ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Archive for December 2011

Court won’t hear Photo Red appeal

Appellate judges have refused to hear an appeal by the city of Spokane after a Superior Court judge ruled that the way it had been printing tickets from red-light cameras violated state law.

At issue was the way the city had a police officer in Spokane review a photo of a car either running a red light or not coming to a complete stop and determining whether an infraction occurred. The officer then punched an “accept” button, sending an electronic signal to Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions to affix the officer’s electronic signature on the $124 ticket it sent to the driver.

The late John Clark, and later Dean Chuang, represented three clients who argued that state law requires those signatures to be written in Washington. After one judge ruled for the city, Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque reversed that decision, which the city appealed to the Division III Court of Appeals. On Thursday, that court declined to hear the case.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said after Leveque’s ruling, the city now has officers print out their signatures at the Public Safety Building, thus complying with state law. Red-light runners ticketed under the old system will ahve to challenge the ticket in court if they want a remedy.

The city now operates 15 cameras that officials estimate will generate about $750,000 next year.

Woman arraigned for attempted murder

A teenager accused of attempted murder for a knife assault at a party has pleaded not guilty.

Kiana M. Murphy, who turned 18 two days before the Oct. 30 incident, allegedly stabbed a teen boy twice in the stomach during an argument about gang affiliations, according to court documents.

Murphy allegedly chased the boy through the home at 1807 W. Spofford Ave. before he escaped through a bedroom window. When the boy returned, Murphy stabbed him twice in the stomach, police and prosecutors allege.

The victim required surgery but is recovering. He identified Murphy as a suspect through her Facebook page. A witness told police Murphy said the victim was “going to…die” when he returned to the residence, documents say.

Murphy was arraigned Wednesday on a charge of attempted first-degree murder, with first-degree assault as an alternate charge.

She is out of custody awaiting trial, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 21.

61 injured in huge pileup on La. freeway

Several vehicles lie mangled in the westbound lane of I-10 between I-510 and Michoud Boulevard in eastern New Orleans on Thursday. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Eliot Kamenitz)
 
By JANET McCONNAUGHEY,Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two men died and 61 other people were injured Thursday in a pre-dawn pileup involving about 40 cars, vans and other vehicles on a busy interstate that crosses New Orleans, closing the route for hours both ways, police said.

Drivers said they drove into thick smoke or fog that abruptly limited visibility on westbound lanes of Interstate 10 heading across eastern New Orleans. Those who came upon the scene said they heard injured motorists pleading for assistance.

“You just hear all kinds of calls and people screaming for help,” tow truck driver Wesley Ratcliff told local broadcaster WWL-TV. In 13 years responding to wrecks, he added, “this is the worst I've ever seen it.”

Officer Garry Flot, a police spokesman, would not talk about possible causes, including whether those may have included smoke or fog.

All lanes were reopened late Thursday afternoon as the investigation continued, letting commuters head home at rush hour.

The highway is heavily trafficked, a major corridor for thousands of commuters who enter New Orleans each day from its eastern suburbs and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Those driving the route at the time of the wrecks said they suddenly found themselves in utter darkness, unable to see the lights of cars ahead.

“I thought it was fog; my husband thought it was smoke,” Stacie Williams told WWL-TV.. “Cars were driving in front of us and before you know it, it seemed as if they had dropped off the face of the Earth.”

Seven people were taken to south Louisiana's top trauma center, where several were in critical condition, said Marvin McGraw, spokesman for the Interim LSU Public Hospital.

Flot said 25 people were taken to hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to critical. He said they included a 62nd injured person — a firefighter whose face was cut while working at the scene. Flot said 37 others refused treatment for minor injuries.

The police spokesman wouldn't say whether police believe smoke or fog contributed to the wreck, noting the investigation is ongoing.

He said the dead were a pickup truck driver and a 54-year-old passenger in another pickup, both from Louisiana. He wouldn't say whether their pickup trucks were among the first vehicles to crash or part of the pileup that followed.

Cars, tractor-trailers, vans and other vehicles collided on lanes approaching the city's business district. Eastbound lanes were closed to let emergency vehicles get in, and traffic was detoured off the highway through morning rush hour and well into the afternoon.

Interstate 10 stretches from Florida to California and is a major corridor for commercial truck traffic.

Fla. man takes beer break to rob bank

PORT RICHEY, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Tampa Bay area man ordered a beer at a bar, left to rob a nearby bank then came back to finish his beer.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office says 52-year-old John Robin Whittle was arrested at the Hayloft Bar in Port Richey on Dec. 22.

Deputies say he's the man who robbed a Wells-Fargo bank branch earlier, but not before stopping off at the Hayloft for a brew.

A bartender there says Whittle ordered a beer, disappeared for about 30 minutes and then returned to his beer. Deputies say they arrested him at the bar about 10 minutes after he left the bank.

Whittle remained in jail Dec. 23 on $10,000 bond. No attorney was listed for him. 

Idaho man gets 30+ years for sex abuse

A 41-year-old Rathdrum man will serve up to life in prison for three counts of lewd conduct with a minor under a sentence imposed Wednesday.

Frank D. Marks will serve at least 30 years before he's eligible for parole, Kootenai County 1st District Judge Benjamin Simpson ordered.

Marks had sexual contact with three juvenile victims over a period of seven years, according to the Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office.

All three testified at his trial. A jury convicted Marks Aug. 12.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh, who tried the case, said the sentence was appropriate given that Marks continues to deny any inappropriate conduct.

“His adamant denials eliminate the possibility of rehabilitation,” McHugh said.

Spokane man’s accused killer surrenders

A man sought on a nationwide warrant in a June beating death of a Spokane man in Missoula, Mont., has turned himself in in Tacoma.

David Sekou Hylton, 39, of Tacoma, surrendered Tuesday night, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office.

Hylton (pictured right) has been sought on a charge of deliberate homicide in the death of Angelo Lorenzo Fuentes, 41.

A coroner's report said Fuentes (pictured left) died of blunt force trauma to the head. He was found outside the Elks Lodge in Missoula during a hip-hop show there.

 The incident led to a felony warrant being issued for his nephew, Stafone Fuentes, after his unauthorized trip out of the state was publicized because he was arrested at the hospital where his uncle was pronounced dead.

Coincidentally, the concert tour featured rapper John “Lil Danger” Castro, who was arrested for second-degree murder for allegedly shooting another rapper to death at a Spokane hotel Nov. 27.

Stafone Fuentes was at the hotel and involved in the fight that led to the shooting, Spokane police allege. He is wanted on a first-degree assault charge.

Photo shows suspects in burglary ring

The suspects in a string of burglaries in North Idaho and Spokane County are pictured. Top row, left to right:  Joseph A. Lynch, 29; Adam C. Ramirez III, 29; Jesse A. Williamson, 27; Susan N. Burke and alias Susan Church, 50. Bottom row: Kasie D. Gordon, 25; Emily A. Lynch, 28; Kathleen E. Kelly, 29; and Heather D. Yao, alias Heather Perry, 31.

Burke was the last suspect arrested. Read more here.

Cops: Sex offender tried to rape hooker

A sex offender jailed in California has been charged with trying to rape a Spokane prostitute at knifepoint.

Robert James Barbee, 38, also faces a federal charge of failing to register as a sex offender after investigators say he moved to the area from California without notifying authorities.

He was arrested in Oct. 17 after a woman recognized him as the man who tried to rape her Sept. 25 after she agreed to perform oral sex for $40, according to the Spokane Police Department.

The woman told police was working the corner of East Sprague Avenue and North Magnolia Street when she went with the man to an abandoned house and was attacked. The woman said she fought off the attack and was assisted by patrons at the Rainbow Room, a topless bar.

Police caught up with Barbee Oct. 17 after the woman called 911 and said her attacker approached her friend that day while they were working as prostitutes near Sprague and North Crestline Street. Officers found Barbee near East Second Avenue and South Perry Street, and he told them he'd been attacked by a man who accused him of raping a woman, according to court documents.

Barbee was arrested on a warrant out of California for failing to follow parole conditions for a theft/embezzlement against the elderly conviction. He told police he'd been in Spokane for about five weeks and was staying at the House of Charity.

A federal complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane alleges he failed to register as a sex offender here. He's required to do so because of a 1994 conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct with a 13-year-old child. Barbee last registered as a transient in San Joaquin County, Calif.

Spokane police Detective Brian Hamond says Barbee denied any knowledge of the incident during a phone interview in prison in Elk Grove, Calif. on Dec. 19. Barbee also denied carrying a knife, according to documents prepared by Hamond.

Spokane County prosecutors charged Barbee Dec. 20 with attempted first-degree rape and second-degree assault. He has not yet arrived in Spokane to face charges.

Say what! Filmed theft suspect arraigned

This is a screen shot of a video vehicle prowling suspect Nathan Calvert posted on his Facebook page.

 An alleged car prowler who posted a video of himself with suspected stolen property on his Facebook page pleaded not guilty Tuesday to six felony charges.

Nathan John Calvert, 28, remains in jail on a no-bail state Department of Corrections probation hold after his arraigned before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese on charges of residential burglary, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, vehicle prowling and three counts of second-degree theft.

His trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 21.

Calvert was arrested Dec. 9 after an attorney caught him in his truck. Spokane Valley police say Calvert had a stolen Jeep filled with stolen property.

Calvert told detectives he committed 30 to 40 vehicle prowlings and garage burglaries a night for two to three weeks throughout Spokane County, police say.

Detectives expect to use Calvert's Facebook video as evidence. The video shows Calvert in a vehicle he describes as a Jeep. He focuses on stolen property in the back of the vehicle and says he hasn't decided what he's going to do yet. Then he raps.

Check out the video here.

Sex abuse suspect escapes manhunt

A child molestation suspect who escaped a manhunt in the Sagle, Idaho, area Tuesday is wanted by Coeur d'Alene police.

Nathaniel R. Howell, 32, ran from police through the woods in the 1500 block of South Sagle Road about 3 p.m. after he saw the officers while visiting relatives nearby.

Howell is charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and five counts of sexual exploitation.

Howell is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds with hazel eyes and blonde hair. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call Coeur d'Alene police at (208) 769-2320.

Woman is final fugitive in burglary ring

UPDATE: Burke was arrested about 1:30 p.m. today in the 100 block of East Indiana Avenue in Spokane.

A Spokane woman is the only suspect at large in a two-state burglary ring after a 27-year-old Post Falls man turned himself in.

 Susan N. Burke, 50, alias Susan Church, is wanted on a $100,000 warrant for conspiracy to commit grand theft. Crime Stoppers is offering a rewed for tips that lead to her capture.

Jesse A. Williamson, 27, surrendered to police Monday at 2:30 p.m., polie said today.

A third suspecet, Joseph A. Lynch, 29, of Coeur d'Alene, was taken into custody without incident at the Days Inn hotel, 120 W. Third Ave., late Friday after a coordinated effort between the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force and the Spokane Police Department.

Four others, including Lynch's wife, have been arrested for various theft-related charges.

The suspects are accused of a rash of daytime home-invasion burglaries in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Hayden, Sandpoint and Spokane over the last several months.

Cops: Man catches car prowler in act

A Spokane man stopped a car prowler in action early Tuesday and held him until deputies arrived, police say.

Coty M. Gillespie, 20, is suspected of breaking into several vehicles in the area of 7400 N. Pittsburg St., where he was arrested after a resident spotted him prowling his neighbor's car about 3:30 a.m.

Craig Browne, 37, heard the sound of breaking glass from inside his home and found Gillespie in the driver’s seat of his neighbor's Nissan SUV. His wife called police.

Spokane County sheriff's deputies tracked shoe prints from the SUV to 11 other vehicles that had broken windows.  They also found cans of beer in Gillespie's bag that matched beer found in one of the prowled vehicles. The bag also contained broken glass, according to court documents.

Gillespie was booked into jail on one count of second-degree malicious mischief and 12 counts of vehicle prowling.

Man says fatal shooting was accidental

A St. Maries, Idaho, man accused of murdering an 18-year-old woman told police he accidentally shot her in the face while checking to see if his gun was unloaded, officials say.

 Joseph Duane Herrera, 28, is in jail on $200,000 bond after pleading not guilty to second-degree murder in Benewah County District Court.

He was arrested Sunday for the shooting death of Stefanie Comack.

Read the rest of my story here.

Former police spokesman Cottam dies

Richard M. ” Dick” Cottam, a former Spokane Police Department spokesman and television journalist, died Friday. He was 81.

Cottam served with the Marine Corps in Korea, where he was wounded and received the Purple Heart. He then attended the University of Missouri, earning a bachelor's degree in journalism. He taught there and worked at a local radio station, then took a job with NBC in Chicago and New York.

He left NBC and moved to Wichita, Kan., where he taught journalism at Wichita State University and worked at KAKE-TV.

He and his wife, JoyLyn, moved to Spokane, where Cottam worked as an assignment editor and newscast producer for KHQ-TV. Then he went to work for the city of Spokane as a spokesman for the Police Department.

He retired when police Chief Roger Bragdon retired in December 2005.

Cottam and his wife returned to Wichita. She and a daughter, Christine Susan Cottam, survive him. A memorial service will be held Tuesday morning at Cochran Mortuary in Wichita.

Cop responding to alarm busts ATM theft

A police officer responding to an alarm interrupted in ATM burglary in progress early today, according to the Spokane Police Department.

Officer Paul Buchmann arrived at the Washington Trust Bank ATM at 4500 S. Regal about 1:45 a.m. and saw two men by the machine who ran east when they saw him.

Buchmann (pictured) discovered the ATM had been burglarized. Backup officers arrived 7 minutes later and officers tracked the suspects to a home in the 4200 block of East 34th Avenue.

Sean W. McNally, 22, and Kiel A. Frey, 20, were arrested for second-degree burglary, police said.

Police: Car thief tried to run over officer

A Spokane man tried to run over a police officer before abandoning the car and fighting with a K-9 today, officials say.

Melvin A. Gillespie, 41, who was released from jail earlier this year after pleading guilty to assisting a suicide, is back behind bars on charges of first-degree assault, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempting to elude.

Spokane police stopped a stolen 2002 Subaru Impreza at East Rowan Avenue and North Nevada Street and tried to detain the driver and passenger who had exited, but the driver got back in the car and drove in reverse toward a police sergeant, who had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck.

Police located the Subaru, which had been reported stolen Christmas Eve from the Spokane International Airport, in the 500 block of East North Avenue unoccupied. A police dog, Leonidas, found the suspected driver, later identified as Gillespie, hiding in leaves in a backyard in the 500 block of East Everett Avenue.

Police say Gillespie punched Leonidas in the head several times before he was controlled by officers. The dog was not seriously injured.

Gillespie was sentenced in April to six months in jail for helping his friend William Pickard jump to his death from the Sunset bridge above High Bridge Park in June 2010. Pickard’s body was found wrapped with a cord in what police first suspected was a homicide.

After months of investigation, Gillespie admitted to police that he'd helped Pickard kill himself at Pickard’s request.
  

Reward targets suspects in hotel murder

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of six men charged for their alleged roles in a fatal shooting involving two aspiring rappers at a Spokane hotel.

Pictured above, top to bottom, left to right, are Jermaine S. Bedford, 22; Kalen J. Bedford, 21; Rashad F. Toussiant, 25; Roderick D. Shanks, 21; Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27; and Tyrone J. Carell, 23.

All are wanted for second-degree assault except Fuentes, who is charged with first-degree assault.

The charges stem from a Nov. 27 fight at the Quality Inn, 110 E. Third Ave., that led to the shooting death of Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake. 

Aaron A. Maxwell, 23, Anthony L. Fuentes, 29, and Michael J. Charles, 34; already have been arrested. John A. “Lil Danger” Castro, 27, (pictured) was arrested just after the homicide and remains in jail on a second-degree murder charge. Castro faces life in prison if convicted under the state's three-strikes law because of his criminal history.

Police believe Castro shot Solis to death in a wild fight that began when the Spokane group tried to attend a party at the hotel hosted by the Moses Lake group, who were in town for a rap concert at Ichiban Sushi Lounge at which Solis performed.

The Spokane men were kicked out, and Jermaine Bedford insulted a female friend of the Moses Lake men, Jazman Quarles, and challenged her boyfriend to a fight, police say. A wild fight ensued, and Quarles and a friend hid in a room and called their friends to help her boyfriend, who was being assaulted in the hallway. They arrived, including Solis, and the fight continued, ending in the gunshot that killed Solis. Witnesses identified the gunman as Castro.

Hotel surveillance video does not show the shooting but does show the participants running to and from the confrontation, according to court documents prepared by Spokane police major crimes Detective Kip Hollenbeck.

Police believe the Moses Lake men only acted in self defense during the fight.

Fuentes, 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of West Shannon Avenue. His criminal history includes convictions for first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm and escape. He was jailed briefly last summer after news of his uncle’s murder outside a rap concert in Montana in June revealed to his probation officer that he’d left the state without permission.

Jermaine Bedford, 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of East Queen Avenue. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault and riot.

Kalen Bedford, 6-foot-4 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 1300 block of West Qualchan Drive. His criminal history includes a conviction for delivery of a controlled substance.

Carell, 5-foot-8 and 130 pounds, last gave an address in the 200 block of East Wedgewood Avenue. His criminal history includes conviction for second-degree assault. He was arrested in November after police investigating a 2007 homicide saw marijuana in his apartment.

Shanks, 6-foot-2 and 155 pounds, last gave an address in the 200 block of South Wall Street. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault and second-degree robbery.

Toussiant, 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, last gave an address in the 3000 block of North Lacey Street. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault, malicious harassment and bail jumping. A conviction for intimidating a public servant was dismissed upon appeal.

Anyone with information on the current location of any of the six men is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

2 arrested after citizens witness burglary

Two burglary suspects were arrested early this morning after citizens witnessed a break-in at an east Spokane convenience store.

Officers located Carl J. Biamond 18, and Jelemeto B. Akilang, 20, near North Magnolia Street and East Tilsley Place after citizens observed two men breaking into the Mission Food Mart, 1905 E. Mission Ave., and called police.

Biamond was bleeding from a 3- to 4-inch cut on his inner thigh near his groin when police arrested him, according to the Spokane Police Department.

Police say Biamond claimed to have been robbed and stabbed earlier that night, but police believe he cut himself while through broken glass at the store. Police treated his wounds with a clotting agent and requested medical attention.

Biamond and Akilang were booked into Spokane County Jail for second-degree burglary.

Cops: Pair cut off body’s fingers for gun

A Colorado couple accused of sawing off a dead man's fingers to steal a pistol he was holding was arrested late Friday at a Spokane Valley motel.

 Jerod M. Reeves, 29, and Kimberly M. McCaffery, 35, are in the Spokane County Jail after police surrounded the Red Top Motel, 7217 E. Trent Ave., and used a public announcement system before the suspects surrendered. 

Police believe the Craig, Colo., couple stumbled upon a murder-suicide scene earlier this month and stole valuables. The victim, 62-year-old William Ahrold killed his 9-year-old son and then himself, according to the Associated Press. The father and son were last seen alive on Dec. 9.

Authorities issued a wanted notice for Reeves and McCaffery last week after surveillance photos showed them using Ahrold's credit cards, according to the Denver Post.

The FBI alerted Spokane Valley police Friday about 2:25 p.m. that the couple used a stolen credit card at a convenience store at East Fourth Avenue and North Sullivan Road after traveling from Portland, Ore. The suspects were “electronically tracked” to the motel about 9:30 p.m., according to the Spokane Valley Police Department. In an article Sunday, the Denver Post included an online review of the motel that said “All you see is prostitutes and meth users there 2 4/7.”

Reeves indicated he and McCaffery had sold the stolen pistol, according to police. The suspects face charges of tampering with physical evidence, criminal possession of a financial device (credit cards) and first-degree criminal trespassing.

They're awaiting extradition to Colorado and could appear in Spokane County Superior Court Tuesday as fugitives from justice.

Burglary suspect arrested in Spokane

A man wanted in connection with a burglary ring spanning Spokane County and North Idaho was arrested Friday in Spokane.

 Joseph A. Lynch, 29, of Coeur d'Alene, (pictured) was taken into custody without incident at the Days Inn hotel, 120 W. Third Ave., about midnight after a coordinated effort between the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force and the Spokane Police Department, according to the Coeur d'Alene Police Department.

Susan N. Burke, 50, alias Susan Church, and Jesse A. Williamson, 27, still are wanted for burglary and grand theft in connection with the rash of daytime home-invasion burglariesin Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Hayden, Sandpoint and Spokane over the last several months.

Four others, including Lynch's wife, have been arrested for various theft-related charges.

Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest has offered a reward for information on their whereabouts. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or submit tips online.

Boy shot in pot theft was hit in back

A 14-year-old* boy was shot in the back when he tried to burglarize a marijuana grow room in Medical Lake on Monday, documents show.

The boy, who was in satisfactory condition after undergoing surgery to remove a .45-caliber bullet, ran from the room in the 600 block of North Grant Street early Monday with another 14-year-old boy after the homeowner, Justin J. Brown, yelled something similar to “what are you doing in my house?” according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County Superior Court.

 The boys dropped baseball bats, a screwdriver and a flashlight and ran just before a shot was fired and one of them dropped to the ground with a bullet wound to his lower back. Brown told police he awoke to a burglary alarm and “fired once at figures inside” the grow room after seeing someone moving inside, according to the warrant.

Brown told police chased after the intruders and found the shot boy sitting in the backyard about 15 feet from the room’s door. His wife called police.

The Spokesman-Review does not name juvenile criminal suspects unless they are charged as adults with serious felonies.

Brown told police he grew marijuana in the room but stopped when his medical authorization expired, according to the warrant, which was used to seize evidence from the property, including the handgun and baseball bats.

Investigators with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office will forward their investigation to the prosecutor’s office for a decision on whether to charge Brown.

The injured boy’s accomplice stole marijuana plants and buds from the same room Dec. 15, according to court documents.

*The Sheriff's Office first said the boy was 14, then said he was 13, but court records show his birthdate is in March of 1997, making him 14.

Cash for tips on serial burglary suspects

  Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of three suspects in a string of burglaries in North Idaho and Spokane County.

Joseph A. Lynch, 29, (left) and Jesse A. Williamson, 27, (right) of Coeur d'Alene, and Susan N. Burke, (below) alias Susan Church, 50, of Spokane, are wanted for various theft-related charged in Kootenai County District Court.

Kathleen E. Kelly, 29, of Coeur d'Alene, turned herself into police are learning of her fugitive status through media reports, police said today.

Also in custody is Emily A. Lynch, 28, of Coeur d'Alene, as well as Heather D. Yao, alias Heather Perry, 31, Adam C. Ramirez III, 29, and Kasie D. Gordon, 25, all of Post Falls. 

The suspects are believed to be responsible for numerous daytime home burglaries in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Hayden, Sandpoint and Spokane.

Photos of Lynch, Williamson and Burke will be featured on billboards at no cost to law enforcement thanks to Lamar Outdoor, a national billboard company with an office in Spokane.

Anyone with information on their current locations is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or submit tips online.

Theft suspects had business licenses

These entrepreneurs probably won’t be in the running for a business leadership award anytime soon.

Police say a band of suspected metal thieves created a Spokane-based business, complete with licenses from the Washington Department of Revenue, to get around state laws designed to discourage theft by making it tougher for individuals to sell stolen metal to scrap yards. The state exempts licensed businesses from the mandatory 10-day waiting period for payments of over $30 on scrap metal sold to recyclers.

The licenses for the alleged criminal enterprises We Do It and CWRT - Copper Wire Removal Team - aren’t fraudulent because there’s no process to obtain them other than filling out an application and paying the $15 fee, said Mike Gowrylow, spokesman for the Washington Department of Revenue.

Read the rest of my story here.

Theft suspects walk into surveillance trap

Two burglars' alleged plan to return for a stash of stolen goods backfired today when they walked into a surveillance trap by Spokane police, officers say.

Starla R. Dillard, 26, and Michael W. Withey, 31, were arrested for residential burglary after Withey dropped Dillard off in the 2600 block of West Rockwell Avenue and she went to a home that had been burglarized twice this week.

Officer Bill Hager and members of the Patrol Anti-Crime Team were watching the home hoping the burglars would return for more stolen goods.

A neighbor had reported seeing a “small statured” woman around the home when the burglary occurred. Dillard matches that description, police say. She was arrested after exiting the home.

Withey was arrested after police pulled him over. Police seized his Subaru pending a search warrant and recovered stolen property. The investigation is ongoing.

“Police want to remind everyone that most residential burglaries happen during the early morning hours or during the day when  people are working.  If you see anyone out of the norm in your neighborhood or around your neighbor's house, please call police,” according to a news release by the Spokane Police Department. “We would much rather come out before someone is victimized.  It should also be noted that patrol officers do follow up on theft and burglary incidents when time permits.”

Stolen card leads to fuel theft suspect

A man believed to be responsible for gas thefts in the West Plains area was identified this week after he tried to return merchandise that had been purchased with a stolen credit card.

Gary Dale Hutt, 38, was arrested Tuesday after he went to the General Store on 2424 N. Division St. to return some of the $500 worth of items he'd purchased Monday with the stolen card, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said today.

Detectives had already contacted the store of learning the card had been used there. The card was used 17 times on Monday, the same day it was stolen during a daytime burglary in the 6600 block of North Brooks Road. Three guns, two guns safes, two laptops and a camera also were stolen.

Property crimes detectives searched Hutt's home in the 5100 block of West Sunset Boulevard after his arrest and found one of the laptops and gun safes, as well as items purchased at the General Store with the stolen card, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Detectives noticed a van circling the area while they were searching Hutt's home, and its plates indicated it had been stolen. The driver, Hutt's live-in girlfriend, Courtny R. Jacobsen, 34, was arrested for driving while suspended.

The van was registered to Hutt but had switched /stolen license plates on it, according to the sheriff's office. Detectives found a large gas tank in the van and are continuing their investigation into the fuel thefts on the West Plains.

“Detectives expect to solve additional burglaries and recover more stolen property as they continue to look into this case,” according to a news release by Cpl. Dave Thornburg.

“As you are all aware, our community has been hit hard with property crimes,” Thornburg said in an email to media. “Sheriff's deputies and detectives are working very hard to do what they can to put the suspects in these crimes behind bars with the limited staff and resources we currently have.”

9 men charged in rapper’s fatal shooting

Nine men have been charged for their alleged roles in a fatal shooting involving two aspiring rappers at a Spokane hotel.

Spokane police detectives are looking for six men on second-degree assault charges for a Nov. 27 fight that led to the shooting death of Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake.

(Pictured above, top to bottom, left to right) Jermaine S. Bedford, 22; Kalen J. Bedford, 21; Rashad F. Toussiant, 25; Roderick D. Shanks, 21; Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27; Tyrone J. Carell, 23; are wanted for second-degree assault.

Aaron A. Maxwell, 23, Anthony L. Fuentes, 29, and Michael J. Charles, 34; already have been arrested.

John A. “Lil Danger” Castro, 27, (pictured) was arrested just after the homicide and remains in jail on a second-degree murder charge.

Read the rest of my story here.

Reward for tips on CdA Goodwill robbery

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of a man who tried to rob a Goodwill employee in Coeur d'Alene last month but was thwarted by a witness with a gun.

The man attacked the woman with a knife after she left the store at 1212 N. 4th St. Nov. 28 about 1:55 p.m. to make a bank deposit. The victim told police the man held a knife to her throat and demanded her purse before they struggled and he shoved her to the ground.

A citizen working nearby stopped he attack by pointing a gun at the man, Coeur d'Alene police said today.

The man fled empty handed. He was last seen in the area of 11th Street and Foster Avenue, where he jumped over a fence and continued southbound, police say.

He's described as in his 30s, 6-foot to 6-foot-2 wearing blue jeans and a  black hoodie with possible silver writing on it and the hood pulled over his head.

Anyone with information on the man's identity is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Margarine still missing after truck found

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a thief who slipped away with $50,000 worth of margarine remains at large even though the truck that carried the payload has been recovered.

The trailer was parked awaiting delivery to a Target warehouse in Cedar Falls when it was stolen Dec. 10 from a parking lot near Waterloo. It was found Dec. 15 in a parking lot more than 500 miles away in Fowler, Mich.

But the thief and the margarine are nowhere to be found.

Waterloo police Capt. Rick Abben says the theft was the latest in a series of semitrailer thefts in the area during the past 18 months.

He says the others included a trailer filled with beef jerky, one loaded with dog food and one carrying dental hygiene products.

Daggers hidden in book at D.C. airport

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Transportation Security Administration says officers found two throwing daggers hidden in a hollowed-out book at a checkpoint at Reagan-Washington National Airport.

A TSA spokesman says a passenger was stopped Monday when officers found the knives in the person's carry-on bag. The daggers measured just over a half-foot long and were hidden in the hard-cover book.

The passenger was flying to Chicago and surrendered the knives and book.

The TSA has the authority to fine passengers who bring deadly weapons into the airport checkpoint. It was not known if this was done in this case.

A spokesman for the airport did not immediately return a call for comment.

Man wins supercar, crashes hours later

This hand out photo provided on Wednesday by Maverik shows David Dopp, 34, of Santaquin, Utah, posing for a photo with his daughters Shayla, left, and Olivia, right, after winning a Lamborghini on Nov.12, 2011 in Maverik's Sweepstakes at Brigham Young University's LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/KSL-TV via The Deseret News, Alex Cabrero)

By PAUL FOY, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A truck driver who won a Lamborghini worth about $300,000 in a convenience store contest crashed the sports car six hours after he got it, and he now plans to sell the 640-horsepower convertible because he can't afford the insurance or taxes.

“I already had offers on it. I'm going to sell it,” David Dopp said Wednesday. “I have bills more important than a Lamborghini. I've got a family to support.”

Dopp, a 34-year-old truck driver for Frito-Lay, spun out of control just a few hours after taking the keys to the Murcielago Roadster that he won in a “Joe Schmo to Lambo” contest sponsored by Maverik convenience stores.

The lime green convertible was being held by his insurance company at a Utah towing yard. It will be sent to an authorized Las Vegas dealer for repairs next week.

Dopp told The Associated Press the damage “isn't super bad” — a punctured oil pan and tire, and a few dents and scratches on the front and rear ends. The father of six said he couldn't afford to pay taxes on the car or the insurance, which runs $3,500 every six months.

“That's why rich people own them,” he said. “The poor people like me don't.”

Dopp was taking family members and friends on joy rides the first evening. He said he took a curve at about 45 mph and “hit some black ice and spun out.” The car jumped a curb and went through a fence before coming to a rest about 75 feet off the road. Neither Dopp nor his passenger was injured.

“My heart pretty much fell out,” Annette Dopp told KSL-TV of Salt Lake City. “They said they were OK. Then (came), you know, that feeling when your heart drops and you're like, 'Oh, my gosh. What do we do now?'”

The Lamborghini was the envy of Santaquin, a town of 9,000 about 55 miles south of Salt Lake City. Police say the Lamborghini's high-performance summer tires weren't suited for icy conditions and the car is simply too powerful — and exceptionally light with carbon fiber body parts. Dopp wasn't ticketed.

Dopp was videotaped jumping up and down and hollering in speechless disbelief when contest officials announced during a Nov. 12 college football game that he won the car. He had to take out insurance before he could claim the car — “that was a good thing,” he says — and took the keys to the roadster Saturday.

Dopp said he never imagined he could keep the car for long because it costs too much to own.

He also won $5,000 worth of driving lessons at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele County.

Dopp said he'll be more careful the next time he gets behind the wheel.

The giveaway contest was for customers who use a rewards card at Maverik's 220 stores. It was co-sponsored by nonprofit organization “teamgive,” which raises awareness about rare neurological diseases.

Dopp said Maverik valued the Lamborghini at $358,000, but because it's a 2008 model that had 1,500 miles on the odometer, he believes the value is closer to $300,000 — and he's willing to sell it for less after the body shop fixes it.

Online car appraisal sites don't list market values for a 2008 Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster.

‘67 Ford Mustang stolen in Coeur d’Alene

Missing: One 1967 Ford Mustang.

The classic car was stolen from a Coeur d'Alene auto shop this month, and police are asking for help finding those responsible.

Will Sando, owner of Silverlake Automotive, discovered the trailer containing the car was missing Dec. 12 at 7:30 a.m. It was last seen Dec. 11 at 3 p.m., police said today.

An outdoor shed also was burgled and a set of tires and rims were missing. The business is located at 274 W Hanley Ave.

Anyone with information is asked to call Coeur d'Alene police at (208) 769-2320.

Suspect ID’d in Wishing Star burglary

A burglary suspect arrested after officers tracked his shoe prints in fresh snow is believed to be responsible for a series of break-ins, including one at the Wishing Star Foundation, Spokane police announced today.

 Jermaine M. Garland, 29, is in jail on $25,000 bond after his arrest late Tuesday.

Police responding to an alarm at Salon Centric, 124 E. Short Ave., tracked shoe prints to the area of East 2nd Avenue and South Sherman Street, where they found Garland and located property stolen from the salon in his backpack, as well as marijuana. Officers believe he also burglarized Peters and Sons Flowers, 512 E. Pacific Ave., police said today.

Detective David Staben developed information connection Garland to six commercial burglaries, including a Dec. 7 break-in at Wishing Star, 139 S. Sherman St., in which Christmas presents for sick children were stolen. The presents had been donated by the Washington State Patrol.

The organization has been overwhelmed with donations since then.

Garland was described in court Wednesday has having an “appreciable” criminal history. Police say he's a repeat offender; his criminal history includes several theft convictions. He was sentenced to two years in prison in 2007 after pleading guilty to first-degree attempted trafficking in stolen property.

Botox thief caught on camera; tips sought

  Coeur d'Alene police are trying to identify a woman suspected of stealing Botox treatments from a dermatology office.

The woman had $1,705 worth of Botox and Juvederm procedures done on Dec. 6 at North Idaho Dermatology, 2288 North Merrit Creek Loop. She began writing a check to pay but said her checkbook wouldn't work and she needed to get another one, but she never returned, police say.

The woman made the appointment using the name Louise Green and provided two addresses in Post Falls. Neither has checked out, police say.

The woman told employees she'd recently moved to the area from Seattle and had a referral note from a doctor in Pocatello.

Police released two surveillence photots of the woman today in hopes someone will recognize her and come forward.

Anyone with information on her identity is asked to call (208) 769-2320.

Man w/ ‘Sureno’ face tattoo is 3 striker

Get Adobe Flash player

A reputed Sureno gang member who Spokane police say stayed hidden in a couch after tear gas was pumped into his apartment faces life in prison if convicted under the state's three-strikes law. 

Bobby S. “Angel” Decaney, 35, (pictured) pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery. He already has two convictions for violent felonies.

Decaney and Maceo L. Williams, 27, are accused of holding 22-year-old Jennifer M. Taylor while another woman assaulted her and stole methamphetamine from her pocket on Dec. 1.

The female assailant choked Taylor unconscious with her own necklace and threatened to kill her, according to court documents. The incident led to a SWAT team standoff in north Spokane.

Police contacted Taylor at a hospital, where she told them she'd gotten a ride on the the South Hill from Decaney, whom she knew as “Angel” and described as having “Sureno” tattooed across his forehead. Williams, the unidentified female assailant and Michael J. Hall also were in the car, she told police.

She said Decaney stopped the car and the woman accused her of talking badly about her ex-boyfriend, who police say also is a Sureno gang member. Taylor told police lost consciousness while being strangled then awoke to the woman punching her and stealing five ounces of meth that was hidden in her bra.

Police tried to contact Decaney and Maceo at Decaney's apartment at 13110 N. Addison, but they refused to come out and the gang unit and SWAT team were called to assist. Police evacuated the area and, after a few hours, pumped tear gas into the apartment. Williams, Hall and Nicole Coffey emerged and said no one was left inside, documents say, but a Spokane police dog, Stryder, found Decaney hiding in a large zippered bag that was secreted inside a couch, according to court documents.

Williams also pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and robbery charges Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court. Both suspects are in the Spokane County Jail. Hall and Coffey were arrested after the standoff but have not been charged.

The police investigation into the assault is ongoing.

2 men charged w/ gunpoint robbery

Two men have been charged in a gunpoint home-invasion robbery last summer.  

Brian Lee “Rowdy” Riley, 26, and Jeffrey “Lucky” Salvage, 24, (pictured) are accused of entering a home at 8419 E. Bridgeport Aug. 17 and stealing $80 at gunpoint.

Riley had a sawed off Marlin .410 shotgun, witnesses told police.

Riley is charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.

Salvage also faces those charges, as well as felony charges for another alleged robbery that targeted two women in September.

Riley is not in jail. Salvage is in jail on $175,000 bond.

New details in Riverfront murder case

A Spokane man accused of killing his friend in Riverfront Park after a night of drinking told police he was so intoxicated that he didn’t realize who he was assaulting until he saw his shoes, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Yukio M. Rideb, 21, (pictured) told officers Romero J. Vivit, III, needed to be hospitalized but was still breathing when he left him in the park early Saturday after the drunken assault. Rideb will remain in the Spokane County Jail on $500,000 bond after appearing in court today on a second-degree murder charge. Divers pulled Vivit’s body from the Spokane River on Tuesday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 20: Murder arrest made in missing man's death

Noisy neighbor dispute ends in assault

A man upset about noisy upstairs neighbors in the South Perry Street area barged into their apartment and knocked one of them unconscious, prosecutors allege.

Joshua Gordon Swanson, 24, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court to first-degree burglary and second-degree assault.
 
His upstairs neighbors at 720 S. Laura St. called Spokane police Dec. 3 and said they were playing dice when they heard their downstairs neighbor pounding o his ceiling, which they said was normal. 
 
A few minutes later, they responded to a knock on the door expecting the arrival of a friend, but instead Swanson and another man who was armed with a machete barged in, according to court documents.
Swanson beat Alvin Commander unconscious until Commander's son, Nicholas Commander, hit him over the head with a frying pan, documents say.
 
Swanson then allegedly threw a glass object at Nicholas Commander's wife and baby and it shattered against the wall, police said.
 
Police say Swanson had a gash on his head consistent with being hit with a frying pan.  He “admitted to being angry about the noise always coming from (the apartment),” documents say.
 
Swanson remains in jail on $75,000 bond.

Snowy shoe prints lead to theft suspect

Shoe prints left in freshly fallen snow led Spokane police to a suspect in a burglary at a salon Tuesday night.

Jermaine M. Garland, 29, was booked into jail for second-degree burglary after police responding to an alarm at Salon Centric, 124 E. Short Ave., just before 11 p.m.

Officers Buchmann and Wilkinson followed footprints to the area of East 2nd Avenue and South Sherman Street, where they found Garland and located property stolen from the salon in his backpack, as well as marijuana.

The area has been hit a rash of commercial burglaries recently, including a burglary at the Wishing Star Foundation.

Garland is to appear in court today. He was sentenced in November to 13 days in jail after pleading guilty to third-degree retail theft with extenuating circumstances. He also pleaded guilty in July to two counts of misdemeanor theft.

Murder suspect expected in court today

Spokane police search Riverfront Park on Tuesday. Romero Vivit's body was pulled from the river later that day. (Jennifer DeRuwe/Spokane Police Department)

A 21-year-old man arrested after his friend's body was pulled from the Spokane River with what police described as “visible injuries to his body” is expected to appear in court this afternoon. 

Yukio M. Rideb (pictured left) was booked into jail Tuesday at 4:42 p.m., hours after Romero J. Vivit III was pulled from the river in Riverfront Park.

Family members found bloody clothes belonging to Vivit Saturday after he was last seen about 3 a.m. following a visit to the Revolver Bar, 227 W. Riverside Ave., according to police.

 Rideb and Vivit (pictured right) attended North Central High School together.

It's unclear what led police to identify Rideb as a suspect in Vivit's death, but Vivit is believed to have been assaulted in the park early Saturday.

Park staff told police of cleaning up blood near the Louff Carrousel that day after hearing of the missing person case.

Rideb is on state Department of Corrections probation for a year after pleading guilty in September to third-degree assault and violation of a domestic violence no contact order. He was arrested in August and spent 26 days in jail. He was released after sentencing with credit for time served.

In June, Rideb was sentenced to 29 days in jail for two counts domestic violence malicious mischief, a misdemeanor.

Rideb is scheduled to be appear in Spokane County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. on a second-degree murder charge.

Man booked after body pulled from river

A police dive team searches the Spokane River in Riverfront Park on Tuesday. (Jennifer DeRuwe/Spokane Police Department)

A body believed to be that of a man missing since this weekend was recovered Tuesday in Riverfront Park, and a 21-year-old is facing a murder charge in connection with the death, police said.

 Taken into custody was Yukio M. Rideb, who is being held at the county jail on a second-degree murder charge in the death of Romero J. Vivit III, 21.

Read the rest of the story here.

Kevin Harpham sentenced to 32 years

Leaving a bomb laced with anti-coagulant along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Day Unity March was merely a “creative idea” to protest multiculturalism, domestic terrorist Kevin W. Harpham told a Spokane judge Tuesday.

The explanation was an 11th-hour bid by Harpham, an admitted white supremacist, to withdraw his guilty plea and face trial.

But an unsympathetic U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush told Harpham, “It’s beyond my comprehension that you would stand there and not accept responsibility for what you have done,” then sentenced the 37-year-old to 32 years in federal prison. It was the

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Pot involved in shooting of teen suspect

A teenager who was with the 13-year-old boy shot during a Monday burglary had stolen marijuana from the same home less than a week before.

The boy who was shot remains in satisfactory condition at a local hospital after undergoing surgery following the shooting in Medical Lake.

Read the rest of my story here.

5 women plead guilty in fake cash scam

Five of 10 people indicted in a counterfeit money scheme have pleaded guilty, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced today.

Jessica A. Crabtree, 28; Brittney R. Hearn, 24; Robin Knuttgen, 52; Brandy Mueller, age 22; and  Melissa A. Smith, 27, faces up to 20 years in prison and three years probation after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court.
The women were involved in a scheme to to bleach real money and reprint the paper with higher denominations. About $5,000 in fake currency was passed. Local businesses and banks alerted the Secret Service to the scheme.

Also charged is Cole T. Monson, the so-called “nemesis of property owners” already in prison for dozens of property crimes, Ronald Dale Mueller; Tawny M. Rhodes, Angela Olveda and Sean Wright.

The suspects were indicted by a grand jury in June.

Crabtree, Hearn, Knuttgen, Mueller and Smith are scheduled to be sentenced in January and March.

“Well-trained merchants are the first line of defense to this form of fraud. Using Secret Service’s training, a merchant can prevent thousands of dollars in losses that end up in the form of higher prices for the rest of us,” U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby said in a prepared statement.

Said Kevin Miller, resident agent in charge of the local Secret Service office said, “Businesses and consumers should be extra vigilant during the busy holiday shopping season. Genuine Federal Reserve Notes have several security features that include small randomly disbursed blue and red fibers embedded throughout the paper, a watermark (similar to the portrait) that is visible from either side of the note when held up to the light, color shifting ink in the lower right-hand corner, and a clear polyester security thread embedded vertically in the paper which is inscribed with the denomination of the note.”

Police: $4 loan leads to motel robbery

A man who borrowed $4 from an employee at a downtown Spokane motel returned to rob her with a hammer, police say.

Eric Kevin Miller, 36, was arrested on Friday, two days after police say he left his wallet at the Select Inn, 1420 W. 2nd Ave., for collateral after borrowing the cash.

He returned about two hours later and threatened the employee with a masonry hammer when she wouldn't return his wallet, according to court documents. He stole $100 from the cash register, police say, then went to Northern Quest Casino.

From the casino, Miller went to a woman's apartment, where they talked about the bible and he told her he'd robbed an elderly woman at the Select Inn, police say. The woman awoke to her TV missing, along with three butcher knives, $250 from her purse, her apartment keys and miscellaneous bills.  

Miller told police he traded the TV for methamphetamine, according to court documents.

Miller appeared in Superior Court Monday on a first-degree robbery charge and remains in jail on $50,000 bond.

$100 reward for debt of $40 per month

A man wanted for not paying his court fines has a reward being offered for his capture that is greater than his monthly payment amount.

Joseph Patrick Brian, Jr., 34, is behind on payments for fines imposed for four felony cases between 2001 and 2005.

Brian owes just $90 to pay off one of the cases and is required to pay $40 a total of month for all four. Crime Stoppers is offering $100 for tips that lead to his arrest. He is a repeat offender so the amount is double the usual reward for fugitives.

Brian's lack of payments has been addressed in court five times since 2007.

No-bail warrants in each of the cases - attempt to elude police, second-degree theft, first-degree possession of stolen property and first-degree criminal impersonation - were issued in September. Crime Stoppers offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest last week.

Spokane County's legal financial obligation has been criticized as an endless system that punishes the poor. The state Supreme Court ruled a previous system unconstitutional because people with court debts were not allowed to a new hearing to gauge their ability to pay.

A lawsuit has been filed to determine how those who were subject to the unconstitutional system can be compensated.

Brian, 5-foot-9 and 145 pounds, last gave an address in the 400 block of South Maple Street. Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Jury convicts man of ‘07 fatal shooting

A jury on Monday found a man guilty of first-degree murder in connection with the 2007 slaying of a man in Hillyard.

As a result, Michael D. Coombes (pictured) faces about seven more years in prison than he would have under an earlier plea agreement, which he was allowed to withdraw because of a technical error.

 Coombes, who tattoed an image of the gun that he used to kill 53-year-old William “Red” Nichols on his leg, hung his head just after Superior Court Judge Annette Plese read the jury’s decision.

“I’m very pleased, very happy with the outcome,” said Nichols’ sister, Joselle Kuntz of Reardan. “Finally, we can move on.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 14: Trial begins in man's shooting death

Oct. 4: Witness tampering alleged before murder trial

Thompson’s motion to acquit denied

A federal judge Monday again ruled that government prosecutors provided enough evidence to allow a jury to convict former Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. of using excessive force on Otto Zehm.

As he did during the four-week trial in Yakima, U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle denied a motion brought by defense attorneys who argued that federal prosecutors did not provide evidence showing that Thompson acted willfully or with a bad purpose when he beat Zehm with a baton and shocked him with a Taser.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 16: Zehm civil suit settlment elusive

$40k bond for man w/ 125 jail bookings

A repeat offender who has been booked into the Spokane County Jail 125 times remains there on $40,000 bond after appearing in court today.

Kristopher Kenneth Roybal, 34, already faces felony methamphetamine and stolen car charges for cases filed in May and October. He was out of jail on bond when a police officer who knew his licenses was suspended spotted him driving near the Spokane Arena and knew his license was suspended.

Officers found a ring of shaved keys on him after he was arrested, as well as a large purse and vehicle radio that they suspected was stolen. Police say the items were stolen from cars parked outside the Spokane Arena for a Chiefs hockey game.

A search of Roybal's 1994 red Cadillac Seville, which is registered to his mother, revealed bolt cutters, shaved keys, suspected marijuana and methamphetamine and other stolen property, according to the warrant.

Roybal has 14 adult felony convictions and three as a juvenile, all involving drugs, forgery or stolen property. His first felony conviction occurred in 1995, but police say his criminal history spans 21 years. He's been a Crime Stoppers fugitive twice since 2008.

Spokane racist guilty of beating inmate

A Spokane white supremacist scheduled to be released from federal prison last month was convicted today in Oklahoma of assaulting another inmate.

Keegan Chance Van Tuyl, 29, likely will be sentenced at least four months from now for the charge of inflicting serious bodily harm against another inmate, a clerk for U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said today.

Friot convicted Van Tuyl after a brief bench trial today in Oklahoma City.

A grand jury indicted Van Tuyl Sept. 20 for the attack on another inmate at the federal transfer center in Oklahoma City on Dec. 1, 2010.

Van Tuyl punched the inmate several times then stomped his face several times after he fell to the floor, according to the indictment. The incident was captured on surveillance video.

In a letter to The Spokesman-Review, Van Tuyl said the inmate was a sex offender, writing “no good deed goes unpunished.” The victim's criminal convictions could not be independently confirmed.

Van Tuyl recently finished serving a sentencing in maximum security federal prison for violating his probation on a firearms conviction.

Online prison records list him as being released, but he actually was transferred to Oklahoma to face the assault charge.

A member of Van Tuyl's racist group, James D. Bacon, was involved in a similar assault while in custody in Spokane.

Pizza delivery driver robbed, carjacked

A pizza delivery driver was robbed and carjacked Friday in Grant County after being lured with a fake order placed through an iPhone application, officials say.

Deputies responded to the robbery in the 1200 block of Pershing Road, north of Moses Lake about 9 p.m., where a 22-year-old Pizza Hut driver said he'd been attacked at knife point by three men.

One man told him he was being robbed and demanded his money and cell phone before fleeing in his car with two others. The car was abandoned a few blocks away minutes later, according to the Grant County Sheriff's Office.

The victim was not injured but was too frightened to provide a description of the robbers other than that they were Hispanic and about 5-foot-10, the Sheriff's Office said. One wore a dark stocking cap and another man may have had a bandanna covering part of his face.

Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (509) 754-2011, ext. 468, or e-mail crimetips@co.grant.wa.us.

Ex-tribal jail deputy acquitted of rape

A former jail deputy on the Spokane Indian Reservation has been acquitted of accusations that he raped an inmate.

A jury found Clifford Arlen Matherly not guilty of two rape charges Thursday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Matherly was arrested in June after a grand jury indicted him on charges he raped a woman while she was under his supervision  at the Bureau of Indian Affairs jail in May 2008. He was released from jail pending trial.

The acquittal came after a two-day trial.
  

Barefoot Bandit sentenced to 7+ years

Colton Harris-Moore, left, also known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” talks with his attorney, John Henry Browne, right, in Island County Superior Court today in Coupeville, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press

COUPEVILLE, Wash. (AP) — The youthful thief who rocketed to international notoriety as the “Barefoot Bandit” while he evaded police in pilfered cars, boats and planes during a two-year crime spree was sentenced Friday to more than seven years in a Washington state prison after pleading guilty to dozens of charges.

Colton Harris-Moore, now 20, showed no reaction as the sentence was delivered by a judge who took pity on his bleak upbringing at the hands of an alcoholic mother and a series of her convict boyfriends — a situation she described as a “mind-numbing absence of hope.”

“This case is a tragedy in many ways, but it's a triumph of the human spirit in other ways,” Island County Judge Vickie Churchill said. “I could have been reading about the history of a mass murderer. I could have been reading about a drug abusive, alcoholic young man. That is the triumph of Colton Harris-Moore: He has survived.”

Harris-Moore's daring run from the law earned him international fame and a movie deal to help repay his victims after he flew a stolen plane from Indiana to the Bahamas in July 2010, crash-landed it near a mangrove swamp and was arrested by Bahamian authorities in a hail of bullets.

Friday's proceedings consolidated cases against Harris-Moore in three Washington counties. He has already pleaded guilty to federal charges in Seattle and will be sentenced for those crimes early next year, but the sentence is expected to be shorter than his state term.

Harris-Moore faced a sentencing range of just over seven years to just under 10 years.

“Colton's very pleased,” said his attorney John Henry Browne. “He was expecting the worst.”

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said he's glad the case is over and he could live with the sentence.

“I can see why people are sympathetic to him,” Banks said. “It's still a significant amount of time for someone who's never been in the adult system.”

Wearing handcuffs and an orange jail uniform, Colton Harris-Moore spoke softly in court while entering his pleas.

In a statement provided to the judge, he said his childhood was one he wouldn't wish on his “darkest enemies.”

Still, he said he takes responsibility for the crime spree that brought him international notoriety, and said he learned only too late of the fear he was instilling in his victims.

Harris-Moore said he studied manuals and online videos to teach himself to be a pilot, and the thrills he experienced while flying stolen planes renewed his passion for life and will help him rehabilitate while in prison.

“The euphoria of the countdown to takeoff and the realization of a dream was nearly blinding,” he wrote of his first illicit flight on Nov. 11, 2008. “My first thought after takeoff was 'Oh my God, I'm flying.' I had waited my entire life for that moment.”

He said he'll use his prison time to study and get ready to apply to college, with the hope of earning an aeronautical engineering degree.

Several victims and a few curious citizens watched Harris-Moore enter his pleas in Island County Superior Court, along with Harris-Moore's aunt.

Browne also said the young man's time on the run was horrific and included spending nights in culverts and portable toilets.

Harris-Moore's first conviction came at age 12, in 2004, for possession of stolen property, and according to the reports, his first experience with burglary came when he broke into the homes of his classmates to steal food because his mother spent most of her Social Security income on beer and cigarettes — something she has denied.

Over the next three years he was convicted of theft, burglary, malicious mischief and assault, among other crimes.

In 2007, the boy was sentenced to three years in a juvenile lockup after pleading guilty to three burglary counts in Island County. But he fled the minimum-security facility in April 2008 and was soon back to his old tricks, breaking into unoccupied vacation homes, stealing food and sometimes staying there.

As red-faced investigators repeatedly failed to catch him, his antics escalated: He began stealing planes from small, rural airports and crash-landing them — at least five in all.

Waves of burglaries broke out on Orcas Island, where Kyle Ater runs his Homegrown Market and Deli, in late 2009 and in early 2010, after stolen planes were found at the airport there. The second time, Harris-Moore left Ater's new security system in a utility sink, under a running faucet.

Harris-Moore's final spree came after he stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took a plane (pictured) from a hangar in Boundary County, Idaho, where investigators found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane, owned by a Bonners Ferry cattle rancher, crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel.

He made his way to Oregon in a 32-foot boat stolen in southwestern Washington — stopping first to leave $100 at an animal shelter in Raymond, Wash. From Oregon, authorities said, Harris-Moore traveled across the United States, frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports. In Indiana, he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas, more than 1,000 miles away, where authorities finally caught him in a manhunt that spanned multiple islands.

Among the courtroom spectators Friday were 18-year-olds Annie Cain and Hayley Hanna, who drove from nearby Langley to be at the courthouse at 5:30 a.m. — four hours before the hearing.

“We wanted to be here just because he's so young, and everything he did, it's fascinating,” Cain said.

Fox bought the movie rights in a deal that could be worth $1.3 million, and Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for writing the movie “Milk,” about the gay rights activist Harvey Milk, is working on the screenplay.

Harris-Moore doesn't get to keep any of the money under the terms of his federal plea deal.

Suspect ID’d in ice cream shop robbery

A gunpoint robbery at a Spokane ice cream shop in the middle of winter has been solved nearly a year after the crime, prosecutors allege.

Michael W. Robison, 24, was arraigned this week on a first-degree robbery charge for the Jan. 9 hold-up at Basin Robbins, 1230 S. Grand Blvd.

The robbery seeking money from ice cream sales occurred as Spokane was hit with arctic temperatures.

Robison's ex-girlfriend, Breanne M. Snyder, 25, told police it only netted $75, according to court documents. Snyder talked to Spokane police after an unrelated arrest in October and said she'd driven Robison, who she said had a black BB gun, to the Baskin Robbins and picked him a few minutes later. She said he told her he robbed the store and had gotten $75, documents say.

Snyder said she and Robison were addicted to OxyContin and heroin and were stealing to support their habit.
Two off-duty firefighters, Scott Coldiron and Darrin Coldiron, were eating at a nearby restaurant and followed the robber. They told police he got into a white Toyota driven by a woman. Robison owns a white 1998 Toyota Tacoma.

Robison pleaded not guilty to the armed robbery charge on Wednesday. He is not in jail.

Suspect wanted in repo officer assault

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of a Spokane man accused of ramming a repossession officer's car in Spokane Valley last month.

 Cullen Joe Gibson-Snodgrass, 31, didn't show up for hearings in Spokane County Superiro Court for the assault case and for an early case involving a first-degree theft charge.

He was arrested in November after two repossession men with Phoenix Financial told police he rammed one of their cars with his Jeep while they were trying to contact him to repossess the vehicle.

Gibson-Snodgrass posted $17,500 bond on Nov. 23. A no-bail warrant was issued Dec. 6.

Gibson-Snodgrass, 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, last gave a home address in the 9000 block of East Sprague Avenue.

Anyone with information on his 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.

Man who evaded SWAT still wanted

A man who officials say escaped capture after trying to fire a gun at a Spokane police officer is wanted by Crime Stoppers.

A reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of Chase J. Earl-West, 22, who was wanted on a warrant for violating drug court conditions imposed for a car theft charge on police went looking for him this week.

A no-bail warrant was issued Dec. 8 after he didn’t show up for a court hearing, according to court records.

Officers were looking for Earl-West at the Randolph Arms Apartments near Spokane Falls Community College Monday about 11:30 p.m. when he allegedly pointed a gun at an officer and pulled the trigger, but it malfunctioned and did not fire, police say. A SWAT team standoff ensued and 30 surrounding apartments units were evacuated.

Police believe Earl-West escaped before a perimeter was set up and the nine-hour standoff began.

Earl-West is 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds, according to Crime Stoppers. His last known address is in the 7000 block of North Cincinnati Street.

Anyone with information on his 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.

Fleeing Ore. men hurl marijuana from car

This Dec. 13  photo released by the Oregon State Police shows the interior of a car driven by two men arrested Monday night after throwing marijuana out the window during a high-speed police chase.

EUGENE Ore. (AP) — An Oregon state trooper says he was giving chase at more than 100 mph when men in the car ahead ripped open half-pound bags of marijuana and began flinging it out of the window. 

Trooper Clay Core tells the Eugene Register-Guard that the pot was “pelting my car” as the chase continued north Monday night along Interstate 5 toward Eugene. 

Eventually, the car stopped, and officers detained Nathan Garza, 32, (left) and Joshua Edward Lutz, 33, (right) on several charges, including tampering with evidence.

Core says jettisoning the pot was an unsuccessful attempt to get rid of evidence.

Between the car and what officers found along the interstate, Core says, five pounds of pot was retrieved. And, Core says, officers worked Monday night and Tuesday morning to make sure they picked up all of it.

Meghann's disclaimer: When I was in high school, I worked with Lutz's ex-girlfriend and his sister at McDonald's in Corvallis, Ore.

‘Barefoot Bandit’ to plead guilty today

In this Feb. 11, 2010 file photo provided by the Islands' Sounder newspaper, chalk drawings of bare feet are shown on the floor of the Homegrown Market on Orcas Island, Wash., after Colton Harris-Moore broke in overnight. (AP Photo/Courtesy Islands' Sounder, Meredith Griffith, File)

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — When Colton Harris-Moore broke into Kyle Ater's grocery store in Washington's serene San Juan Islands — the second time — he drew cartoonish bare feet and a three-letter message in chalk on the floor: “C-YA!”

 Turns out the Barefoot Bandit was right.

Harris-Moore, now 20, will see Ater and other victims today at Island County Superior Court, where he is expected to plead guilty to about 30 state felony charges arising from a two-year, cross-country crime spree in stolen planes, boats and cars.

 Harris-Moore's daring run from the law earned him international notoriety, not to mention a movie deal to help repay his victims, after he flew a stolen plane from Indiana to the Bahamas in July 2010, crash-landed it near a mangrove swamp and was arrested by Bahamian authorities in a hail of bullets.

“I want to see the phantom with my own eyes,” Ater said Thursday. “There were so many people affected by his crimes, and probably even some that don't know they were affected. They're still looking for their cell phone, or wondering why their propane bill was so high that month.”

Friday's proceedings before Judge Vickie Churchill consolidate cases against Harris-Moore in three Washington counties. He has already pleaded guilty to federal charges in Seattle and will be sentenced for those crimes early next year. He will serve his state and federal sentences at the same time. The federal charges included his theft of an airplane from the Boundary County Airport that belonged to a Bonners Ferry, Idaho, cattle rancher.

State prosecutors plan to ask for a nine-and-a-half year sentence Friday, while Harris-Moore's attorneys, John Henry Browne and Emma Scanlan, are seeking a six-year term, citing his bleak childhood in a Camano Island trailer with an alcoholic mother and a series of her convict boyfriends. They laid out the details of his upbringing in psychiatric and mitigation reports filed with the court.

“Colt blames no one but himself,” wrote Pamela L. Rogers, a mitigation investigator who reviewed Harris-Moore's case. “He made bad choices and takes full responsibility and expects to be held accountable for those bad choices. … He desperately hopes to one day have a career and a family and make contributions he can feel good about — and he's willing to work hard for that.”

Harris-Moore's first conviction came at age 12, in 2004, for possession of stolen property, and according to Rogers' report, his first experience with burglary came when he broke into the homes of his classmates to steal food because his mother spent most of her Social Security income on beer and cigarettes — something she has denied.

Over the next three years he was convicted of theft, burglary, malicious mischief and assault, among other crimes. At one point he was arrested when a detective posed as a pizza-delivery driver.

In 2007, the boy was sentenced to three years in a juvenile lockup after pleading guilty to three burglary counts in Island County. But he fled the minimum-security facility in April 2008 and was soon back to his old tricks, breaking into unoccupied vacation homes, stealing food and sometimes staying there.

As red-faced investigators repeatedly failed to catch him, his antics escalated: He began stealing planes from small, rural airports and crash-landing them — at least five in all.

“What was characterized by the media as the swashbuckling adventures of a rakish teenager were in fact the actions of a depressed, possibly suicidal young man with waxing and waning post-traumatic stress disorder (following his first plane crash in November 2008),” wrote Dr. Richard S. Adler, a psychiatrist who evaluated him for the defense lawyers.

Waves of burglaries broke out on Orcas Island, where Ater runs his Homegrown Market and Deli, in late 2009 and in early 2010, after stolen planes were found at the airport there. The second time, Harris-Moore left Ater's new security system in a utility sink, under a running faucet. He took cash and a tray of croissants, and Ater's insurance company jacked up his rates.

Mike Parnell, a former owner of the Oakley sunglasses company who lives on Orcas, was repeatedly victimized. Harris-Moore hid out for long periods in the second level of his hangar at the airport, and when Parnell and his family would go on trips in their plane, Harris-Moore would take their car to their house and eat their food. At one point, Harris-Moore entered their home while Parnell was there with his wife and three children and grabbed his wife's car keys off a counter.

“We were all fearing for our lives,” Parnell said Thursday. “The kids wouldn't sleep in their own bedrooms. We purchased night vision goggles. I'm glad that day is finally approaching when we will finally know what the consequences are, and I hope it's sufficient for the way our whole island suffered.”

Harris-Moore's final spree came after he stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took the plane from the hangar in Bonners Ferry, where investigators found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel.

He made his way to Oregon in a 32-foot boat stolen in southwestern Washington — stopping first to leave $100 at an animal shelter in Raymond, Wash. From Oregon, authorities said, Harris-Moore traveled across the United States, frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports. In Indiana, he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas, more than 1,000 miles away, where authorities finally caught him in a manhunt that spanned multiple islands.

Fox bought the movie rights in a deal that could be worth $1.3 million, and Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for writing the movie “Milk,” about the gay rights activist Harvey Milk, is working on the screenplay. He's met with Harris-Moore several times at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, according to Lance Rosen, Harris-Moore's entertainment lawyer.

Harris-Moore doesn't get to keep any of the money under the terms of his federal plea deal.

Extremist in fire faced child rape charge

Investigators work the scene where a day earlier Steven Stanbary used a gun to hold off police and firefighters while a house burned to the ground in Washougal, Wash. on Dec. 8. (AP Photo/Zachary Kaufman, Pool)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A white supremacist with Idaho ties who is suspected of killing his wife and her sister and shooting at firefighters before he died in their burning home on Dec. 7 had been scheduled to surrender the next day to face a child rape charge, authorities said.

 Authorities didn't know before the incident that suspect Steven D. Stanbary of Washougal had a history of being heavily armed, schizophrenic, anti-government and violent, Clark County senior deputy prosecutor Dustin Richardson told The Columbian in a story Thursday.

“Had that been clear, the whole process of having an attorney turn him in … might have been different,” Richardson said.

Before the fire, Richardson had just a basic criminal history that showed Stanbary had only misdemeanor convictions because more serious charges had been reduced by plea bargains or other circumstances.

It was later learned that police in Idaho had discovered six AK-47s and a grenade launcher in Stanbary's possession during a 1994 arrest. But that case was dropped to a minor assault in a plea deal.

In addition, information emerged that Stanbary had stopped receiving treatment for delusional schizophrenia in 1988 when he refused to take medications. At that time, his then-wife, Debra Hughes, told Idaho police she believed he was dangerous.

Richardson said he might have changed his plans for letting Stanbary turn himself in through his attorney if the records had shown a pattern involving weapons. However, police generally don't seek more information on criminal histories of suspects unless the cases show a specific pattern of criminal behavior or dishonesty, he said.

The prosecutors credited the media for bringing those additional details to light after Stanbary's violent death.

Reports released Wednesday show Washougal police suspect Stanbary molested a girl over a number of years beginning when she was 9 and ending several years before she reported it in December 2010.

Richardson had concerns about several aspects of the case and said he didn't believe he had strong enough evidence to charge Stanbury until late November. Stanbary was supposed to turn himself in with an attorney on Dec. 8.

“He obviously had different plans,” Richardson said.

On Dec. 7, gunfire and exploding ammunition kept firefighters away from his burning home. The three bodies were later found inside.

Stanbary's wife, Leona, told police she suspected the girl may have made up the abuse story so she could move out and live with her boyfriend.

“I'll kill him if it happened,” Leona Stanbary told the detective, referring to Steven Stanbary, the police report said.

The girl and her boyfriend said in separate interviews with police that Steven Stanbary was a binge drinker who became nasty when inebriated.

Stanbary was arrested in Bonner County in December 1994 after threatening to kill his ex-wife, children and himself. He was found to have numerous weapons, including AK-47s.

Suspects arrested after pocket dialing 911

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Police in Wisconsin's capital city barely had to try to catch a pair of unlucky suspected thieves.

Madison police say two men in their late 20s stole DVDs and computer games from a Target store Tuesday and discussed their plans to fence the goods while driving away.

Investigators say the duo didn't realize one of them had accidentally pocket-dialed 911. A dispatcher listened in for nearly an hour as they discussed what they had stolen and where they might sell it. Police say they even described their vehicle.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain says the pair decided to sell their goods at a video store. When they pulled into the store's parking lot, officers surrounded their vehicle with guns drawn.

Sex offender gets 10 years for child porn

A Cheney man who already went to federal prison for distributing child pornography using his former co-worker's stolen identity is to return for a 10-year sentence for another child porn charge.

John Alan Harmon, 58, is to serve 120 months in federal prison and will be on probation for the rest of his life under a sentence imposed this morning in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

He's to forfeit $120,000 in lieu of the forfeiture of his home in Cheney. Investigators found electronic equipment with about 36,000 images of child pornography in Harmon's home during a search in January 2010. Harmon was already a registered sex offender after leaving prison in 2005 after serving three years for distributing child pornography.

Harmon has been in jail since his arrest on Jan. 10. A plea deal dismissed a sentencing enhancement that mandated a 15-year sentence because of Harmon’s prior conviction.

“The network of dedicated law enforcement officers across the country that search for and identify child pornographers (is) invaluable to making our communities safer,” Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said in a prepared statement.

A sentencing memorandum prepared by his attorney, Bevan Maxey, said Harmon has a sexual disorder but is otherwise a studious individual.

“Although Mr. Harmon recognizes that his disorder makes him attracted to minors, he has consistently denied ever having any sexual contact with a real child,” according to the memo. “These assertions have repeatedly been confirmed by polygraph tests.”

Still, “Mr. Harmon recognizes, admits to, and regrets the extremely hurtful and damaging nature of the illegal images he possessed,” his lawyer wrote.

Skeleton’s poor teeth could be clue to ID

Grant County detectives are asking for help identifying a man found dead with a single gunshot wound last month.

The man's skeletal remains were found Nov. 23 near O'Sullivan Dam in southeast Grant County. Detectives believe he may have been there for more than a year.  Forensic artist Natalie Murry produced a sketch of what the victim may have looked like based on an analysis by The King County Medical Examiner's Office.

The man is believed to have been white or Hispanic, about 35 years old and 5-foot-1 to 6-foot-1, according to the Grant County Sheriff's Office. His teeth were in poor condition and his two front teeth were affixed with silver dental caps. One tooth was broken beneath the cap.

The victim was wearing a Phat Farm long-sleeved shirt and short-sleeved shirt, as well as Route 66 dark denim jeans with a 28 waist size. He had an insulated, tan and orange vest and wore a black stocking cap and size 8 1/2 block shoes with Velcro closures.

“Please keep in mind the man's actual hair length and color, facial hair or skin complexion may have been different since it was not possible to determine those features,” according to a news release.

Anyone with possible information on the man is asked to call Detective Kim Cook at (509) 754-2011 ext. 471, or email crimetips@co.grant.wa.us. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Docs can’t reattach ear in hatchet attack

SEATTLE (AP) — The brother of a Longview, Wash., security guard who was attacked by a shoplifter with a hatchet says doctors weren't able to reattach his ear.

Police arrested Adrian Kramer (pictured) on Wednesday for investigation of assault, robbery, burglary and theft.

Authorities say that when 33-year-old David Morrison, the head of security at the Fred Meyer retail store, tried to stop Kramer on Monday, Kramer swung a small hatchet at Morrison and sliced off his left ear.

Police say Kramer shoplifted a cart full of CDs, a bike chain and other items.

David Morrison's brother, Steven, says doctors in a Portland, Ore., hospital weren't able to reattach the ear after four hours of surgery. He says his brother is weighing his medical options now, including a prosthetic ear.

Man gets 5 years to life for sex abuse

A Coeur d'Alene man will spend five years to life in prison for lewd conduct with a 14-year-old girl, a judge ruled this week.

Nicholas James Ryan, 32, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with eligibility for parole after five years. He'll serve the sentence the same time as a sentence for contacting the girl after his arrest despite a court order prohibiting the communication.

Ryan was sentenced by Kootenai County District Judge John Mitchell. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 31. He has three prior felony convictions for drugs, according to the Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office.
In a prepared statement, Prosecutor Barry McHugh praised the work of the Coeur 'Alene Police Department and Deputy Prosecutor Josh Studor.

McHugh said the sentence “was appropriate given the defendant's post-arrest conduct indicating a desire to continue an illegal and immoral relationship, and his efforts to coerce the victim to lie about the relationship.”
  

CPS report led to father’s murder arrest

A 4-year-old boy’s nightmares about “a dead lady” and his description of how she died led homicide detectives to arrest his father in the slaying of an elderly Stevens County woman, according to new court documents.

The boy’s mother contacted Child Protective Services on Nov. 24 - two days before the decomposing body of Narleen B. Campton, 62, was discovered in her Northport home about 10 miles south of the Canadian border.Re

Read the rest of my story here.

Manslaughter conviction in fatal explosion

After the first jury decided 9-3 to acquit him of first-degree manslaughter, a second jury handed down a unanimous second-degree manslaughter conviction against the man who built a homemade bomb that killed a Spokane man at a belated Halloween party in 2010. 

Christapher A. Harris, who turns 21 on Sunday, faces about three years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 6. Harris was convicted of killing 28-year-old Cody R. Hathaway (pictured right) on Nov. 6, 2010, north of Chattaroy.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Warrants sealed in Deer Park murder

A judge has sealed search warrants regarding a possible person of interest in the murder of a Deer Park mother of five.

Warrants filed this week in Spokane County Superior Court are sealed for at least 30 days because of what prosecutors, detectives and Judge Greg Sypolt say is a “substantial threat to effective law enforcement” and “in order to protect suspect's right to a fair trial.”

Chanin Starbuck, 42, (pictured) was found dead in her home at 509 N. Reiper St. Dec. 3 at about 8:30 a.m. after family members who hadn't heard from her in several days requested that deputies check on her. An autopsy concluded she died of strangulation.

Detectives have seized Starbuck's cellphone and computers, as well as Internet routing data, trying to re-create her last days.

Starbuck is recently divorced. Her ex-husband, Clay Starbuck, contacted deputies the day before her body was discovered them to told deputies that his ex-wife sent him a text message two days before her body was discovered asking him to pick up their children from school, according to court documents. Starbuck told deputies “that Chanin had been online dating and been on numerous dates,” documents say.

Past coverage:

Dec. 7: Public's help sought in Deer Park homicide investigation
  

Tucker disputes recall effort’s claims

Prosecutor Steve Tucker said Tuesday that he sees nothing in a petition to recall him except “rumors and hearsay, and ‘facts’ that are not true.”

 The petition for a recall election was organized by Shannon Sullivan, who led the successful recall drive against Spokane Mayor Jim West in 2005.

Read the rest of John Craig's story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 1: Recall effort targets Prosecutor Steve Tucker

UPS driver, neighbors help ID suspects

A UPS driver and two watchful residents helped police identify two suspects in a burglary this week.

The driver and a neighbor in the 12500 block of South Madison Road on Monday spotted two men at a home acting suspicious. The men drove away in a tan minivan after realizing they'd been spotted, accoridng to a news release.

The witnesses provided their descriptions and the van's license plate number to the homeowner, who called Crime Check after discovering his garage had been burglarized. Another resident in the 12300 block of East Dishman Mica Road reported a surveillance camera stolen from his fence and provided the getaway minivan's license plate to Crime Check.

Spokane County sheriff's Detective Bob Sola and Deputy Brent Garrett on Tuesday identified Devynn J. Whitman, 19 and Kory A. Tolefson, 20, as suspects on Tuesday.

They were booked into jail on charges of second-degree burglary and second-degree theft. Detectives returned property stolen in the burglary to the victim, but the stolen surveillance camera has not yet been located.

In the release, Sola called the arrests “a great example of alert citizens working together with the Sheriff’s Office to solve crime.”
  

Cops: Man’s Facebook post is evidence

This is a screen shot of a video vehicle prowling suspect Nathan Calvert posted on his Facebook page. View the video here.

Spokane Valley police say a video posted by a car prowling suspect on his Facebook page that features suspected stolen loot will be used as evidence against him.

“It'd be kind of silly for us not to,” said Sgt. John Nowels.

The video, posted two days before his arrest, shows Nathan John Calvert in a vehicle he describes as a Jeep. He focused on a large amount of property in the back and passenger seat and said he hasn’t “really figured out what I’m going to do yet.”

Police believe it's the same stolen Jeep that contained about 100 items of stolen property when Calvert, 28, was arrested Friday after an attorney caught him in his truck and held him until police arrived. Police also suspect Calvert used stolen equipment to film and post the video, which they learned of from The Spokesman-Review.

A woman who identified herself as the mother of Calvert's son commented on the video, criticizing Calvert and accusing him of giving their son a stolen bike.

Nowels said that comment prompted detectives to track the bike to the woman's mother, who said she suspected it was stolen.

“We do have a bike we know got stolen by him that he wouldn't tell us what he did with,” Nowels said. “Turns out it's a totally different bike.”

But detectives haven't found a police report that mentions the bike.

“We can't really go take it until we know it's stolen or not,” Nowels said.

Valley police have posted photos of the unclaimed stolen goods on the department's Facebook page. Calvert told detectives he committed 30 to 40 vehicle prowlings and garage burglaries a night for two to three weeks.

He's in jail on new felony charges and a Washington Department of Corrections probation hold and is due in Superior Court this afternoon on charges of residential burglary, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, vehicle prowling and three counts of second-degree theft.

Jail employees have not responded to a request to interview Calvert.

Tips sought on woman with stolen ID

Spokane County sheriff's detectives are asking for help identifying a woman pictured in these store surveillance photos. 

Police believe the same woman on Nov. 21 used a passport stolen in a vehicle prowling to pawn two rifles stolen in a burglary on Nov. 20.

Anyone with information on the woman's identity is asked to call sheriff's Detective Dan Spivey at (509) 477-6376 or Spokane police Detective Lonnie Tofsrud at (509) 625-4221.

Fugitive since Feb. jailed on $50k bond

A woman who lives as a man and grows a beard as a symbol of her activism for human rights is back in jail after being wanted on a felony warrant since February.

Paula K. Reynolds-Eblacas, 45, alias Joseph Muhammad, was ordered to stay in jail on $50,000 bond after appearing before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price Tuesday on a third-degree assault charge.

The charge stems from an incident in July 2009 in which Reynolds-Eblacas allegedly assaulted a Spokane police officer who was trying to transport her to a hospital for a mental evaluation.

The officer “felt the pressure of Paula squeezing her fist and he thrust his hips away from her hand to break free,” according to a probable cause affidavit. “The defendant said, 'I was trying to grab your pant leg and your body got in the way.”

Reynolds-Eblacas' attorney withdrew earlier this month - the third attorney withdrawal since the case began - and she is representing herself. Price set a stay hearing for Dec. 30 to inquire about her competency to stand trial, though she already was ruled competent earlier this year.

Reynolds-Eblacas entered an Alford plea in 2006 to a charge of violating a protection order after a woman said she tried to end a friendship with her but was inundated with phone calls and others contacts.

Trial begins in man’s shooting death

The trial began Tuesday of a Spokane man who pleaded guilty to a Hillyard slaying in 2007 but was allowed to withdraw the plea after a mistake was made on his sentencing paperwork.

 Michael D. Coombes, 31, faces a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the Aug. 31, 2007, slaying of 53-year-old William “Red” Nichols, whose body was found near Beacon Hill.

Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Garvin said in court that Coombes told several people, including two Spokane police detectives, he shot Nichols in the head. Coombes is also charged with tampering with a witness and intimidating a witness.

“We will prove motive, means, opportunity and many confessions by Mr. Coombes,” Garvin said.

But defense attorney Jeff Compton told the jury that all of the witnesses who incriminated Coombes did so only when police threatened them with arrest.

“You are going into a world where you see people every day who are drunk or under the influence of drugs,” Compton said. “Keep an open mind.”

The intimidating-a-witness charge came after inmate Tevan Williams shared a cell with Coombes for about a week, Compton said. Williams claimed that Coombes admitted killing Nichols and asked Williams to tell a key witness to say he made up the allegations against Coombes.

“That statement rests solely on someone who has convictions for dishonesty, and he did it to get a deal,” Compton said.

Coombes earlier pleaded guilty to the killing, but his sentencing paperwork contained a mistake – a box that wasn’t checked. As a result, appellate judges returned the case to Spokane County Superior Court, and Coombes withdrew his guilty plea, Garvin said.

Past coverage:

Oct. 4: Witness tampering alleged before murder trial


  

Suspect named in Spokane man’s murder

Missoula police say a gang member from Washington state is a suspect in the June beating death of a Spokane man.

A nationwide extradition warrant with a $250,000 bond was issued Tuesday for David Sekou Hylton, 39, of Tacoma, Wash.

Hylton (pictured) wanted on suspicion of deliberate homicide in the death of Angelo Lorenzo Fuentes, 41, who traveled to Missoula from Spokane to attend a concert.

A coroner's report said Fuentes died of blunt force trauma to the head. He was found outside the Elks Lodge during a hip-hop show there.

The incident led to a felony warrant being issued for his nephew, Stafone Fuentes, after his unauthorized trip out of the state was publicized because he was arrested at the hospital where his uncle was pronounced dead.

Coincidentally, the concert tour featured rapper John “Lil Danger” Castro, who was arrested for second-degree murder for allegedly shooting another rapper to death at a Spokane hotel Nov. 27.

Stafone Fuentes was at the hotel and involved in the fight that led to the shooting, according to court documents.

Police say Hylton was last known to be in the Tacoma/Spanaway area but has ties to the Missoula area. Anyone with information on Hylton's location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 406-721-4444. Tipsters can remains anonymous and get a reward of up to $1,000.

Man shot in CdA in ‘09 sues lawyer

A Moses Lake man who was shot by a Coeur d'Alene businessman nearly two years ago in what a grand jury ruled was self defense is suing his civil attorney for malpractice.

Brandon R. Burgess alleges Spokane lawyer Lloyd Herman directed him to speak with a bankruptcy attorney to determine whether they needed to file a claim in bankruptcy court after Adam M. Johnson filed for bankruptcy.

Burgess said his father responded that the procedure would not discharge their claim, and Herman responded by not filing an adversarial proceeding against Johnson.

Herman says that's not true - he always told Burgess he needed to file a claim in bankruptcy court, but Burgess took the wrong advice.

“I never put him in touch with any bankruptcy lawyer. he told me he had a bankruptcy lawyer,” Herman said. “Instead of suing him he sued me”

Burgess is seeking damages to cover his medical expenses and others costs associated with the shooting. He had been seeking money from Johnson before his claim was dismissed because of the procedural error.

Herman said it's unlikely Burgess ever would have recovered civil damages after a grand jury rejected criminal charges against Johnson.

“The likelihood of them ever recovering once the state didn't charge him with a crime is slim or none,” Herman said.

Johnson was arrested on drug charges in Post Falls in April. He pleaded guilty to possession of heroin in November and is to be sentenced in January. The plea deal, which dropped a drug paraphernalia charge, calls for him to serve time in a local jail.

2nd trial ending in fatal bomb explosion

Closing arguments are underway in the second trial of a man charged in the explosion of a homemade bomb that killed a Chattaroy man.

Christapher A. Harris, 20, (pictured) is charged with manslaughter for the Nov. 6, 2010, explosion that killed Cody R. Hathaway, 28, outside a family costume party.

A jury in September voted 9-3 to acquit Harris of the charge, but verdicts must be unanimous. The jury did convict co-defendant James J. Crouchman and Harris of possession of an explosive device and Harris of possession of a stolen firearm.

Crouchman's second trial for second-degree manslaughter is scheduled for Dec. 27, but he is expected to instead plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

The bomb was one of several Harris brought to the party at the invite of Crouchman, who lit one of the devices. Hathaway approached the device and it exploded, sending a piece of metal into his neck that severed arteries and killed him.

Harris was arrested after ditching bomb-making material in Idaho. He's been out of jail for his trials.

Past coverage:

Feb. 28: Manslaughter charges filed over deadly explosion

Nov. 8, 2010: Man killed in explosion outside party ID'd

Man accused of leading organized crime

 Spokane man has been charged with leading organized crime for an alleged counterfeit check operation.

Henry Patrick Bevans III, 28, pleaded not guilty today to the felony charge in Spokane County Superior Court where he was sentenced in October to a year in jail for drug and escape from community custody charges.

The investigation by U.S. Postal Inspector Shannon Saylor, a member of the Financial Crimes Task Force, began when a Jiffy Lube corporate employee reported to police in October 2010 that someone had used the business' Banner Bank account to manufacture counterfeit payroll checks.

The checks, between $487 and $2,230, were cashed at locations in Spokane and Spokane Valley. But the business notified police when the checks were returned as counterfeit. In November 2010, police arrested Bevans on a felony warrant at 2820 N. Cherry and, along with methamphetamine, found items related to the counterfeit check operation after obtaining a search warrant.

According to court documents, Bevans told police in January that he helped find people to cash checks for Ronald R. Foreman, who also is charged with leading organized crime. Bevans said a lot of people owed him money for drug debt. (Bevans was arrested again in March after a feed store employee noted his lack of teeth when he purchased two pounds of a substance commonly used to cut methamphetamine.)

Leading organized crime charge can carry 10 to 15 years in prison. The charge alleges a defendant directed three or more people to participate in criminal activity. Bevans is accused of directing eight people to cash the counterfeit checks, according to court documents.

Facing theft and/or forgery charges are Artem G. Kuznetsov, 20; Jenelle L. Cuculich, 25; Charles E. Spetter, 47; Jessica R. Edie, 24; Jeremy L. Cronk, 27; Jayde M. Hines, 26; Ryan L. McDowell, 25; and Erin R. Fredrick, 23.

Process servers walk in on assault

Two process servers arrived at a Colbert-area home Sunday to find the door kicked in and an assault in progress, police say.

Spokane County sheriff's deputies arrested Jeffrey Lee Cox, 25, and Brandon Justin Fitzgerald, 21, on first-degree burglary and fourth-degree assault charges.

A couple who went to the home at 803 E. Silver Pine Road to serve papers to the victim said he saw the men exit the home and leave in a white Ford Expedition.

The victim suffered injuries to his face, according to police.

Cox and Fitzgerald were released from jail on their own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court on Monday.

Lawyer nabs suspected car prowler

This is just a portion of the stolen property recovered after the arrest of Nathan Calvert. More photos are available on the Valley police Facebook page.

Police say a man who prowled at least 30 cars a night throughout Spokane County picked the wrong truck in the Valley recently.

 Spokane lawyer Brant Stevens caught up with suspect Nathan John Calvert, 28, after spotting him inside his unlocked truck early Friday in the 1500 block of North Coach Drive, then held him until officers arrived.

“He’d fight for a little bit and then he’d get tired and then he’d stop and he’d try to talk me into letting him up,” Stevens said. “It was kind of an awkward 20 minutes where I’m just laying on the guy waiting for the cops to show up.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Guild donates to theft-stricken charity

The Spokane Police Guild will donate $500 to the Wishing Star Foundation after burglaries left sick children without Christmas presents.

The donation is one of many the nonprofit organization has accepted since news of $1,000 in items stolen in two burglaries was reported last week at its office at 139 S. Sherman St. Stolen gifts included those meant for a four-year-old cancer patient whose home was burglarized in the Tri-Cities.

Certified Security Systems of Spokane Valley is donating a security system, and cash donations have enabled the organization to replace all lost items and then some, said Paula Nordgaarden, Wishing Star's executive director.

“Our community is so wonderful,” Nordgaarden said. “This outpouring, it was overwhelming.”

Nordgaarden said all families on the organization's waiting list will be taken care of this Christmas, and she expects to have about $15,000 leftover for next year.

“We want to thank everybody. Just a huge thank you from Wishing Star,” Nordgaarden said.

Stolen car recovered 20 minutes later

Spokane police are reminding motorists not to leave their running cars unattended after a vehicle was stolen this morning.

The victim said the car was left warming up in front of their home in the 1500 block of West Carlisle Avenue when it was stolen about 6:30 a.m.

An officer spotted the vehicle in the Shadle Park Walmart parking lot about 20 minutes later and arrested Dustin Richard Burrows, 31, (pictured) on a charge of possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Police say it's OK to warm up a vehicle on private property, but running vehicles left unattended on the street can garner a fine of $124. They also are frequently stolen.

“Car thieves are most active in the early mornings, especially when cars are warming up,” according to a news release by Officer Ryan Snider. “Police ask that you sit in the vehicle while it is warming up to prevent it from being stolen.”

Burrows was sentenced in Spokane County Superior Court just three weeks ago to drug treatment for a felony controlled substance charge, according to court records.

$200k patio claim leads to fraud charge

A Spokane businessman has been charged with insurance fraud and attempted theft after officials say a snow-damaged patio cover worth about $4,000 mushroomed into a nearly $200,000 claim.

Keith R. Scribner, 47, pleaded not guilty Monday in Spokane County Superior Court on one count of insurance fraud and one count of attempted theft. He is represented by Carl Oreskovich.

Scribner's mother, Marilyn Warsinske, filed a claim to replace the patio with Liberty Mutual insurance in July 2009, according to the Office of the Washington State Insurance Commissioner.

Scribner sent the insurance company three bids between $195,586 to $213,815 to replace the cover and said no photos existed of the home prior to the damage, and that the home was never appraised, officials say.

But a claims handler discovered an aerial photo of the home on a real estate website that showed a much smaller patio cover than Scribner claimed. Investigators discovered Scribner had discussed plans to replace the deck in 2008 with bids at $3,913 and $4,782, leading to the felony charges.

Murder suspects due in court today

A Spokane couple arrested after a fatal shooting Thursday is due in court this afternoon.

David C. McLaughlin, 21, (pictured) and his girlfriend, Melinda R. Barrera, 31, are to appear in Spokane County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. via video from the jail, where they were booked about 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

The victim's name has not been released.

Police believe Barrera shot the man in the chest after McLaughlin assaulted him. Read more here.

McLaughlin and Barrera do not appear to have criminal records in Washington state, but McLaughlin was convicted of misdemeanor theft in Nez Perce County in August 2010. He was sentenced to 16 days in jail.

Botched butt injections lead to charges

By EMERY P. DALESIO, Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A woman on probation for performing buttocks-enhancing injections that left three women with kidney failure in 2008 has been charged with allegedly injecting an exotic dancer's backside with a disfiguring potion, sheriff's deputies said Thursday.

 Lauretta Cheek, 42, of Greensboro was arrested Wednesday and charged with one misdemeanor count of practicing medicine without a license, Guilford County Sheriff's Det. Craig Cotten said. Cheek was released on a written promise to appear in court.

She did not have a listed telephone and Cotten did not know if she had an attorney.

The victim was an exotic dancer from Charlotte who wanted to augment her assets and met Cheek in a hotel room for the injection last year, Cotten said. Cheek's price was about $500, but the unknown substance sent the victim to hospital emergency rooms twice, Cotten said.

“It appears that the substance that was injected into her basically burned its way back out,” the detective said. “It's not just one big spot. Being a liquid or gel-type of material, it kind of went in different directions and obviously got infected and left pretty significant scarring.”

Cotten said he has found no connection to a Florida case last month in which state health officials said several women seeking curvier bottoms were injected with a toxic concoction of cement, superglue and flat-tire sealant.

That case is one of several in the past two years in which back-room providers promised cut-rate augmentations that would cost thousands of dollars at a legal clinic.

A Yonkers, N.Y., woman was convicted last month of criminally negligent homicide after a Bronx woman died in 2009 after receiving numerous silicone injections in her buttocks and thigh. A Colombian husband and wife were sentenced to prison in October for leaving a Las Vegas woman to die after botching her buttocks enhancement procedure in a tile store back room. A London woman died in February after receiving injections to enlarge her buttocks in Philadelphia.

“From what I'm told, the folks that are in this business, the money is very good so it's hard to get away from,” Cotten said.

Cheek was on probation after pleading guilty to forgery in a case involving buttocks-enhancing injections that left three women with kidney failure. The injections were later determined to most likely contain types of infertility drugs. Cheek closed the spa she owned and promised as part of a plea deal that she would not dabble in medical procedures.

Mistaken jail release cited in murder spree

AP Enterprise: Rules ignored in Craigslist case
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, AP Legal Affairs Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Texas parolee now suspected in a deadly Craigslist robbery scheme was mistakenly released from Ohio custody last summer not once but twice.

 Richard Beasley, 52, should never have been released from the county jail in Akron, where he was being held on drug charges this summer, said Texas officials and the head of a national commission that oversees prisoner-transfer rules.

The brother of a victim whose body was found last month called Beasley's release tragic. Ohio is now investigating what went wrong, an inquiry that state officials called unprecedented.

Authorities say they are planning to charge Beasley with killing three men and wounding a fourth between August and November.

Yet Beasley left jail on bond July 13, was rearrested July 14 after a traffic stop, then let go again despite the existence of Texas warrants asking he be kept in custody, according to interviews and records reviewed by The Associated Press.

“He shouldn't have been released either time,” said Harry Hageman, executive director of the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision, which oversees rules that have the force of federal law.

“Because there was a warrant from Texas, there's no bond, regardless of the arrest or defense,” he said.

The regulation for bail that governs inmates wanted by another state is clear, according to commission rules: “An offender against whom retaking procedures have been instituted by a sending or receiving state shall not be admitted to bail or other release conditions in any state.”

Ohio has begun an investigation into Beasley's release, the first such review that the head of Ohio's interstate parole council can recall.

“It seems to be a case that warrants the attention of the Ohio council,” Sarah Andrews, chairman of the Ohio Council for Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, told the AP.

Less than a month after Beasley was released from Summit County Jail for the second time, on July 15, a previously homeless Akron man was shot in the head in in rural southeastern Ohio.

Authorities discovered the body of Ralph Geiger more than three months later, on Nov. 25, as they investigated the deaths of two men and the wounding of a third who answered a phony Craigslist ad for work on a cattle farm.

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

Ohio homeowner hogties burglar

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio sheriff says he doesn't plan to pursue charges against a homeowner who subdued and hogtied a burglar.

Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly tells WBNS-TV the homeowner had a right to protect his property and himself. Kelly says that's what authorities believe the homeowner did last week when he chased the burglar and tied up the man's hands and feet.

Kelly says when deputies arrived to investigate the theft at the southeast Ohio home, they found the suspect restrained in the back of the homeowner's car. He says the homeowner recognized the robber and went to his residence to subdue him.

Homeowner William Stanley tells the television station his video game systems were taken earlier Dec. 1, and he later found the man in his home.

Mall robbery suspect arrested at Costco

Police say a man who stole a pair of shoes at knifepoint from the Northtown Mall on Wednesday had asked the store employee for help with his out-of-gas car just before the robbery.

 The employee helped the man pushed his Red Dodge Ram pickup into a parking spot, only to be threatened 30 minutes later after confronting him for stealing a pair of shoes from Champs Sports, police say.

Police identified Jason M. Giles, 33, (pictured) as a suspect on Thursday after he was arrested in a similar robbery at Costco, 7619 N. Division St.

A Costco employee confronted Giles about 4:45 p.m. after observing him hide merchandise in his coat and try to leave the store. Giles punched the employee and bit another employee before pulling a knife and trying to stab another, according to court documents prepared by police.

Giles was arrested on charges of first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and possession of methamphetamine. Detectives met with him at the jail and booked him on an additional robbery charge for the Champs Sports incident.

Giles appeared in Spokane County Superior Court via video from the jail, where he remains on $50,000 bond and a probation hold. He has a previous conviction for second-degree assault for a shooting in 2009.

Ex-bank manager admits $400k theft

A North Idaho woman who embezzled from the bank she worked at for more than a decade has been ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution.

Mary A. Head, 58, pleaded guilty Wednesday to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution.

Head faces up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and five years of probation when she's sentenced Feb. 27 by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Coeur d'Alene. She is not in custody.

Head worked at Bank of America, 162 W. Hayden Ave. in Hayden Lake, from 1993 to 2009 and was the assistant branch manager and banking center manager.

In 1997 she was given control of the ATM and charged with balancing the machine on a regular basis. That's when she started taking money from the ATM “and used it for a variety of purposes,” according to a grand jury indictment filed in March.

In September 2009, Head's control over the ATM changed because the bank installed a new imaging machine. Three months later, she was confronted about discrepancies in the books, records and ATM statements and admitted embezzling money.

Woman wanted for attempted murder

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for a teenager accused of attempted murder for a knife assault at a party.

Kiana M. Murphy, who turned 18 two days before the Oct. 30 incident, allegedly stabbed a teen boy twice in the stomach during an argument about gang affiliations, according to court documents.

Murphy chased the boy through the home at 1807 W. Spofford Ave. before he escaped through a bedroom window. When the boy returned, Murphy stabbed him twice in the stomach, police and prosecutors allege.

The victim required surgery but is recovering and identified Murphy as a suspect through her Facebook page. A witness told police Murphy said the victim was “going to…die” when he turned to the residence, documents say.

Murphy is charged with attempted first-degree murder, with first-degree assault as an alternate charge.

She was convicted last month of violating her juvenile probation after being convicted as an juvenile in connection with a wild fight involving a suspect's ex-boyfriend at 1735 W. Boone Ave. in March.

Murphy last gave an address in the 200 block of East Wedgewood Avenue. Anyone with information on her current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Tipsters don't have to give their name to collect a reward but should provide a code name or number.

Confessed killer sentenced to 18 years

A young Spokane man who murdered his 56-year-old roommate and torched the home about a year ago will spend 18 years in prison.

 Ryan D. Corkery, 28, was sentenced Friday in Spokane County Superior Court to 216 months in prison for second-degree murder and first-degree arson. He's been in jail since October 2010 after police found the body of William F. Hanel in his burning home at 12036 S. Player Drive.

Corkery, who was identified by Hanel’s friends as his boyfriend, said he killed Hanel because Hanel molested him and a relative, according to previous reports He and codefendant Mark A. Hoffman returned days later to burn the home.

Hoffman was sentenced in January to six months in jail for first-degree rendering criminal assistance and residential burglary. Charges against a third man, Eric Andersen, were dismissed.

Corkery was originally charged with first-degree murder, but the charge was reduced in a plea deal. A friend said Hanel graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in the 1970s and had worked as a transmission repairman. His father, L. Warden Hanel, was a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Spokane.

Charge: Soldier took child porn to Kuwait

A soldier is accused of transporting child pornography from Spokane to Kuwait while on duty with the military.

Jason D. Talbott, 33, pleaded not guilty today to four child pornography charges in U.S. District Court in Spokane. He was allowed to stay out of jail awaiting trial and will reside in Denver, Colo., where he is stationed with the military, according to court documents.

A federal grand jury indicted Talbott Nov. 16 on charges of receipt, possession, distribution and transportation of child pornography, as well as a forfeiture charge that calls for him to relinquish a computer, an external hard drive and a digital book reader.

The charges allege Talbott receiving child pornography in Spokane Valley between June 21, 2005, and April 21, 2009, and possessing the material until March 16. He's accused of distributing the pornography between August 2010 and November 2010, and of transporting a computer with explicit images on it to Kuwait in December 2010.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Talbott's release conditions require him to stay away from minors unless another adult is present. He's prohibited from accessing the Internet unless he's required to do so by the military.

According to the Daily Mail, Talbott was identified by federal authorities after he contacted a fake website that advertised children for sex. The website was an undercover Internet sting operation designed by the Department of Homeland Security but has since been shutdown, the newspaper reports.

Cop arraigned in road rage gun case

A Portland police captain accused of brandishing a gun during a road rage incident on Interstate 90 in Post Falls acted arrogantly to state troopers as if he thought “I'm a cop and it's no big deal,” according to a police report recently unsealed in Kootenai County.

Todd Loren Wyatt, 43, pleaded not guilty Friday through his attorney in Kootenai County District Court to exhibition of a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor, for the alleged incident on Aug. 13. Trial is scheduled for Feb. 6.

A 20-year police veteran, Wyatt was off duty when he was stopped on I-90 at the Freya Street exit in Spokane by Washington State Patrol troopers after his alleged victim called from the Post Falls area stayed on the phone with dispatchers describing Wyatt's blue Ford F-150.

WSP Trooper Greg Birkeland said Wyatt asked to speak to him away from his wife and children, and Birkeland asked “what difference it would make talking in front of them compared to his prior actions in front of them,” according to the report.

“Mr. Wyatt's response to him was, 'All right, I hear your attitude,'” according to the report. “Trooper Birkeland said he thought Mr. Wyatt showed lack of common sense and good judgment. He was arrogant and cocky and played the situation down, not realizing the severity of what he had done.”

Another trooper told investigators he thought Watt's attitude was that of “I'm a cop and it's no big deal,” according to the report.

Wyatt's lawyer, Gary Amendola, said Wyatt disputes the charge..

“I'll tell you right now, Capt. Wyatt did not point his gun at anyone,” Amendola said. Amendola said Wyatt was “concerned for the safety of his family” because the alleged victim appeared to be trying to cause a crash.

Wyatt, who was with his wife, 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, when he was stopped in August told troopers there was a road rage incident “and he did in fact display his weapon in a holster along with his service badge,” according to an Idaho State Police report. “It was reported the gun was never pointed at the reporting party.”

Wyatt's wife told troopers she thought “those people were going to kill us.”

Wyatt was not arrested. He was removed from his position as head of the Portland Police Bureau traffic division when the investigation opened and was placed on paid administrative leave after he was formally charged last month, The Oregonian reports.

The alleged victim, Nicholas James Cox, 28, told police he was driving westbound on Interstate 90 behind Wyatt's Oregon-plated pickup when he passed the pickup because it was driving slowly.

Cox said the pickup started tailgating and trying to pull up beside him before the driver pointed a gun at Cox and his wife.

“Mr. Cox said he did not wish to pursue charges but wanted the driver to be aware of the seriousness of the offense,” according to the report. But Cox later changed his mind. He told police he'd spoken with his father-in-law, who is retired from the Seattle Police Department, and realized the severity of the incident.

“Mr. Cox told me he could not drive past where the incident happened without getting a sick feeling in his stomach,” according to the report, prepared by Idaho State Police Trooper Kevin White. “He also said when he sees a pickup that looks like the one the suspect was driving, he gets nervous until he sees the state of the plate.”

“Mr. Cox said when he first saw the pickup tailgating, he thought it was just some crazy guy,”  the report continues. “When he saw the pistol, he knew it was more than some crazy guy.”

Wyatt was on vacation from the Portland Police Bureau when the incident occurred.

Wyatt told police Cox was driving his Honda dangerously and appeared to be trying to cause a crash after passing him.

Wyatt said the driver and passenger “were young and possibly gang members” and he showed them his police badge in hopes they would leave him alone. When they didn't, he held up his holstered gun behind his badge, according to a report.

“He indicated once the problem was solved and the Honda quit trying to cause a crash, he put his badge and gun away,” according to the report.

Theft turns to robbery at Northtown Mall

Police are looking for a man who pulled a knife on a shoe store employee Tuesday night at the Northtown Mall.

The manager at Champs Sports told officers the man tried on a pair of shoes, then left without paying and threatened the manager with a knife when confronted, according to the Spokane Police Department. No one was injured.

The man ran through the mall and exited on the east side, then continued running east.

A K-9 track was unsuccessful. The robber is described as a white man, 20 to 30 years old, 6-feet tall and 180 pounds. He wore a blue coat over a dark hoodie and a stocking cap.

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

Autopsy: Mother of 5 was strangled

A mother of five found dead in her Deer Park home on Saturday was strangled, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.

An autopsy concluded Chanin Starbuck, 42, was a victim of homicide, a medical examiner’s office employee said Tuesday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Judge denies request to talk to jurors

A judge has denied a request by former Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson’s attorney’s to interview the jurors who convicted him last month of two felonies in connection with the 2006 death of Otto Zehm.

U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle said in a 10-page order filed Tuesday that no evidence exists to support the request, which lawyers Carl Oreskovich and Courtney Garcea said was essential to their preparations for a request for a new trial.

“The Court repeatedly instructed jurors to ignore media accounts of the trial,” Van Sickle wrote. “Thus, to the extent jurors were exposed to such accounts, the Court is satisfied they ignored them.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Suspect arrested in Manito burglaries

Police on Tuesday released this photo of burglary suspect Nathan D. Moore's Toyota 4Runner.

Spokane police have arrested a suspect in a series of burglaries on the South Hill.

Nathan Daniel Moore, 30, was ordered Tuesday to stay in jail  on $20,000 bail for a residential burglary charge after being booked Monday afternoon.

Police believe Moore is the same man seen on surveillance video using a Starbucks card in Airway Heights that was stolen in one of the burglaries, many of which occurred as residents were sleeping.

Read the rest of my story here.

Citizen stops cop’s suspected assailant

A citizen helped a Spokane police officer in a struggle with a wanted felon outside a grocery store recently.

Retiree Dennis Greer will be nominated for a chief's citizen award for helping Officer Nick Geren apprehend Timothy Alan Williams, 46, outside Fred Meyer at Freya Avenue and Thor Street last month, police said today. 

Williams (pictured left) pleaded not guilty to a second-degree assault charge today in Spokane County Superior Court for the fight, which left Geren with a dislocated thumb (pictured right). Geren is not working patrol but helped the Patrol Anti-Crime Team identify a suspect in the South Hill burglaries through burglary report analysis and other desk work, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department. 

Geren was in the area of 5th Avenue and Thor Nov. 20 about 9 p.m. when he recognized a car driven by Williams, whom he knew was wanted on felony warrants.

Geren tried to arrest Williams after he pulled into a parking spot at the store, but Williams struggled, according to court documents.

Greer said today that he had pulled into the lot with his wife when he saw the fight. He realized Geren (pictured left) was a police officer and got out to help, despite his wife's pleas to stay back. 

“I finally broke away from my wife and I went up and got on top of the guy and basically took his arm and brought it up a ways,” Greer said. “I was trying to figure out how to open (the handcuffs) up when the rest of the police got there and they took over.

“I was afraid that the guy was going to get away if I didn't intervene,” Greer continued.

Williams is a convicted felon who also faces a new felony charge of attempt to elude police for an alleged chase with a sheriff's deputy on Sept. 23.

He was wanted for violating his probation through the Department of Corrections for a second-degree robbery conviction.

100 lbs of meth, $20k seized at border

About 100 pounds of methamphetamine and $20,000 was found near the Canadian border on Sunday. 

Border patrol agents found the drugs and cash in three backpacks and a duffel bag in a field at the border just west of the Danville port of entry.

The seizures “were the result of effective tactical planning and utilization of advanced surveillance technology,” according to a news release.

“This seizure is yet another example of the good work exercised daily by our highly trained Border Patrol Agents,” said Gloria Chavez, chief of the Spokane Border Patrol Sector. “Our surveillance and tactical coordination capabilities played a pivotal role in the discovery and seizure of the cash and illicit contraband.”

No other details were available. The Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating.

The seizure rivals the discovery of 310 pounds of Ecstasy near the border in October 2010.

Murder suspect’s jail love letters seized

A murder suspect's jailhouse courtship of a young Spokane woman may be helping detectives bolster their case against him.

Detectives recently obtained a letter Taylor J. Wolf, 20, (right) mailed to Alannah Dobberstein after learning Dobberstein was questioning Wolf about his involvement in the murder of 22-year-old Nicholas J. Thoreson.

 Dobberstein wrote Wolf a letter last month indicating the two “are involved in a romantic-type relationship with a desire on the part of both that it become a long-term relationship,” according to the search warrant. Wolf told Dobberstein about his role in the murder, but Dobberstein recently obtained other information and “has concerns that he has not been entirely truthful with her about the extent of his involvement.”

Dobberstein told Wolf that if he “really loves her and wants to be with her for the rest of their lives as he has said, he needs to tell her everything,” according to the warrant. “She goes on to promise that if he were to write it in a letter, nobody would know but her.”

Detectives obtained that letter and Wolf's response on Thursday. They have not revealed the contents of Wolf's response but emphasized in the search warrant that Wolf “has shown a propensity to talk freely about his involvement in this murder with others.”

Detectives say Wolf made incriminating statements to Britney Bjork just after his arrest in April, leading them to investigate her for rendering criminal assistance and arson.

Wolf is charged with his ex-girlfriend, Breeanna C. Sims, 20; and her brother, Justice E.D. Sims, 19; with aggravated first-degree murder, among other charges, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

The suspects are accused of torturing and shooting Thoreson (left) before stuffing his body in the trunk of Ford Thunderbird and setting it on fire on Forker Road.

Hate crime alleged in attack on gay teen

Two teenage boys are accused of damaging a Spokane Valley teenager's property because he is gay.

Andrey A. Babakov, 17; and Svitoslav A. Liashedko, 16; pleaded not guilty Monday to first-degree burglary, second-degree theft and malicious harassment - a hate crime - for an alleged attack Nov. 6 at an apartment at 13303 E. Mission Ave.

The teens are accused of breaking into the apartment and stealing an iPod and laptop computer. Svitoslav told deputies they assaulted the victim because he is gay, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies saw blood inside and outside the victim's home, as well as blood on his face, nose, neck and clothes. The boy told deputies Babakov and Liashedko assaulted him because he got his ears pierced and “no Russian should pierce their ears,” according to court documents.

The boys were charged as adults in Spokane County Superior Court. The newspaper does not identify juveniles unless they are charged as adults with serious felonies.

Neither suspect is in custody. Trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 27.

Police seek man in South Hill burglaries

The Spokane Police Department is asking for assistance identifying a suspect in the recent South Hill residential burglaries. 

At least ten burglaries took place over the course of the three days leading up to Nov. 25. The homes were within the 2100 block to the 3700 block of South Manito Boulevard.

Purses were the most common item stolen, police said, and the burglaries occurred while residents were asleep.

Anyone with information regarding the burglaries or who feels they may have been a victim should call Crime Check at 456-2233. 

4 arrested in SWAT standoff w/ gas, K-9

Get Adobe Flash player

 

Four people were arrested after police pumped tear gas and released a K-9 into a north side apartment this morning during a six-hour SWAT team standoff.

A Spokane police dog, Stryder, entered the apartment before police and fought with robbery suspect Bobby S. Decaney, 35, until officers took Decaney into custody. Also arrested were Maceo L. Williams, 27; Michael J. Hall, 25; and Nicole M. Coffey, 27.

Police were looking for Decaney and Williams on suspicion of robbery and assault for a mugging Thursday evening.

Officers had contacted a 22-year-old woman at Providence Sacred Heart Hospital about 8:45 p.m. and learned she’d been choked unconscious and robbed by three people in the 1300 block of Southeast Boulevard. She knocked on a nearby door and was helped by the homeowner.

Descriptions of the attackers and their vehicle led police to Decaney’s apartment at 13110 N. Addison, where Officer Cory Lyons located the suspect vehicle, which contained some of the victim’s property.

Lyons and Officers Ron Van Tassel, Chris Douville and Reserve Officer Gobble tried to contact Decaney and Maceo about 2:30 a.m., but they refused to come out and the gang unit and SWAT team were called to assist.

Neighboring apartments were evacuated. Police described apartment managers as “extremely helpful” and said they helped find shelter for misplaced tenants and provided a warm place for a police command center. The tear gas and dog were released about 9 a.m.

Hall and Coffey were arrested after refusing to surrender or cooperate with police.

Police are still investigating whether they were involved in the mugging, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Valley police target vehicle prowlers

Spokane Valley police are conducting vehicle prowling patrols as the Christmas season gets underway.

An emphasis Tuesday by the property crimes unit led to the arrest of Jeremiah K. Mileham, 21, who was booked into jail on charges of third-degree theft, vehicle prowling and driving while license suspended.

“The Spokane Valley Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone: items left in vehicles make targets of opportunity for thieves,” according to a news release by spokesman Deputy Mark Gregory. “As you shop, it’s better to keep your valuables with you and if you leave items in your vehicle, place them in the trunk where they can’t be seen.”

$100k bond for robbery, bomb suspect

A U.S. Marshal guides a dog around parked vehicles outside Banner Bank in downtown Spokane after a bomb threat by a robbery suspect Tuesday. (SRPhot/Dan Pelle)

A man accused of making a bomb threat while robbing a downtown Spokane bank on Tuesday remains in jail on $100,000 bond.

Shawn P. Hoffman, 31, handed a bank teller a note claiming he had a bomb that would detonate if she called police, according to court documents.

Hoffman also told Spokane police there was a bomb inside the bank and a man outside with a trigger who would detonate it if they went outside, documents allege, prompting road closures and evacuations.

Detective Paul Lebsock was near the bank when the robbery was reported and held Hoffman at gunpoint before taking him to the ground. Cash flew out of Hoffman's clothes during the take down, police say.

Even in interviews with FBI and police after his arrest, officials say, Hoffman continued to claim a bomb was in the bank, but a sweep turned up empty.

Hoffman appeared in Superior Court Thursday on charges of first-degree robbery and threats to bomb or harm property.

Davenport theft suspect convicted in La.

A man accused of stealing from the Davenport Hotel after being hired under a stolen identity has been sentenced in federal court in Louisiana for a similar scheme.

William Joseph Johnson Jr., 55, is to serve about five years in prison for charges related to a $77,000 fraud he perpetrated against a hotel chain based in Natchitoches, La., between October 2006 and January 2007.

He’s still wanted on a handful of felony charges in Spokane County for allegedly stealing from the Davenport after duping hotel administrators into hiring him as the financial controller.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 21, 2008: Man accused of ripping of Davenport Hotel

Tips sought on missing carry-on bag

Spokane International Airport police are seeking information regarding the identity of a woman in connection with a missing carry-on bag.

The pictured woman is not a suspect at this time, said Todd Woodard, director of public relations, and she could have picked up the bag by accident.

However, airport police would like to question her about the bag, which was reported missing by a customer about 10:30 p.m. Nov. 26.

Anyone with information regarding the identity of the woman shown in the photo is asked to contact the Airport Police Department at 455-6429.

Last month, police arrested three people on suspicion of stealing seven bags from the baggage claim area. Woodard said baggage theft is rare and that it was the first case in at least 10 years. 

Man sues hostages for breaking promise

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Can there be no trust between a kidnapper and his hostages?

A man who held a Kansas couple hostage in their home while fleeing from authorities is suing them, claiming they broke an oral contract made when he promised them money in exchange for hiding him from police. The couple has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Jesse Dimmick of suburban Denver is serving an 11-year sentence after bursting into Jared and Lindsay Rowley's Topeka-area home in September 2009. He was wanted for questioning in the beating death of a Colorado man and a chase had begun in in Geary County.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Dimmick filed a breach of contract suit in Shawnee County District Court, in response to a suit the Rowleys filed in September seeking $75,000 from him for intruding in their home and causing emotional stress.

Dimmick contends he told the couple he was being chased by someone, most likely the police, who wanted to kill him.

“I, the defendant, asked the Rowleys to hide me because I feared for my life. I offered the Rowleys an unspecified amount of money which they agreed upon, therefore forging a legally binding oral contract,” Dimmick said in his hand-written court documents. He wants $235,000, in part to pay for the hospital bills that resulted from him being shot by police when they arrested him.

Neighbors have said the couple fed Dimmick snacks and watched movies with him until he fell asleep and they were able to escape their home unharmed.

Dimmick was convicted in May 2010 of four felonies, including two counts of kidnapping. He was sentenced to 10 years and 11 months on those charges. He was later sent to a jail in Brighton, Colo., where he is being held on eight charges, including murder, in connection of with the killing of Michael Curtis in September 2009. A preliminary hearing originally scheduled for Dec. 6 has been rescheduled for April 12. No plea has been entered in the case.

Robert E. Keeshan, an attorney for the Rowleys, filed a motion denying there was a contract, but said if there was it would not have been binding anyway.

“In order for parties to form a binding contract, there must be a meeting of the minds on all essential terms, including and most specifically, an agreement on the price,” he wrote.

Keeshan said the contract also would have been invalid because the couple agreed to let Dimmick in the home only because they knew he had a knife and suspected he might have a gun.

Flying squirrel invades New Jersey E.R.

RAHWAY, N.J. (AP) — Firefighters were needed stat after a flying squirrel went nuts in a New Jersey hospital's emergency room.

The squirrel kept launching itself from an 8-foot-high wall-mounted lamp into a glass wall after becoming trapped in a trauma room at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rahway Tuesday night.

Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ted Padavano told The Star-Ledger of Newark (http://bit.ly/vxBiL0 ) it would climb up on a light and would jump off and glide.

A pair of firefighters threw a blanket over the squirrel and released it into a wooded area outside the hospital.

Padavano believes there may be a nest in the building because it's the second time in two weeks that a flying squirrel got in the ER.

Home remodeling turns up fake cash

TROY, Mich. (AP) — Police say a home remodeling project in suburban Detroit has turned up a stash of counterfeit cash.

The Detroit Free Press reports that police in Troy received a call Monday from the homeowner, who had lived in the house for more than a decade.

Police say the fake bills were hidden inside a wall. There's no word on how long it may have been there.

Police forwarded the counterfeit cash to the U.S. Secret Service.

Craigslist sales lead to 2 theft arrests

Spokane Valley police arrested two theft suspects this week after victims found their stolen items on Craigslist.

Dana R. McCauley, 40, is accused of stealing cameras from Wholesale Sports at the Spokane Valley Mall.

Employees told police Monday that a man stole five cameras worth $1,600 in the last week and a half, and that the cameras were being sold online. Spokane Valley police property crimes detectives arranged to buy one of the cameras from McCauley and arrested him on theft and trafficking stolen property charges.

On Tuesday, employees at USF Reddaway reported the theft of four or five flat-screen TVs from the business' loading docks in recent months. One of the TV was advertised on Craigslist by a relative of a contract security guard. The man said he didn't now of its stolen status.

The guard, Aaron D. Edvalson, 31, cooperated with detectives and confessed to stealing four televisions, according to police. He faces theft and stolen property charges.
  

Chief honors woman who tracked robber

Citizen Award recepient Carey Smith and Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. (Spokane Police Department photo)

A Spokane woman who helped police catch a bank robber last summer was honored today by Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. 

Carey Smith was driving north on North Monroe Street near West Dalke Avenue on July 20 when she saw a man running with orange powder coming from a bag he was carrying.

She turned around to follow him and memorized the license plate of his getaway vehicle. Smith gave the information to police, who were searching for a man who held up the Wells Fargo bank at Monroe and West Francis Avenue. 

Police spotted the car and followed it; suspect Lawrence A. Wideman (pictured) was arrested after driving through a metal fence into a cemetery and trying to escape in the Spokane River.

Wideman, 44, is a level 2 sex offender with a conviction in 2009 for third-degree rape of a child. He pleaded guilty to the bank robbery in October and was sentenced to 162 months in prison.

Kirkpatrick awarded Smith the chief's Citizen Award this morning at the Public Safety Building.

Pot dispensers face 2-6 mos. in prison

Charles Wright gives a quick thumbs up to chanting cannabis activists outside medical marijuana dispensary during a raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration on April 28. Wright faces six months in federal prison when he's sentenced in February. (SRPhoto/Jesse Tinsley)

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov.Lincoln Chafee's call for federal authorities to legalize medical marijuana comes just after raids on medical marijuana operations in the Seattle area.

It also comes after two medical marijuana dispensers arrested in Spokane raids pleads guilty to federal drug charges.

Charles Wesley Wright, 41, is to be sentenced on Feb. 21 and Jon Richard Vivian, 31, is to be sentenced on Feb. 13.

Vivian's plea agreement, filed on Nov. 7, calls for him to self-report to federal prison to begin a two-month sentence. He'll be on home confinement for six months and will be on probation for two years, according to the agreement. Vivian is to complete drug testing and treatment as his probation officers directs, and his home, person, office, vehicle and belongings are subject to search.

Wright's plea agreement, filed Nov. 22, calls for him to serve six months in federal prison followed by six months and one day of home confinement. He'll also self report to prison and will be on probation for two years and subject to the same conditions as Vivian, assuming a judge goes along with the sentencing recommendations.

Vivian and Wright each pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Prosecutors dismissed stiffer charges of distribution of marijuana near a school, possession with intent to distribute marijuana near a school, manufacture of marijuana near a school and maintaining a drug-involved premise near a school, where were filed in July as part of a grand jury indictment.

According to the plea agreements, DEA Agent Sam Keiser bought marijuana and clone marijuana plants from Wright and Vivian's THC Pharmacy on April 19 while working undercover. Keiser had a state medical marijuana authorization that employees verified, but federal law doesn't recognize medical marijuana.

DEA agents raided the business on April 28 and seized bottles of marijuana, 36 plants and $12,706. Vivian told police THC Pharmacy had 1,076 “patients,” 300 of whom were regulars.

The raid came after federal authorities warned more than 40 dispensaries in the area to shut down or face prosecution. Most complied; only a handful were raided.

Also facing federal charges are Medical Herb Providers owners Jerry Wayne Laberdee and Dennis Lewis Whited. Their charges have not yet been resolved.

Utah dog shoots hunter in buttocks

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah bird hunter was shot in the buttocks after his dog stepped on a shotgun laid across the bow of a boat.

Box Elder County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Potter says the 46-year-old Brigham City man was duck hunting with a friend when he climbed out of the boat to move decoys.

Potter says the man left his 12-gauge shotgun in the boat and the dog stepped on it, causing it to fire. It wasn't clear whether the safety on the gun was on at the time.

Potter says the man was hit from about 10 feet away with 27 pellets of birdshot. He says the man wasn't seriously injured, in part because he was wearing waders. The man was treated at a nearby hospital.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

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

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here