Archive for January 2011
A man was arrested after charging at two Spokane police officers with a baseball bat early Saturday morning.
Michael A. Bernal, 29, was arrested after Officers James Erickson and James Christensen responded to the 200 block of East Crown Avenue at 1:57 a.m. for a 911 hang-up call. A dispatcher had called back, and a woman told the dispatcher she could not speak freely.
When officers knocked on the door, Bernal allegedly “whipped the door open, armed himself with a baseball bat and then swung it at the officers, almost hitting them both,” police said in a news release.
Police said Bernal refused to drop the bat. As he charged at officers with the bat, the woman, whom police did not identify, grabbed him around the waist. Police said he then threw the bat at the officers, broke free and yelled, “Bring it on!”
All three ended up on the ground when they tried to arrest him. During the struggle, Bernal grabbed one of their flashlights in “another apparent attempt to assault the officers,” police said.
Officers Bernal on two counts of second-degree assault. They determined there was no crime committed between Bernal and woman.
Two burglary suspects were arrested early today after a watchful resident grew suspicious of two men who parked a car in her neighborhood.
Brian Keith Belton, 35, and Tracy K. Whiting, 44, were detained near West Marc Drive and North Pinecrest Drive in north Spokane County after a woman called Crime Check about 1:30 a.m. and said the men suspiciously left a parked car.
Spokane County sheriff's Deputies David Westlake and Thad Shultz found a suitcase with unopened mail for a nearby residence, as well as a walkie-talkie near the men. They also found a smashed window at a home that had been ransacked.
They believe Belton committed the burglary while Whiting waited outside, according the Sheriff's Office. Both men were booked into jail for second-degree burglary.
Belton also was booked on a felony drug charge for a small amount of meth found in his shoe.
In a news release, Sgt. Dave Reagan called the case “a scenario that would warm the heart of any Neighborhood Watch captain.”
Read Reagan's drama-filled news release by clicking the link below.
The inmate suspected of killing a corrections officer in Western Washington is a sex offender serving life in prison for the abduction and rape of a Spokane-area real estate agent in 1995.
Byron Scherf, 52, who has a long history of violent sexual assault, is in an isolation facility after Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl, 34, was found dead Saturday night by fellow officers in the chapel lobby of the Monroe Correctional Complex, according to the Department of Corrections.
Biendl reportedly had complained to supervisors about working alone in the chapel.
“She was feeling unsafe,” about supervising numerous inmates, Tracey Thompson, secretary treasurer for the Teamsters Local 117 that represents corrections officers, told the Seattle Times. “My understanding is there were repeated complaints.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire has called for an independent investigation into Biendl's death. Read more here.
Two sex offenders considered likely to reoffend have registered as transients in Spokane County, the Sheriff's Office announced today. ,
Russell Allen Clinger, 45, (right) was released from prison in 2006 after being convicted of first-degree child molestation in 2000. His victim was a 7-year-old girl. Clinger is being supervised by the state Department of Corrections.
Christopher Michael Foster, 26, (left) was released from prison in August 2009 after serving five years for third-degree rape of a child in Spokane County. His victim was a 14-year-old runaway.
Foster also was convicted of first-degree child molestation in 1999 in Pend Oreille County and was incarcerated for two years. His victim was a 6-year-old female stranger. Foster is no longer under DOC supervision.
Clinger and Foster are level 3 sex offenders, the classification considered most likely to reoffend.
Neither is wanted by authorities, but the Sheriff's Office wants the public to be aware of their presence.
A 23-year-old Spokane man accused of a year-old rape underwent sex offender treatment as a teenager.
Louis Victor Kuster underwent treatment after he was accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching four girls while a middle school student in Stevens County. He pleaded guilty to four counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation in 2002 and served two years probation.
After his arrest, detectives said in court documents that Kuster, then 14, “never appeared flustered, embarrassed or remorseful,” during interviews. “He did not seem to care about getting in trouble.”
His foster mother told police he needed counseling.
Kuster was arrested last week after DNA linked him to the rape of a 16-year-old girl on Jan. 1, 2010, police said.
A suspected methamphetamine dealer who investigators say equipped his Spokane Valley home with surveillance video and a tripwire while orchestrating an identity theft scheme is wanted by police.
Detectives spent months building a case against Ronald R. Foreman, (left) who left jail on $40,000 bond after a SWAT team raid at his home on 21st Avenue off Evergreen Road last March.
Crime Stoppers this week issued a reward for tips that lead to his capture on a new charge of leading organized crime in a case that depends on testimony from convicted criminals, including a woman who identified herself as the ex-girlfriend of Foreman and his wife.
Foreman faces about 10 to 15 years in prison if convicted.
The same Valley property crime unit that investigated Foreman investigated another major stolen check ring that led to leading organized crime charges against two women.
Kimberly L. Fawver, 37, (right) and Krstina L. Fricke, 41, are accused of directing at least seven people to commit identity theft and check fraud in a drug-fueled scheme that victimized dozens of people, according to police.
Both women also face a slew of burglary and identity theft charges.
The leading organized crime charge has been filed a number of times in Spokane County Since its inception in 2001.
A Spokane man who pleaded guilty to a 2007 murder has been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea because prosecutors failed to tell him he had to spend a minimum of 20 years in prison before he would be eligible for early release.
The Division III Court of Appeals issued its decision Thursday to allow Michael D. Coombes to withdraw the plea because he was not “informed of a direct consequence of his plea.
” Coombes, 30, pleaded guilty to killing 53-year-old William R. Nichols sometime between Aug. 30 and Sept. 2, 2007.
Coombes pleaded guilty in June 2008 and received a 27-year prison sentence.
However, he appealed his sentence because he had the mistaken belief that he was eligible to begin early release credit during the entire sentence, according to court documents.
The portion of his plea that explained the minimum 20-year sentence was left blank in the court file. The case now returns to Superior Court Judge Michael Price to allow Coombes to withdraw his plea.
A convicted Spokane burglar who was given drug treatment instead of prison is wanted by police after leaving his rehabilitation center.
Richard C. Hebert, 23, was ordered in December to complete residential drug treatment in lieu of a two-year prison sentence but left the center on Jan. 5 and never contacted the state Department of Corrections.
He had told his probation officer that treatment was going well just a couple weeks earlier, court documents say.
A no bail arrest warrant was issued Jan. 13 on second-degree burglary and second-degree theft charges.
Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to his capture.
Hebert, 5-foot-5 and 180 pounds, has previous convictions for first-degree driving while suspended, attempting to elude a police vehicle, residential burglary and probation violations.
He last gave a home address in the 400 block of East Fifth Avenue in Spokane, according to Crime Stoppers. Anyone with tips on his current whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters to not have leave their name to collect a reward.
The criminal trial of Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. has been delayed again.
U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle agreed to a request by defense attorney Carl Oreskovich to change the date of the trial despite objections from a federal prosecutor.
The trial, stemming from the 2006 confrontation between Thompson and Otto Zehm that resulted in Zehm’s death, has been moved to Oct. 11 from March 7.
The trial was put on hold last summer after prosecutors asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling by Van Sickle that prevented them from presenting evidence that Zehm had not committed a crime on March 18, 2006, when he was confronted by Thompson in a Spokane convenience store.
Thompson struck Zehm with a police baton and shocked him with a Taser during the confrontation, which included six other officers.
Attorneys for both sides will travel to Seattle on Feb. 7 to present oral arguments to a panel of appellate judges.
HERMOSILLO, Mexico (AP) — Drug smugglers are using an ancient invention as a new way to move marijuana across the border from Mexico to Arizona.
The discovery of two “drug catapults” in the Mexican state of Sonora marks the latest twist in the cat-and-mouse game traffickers play with authorities.
U.S. National Guard troops operating a remote surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station say they observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the fence late last week.
A Mexican army officer says the 3-yard tall catapult was found about 20 yards from the U.S. border on a flatbed towed by a sports utility vehicle.
The officer says the catapult was capable of launching 4.4 pounds of marijuana at a time. He says soldiers seized 35 pounds of pot, the vehicle and the catapult.
The smugglers left before they could be captured. The surveillance video of them using the catapult was released Wednesday.
A second catapult was discovered Thursday in near Agua Prieta, another border town. Another army officer in that area said an anonymous tip led soldiers to the scene and the catapult was similar to the first.
Mexican officials say it is the first time they have seen this smuggling method used by local traffickers.
Mexican traffickers have previously used planes, tunnels, vehicles, boats and couriers to smuggle drugs into the United States. Colombian drug traffickers have even used homemade submarines.
VIENNA (AP) — Say, isn't that the president with a gun in his hand? Actually, no, but it sure looks like it.
Austrian authorities are searching for a bank robber who uses an unusual disguise: He wears a Barack Obama mask during his holdups.
Police say the man, nicknamed the “Obama Robber” by local media, is wanted for six heists since 2008. The most recent took place last week in the hamlet of Handenberg, where the Obama-resembling suspect made off with an undisclosed amount of money after threatening bank employees with a gun.
Police official Markus Mitloehner said that the man is thought to be a local since he speaks the regional dialect — with nary a trace of Obama's more professorial accent.
SEATTLE (AP) — Washington's Supreme Court threw out a defendant's aggravated murder conviction Thursday because he wasn't present when his lawyers, prosecutors and judge agreed by e-mail to dismiss seven people from his jury pool.
In the 5-4 decision, the justices said criminal defendants have a right to be present at all critical trial stages — including the dismissal of jurors for hardship reasons. Terrance Irby was not there and was not consulted when his legal team agreed with a suggestion by Skagit County Superior Court Judge John Meyer that certain potential jurors be sent home.
“Their alleged inability to serve was never tested by questioning in Irby's presence,” Justice Gerry Alexander wrote for the majority. “Indeed, they were not questioned at all.”
The ruling was the second time that unseated Justice Richard Sanders has been in a 5-4 majority overturning a defendant's conviction since his term expired Jan. 10. Sanders, a libertarian who has often sided with defendants who come before the court, was defeated in his re-election bid by Justice Charles Wiggins last fall.
The remaining members of the court have appointed Sanders as a temporary judge to rule on cases whose oral arguments he heard before his term expired.
Skagit County prosecutors, however, tried to have Sanders kicked off Irby's case this month. They argued that the state Constitution allows only judges who retire voluntarily — not those whose authority has been revoked by the voters — to be appointed as temporary judges. If the remaining eight justices who heard the oral arguments were deadlocked, the case should be reheard with Wiggins sitting, they wrote.
The court unanimously denied the motion in a one-page order.
Irby, then 48, was convicted in 2007 of beating and stabbing an acquaintance, James Rock, two years earlier. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.
Skagit County deputy prosecutor Erik Pedersen said the state might ask to court to reconsider its ruling, but failing that, prosecutors will retry Irby.
The jurors were dismissed after filling out questionnaires evaluating their qualifications for serving on a jury, but before the process known as “voir dire,” in which attorneys on each side question them about potential biases or other issues. Six were dismissed for hardship reasons, and one was dismissed after writing that one of his or her parents had been murdered.
The dissenting justices wrote that the hardship dismissals were administrative and well within the purview of the trial court; there was no reason Irby needed to be there for that. But the dismissal of the juror whose parent had been murdered was related to the substance of the case and therefore Irby should have been present, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote.
Nevertheless, she said, that error was harmless: Defendants do not have a right to have a specific juror on their case, and there's no evidence the jury he had was biased against him.
“We should recognize and give effect to this distinction so that the constitutional right of a defendant to be present at critical stages of the trial is protected while at the same time preserving the trial court's discretion to make administrative decisions,” Madsen wrote.
Justices Charles Johnson, James Johnson and Mary Fairhurst signed the dissent.
Justices Tom Chambers, Susan Owens and Debra Stephens joined Sanders and Alexander in the majority.
Irby's attorney, David Koch, called the decision extremely important.
“This reaffirms the right to be present for the selection of one's jury,” he said.
A Spokane man who opened fire on a police officer during a two-day crime spree was sentenced Wednesday to 13 1/2 years in prison.
Tony E. Dawson, 21,(left) pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and attempted first-degree robbery and was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza to 162 months.
The charges say Dawson was with Greg Sharkey, Jr., on Dec. 23, 2009, when he fired several shots at Spokane police Officer Kristopher Honaker, who was not injured.
Dawson was a passenger in a stolen Suburban when they inadvertently drove by the area where one of them had allegedly shot a teenager in the back the night before. Honaker, (right) who was monitoring the area, recognized the stolen Subaru and followed it.
Margaret D. Shults, 23, who police say was driving the Suburban, told investigators Dawson ordered her at gunpoint to keep driving, then fired several shots at Honaker.
Dawson said he did not want to go back to prison and threatened Shults that if she stopped the vehicle, “he had no problem killing either Shults or Sharkey,” documents state.
Shults was sentenced to 77 months in prison last month after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery.
Dawson had several previous felony convictions, including first-degree robbery and second-degree escape. He had been charged with nearly a dozen counts of attempted murder for the shooting spree; he'll be sentenced in that case next month. Sharkey, 26, remains in jail on similar charges.
A motivational speaker who once worked in Spokane and is now the subject of an FBI investigation was an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon.
William G. Hillar falsely claimed to have earned a doctorate from the university, according to this article from my former college paper, the Oregon Daily Emerald.
Hillar, 66, worked at Inland Northwest Health Services from September 1994 to July 1997. Before that he worked for other Spokane businesses including Metropolitan Mortgage and Securities Co.
It’s what he’s accused of doing afterward that earned him notoriety
A crime spree that included vehicle prowling, burglary and prescription fraud earned a 23-year-old Spokane Valley woman about two years in prison this week.
Jenalee Jean Hall, who police say is a cousin of Eddie Ray Hall , was sentenced Tuesday to 25 months in prison, the same sentence handed to her former roommate and partner in crime, Miranda L. Watson, last April.
The duo was accused of a crime spree that included vehicle prowling and thefts at Spokane Valley and South Hill fitness clubs and locker room burglaries at East Valley and West Valley high schools.
Spokane Valley police were flooded with tips about the locker room thefts after distributing surveillance photos of the women (Hall is to the left; Watson is to the right.) Hall also was charged with fraudulently filling OxyContin prescription and once told detectives she and her friends plotted a theft while sitting in a car “ingesting narcotics” with her young son present, according to previous reports.
Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno ordered Hall to pay $985 restitution after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance, third-degree assault, first-degree theft and three counts of second-degree possession of stolen property and $3,342 restitution after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree theft, second-degree identity theft, second-degree theft with intent to resell and forgery.
A jury Wednesday exonerated a Spokane County Sheriff’s detective who has been the subject of several excessive force complaints.
The jury found unanimously for Spokane County in a case that began with a traffic stop on Jan. 22, 2006 by Jeff Welton, who was a deputy at the time.
Daniel B. Strange, 41, filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the county alleging that Welton used excessive force.
“Obviously, we believe they made the right decision,” said attorney Heather Yakely, who represented Spokane County.
But Mary Schultz, representing Strange, said she was frustrated that she was not allowed to present more evidence to the jury.
PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — The Kitsap County sheriff's office says the second of two deputies wounded during a deadly shootout in the parking lot of the Port Orchard, Wash., Walmart has been released from the hospital.
The agency says 48-year-old Andrew Ejde (Eh-dah) was discharged Wednesday afternoon from Tacoma General Hospital. He was shot in the left shoulder and right arm.
Deputy John Stacy was wounded in the right shoulder and went home from the hospital Monday.
Killed in the Sunday gunfight was 31-year-old Anthony A. Martinez of Salt Lake City. The parents of a missing Utah teen say they believe their daughter is the 13-year-old girl who was also shot and killed. She has not yet been positively identified.
A third deputy, who shot and killed Martinez, was identified as 38-year-old Krista McDonald.
Read more by clicking the link below.
A juror was removed from a vehicular homicide trial today after falling asleep and telling a judge it was OK she'd missed testimony because she already knew the topic well.
“I was marginally OK until she volunteered the last part,” said Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.
The woman told the judge she already understood phlebotomy after she was confronted about sleeping during testimony regarding the subject on Tuesday, the third day of trial for Jon A. Strine, who is charged with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault for a June 2, 2009, crash that killed Lorri Keller (pictured) and left her husband, Gary Keller, paralyzed.
The woman apologized repeatedly after Eitzen told her today that she could no longer serve on the jury because “every single juror has to have the same information.”
“I feel really bad,” said the woman, who appeared to be in her late 30s or early 40s.
One of three alternates, who have been present for the entire trial, took her place.
Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady didn't call for the woman's removal, but Strine's lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, said she shouldn't proceed with the trial.
“This is a case that has to be decided based upon evidence,” he said.
The trial, which began with opening statements Thursday afternoon and continued Monday, has included testimony from Keller and several civilian witnesses who responded to the crash at Fourth and Browne.
The testimony from those witnesses was emotional, and preceded testimony from the lead crash investigator, Spokane police Cpl. Brad Hallock.
Other witnesses include Spokane County Medical Examiner Dr. John Howard, who conducted Lorri Keller's autopsy, and Dr. Paul Lin, who treated Gary Keller.
Today's witnesses included Hallock and Amanda Black from the state crime lab.
Black underwent extensive cross examination and admitted under questioning that the lab can't guarantee samples aren't contaminated. The point is key to Strine's defense.
Oreskovich said in his opening statement that he will present experts to refute a test that put Strine's blood-alcohol level at .20.
Oreskovich likely will begin calling witnesses Thursday afternoon. The case could be with the jury by the end of next week.
A suspected car prowler was arrested early today after a woman spotted him stash stolen property before he pilfered a neighbor's garage.
One of Spokane's most notorious career criminals has pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge.
Eddie Ray Hall, 46, (right) faces five to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to distribution of 50 grams or more of a mixture of substance containing methamphetamine.
He'll remain at the Spokane County Jail until sentencing, which is scheduled for April 21 at 9:30 a.m.
His lawyer, Ron Van Wert, said he'll likely seek a much different sentence than federal prosecutors.
“We do know that Eddie's going to spend a substantial amount of time in prison,” Van Wert said.
The longtime felon originally faced seven other meth charges under a grand jury indictment filed in U.S. District Court in August 2009.
Van Wert said the other charges were dismissed because “when coming to a resolution that was reasonable and really best for everyone involved, it came down to that one count.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Duggan, who is prosecuting the case, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
A co-defendant, Ronald Hipkiss, 49, (left) was sentenced to 10 years in prison in September after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture continuing meth and conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of meth.
Police searched Hipkiss' home at 2803 E. 4th Ave., on Oct. 8, 2008 after drug transactions with a confidential informant. They recovered 123 grams of methamphetamine, of which 49 grams was pure, according to Hipkiss' plea agreement.
Investigators believe Hall was working with Hipkiss to sell the methamphetamine for about three weeks before the raid. Hall met with
the informant at Hall's home at 3712 E. Pratt and provided a total of about 80 grams of meth, court documents say.
Hall escaped a Yakima jail about a month after his arrest and headed to Spokane, where the sheriff's office nabbed him following a six-day manhunt.
Hall's rise to fame can be traced to this 1998 newspaper article. Authorities used him as an example of how much criminals cost society, estimating Hall had cost about $1 million. He gave an extensive interview to the newspaper, and the power mullet showcased in his portrait (shown above) lives on in our archives.
Enjoy columnist Doug Clark's tributes to Hall, posted above.
Police now believe a Spokane man found dead and bound with a rope under the Sunset Bridge last June committed suicide.
Detectives found a suicide note written by William P. Pickard, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.
The nylon rope used to tie Pickard’s hands and neck was apparently loose enough to have been self-applied, police told family members. Handwriting analysis confirmed Pickard wrote the note.
“With all the craziness of it, it really kind of comes down to whether or not you believe that, and personally, I do,” said Daniel Pickard, Pickard’s brother. “I’m 100 percent behind the work the police did on this.”
A panhandler tired to rob a man at knifepoint Monday after he agreed to give her a dollar, police say.
Shayna L. Edens, 29, was arrested on a first-degree robbery charge outside Huckleberries market, 926 S. Monroe, after a man said she'd threatened him with a knife about 5:55 p.m.
The man said he'd removed a dollar from his wallet after she asked, but that she confronted him with the knife and told him to giver her his wallet after he sat down in his vehicle.
The alleged victim told Edens he needed to stand up to get his wallet, then grabbed her wrist, causing her to drop the knife, Spokane police say.
Edens remains in jail on $25,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court Tuesday .
A 42-year-old man is accused of stealing a monster truck from a Spokane Valley car dealership.
Steven W. Dungan appeared in Superior Court on a car theft charge Tuesday after police say he crashed the stolen truck at an apartment complex about eight blocks from Affordable Motors, 4229 E. Sprague Ave.
KHQ TV reports that Dungan was arrested after the truck, equipped with monster tires, wedged under a carport.
Dungan remains in Spokane County Jail on a probation hold and $17,500 bond for one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Just this month, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge, according to news archives.
A man arrested in a police pursuit that damaged two patrol cars late Monday has been charged with robbery for an alleged incident at the Northtown Mall in November.
Kenneth S. Crowston, 47, (pictured in 2003) is charged with second-degree robbery after a Sears security guard said Crowston hit him when confronted about shoplifting a pair of boots on Nov. 24.
Crowston was arrested the day of the incident but was not charged and was out of jail late Monday when police spotted him in his car dressed in black in a neighborhood plagued by burglaries.
Crowston sped away from Officer Jay Kernkamp after Kernkamp approached him about 11 p.m. in the area of West Central Avenue and North Belt Street, then sideswiped Kernkamp's patrol car and rammed Officer Paul Bode's patrol car head on during a pursuit.
Crowston was pulled from his vehicle and arrested after a struggle.
Neither officer was injured in the incident.
Crowston, who has a lengthy criminal record, was booked into jail on two counts of second-degree assault, attempting to elude a police officer, driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest, where he remains on $100,000 bond.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Taco Bell officials on Tuesday rejected claims made in a lawsuit that the meat in their tacos, burritos and other products is not all beef.
A suspect in a child pornography case previously allowed to leave jail on his own recognizance has been ordered held without bail after a federal indictment.
Darrel W. Monzingo, 44, faces up to 30 years in prison for five charges that include two counts of production of child pornography.
U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno ruled Monday that the charges were too serious to allow Monzingo out of custody. He does not have a stable address and he has not undergone a mental health assessment, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.
Monzigno was arrested Dec. 16 after Spokane police found child pornography during a search of his home at 3403 E. Fairview.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price released Monzingo from jail on his own recognizance the next day; the suspect was arrested on the federal charges last week. He has pleaded not guilty.
(AP) — The grandmother of twin 2-year-old girls found with injuries and living in filthy conditions has reached a plea in the neglect case.
Ruth K. Cassidy, 55, (left) entered an Alford plea to one count of felony injury to a child. Prosecutors agreed to drop a second count, according to court records. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to get a conviction.
District Judge John Luster scheduled Cassidy's sentencing for April 13. Kootenai County deputy prosecutor Donna Gardner says 26-year-old Elisabeth Crossley (right) is likely to be arraigned next week.
She also is charged with two counts of felony injury to a child after her children were found in a bedroom with no clothes and dried feces caked on their bodies.
Crossley's estranged husband, Scott Lewis Crossley, 41, says he plans to get a paternity test so he can take custody of the girls.
He said traces of his life with his wife were destroyed in a burn barrel on a California beach while on an “acid trip.” Scott Crossley said he worked as a professional wrestler from 1999 to 2002 under the name Mutant, but isn't working now because of a heart-rhythm disorder, according to the Coeur d'Alene Press.
A Spokane man's arrest last July on suspicion of reckless driving, resisting arrest and driving with a suspended license has led to a disagreement between the Spokane Police Department and police Ombudsman Tim Burns, who has refused to certify the department’s internal investigation into a witness’s complaint of excessive force used against the suspect.
Burns questions an administrative review panel’s recommendation to exonerate the two accused officers. But police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, who acted on the recommendation, said Burns doesn’t have the legal authority to make such a claim because his oversight is limited to internal investigations, not the later administrative review panels made up of police leaders.
“I don’t look at it as a substantive issue. To me, it’s just a legal question,” Kirkpatrick said. “What is Tim Burns’ authority and is the (panel) part of the investigation?”
Burns, who started work as the city’s first police ombudsman in August 2009, disagrees.
“My position is, If not me, then who?” he said.
A suspect in a home-invasion robbery in which a woman was shot told police he intended to steal two ounces of methamphetamine, according to court documents filed Monday.
Bradley Bain Cooper, 36, is jailed on $250,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court Monday on a first-degree burglary charge.
He was arrested with a BB gun after an officer spotted him running from 11309 E. 40th Ave., just after the robbery was reported about 12:34 a.m. on Sunday.
The victim, Tammi L. Putnam, was shot in each leg and lost a tooth during the altercation in the kitchen. The men fled empty handed.
Putnam was treated at a hospital for a pellet wound to each thigh as well as her mouth injury.
“She told officers she had no idea what the suspects were looking for, but that she did occasionally provide housing to people who use controlled substances,” according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.
Cooper, a repeat offender with several felony convictions, told police his friend, whose name has not been released, shot the woman.
SEATTLE (AP) — Investigators face a difficult puzzle to piece together as they work to determine why a Utah man bolted and began shooting at sheriff's deputies in a Walmart parking lot, leading to a gunfight that left him and a young woman dead and two deputies wounded.
A day after the shootout in Port Orchard, Wash., a small city about 15 miles west and across Puget Sound from Seattle, officials said Monday they still couldn't say why Anthony A. Martinez, 31, of Salt Lake City, suddenly ran and opened fire during what began as a routine contact by deputies.
“That's going to be the million-dollar question,” said Kitsap County sheriff's spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson. “We certainly can't talk to him anymore or to the young woman who is believed to be with him.”
Despite a number of attempts using photos and other methods, the young woman's name and age could not immediately be determined, said Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Washington State Patrol, which is leading the investigation.
“So far, we've come up with nothing,” she said.
She said an autopsy Monday might provide more clues, but doubted that a positive identification and notification of next of kin could occur by the end of the day.
The Deseret News in Salt Lake City reported last week that police had issued an endangered persons advisory for a 13-year-old runaway believed to be traveling with Martinez. The girl, who fled from a South Salt Lake foster home on Tuesday, also had run away last fall and was found in Sacramento with him, the newspaper said.
Hedstrom said investigators learned of the advisory Monday morning.
“I don't want to speculate whether it's the runaway girl because we don't know that,” she said.
Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.
(Sgt. Russ Clithero and Deputy Chris Andrews of the Kitsap County Sheriff's Department are pictured above exiting Tacoma General Hospital after visiting their wounded colleague.)
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A St. Maries man accused of firing his shotgun over the car of a U.S. Census worker last year has rejected a deal from prosecutors that would have reduced the charge to disturbing the peace.
Richard L. Powell, 54, is charged with exhibition or use of a deadly weapon.
His attorney, David Lohman, says Powell does not intend to accept the plea from the Benewah County prosecutor's office.
Powell is accused of shooting over the Census worker's car as he left Powell's property on March 3.
“My client is looking forward to his day in court,” Lohman told The Coeur d'Alene Press.
The worker tried to deliver Powell the population-county questionnaire, but Powell told him repeatedly to leave. When the Census worker told Powell he would leave the questionnaire outside, Powell went into his house, came back outside and fired the weapon, according to court documents.
The census worker told sheriff's deputies that Powell had said “he did not want Federalies on his property” and that “his name is Rick Powell and he means business.”
Benewah County Prosecutor Doug Payne said his motivation for offering a lesser offense is to avoid confusing language in the Idaho statute regarding exhibition or use of a deadly weapon.
According to the statute, exhibition or use of a deadly weapon identifies people who use or draw any deadly weapon unnecessarily in the presence of two or more people.
Confusion on whether “the two or more” includes the alleged weapon user can be argued either way at trial.
“I just wish we could get the exhibition statute cleaned up,” Payne said. “It creates problems at trial.”
A trial date in the case has not yet been set.
A 24-year-old Coeur d'Alene man has been charged in federal court with possession child pornography.
Scott Tyler Aresvik faces up to 10 years and prison and lifetime probation for one count of possession of sexually explicit images of minors.
The charge alleges he possessed the images on a Gateway laptop computer on Dec. 15. He would be forced to give up the computer under a forfeiture charge also filed last week in U.S. District Court.
Aresvik waived a grand jury indictment and is not in custody.
He was booked into jail on a probation violation Dec. 15 and has a previous domestic violence case in Kootenai County. He is not currently in custody.
PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — Detectives are investigating why a man ran from deputies and then opened fire in a Walmart parking lot in Western Washington, sparking a shootout that killed him and a young woman who ran to him after he was shot. Two sheriff's deputies were shot but are expected to survive.
The officers were responding to a call Sunday about a suspicious person at the store in Port Orchard, about 15 miles west of Seattle across Puget Sound. Two deputies found the man and tried to talk to him but he began running, and they gave chase. “For reasons not yet known, the suspect turned and fired multiple shots,” Kitsap County sheriff's spokesman Scott Wilson said.
Both officers were hit and unable to return fire, but a female officer arriving on the scene shot and killed the gunman, Wilson said. It's not yet clear who shot the woman, believed to be in her late teens, who died later at a Tacoma hospital. Ballistics tests on the bullets could show whether it was the deputy or the suspect, the state patrol said.
“We believe that she and the deceased gunman knew each other, that they were together,” Wilson told The Associated Press. He said investigators don't know yet the relationship between the two.
Destany Droge, 22, of Bremerton, said the two people killed appeared to be a couple.
“As soon as she saw him get shot, she ran for him,” she told The News Tribune of Tacoma. “She put herself in the line of fire.”
Tacoma police said the deputies were both shot in the torso and were in satisfactory condition.
“I've seen just the one deputy, he's in one of the rooms talking with family and co-workers,” said Mark Fulghum of the Tacoma police. “Both of the deputies are going to be fine. They're going to be kept overnight for observation.”
Autopsies were scheduled Monday for the two people killed. Their names — as well as the names of the three deputies — haven't been released. Investigators said the Kitsap County coroner was still trying to confirm the dead man's identity Monday morning.
A blue minivan that apparently belonged to the suspect has been impounded and will be searched for possible evidence, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Krista Hedstrom. The van has out-of-state plates, but Hedstrom didn't know what state.
The female deputy involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative assignment until the investigation is completed, which is standard practice.
Shoppers raced to take cover as the incident unfolded.
The officers were about 30 to 40 feet behind the suspect when he started firing, Ray Bourge told KOMO-TV. “Five or six shots were fired. … I just went and took cover,” he said.
Victor Meyers told the station that he heard the first shot, then six more in rapid succession.
“I heard one shot, which I thought was a car backfiring, and then several more reported back, which I knew to be gunfire,” Meyers said.
He said he saw a female deputy running toward a victim on the ground before he and other witnesses were hustled from the scene.
The store was immediately locked down. Customers in the store were allowed to leave after investigators questioned them. The store reopened Sunday night, Hedstrom said, and the shooting scene was cleared.
Port Orchard is the county seat and has about 8,250 residents. The last time a Kitsap County sheriff's deputy was shot in the line of duty was in April 1978, according to The Tacoma News Tribune. Deputy Dennis Allred stopped to help what he believed to be a stranded driver towing another vehicle. The vehicle turned out to be stolen, and Allred was shot and killed by the suspects.
A Spokane Valley woman who admitted to housing drug users suffered a gunshot wound to her thigh and lost a tooth during an attempted home-invasion robbery early Sunday.
One man remains at large, but, Spokane Valley police arrested suspect Bradley Bain Cooper, 36, a longtime felon who they say was carrying a high-powered BB or airsoft gun shortly after the incident.
Police believe Cooper and the other man broke into the woman's home in the 11300 block of East 40th Avenue wearing gloves and ski masks. The woman fought the first man until a second man appeared with a handgun and threatened to shoot her, police said.
The woman realized she'd been shot in the thigh and soon lost a tooth during the altercation in the kitchen. The men fled empty handed. The woman was treated at a hospital for a pellet wound to each thigh as well as her mouth injury.
“She told officers she had no idea what the suspects were looking for, but that she did occasionally provide housing to people who use controlled substances,” according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.
Cooper is due in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon via video from the jail, where he was booked on one count of first-degree burglary.
He's a repeat offender whose previous convictions include first-degree possession of stolen property, first-degree theft, second-degree burglary, hit and run, and domestic violence harassment and at least seven probation violations, according to a 2008 Crime Stoppers news release.
Anyone with information about Sunday's incident is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
Two longtime Spokane methamphetamine dealers have been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Wheeler Joseph Paavola (left) and William Troy Tomblin (right) are charged with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine.
Both men face at least 20 years in prison and 10 years probation because of prior drug convictions.
Paavola has at least eight felony methamphetamine convictions dating back to 2001. He's been to state prison at least four times, most recently in 2008 after pleading guilty to two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
In 2007, he and his then-girlfriend were arrested after police investigating a domestic violence report found them with meth. Their 2- month old child was put in foster care.
Tomblin has previous drug and stolen property convictions and was sentenced to 39 months in state prison in 2006 for manufacturing methamphetamine. Neither man has appeared in U.S. District Court on the new charge yet.
The state of Idaho is responsible for the death of a Post Falls toddler, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.
Karina Janay Moore was 2 when she died Jan. 16, 2009, from injuries sustained 10 days earlier in her Post Falls foster home.
According to police, her foster mother said the little girl fell down a flight of carpeted stairs. However, the Spokane County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide due to “blunt force” head trauma.
Now Karina’s estate – including her biological mother, Samantha Richardson (right), her maternal grandmother, Karin Rogers, and her two siblings – is suing the state Department of Health and Welfare, two state employees, and the foster parents, Jeremy and Amber Clark.
The case was filed Dec. 30 in federal court. Roland Watson, Richardson’s attorney, said he also filed the case in state court because the claims fall into different jurisdictions.
“A child died and the explanations are just not believable,” Watson said. “I’m more than willing to take that in front of a jury.”
The police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a domestic violence suspect Sunday were identified Friday as Sgt. Dave Overhoff and Officer Chris McMurtrey.
McMurtrey, 31, has been with the Spokane Police Department for two years; Overhoff, 48, is an 18-year veteran.
Investigators have not said who fired the shots that killed Kenneth R. Dennis, who police say was shot after he “almost stabbed one of the officers,” according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County District Court.
That officer was interviewed Friday morning, said Trooper Troy Briggs, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, which is leading the multi-agency investigation.
“It’ll probably be Monday until we release (his name),” Briggs said.
Dennis’ family said the officers burst into the home and did not identify themselves.
A Spokane man arrested on child pornography charges in December has been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Darrel W. Monzingo, 44, pleaded not guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to two counts of production of child pornography, two counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He faces up to 30 years in prison.
The charges allege Monzingo filmed the sexual abuse of a minor on two occasions in July and August, then distributed child pornography through his computer on Oct. 28 and Nov. 30.
Police found explicit materials during a search of his home at 3403 E. Fairview Ave. on Dec. 16. The home is about a block from an elementary school.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price released Monzingo from jail on his own recognizance after his arrest, but he was taken into custody on the federal indictment Thursday and remains in jail. A hearing to decide if he should be allowed bail is set for Jan. 24.
Spokane police began investigating Monzingo after undercover Colorado detectives said they’d received pornographic files from him over the Internet.
A Mead man who killed his wife in front of their son was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison.
Jeffrey N. Canino, 47, received 180 months in prison in a sentence recommend by Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Love and imposed by Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke.
Canino pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder for the Dec. 2, 2009, stabbing death of 43-year-old Michelle Canino at the family’s home at 4518 E. Woodglen Road.
Canino, who says he doesn’t remember the incident, was concerned about losing his job at a car dealership, according to past reports, and the couple’s son, who was 11 at the time, told police Canino said his wife had indicated she wanted a divorce.
Canino remains at the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to state prison.
A federal jury today convicted a man of assaulting two nurses at the Spokane Veteran Affairs Medical Center.
James D. Scott, 42, was drunk when he attacked a nurse after his girlfriend brought him to the emergency room on Aug. 19, 2009. Scott had a blood-alcohol level of .38 , according to court documents.
Three hours after the first assault, he kicked another nurse and grabbed him by the throat.
His lawyer told jurors that post traumatic stress disorder caused Scott to drink and urged them to acquit him of two felony counts of assaulting a government employee.
Jurors convicted Scott after about a day of deliberations following the week-and-a-half long trial.
Scott, who's in custody at the Spokane County Jail, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and three years probation.
A home-invasion robbery targeting a medical marijuana patient led to the arrests of two suspects this week.
Nicholas S. Gardner, 28, and his girlfriend, Jill A. Benton, 26, are in jail on robbery, assault and kidnapping charges for allegedly attacking John J. Beck, 30, on Jan. 15 at his home in the 5400 block of North Lincoln Street.
Beck has a medical marijuana prescription and grows a small amount in his basement, according to police. He'd met Benton on two occasions when she stopped by about 12:30 p.m. last Friday and stayed for about 10 minutes.
About 15 minutes after she left, two men - one with a gun and the other with a baseball bat - knocked on Beck's back door, then pushed him into the house, according to police.
They asked where his “stash” was and tied Beck's hands behind his back and feet together using electrical cords. One of the robbers said “we got the gimp” during a phone call, then fled, Beck told police.
Benton told police she'd stopped by Beck's to look for her $350 sunglasses. She said “she has no idea about any robbery,” Spokane police wrote in a search warrant. But police say her phone records showed a call just before 1 p.m. through a tower near Beck's home.
Gardner was given $150,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court Thursday. Benton's bond is at $20,000. A third suspect has not been identified.
A suspected crack cocaine dealer was arrested with $15,000 at his East Central Spokane apartment this week.
Joseph K. “J” Davis, 32, was arrested on Wednesday after selling crack on four occasions in an undercover police sting, according to a search warrant prepared by the Spokane Police Department.
Police believe Davis imports cocaine to Spokane from California, where he is wanted on an extraditable drug warrant in Redding.
An undercover detective used a “cooperative individual” to buy crack from Davis on Dec. 2, Jan. 11, Jan. 14 and on Monday, according to the search warrant. Police also attached a GPS tracker to Davis' 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
They searched his apartment at 1019 N. Crestline St. on Wednesday and recovered $15,895, a cell phone, drug scale and suspected crack cocaine.
Davis appeared in Superior Court on Thursday via video feed from the jail with his lawyer, Chris Phelps. He was given $1,000 bond for the drug charge but remains in jail on the California warrant.
Gary Keller remembers the crash that killed his wife and left him paralyzed: He said it started with a silver flash.
“I remember a big crash, and I remember flying through the air and hitting the ground, and I was in a lot of pain,” Keller, 61, said Thursday in the opening day of a trial in Spokane County Superior Court for Jon A. Strine on charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.
Prosecutors say Strine, a Spokane stockbroker, was drunk and speeding in his 2002 silver Mercedes when his car slammed into Keller and his wife, Lorri Keller, 48, (pictured) on their Yamaha motorcycle on June 2, 2009, at West Fourth Avenue and South Browne Street in Spokane. Both were wearing full-masked motorcycle helmets.
Carl Oreskovich, considered one of the region’s premier defense attorneys, called the crash “a terrible, tragic, horrific accident” but said Strine made just a simple driving error just before the crash – a last-minute lane change – not a criminal act.
“Although this may have been a bad driving decision, it was an ordinary bad driving decision,” Oreskovich said. “It wasn’t a criminal bad driving decision.”
A Spokane woman never imagined that serving on the jury of a burglar would solve her burglary, as well.
“In all my time as a prosecutor, that’s the first time I had a juror solve her own case,” Deputy Prosecutor Bob Sargent said. “What are the odds of picking a jury and picking a gal who is a victim of the defendant but doesn’t know it? Then she gets a suspicion that is correct.”
Shea Swoboda, 28, had her South Hill home pilfered Aug. 16. Last week, she realized defendant Gary McCabe (right) may have burgled her own house, which led to a mistrial.
Spokane police say Kenneth R. Dennis was shot after he “almost stabbed one of the officers,” according to a newly filed search warrant.
Investigators believe a physical altercation occurred between Dennis and his girlfriend, Crystal A. Barrett, 24, before police arrived at 5726 N. Elgin St., Trooper Troy Briggs said in a news release Thursday.
According to the warrant, Cassandra L. Shear, Barrett’s friend, called police to say that Barrett “was locked inside the house and was being pushed by her intoxicated boyfriend.” Shear called again to say she wasn’t being allowed in the home.
A 13-inch knife was found near Dennis’ body, WSP said. Shell casings from the two officers also were recovered.
Dennis' family said the officers burst into the home and did not identify themselves. They have declined interviews.
The officers, identified only as a 48-year-old sergeant with 18 years of experience and a 31-year-old officer with two years of experience, who have not been publicly identified, have not yet been interviewed, said Briggs, spokesman for the multi-agency investigative team.
“They did a tactical debriefing, but the complete interviews of the officers will come at a later date,” he said.
Meanwhile, a donation account has been created at Wells Fargo to raise money for Kenneth Dennis’ burial. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch under the account “Kenneth Dennis.”
SEATTLE (AP) — A coroner's inquest jury examining a Seattle police officer's fatal shooting of a woodcarver last summer returned its findings Thursday, with just one of its eight members saying the carver posed any threat.
Four jurors said carver John T. Williams, 50, did not pose a threat and three others said they didn't know.
The conclusions reached Thursday after two days of deliberations are only findings of fact. In considering 13 questions, the jury was not asked to decide whether Officer Ian Birk (pictured with his wife and lawyer) committed any wrongdoing
Evidence from the inquest and the jury's answers will be forwarded to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg to determine whether Birk should be charged in the shooting. Satterberg said he expects to make a decision by mid-February.
Spokane County is one of few jurisdictions that does not conduct jurors inquests into police shootings.
Birk, 27, confronted Williams on Aug. 30 as he crossed a street holding a piece of wood and the knife with a 3-inch blade. Evidence at the inquest showed it took about four seconds from the time Birk first told him to drop the knife to the first gunshot.
The jurors split on whether Williams had time to drop his knife before Birk opened fire, with four saying he did not, one saying he did and the rest answering “unknown.”
Four jurors found that Birk believed Williams posed an “imminent threat of serious physical harm” to him when Williams was shot. Four jurors answered “unknown.”
The jury watched surveillance video taken from Birk's patrol car, which showed him getting out of the car to pursue Williams, who had crossed the street in front of the cruiser. Off camera, Birk quickly shouted three times for Williams to drop the knife, then fired five shots.
Birk testified that Williams had a “very stern, very serious, very confrontational look on his face.” Williams still had the knife out and was in a “confrontational posture” when he opened fire, the officer said.
An autopsy found that Williams' blood-alcohol level was at 0.18 percent, above the 0.08 percent level at which a driver is considered legally drunk.
The police department's Firearms Review Board is expected to convene and rule on whether the shooting was justified. Birk has been on paid leave since the shooting.
The inquest came amid growing criticism that Seattle police officers have used excessive force in several recent incidents, particularly in dealings with minorities. Some community groups have called on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the department.
PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) — While Devan Miller was bird watching recently on Olympic Peninsula, he saw bald eagles, kingfishers, woodpeckers and his stolen Volkswagen Vanagon.
Miller told The Peninsula Daily News the van was so badly damaged he almost didn't recognize it. The top and side panels had been cut off and the dashboard ripped apart.
Clallam County detectives took fingerprints, but Miller has little hope of finding whoever took the van from his Port Angeles driveway in November.
The engine and transmission were intact when he spotted the van Jan. 2 in woods near the Elwha River. Miller was able to drive it eight miles to an auto sales yard, which is giving him credit toward another Volkswagen.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A dozen years after voters approved Washington's medical marijuana system, state lawmakers are debating major changes that would give patients greater protection from arrest and bring the supply chain out of a legal gray area. Patients and advocates packed Thursday's meeting of the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee, which was discussing a bill proposed by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle.
With a nod to federal policies that are now more tolerant of state medical marijuana laws, Kohl-Welles' bill would make sweeping changes while attempting to keep the supply chain from resembling the more wide-open markets seen in California.
“We don't want the big billboards. We don't want the neon lights in dispensaries,” Kohl-Welles said.
A major element of her bill would give patients protection from criminal arrest. Current law offers less protection, giving authorized medical marijuana patients the ability to offer a defense in court if they're charged with possession.
Patients and doctors could enter information into a voluntary, secure database that law enforcement could access to check someone's authorization.
The bill also would address a conundrum in Washington's system: It's technically legal for a patient to possess pot, but the proper ways of getting the drug can be unclear.
Current state law does not allow for marijuana sales, instead saying that patients must grow marijuana themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them. But growing marijuana can be expensive and difficult, particularly for very ill people.
That has prompted many patients to form groups that grow pot collectively, contributing dues to help cover costs. In the Seattle area, some collectives also have distribution sites — called dispensaries — that serve thousands of members.
Current state law is silent on such collectives, and prosecutors around the state have taken differing views of whether they're permissible. The state Health Department maintains they're not. At the same time, the state Revenue Department began seeking sales tax revenue last month from dispensaries around the state.
Kohl-Welles' bill would make medical marijuana supply vastly more mainstream, calling on various state agencies to license producers, processors and sellers of medical marijuana.
Dispensaries would have to be operated as nonprofits and patients would not be subject to sales tax. Producers and processors, however, would have to pay state's business and occupation tax under the bill. Collective gardens would be allowed, with restrictions.
Supporters of the bill offered personal stories of their experience with medical marijuana and the hassles they sometimes face in the current system. Tacoma Deputy Mayor Lauren Walker said her husband, Baptist minister Marcus Walker, has found great relief while battling melanoma.
“Picture this: Local minister and deputy mayor arrested for having marijuana in their possession,” she told the committee. “I don't want to go there.”
It was unclear Thursday whether there was major organized opposition to the measure, or what its chances were of becoming law in some form as lawmakers prepare to work on a major budget deficit.
Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, said she hoped any concerns from law enforcement would be addressed in the bill. Parlette offered a list of recommendations from a sheriff in her district, including the idea that authorized patients register with local sheriffs and submit to inspections to ensure the law is being followed.
“If somebody legally is permitted to possess medical marijuana, then in my opinion, I don't know why they would object to all of these verifications,” said Parlette, a pharmacist by trade. “Law enforcement needs to know who legally has the permission.”
A woman armed with a handgun and accused of threatening her husband was arrested after a police standoff early this morning in northwest Spokane.
Rhonda R. Thompson, 49, was described by her husband as extremely agitated and combative” when officers arrived near 2500 W. Houston about 3:30 a.m.
The man said Thompson was highly intoxicated and was threatening him with a handgun, police said.
Police spent more than an hour trying to get Thompson out of the home. She was arrested without incident, and a firearm was found in her bedroom.
She's due in Superior Court this afternoon on a felony harassment charge.
“Domestic violence calls for service are consistently dangerous and unpredictable. Most parties are emotionally involved and require the patience of responding officers to diffuse the situations,” according to a police news release. “Fortunately, in this morning's incident, both the involved parties and the officers safely walked away from a potentially life threatening situation.”
A white supremacist imprisoned for violating his federal probation was resentenced in Spokane recently after prosecutors acknowledged a language glitch in the original judgment.
Keegan C. Van Tuyl, 28, (left) is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to federal prison after he was sentenced to two years in prison - the same sentence handed down a year ago but vacated after Van Tuyl called a probation condition that prohibited him from associating with “Neo-Nazi/white supremacist affiliates unconstitutionally overboard,” according to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals memorandum filed in October.
Federal prosecutors agreed that the judgment “should be changed to explicitly reflect that the condition prohibits association with known neo-Nazi/white supremacist affiliates,” according to the memo.
Van Tuyl, the son of former Central American missionaries, was transferred from federal prison to the jail on Dec. 14 and sentenced again in U.S. District Court in Spokane on Jan. 14.
He's already served three years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm but was rearrested after court officials learned he'd contacted white supremacists and left the state to attend a skinhead meeting in North Idaho in the summer of 2009.
Van Tuyl co-founded two Odinist-skinhead groups, Vangard Kindred and Valhalla-Bound Skinheads, while in prison and recruited members there, according to court testimony.
At Van Tuyl's probation revocation hearing in January 2010, Jacob Wilson, of Coeur d'Alene, described racists activities he, Van Tuyl and other skinheads committed , including maliciously harassing or assaulting African Americans and spraying racist graffiti.
Van Tuyl has been linked to a white supremacist arrested last summer on federal weapons charges, Wayde Lynn Kurt (right).
Spokane- area investigators believes Kurt, a convicted currency counterfeiter, used fraudulent identities to obtain guns and ammunition.
Kurt is considered such a flight risk that the FBI didn't give him a chance to surrender last August - an agent simply ran up and tackled him.
Kurt has pleaded not guilty to weapons charges and is in the Spokane County Jail waiting trial.
Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick on Wednesday praised Sgts. Jason Hartman and Eric Olsen for their decisions to reroute the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade after a sophisticated bomb was found along the original route.
“We are trying to have a national conversation to learn to say, ‘See something, say something,’ ” said Kirkpatrick, pictured above with Olsen. “I’d like to get all of our residents to
put that phrase into their thinking. We don’t want to be a city paralyzed by fear, but we must be a community that is mindful.”
Olsen, who was managing the traffic around the MLK march, said Hartman (right) called him at 9:37 a.m. Monday and told him about the backpack, which was discovered by three workers from the Spokane Public Facilities District.
Without enough time to determine what was inside, the sergeants decided to change the route of the march.
“We always assume the worst,” Olsen said on Wednesday. “But when I found out it was a viable device, I was both scared and relieved. I was scared that someone would do that but relieved that it was resolved. I felt very fortunate … just from the chaos and devastation it would have caused.”
The FBI said on Wednesday that hunt for the person who left the bomb will focus on two aspects: forensics and the region’s violent history with white supremacists.
A man who killed his cellmate at the Spokane County Jail in 2004 attacked his cellmate at Airway Heights Corrections Center after the man refused to bow before him and worship him as God, according to newly filed court documents.
Convicted killer and assault suspect Michael L. West, 34, (right) appeared in Superior Court via video feed from the jail Wednesday as several sheriff's deputies stood guard. He was handcuffed for hearing, unlike other inmates.
West is charged with first- and second-degree assault for an alleged attack on Airway Heights cellmates Chad E. Bolstad (bottom left) and Gary L. Welch (bottom right) in which he gouged out Bolstad's left eye, according to police.
West had been at the medium-security prison about two weeks before the Oct. 10 attack.
According to a probable cause affidavit, West screamed and chanted that he was Lucifer and all shall praise him after he was arrested.
When a detective introduced himself, West “began to tell him he was going to murder him and his family as well as 144,000 others who do not follow his word.”
Police said West was handcuffed without incident after they discovered what the chief described as a “very intense crime scene.”
At one point, West said “I just killed my chimo celly and pulled his f–ing eyes out,” according to the affidavit.
Later, video records West laughing while discussing the attack.
“I put my thumbs in his brain man popped his eyes out what he deserves he got,” West said, according to the affidavit.
Bolstad, who's to be released in 2015 for a 2007 beer robbery that involved stabbing, suffered a broken cheek bone and lost vision in the attack.
Welch, who's due out in August for forgery, theft and drug convictions and was only slightly injured, told police, West “was acting all crazy and making statements that he was God and the Son of Christ” prior to the attack, according to an affidavit.
“West was pacing around and also saying he was the Devil and both he and Bolstad had to worship him because the end times were coming,” Welch reportedly told police. West chanted “Give me the apple” as he attacked Bolstad, Welch said.
West's bond was set at $150,000 during his first appearance Wednesday. Kari Reardon is his public defender; Larry Steinmtez is prosecuting the case. His arraignment is set for Feb. 1.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Uniformed sheriffs, community activists and onetime gang members sporting facial tattoos were among a large crowd that assembled Wednesday to debate a legislative proposal aimed at restricting criminal gangs in Washington state.
The bill — proposed by Attorney General Rob McKenna and sponsored by Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches — aims to crack down on violent gang-related crime by allowing for broader injunctions on known gang activities and affiliations.
It directs legislators to request federal funding for intervention and prevention programs, expands law enforcement's ability to issue protection orders against gang members and close down housing where gang crime is known to occur. It also calls for sentence enhancements when certain felonies are committed.
“Today, the discussion is about your right to live in a private, safe community, versus your civil rights,” Ross said Wednesday. “I've worked hard … to keep an eye on how far we intrude in on someone's civil rights, while also maintaining your ability to live in an environment that is free and safe of gang violence.”
More than 60 witnesses from around Washington signed up to testify on both sides of the bill, packing into the small room and overflowing into the hallway.
While acknowledging the need to reduce gang activity, the opposition's concerns were many: Too much emphasis on suppression, instead of prevention and intervention; enormous potential for racial profiling and increased arrests of young offenders who could be reached through other methods.
Chris Hoke, a chaplain in the Skagit County Jail, has worked with gang members for the past six years and foresees a “blowback” from the bill's injunction provisions in the form of more offenders going to prison and becoming more militarized by associating with other gang member inmates.
“I see our money would be ultimately going to sending kids to 'gang university' and to come back a few years later, worse,” he said.
Several law enforcement officials came to speak in favor of the bill, lauding the provisions in Ross's proposal as new tools to help keep neighborhoods safe.
Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin and Yakima Police Sgt. Erik Hildebrand were among the law enforcement officials testifying in favor of the bill, saying it would provide as new tools to help keep neighborhoods safe. Irwin said his county already is finding success with its prevention and intervention measures, but must focus on crime-fighting first.
“We're in need of triage. We can't treat everything right now; we don't have the money to do all we need to do,” Irwin said.
Dan Sytman, a spokesman for McKenna, said the current bill reflects the need to accommodate state budget problems while still recognizing the demand for community outreach programs to reduce gang activity.
“There are lots of good programs around the state, right in the local communities. We want to support those programs,” he said.
The only suspect in the 1986 murder of a Spokane woman was arraigned today on murder charges, two weeks after being extradited from Montana.
Gary L. Trimble, 62, pleaded not guilty to the Dec. 24, 1986, murder of Dorothy E. Burdette in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon as more than a dozen of Burdette's family members looked on.
Trimble appeared via video from the Spokane County Jail with his public defender, Kari Reardon, and Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll.
Trial is set to begin March 14 on charges of first-degree murder and second-degree murder, though Reardon said she likely will ask for a continuance.
Driscoll said he filed the second-degree murder charge as a precaution in case the first charge doesn't stick. Trimble was arrested in Montana in October after DNA he submitted for a felony conviction there was linked to
Burdette, who was 62 when she was found strangled to death in High Bridge Park.
Police have submitted Trimble's DNA to see if it matches DNA found on three other murder victims from 1986 and 1987.
He remains in Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond.
One of the state's most notorious prisoners has returned to the Spokane County Jail.
Michael L. West arrived in Spokane from the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla on Tuesday to face strangulation charges for an alleged attack on his cellmates at Airway Heights Corrections Center.
West, 34, is to appear in Superior Court via video feed from the jail this afternoon. He's being housed alone in maximum security, said jail Lt. Aaron Anderton.
“We haven't had any problems with him yet, but we just want to make that we don't have any more,” Anderton said. “We know that we'll be fine as long as we followed these protocols.”
Anderton said West will be in handcuffs and likely leg shackles for court while accompanied by several guards. He'll be handcuffed when he's out of his cell for showers or visits and is not allowed to have contact with other inmates.
Anderton said the security procedures outlined for West are “almost identical” to security for accused killer Cole Strandberg.
West, convicted of brutally killing his cellmate at the Spokane County Jail in 2004, had been in minimum security at Airway Heights for just two weeks before prison staff say he gouged out a cellmate Chad E. Bolstad's left eye and severely injured his right way. Another cellmate, Gary L. Welch, suffered minor injuries.
Bolstad, 25, is scheduled to be released in 2015 for assault and robbery convictions stemming from a 2007 beer robbery that involved a stabbing. Welch is serving time for forgery, theft and drug convictions in Douglas and Chelan counties and is to be released in August. West was not scheduled to be released until 2048.
In what federal authorities are calling an act of “domestic terrorism,” a bomb capable of killing multiple people was discovered along the route of Spokane's martin Luther King, Jr., parade on Monday.
The device was found in a Swiss Army-brand backpack by Spokane city employees, who alerted authorities in time to re-route the annual Unity March.
A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
“It definitely was, by all early analysis, a viable device that was very lethal and had the potential to inflict multiple casualties,” said Frank Harrill, the special agent in charge of the Spokane FBI office. “Clearly, the timing and placement of a device – secreted in a backpack – with the Martin Luther King parade is not coincidental. We are doing everything humanly possible to identify the individuals or individual who constructed and placed this device.”
The backpack and clothing found inside are pictured above.
Sources say the bomb was equipped to detonate by a remote device, such as a car remote or a garage door opener. The bomb apparently also had its own shrapnel that could have caused significant injuries to anyone near the blast.
A domestic violence suspect accused of trapping a Spokane police officer in a choke hold Sunday remains in jail after appearing in Superior Court Tuesday on assault charges.
Andrew P. Perry, 27, allegedly attacked Officer Chris Bode after Bode responded about 2 a.m. to a report of a man who had pushed a woman down a flight of stairs at 411 E. Wabash. Perry lives there with his girlfriend, and the couple have three children, according a probably cause affidavit.
Bode said Perry ran from him but slipped and fell on ice, then arose in a “fighting stance,” according to the affidavit. Bode also fell on the ice and Perry jumped on him, police said.
“Fearing Defendant would render him unconscious and use his firearms against him, Officer Bode was about to use deadly force on Defendant, when a bystander came to Officer Bode's aid,” police said.
Perry remains in jail on $ 25,000 bond for charges of second-degree assault and fourth-degree assault.
The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office identified the man killed in Sunday's police shooting as Kenneth R. Dennis after an autopsy Tuesday. He died of gunshot wounds, but the medical examiner would not release how many.
Dennis, 26, became the fifth person killed by law enforcement in Spokane County since August after police said he armed himself with a knife during a domestic violence investigation early Sunday.
The names of the two Spokane police officers involved have not been released, but one has been identified as a 48-year-old sergeant with 18 years of experience and the other as a 31-year-old officer with two years of experience.
According to a news release, Spokane police officers were dispatched at 3:52 a.m. to 5726 N. Elgin St. for a report of domestic violence. An officer arrived on the scene at 3:57 a.m. At 3:59 a.m., a second officer arrived. Shots were fired three minutes later, at 4:02 a.m. At 4:08 a.m. the Spokane Fire Department arrived, followed by an ambulance at 4:13 a.m.
Investigators say they found a large knife near Dennis.
A multiagency team comprised of officers from the Washington State Patrol, the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting.
Sunday’s is the seventh in which law enforcement officers have shot Spokane County residents since Aug. 25, when a sheriff’s deputy killed a Spokane Valley pastor.
Five of the shootings have been fatal. Spokane Police Department was involved in three fatal shootings last year, including a March incident on the South Hill. The Spokane County Sheriff's Office was involved in two, with the last two shootings having occurred in 2006. SPD had one in 2007 and two in 2009, but neither agency was involved in a fatal shooting in 2008.
If anyone would like to talk to The Spokesman-Review about Dennis, please call (509) 459-5534.
Three men arrested during a raid on the Hermanos biker gang in Sandpoint last fall have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Montana.
Hermanos road captain Steven Jay Beal (keft), member Dale Michael Champine (right), 41, and close associate Paul Leslie Spencer are charged with conspiracy to traffick in stolen property in a sealed indictment in U.S. District Court in Missoula, said Sgt. Marty Ryan with the Bonner County Sheriff's Office.
Champine was arrested when he arrived at the Kootenai County courthouse last week for a hearing on an unrelated charge for allegedly damaging a psychiatric room at Kootenai Medical Center in 2008.
Beal was arrested at his work, Fantastic Sam's in Ponderay.
Spencer (left) remains at large, Ryan said.
Champine and Beal are expected to appear in federal court in Montana shortly. The men already face drug and stolen property charges in Bonner County District Court. Champine and Beal also are charged with recruiting criminal gang members, a felony implemented in Idaho in 2006.
Ryan said he can't say if more federal indictments are expected.
“This has been a constantly evolving investigation,” Ryan said.
The yearlong investigation, dubbed Operation New Hight, culminated last fall when more than 20 people, including five members of the biker gang, were charged in what Ryan describes as an ongoing criminal conspiracy involving the Hermanos motorcycle gang, a chapter of the international Bandidos outlaw biker gang.
Ryan said the Hermanos are “foot soldiers” for a larger operation.
About a month after the raids, a suspected Bandidos motorcycle gang member was arrested on Interstate 90 with a large bag of marijuana, according to a warrant used to search his 2006 Harley Davidson Ultra Glide motorcycle.
Matthew T. Lantz, of Rye, Colo., was released from jail on his own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court on a felony drug charge, but the charge has not been filed. Lantz, 42, was wearing a Bandido's motorcycle club sweatshirt when he was stopped for speeding at milepost 291 on Oct. 22 told a Washington State Patrol trooper that he “was an associate to the club,” according to the warrant.
Lantz's driver's license was suspended, and the trooper found a small bag of marijuana and a glass pipe with burnt pot inside. While photographing evidence, the trooper heard Lantz say “I just picked up the load at the Kon Tiki at State Line Village and was taking it to…well, never mind,” according to the warrant.
Investigators say they found five ziplock bags weighing about 600 grams, or about 1.3 pounds.
It's unclear if Lantz is connected to the Sandpoint case, in which arrests included a restaurant owner and waitresses and Hermanos local president Bryan M. Lukezich,who is out of jail on bond awaiting an August trial.
Of the 26 indictments in Bonner County, 19 were for drug-related offenses.
Brenda Smith, wife of Hermanos sergeant at arms James Ray Smith, said Bonner County authorities are unfairly targeting them because they ride motorcycles.
“The only type of education they have on motorcycle gangs is what they saw on the History Channel,” Smith said.
She said investigators did not find drugs when they arrested her husband but seized clothing associated with the Hermanos.
“The drugs indictments have nothing to do with our club,” she said after her husband's arrest. “We are being profiled and this is wrong.”
A Post Falls man will spend at least two years in prison for breaking the leg of his fiancée’s child, according to the Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office.
Michael Robert Edinger, 27, was charged after he and his fiancée, Rebecca L. Mullin, took Mullin’s 2-year-old son to Kootenai Medical Center Sept. 24 with a broken leg.
District Judge Lansing Haynes this week sentenced Edinger to 10 years in prison with elgibility for parole after two years.
Mullin’s son was in Edinger’s care at the time he was injured. Edinger initially said the boy injured himself while they were playing, but nurses said the injury – a spiral fracture of the left femur – is extremely rare and likely caused by abuse.
Edinger, who police said “sat emotionless” during an interview, eventually told authorities he “snapped” while changing the boy Sept. 23 and “grabbed the boy’s leg, twisted it, and slammed it to the floor,” police said.
The boy also had several other broken bones that appeared to be weeks old, nurses said.
“The long sentence imposed by Judge Haynes is justified by the nature of this crime, especially taking into consideration that a defenseless child was seriously injured,” Kootenai County Prosectuor Barry McHugh said in a news release. “Mr. Edinger’s lack of remorse for his conduct is troubling.”
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Three people convicted for helping a man who gunned down four police officers in a Tacoma suburb have been sentenced to prison.
Pierce County prosecutors alleged they provided medical aid, transportation and other assistance to Maurice Clemmons as he tried to evade a massive manhunt following the shootings in November 2009.
The News Tribune of Tacoma reports Eddie Davis received more than a decade for helping Clemmons after the shooting and for gun charges.
Clemmons' friend, Doug Davis, was sentenced to 7½ years on weapons charges and his aunt Letrecia Nelson to more than six years.
They were convicted in December while Clemmons' half-brother, Rickey Hinton, was acquitted of all charges.
In all, seven people were accused of helping Clemmons. Five others were convicted, and alleged getaway driver Darcus Allen (right) awaits trial.
Killed in the shooting were Lakewood officers Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39.
They're pictured above from left to right.
Crime Stoppers is offering rewards for tips that help arrest three repeat offenders wanted for probation violations.
Each suspect has a warrant out for escape from community custody. Move your curser of their photos for more information.
Anyone with tips on their locations is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that solve a burglary in which two Spokane-area companies lost more than $5000 in copper wire and power tools.
The crime is believed to have occurred between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Wednesday at an Avista Utilities storage site at 2400 N. Dollar Road in Spokane Valley.
Employees believe the thief or thieves cut a padlock from a gate and backed a vehicle into the lot, then removed more than $3,000 in items from five Avista work trucks using a wheelbarrow.
Bouten Construction, which also stored items at the site, lost several power tools valued at about $2,000, including two Skil circular saws, two roto hammers and two cordless battery charges.
Anyone with information on is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.
A Spokane Valley police officer concerned about a month-old expired license and non-transferred car title ended up arresting a teenager on marijuana charges Thursday night, the police department announced today.
Officer Nathan Bohanek identified Justin R. Bavuso, 18, as the owner of a Ford Crown Victoria, which had been reported sold in October but did not have a transferred title and had plates that expired in December, police said.
Bohanek learned Bavuso had an expired driver's license, and “the stage was set,” according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan. He stopped the car a short while later at Third Avenue and Pines Road and arrested Bavuso, then saw marijuana in the car “in plain view,” Reagan said.
Bavuso had a drug scale in the car and $200 in cash, police say. Reagan emphasized in his news release that the cash was in “mostly twenty, ten and five-dollar bills.”
Bavuso was booked into jail on a felony marijuana charge and misdemeanor charges of driving while suspended and failure to transfer title.
A forged prescription intended to garner 90 Hydrocodone pills instead led to the arrest of a 20-year-old Spokane Valley man on Thursday.
Employees at Walgreens, 2702 N. Argonne Road, suspected Robert G. Morey was handing them a forged prescription and called 911 after an employees confirmed the forgery by calling the doctor's office listed on the prescription, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said today.
Deputy Tom Edelbrock arrived just as Morey was receiving the medication and arrested him about 3:45 p.m. He believes Morey had been offered cash to obtain the pills.
Morey was booked into jail for felony possession of a controlled substance and is due in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that identify a man and woman who,k between Dec. 1 and Dec. 3, used stolen credit card information to reload Visa gift cards purchased from Safeway at 1001 N. 4th St. in Coeur d'Alene.
The thieves used the cards to buy $2,500 in items from local businesses.
Safeway surveillance photos show a woman with light brown or blond hair and wearing a dark, v-neck shirt and dark pants. The man is wearing a blueish plaid coat with a light-colored collared shirt and has dark hair.
Anyone with information on their identities is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (208) 667-2111 or 1-800-222-TIPS. Tipsters do not have to use their name but should provide a code name or number.
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — A Mankato man landed in jail after calling 911 and telling police a prostitute failed to deliver on his $200 payment.
Authorities say the 26-year-old man called police from the Super 8 motel in Mankato Wednesday and told officers he agreed to pay the woman for sex, but that she took his cash without holding up her end of the deal.
Officers tracked down the woman after the man gave police a description of her vehicle. Both the man and woman found themselves behind bars in the Blue Earth County Jail.
The Free Press says that besides prostitution and disorderly conduct citations, police issued a third misdemeanor charge of doing business without a peddler's permit.
IRONWOOD, Mich. (AP) — Police in Michigan's remote western Upper Peninsula probably won't make a recent snake theft complaint a high priority.
That's because the man reporting is pet stolen says it happened in November 2009.
The Daily Globe says the Ironwood man filed the complaint Monday. He says he thinks he knows who stole his snow corn snake from a home in Ironwood.
Police say they asked him why he waited 14 months to come forward, and he said he was doing “some bad stuff” with friends at the time his snake disappeared.
Officers say they interviewed the woman fingered as the thief, and she denied stealing it.
Her theory? The man just misplaced it.
The man says he bought the constrictor on the Internet for $80.
BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore police say a man dressed as a woman has been impersonating an officer and conducting traffic stops.
The most recent bogus stop was on Sunday, when police say the man stopped a woman and made off with her driver's license. Police say the man was wearing knee-high boots and a shoulder-length black wig.
Erin Hartz tells The Baltimore Sun that she was pulled over by the man last month. She says he looked at her driver's license and registration and warned her not to speed.
Hartz says the man was wearing a ginger bob-style wig, an oversized police hat and pleated pants that “poofed” at the hips.
She says the incident reminded her of a John Waters movie and that “this would only happen in Baltimore.”
DETROIT (AP) — Bold bandits have made a pricey BMW headed for home the hottest item at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Police tell television stations WXYZ and WJBK that they are searching for a $140,000, gray-colored 7 Series BMW with New Jersey license plates after it was stolen Wednesday night in front of the Westin Book Cadillac hotel.
WXYZ says the BMW was one of 19 brought to Detroit for press week.
Police say the cars were being loaded into a car carrier headed back to New Jersey, when a hotel valet brought the BMW out of the garage and handed it to the transporter. Two car thieves jumped in and took off after the handler stepped away.
The car is equipped with BMW Assist, which locates stolen cars.
An observant postal inspector arrested two mail theft suspects this week after recognizing them from surveillance video.
Tony L. Gust, 31, and Dustin C. Hoyle, 22, were arrested Tuesday after admitting to breaking into post office boxes at the Opportunity station and stealing mail, according to federal court documents.
The men are accused of breaking into 32 post office boxes and 18 parcel lockers at the post office at 11712 E. Sprague Ave early Monday.
Video showed two men breaking into the boxes about 12:52 a.m. and leaving at 1:07 a.m., then returning at 1:42 a.m. and using a knife to access the lockers, according to court documents.
U.S. Postal Inspector Shannon Saylor was patrolling the area of Pines and 5th Avenue Tuesday when she saw two men who looked like the burglars.
Hoyle and Gust were detained for questioning then arrested after reportedly admitting to the crime.
Both were allowed to leave jail after appearing in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, but Hoyle remains in jail on an unrelated negligent driving charge.
A burglar stole a credit card reader and a small amount of cash from a Spokane Valley pizza shop overnight Tuesday.
The owner of Buck's Pizza, 13221 E. 32nd Ave., told police the thief pried open a back door and an interior door to access the office.
A sounding alarm likely prevented the thieves from gathering “additional booty,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release.
Tracks in snow and pry marks on a door at a neighboring business, R. Salon, indict the thief also tried to break in there, police said.
Police found the card reader and a pry bar inside a stolen truck processed on Tuesday, but no arrests have been made, Regan said.
Someone stole more than $5,000 worth of tools and copper wire from an Avista Utilities storage site in Spokane Valley early Wednesday.
Employees at 2400 N. Dollar Road believe the thief or thieves cut a padlock from a gate and backed a vehicle into the lot, then removed more than $3,000 in items from five Avista work trucks using a wheelbarrow.
Bouten Construction, which also stored items at the site, lost several power tools valued at about $2,000, including two Skil circular saws, two roto hammers and two cordless battery charges.
Based on the amount of snow accumulated in footprints, police believe the break-in likely occurred sometime between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
A Canadian truck driver arrested with 300 pounds of marijuana bound for an Avista plant in Kettle Falls will spend a year in federal prison.
Matthew G. Tutt, 32, was booked into Spokane County Jail after his plea hearing last week in U.S. District Court and is awaiting transport to federal prison.
Tutt pleaded guilty Jan. 5 to importation of 100 kilograms or more of marijuana and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and four years of probation.
Tutt was driving a load of wood chips for Middleton Trucking in Maple Ridge, B.C., when border agents found marijuana in five wooden crates hidden inside the load at the Kettle Falls plant.
Tutt was allowed to leave jail on bond after his arrest because his older brother had been diagnosed with cancer and given 18 months to live.
He's one of several Canadian pot smugglers sentenced in U.S. District Court in Spokane over the past year. William Richard Paterson, 50, and Jahrum David Oakes, 32, both of Kelowna B.C, are serving 40 months and two years, respectfully, after they were caught with eight duffel bags filled with marijuana in November 2009.
A Cheney man who distributed child pornography using his former co-worker's stolen identity is back in jail.
John Alan Harmon, 57, was ordered held without bail this morning on federal allegations that he distributed child pornography last January and in October 2009. The sex offender left prison in 2005 after serving about three years for the same crime.
His lawyer, Bevan Maxey, said Harmon has strong ties to Cheney and will show up for court if he's out of jail, but U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno said he needed a more structured release plan before he could be released.
“There is not issue as far as risk of flight. The issue in this case is risk to the community,” Imbrogno said. “My impression is Mr. Harmon is really trying, but these alleged difficulties are simply too pervasive right now.”
A grand jury indicted Harmon on charges of distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography. He also could be forced to forfeit a computer seized from his home on Jan. 7, 2010.
Harmon faces at least 15 years in prison because of his previous conviction for distribution of child pornography. He was arrested Monday and pleaded not guilty to both charges in U.S. District Court that afternoon.
Beef jerky may have helped Spokane police seal a case against a robbery suspect.
Michael T. Gaze, 28, denied robbing the Conoco at 1602 W. 3rd., but police found a piece of jerky stolen from the store on the ground near him. Gaze was scheduled to plead not guilty to first-degree robbery on Wednesday, but his arraignment was postponed to Jan. 18.
He was arrested Jan. 3 after a clerk said he claimed to have a gun and stole the jerky after she refused to sell him beer because he was drunk, Spokane police said.
The clerk told police that Gaze claimed to have a gun and reached toward his waistband as another employee tried to grab the case of beer from him. The employee saved the beer, but Gaze threatened to shoot him, grabbed a $6.59 package of beef jerky and walked out of the store.
Gaze was arrested a short while later near Pacific and Maple. Already on probation for a drunken driving conviction in 2009, he remains in Spokane County Jail on $75,000 bond.
A man suspected of stealing fuel from a Spokane gas station led police from two cities on a lengthy chase on slushy roads Wednesday before ramming a patrol car, officials said.
Police spotted Jacob S. Beck, 33, driving eastbound on Trent Avenue in a 1988 Mercury Cougar after reports of a driver stealing $54 in fuel from a station at 3030 E. Euclid Ave. about 3:40 p.m. Witnesses said Beck drove his car at a customer who tried to stop him, causing a gash on the man’s hand, which led to a robbery charge.
Beck ran a red light at Fancher and Broadway and turned eastbound at Sprague at speeds of 50 mph in the 35 mph zone, police say, then allegedly rammed a patrol car driven by Spokane Valley police Officer Hal Whapeles, causing minor damage.
Police called off the chase because of heavy traffic and dangerous road conditions but soon found the Cougar abandoned at Appleway Chevrolet near Sprague and Dishman Road after 911 received several reports of the car driving recklessly.
Officers found Beck in a vacant lot near Sprague and Vista and booked him into jail on robbery, assault and eluding police charges.
Beck is on probation in Washington and has a non-extraditable burglary warrant out of California. He was a Crime Stoppers fugitive last summer when he was wanted by the Department of Corrections for escape from community custody.
He has previous convictions for vehicle theft, drug possession, burglary, theft, driving while suspended, forgery, making false statements, unlawful possession of firearms, possession of stolen property and probation violations, according to Crime Stoppers.
Anyone with information about Wednesday's incident is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
An attorney representing Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. is asking a federal judge to postpone the March 7 trial while an appeals court considers questions over the admissibility of certain information about the fatal encounter with Otto Zehm .
Carl Oreskovich (right) wrote in the request that court officials say it generally takes the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals three months to a year to issue its written decisions. Oreskovich and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Durkin have submitted lengthy written arguments and are scheduled to appear in Seattle on Feb. 7 to present oral arguments to a 9th Circuit panel on the pre-trial admissibility dispute.
“While there is no way to predict a timetable as to when the Ninth Circuit will issue its written opinion, it is highly unlikely that a decision will be available prior to the March 7, 2011 trial date,” Oreskovich wrote.
Federal prosecutors are asking appellate judges to overturn a decision by U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle to bar evidence showing that Zehm, a 36-year-old mentally ill janitor (pictured left), had not committed a crime on March 18, 2006, when he was beaten and shocked with a Taser by Thompson.
Oreskovich said the trial may include up to 100 witnesses.
“Many of these witnesses will need to be interviewed again prior to the time of trial,” Oreskovich wrote. “This process will take an enormous amount of time and resources, all of which will be wasted again if the trial date is not moved.”
Federal prosecutors have not yet filed a response.
An apparent trip to buy chocolate milk led to a felony drug arrest Tuesday night in Spokane Valley.
Officers Ryan Walter and Jason Karnitz followed a 1992 Eagle Talon after it pulled out of a convenience store parking lot at Park and Broadway about 9 p.m.
The driver made three quick turns, the pulled behind a closed business and turned off his headlights, police said. Curious, Walter and Karnitz pulled behind the Talon as the driver, Christopher Neal Kinyon, 39, exited the car.
The officers say Kinyon didn't follow their commands and reached inside the car as if he were reaching for a weapon. They ordered him away from the car, then spotted a small bag of methamphetamine in the center console where Kinyon had reached.
Beside the meth was recently purchased chocolate milk, police said. Kinyon had a suspended driver's license and was booked into jail for that and the drug charge. Officers impounded the Talon after being unable to determine who owned it, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
Kinyon was convicted in 2006 of three counts of delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
A crime suspect’s angry courthouse outburst after a series of prosecution mixups involving the case against him has led to an unusual new charge and prompted authorities to bring in an outside judge to preside over it.
Roland W. Finney, who will turn 36 Friday, faces a single charge of intimidating a public servant in connection with a verbal altercation with Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla last year.
Spokane County prosecutors already had brought in Lincoln County Prosecutor Jeff Barkdull to handle the case, but Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen on Monday decided to send the case to a judge outside of the county, citing a witness list that includes a deputy prosecutor and fellow Superior Court Judge Michael Price.
Read the rest of Thomas Clouse's story here. It includes this line: “The truth of the matter is that for some, life is a bitch.”
Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker will announce next week whether Deputy Brian Hirzel will face criminal charges for shooting Pastor Wayne Scott Creach on Aug. 25 in Spokane Valley.
Spokane Police Department investigators met Tuesday to discuss the findings of a private investigator hired by the Creach family.
“In consideration of that meeting and whether there will be any ramifications for the criminal investigation, (Tucker) has decided to wait until next week to release the results of the investigation conducted by his office,” according to a news release by Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter, Spokane County spokeswoman.
A northwestern Montana couple involved in the largest animal hoarding case in Idaho history were charged with animal cruelty recently after authorities found more than 100 cats living in their two small feces-filled trailers last month.
Edwin (pictured in 2006) and Cheryl Criswell face felony aggravated animal cruelty after police seized the cats Dec. 22 in Marion, Mont.
They were booked into Flathead County Jail on Friday. The maximum sentence is up to two years in jail and a $2,500 fine.
It’s not the first time the Criswells have faced animal cruelty charges.
In September 2006, they were convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty in the largest animal hoarding case in Idaho history.
Gonzaga University School of Law announced this week that it has hired a new dean who will start July 1.
Jane B. Korn, the vice dean at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, has been selected as the law school’s first female dean, according to a news release.
The announcement followed a seven-month search.
Korn replaces Earl F. Martin, who became dean in July 2005 and stepped down to become Gonzaga’s executive vice president.
Law professor George Critchlow has served as acting dean last year and during the current academic year.
A convicted burglar accused of stealing a Spokane man's gold and silver coin collection began this week after the suspect backed out of a scheduled plea hearing at the last minute.
Gary D. McCabe, 45, is facing up to seven years in prison in connection with a burglary that occurred last August in the home of Dennis and Bette Miller.
Attorneys gave opening statements today before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins. Stolen were thousands of dollars worth of gold and silver coins, including some from the U.S. Mint dating back to 1960.
Some of the coins have been recovered and efforts continue to recover the rest. McCabe had been scheduled to plead guilty to the current charges on Monday. He was convicted in October for a different burglary that occurred in October 2009 on South Glenrose Road.
McCabe’s rap sheet also includes property crime convictions that date back to age 12.
Reports of a woman whistling from a parked car led to the arrest of a suspected car thief early today.
Ronda Marie Tibbet, 40, appeared to be drunk or on drugs and “could only answer nonsensically” when sheriff's Deputy Daryl Rohde asked her about the Pontiac Grand Am that was stuck in a snow bank at Highway 27 and Elder about 3:15 a.m.
Tibbet was in the driver's seat, and Rohde said the car's ignition and door and trunk locks had been punched out.
The car's Spokane Valley owner told dispatchers she left the car in a church parking lot at 40th and Bowdish and did not know Tibbet and never gave her permission to take the car.
Tibbett, of Spokane, was booked into jail for possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
Deputies say a Spokane woman caught driving with a suspended license picked the wrong friend to pick up the car: another woman with a suspended license.
Dawn R. Kortness, 37, was stopped Monday in Rockford for driving a 1997 Ford with an alleged defective license plate light and illegally tinted windows.
She was arrested for the suspended license and for a felony drug warrant, then asked if her passenger, Regeena M. Vaughn, 42, could drive the Ford, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.
But Deputy Chuck Sciortino said Vaughn appeared to be under the influence of drugs and called for a tow truck after learning her driver's license was suspended. He found an empty baggie with traces of methamphetamine as well as 16 tablets of Oxycodone and Buspirone scattered on the Ford's floorboard.
Vaughn did not have a prescription for the drugs and was arrested. Both women have previous convictions for driving with a suspended license and are due in Superior Court this afternoon.
A sex offender considered likely to reoffend has registered to live as a transient in Spokane County, officials announced today.
Harold Edward Martin, 35, was convicted of raping a relative at knife point and attacking his woman counselor during sex offender therapy, according to previously published reports.
Martin has convictions for custodial assault with sexual motivation, first-degree rape and second-degree incest. His victims were a 51-year-old woman, a 9-year-old girl and an 11-year-old girl, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said.
He also has several convictions for failing to register as a sex offender and has lived in Post Falls as well as the Spokane area.
A Kootenai County sheriff's deputy called him “an extremely dangerous person” when he was wanted in 2005.
Martin currently is not suspected of any wrongdoing, but authorities want the public to be aware of his presence. He is a level 3 sex offender, the classification considered most likely to reoffend.
Crime Stoppers received 795 tips and solved 33 cases in 2010, leading to more than $3,400 in rewards, the organization announced. Not all the money has been collected.
Most of it resulted from the arrests of 29 fugitives, the resolution of four criminal cases and the payment of five rewards regarding weapons at schools.
The “Keep Guns Outta Schools” program pays $75 for information that leads to the seizure of a weapon on school property. In total, 234 suspects were arrested after being featured on the Crime Stoppers website, Spokane-area television programs and Washington’s Most Wanted, a program featuring unsolved crimes and fugitives from all over Washington.
Since its inception in 2008, program has paid out $156,845.
“In many instances, local crimes would have gone unsolved had not a tipster provided a key tip that led police to its resolution,” according to a news release.
A Spokane Valley man was arrested Saturday after police investigating domestic violence allegations found him with a handgun. Rashad K. Harper, 29, was arrested for felon in possession of a firearm after police detained him near a convenience store.
His girlfriend had called 911 about 4:40 p.m. and said he'd damaged the windshield of her car during an argument at their apartment in 10800 block of East Third, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
The woman said Harper had access to a gun, and officers learned he had a Washington Department of Corrections warrant out for his arrest.
Police found a Tech 9 semi-automatic gun in his jacket sleeve and two loaded 10-round pistol magazines in his inside jacket pocket. Harper, who has previous domestic violence convictions, also had a loaded 30-round ammo magazine in his pants pocket.
The city’s job offer to Brad Thoma came the same day a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced in Spokane County District Court for drunken driving for an April incident.
Darin M. Schaum (pictured with his lawyer in April) pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and was ordered to spend 15 days on electronic home monitoring, be on probation for two years and perform 24 hours of community service. He’ll be required to drive with an ignition interlock device on his car for a year.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said he will sign a waiver to allow Schaum to drive a patrol car without the device but won’t sign them for any future DUI arrests for any employees.
“Because of the seriousness of DUI, I’m just not willing to sign waivers anymore,” Knezovich said.
Schaum refused to submit a blood sample for alcohol tests after his arrest but retained his driver’s license after a hearing with the state Department of Licensing.
He’ll lose it for 90 days because of the DUI conviction but will have an occupational license allowing him to drive during work, Knezovich said.
Schaum was suspended for three weeks last summer because of the arrest, Knezovich said. Lt. Stephen Jones, who was cited for drunken driving after a crash in Liberty Lake last January, was suspended for two weeks. His DUI charge has not been resolved.
A former Spokane police sergeant fired after a drunken hit-and-run crash has been offered a spot as a detective after a change in state law lifted his driving restrictions.
City officials notified Bradley N. Thoma on Friday that he can return at the demoted level immediately after he obtained an unrestricted driver’s license this week, said Marlene Feist, city spokeswoman.
Thoma left the Spokane Police Department in December 2009 after Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said he wouldn’t be able to work as long as he was required to drive with an ignition interlock device.
But the state Legislature adjusted the law effective Jan. 1, and Thoma no longer has to drive with the device.
Thoma, a 20-year police veteran, has not yet accepted the position, which pays between $74,000 and $82,000 annually. He made about $91,000 as a sergeant.
Two caretakers have arrested and charged with assaulting a child in their home in Marcus, Wash., north of Kettle Falls.
Brian D. Lembcke, 34, and Rebecca L. Pelissier, 37, were arrested on charges of third-degree assault of a child and booked into Stevens County Jail Thursday. They allegedly assaulted an 11-year-old girl they had been caring for. It is unclear what their relationship is to the child.
Stevens County sheriff's deputies were called to a report the girl had been assaulted on Wednesday.
They obtained a search warrant on the home to recover items used in the alleged assault. Itwas unclear what the items were or if any were recovered.
The case has been turned over to the Stevens County prosecutor's office. Third-degree assault of a child is a class C felony in Washington.
A well-known anti-death penalty lawyer tapped to represent alleged Tucson, Ariz., shooter Jared Loughner led child-killer Joseph Duncan's defense team during his 2008 trial in Boise.
Judy Clarke, formerly federal defender for Eastern Washington and Idaho, has also defended Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, child-killer Susan Smith and domestic terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Eric Robert Rudolph.
Clarke (pictured in 2007) was present during Duncan's death penalty trial in Boise, where he represented himself as his team of court-appointed lawyers stood by. They had earlier tried to leave Duncan's case, saying their participation would violate their professional ethics.
“We are not gunslingers who do the bidding of someone who does not have a rational understanding,” Clarke told U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge.
Lodge declined Clarke's request.
Clarke currently is a lawyer in San Diego, where she has also been a federal defender.
She was called on over the weekend to defend Loughner, who is accused of shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during an event in Tucson on Saturday. He's also accused of killing six others, including U.S. District Judge John Roll.
Clarke worked in Eastern Washington and Idaho from 1992 to June 2002. Her husband, Speedy Rice, was an instructor at Gonzaga Law School. She has twice argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and named one of her dogs in honor of former Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas.
Kristin Bell had what she calls a moment of weakness that has turned into a 2 1/2-year legal nightmare and forced her to give up a dream of ever working as a grade-school teacher.
Bell, 24, admits that she foolishly stole $163 worth of items in 2008 from a craft store in Cheney. But it’s what happened on her way to her car that forever changed her life and sparked a legal debate that continues today.
“It’s just been such an ordeal,” said Bell, who is about three classes short of her degree, unemployed and recently had a son. “I obviously admitted I shoplifted and paid the fines for it. I don’t believe being charged with robbery was right at all. It’s been ridiculous.”
The case, and others like it, has raised questions within Spokane’s legal community as to whether justice is being served when prosecutors turn what appears to be a shoplifting case into a felony at the same time they complain to county commissioners and taxpayers that they are understaffed and overworked.
Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker said Friday that he is close to making a decision on whether Deputy Brian Hirzel will face criminal charges for shooting Pastor Wayne Scott Creach on Aug. 25 in Spokane Valley.
Tucker said Chief Deputy Criminal Prosecutor Jack Driscoll needs to review the report with Spokane Police Detective Brian Hamond early next week before handing it over for Tucker’s review.
“Also, I understand that SPD investigators are meeting on Tuesday to consider if any of the private investigators’ information has criminal/civil implications and needs further investigation before a final decision is made,” Tucker wrote in an e-mail responding to questions.
Alan Creach, son of the slain pastor, reminded Tucker in a different e-mail Friday that he promised to meet with the family before announcing his decision.
Creach expressed concern that he has had no updates about the progress of the case from the prosecutor’s office.
A retired Spokane firefighter with a history of impaired driving and a conviction for vehicular homicide was arrested again Thursday after a state trooper smelled alcohol on his breath.
David W. Batty, 55, of Elk, had a blood alcohol level of twice the legal limit for driving when he was stopped for speeding about 11:30 a.m. at milepost 310 on U.S. Highway 2, according to Washington State Patrol.
Batty was arrested for felony drunken driving because of a conviction in 1993 for a fatal, alcohol-related car crash on the same road.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price set Batty’s bond at $5,000 today and prohibited him from driving and from consuming alcohol.
“Apparently Mr. Batty’s had some alcohol treatment on a couple of occasions, and, regretfully, it doesn’t appear to have taken hold,” Price said. I’m sure Mr. Batty is a nice gentleman, but I’ve got some real concerns about him being out there driving a vehicle with his inability to control his alcohol consumption.”
Deputy Prosecutor George Gagnon said he wasn’t concerned that Batty was a flight risk.
“We’re more interested here in community safety,” Gagnon said. “He’s already killed one person.”
Batty was rehired by the Spokane Fire Department after serving time in prison for vehicular homicide but was on medical leave when he caused a crash in January 2007 that killed three people. He was not charged in that crash but never returned to the Fire Department.
Batty’s latest DUI conviction came after he was stopped in July 2008 and tests showed he was impaired on prescription drugs and alcohol. He was sentenced to nine months in jail in 2009 for felony drunken driving.
Batty told police on Thursday that he had two drinks early that morning and had taken four prescription medications.
His public defender, Derek Reid, said Batty is in “significant pain” because of a back injury.
In a 911 call released Thursday, a Taco Bell employee identified only as Shane asks for police to remove a man who had entered the store’s “employee area.” He said the man was not aggressive, violent or threatening.
“He’s just really shaken up, but we’re always supposed to make sure nobody comes back here, and he just kind of talked himself back here,” the employee said. The employee said Thomas was acting “like he just saw something, like somebody’s after him.”
About a minute into the call, the employee said the man had locked himself in the cooler.
As police await toxicology reports in Richard Tyrone Thomas’ bizarre death, his family is questioning how a man just beginning his second term at Spokane Community College could end up dead in a fast-food restaurant storage cooler.
“He wasn’t a crazed, deranged person out on the street,” said his sister, Gayla Wright. “Something happened at that store, and we don’t know what that is.”
A suspect in the 1986 murder of a Spokane woman remains in jail on $1 million bond after making his first appearance before a Spokane County judge Thursday.
Police obtained new DNA samples from Gary Lyle Trimble, 62, that will be analyzed to see if they match DNA found on three other Spokane murder victims, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.
Trimble appeared via video feed from Spokane County Jail, where he was booked about 3 p.m. Wednesday after being extradited from Teton County, Mont. He's pictured with his public defender, Kari Reardon, and Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll.
A Spokane man suspected of shooting his 20-year-old girlfriend to death was transported back to Spokane Thursday after undergoing treatment at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Spokane police officers drove to King County Jail to take custody of Tristen Nebrae Jordan, 24, and bring him to Spokane, where he was booked into on a second-degree murder charge. He's to appear in court this afternoon.
Jordan, a former Marine, allegedly shot Samantha Clark Franco about 1:30 a.m. Dec. 12 on the 800 block of East Augusta Avenue before turning the gun on himself.
Police found him on the Gonzaga University campus near the McCarthey Athletic Center with a gunshot wound to the head. He was arrested after leading police on a short foot chase and taken to Harborview for treatment.
Spokane police hired Seattle police to guard Jordan while in the hospital. Friends said Franco had a 9-month-old baby and lived with her mother at the Augusta Avenue home.
By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Jurors in the trial of a former police chief watched video Thursday of an 8-year-old boy accidentally shooting himself to death with an Uzi submachine gun at a 2008 gun fair, a sight that prompted a collective gasp in the courtroom.
The video, taken by the boy's father, shows Christopher Bizilj, of Ashford, Conn., shooting the 9 mm micro Uzi when the front of the weapon kicks back toward his head and part of the boy's skull appears to fly off.
Former Pelham, Mass., police Chief Edward Fleury, (right) whose company co-sponsored the gun fair at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and furnishing weapons to a minor. He's on trial in Hampden Superior Court in Springfield.
The boy's father, emergency room Dr. Charles Bizilj, testified Thursday that he videotaped Christopher with the micro Uzi, which jammed several times. He said he started and stopped videotaping several times as the gun jammed. At one point, he said he picked his camera up, looked toward the firing line and couldn't see Christopher.
“Chris was not in the viewfinder,” Bizilj (left) testified calmly with no visible signs of emotion. “Chris was on the ground. I ran over to him. His eyes were open. I saw no reason for him to be on the ground. I tried to talk to him. He didn't respond. I put my hand behind his head to pick him up. … There was a large portion of his cranium missing.”
Bizilj said he gave medical attention to Christopher until paramedics arrived.
Some relatives began to cry during the testimony, and several left the courtroom. They declined to comment earlier in the day.
Dr. Bizilj said his two young sons were excited about the gun fair, which he had first heard about months earlier at a Labor Day party and in talks with friends.
“This was a big event,” Bizilj testified. “Christopher wore his special camo pants, camo shoes and a jacket with big pockets because he had been in the habit of collecting shells off the ground.”
The doctor said his sons had used firearms but had never shot automatic weapons before the machine gun shoot in Westfield, about 10 miles west of Springfield.
Bizilj said he, his father-in-law and his older son Colin, then 11, fired a larger Uzi that they selected before they went shooting. He said the Uzi jammed when Colin was shooting it, and the range master picked out the micro Uzi.
Bizilj said Colin fired the micro Uzi. When he was done, Christopher stepped up to the firing line with the range master, who was next to the boy when the shooting happened.
Prosecutor William Bennett has said Christopher was too young to control the powerful weapon, which fires 1,200 rounds per minute. A now-retired state medical examiner (pictured below who performed an autopsy on Christopher testified that the boy died from a single bullet wound that caused major brain damage and bleeding.
Fleury's company, COPS Firearms & Training, co-sponsored the event with the Westfield Sportsman's Club. When asked by Bennett if he had thought about safety before the event, Bizilj said, “You can imagine this has gone through my head a thousand times.”
He said that from reading the flier for the machine gun shoot and talking with friends, he thought the event would be safe and well-supervised.
Bizilj acknowledged under cross-examination by Fleury's lawyer, Rosemary Scapicchio, that he signed a waiver at the Sportsman's Club before the shooting saying he was aware of the possible risks, including death, and absolved anyone of liability. He also acknowledged that he told reporters soon after the event that he believed it was a tragic accident but later decided to file a lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed against the Westfield Sportsman's Club, Fleury and two other co-defendants for negligence. It was settled last month for about $700,000, but Fleury wasn't part of the settlement, Scapicchio said.
Bizilj said his family would use the money to set up a foundation for children's activities.
During opening statement Tuesday, Scapicchio said Fleury wasn't to blame for the boy's death and that much of the responsibility fell on Dr. Bizilj for allowing his son to shoot a dangerous weapon.
Prosecutors have said that Charles Bizilj was not charged because he was a layman and based his decision to allow his sons to fire the gun on information from others who should have known it was too dangerous.
Two men who supplied the machine guns for the event, Carl Giuffre and Domenico Spano, both of Connecticut, had conducted the same gun shoot at the Westfield club for seven years without incident. They have pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and are awaiting trial.
PARIS, Tenn. (AP) — When a Henry County deputy finally stopped a speeding car on the wrong side of a highway, he found it had been driven by a 77-year-old grandmother.
Not that the stop was easy, reports The Paris Post-Intelligencer.
Barely an hour into the new year, Lt. Stan Pinson saw the car headed the wrong way in the northeast-bound lanes of divided Highway 79 northeast of Paris.
Pinson says driver Syble Dickens ignored the blue lights and siren, dodged spike strips and finally pulled over, saying she was still having “a good time.”
She's charged with DUI, speeding, reckless endangerment and failure to yield. Her 29-year-old grandson is charged with public intoxication. He slept through the chase.
Both are to appear in court Thursday.
JEROME, Idaho (AP) — Police in Idaho say a man who asked authorities to arrest and deport him to Mexico stole a squad car after his request was denied.
The Idaho Mountain Express reports that 38-year-old Guadalupe Cruz-Vasquez went to the Jerome County Sheriff's office Monday night and demanded to be deported.
Police Sgt. Duane Rubink says authorities declined to take the Jerome resident into custody, so he walked to a nearby police station, broke the window of a squad car and drove away with the vehicle.
Rubink says a cell phone inside the vehicle helped police track its location near Carey, but police didn't need to stop it: The car ran out of gas.
He says after that, Cruz-Vasquez finally got his wish.
UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — An attorney charged with stealing $99,000 from two elderly couples he represented has met a judge's deadline to appear in court for trial.
Fifty-three-year-old Mark Morrison didn't appear for trial Monday after his attorney said he couldn't arrange for an ambulance to bring the bedridden counselor to the Fayette County Courthouse.
But the Herald-Standard newspaper in Uniontown is reporting that County Judge Steve Leskinen believes that Monday's delay and some related motions may be a last-ditch attempt to put off the trial that has been pending since 2006.
Leskinen has found Morrison competent to stand trial even though the attorney showed up on a gurney and claimed to be unable to speak during a competency hearing in November.
The judge's staff says Morrison arrived in court Tuesday morning.
ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — Police say a Georgia woman used a friend's baby to collect more than $1,600 in child support from an ex-boyfriend after she convinced him the child was his.
Dougherty County Sheriff's Capt. Craig Dodd says Regina Thompson's ex-boyfriend paid the money over two years. Dodd says the ex-boyfriend even had pictures made at the girl's birthday party.
The 38-year-old Thompson has been charged with five counts of theft. Police say she was keeping her friend's child when she concocted the scheme.
The girl's mother, Lastraga McCloud, didn't know anything about the plot. Police say it began to unravel when the girl, now five, began to talk more and told Thompson's ex-boyfriend, Joseph Golden, that he wasn't her father.
Thompson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
A man accused of stabbing his lover's estranged husband last week has been arrested for assault.
Crime Stoppers is targeting a suspected car thief with “some fairly visible tattoos,” the organization announced.
Zachariah Leonard Zech, 33, is wanted for second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission.
He was arrested Aug. 11 after police stopped him at Spokane Community College in a stolen 1995 Honda.
There was a shaved key in the car's ignition, police said. Zech said a friend had told him he could use the car, which he claimed was parked near Rowan and Sanson with a key inside.
A $10,000 arrest warrant was issued Dec. 15 after he failed to show up for a court hearing. Crime Stoppers issued a reward for information on his capture this week.
Zech, 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, was last known to live in the 2700 block of East Sanson. He has several tattoos, including “Sinful Nature” on the left side of a his head and the infamous tear drop under his left eye.
Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.
A convicted felon caught by Spokane police with a sawed-off shotgun last month has been indicted by a federal grand jury.
James D. Bacon, 23, faces up to 10 years in prison for allegedly possessing the 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition when police officers chased him down on Dec. 7, according to documents filed this week in U.S. District Court.
Bacon was wanted for a felony drug violation and Department of Corrections warrant when he ran from police near Wellesley Avenue and Regal Street.
Police arrested him in a struggle, then realized he was armed with the shotgun.
Bacon was on probation for fourth-degree assault and has other convictions for obstructing an officer and escape from community custody.
He's been in the Spokane County Jail since Dec. 7 and is expected to appear on the new federal charges.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police investigating the New Year's Eve shooting death of a local councilman did not have to look further than the last photograph the victim took.
That photo led to the arrest of one of two alleged gunmen and an accomplice, police said Wednesday.
The picture, taken outside the councilman's house in metropolitan Manila, clearly shows a man aiming his gun from behind the victim's smiling three-member family, seconds before he was shot.
The relatives — Councilman Reynaldo Dagsa's wife, daughter and mother-in-law — are seen standing beside the family's car, which has lights on, and the gunman, wearing a baseball cap with its visor turned back, is bracing himself against the vehicle and pointing his gun at Dagsa. His face is slightly obscured by the gun. The car was parked along an alley outside the Dagsas' house.
In another corner of the photograph (shown above) is a man police identified as the assassin's lookout. Police investigator Cris Galvez told The Associated Press Wednesday that Dagsa was shot as he pressed the shutter of his camera. Dagsa's family gave police the photo, which ran on the Philippine Daily Inquirer's front page Tuesday.
The gunman in the picture fired about four shots but only one hit Dagsa, Galvez said. The bullet went through Dagsa's arm and hit him in the chest. He later died in a hospital.
Galvez said a second gunman, who was standing behind Dagsa and is not seen in the photo, also fired one shot but missed.
Caloocan city police chief Jude Santos earlier said a man identified as the gunman in the picture, Arnel Buenaflor, was arrested Monday, but later corrected himself saying police nabbed the second shooting suspect, Frederick Sales, and one of two suspected lookouts. He said Buenaflor was a car thief who was released on bail and likely sought revenge against Dagsa for ordering his arrest last year.
All the suspects are members of a gang involved in car thefts and robbery holdups, police said.
“It was personal revenge. They all helped each other,” Galvez said.
Dagsa, 38, had a reputation of a hardworking councilman tough on crime, he said.
His wife and daughter, speaking to reporters at their home Tuesday, said the victim had asked them to wake him up before the stroke of midnight so he could join in the usually noisy New Year's street revelry that comes with lots of firecrackers.
The family members said they did not hear a gunshot because the firecrackers were exploding all around them. They only saw Dagsa falling to the ground after he was hit. They said they rushed him to the hospital but it was too late.
Two suspected burglars were arrested early today after they were tracked from the scene by both the business owner and a Spokane police dog.
Travis P. Milhous, 26, (top) and Clifford N. Mayo, 31, (bottom) are accused of breaking into a RVs Northwest at 18919 E. Broadway Ave.
The business owner learned of a tripped alarm about 3 a.m. and saw two men climb a fence and run from the scene when he drove up, police said.
Police spotted two sets of “clearly defined” shoe prints in fresh snow and matched Milhous' shoe to them after Officer Paul Gorman's K-9, Maximus, (pictured) found him at East Laberry Drive and East Bloom Circle.
Mayo was located at 19500 E. Sprague Ave., and police matched his shoe to another print.
The owner of RVs Northwest also identified the men as the burglars, police said.
Both men have previous felony convictions and are due in Superior Court this afternoon on second-degree burglary charges. Mayo was treated at a hospital for dog bites before being booked into jail.
A murder suspect who is a person of interest in three other decades-old slayings could appear before a Spokane County judge as early as Thursday.
Police said today that Gary L. Trimble, 62, should arrive in Spokane by tonight. He was ordered extradited to Spokane from Montana at a hearing Tuesday in Teton County, where he has been in custody since October.
Trimble is charged in Spokane County Superior Court with first-degree murder for the Dec. 24, 1986, strangulation of Dorothy E. Burdette.
Spokane police Detective Kip Hollenbeck traveled to Montana on Tuesday to transport Trimble.
Trimble faced about five years in prison for violating his probation in Montana on an intimidation conviction, but Teton County Attorney Joe Coble said he recommended a suspended prison sentence instead to allow Trimble to immediately face the Spokane County murder charge.
“I think that your case is more important and probably more time sensitive,” Coble said.
A Spokane County Sheriff’s detective who has been the subject of a number of use-of-force complaints appeared in court Tuesday as a civil trial began by a man who claimed that he was unnecessarily shocked by a Taser during a traffic stop.
Daniel B. Strange, 41, (pictured above) filed a $1.5 million excessive force lawsuit against Spokane County in 2006 after a traffic stop on Jan. 22 of that year in which Deputy Jeff Welton shot Strange with a Taser during a traffic stop in Spokane Valley.
A Spokane man on probation for sexually assaulting a woman in a church basement last year is back in jail on a new assault charge.
Michael J. Bosch, 48, (pictured) appeared in Superior Court this week, accused of trying to sexually assault a man at a home on North Crestline Street on Dec. 29.
Bosch was to pay the man $10 to have a beer and $200 to “spend the entire night with him,” but the man became uncomfortable when Bosch began smoking crack cocaine, according to court documents. Bosch allegedly attacked the man as he tried to leave. The man hit him with a hammer to escape.
Bosch told police he was going to pay the man for sex but wasn't sure if he was a male or female.
“The defendant said he gave the person $10 to pull up her shirt in the main floor bathroom,” police wrote. “The person pulled up her shirt and had two bras on.”
But Bosch said he didn't see breasts and asked for his $10 back when the person refused to pull down his pants, which led to the alleged victim punching him, Bosch told police.
Bosch remains jailed on unlawful imprisonment and second-degree assault charges.
He's a sex offender with a previous conviction for indecent liberties for an incident at Mending Fences Ministry last February.
Bosch was convicted in July and credited for 186 days served in jail and given 12 months of probation. He isn't allowed to leave jail now because he allegedly violated probation.
A Spokane man accused of trying to kill another man during a dispute over a cat’s mess said the shooting was in self defense.
Alan D. Kintner, 55, told sheriff’s deputies he shot Steven W. MCormick in self defense, according to court documents.
Kintner remains jailed on $100,000 bond after appearing before Judge Michael Price Tuesday on a second-degree attempted murder charge.
Kintner was arrested Saturday after witnesses said he shot Steven W. McCormick at least twice during a fight over McCormick’s cat at 9519 W. Seven Mile Road.
Kevin Maynor, who lives nearby on the property and witnessed the shooting, told police he heard Kintner “say he could probably kill Steven and get away with it.”
McCormick was shot in the stomach with a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle and remained at Holy Family Hospital Tuesday, where his condition was not available.
Kintner told deputies he was an expert marksman in the Marine and that “he only shot Steven because he had attacked him,” according to court documents. Kintner said “that Steven got too close to o he shot him in the stomach to sop him, and if he wanted to kill Steven he would have shot him in the head.”
A Spokane woman whose daughter's death is the focus of Ann Rule's latest book claimed a victory this week in Lewis County.
The manner of death on Cheney High graduate Ronda Reynolds' death certificate will be changed to “undetermined” from “suicide” after Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod filed the necessary paperwork with the state Public Heath Department, which will formalize the ruling, the Chronicle of Centralia, Wash., reports.
A jury ruled in November 2009 that a Reynolds' death certificate was wrong, but the coroner at the time, Terry Wilson, refused to change. it. Wilson did not seek reelection last year, and McLeod told the Chronicle that he felt the new coroner had a duty to correct the certificate.
Reynolds, 33, was found dead of a gunshot wound to her head in her bedroom closet in Toledo, Wash., in 1998. Her death was ruled a suicide, but Thompson (left) never believed it.
Best-selling author Ann Rule’s newest book, “In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother’s Unceasing Quest for the Truth” looks at Reynolds’ death and what Rule calls a botched investigation by authorities too quick to believe an estranged husband’s claim of suicide.
Read more from the Centralia Chronicle by clicking the link below.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest a man who skipped a scheduled plea in a drive-by shooting, then allegedly crashed a car into a northwest Spokane home early the next morning.
Abran L. Gibson, 19, was to plead guilty in June to rendering criminal assistance for his role in a shooting in Cheney last February, but he didn't show up.
The next day, Washington State Patrol troopers say he was driving when a 2006 Hyundai Sonata crashed into a northwest Spokane home after fleeing a traffic stop about 2 a.m.
A warrant was issued for Gibson's arrest on charges that were to be dismissed had he taken the plea deal: drive-by shooting, riot and first-degree assault.
Gibson had been out of jail since April after being arrested Feb. 21; police say he was with a 17-year-old boy, Damon Morris, who allegedly shot a man's hand and is scheduled to go to trial in February.
Gibson, 6-feet-tall and 225 pounds, last gave an address in the 700 block of Hatch in Spokane.
Anyone with information on his current is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don't have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.
Two teenage revelers nearly escaped arrest in Lewiston early New Year's Day but surrendered “within a couple of minutes due to being cold and wet,” police said.
The boy and girl were drunk in a hot tub in the 3600 block of Country Club Court while the owners were away on vacation when police arrived about 3:15 a.m. on Jan. 1.
Police arrested a man who was passed out in a vehicle in front of the home, then saw the teens run from the home in their swimsuits but soon return. They told police only three were in the hot tub and were released to their parents, but officers learned about 9:15 a.m. that another juvenile had fled the scene and not been heard from since, according to a news release.
Police and the boy's parents were assisted by the Nez Perce County Sheriff's Office and a tracking dog “due to the extreme cold weather and the fact that the juvenile was believed to be clothed only in a swimsuit and possibly a t-shirt,” according to a news release.
A resident found the boy passed out in a bedroom at his home a block from the crime scene about 12:30 p.m., police said. All four face underage consumption of alcohol charges. The fourth suspect also is charged with unlawful entry.
Police say a Spokane Valley man suspected of robbery made it easy for them on Sunday: He let employees copy his driver’s license number before leaving the store.
But Delano Edward Jennings, 47, was ordered released from jail Monday because prosecutors didn’t have the necessary documents from police.
Jennings was arrested after he left Home Depot, 5617 E. Sprague Ave., with a stolen electric fan and carpet shampoo, then punched a security guard in the face when confronted in the parking lot, according to police.
The guard had watched Jennings hand his driver’s license to another employee while exchanging items prior to the theft, police said.
Jennings fled eastbound with the stolen items, but the store still had a copy of his driver’s license number.
Spokane Valley police Officer Mike McNees remembered a domestic violence incident that was investigated at Jennings’ apartment a day earlier and alerted other officers, who located him at the home about 9 p.m.
Jennings was arrested on the robbery charge but left jail because prosecutors didn’t have a probable cause affidavit from police. Superior Court Judge Michael Price warned him that charges likely will eventually be filed.
Jennings is a felon with previous convictions for bail jumping, theft and delivery of cocaine.
A transient allowed to leave jail after her arrest for a string of convenience store robberies is wanted by Crime Stoppers after missing court.
A reward is offered for tips that lead to the arrest of Vanessa E. Orr, 24, (left) who authorities believe may have fled to Montana to avoid trial on robbery charges related to a hold up at the Holiday gas station, 2303 N. Argonne Road, on Dec. 4.
Orr was arrested Dec. 15 with suspect Sean T. Smith, 23, (below) during a SWAT team raid at the Crossland Motel, 12803 E. Sprague Ave., but was released from jail on her own recognizance by Superior Court Judge Michael Price.
A $30,000 arrest warrant was issued after Orr didn't show up for her arraignment on Dec. 27.
Detectives believe Smith and Orr were involved in several other robberies, including Sam’s Stop and Shop, 11505 E. Sprague Ave., on Nov. 28, 2303 N. Argonne Road. A third suspect, Aaron L. Goldstein, 18, also is charged.
Orr, 5-foot-2 and 160 pounds, is described by Crime Stoppers has having “blue eyes, blond hair and poor complexion.”
Anyone with information on her location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.
Three men were arrested over the weekend for a robbery at convenience store on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
David V. Wyman, 26, (pictured) and Alfred H. Wynne, 25, are accused with Miles Standingrock of robbing Pappy's Korner Store, 6394 West End Road in Fruitland, on Dec. 26.
A clerk said the men stole $180, a 30-pack of Keystone Light, a 12-pack of Coors and a bottle of Boone's Farm Fuzzy Navel before leaving in her 2006 Chevy Cobalt.
The clerk identified the suspects through photo montages provided by a Spokane tribal police detective. All three are Spokane Indians and are charged in U.S. District Court.
Wynne and Wyman, who had been wanted since October on a Department of Corrections warrant for escape from community custody, were booked into the Spokane County Jail New Year's Day. Wyman has previous convictions for robbery and assault.
A Spokane Valley driver is accused of hitting a teenage pedestrian then leaving the scene with his 10-year-old son in the truck.
Steven A. Black, 42, left behind the license plate to his 1996 Dodge pickup after he struck Cody Washburn, 18, about 3:15 a.m. Saturday on Fourth Avenue between Adams and Progress roads, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
Investigators used it to track Black to his home in the 10800 block of East Trent Avenue about 25 minutes after the crash, where they said he showed signs of being intoxicated. A blood sample was sent to the state toxicological lab and is expected back in about a month, police said.
Washburn fractured his back and suffered internal bleeding. He is in satisfactory condition at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
A north Spokane man is facing an attempted murder charge after an argument over feline cleanliness led to gunfire that sent a roommate to the hospital, authorities said.
Alan D. Kintner, 55, is due in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon via video from the jail, where he was booked late Saturday after deputies took him into custody at his home in the 9500 block of Seven Mile Road.
The victim, described by sheriff's officials only as a 44-year-old man, reportedly was in stable condition after being rushed to a Spokane hospital by another roommate. Deputies were dispatched to the scene about 9:15 p.m.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the roommates were watching television when a dispute arose over Kintner's cats “making messes in the bathroom.” Kintner and one of his roommates began wrestling and kicking at each other.
Kintner left the house after getting pinned on his back but returned with a .22-caliber rifle and opened fire, the Sheriff's Office said.
The victim, despite having a bullet wound to his stomach, charged the gunman and knocked the rifle away.
The family of a security guard killed last summer has spent hours poring over the 700-page police investigation, reviewing crime scene photos and highlighting what they say are discrepancies in witness accounts.
The shooter, Jason Hartell, told The Spokesman-Review that he’s positive he saw the guard, George Al Hayek, holding a gun, but according to the police report, he told detectives it may have been a cell phone.
Meanwhile, there was no Christmas celebration for Al Hayek’s family, who moved to the United States from the Bethlehem area about eight years ago.
Their Palestinian Christian heritage calls for years of skipped celebrations after a tragic loss, and the loss of their youngest son is tragic beyond words.
Hartell said he thinks of their son every day.
“There’s not a night I don’t see his face. That poor guy. I feel so bad for his family,” Hartell said. “My life’s just been hell.”
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help capture a robbery suspect who didn't show up for his trial.
Brandon N. Maddox, 24, is charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree assault for allegedly robbing someone at gunpoint on May 31, 2009.
He was to go to trial on Dec. 6, but he didn't show up and a warrant for his arrest was issued that day. Crime Stoppers announced the reward offer last week.
Maddox was arrested last March after police said he robbed a man of prescription drugs outside the Rosauers on Five Mile Prairie, but prosecutors moved to dismiss the charged Dec. 6 or unknown reasons.
Maddox, 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 3000 block of East Columbia in Spokane.
Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.
By HOLBROOK MOHR
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A debate is unfolding over an unusual offer from Mississippi's governor: He will free two sisters imprisoned for an armed robbery that netted $11, but one woman's release requires her to donate her kidney to the other.
The condition is alarming some experts, who have raised legal and ethical questions. Among them: If it turns out the sisters aren't a good tissue match, does that mean the healthy one goes back to jail?
Gov. Haley Barbour's (left) decision to suspend the life sentences of Jamie and Gladys Scott was applauded by civil rights organizations and the women's attorney, who have long said the sentences were too harsh for the crime.
The sisters are black, and their case has been a cause celebre in the state's African-American community.
The Scotts were convicted in 1994 of leading two men into an ambush in central Mississippi the year before. Three teenagers hit each man in the head with a shotgun and took their wallets — making off with only $11, the sisters' attorney said.
After 16 years in prison, Jamie Scott, 36, is on daily dialysis, which officials say costs the state about $200,000 a year.
Barbour agreed to release her because of her medical condition, but 38-year-old Gladys Scott's release order says one of the conditions she must meet is to donate the kidney within one year.
The idea to donate the kidney was Gladys Scott's and she volunteered to do it in her petition for early release.
National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous (right) thanked Barbour on Thursday after meeting him at the state capital in Jackson, calling his decision “a shining example” of the way a governor should use the power of clemency.
Others aren't so sure.
Arthur Caplan, the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, has studied transplants and their legal and ethical ramifications for about 25 years. He said he's never heard of anything like this.
Even though Gladys Scott proposed the idea in her petition for an early release and volunteered to donate the organ, Caplan said, it is against the law to buy and sell organs or to force people to give one up.
“When you volunteer to give a kidney, you're usually free and clear to change your mind right up to the last minute,” he said. “When you put a condition on it that you could go back to prison, that's a pretty powerful incentive.”
So what happens if she decides, minutes from surgery, to back off the donation?
“My understanding is that she's committed to doing this. This is something that she came up with,” said Barbour's spokesman, Dan Turner. “This is not an idea the governor's office brokered. It's not a quid pro quo.”
What happens if medical testing determines that the two are not compatible for a transplant? Turner said the sisters are a blood-type match, but that tests to determine tissue compatibility still need to be done.
If they don't match, or if she backs out, will she be heading back to prison?
“All of the 'What if' questions are, at this point, purely hypothetical,” Barbour said in a statement from his office late Thursday. “We'll deal with those situations if they actually happen.”
Legally, there should be no problems since Gladys Scott volunteered to donate the kidney, said George Cochran, a professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law who specializes in constitutional matters.
“You have a constitutional right to body integrity, but when you consent (to donate an organ) you waive that” right, he said.
Other experts said the sisters' incarceration and their desire for a transplant operation are two separate matters and should not be tied together.
Dr. Michael Shapiro, chief of organ transplants at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey and the chair of the ethics committee at the United Network for Organ Sharing, said the organ transplant should not be a condition of release.
“The simple answer to that is you can't pay someone for a kidney,” Shapiro said. “If the governor is trading someone 20 years for a kidney, that might potentially violate the valuable consideration clause” in federal regulations.
That clause is meant to prohibit the buying or selling of organs, and Shapiro said the Scott sisters' situation could violate that rule because it could be construed as trading a thing of value — freedom from prison — for an organ.
Putting conditions on parole, however, is a long-standing practice. And governors granting clemency have sometimes imposed unusual ones, such as requiring people whose sentences are reduced to move elsewhere.
In 1986, South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow commuted the sentences of 36 criminals, but only on the condition that they leave his state and never come back. In Florida, the governor and members of his cabinet voted in 1994 to reduce a convicted killer's sentence as long as he agreed to live in Maryland.
Whatever the legal or ethical implications of Barbour's decision, it thrust him back into the spotlight, after his recent comments in a magazine article about growing up in the segregated South struck some as racially insensitive.
In the article, Barbour explained that the public schools in his hometown of Yazoo City didn't see the violence that other towns did, and attributed that to the all-white Citizens Council in Mississippi.
Some critics said he glossed over the group's role in segregation. He later said he wasn't defending the group.
The Scott sisters' attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, said people have asked if Barbour, who is mentioned as a potential presidential contender in 2012, suspended their sentences for political reasons.
“My guess is he did,” Lumumba said, but he still said the governor did the right thing.
Mississippi Rep. George Flaggs, an outspoken Democrat in the state legislature and an African-American, scoffed at suggestions that Barbour's motive was political and said the decision wasn't an attempt to gloss over the magazine comments.
Flaggs said Barbour suspended the sentences “not only to let this woman out of prison, but to save her life.
“If she doesn't get a kidney, she's going to die,” he said.