree burglary and five counts of second-degree vehicle prowling. He also has a warrant in Idaho. Anyone with information on his location should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
 
Neither Lorenzo or Stanton have been arrested, but their whereabouts are known. 
 
The case was investigated by Spokane County sheriff's Deputy Brian Hirzel.

Pot, pills found during jail strip search

A Spokane woman set to serve four months in jail for money laundering has been charged with another felony after corrections deputies found drugs during a strip search.

Rebecca Suzanne Townley, 33, had pills and suspected marijuana concealed in a condom when a corrections deputy searched her during booking on July 27, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Another deputy also saw the contraband during the search, according to court documents.

Townley later admitted to investigators that she'd smuggled the drugs into the jail, documents say.

She appeared in Superior Court on Friday on a charge of prisoner in possession of a controlled substance.
  

Fingerprints lead to arrests in May theft

Fingerprints led police to identify two suspects in a May 9 purse snatching in Spokane Valley.

Mickey H. Marquette, alias Santos, 26, was arrested last weekend after being identified through a fingerprint database as matching the prints lifted from a 1991 Honda Accord, which police believe he was driving when Tianna Rose Hurd, 28, leaned out and grabbed a woman's purse in the parking lot at Fred Meyer, 15609 E. Sprague Ave., according to court documents.

Marquette accelerated, and the victim was dragged for 15 to 20 feet before she was able to free herself from the purse’s shoulder strap, detectives say.

Police found the Accord abandoned in the area of North Pines Road and Mirabeau Parkway and recovered fingerprints from the inside rear passenger window that belonged to Marquette.

A forensic specialist also found partial palm prints that matched Hurd's prints, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Hurd, who was arrested on meth charges just 10 days after the incident, has been in jail since June 16 on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and second-degree possession of stolen property. Marquette is in jail on the same charges.

Police seek man who skipped own trial

A Spokane man who was convicted of robbery and assault after skipping the last part of his trial is now being sought by Crime Stoppers.

Larry Allen Powell, 54, was in Spokane County Superior Court for the first two days of his trial last week, but he didn't show up for the final day and hasn't been seen by authorities since.

Judge Greg Sypolt continued the trial one day to allow Powell's public defender, Brooke Hagara, time to find him, but court proceeded without him when he didn't show up the next day.

A jury last Thursday convicted Powell of first-degree robbery and second-degree assault for a theft turned robbery at Kmart last fall, and a no-bail warrant was issued for his arrest.

Crime Stoppers offered a reward on Monday for tips that lead to the arrest of Powell, who is described as an armed career criminal with a 36-year arrest history and convictions for third-degree theft, second-degree burglary and second-degree theft.

Powell, 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, last gave a home address in the 3200 block of North Velox in Spokane Valley. Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Brothers accused of gunpoint drug rip

Two brothers are accused of robbing a man at gunpoint after arranging a drug deal in a grocery store parking lot.

Jason D. Pegram, 30, and Kyle E. Pegram, 29, are in jail on robbery charges after they were arrested Sunday after a man told police he'd been robbed in the Fred Meyer parking lot at 400 S. Thor St. about 8:25 p.m.

Pegram told police he gave the victim a bag of white flour instead of drugs and received $180, but police believe he also threatened the victim with a gun.

Police searched an apartment at 803 E. Hartson Ave., where Jason Pegram lives with his mother. Police recovered a black BB gun from the home, which they say resembles a semi-automatic handgun.

Kyle Pegram denied involvement, but police say they developed information that connected him to the crime.

The brothers remain in jail on first-degree robbery charges.

Elderly-abuse suspect accused of theft

COLVILLE – The man charged with mistreating a 106-year-old Kettle Falls woman was arrested Tuesday at a hearing initially set to allow him to appoint a new attorney to represent him in his criminal matters.

 When John H. “Herb” Friedlund, 78, appeared before Superior Court Judge Al Nielson, he was arrested on nine felony theft charges. The charges allege he raided the retirement accounts of Frances T. Swan, who was discovered May 26 begging for food in her Kettle Falls home, which was riddled with dog feces, rotting food, guns and ammunition.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 2: Theft charges likely in 106-year-old's case

June 21: Man held after police find famished woman

Murder suspect may plead insanity

COLVILLE – The suspect charged with killing a Colville-area man last month is exploring the option of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, a prospect that bothers the dead man’s common-law wife.

 “I find that really unsatisfying,” Denise Ridley said Tuesday after the scheduled arraignment of accused killer Eric L. Booth (pictured) was postponed for a mental evaluation. “He knew what he was doing. He just ruined my life.”

Booth is charged with first-degree murder, burglary and possessing a stolen firearm in connection to the July 17 killing of 63-year-old Gordon R. Feist, Ridley’s partner of 13 years.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Fire suspects left ‘unintended’ message

An “unintended” voice mail left on an arson victim's cell phone helped identify suspects in a Spokane Valley house fire last week.

 The home's renter, Pavel Aleksandrov, said he received what appeared to be an unintentional voice mail on July 23 in which he could hear Sergey A. Kravchenko, 27; Maksim P. Oboznyy, 21, and another man talking about how they should go to his home at 4418 E. 15th Ave., according to court documents.

The rental home was set on fire shortly after, causing $100,000 in damage, and Aleksandrov discovered his television and laptop computer had been stolen. Aleksandrov told police he was the foreman of a construction company in Louisiana in 2009 when the company could not make payroll.

Kravchenko also worked for the company, and he and another employee were upset about what they claimed were lost wages, according to court documents.

Kravchenko and Oboznyy were arrested Friday, and suspect Roman I. Ryakhovskaya, 21, of Nine Mile Falls, turned himself in Saturday. Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest a fourth suspect, Aleksander N. Shingarey, 23, (pictured) who is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson.

The three others suspects also are charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson; Ryakhovskaya also is charged with first-degree arson; Kravchenko and Oboznyy also are charged with residential burglary and second-degree theft for allegedly stealing a TV and computer before Ryakhovskaya allegedly set house on fire.

A neighbor identified the suspects through photo montages and said he'd fired a shot out his window to try to scare them away after they told him to mind his own business, according to court documents.

Shingarey, who was arrested last summer after a shooting on the South Hill, last gave an address in the 4000 block of East 23rd Avenue in Spokane.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Hate crime alleged in neighbor dispute

An ongoing neighbor dispute has resulted in a rare hate-crime charge against a 49-year-old Spokane man who police say targeted a man because of his race.

Page Lloyd Wrencher was charged with malicious harassment - Washington's hate-crime law - after his downstairs neighbor at 2303 W. Mallon Ave., Joseph D. Landry, said Wrencher called him a racial epithet, repeatedly threatened him and followed him for about two blocks while threatening to kill him on June 3. Landry is black.

A friend of Landry's also said Wrencher called her slur for a white person who spends time with black people.
Spokane police said Wrencher was “extremely intoxicated” when they contacted him.

He was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial but was arrested July 24 after another dispute with Landry in which Witnesses told police Wrencher held a large rock to Landry's head as if he was going to assault him.

Police say Wrencher “has a history of harassing people in this neighborhood and he has been arrested in the past for harassment,” according to court documents.

He remains in Spokane County Jail on $8,000 bond for the assault charge and $25,000 for the hate crime.
  

Drunken fugitive takes out power pole

A suspected drunken driver caused a brief power outage in Spokane Valley this morning after he struck a power pole and three parked cars.

Nathaniel Lewis, 26, was speeding westbound on 8th Avenue when he lost control in the 12900 block about 3:12 a.m. and hit the power pole, then hit a parked Chevy Tahoe before striking two other parked cars in a driveway at 12924 E. 8th Ave., according to the Spokane Valley Police Department

Neighbors reported seeing Lewis trying to escape into a backyard, but a resident told him to return to the car. He did so, police say, but only to awake his passenger, Lucas Remington, 32, who was initially knocked unconscious. Lewis and Remington fled, but police located them a short while later.

Lewis had a felony warrant out of Ellensburg for third-degree assault, and Remington was wanted for possession of drugs with intent to deliver. Both men were treated for minor injuries at the Valley hospital.

Lewis was arrested for drunken driving; a blood sample is expected to take six weeks to process. Both men were booked into jail.

Man groping women near Upriver Drive

Three women have reported being grabbed by a man on a bicycle near Upriver Drive, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Last week, a woman jogging on the Centennial Trail said a man passing by on a dark mountain bike grabbed her bottom as he rode past at about 7:30 a.m. He asked her if she “liked it,” and she ran, according to a news release.

At about 5 p.m. the same day, the same woman was walking to Minnehaha Park and was grabbed by the bicyclist again; he looked surprised to encounter her a second time, she reported.

Following that report, Crime Check got a call from another woman who said a man on a bike also grabbed her bottom as she was walking in the area of Stone and Upriver Drive on July 26.

A third woman told a deputy that she was walking her dog on the Centennial Trail on July 25 when she had a similar experience with a man on a black mountain bike.

The man on the bike has been described as a white male in his 20s, tall and thin, the news release said.

The Sheriff's Office encourages people using the Centennial Trail in that area to walk, bike or run in pairs, and to not wear headphones so they can hear when someone is approaching. Report suspicious activity or incidents to Crime Check, at 456-2233.

Strandberg pleads guilty to ‘08 murder

Cole Strandberg is led back to the Spokane County Jail on Feb. 14.

Cole K. Strandberg has pleaded guilty to killing a Spokane woman with a crossbow in 2008.

Defense attorney Chris Bugbee has acknowledged in past hearings that Strandberg killed 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron on Jan. 7, 2008. However, Bugbee argued unsuccessfully to have Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen find Strandberg, 25, not guilty by reason of insanity.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 26, 2010: Strandberg on cable TV: 'The horror is real'

Jan. 16, 2008: Strandberg's parents struggled to get him treatment

Jan. 12, 2008: Deputy remembers his slain niece

Cops: Hitchhikers attacked woman, 66

Two 17-year-old hitchhikers attacked a 66-year-old North Idaho woman who stopped to help them last weekend in Bonner County, authorities say.

Suspects Joseph J. Martin, of Denver, (left) and Marshall O. Dittrich, (bottom right) of Danville, Calif., had run away from a youth explorations program in Trout Creek, Mont. and were hitchhiking near Clark Fork on Sunday when Vera Gadman, of Hope, picked them up and drove them to the Hope Peninsula area to look for a place to camp, according to the Bonner County Sheriff's Office.

The teens asked her to stop at an undeveloped cul-de-sac and pretended to look at a map, authorities said, then attacked Gadman, striking her on the head several times and attempting to strangle her.

Gadman escaped in her car and went to a nearby home, where emergency crews responded and took her to Bonner General Hospital. 

The Bonner County Sheriff's Office notified residents of the attack, and Dittrich and Martin were arrested about 8:30 a.m. on Monday.

They were booked into the Bonner County Jail and charged as adults with aggravated battery with intent to commit robbery.

The sheriff's office said the incident is a reminder “not to pick up hitchhikers no matter how needy or innocent they may appear,” according to a news release.

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