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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for June 2011

Escape plot timed to guard’s lunch break

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Following the strangling of an officer at the state prison in Monroe this year, national correctional experts made a simple suggestion for improving safety at Washington's prisons: Eliminate meal breaks for corrections officers.

The idea to have the officers munch during their shifts was designed to keep staffing levels constant, rather than having some guards left short-staffed in a dangerous environment while others took breaks.

The state Department of Corrections made the change at its complex in Monroe within the past month, switching officers on day and swing shifts from 8.5- to 8-hour work days, and is rolling it out at the state's other major prisons.

But it hasn't yet done so at Clallam Bay Corrections Center, where a brazen escape attempt Wednesday was timed to an officer's lunch break. A guard was briefly held hostage during the incident, which ended with a prisoner being shot and killed.

“We have a tough economic climate in Washington and we're trying to increase staffing levels without additional expenditures,” Washington state deputy prison director Dan Pacholke said Thursday.

The attempted prison break Wednesday occurred at the Olympic Peninsula facility's garment shop, where about 70 inmates typically work making offender uniforms and coveralls. The prisoners were supervised by two unarmed corrections officers and a handful of civilian staff members, who are also trained in responding to prison emergencies.

While one of the two corrections officers was on a lunch break, two inmates — convicted murderer Kevin Newland (above) and Dominick Maldonado, (keft) who shot and injured seven people during a rampage at the Tacoma Mall in 2005 — put their plan into action. Maldonado grabbed the unarmed officer and held him hostage with a pair of scissors readily available in the garment shop, while Newland took keys from the guard, unlocked a forklift and rammed it through a rollup door, officials said.

Newland ignored verbal commands and a warning shot before an officer shot him, said DOC spokesman Chad Lewis, and Maldonado released his hostage after seeing his partner killed.

The prison was expected to remain on lockdown for several days. Clallam County sheriff's detectives arrived Thursday to investigate, and Maldonado could face charges of escape or custodial assault.

Pacholke and Lewis were quick to emphasize that it was standard procedure for there to be one officer on duty in the garment shop while the other took a lunch break. They also said the presence of the civilian staff, who train offenders in the garment industry, mitigated the officer's absence.

When the attack occurred, the civilian employee in the vicinity tried to intervene physically, saw that he had little chance of success and quickly acted to alert prison officials, Pacholke said.

“If you would have had two corrections officers, it would have been a stronger response, but the civilian correctional industry workers responded very well,” Pacholke said.

Jim Smith, director of corrections and law enforcement with Teamsters Local 117, the union representing the state's corrections officers and civilian Correctional Industries workers, said the civilian worker involved was repeatedly punched by Newland.

Even after he broke free, Newland chased him down and beat him again before he was able to summon help, said Smith, who visited the prison Thursday to meet with union members involved and ensure their mental and physical well-being.

It was too early to say whether staffing levels played a factor, Smith said.

“The criminal investigation is under way, and we want to make sure it's a solid investigation for prosecuting someone who assaulted our members, but we'll be looking at it thoroughly when the investigation is finished,” he said.

He also said it's unclear whether the switch to 8-hour schedules without breaks is a good idea. The prisons historically had such schedules before moving to 8.5-hour shifts with meal breaks several years ago.

“This is a high-pressure, high-intensity job, and you need to be focused on the inmates,” he said. “To be on for eight hours straight, without any breaks, that's also a concern.”

The switch was recommended by the National Institute of Corrections, which was asked to review state prison operations following the death of Officer Jayme Biendl at the Monroe reformatory in January. Biendl was strangled by a convicted rapist in a chapel.

The institute also suggested that officers wear personal body alarms and carry pepper spray.

Typically, corrections officers assigned to areas where prisoners live and work are unarmed, due to concerns that inmates might be able to take the weapons. Other officers, such as those assigned to special response teams, do carry guns.

New website aims to help combat gangs

A new website has been launched to help combat gang activity in Spokane County.

The website, developed by the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council and the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team, allows citizens to submit antonymous tips about gang activity.

Tipsters are given a tracking number to check the status of the tip, and law enforcement will be able to tell them whether any actions has been taken or if they need more information.

“Active involvement and communication with the public is extremely important in making this website a success,” according to a news release. “Giving the public a way to be heard and have their tips validated should encourage continual involvement by the community in this gang effort. ”

The website includes information on gangs like the Crips and Bloods as well as outlaw motorcycle gangs and white supremacist groups.

Look for billboards promoting the website through Spokane County.

Visit the website at www.stopspokanegangs.org.

Deputies in fatal highway pursuit ID’d

Investigators have released the names of the law enforcement officials involved in the pursuit that ended with a diabetic man dying in a head-on crash with a semi truck.

Deputies Jennifer Wrotenbery and Mike Northway were in separate patrol cars when they saw Daniel J. Marinovich, 50, (pictured) driving southbound on Highway 395 at Half Moon Road after receiving reports of an erratic driver in a red Ford Taurus.  

Washington State Patrol Trooper Terry VanWeerdhuizen deployed spike strips near Hatch Road hoping to stop Marinovich, but Marinovich continued for about a mile on a flat tire before crossing into the northbound lane and hitting the truck.
 
Friends believe Marinovich may have suffered a diabetic reaction. A multi-agency team has finished reviewing statements from Wrotenbery, Northway and VanWeerdhuizen but has not yet concluded the investigation.
 
Investigators believe Marinovich was traveling between 60 and 80 mph as he abruptly swerved, slowed and accelerated during the pursuit.
 
Wrotenbery and Northway first activated their patrol lights, then their sirens before Wrotenbery used her public announcement system to demand Marinovich pull over. She tried to position her car to stop Marinovich's by hitting the bumper, but his erratic driving led her to believe the “PIT” maneuver wouldn't be safe.
 
“Both deputies stated they thought he would slow down as his tires went flat,” according to a news release. “This would have allowed the deputies to use the PIT maneuver to end the pursuit safely. “
 
Wrotenbery said Marinovich appeared to swerve into the path of the semi truck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
 
Marinovich had previous convictions for assault and resisting arrest; friends say he was a severe diabetic who was prone to erratic behavior.

Spokane murderer dies in escape attempt

Murder victim Jamie Lynn Drake is pictured in 2006 with her prized 1993 Mustang. (File photo)

A Spokane man serving 45 years for the murder of a 19-year-old woman in 2006 was shot and killed today in what prison officials describe as an apparent escape attempt.

Kevin Wayne Newland, 25, (left) drove a forklift through the doors of an industrial area at Clallam Bay Corrections Center after a corrections officer was taken hostage about 10 a.m. by another inmate armed with a pair of scissors, according to the Washington Department of Corrections. Newland then drove into the prison’s perimeter fences before he was shot and killed by another corrections officer, officials say.

The officer taken hostage was treated for minor injuries at a hospital.

The rampage appears to have been spearheaded by two men convicted of violent, high-profile crimes – Newland for the strangulation death of Spokane teenager Jamie Lynn Drake, and 25-year-old Dominick S. Maldonado (right) for a shooting spree at the Tacoma Mall in 2005 in which four people were taken hostage and seven people injured.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 20, 2007: Newland sentenced to 45 years for murder

Sept. 8, 2007: Newland found guilty of murder

Aug. 29, 2007: Possible jail escape foiled

Oldtown chop shop has Spokane ties

A suspected chop shop under investigation in Bonner County caught the attention of Spokane County authorities last winter when they heard a car thief used the property to dispose of a vehicle.

Washington State Patrol investigators were helping U.S. Marshals look for a felon at Mr. D's Auto Repair and Salvage Yard on Highway 41 near Oldtown Jan. 5 when they were told that Tracey Oblenness, 45, brought her car to the wrecking yard to have it destroyed because she had switched the car's indication to a stolen car of the same make and model, according to court documents. 

Detectives were told that vehicles were often crushed or burned on the property as a means of disposal.

A resident of the chop shop is identified in a search warrant field in January as Daryl Hollingsworth - a key defense witness in Edgar Steele's murder-for-hire trial . Hollingsworth (left) told investigators he once observed a vehicle being crushed and once saw a nice Acura set on fire.

Wayne Clinton told a Spokane County sheriff's deputy that he towed Oblenness's Acura to the property so it could be destroyed and Oblenness could use its identification for a stolen Acura, according to court documents.

Oblenness has not been charged in relation to a stolen vehicle but pleaded guilty last month to a gross misdemeanor drug charge in Spokane County Superior Court and was given two years probation.

The suspected car theft operation remained in tact until last week, when Bonner County detectives saw a stolen vehicle while looking for fugitives. They executed a search warrant and found several stolen vehicles.

Property owner Dennis Hiebert, 51, was arrested for possession of stolen property. The investigation is ongoing.

Edgar Steele disbarred in Washington

Idaho attorney Edgar Steele won’t be representing any Washington clients from his jail cell. 

The Washington Supreme Court suspended Steele Wednesday from practicing in the state pending disciplinary proceedings that could result in disbarment.

Steele faces at least 30 years in a federal prison for his May 5 conviction on four charges related to his attempt to have another man kill his wife and mother-in-law.

He is in the federal custody awaiting sentencing in August.

Until he commissioned a bogus hitman, Steele was best known for his unsuccessful defense of Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler.

Steele's lawyer, Robert McAlister, was recently disbarred in Colorado.

Seattle murder suspect confesses to jury

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — A man wearing a shock sleeve to control outbursts and hand mitts to prevent him from stuffing dangerous items into his mouth testified Wednesday that he committed the horrific rape and stabbing of a lesbian couple in Seattle two summers ago.

“I was there and I was told by my God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to attack my enemies, and I did so,” Isaiah Kalebu said under questioning by one of his lawyers.

Closing arguments in the case were presented later in the day, and a jury began deliberations before adjourning until Thursday.

The trial started three weeks ago, but the testimony was the first time jurors had seen Kalebu, who was previously so disruptive in court that the judge barred him from attending.

He watched the trial via closed circuit television from another courtroom before indicating he wanted to exercise his constitutional right to testify in his own defense.

He was wheeled into court in restraints, wearing an electroshock sleeve, a yellow shirt and dark tie, and the oversized white mitts. He recently was hospitalized after swallowing a small pencil.

Prison guards stood by ready to activate the Taser-like sleeve in case Kalebu acted out, but he remained docile. The courtroom had been rearranged to prevent jurors from seeing his restraints.

Kalebu, 25, testified while sitting at the defense table, and even remained sitting while the jurors filed in — usually everyone in the courtroom must rise. He kept his hands by his lap as he was sworn in.

He answered only two questions on the stand: One about whether he knew about the events, and another about whether he'd been diagnosed with mental illnesses. He answered the latter affirmatively as prosecutors objected on hearsay grounds.

Kalebu is accused of slipping in an open window of the couple's home in Seattle's South Park neighborhood and repeatedly raping and stabbing them during a two-hour attack. One woman, Teresa Butz, died naked and blood-soaked in the street in front of her home as neighbors tried to help. Her partner survived and told the jury that Kalebu was the man who did it.

He's also suspected in an arson that killed his aunt and one of her tenants in Pierce County, south of Seattle, but has not been charged in that case due to a lack of forensic evidence.

Kalebu is not pursuing any type of mental-health defense. His lawyers, Michael Schwartz and Ramona Brandes, have argued that he didn't commit the crime — a contention prosecutors say is disproved by DNA evidence and witnesses.

Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty due to Kalebu's history of mental illness. Experts have found that although he might suffer from bipolar disorder, he has been faking or exaggerating the symptoms. In January, he was found competent to stand trial.

If he's convicted, he could face life in prison with no opportunity for release.

Tom Rice nominated for federal judgeship

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice was nominated today by President Barack Obama for a federal judgeship in Spokane.

Rice, a 1986 magna cum laude graduate of Gonzaga School of Law, was among two judicial nominees announced by the White House Wednesday. The other is David Nuffer, a magistrate nominated for a judgeship in Utah.

“I am honored to nominate these distinguished individuals to serve on the United States District Court bench,” Obama said in prepared remarks. “They have both demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice throughout their careers, and I am confident they will continue to serve the American people with integrity.”

Both will face Senate confirmation proceedings.

Rice will fill the judicial seat left vacant by the retirement of Judge Robert Whaley. Other lawyers from Eastern Washington considered for the nomination were Les Weatherhead of Spokane and Stanley Bastian of Wenatchee.

Rice has served as a federal prosecutor in Spokane since 1987. He previously served as a trial attorney in the Tax Division of the U.S. Justice Department.

Past coverage:

April 16: Nomination nears for federal judge

Kid’s cellphone photo helps nab suspects

A 5-year-old child who grabbed his mother's cellphone from her purse during a shopping trip inadvertently helped arrest two repeat theft suspects in Spokane.

The child accidentally took pictures of the suspects' vehicle as they fled with the woman's purse just after 5 p.m. Tuesday outside the Walmart on North Colton Street, according to the Spokane Police Department.

The pictures included the car's license plate number, which police say matched the car driven by purse-snatching suspects Andrew V. Auerbach, 24, and Samantha D. Thomas, 21.

The couple already is accused of purse snatchings in April and May but was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial. Police arrested them again today and booked them into Spokane County Jail on new felony theft charges.

Police are looking for the victim of an attempted purse snatching outside Winco on North Nevada Street that occurred about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The victim is urged to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Officer typed message just before crash

A Spokane police officer who hit and killed an intoxicated pedestrian in his patrol car in January was typing a message into his onboard computer just before the crash.

Officer Gordon Ennis (left) told investigators he sent the message to another officer just before he struck John A. Van Curler (right) at West Montgomery Avenue while southbound on North Monroe Street on Jan. 30.

That detail was released publicly for the first time in a report this month from Spokane police Ombudsman Tim Burns, who concluded that inattentive driving was a factor in the tragedy but agreed with prosecutors that no charges against Ennis were warranted.

Prosecutors were aware of the text message when evaluating the case.

Burns called the crash “just one of those regrettable situations.”

“This officer’s going to have to live with that the rest of his life as well, and that’s a hard thing to live with, I suspect,” Burns said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage: Feb. 12: Vehicular homicide standards high

Cookie jar fingerprints lead to arrest

Fingerprints on a cookie container recently helped police identify suspects in a burglary last summer.

A forensic specialist located the print on a container of animal crackers that had been disturbed during a burglary in a home in the 7800 block of North Debby Lynn Circle that occurred between Aug. 16 and Aug. 18.

Police in April learned that the fingerprint belonged to a juvenile, who reportedly confessed in May to burglarizing the home with another juvenile and his brother, Joel N. Ballard, 24, (pictured) and stealing two rifles and two handguns.

Ballard had been in prison since December on drug and car theft convictions but returned to the Spokane County Jail to face new charges of residential burglary, four counts of theft of a firearm and four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm because of previous felony convictions.

He also faces stolen property charges related to the sale of laptop computer stolen in a burglary Aug. 13. The man who bought the computer told police he bought it from a “white supremacist guy with a White Power tattoo,” according to court documents.

Ballard matches that description, police say, including a “white power” tattoo on his forearm.
  

Suspected chop shop raided in Idaho

Bonner County investigators search Mr. D's Auto Repair and Salvage Yard on Highway 41, just south of Oldtown, as part of an ongoing car theft and stolen property investigation.
 
Investigators looking for fugitives uncovered what they suspect to be a large stolen vehicle operation near Oldtown, Idaho, last week.

Most of the cars located at Mr. D's Auto Repair and Salvage Yard on Highway 41, just south of Oldtown in Bonner County, appear to have been stolen from Washington state, said Sgt. Marty Ryan of the Bonner County Sheriff's Office.

“We are just still knee-deep in this investigation,” Ryan said.

Detectives arrived at the property June 22 trying to serve two felony arrest warrants. Instead, they found a vehicle with a punched ignition that had been reported stolen in Stevens County. Detectives obtained a search warrant and spent two days seizing evidence from the property. They checked records for 294 vehicles, many with missing or altered VIN plates.

People continued to show up at the property during the search and on some occasions tried to slip past the law enforcement perimeter. Two were arrested on felony warrants and another was arrested for possession of methamphetamine.

Property owner Dennis Hiebert, 51, was arrested for possession of stolen property. Investigators confirmed five of the vehicles at the business were stolen, including a large motor home, which had its cabinetry stripped and hung in Hiebert's kitchen.

Investigators also found a small amount of meth and large quantities of drug paraphernalia.

Vehicular homicide suspect turns self in

A Spokane man accused of causing a crash that killed his passenger turned himself into police Tuesday, one day after a reward was offered for tips that led to his arrest.

 Lyle David Eutsler, 26, is to appear in  Spokane County Superior Court today via video from the jail, where he is being held on a vehicular homicide charge.

Investigators believe Eutsler was intoxicated and speeding in February when he crashed his red Mazda MX6 into a pine tree while eastbound on Magnesium Road approaching Market Street.

Deputies arrived to find Eutsler dragging himself away from the driver's door while two women remained trapped inside the crumpled car.

One, 42-year-old Tina L. Patterson, died of her injures about 45 minutes later.

Eutsler was charged this month after toxicology reports showed his blood-alcohol level to be .12 and indicated he'd recently smoked marijuana.

Murder suspect confesses to TV news

A suspect in a Tucson, Ariz., homicide being held at the Spokane County Jail has repeatedly confessed to the crime during interviews with TV news reporters.

Jonathan G. Baumbach, 26, told KHQ Tuesday that he met Robert Pardee, 61, through an online dating site after being propositioned with drugs and money. He moved into his home in Tucson in mid-January or mid-February.

Baumbach said he met another Jorge Alberto Osorio, 21, online shortly after who became his fiance and also moved into Pardee's home.

“He was our sugar daddy in a lot of ways,” Baumbach said of Pardee, according to an interview posted online Tuesday afternoon. “…He tortured us mentally…He wouldn't let us work. He wouldn't let us do anything.”

But Pardee jumped into the shower with the man and made unwanted sexual advances, which led to the homicide, Baumbach said.

Baumbach said he was with his father in Kalispell, Mont., but heard about Hoopfest and wanted to check it out.

Baumbach was arrested early Saturday in Liberty Lake with Osorio, whom he told KHQ is his fiance. A school resource officer working patrol with a young explorer noticed a 2004 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck parked without a front license plate near Appleway and Spokane Bridge Road and learned it was linked to a homicide in Arizona. The truck belonged to Pardee.

Baumbach said he admitted to killing Pardee during an interview with a Spokane County major crimes detective.

See the full interview with KHQ here.

100-year sentence in Craigslist killing

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — One of the people convicted of killing a Pierce County man who had listed a ring for sale on Craigslist was given a 100-year prison sentence Tuesday in Tacoma.

The 22-year-old Joshua N. Reese was convicted June 7 of murder, burglary, robbery and assault for his role in the April 2010 home invasion attack in Edgewood where Jim Sanders was fatally shot.

Co-defendants Kiyoshi Higashi and Amanda Knight were convicted earlier this year. Higashi was sentenced to 124 years in prison and Knight to 71 years.

The News Tribune reports the trial for Clabon Berniard is set for later this year.

Past coverage:

May 5, 2010: Craigslist murder suspects arrested in California

Case continues against ‘Whitey’ Bulger

This courtroom sketch depicts James “Whitey” Bulger before U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf during a hearing in a federal courtroom in Boston Tuesday, June 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins)

DENISE LAVOIE,AP Legal Affairs Writer
BOSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors moved Tuesday to dismiss a 1994 racketeering indictment against mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger to focus on a later indictment that charged the newly captured fugitive of participating in 19 murders.

But U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf told prosecutors during a court hearing that dismissal of the indictment is “not automatic” and that he would give Bulger's provisional attorney, Peter Krupp, a day to consult with Bulger to see whether he objects to the dismissal.

The earlier indictment, which charged Bulger with extortion, loan sharking, witness tampering and conspiracy, prompted Bulger to flee Boston just before it was handed up in early 1995. He remained a fugitive until last week, when he was apprehended in Santa Monica, Calif., with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.

Krupp told Wolf the decision to drop the first indictment appears to be “forum shopping” on the part of prosecutors, an apparent reference to the fact that Wolf — who has presided in that case since 1995 — would no longer be the judge overseeing the Bulger prosecution. U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns is assigned to the 1999 indictment, which includes the murder charges.

Prosecutors declined to comment on allegations of “forum shopping.” Spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling said, “Our submission speaks for itself.”

Wolf is the judge who in the 1990s held hearings that exposed the Boston FBI's corrupt relationship with Bulger and his cohort, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi.

Both gangsters were FBI informants who provided the agency with information on the Mafia, their main rivals. Former FBI agent John Connolly Jr. was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for protecting Bulger and Flemmi from prosecution.

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

Seattle police leave rifle unattended

This handout photo, provided by Nick Gonzalez for editorial purposes only, shows a police rifle left unattended on a patrol car outside a busy downtown area on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Nick Gonzalez)

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle police spokesman says the department is embarrassed after officers left a police rifle unattended on a patrol car outside a busy downtown area.

Spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb says the department has launched an investigation.

Whitcomb says two people spotted the rifle on the parked car. One flagged down bicycle officers to alert them. The other followed the cruiser as it drove through downtown Seattle and tracked down the driver after the car parked.

The alternative weekly The Stranger first reported the incident, posting a picture that shows the rifle sitting on top of the trunk.

Whitcomb says such rifles are assigned only to officers who have additional training. They're usually kept in the trunk or between the driver and passenger seats.

Quick thinkers earn police chief’s praises

For Dillon Fabie, there was no decision to be made. Just an adrenaline rush and a quick sprint across a parking lot and there he was, restraining a suspected purse thief as police arrived.

 “Instincts took over,” Fabie, 21, said Monday as he recalled taking the man to the ground in the north Spokane Walmart supercenter parking lot last November. “The next thing I know I’m all the way back here holding the guy.”

Fabie was among Spokane residents honored by police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick before the Spokane City Council on Monday. The Whitworth University student received the Chief’s Citizen Award, along with Karl Erbacher, who also is credited with stopping a purse-snatching suspect last fall.

Read the rest of my story here.

Murder defendant to wear shock device

SEATTLE (AP) — Jurors have spent the past three weeks listening to sometimes heart-wrenching testimony about the brutal rape and stabbing of a lesbian couple.

Now they're finally going to get their first look at the defendant, who will be wearing an electroshock sleeve so guards can jolt him if he gets out of line. 

Isaiah Kalebu, 25, (pictured earlier this month) was so disruptive in pretrial hearings — sometimes cursing his own lawyers and knocking over chairs — that Judge Michael Hayden barred him from attending his own trial.

But that decision has run up against Kalebu's constitutional right to testify in his own defense, and Hayden said Tuesday he was taking special precautions to keep everyone in the courtroom safe when Kalebu testifies Wednesday.

The judge also warned him against thinking he could obtain a mistrial by resorting to his old tricks, which have included swallowing a small pencil at the King County Jail earlier this month.

“If you disrupt the courtroom as you have in the past, the jury will be excused and we will end your testimony,” Hayden said. “There will be no mistrial.”

“I'm not planning on acting up,” Kalebu responded as he sat strapped into a restraint chair.

Kalebu is accused of slipping in an open window of the couple's home in Seattle's South Park neighborhood two years ago and repeatedly raping and stabbing them during a horrific two-hour attack. One woman, Teresa Butz, died naked and blood-soaked in the street in front of her home as neighbors tried to help; her partner survived and told the jury that Kalebu was the man who did it.

The use of such electroshock sleeves — called a Band-It — is rare but not unheard of during criminal trials. They consist of a small box that can be wrapped around a defendant's arm or leg and activated remotely by a corrections officer. The device would only be activated if Kalebu tries to assault someone, escape or otherwise refuses orders — not if he starts swearing or being verbally disruptive.

A defendant wore one during a trial in King County three years ago, and courts in other states have upheld their use as long as they are worn under street clothes to prevent jurors from seeing them.

Kalebu will also be wearing soft leather restraints under his clothes, and he'll testify while sitting from the defense table, rather than the witness stand, to prevent jurors from seeing his restraints or the electroshock device — either of which could be grounds for a mistrial, because such a glimpse could prejudice jurors.

The defendant's behavior has been extreme, even when he's not in the courtroom. He's been repeatedly taken to the hospital for what prosecutors dubbed “suicide gestures” rather than serious attempts, and he was hospitalized June 15 for the pencil-swallowing incident.

He first indicated that he wanted to testify Monday, when prosecutors rested their case. He said he wanted to be wrapped in a “dragon robe” or an American flag to hide his restraints, but Hayden refused.

He planned to question himself, because his lawyers didn't want to ask him anything. Instead, Hayden insisted Tuesday that Kalebu dictate in advance what questions he wanted asked, and one of his lawyers will ask them.

Despite a history of mental illness, Kalebu is not pursuing any type of mental-health defense. His lawyers, Michael Schwartz and Ramona Brandes, are arguing that he didn't commit the crime — an argument prosecutors say is amply disproved by DNA evidence and witnesses.

Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty due to Kalebu's history of mental illness. Experts have found that although he might suffer from bipolar disorder, he has been faking or exaggerating the symptoms, and in January, Hayden found him competent to stand trial.

If he's convicted, he would face life in prison with no opportunity for release.

1 arrested in Spokane law office burglary

A suspect in a burglary at a Spokane law office Monday was identified after police recognized him while reviewing surveillance video.

Brian Farrell Jones, Jr., 31, was booked into jail for the burglary at Keith Douglass & Associates, 1321 W. Broadway Ave.

Police responded to an alarm just after 3 a.m. and obtained the video surveillance.

Officers contacted Jones at his apartment, where they recovered items stolen in the burglary, according to Spokane police.

Jones was arrested in April for a burglary at the Spokane Club but the charge was dismissed. Now he's back in jail on a new charge of second-degree burglary.
  

Cops find stolen bike in time for Ironman

Coeur d'Alene police recovered a stolen high-end bike in time for its owner to ride it in the Ironman triathlon on Sunday.

The $3,500 bike was stolen with a $1,000 bicycle near City Beach on Wednesday. About four hours later, a snow blower was reported stolen from the Best Western Inn.

An employee reported a red Chevrolet Corsica without a license plate drive past him earlier that morning with a snow blower on the back. He later realized it belonged to the motel and called police. The Corsica matched the description of the bike thieves' getaway vehicle.

 Police located the snow blower in a pawn shop data base the next day and contacted the seller, Justin C. Luce, 31, (above left) who told officers they could find the stolen Ironman bike at a Pawn One in Spokane.

The bike was returned to its owner in time for the race. Police also located the second bike and notified the owner.

Luce was already wanted on a Spokane County warrant for theft of a motor vehicle. Coeur d'Alene police believe he's responsible for several thefts in Coeur d'Alene and say they're still identifying stolen property.

A second suspect in the bike thefts, Lukas R. Porto, 18, (right) of Coeur d'Alene was arrested Monday and charged with possession of stolen property.

New clues sought in 1993 cold case

Detective Mark Burbridge holds a photo of Michaelle Champagne, reported missing in the early 1990s. (SR/Jesse Tinsley)

Michaelle Champagne never went long without checking in with her family in Belgium.

But after Champagne, a Spokane resident, called her parents during a visit to Washington, D.C., on March 9, 1993, they never heard from her again.

Spokane police Detective Mark Burbridge, who has reopened the missing person case, thinks she was murdered. He’s hoping recently obtained DNA and a re-examination of the case will turn up some clue to Champagne’s fate. July 1 would have been her 48th birthday.

“She is the kind of young lady who called home every week to say ‘Hi’ to her parents,” Burbridge said.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach's story here.

Tips sought on suspect in fatal crash

A reward is being offered for tips that help arrest a man accused of causing a one-car crash in February that killed a passenger.

Lyle David Eutsler, 26, was intoxicated and speeding when he crashed his red Mazda MX6 into a pine tree while eastbound on Magnesium Road approaching Market Street, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies arrived to find Eutsler dragging himself away from the driver's door while two women remained trapped inside the crumpled car. One, 42-year-old Tina L. Patterson, died of her injures about 45 minutes later.

According to court documents, passenger Emilee Odell told police she was at a party when Eutsler and Patterson showed up and said they had a new car. She said Tina told Lyle he was driving too fast and that just before the crash, Tina yelled “Lyle!”

Odell was in the front passenger seat and suffered minor injures, but Patterson was in the back seat and sustained severe head trauma.

Police said Eutsler, who they estimate was driving 56-59 mph in the 35 mph zone, smelled of alcohol and had to be physically restrained in a harness at the Sacred Heart Medical Center emergency room because he was yelling and out of control. He later told a detective he wasn't driving and asked “How could I f***ing be driving when I was lying on the ground with broken ribs?”

A felony charge of vehicular homicide was filed against Eutsler this month after toxicology reports showed his blood-alcohol level to be .12 and indicated he'd recently smoked marijuana.

Eutsler's estranged wife, who has two children with him, told police he'd said he was going to leave the state. Police believe he may be driving a black 1987 Ford Thunderbird with Washington license plate ABP4206. They believe he may be staying on friends' couches and selling plasma for money.

Eutsler’s parents live in the 1000 block of East Olympic. He has a best friend that lives on Wabash somewhere near the Northtown Mall, and his wife (possibly ex-wife) lives in the 7100 block of East Ninth in Spokane Valley, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Anyone with information regarding Lyle Eutsler’s whereabouts is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Drunk posing as bull arrested in CdA

Dave Oliveria over at the Huckleberries blog regularly posts reports detailing the drunken antics of the downtown Coeur d'Alene bar scene.

Here's a gem from today that was reported June 16 at 10:40 p.m. at North Fourth Street and East Sherman Avenue:

“Officers arrested a 26 year old California male for being intoxicated in the roadway after observing him standing in the middle of Sherman, blocking traffic and pretending to be a bull (hunched forward and holding his hands up to simulate a bull’s horns).”

Read the rest of the report here.

Woman gets 15 years for fatal shooting

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — A 45-year-old Clark Fork woman has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the shooting death of her boyfriend during an argument in a recreational vehicle north of Priest River last fall. 

Lorraine Kathryn Kenitzki was sentenced Thursday in 1st District Court and must serve at least five years before becoming eligible for parole. Kenitzki entered an Alford plea to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in January.

Erik David Foust, 41, died Oct. 6 after being shot in the chest with a 9-millimeter pistol.

Police say Kenitzki and Foust had used meth before the shooting.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that during her sentencing Kenitzki says she misses Foust and wishes she could undo the tragedy.

Budget cuts end WSP car theft unit

Car theft investigations in the Spokane area will drop beginning next month as the Washington State Patrol eliminates its auto theft unit.

The July 1 closure comes just after a national study was released showing the Spokane area was fourth in the nation for the rate of car theft in 2010.

“In the current budget climate, all state agencies are cutting muscle and bone,” said Bob Calkins, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol. “The fat was gone long ago.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Federally led force arrests 174 fugitives

Two Spokane women wanted on federal counterfeit money charges, an Oregon resident sought on a strangulation warrant and a New Mexico fugitive working at a mixed martial arts center in Kettle Falls: Those are among the 174 suspects throughout Eastern Washington arrested this week in a sweep conducted by the Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force.

The task force, which started last year and includes Washington, Alaska and Oregon, works with law enforcement to help track fugitives wanted on felony warrants.

Local agencies can submit names of fugitives they need off the streets and contribute an officer to assist in the investigation, said U.S. Marshal Bob Doty, task force supervisor.

“The problem is a lot of them don’t think of us until weeks after they have a fugitive,” Doty said.

The task force organized six teams for the three-day sweep to help raise awareness about the federally funded fugitive-apprehension service.

Of the 174 suspects arrested, 18 were in Spokane County, including Brittney R. Hearn, 24, and Robin Knuttgen, 51, who were indicted by a grand jury on counterfeit money charges.

Other arrests occurred in the Tri-Cities and Yakima regions, and in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, among other places.

The majority of the arrests were on county warrants, Doty said.

Charges included escape, bail jumping, theft, drugs, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Child molester sentenced to treatment

A Seattle man was sentenced Friday to a treatment alternative for sexually assaulting two girls in February while visiting a family in north Spokane County.

James E. Norby, 67, had pleaded guilty to first-degree rape of a child and first-degree child molestation.

Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno sentenced Norby, who has no prior felony convictions, to the state’s sex offender sentencing alternative, which will include three years of treatment.

Norby he could be sent to prison for life if he fails to comply.

“I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” Norby said. “I don’t know why it happened.”
  

Manhunt continues for ex-militia leader

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say they believe a former militia man is still alive nearly two weeks after he fired at sheriff's deputies and then fled into the western Montana woods.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Department says authorities were working to rule out that 47-year-old David Burgert was injured or had harmed himself.

More than 40 officers and two cadaver dogs participated in the search on Thursday but turned up no sign of him.

A department statement issued today says officers searched between U.S. Highway 12 and Interstate 90, but found no evidence that Burgert is still in the immediate area. Nobody was injured in the June 12 shooting.

Burgert was the leader of a militia group accused of plotting to assassinate judges and law enforcement officers in Flathead County a decade ago. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Burgert as an associate of Alaska militia leader Francis Schaeffer Cox, who is in jail on federal charges accusing him of plotting to kill law enforcement officials.

Cox, 27, was the featured speaker at a meeting of extremist groups at the Post Falls Greyhound Park in December 2009.

Montana pot provider warns others

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A medical marijuana provider indicted on federal drug charges warned other Montana caregivers Friday to shut down their businesses or risk being the next arrested.

Jason Burns, of Helena, said federal agents told him before his arraignment Thursday that the Department of Justice plans to indict every Montana caregiver raided this spring and that there may be more searches.

“I would warn every caregiver that is in business right now to shut down because the feds are going to prosecute you,” Burns said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Jessica Fehr, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office, said she couldn't comment on whether criminal charges are pending against other providers. No charges have been filed against Spokane medical marijuana providers targeted by federal authorities in April.

Burns' alert may be moot, however, with a new state law scheduled to take effect July 1 that will bar all commercial medical marijuana operations. Providers will be prohibited from profiting from medical marijuana and will not be allowed to distribute pot to more than three registered patients under the law.

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

Woman in family crack case sentenced

A woman whose mother helped her son sell crack cocaine has been sentenced to about nine years in federal prison.

Nicole D. Hilliard, 34, is to serve 110 months in prison for possession with intent to deliver 50 grams or more of cocaine.

Hilliard was in drug treatment before being ordered to federal prison during a hearing last week in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Her mother, Tyna A. Hilliard, 54, was sentenced in Spokane County Superior Court earlier this month after pleading guilty to involving a minor in an unlawful controlled substance transaction. She was credited for one day already served in jail and will be on probation for a year.

Hilliard has previous felony convictions for first-degree robbery and attempted first-degree robbery in connection with the shooting death of a man during a dice game in 2002.

Letters of support from friends said she completed drug rehabilitation and has been attending church. She's now in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Fugitive’s police chase is 2nd this year

Spokane County sheriff's deputies arrest Kevin L. Hodgson after a freeway chase Wednesday. (SRPhoto/Colin Mulvany)

A man who already served jail time this year for eluding police was arrested at gunpoint Thursday following a high-speed freeway chase.

Kevin Lyle Hodgson, 38, fled police at the Hico at East Sprague Avenue and North Mullan Road before ditching his car and running across Interstate 90 into Spalding Auto Parts, where police and a K-9 tracked him down.

“The defendant did not make much of a statement except to note that he had been stupid,” deputies wrote in an affidavit.

Hodgson's ex-girlfriend called police to report he'd been harassing her, she said he was about ready to stop for gas at the Hico, had a handgun and would potentially ram any police vehicles that tried to stop him, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. Hodgson ran from deputies at Hico and jumped into a Honda Civic at a nearby car wash as the owner was vacuuming it. The Civic was found crashed at 11021 E. Augusta.

Hodgson has warrants in District and Municipal courts and was sentenced in March to 43 days in jail for a police chase in February.

In that case, Hodgson fled police during a traffic stop in north Spokane and was shocked with a Taser.

Hodgson returned to jail Thursday on charges of theft of a motor vehicle, second-degree robbery, second-degree assault, attempting to elude police, obstructing a public officer and second-degree driving with a suspended license. He's due in Superior Court this afternoon.

Boston mob boss hid in plain sight

Police and FBI surround the apartment building in Santa Monica, Calif., where fugitive crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger and his longtime companion Catherine Greig were arrested Wednesday.

By CHRISTINA HOAG and THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — As the FBI chased leads on two continents, Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger spent nearly all of his 16 years on the lam in this quiet seaside city, passing himself off as just another elderly retiree, albeit one who kept a .357 Magnum and more than 100 rounds of ammunition in his modest apartment.

 Bulger — the FBI's most-wanted man and a feared underworld figure linked to 19 murders — was captured Wednesday after one of the biggest manhunts in U.S. history. His undoing may have been his impeccably groomed girlfriend.

Earlier this week, after years of frustration, the FBI put out a series of daytime TV announcements with photos of Bulger's blond live-in companion, Catherine Greig. The announcements pointed out that Greig was known to frequent beauty salons and have her teeth cleaned once a month.

Two days later, the campaign produced a tip that led agents to the two-bedroom apartment three blocks from the Pacific Ocean where Bulger and Greig lived, authorities said. The FBI would not give any details about the tip.

Bulger and Greig are pictured at their arraignment Thursday in a sketch by Bill Robles.

Bulger, the 81-year-old boss of South Boston's vicious Winter Hill Gang — a man who authorities say would not hesitate to shoot someone between the eyes — was lured outside the building and captured without resistance. Greig, 60, was also arrested.

 Neighbors were stunned to learn they had been living in the same building as the man who was the model for Jack Nicholson's ruthless crime boss in the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie “The Departed.”

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

4 shot dead in NY pharmacy robbery

People line up to view and bring flowers and memorials Wednesday at outside Haven Drugs pharmacy in Medford, N.Y. Four people were shot to death there during a weekend painkiller robbery. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

By FRANK ELTMAN,Associated Press
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) — Two years ago, they posed for a wedding photo: Him beaming broadly in a dark suit, she a pudgy fresh-faced bride. They soon started a promising life together in the suburban New York home where he was raised.

Police mug shots of David Laffer and Melinda Brady released Thursday portrayed an altogether different couple: Gaunt, stone-faced suspects charged with a drug-store robbery and the killings of two pharmacy employees and two customers on Father's Day.

Laffer, 33, had two black eyes and bruises all over his face during his arraignment on first-degree murder charges, where a court-appointed attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

 A police complaint says Laffer sustained the injuries when he grabbed for a police officer's weapon during a raid at his Medford home on Wednesday. He was tackled to the ground and placed in handcuffs, the complaint said.

Brady, 29, now many pounds lighter than her wedding photo, was being treated at a hospital for an undisclosed ailment, forcing authorities to temporarily postpone her arraignment. She is charged with robbery and obstructing governmental administration, although a prosecutor said Thursday that upgraded charges were likely.

Both were high on drugs when they were arrested, police said.

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

Cow hot-hoofs it from police near Philly

An undated photo shows the white cow escaped from Madina Poultry in Upper Darby, Pa., during loading last Saturday. (AP Photo/ Colin Kerrigan/Delaware County Daily Times)

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (AP) — Call it a heifer hot pursuit.

The Delaware County Daily Times reports it took officers about an hour to round up a slaughter-bound cow that got loose in a borough adjoining Philadelphia.

Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood says the cow was reported loose Saturday night. He says his officers pursued it in their cruisers and eventually cornered it in an alley by blocking it in.

During its dash to freedom the cow ran into a car, causing minor damage.

An employee for the butcher soon arrived and lassoed the creature.

Jails ask scantily clad visitors to cover up

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City jail officials are asking scantily clad visitors to cover up with bright green T-shirts.

The city Department of Correction spent $5,000 on 800 extra-extra-large neon shirts. They're washed daily.

The jail dress code prohibits gang symbols, swimwear, and short skirts, among other attire. The policy requires visitors to wear clothing appropriate for a family gathering, including underwear.

The T-shirts aren't just for women. Men with ripped clothes or T-shirts bearing expletives could also be asked to wear them. Jewelry — besides wedding rings — also is discouraged.

The new policy, which was reported by The Daily News on Tuesday, took effect in March.

Department spokeswoman Sharman Stein says the policy will also help catch visitors trying to sneak in contraband. The T-shirts have no pockets.

Recorder leads to Pa. ‘joyboating’ arrest

KITTANNING, Pa. (AP) — Police have charged a western Pennsylvania man with joyriding in three stolen boats after they say they found a judge's stolen cassette recorder in one of the boats — on which the suspect recorded an account of his crimes.

State police say 21-year-old Jesse Shipley, of South Bend, remains in a hospital psychiatric unit. He'll be arraigned on theft and other charges once he's released. Online court records do not list an attorney for Shipley.

Police tell the Leader-Times newspaper that Shipley drove the boats on the Allegheny River on Friday, two days after he allegedly stole the recorder from the office of Kittanning District Judge James Owen, about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

A fanny pack found on one of the boats contained the recorder, on which police say Shipley recorded his account of the events.

Klepto cat piles up the loot in Swiss town

GENEVA (AP) — Forget mice. A Swiss cat named Speedy has an eye for finer things.

Speedy has stolen so much loot that its owner had to post leaflets throughout a northern Swiss town saying “Help, our cat steals!” and inviting people to recover their missing things.

Margrit Geiger of Wiesendangen said her kleptomaniac cat switched three years ago from bringing home mice to stealing badminton shuttlecocks, all to impress her teenage son.

Then the cat began specializing in gloves, scarves and T-shirts. The latest obsession: underwear and black socks.

Geiger told the Swiss daily Blick the cat has nabbed more than 100 items, and the paper said Thursday some neighbors have already claimed items back.

Veterinarian Brigitte Buetikofer says animals steal to gain attention, so ignoring them is the best cure.

Deputy cleared in pastor’s fatal shooting

The Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who shot a 74-year-old Spokane Valley pastor last year will face no disciplinary action over the fatal encounter.

Deputy Brian Hirzel followed all departmental policies and procedures during the Aug. 25 encounter with Wayne Scott Creach (pictured), Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Wednesday in announcing the results of his internal investigation. He met with members of the Creach family earlier in the day to advise them of the findings.

“This was a very tragic situation. I’m saddened for the community. I’m saddened for the Creach family. I’m saddened for law enforcement,” Knezovich said. “But it came down to a matter of choices. For Deputy Hirzel, when (Creach) reached for that weapon, he was faced with a deadly threat.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 30: Sheriff drops the wait for police shooting interviews

Casino-going meth dealer gets 15 years

A longtime methamphetamine dealer who's never served more than two years in prison was sentenced recently to 15 years.

David B. Hill, 42, was arrested with large amounts of cash and meth three times in nine months, the last occurring Sept. 19, three days before a grand jury indicted him on federal drug charges.

Hill had 3 ounces of meth and more than $14,000 in his car. He was arrested Aug. 24 with 7 ounces of meth and about $5,000, and on Jan. 18, 2010, with 18 ounces of meth and $15,000 near Northern Quest Casino.

Hill sold large quantities of meth from Spokane motels and frequented gambled with large amounts of cash at Northern Quest.

Hill was sentenced to 180 months in prison Monday, to be followed by six years of probation. His lawyer, John McEntire, had asked for 13 years, saying his client needs treatment for his drug addiction and dreams of making a living modifying cars and motorcycles.

McEntire said Hill's three arrests in just nine months were “shocking.”

“That is not rational thinking; instead, it is decision making motivated solely by a nearly thirty-year addiction to methamphetamine,” McEntire wrote. “Simply put, he needed to sell to support his daily habit, which amounted to approximately 2 grams of methamphetamine per day.”

McEntire noted that Hill has never served more than 24 months.

“This significant sentence increase represents the harsh difference between state and federal drug penalties,” McEntire wrote. “It also represents a complete shock for Mr. Hill.”

Idaho road rage suspect freed for 6 days

A man who was released from prison last week after his second-degree murder conviction was overturned turned himself in Wednesday to the Kootenai County Jail to await a new trial.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, 50, was sentenced to 25 years in prison and 15 years each on two counts of aggravated battery charges for running over a woman in what prosecutors called a road-rage incident Jan. 1, 2006.

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously May 27 that Ellington, of Hayden, should get a new trial. Ellington's attorney, Anne Taylor, said she will seek a reduction of her client's $1 million bond

. Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh, however, said he will request that the bond remain where it was set.

A status hearing has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Monday in 1st District Judge John Luster's courtroom.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs' story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

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

10 charged in counterfeit money scam

Ten people are accused of manufacturing counterfeit money in the Spokane area.  

A grand jury in U.S. District Court in Spokane returned an indictment Tuesday alleging four women counterfeited nine $50 bills between May 5 and June 14.

One of the women, Jessica Crabtree, also is accused in a second indictment of cashing a fake $50 bill at the Cricket cellphone store at 21 S. Thierman St. in February 2010.

 Investigators believe Cole T. Monson (left), the so-called “nemesis of property owners” already in prison for dozens of property crimes, cashed two fake $100 in February 2010, once at the GTX Truck Stop in Spokane Valley and another at Northern Quest Casino.

Ronald Dale Mueller (right), 44; Brandy Mueller and Robin Knuttgen are accused of manufacturing the bills between Jan. 5 and March 24, 2010.

Brandy Mueller faces five additional counts for allegedly cashing fake $50 bills at Zips and Motel 6 in February 2010; Ronald Mueller, who is already in jail on unrelated drug charges, is charged with cashing two the next month.

Along with Crabtree, Tawny M. Rhodes, Brittney R. Hearn and Melissa A. Smith are charged with manufacturing fake money between May and last week. Rhodes, 39, already is in jail on drug charges.

Knuttgen also faces two additional charges for allegedly cashing fake $50, Angela Olveda, who is already in prison on for theft and drugs, and Sean Wright face one count each.

Manufacturing counterfeit currency and dealing counterfeit currency each carry up to 20 years in federal prison.

Driver killed in police chase was diabetic

A driver who crashed into a log truck and died while being chased by sheriff’s deputies was a Post Falls man with severe diabetes, friends say.

Authorities identified Daniel James Marinovich, 50, late Tuesday after an autopsy, which concluded he died from injuries sustained in the crash.

Investigators are trying to determine if a medical condition may have been a factor, said sheriff’s Lt. Steve Barbieri. But a former coworker of Marinovich’s believes the only logical explanation for his erratic driving is that he suffered a diabetic episode while traveling from his job in Deer Park.

“I guess I’d have a hard time seeing him as a hardened criminal,” said Vicki Shafer. “I can sure see him going down the road, being out of it and not even realizing.”

Read my full story here.

Seattle murder suspect injures self again

Isaiah Kalebu is pushed by police officers to a room to watch the proceedings of his trial via closed-circuit television at King County Superior Court June 6 in Seattle. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Ellen M. Banner)

SEATTLE (AP) — The murder trial of Isaiah Kalebu resumed Wednesday afternoon after he was treated at a hospital for a medical situation that developed Monday morning while he was alone in his cell at the jail, the King County Prosecutor's Office says.

This is the second time in two weeks he was taken to a hospital. Trial was interrupted on June 15 when he swallowed a small pencil.

Kalebu is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary in a July 2009 stabbing attack on two women at their Seattle home, in the South Park neighborhood. Teresa Butz died of her wounds; her partner survived and has testified that Kalebu is her attacker.

If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.

Past coverage:

June 9: Survivor of Seattle attack testifies

June 7: Man barred from own trial in rape case

Stevens County shooting ruled justifed

No charges will be filed against a Stevens County sheriff’s deputy who shot a burglary suspect as he was in bed reaching for a gun.

Deputy Travis Frizzell was justified in believing Trinidy Capone Lopez, 24, posed a serious threat during the March 5 confrontation, according to Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, who decided against filing criminal charges after reviewing the police investigation.

Deputies were trying to question Lopez about vehicle prowlings outside a Stevens County bar.

“While Frizzell had no duty to retreat, retreat was impossible due to his close proximity to Lopez and the narrow stairway he would have to negotiate to get to a place of protection,” Rasmussen wrote. “He had no other reasonable choice than to protect himself from the threat presented to him by Trinidy Lopez and his firearm.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 8: Deputies in Stevens County shooting identified

March 7: Man shot by deputies denies being armed

Feds: Man, 20, tried to help terrorists

A Clarkston man who seriously injured himself with a homemade bomb last year has been charged with trying to assist terrorists.

A grand jury indicted Joseph Jefferey Brice, 20, this week on new charges of attempt to provide material support to terrorists, manufacturing an unregistered firearm, distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Brice has been in jail since May 3 on a firearms charge.

Investigators believe he posted comments on YouTube under the name StrengthofAllah and discussed through email plans to rob a bank in Lewiston after planting bombs near a school to distract police.

Federal authorities began probing his activities after he was injured by a homemade bomb on April 18, 2010, and investigators learned he'd posted videos of explosions to YouTube.

In February, Brice wrote on Youtube that he found an “FBI or ATF tracking device on his vehicle” and that the FBI had singled him out in their investigation into the explosive device left along the planned route of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity march in Spokane on Jan. 17. The only suspect in that case, Kevin W. Harpham, was arrested near Addy, Wash., on March 9 and remains in jail.
  

Sensing device led to big Ecstasy bust

Two cousins arrested with 159 pounds of Ecstasy near the United States-Canadian border were caught after a remote sensing device alerted authorities to their location.

Christopher Sidney Stocken, 31, and Joshua John Bird, 23, had five backpacks filled with Ecstasy pills June 10 when a border patrol agent used a night vision device to spot them emerging from brush near Stecker Road and U.S. Highway 395

A grand jury indicted the men Tuesday for conspiracy to import Ecstasy, importation of Ecstasy and possession with intent to deliver Ecstasy. Each charge carries a maximum 20 years in prison and three years probation.
The men are being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail.

According toa  newly unsealed affidavit, the suspects told border patrol agents they were at a party in Kelowna, B.C., when two unidentified individuals forced them to take the bags to the border “because they owed someone money for being at the party and if they did not do this they would be killed.” Stocken and Bird said they were to drop the bags off at a predetermined location in the U.S. and return to Canada.

The men stuck with the blackmail story until Stocken told investigators the next day that they were neither coerced nor forced into smuggling the Ecstasy, rather they had agreed to transport the backpacks “to make quick easy money,” according to the affidavit.

Stocken said he had asked Bird to help.

“Stocken indicated he wanted to help out his cousin as he felt responsible for them getting caught,” according to the affidavit.

Rapist who posed as cop gets 5 years

A Spokane man who posed as a police officer and raped a 19-year-old woman has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Christopher M. Clough, 30, has been in jail since his arrest last September after a woman told police he sexually assaulted her in Corbin Park after stopping her as she walked on Monroe Street about 1 a.m.

The woman was carrying a cup of alcohol; she told police Clough threatened to arrest her for underage drinking if she didn't have sex with him.

Clough pleaded guilty this week to third-degree rape, unlawful imprisonment and first-degree criminal impersonation.

He was sentenced to 60 months in prison with credit for 264 days served. He's also required to pay $816 restitution.

Bad Hair Bandit on FBI’s wanted list

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SEATTLE — A Washington bank robber known for wearing a variety of unattractive wigs is featured in a new wanted poster on the FBI website.  

The “Bad Hair Bandit” is the first bank robber from the FBI's Seattle division to appear on the national website in many years, FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich said.

The FBI is hoping to get some help from the public in capturing the woman who has committed or attempted at least 16 bank robberies in the Puget Sound area, Ellensburg and Spokane since December 2010.

She is believed to have robbed a bank in Moses Lake earlier this month and may have robbed two banks in Spokane last summer before the spree began in western Washington.

The website features a gallery of 18 surveillance photos of the “Bad Hair Bandit” in various wigs. Many are featured above.

A reward totaling $10,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of and charges against the bank robber.

Pawn shop video helps nab theft suspects

Surveillance video from a local pawn shop helped identify a young couple who police believe stolen purses from at least four women in grocery store parking lots.

Samantha D. Thomas, 21, and Andrew V. Auerbach, 24, were arrested Saturday but are out of jail on their own recognizance.

Police say Thomas implicated herself in four robberies in April and May during an interview with police at the Public Safety Building on Saturday. She and Auerbach, who applied for a marriage license last year, were seen on camera pawning a victim's camera after police developed information that they were suspects.

They are believed to have stolen purses April and May 7 at Safeway, 2509 E. 29th Ave., and again May 7 at Fred Meyer, 525 E. Francis Ave.

Thomas confessed to another purse snatching outside Winco on North Nevada Street during her interview with police. The victim came forward after media reports, and police plan to recommend an additional theft charge.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate a purse theft outside Fred Meyer in Spokane Valley May 9.
  

Woman, 105, found living in squalor

Stevens County deputies discovered a 105-year-old woman begging for food after being asked by an animal cruelty suspect to retrieve his medicine from the squalid Kettle Falls home before taking him to jail.

The woman, Frances Swan, was rescued and now is recuperating at a Colville nursing home, while her self-described caretaker, 78-year-old John H. Friedlund, was charged today with felony criminal mistreatment in connection with the May 26 discovery. Swan, who turns 106 on Wednesday, is believed to be one of the state’s oldest residents.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

City: Red-light camera ruling limited

 

Red-light runners caught on camera in Spokane shouldn’t automatically expect a break from a recent court ruling rejecting the city’s method for issuing tickets.

A city official says they’d have to challenge the legality in court, too.

City Attorney Howard Delaney said Monday that Spokane County Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque’s decision affects only the three tickets that were included in the court case. Other motorists who received tickets under the automated system will need to bring their own court challenge before their $124 tickets could be invalidated, Delaney said.

“It’s probably more trouble than it’s worth, frankly,” Delaney said

Read the rest of my story here.

Police chase ends with fatal crash

A driver being pursued by Spokane County sheriff’s deputies crashed head-on into a semi-truck and died Monday after driving for about a mile with a flat tire caused by law enforcement spike strips.

Several motorists reported a red Ford Taurus driving erratically near Deer Park about noon.

Deputies spotted the car driving southbound on U.S. Highway 395, but the driver refused to stop.

The Washington State Patrol laid out spike strips near Hatch Road, which flattened the car’s right front tire, according to the Spokane Police Department, which is investigating the incident with WSP and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

But the car didn’t stop, and about a mile south of the spike strips, it crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed into a northbound semi-truck hauling logs, police said.

The driver of the Taurus, who has not been publicly identified, was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver, whose identity also was withheld, was not injured but his truck sustained substantial damage.

The two deputies involved in the pursuit, whose names have not been released, brief investigators on the crash Monday afternoon at WSP headquarters on North Division Street, sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan confirmed.

Ticket system jeopardizes Photo Red

A judge on Friday ruled against the city of Spokane in a decision that may invalidate the system by which traffic tickets are generated using controversial Photo Red cameras.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque overturns a previous Municipal Court ruling that found no legal problem with the method used to electronically affix a Spokane police officer’s signature to a ticket in Arizona before mailing the $124 citation to the car’s registered owner.

“This ruling basically invalidates the whole system as of (Friday),” said attorney Dean Chuang, who took over the case for the late John Clark, who initially challenged the red-light camera system.

Because city officials had not yet reviewed the ruling Friday, they declined to comment, except to say they will meet Monday to discuss the issue.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Spokane man dies of trauma in Missoula

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Police are investigating the death of a Spokane man who was found unconscious with severe head trauma outside the Elks Club in Missoula.

KECI-TV reports 41-year-old Angelo Lorenzo Fuentes (pictured in 2003) died Sunday.

Lt. Richard Sepper tells the Missoulian the injured man was found at about 12:10 a.m. Saturday and taken to St. Patrick Hospital. It is unknown if his injuries were accidental or if he was beaten.

He was on life support until early Sunday when the Missoula County coroner pronounced him dead.

Police say they believe Fuentes had attended a concert at the Elks Club on Friday evening.

Fuentes was quoted in this 2003 article about his nephew being sentenced for the shooting death of a young man during a drug deal.

Idaho senator arrested for DUI, theft

By KEITH RIDLER, Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Senate Republican Caucus Chairman John McGee was arrested early Sunday after police say he took a Ford Excursion and cargo trailer from the Boise home of a “complete stranger” and a blood-alcohol test showed the four-term lawmaker had been drinking.  

The lawyer for the 38-year-old senator, who represents Caldwell and is the head of the Canyon County GOP, says McGee is embarrassed by the situation and intends to handle his legal case responsibly.

McGee was being held in the Ada County Jail pending an arraignment in 4th District Court on Monday afternoon. Authorities say he was taken into custody on suspicion of felony grand theft and misdemeanor driving under the influence after a breath test found he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit in Idaho.

“He is embarrassed by this matter. He has never been in this situation before, but he has great confidence in the criminal justice system,” said attorney Scott McKay, who met with McGee on Sunday. “With the love and support of his family, he will handle this matter responsibly,” McKay said in a statement.

So far, police have released only a few details of events preceding McGee's arrest. But Lt. Kody Aldrich told The Associated Press that McGee did not know the owner of the SUV and trailer that he was driving and later was found by police sleeping inside. The vehicle and trailer became stuck as McGee tried backing into the yard of a home on southwest Boise. It was also unclear why McGee was in the Boise area in Ada County.

“Nobody knows why he was there,” Aldrich said. “It doesn't sound like he did either.”

Aldrich said McGee told officers he was on his way to Jackpot, Nev. Police were alerted of McGee's actions by people who lived inside the home.

Aldrich said the vehicle's owner typically left the keys in the steering column and the doors unlocked.

Because McGee faces a potential felony charge, he will be held in jail until he goes before a judge, Aldrich said.

Messages left by the AP at McGee's home and cell phone were not returned Sunday.

Idaho Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, expressed support and said the immediate concern is for his colleague and his family.

“We feel really bad about the situation and how it may affect his wife and family,” Hill, the GOP leader of the Senate, told the AP. “Our concerns right now are to help him and his family out any way we can. We just want to make sure things work out for John and his family.”

Aldrich said McGee jackknifed the SUV and trailer attempting to back up, entering a yard and becoming stuck. Aldrich said the trailer and vehicle sustained minor damage, and that McGee was not injured.

McGee, who is married and has a daughter, in 2006 was named the Idaho Young Republican of the Year and Republican Legislator of the Year. He is pictured left in April 2009.

The senator from District 10 is the marketing director for West Valley Medical Center. He serves on the three Legislative committees: local government and taxation, state affairs, and transportation.

In the last Legislative session, McGee supported Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter's “Hire one Act” that offers employers tax credits as a way to encourage them to add more workers. McGee also supported a bonds-for-highways plan called “Connecting Idaho” intended to maintain Idaho's roads and bridges.

Also last session he introduced a bill requiring underage drivers to take safety training as part of a compromise to fend off road closures and maintain public access following a U.S. Forest Service plan to close some roads to all-terrain vehicles amid safety concerns over underage drivers.

McGee also supported a measure giving immunity from lawsuits to doctors who recommend that a patient's driver's license be revoked, arguing doctors must be allowed to recommend drastic action without fear of legal repercussions. McGee also supported legislation to ban texting while driving.

Arsonist confesses after burning self

Authorities say a man confessed to setting a building adjacent to a downtown Spokane apartment complex on fire early Saturday as retaliation for the occupants “jumping him” a few days ago.

Israel Barrera, 29, called Spokane police to confess and ask for treatment to second-degree burns he sustained while setting the fire at 411 S. Maple St., Officer Tim Moses said in a news release.

An investigator with the Spokane Fire Department arrested Barrera at a hospital for first-degree arson. He sustained after sustaining burns caused by a “flammable vapor explosion,” from using of an accelerant, according to a fire department news release.

The home was unoccupied at the time and Barrera was the only person injured.

There is significant damage to the house due to the use of accelerant and residents will not be able to occupy it, police said. Damage is estimated at $40,000.

Mile-long pot operation busted in Oregon

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By WILLIAM MCCALL, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A tip from hunters led police to a marijuana growing operation stretching across about a mile of a remote ravine on public land, leading to a raid that netted six arrests and more than 91,000 marijuana plants.

Miles of plastic irrigation tubing lined the terraced ravine in the northeast corner of Oregon. Authorities found weapons, food and supplies at campsites that could support growers for weeks, the Oregon State Police said.

A multi-agency law enforcement team raided the camp with air support from the Oregon Army National Guard on U.S. Forest Service land in a remote section of northern Wallowa County. The exact location won't be released while the investigation is under way, Lt. Gregg Hastings, a state police spokesman, said Friday.

The marijuana plants were concealed in several separate pods developed by removing trees and underbrush to camouflage the site.

Trash including tubing, plastic planter containers, herbicides and toxic chemicals were dumped along a river's edge, said Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen. State wildlife workers will survey the site to determine the extent of environmental damage, the resources needed to clean up the site and how to rehabilitate the altered terrain.

“Many people would be outraged at the damage to our public lands caused by illegal marijuana growers,” said La Grande police Sgt. John Shaul, supervisor for the Union/Wallowa County Drug Team.

Steen warned the public Friday to be careful this summer during outdoor recreation in the area. People arrested in the past at many marijuana growing sites have been armed to protect themselves from police and others, he said.

Police said six men were arrested in the raid: Arturo B. Barrera, 26; Federico R. Carrasco, 24; Christian R. Gonzalez, 28; Fredy F. Montes, 32; Jesus A. Sanchez, 21; and Audel C. Soto, 29.

They were being held at the Union County Jail, charged with unlawful manufacture and possession of marijuana. A jail deputy said Friday he could not release any other details or say whether the men had attorneys.

Barefoot Bandit faces 5-6 years in prison

John Henry Browne addresses the media after agreeing to a sentencing term with his client, Colton Harris-Moore on the steps of the Federal Office Building today in Seattle. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Greg Gilbert)

SEATTLE (AP) — The young Washington state man who gained international notoriety during a two-year run from the law in stolen boats, cars and planes pleaded guilty Friday to seven charges in the “Barefoot Bandit” case.

Under a plea agreement, Colton Harris-Moore would forfeit any future earnings from movie, book, or other deals from selling his story. Earnings would be used to pay off the $1.4 million in restitution he owes to his many victims.

Harris-Moore could receive between 5 1/4 and 6 1/2 years in prison when he's sentenced in October, defense attorney John Henry Browne said.

However, he still faces state charges in several counties, including the county where his crimes began. (He's pictured right in a sketch by Peter Millett.)

 Prosecutors have said Harris-Moore hopscotched his way across the United States, frequently crash-landing planes in rural areas and stealing cars from parking lots at small airports. His escapades earned him cult status as an authority-mocking folk hero, and he earned the “Barefoot Bandit” moniker by committing some of crimes without shoes.

Harris-Moore, now 20, smiled and greeted his lawyers as he entered the court room Friday. He sat quietly — sometimes smiling, sometimes holding his hands and looking down — as federal judge Richard Jones went over the details of the crimes.

“We're here today to say that Mr. Harris-Moore's flight from justice has ended,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan (pictured left with San Juan County prosecutor Randall Gaylord) said after the hearing. He will “spend a significant time in prison and will not make one dime from his crimes.”

The federal charges, which included stealing an aircraft, possession of firearms and piloting without a license, stemmed from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early 2010, when Harris-Moore was accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands.

Authorities say he later stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took a plane from a hangar in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, where investigators found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel, prosecutors said.

He made his way to Oregon in a 32-foot boat stolen in southwestern Washington — stopping first to leave $100 at an animal shelter in Raymond, Wash. From Oregon, authorities said, Harris-Moore traveled across the United States.

In Indiana, he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas, where he was captured last July.

Harris-Moore also faces several dozen charges in four Washington counties, with the most serious charge being burglary where a handgun was involved. Those charges will likely be consolidated and a hearing should take place in about a month, San Juan County prosecutor Randall K. Gaylord said.

Friday's agreement calls for Harris-Moore to serve his federal sentence concurrently with whatever prison time he may get from the state.

But the state charges could mean more time in prison beyond what the federal judge decides, as well as an increase in the restitution owed, according to federal and local prosecutors.

“All of this is up to the judge,” Browne said. “We're very hopeful it'll be around the same sentence.”

Browne added that Harris-Moore's story would attract enough attention to pay off all the restitution.

Asked what Harris-Moore plans to do after he's done with prison, Browne said that he'd like to go to college to study engineering.

Cop killer’s driver gets 420 years

TACOMA — The getaway driver in the coffee shop shooting deaths of four Lakewood police officers, Dorcus Allen, was sentenced today in Tacoma to 420 years in prison.

The News Tribune reports that during the sentencing the 42-year-old Arkansas native (pictured in May) maintained his innocence. His defense attorneys vowed to immediately appeal.

A jury convicted Allen in May of being an accomplice to four counts of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors say Allen drove Maurice Clemmons to and from the Parkland coffee shop on Nov. 29, 2009, when Clemmons gunned down officers Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39 (pictured above, left to right). Griswold's sister works for the Spokane Police Department, and her parents live in North Idaho.

Clemmons was killed two days later in a confrontation with a Seattle police officer.

Before the sentencing began, Allen’s defense attorneys argued their client should receive a new trial. They filed paperwork on May 31 arguing that prosecutorial and juror misconduct cost their client a fair trial. Prosecutors have countered in court paperwork that the trial was fair.

Feb. 9: Deputies saw Clemmons before Lakewood murders

Jan. 14: 3 sentenced in Lakewood police murders

From ‘Baby Ryan’ fame to disbarment

The Washington Supreme Court disbarred a prominent Spokane attorney Thursday after his client complained the lawyer charged him $25,000 to settle a minor dispute over the lease price of a car.

The high court ruled unanimously to uphold the disbarment of Russell Van Camp, who has represented National Right to Life advocates and anti-abortion activists throughout the West. The court said he misled his client about the nature of the $25,000 fee and didn’t follow through with the client’s desire to quickly settle the case.

Read the rest of Tom Clouses's story here.

Van Camp (pictured in 2004) gained national attention in 1994 when he took on the case of a baby born with dead kidneys, possible brain damage and other health problems. Doctors tried to withhold lifesaving dialysis and persuaded the family to let the baby die, but they hired Van Camp instead, and the case gained national media attention.

A 1994 Spokesman-Review profile of Van Camp described him as not being known in Spokane legal circles for his legal mind, rather “Van Camp relies on his people skills.”

“I have maximized the average intelligence I have,” he said at the time. “A good trial lawyer’s an actor upon the stage. I’m just a glorified vacuum cleaner salesman.”

In response to discipline by the Washignton State Bar Association, Van Camp said in 1994 that the association and other attorney were cliquish, jealous of his practice and bitter about losing to him.

A Pat Robertson delegate to the 1988 Republican National Convention, Van Camp said he also believes he’s unpopular because he’s one of the country’s few Christians who have made lawyering a success.

“I make no apologies for the person I am. I yam what I yam,” Van Camp says in a bad Popeye impression. “I’m winning and making money.”

Read the full profile from December 1994 here.

Pot supplier in Carlson case sentenced

A marijuana supplier connected to the man who helped arrest former school booster and Coeur d'Alene insurance giant Jerry Carlson was sentenced this week to four years in prison.

 Jesus N. Ortega, 57, of Tucson, Ariz., admitted to supplying former Bayview, Idaho, contractor Theodore Bruck with at least 400 kilograms (but not more than 700 kilograms) between 2002 and 2004.

 Idaho State Police began investigating Bruck after a drug runner was arrested with 100 pounds of marijuana in Arizona in 2005.

Bruck told investigators about Ortega after he was arrested while delivering 46 pounds of marijuana to an undercover officer. He said he met Oretga while in prison on a previous drug conviction.

Also pleading guilty in the case were Otto Cantrell, Cosme Flores and Oretga's girlfriend, Bonnie Duarte. Codefendnats Steve Chilcott and David Lamont also are serving time for the case.

Bruck helped investigators arrest Carlson in February 2008 by twice selling him a kilogram of cocaine. He was sentenced to seven years in federal prison shortly after Carlson's arrest.

Carlson, a former Coeur d'Alene High School booster of the year, is serving a 27-month federal prison sentence. Investigators used Carlson's phone records to help arrest James “Slim” O'Neill of Coeur d'Alene, a longtime cocaine dealer now serving 15 years in federal prison.

In addition to 48 months in prison, Oretga is to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $25,000 in restitution.

Oretga, a father or four grown children, was given an exceptionally low sentence because of his “substantial assistance to the government,” according to the court documents prepared by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Man claims role in Tupac’s murder

NEW YORK (AP) — A hip-hop mogul wanted by federal authorities on drug charges did not orchestrate a plot to ambush rapper Tupac Shakur outside a recording studio in the mid-1990s, his lawyer said Thursday.

The accusations against James Rosemond, owner of Czar Entertainment, were levied online and attributed to convicted killer Dexter Isaac, who is serving a life

 sentence in an unrelated murder-for-hire plot. Isaac says, according to the website AllHipHop.com, that he was paid $2,500 by Rosemond to shoot and rob Shakur.

Shakur (pictured in 1993) was hit five times in the shooting at the Quad Studios in Manhattan in 1994. He survived but was later gunned down in Las Vegas in a slaying that remains unsolved.
 
The mystery surrounding Shakur's death has fueled interest in the smallest of details about his life, as well as the old-school feud between East Coast and West Coast rap that some say contributed to his killing.
 
Isaac stole jewelry off Shakur and handed over a diamond ring to Rosemond after the late-night ambush, the post published Wednesday reads.
 
“I still have the chain that we took that night,” he wrote, according to the post.
 
New York City police were investigating the claims, though it's not clear if anyone would face charges, in part because the incident occurred about 17 years ago. Rosemond is wanted by federal authorities in New York on drug charges and as of Thursday remained a fugitive.
 
Erin Mulvey, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, refused to comment on Isaac and would not give any details on Rosemond.
 
His lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, could not comment about the federal case against his client. But he said the accusations posted online were lies fabricated because Isaac is upset he was outed as a government informant.
 
“This is a guy who is a blood-thirsty killer, trying to work off a life sentence, and for some reason his accusations are taken as fact?” Lichtman asked.
 
The post is rife with bitterness directed at Rosemond.
 
“Now I would like to clear up a few things, because the statute of limitations is over, and no one can be charged, and I'm just plain tired of listening to your lies,” according to the post.
 
Isaac was convicted in the 1997 murder-for-hire shooting death of cab driver Waleed Hammouda. The victim's wife, Micheline, offered Isaac property in exchange for killing her husband. She was also convicted.
 
He is serving life in prison and was transferred earlier this year to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn from a prison in Colorado.
 
An employee at the Brooklyn detention center said inmates were not allowed to receive calls and were allowed only approved in-person visits. In order to be approved, a person must first write to the inmate and receive a visitor form.
 
It wasn't clear whether Isaac still had a lawyer, and a call to the website wasn't returned.

Escapee knocks on off-duty guard’s door

SEATTLE (AP) — An escaped convict was caught following a day on the loose after he knocked on a cabin door — only to find out the man renting the lodge was an off-duty guard at the prison he just fled.

Authorities said 39-year-old James Edward Russell took off from the prison near Forks Tuesday morning. Early the next day, Russell — still wearing his prison uniform — went to the cabin asking to use the phone, said Department of Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis on Thursday.

After a scuffle, Russell ran off again, Lewis said. The guard, whose name was being withheld by authorities, reported the incident and Russell was caught a few hours later.

He had been serving time for forgery and theft.

‘Barefoot Bandit’ to plead guilty today

SEATTLE (AP) — The 20-year-old Washington state man known as the “Barefoot Bandit” was expected to plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from his 2-year run from the law in stolen boats, cars and planes, federal officials said Thursday.

Colton Harris-Moore will plead guilty today in federal court, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle said. No further comment was provided.

Authorities say Harris-Moore hopscotched his way across the United States during his run, frequently stealing cars from parking lots after landing at small airports. In Indiana, he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas, where he was captured at gunpoint in a stolen boat last July.

Harris-Moore earned the “Barefoot Bandit” moniker by committing some of crimes without shoes. He pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment last week, but his lawyers had signaled that a deal with prosecutors was close. His charges include an allegation that he stole a small plane in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

One of Harris-Moore's attorneys, Emma Scanlan, confirmed Thursday that he would plead guilty.

She declined to comment on the plea deal except to say it included a sentencing recommendation and resolves the question of whether he could participate in book or movie deals, with proceeds used to repay victims. Harris-Moore's lawyers have said restitution from his run would total about $1.3 million.

Harris-Moore's escapades earned him cult status as an authority-mocking folk hero, and federal prosecutors have expressed reluctance to let him sell his story because it could compound the publicity he's received.

The federal charges stem from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early 2010, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands. Authorities say he then stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took the plane from the Bonners Ferry airport, where investigators found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel, prosecutors say.

He made his way to Oregon in a 32-foot boat stolen in southwestern Washington — stopping first to leave $100 at an animal shelter in Raymond, Wash. From Oregon, authorities said, Harris-Moore hopscotched his way across the United States until he made it to the Bahamas

In all, Harris-Moore is suspected of more than 70 crimes across nine states.

Officer injured when driver rams car

Drug paraphernalia, stereo equipment and other suspected stolen property was seized after Devin Check's arrest. (Spokane Police Department photo)

A Spokane police officer was taken to a hospital with minor injuries after a driver rammed into his undercover car today.

The officer, whose name has not been released, and another officer were trying to block a stolen pickup driven by Devin M. Check, 21, when the suspect accelerated and struck the police car (pictured)  near North Crestline Street and East Everett Avenue, according to the Spokane Police Department.

Check ran from pickup and was chased by officer through yards and over fences until they caught up with him and took him into custody.

Police found stereo equipment they believe to be stolen, as well as drug paraphernalia.

The incident began about 11:50 a.m. when a patrol sergeant noticed the pickup in an alley and determined it to be stolen. Officers monitored the vehicle until Check climbed through the back window and drove away, according to a news release.

Cousins arrested w/ Ecstasy to stay jailed

Two men from Canada arrested with 159 pounds of Ecstasy near the United States border will stay in the Spokane County Jail without bail, a judge ruled today.

Christopher S. Stocken, 31, and Joshua J. Bird, 23, who are cousins and members of the Little Black Bear tribe, don't have a stable release plan to ensure their presence in court, U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno said.

Family members traveled from Regina, Saskatchewan, for the hearing in U.S. District Court in Spokane this morning.

Stocken is unemployed but works seasonal odd jobs, his lawyer said. He has a warrant in Canada related to a drunken driving conviction, and Bird also has a drunken driving conviction. But neither man has any criminal history that indicated they're a risk to the community, lawyers said.

Imbrogno noted the seriousness of the charges when granting the U.S. Attorney's Office's motions to detain Stocken and Bird.

The suspects, who have not yet been indicted, face charges of possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy and importation of Ecstasy.

Border patrol agents found the men with five backpacks after they crossed into the country illegally from Canada on Friday. Investigators estimate the Ecstasy tablets to be worth $4.5 million.

CdA man, 25, gets 5 years for child porn

A Coeur d'Alene man who downloaded child pornography and shared it with other Internet users has been sentenced to five years in federal prison.

 Scott Tyler Aresvik, 25, also is to pay $1,750 in restitution to a child identified in one of the nine pornographic images and 91 videos found on his computer after investigators searched his home in Coeur d'Alene on Dec. 15, 2009, according to a sentence imposed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

The investigation began when the Shoshone County Sheriff's Office learned Aresvik's computer was making child pornography available for download on the Internet.

Aresvik pleaded guilty to possessing sexually explicit images of minors in March after a grand jury indicted him in January. His plea requires him to forfeit his computer and electronic storage equipment.

Aresvik told FBI agents he'd been downloading child pornography for about one year, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. In addition to 60 months in prison, he'll be on probation for 10 years.

“Individuals who use the Internet to access, view and share child pornography mistakenly believe their anonymity will protect them,” Wendy Olson, U.S. Attorney for Idaho, said in a prepared statement. “Federal, state and local law enforcement are committed to working together with prosecutors to identify and prosecute these individuals. We will continue to use every available tool to apprehend and convict them.”

More information is available at  www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Fugitive fights cops after injecting heroin

A fugitive who's both an alleged assault victim and an alleged assault suspect was arrested just hours after Crime Stoppers offered a reward for tips no his capture Wednesday.

Kenneth Brian Barton, 34, (left) was in the bushes near North Cannon Street and West Gardner Avenue injecting himself with heroin when police tried to arrest him on several warrants this afternoon, according to KHQ.

Barton fought with the two officers, prompting several more to arrive for back up. “Barton is a pretty big guy and put up a pretty good fight,” said Spokane police Sgt. Joe Peterson told KHQ. “He had loaded syringes in his pocket; they were uncapped as officers were fighting him.”

No serious injuries were reported. Barton is charged with second-degree assault, third-degree theft and two counts of third-degree assault for allegedly fighting with security at J.C. Penny's at the Spokane Valley Mall after being detained for shoplifting a pair of Nike sneakers on May 16. He  also was being sought on a material witness warrant for an assault trial set to begin next month.

Barton was allegedly assaulted by Tony N. Hairston (pictured right) on Oct. 27 at 2821 N. Cincinnati Ave. Co-defendant Jarreau S. “Sweaty” Squetimkin pleaded guilty to riot in February and was sentenced to nine months in jail.

Hairston is in jail awaiting trial, which is set to begin July 25; a $100,000 warrant to secure Barton's presence for testimony was issued June 8.

Barton has a 19-year criminal history that includes convictions for first-degree burglary, second-degree vehicle theft, delivery of controlled substance, violating a no contact order, retail theft with extenuating circumstances, third-degree driving while license suspended, and domestic violence assault.

Driver who killed pedestrian pleads guilty

A motorist who killed a pedestrian while drunk on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation last year has pleaded guilty.

 Andrea M. George, 19, faces up to eight years in prison, a $250,000 fine and no more than three years probation for the April 19, 2010, crash on Desmet Road at Ajot Road that killed Patrick A. Gourneau, 22, of Tensed, Idaho.

Gourneau was walking when George struck him while cresting a hill in a 2002 Honda Civic on Desmet Road just before 6 a.m.

George was airlifted to a Spokane hospital but has since recovered. She was indicted by a grand jury for involuntary manslaughter in November.

She's to be sentenced Sept. 7 in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

Oregon officer named Byrd rescues hawk

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — It's the kind of story that creates its own headline — Byrd Rescues Hawk.

Oregon's KGW-TV reports that Portland Police Bureau officer Cage Byrd — his real name — spotted a young red-tailed hawk standing outside a downtown hair salon on Tuesday.

The raptor chick appeared to be injured, so Byrd grabbed some towels and a box from a nearby hotel and took the hawk to a veterinary hospital.

The bird was later taken to the Audubon Society, which says the hawk probably fell from a nest near the KGW Audubon Raptor Cam. The remote camera records the activity of a raptor family and is shown on a website that has become popular.

One of the three chicks sustained a leg injury last week.

Citizens chase down prowling suspect

Citizens cornered a vehicle prowling suspect in downtown Spokane today.

Glen Wayne O'Brien, 34, broke into a car near West Main Avenue and North Bernard Street about 9:45 a.m and fled as several witnesses chased him, the Spokane Police Department said.

He was cornered behind a building at 2nd Avenue and Stevens Street, where he assaulted one of the witnesses before officers arrived, police say.

O'Brien was arrested for vehicle prowling, possession of a controlled substance, city assault and an escape warrant from the Washington Department of Corrections.

As of 2:45 p.m., police were still trying to locate the owner of the vehicle to return the stolen item, which looked like a purse but wasn't of significant value.

Police remind citizens not to leave valuables in their car, or anything that may appear to be of value.

“If a criminal has no opportunity, it's hard for them to commit a crime,” Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said in a news release.

O'Brien has a substantial criminal record that qualifies him as a repeat offender, according to news archives.

Girl in Facebook attack charged as adult

A 17-year-old girl who police believe lured a boy to a robbery after meeting him on Facebook will be charged as an adult.

Abigail R. Murphy is to appear in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon on a first-degree robbery charge, though she continues to be housed in juvenile detention. The Spokesman-Review does not name juvenile unless they are charged as adults with serious crimes.

The victim said he'd arranged to meet Murphy at Corbin Park Saturday at 11 p.m. with $75, but when he got in her Chevy Tahoe, two men later identified as David M. Martinez, 22, and Brendan T. Dalla, 20, pointed handguns at him and demanded his money, according to court documents.

Martinez and Dalla are in jail on $75,000 bond for first-degree robbery. Spokane police officers stopped the suspects at North Monroe Street and West Boone Avenue about 15 minutes later and located two handguns in the car, as well as a the victim's iPhone. One of the guns had been reported stolen, police said.

“The investigation, arrests, and recovery of evidence was a success due to the cooperative efforts of all units involved,” according to a news release by the Spokane Police Department. “The incident is also a good reminder to parents and guardians to monitor their children’s Internet communications.”

3-crash survivor sentenced to 3 years

A man who has survived three one-car crashes on the same road near Plummer, Idaho, has been sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Joseph Michael Matt, Jr., 26, of Worley, was speeding and under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine in August 2009 when he lost control of his 1997 Jeep Cherokee and left Lovell Valley Road in Benewah County road, killing William “Sonny” A. Davison, 22, of Desmet.

Matt (pictured) has been in two other crashes on Lovell Valley Road but was not driving in either. A federal grand jury indicted Matt, a member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, for the Aug. 18, 2009, crash last June.

He pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. In addition to 36 months in prison, Matt is to be on probation for three years after his release and is to pay $5,707.66 to cover Davison's funeral costs.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge said Matt had prior convictions for driving under the influence, and that the case “called out for deterrents.”

Lodge said he needed to “send a message that drinking and driving will not be tolerated because they result in tragedies like this one,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office..

Sex offender’s agreement halts trial

A potentially lengthy trial was averted last week in Spokane County Superior Court when a convicted child molester agreed to undergo two years of intense sex offender treatment.

The state sought to have Carleton Sylvester Smith, 46,(pictured in 2008)  civilly committed as a sexually violent predator following a 1999 conviction of child molestation, as well as allegations of the same kind from 1997 that never resulted in criminal charges, said Smith's lawyer, Tim Trageser.

Smith was caught masturbating while on a Spokane County Sheriff's inmate's work detail and also was caught on video masturbating outside of a downtown daycare. Authorities also alleged he stalked young women at a local coffee shop.

Potential jurors were being questioned last week when Smith agreed to undergo two years of treatment at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

If he follows through with his obligations, Smith could be released to a half-way house for sex offenders, Trageser said.

“To me it was a sweet deal. He gets treatment and the state gets supervision,” Trageser said.

Read more about Smith's case here.

An electronic tracking device helped notify authorities that Smith had been lurking near a day car in 2007. Read more here.

Office manager admits to stealing $538k

A Colfax woman admitted Tuesday to embezzling $538,000 from the family-owned urology clinic in Pullman where she worked as a business manager.

Alicia E. Napier, 47, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of mail fraud and two counts of bank fraud in the case where she admitted diverting funds from Palouse Urology for her personal use between 2001 and 2009.

“Her mail and bank fraud scheme went undetected for so long because she was a trusted employee,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice wrote in a news release.

Though she likely get far less time, Napier faces up to 20 years in prison for the mail fraud and up to 30 years in prison for bank fraud when she's sentenced on Sept. 1

Seattle murder suspect swallows pencil

Isaiah Kalebu is pushed by police officers to a room to watch the proceedings of his trial via closed-circuit television at King County Superior Court on June 6 in Seattle. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Ellen M. Banner)

SEATTLE (AP) — The defendant in a Seattle murder and rape trial was taken to a hospital after swallowing a small pencil during a recess.

KOMO-TV says officials originally said it was possible Isaiah Kalebu would require endoscopic surgery, but a Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman said Tuesday afternoon it was likely he would be treated and released.

Guards saw him swallow the item, similar to the pencils golfers use to record scores.

KOMO says officials are studying case law for the next move in the trial and recessed for Tuesday afternoon.

Kalebu is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary in a July 2009 stabbing attack on two women in their Seattle home. Teresa Butz died of her wounds; her partner survived and has testified that Kalebu is her attacker.

The man has a history of mental illess.

Past coverage:

June 9: Survivor of Seattle attack testifies

June 7: Man barred from own trial in rape case

Hunt continues for paranoid survivalist

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LOLO, Mont. (AP) — A practiced survivalist and former militia leader whose mother said he slipped into paranoia after repeated run-ins with Montana law enforcement eluded authorities searching for him Tuesday in a remote mountain range near the Idaho border.

 As the hunt for 47-year-old ex-convict David Burgert carried into its third day, court documents and interviews with law enforcement officials painted a picture of a well-armed “bully” who became convinced a decade ago that authorities were out to get him.

Burgert is being sought for attempted homicide and probation violations after allegedly firing a handgun at two Missoula County sheriff's deputies during a confrontation Sunday about 25 miles west of Missoula.

As the leader of the since-disbanded “Project 7” militia in northwest Montana, Burgert was convicted in 2003 of illegally possessing a machine gun and sentenced to federal prison. He was released last year.

Prior to his arrest in that case, Burgert eluded authorities by staging his death along the Flathead River and then retreating to a secluded forest encampment near Kalispell. He was caught about a month later following an hours-long, armed standoff in the forest, authorities said.

His latest escapade bears similar hallmarks: Caches of weapons, food and gear believed to be Burgert's have been found in the woods in the search area, and authorities said he appears to have planned the attack on the deputies.

No one was hurt in Sunday's exchange of gunfire.

In a 2007 letter to the federal judge overseeing his illegal weapons case, Burgert's mother, Phyllis Richards, pleaded for a reduction in Burgert's prison sentence based partly on his history of mental health problems. Richards said her son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and became paranoid after he came under the watch of authorities.

“He was so scared for his own life he was doing all he could just (to) go to the mountains to live and to survive,” Richards wrote of her son's activities leading up to his arrest. “I saw fear in Dave I never saw before. … From that time on he was obsessed with things going on in the world and was so very paranoid.”

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

Fugitive grabs officer’s rifle during fight

A Spokane fugitive was arrested Monday after he knocked over a parking meter with his car while fleeing bail bondsmen, then tried to grab a firearm during a struggle with a Spokane police officer.

Christopher Cleo McCracken, 38, (pictured in 2005) sped away from a parking lot at 907 W. 3rd Ave., Monday afternoon after the bondsmen tried to arrest him on felony warrants, Spokane police said today.

McCracken backed over a parking barrier and a sidewalk, knocking down a parking meter on 3rd Avenue that was left in the middle of the street, police said.

A woman who had a restraining order against McCracken “alluded” to him possibly using a handgun to avoid arrests, so a team of nighttime patrol officers that tracks fugitives and crime trends located him about 5 p.m. near 3500 S. Marshall Road.

Officer Sean Wheeler pursued McCracken as he ran into a wooded area and over a barb wire fence. McCracken grabbed the barrel of the rifle, but Wheeler was able to subdue McCracken and arrest him. In a news release, police emphasized that neither McCracken nor the officers were shot to death.

“This is a prime example of how a possibly deadly encounter resulted in an arrest with relatively minor injuries,” Officer Jennifer DeRuwe wrote. “Officers entered the situation knowing McCracken was a danger to the community, possibly armed and had an extensive criminal history related to drug abuse and violence.”

Camel leads to animal cruelty arrests

Reports of a camel on a property in eastern Spokane County led to the recent arrest of a mother and daughter duo already charged with animal cruelty.

The camel belonged to a neighbor, but animal control officers say Kelly J. Covey, 49, had two dogs in her camper - a violation of a court order. The restriction has been in place since a Jan. 29 raid at the property, 6204 N. Idaho Road, that led to charges against Covey, her mother, Carol McMullen, 70, and Mullen's son, James W. McMullen.

In addition to the camel, SCRAPS investigators found cows and llamas at 6204 N. Idaho Road that also violated court orders.

Carol McMullen has previous convictions for animal cruelty; she was arrested again last week for violating her release conditions. Covey was booked into jail Friday.

The family faces several felony animal cruelty charges after 123 farm animals and pets were seized in January.

Officers found 78 dead animals on the property, located between State Line and Newman Lake.

Manhunt for ex-militia leader scaled back

FBI agents, in a helicopter from the Montana National Guard, land at the Lumberjack Saloon west of Lolo, Mont., Monday to join in a manhunt for David Burgert. (AP Photos/Missoulian, Linda Thompson)

LOLO, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are scaling back the ground hunt for a former militia leader accused of firing a gun at Missoula County deputies Sunday before disappearing into the woods near the Idaho border.

Missoula County Undersheriff Mike Dominick says law enforcement agents continue to patrol a 50-square-mile area centered on the Lolo National Forest in the search for ex-convict David Burgert.  But Dominick says Burgert could've escaped the area in a 1987 Jeep Wagoneer that Burgert owns but authorities have been unable to find.

 The 47-year-old Burgert is the former leader of a Flathead County militia group that was accused of plotting to assassinate local officials and overthrow the federal government.

He and some other members eventually pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges. Burgert was released from prison in March after serving eight years.

Burgert, who previously told police “he wasn't going to be taken down like last time,” may have planned Sunday's attack, Dominick told The Associated Press on Monday.

Authorities found ammunition packed inside the Jeep's engine compartment and in another vehicle associated with Burgert, as well as two stolen rifles and a magazine of handgun ammunition on the ground near where he fled, Dominick said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Burgert as an associate of Alaska militia leader Francis Schaeffer Cox, who is in jail on federal charges accusing him of plotting to kill law enforcement officials. Cox, 27, was the featured speaker at a meeting of extremist groups at the Post Falls Greyhound Park in December 2009.

Facebook arrangement leads to robbery

A Post Falls man who was to bring $75 to a meeting in a Spokane park with a girl he met on Facebook was instead robbed at gunpoint by two men, police say.

The victim said he'd arranged to meet the 17-year-old girl at Corbin Park Saturday at 11 p.m.  The reason for the meeting has not been released.

When he got in her Chevy Tahoe, two men later identified as David M. Martinez, 22, and Brendan T. Dalla, 20, pointed handguns at him and demanded his money, according to court documents. One threatened “to shoot him between his shoulder blades” if he looked at anyone in the vehicle. The victim gave the men his wallet and iPhone before being kicked out of the car and calling police.

Spokane police officers stopped the suspects at North Monroe Street and West Boone Avenue and located two handguns in the car, as well as an iPhone.

Martinez and Dalla were booked into Spokane County Jail for first-degree robbery; the girl was booked into juvenile detention.
  

‘Sovereigns’ gaining attention locally

Deputies were prepared for the worst as they stood by in a Spokane County courtroom earlier this month during routine hearings for mostly low-level felonies.

Their focus was on one of the more benign cases – possession and distribution of marijuana.

But it wasn’t the nature of the allegations that got their attention. It was the defendant, a self-proclaimed “sovereign” who doesn’t consider himself a citizen of the United States even though he was born and raised here.

Adrian B. Shannon, 30, is among a growing number of people who question the legitimacy of federal, state and local government agencies and employ a series of legal maneuvers they believe exempt them from driver’s licenses and birth certificates, paying taxes, or even criminal charges.

“People call it a movement, but it’s individuals, literally sovereigns, that are all learning, ‘Hey we don’t have to put up with these ridiculous laws, because we are the government,’ ” Shannon said.

Read the rest of my Sunday story here.

Ducks star cited with driving 118 mph

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris has been cited with driving 118 mph on a suspended license.

Oregon State police say Harris, 20, was pulled over after an off-duty trooper spotted him about 4:35 a.m. PDT Sunday on Interstate 5 south of Albany, Ore. An on-duty officer clocked Harris and pulled him over.

Harris was cited for driving with a suspended license and exceeding the speed limit in excess of 100 mph. Police say he was driving a rental car.

The fine for driving a vehicle faster than 100 mph is $1,148.

Harris excelled as a sophomore last season at cornerback and on special teams. He had six interceptions and set an Oregon record with four punt returns for touchdowns.

Known for his entertaining banter with reporters, Harris dubbed the BCS championship “The Natty.” Oregon lost to Auburn in the title game in January after going 12-0 last season.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly said in a statement that the team was disappointed by Harris' lack of judgment, which he called unacceptable.

“I've said from the beginning that it should be a privilege to play football at the University of Oregon. With that said, individuals must bear the responsibilities for their own behavior,” Kelly said. “Once we have finished collecting all the information in this situation, we will determine the appropriate action.”

Last month, Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of trespassing and criminal mischief. He was sentenced to two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and alcohol treatment.

Alonso, 20, was suspended indefinitely from the team by Kelly.

Woman with trail of dead husbands dies

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — An elderly grandmother who left a trail of five dead husbands in five states over decades has died, leaving a longer trail of questions for survivors of her spouses that might never be answered.

  Betty Neumar, 79, died late Sunday or early Monday in a hospital in Louisiana after an illness, her son-in-law Terry Sanders told The Associated Press.

“She was tough country girl and fought through a lot of pain,” said Sanders, who has been married 38 years to Neumar's daughter.

Authorities in North Carolina said they planned to look into her death. She was free on $300,000 bond on three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in the 1986 death of her fourth husband, Harold Gentry. Her trial was postponed numerous times since her arrest in 2008.

“We're going to make sure we examine the death certificate,” said Sheriff Rick Burris of Stanly County, N.C.

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

  

Man accused of killing girlfriend’s cat

A 21-year-old Spokane man is accused of killing his girlfriend's cat.

Corey C. Fries was arrested Saturday after his girlfriend of 1 1/2 years told police he'd held the cat to the floor about two weeks ago and hit it in the head with a walking cane, killing it.

Fries told the woman “that she needed to tell people that her cat ran away,” according to court documents.

Spokane police learned of the cat's death after responding to the couple's home at 3024 E. 30th Ave., Saturday for a domestic dispute. Fries was arrested for misdemeanor assault and reportedly admitted to killing the cat, police said, though he denied hitting it with a cane.

Fries appeared on a first-degree animal cruelty charge today in Spokane County Superior Court, where his bail was set at $5,000.

2 men arrested w/ 159 lbs. of Ecstasy

Two Canadian men were arrested near the United States border with 159 pounds of Ecstasy, authorities said today.

Christopher S. Stocken, 31, and Joshua J. Bird, 23, appeared in U.S. District Court in Spokane this afternoon to hear their charges.

The suspects were booked into the Spokane County Jail Saturday about 3 p.m. after being arrested in the Colville area, the U.S. Border Patrol confirmed.

They face charges of possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy and importation of Ecstasy. A hearing to determine if they can be released from jail on bail is scheduled for Thursday.

Border patrol agents found the men with five backpacks after they crossed into the country illegally from Canada. Agents arrested Stocken and Bird as they tried to hide in the brush near a trail just south of the border. Investigators estimate the Ecstasy tablets to be worth $4.5 million.

“This seizure is a direct result of the valuable work executed daily by our highly skilled Border Patrol agents,” Spokane Border Patrol Sector Chief Gloria Chavez said in a prepared statement. “Our CBP “state of the art” technology is a critical asset on the Northern border and played a pivotal role in the discovery, interdiction and seizure of this illicit contraband and the suspected perpetrators”.

Ecstasy and marijuana are often smuggled into the United States from Canada in exchange for cocaine. Last October, border agents found 310 pounds of Ecstasy worth more than $9.3 million near Curlew. No arrests have been made in that case.

Canadian cocaine smuggler pleads guilty

A Canadian man suspected of being a major international drug smuggler has pleaded guilty to a federal cocaine charge.

Jonathan Darren “Grundy” Smith, 39, faces 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in August.
Smith was arrested near the border Feb. 16 with two backpacks containing 71 pounds of cocaine.

Investigators believes he's the same Grundy described as a major drug smuggler during a briefing with an informant in 2009.

Smith's father was convicted of flying a plane full of marijuana into Redding, Calif., and Smith has traveled around the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Mexico. He was living at his brother's condominium in Whistler, B.C., before his arrest.

Smith pleaded guilty June 3 to possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. He's at the Spokane County Jail awaiting sentencing.
  

Assailant stabbed by victim sentenced

A gang suspect stabbed by a man he was trying to rob has been sentenced to just under four years in prison.

Devron M. Parrish, 24, pleaded guilty to second degree robbery and was sentenced to 45 months in prison with credit for 163 days already served in the Spokane County Jail.

Parrish and three other suspected gang members were walking near North Nelson Street and East Wabash Avenue on Dec. 23 when they assaulted a man and demanded his money.

The victim fought the men off with a knife, stabbing Parrish and Patrick McKenzie. McKenzie told police he helped carry Parrish to a nearby apartment.

McKenzie, 25, was sentenced in April to 20 months in prison and $106 restitution, after pleading guilty to second-degree robbery and third-degree assault.

It's Parrish's second prison stint - he was sentenced to 51 months in 2006 for second-degree assault, second-degree malicious mischief and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Gang suspect jailed for assault, gun theft

A suspected gang member is in jail on gun and second-degree assault charges after an alleged assault on his ex-girlfriend.

Tayone D. “K-Row” Akers, 19, has a $100,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court on Thursday.

Akers is accused of choking a woman on May 23 during a party near East Wellesley Avenue and North Hamilton Street and trying to hit her and her sister with his car.

The woman said she had been in a significant relationship with Akers but knew him only as K-Row, according to court documents. She said she feared him because of his gang ties.

Akers also is charged with three counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and three counts of first-degree theft of a firearm for allegedly stealing two rifles and a shotgun and from a home in Liberty Lake in April. The homeowners were out of town, and Akers knew the girl watching the place.

Ex-local Aryan convicted in racist beating

A white supremacist who ran for the Hayden City Council in 2003 has been convicted of a racially motivated attack on a black man in southwestern Washington.

Zachary Loren Beck, 32, (pictured in 2003) was convicted Wednesday of conspiracy to violate civil rights after a bench trial in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. Beck, Kory Boyd and Lawrence Silk attacked the man in January 2010, shouting racial epithets.

Boyd was sentenced to 34 months in prison after pleading guilty to interference with a federally protected right. Silk pleaded guilty to malicious harassment in state court and was sentenced to 24 months. Beck is to be sentenced Sept. 2.

The men were at a bar in Vancouver when Beck told a bartender that the victim should leave “or there would be a problem,” according to court documents. The man didn't leave, so Beck met with Silk and Boyd to plan the attack. Beck reportedly told the man that she should not be “kissing our girls,” documents say.

The three assailants are described as “self-avowed white supremacists” by federal prosecutors.

Beck was a member of the Aryan Nations in North Idaho and was arrested for malicious harassment while a city council candidate.

He also was accused in 2004 of shooting at a police officer during a standoff in Longview, Wash.

Racial remarks overturn murder case

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington state Supreme Court overturned a man's murder conviction Thursday because of what one justice described as “repugnant” racial comments made by the prosecutor during the trial.

Kevin L. Monday Jr., who is black, was convicted in a 2006 shooting in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood after a street musician's video camera captured him firing the shots that killed Francisco Green.

During the trial, longtime deputy King County prosecutor James Konat, who is white, repeatedly questioned recalcitrant witnesses by making references to the “po-leese” and to a supposed “code” of silence that kept witnesses from cooperating with officers. Konat told the jury, “The code is, black folk don't testify against black folk.”

The comments had the ultimate effect of casting doubt on the credibility of the witnesses based on their race, Justice Tom Chambers wrote for the majority.

“The notion that the state's representative in a criminal trial, the prosecutor, should seek to achieve a conviction by resorting to racist arguments is so fundamentally opposed to our founding principles, values, and fabric of our justice system that it should not need to be explained,” the opinion said.

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen similarly criticized the remarks in her concurrence: “The appeals to racism here by an officer of the court are so repugnant to the fairness, integrity, and justness of the criminal justice system that reversal is required.”

Monday will be tried again — with a different prosecutor handling the case.

“It's never OK to invite jurors to convict someone based on racial biases, and we're glad the court recognized that,” said Monday's attorney, Nancy Collins.

Konat's boss, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, said he agrees the comments were inappropriate and offensive, and his office never argued otherwise. Instead, the issue before the court was whether a new trial was necessary, given the video of the shooting and Monday's admission that he fired the shots.

“The deputy prosecutor deeply regrets his remarks,” Satterberg said in a written statement. “He has been told, in no uncertain terms, that those arguments are unacceptable.”

The King County prosecutor's office instituted new training for prosecutors as a result of the case, spokesman Dan Donohoe said. Konat was not formally disciplined.

Konat is currently prosecuting Isaiah Kalebu, who is charged with murder in a rape and stabbing attack on a lesbian couple in South Seattle two years ago. He was focusing on that trial Thursday and unavailable for comment, Donohoe said.

The five justices who signed the majority opinion found that Monday must receive a new trial because the prosecutor's error was not “harmless” — meaning it could have affected the jury's decision. They noted that although the video captured the shooting, it could not establish that Monday acted with premeditation or whether he might have had other legal defenses for his actions.

Three justices, including Madsen, signed a concurring opinion which held that Monday deserved a new trial even if the comments were harmless.

Justice James Johnson voted against granting him a new trial.

“Even if the prosecutor's comments arguably tainted the jury's impressions of some witnesses, this could not affect the jury's perception of the videotape and other evidence,” Johnson wrote in his dissent.

Woof on a Roof: Odd dog rescue in NY

BAY SHORE, N.Y. (AP) — Long Island firefighters went home with a great story to tell: They rescued a dog from the roof of a two-story house.

The Bay Shore Fire Department was called to help Rosie on Monday.

The department said in a statement that the homeowner was pet sitting and “had no idea how the dog got onto the roof.”

It's estimated the medium-sized mutt was there about two hours.

Employing the time-honored cat-in-a-tree approach, the firefighters used a ladder to bring the canine aerialist back to earth.

Court: Mayor can keep age private

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — The mayor of Michigan's third-largest city doesn't have to reveal his age.

The state appeals court entered the strange dispute Thursday by overturning a judge's ruling that had required Jim Fouts to disclose his birthdate as he seeks re-election as Warren mayor in August.

The appeals court says it's not required under Michigan law. Fouts says the decision means age cannot be used as a “weapon of mass destruction.” He says his age is irrelevant. Some records show he's 66.

Three rivals have been trying to keep Fouts off the ballot over his failure to include his age on his candidacy form.

Spain: Contortionist thief hid in suitcase

By DANIEL WOOLLS,Associated Press
MADRID (AP) — A man was arrested in Spain after curling himself up inside a large suitcase that was placed in an airport bus cargo bay and sneaking out to steal from other people's luggage, police said Thursday.

The man arrested last week was 5-foot-10 and very thin, a police official in the northeastern Catalonia region said. An accomplice was also arrested.

The suspects were successful on several occasions before being caught, the police official said on condition of anonymity because of department rules. The accomplice would place the contortionist thief inside the cargo bay of a bus running from the airport in the city of Girona south to Barcelona, board the bus and then retrieve him at the end of the line.

During the 60-mile ride, the man would slip out of the suitcase and use a sharp object to pick locks or open zippers to get into other people's luggage, police said. He stole objects including cell phones, laptops and GPS devices and would place them in a smaller bag that he brought with him. The thief would then get back into the larger suitcase and when the bus reached its destination, the accomplice would retrieve both pieces of luggage.

Police were alerted by bus riders who reported items stolen from their baggage.

Ohioan on 1st jury at old, new courthouses

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio woman called to jury duty on the first day at a new county courthouse this week also was on the first jury at the old court building when it opened in 1973.

Jury commissioner Gretchen Roberts in Columbus says 64-year-old Mary Evans beat odds that are “pretty astronomical.”

Registered voters are randomly picked by computer for jury service on given dates.

Evans, of suburban Grove City, tells The Columbus Dispatch that it was “kind of cool” that she inaugurated both Franklin County Common Pleas Courthouses.

She says each struck her as an impressive reflection of its time.

Evans was seated Monday on a jury for a domestic violence case when the new, $105 million courthouse opened. In 1973, she served on juries for rape and theft cases.

Suit filed over crash that killed CdA grad

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — The parents of a College of Southern Idaho baseball player and Coeur d'Alene High School graduate killed in a fatal crash last September have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against others involved in the accident.

 Devon Austin (pictured) was a passenger in a car that crashed while allegedly being chased by another vehicle after a party.

The 19-year-old Austin and the driver of the car, 18-year-old Ryan Reinhardt, were killed.

The driver of the second vehicle, Kade Laughlin, has been charged with reckless driving.

The Times-News reports that Tim and Paula Austin, along with Jessica Duran, the crash's lone survivor, filed their lawsuit June 3. They name Laughlin, Reinhardt and three others as defendants. They claim the defendants were involved in the car chase while under the influence of alcohol.

They are asking for $50,000 in damages.

Killer’s request for change of plea denied

A man who admitted to killing a woman over $20 more than two years ago tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea recently.

 Michael A. Quinones said he was under pressure and wasn't fully informed when he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last March.

Quinones was transported from prison to the Spokane County Jail to participate in hearings before Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno, but Moreno denied his request last week.

Quinones is serving 25 years in prison for the Oct. 6, 2008, strangulation death of 28-year-old Jennifer L. Siria.

Codefendant Matthew T. Shope is serving 11 years for second-degree murder.

Edgar Steele’s lawyer disbarred in Colo.

The Colorado lawyer who defended Edgar Steele in his murder-for-hire case has been disbarred.

Robert T. McAllister agreed this week to give up his law license after he acknowledged misusing client funds on two occasions unrelated to Steele's case, according to a document signed in Colorado Supreme Court.

According to the document, which is available here, McAllister misused a $5,255.43 check while representing a company in a lawsuit. He also used $100,000 from another client, transferring $80,000 into his own account and $20,000 into an accounted owned by Steamboat Skyglass Lodge, LLC, an entity he controls.

McAllister was chief criminal deputy for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in District of Colorado and the Northern District of Illinois from 1976 to 1983.

Steele was represented by a public defender until supporters raised a reported $120,000 and McAllister took over. McAllister handled most of the questioning during Steele's trial in Boise last month, which ended with jurors convicting Steele on all charges

McAllister and co-counsel Gary Amendola have said they intend to ask for a new trial ; it's unclear how that will proceed now that McAllister is disbarred.

Amendola did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Lawyer Wesley Hoyt, who is working with Steele's wife, Cyndi Steele, said he had no information.

“This is the first I've heard of it,” Hoyt said today. “I intend to look into the matter, and that's about all I can say.”

McAllister is described by the publication Law Week as one of Denver's most well-known defense lawyers. He could not be reached for comment.

Man shot by police convicted of assault

A Spokane jury on Wednesday convicted a 67-year-old man of assault against one of the deputies who shot him three times in 2009.

The jury convicted Donald J. Lafavor of one count of second-degree assault in connection with an incident on Nov. 28, 2009.

The verdict baffled Lafavor’s defense attorney, especially since Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Patrick Johnson recently questioned the merit of pursuing the trial after a recent acquittal and a hung jury in two similar cases.

“I’m shocked and outraged,” defense attorney James Kirkham said. “That’s the worst read I’ve ever had on a jury.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 9: .354 DUI suspect 'Not enough' booze

Invalid search nixes child porn case

Felony charges against a registered sex offender have been dismissed on technical grounds after a federal judge ruled that the search warrant used to find hundreds of images of child pornography on the suspect’s computer was invalid. 

Andrew V. Davis, 34, of Deer Park, faced at least 15 years in federal prison if convicted, but U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush concluded that police failed to disclose when seeking the search warrant that key information came from a girl who had lied to detectives in other cases.

By throwing out the search warrant, it rendered the evidence against Davis inadmissible.

“Of course he is relieved that the case was dismissed,” said Davis’s defense lawyer, Aaron Rasmussen. “It’s embarrassing because of the nature of the charges.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 18: Sex offender faces child porn charges

Survivor of brutal Seattle attack testifies

Woman who survived brutal Seattle attack testifies
By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Awakening in the middle of the night to find a half-naked man looming over her bed with a knife, the woman had one goal: to keep completely still, to do nothing that would risk angering him or causing him to use the knife on her or her partner.

It didn't work, she testified. During a horrific two-hour attack, the man repeatedly raped and cut them, killing her partner, Teresa Butz, who collapsed and died in the street in front of their South Seattle home, naked and covered in blood, as stunned neighbors tried to help.

The 38-year-old woman who survived the attack two years ago took the witness stand in King County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon and described her ordeal publicly for the first time in the trial of the man charged in the attack, Isaiah Kalebu, 25.

Kalebu, who has been barred from the trial because of prior outbursts, was not in the courtroom during her testimony. Defense attorneys have said they plan to argue he did not commit the crimes.

“It was like, you want to be so still,” she said. “I just didn't want to aggravate him, or do something that would make things worse for Teresa.”

She said she believed her attacker was “a rapist who would leave.” When senior deputy prosecutor James Konat asked her why, she answered that it was because he kept saying he would.

Kalebu, who has a history of mental illness but is not presenting a mental-health defense, is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary in what's been described as a random attack on Butz and her partner at their home the night of July 18, 2009. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty; he would face life in prison without release if convicted.

Kalebu is accused of entering the home through an open window — it was a hot night, and Butz, a native of St. Louis, was philosophically opposed to using air conditioning in Seattle. The city doesn't get hot enough, her partner testified.

The Associated Press is not identifying her because she is a victim of sexual assault.

Her testimony ranged from terrifying details of the attack — how the man, pacing slowly through the bedroom, knife in hand, closed the three windows one-by-one — and cheerful, sometimes emotional recollections of the time she shared with Butz, their first kiss and the way Butz fit perfectly into a $70 wedding dress she was going to wear at their upcoming commitment ceremony.

“She kind of had a fire and a spunk to her that I was really drawn to,” she said.

The woman flashed broad smiles and laughed often as she described their lives together. They met because Butz was a commercial real-estate manager who oversaw the floor on which the woman worked, but Butz initially wouldn't return her calls. She talked of their last day together, which they spent going to a weight-loss class, drinking beer on a tour of South Seattle microbreweries, going to her wedding dress fitting, and grilling steaks at home.

They had been planning to spend the night in the suburb of Marysville that night for a friend's birthday party, but were exhausted from their busy day and stayed home instead.

Butz's family didn't approve of their wedding plans, but the woman said Butz was excited that evening because she had just spoken on the phone with her mother, who had indicated she might attend the ceremony. Several of Butz's relatives were in the courtroom.

“They may not have agreed with our choice, but I knew there was no question they loved Teresa, and I knew there was no question they loved me,” she said.

She choked up as she spoke of their plans to have children together.

Though she had described the rapes by the end of court Friday, she had not yet testified about the stabbings. She was to resume testifying Thursday morning.

Prosecutors say the attack finally ended when Butz — just 5-foot-2 — kicked Kalebu off a bed and used a small table to break a window, through which she left. Kalebu ran out of the house, and Butz's partner left too, naked and covered in so much blood that she had trouble opening the front door of the home, authorities said.

Before Butz died from a stab wound to her heart, she reportedly told a neighbor: “He told us if we did what he asked us to do, he wouldn't hurt us. He lied, he lied.”

Kalebu was arrested after he was identified using DNA evidence and surveillance video from an earlier unsolved burglary at the city hall in the suburb of Auburn. The attack kept the neighborhood on edge until Kalebu's arrest six days later.

Sex offender arrested for child rape

A registered sex offender is accused of raping a young girl after offering to babysit so her parents could spend time together.

Robert Leonard Hutsell, 44, knew the girl's father from high school but lost contact until late last year, court documents say.

The father told Spokane police he didn't know of Hutsell's background until detectives began investigating allegations that Hutsell molested the girl.

Hutsell took the girl and her siblings to his home at 543 E. Crown Ave., for an overnight stay in February, according to court documents. The girl later told her mother of inappropriate contact.

Police contacted Hutsell at the Benton County Jail in Kennewick, where they say he admitted to the contact. Hutsell appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today on a $250,000 warrant for first-degree rape of a child and first-degree child molestation and remains in jail.

Hutsell was convicted in Spokane County of first-degree rape of a child in 1999.

FBI: Tribal jail deputy raped inmate

A former jail deputy on the Spokane Indian Reservation is accused of raping an inmate.

Clifford Arlen Matherly, 35, was arrested at a gas station in Chewelah, Wash., on Monday, according to the FBI.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno ordered Matherly released from Spokane County Jail on Tuesday after he pleaded not guilty to a grand jury indictment. He’s to report to all court hearings and is prohibited from contacting the alleged victim, who prosecutors say still lives in the community.

Read the rest of my story here.

Bad Hair Bandit robs Moses Lake bank

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A serial bank robber dubbed “the Bad Hair Bandit” is believed to have robbed a bank in Moses Lake on Tuesday.

 A wigged woman matching the description of the robber thought to be responsible for 14 bank robberies since December entered Sterling Savings Bank and demanded money but did not display a weapon, according to the Associated Press.  A picture from a February robbery is at left.

The method matches that of the Bad Hair Bandit, who police believed robbed Chase Bank on Francis Avenue in Spokane last month after robbing banks in Ellensburg and Moses Lake in late April.

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

Enjoy a slide show of photos from the 14-bank robbery spree above.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to her capture. Anyone with information should call at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don't have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Feds balk at sale of Barefoot Bandit story

SEATTLE (AP) — Plea negotiations involving the young man known as the “Barefoot Bandit” have hit a snag as federal prosecutors balk at letting him sell the rights to his sensational tale, even if money from movie or book deals is used to repay his victims, his attorney said today. 

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, led authorities on a two-year game of cat-and-mouse in stolen boats, planes and cars that finally ended with his arrest in the Bahamas last summer.

He earned the moniker by committing some of his crimes barefoot, his daring antics earned him a popular following, and plans for movies or books about the case are already in the works. One of his charges alleges he stole a small plane from the Bonners Ferry airport.

His lawyer, John Henry Browne, doesn't dispute the allegations.

He has long maintained that Harris-Moore has no interest in profiting from his crime spree but would be interested in selling his story if it meant his victims could be repaid.

Plea talks initially called for proceeds from such deals being turned over to a court-appointed special master who would dole out the money to victims. But in the last few days, prosecutors have said they're reluctant to let Harris-Moore sell his story at all, Browne said.

The U.S. attorney's office in Seattle did not return calls seeking comment. The office generally does not discuss plea negotiations; Browne said prosecutors have not made any final decision about the publicity rights.

“If the victims don't get paid, it's not going to be Colton's fault,” Browne said. “There are going to be movies and books about this case anyway, so the government is not going to minimize what Colton did. It doesn't make any sense.”

Many of the losses sustained by burglary or theft victims were covered by insurance companies, which could be in line for a share of publicity deal proceeds.

Harris-Moore is due in court Thursday, where he is expected to plead not guilty to a superseding indictment filed against him.

Browne and Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts had previously said in court they hoped to have a plea deal reached by the end of last month that would provide the framework for resolving state and federal charges against Harris-Moore.

The new indictment, returned last month, added a bank burglary charge to the five other federal charges against Harris-Moore: interstate transportation of a stolen plane, gun, and boat; being a fugitive in possession of a firearm; and piloting an aircraft without a valid airman's certificate.

The new indictment also includes language requiring Harris-Moore to forfeit “any and all intellectual property or other proprietary rights belonging to the defendant” based on his publication or dissemination of his tale. Browne has thus far represented Harris-Moore for free, and he said he is not seeking to have Harris-Moore sell publicity rights so that he himself can get paid.

The government indicated it would never agree to using book- or movie-deal proceeds to pay for Harris-Moore's legal representation, Browne said, and that was taken off the negotiating table long ago.

“I'm losing $100,000 or more on this case,” Browne said. “I'm sticking with it because I need to see it through for Colton.”

Harris-Moore grew up on Camano Island north of Seattle and was known to sheriff's deputies from the time he was a young boy. By his mid-teens, he had convictions for theft, burglary, malicious mischief and assault, among other crimes. Deputies once caught him by pretending they were delivering him a pizza.

In early 2008, Harris-Moore escaped out the window of a halfway house south of Seattle, and began once again burglarizing vacation homes in the islands of Washington state. He also started stealing planes from small airports in the region, though he had no formal flight training and totaled two of the aircraft in crash-landings.

The federal charges stem from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early this year, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands.

He then stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took the plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar, where authorities found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel, prosecutors say. He made his way to Oregon in a 32-foot boat stolen from in southwestern Washington — stopping first to leave $100 at an animal shelter in Raymond, Wash.

From Oregon, authorities said, Harris-Moore hopscotched his way across the U.S., frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports, until he made it to Indiana, where he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas. He was captured by Bahamian police at gunpoint in a stolen boat.

In all, Harris-Moore is suspected of more than 70 crimes across nine states.

Repeat girlfriend beater gets 33 months

A Coeur d'Alene man with a history of domestic violence was sentenced this week to 2 1/2 years for the the attempted strangulation of his girlfriend.

David B. Moen, 41, is to serve 33 months in prison and will not be credited for 257 days already served in jail.

Moen was sentenced by 1st District Judge Fred Gibler for attempted strangulation and felony domestic violence for a Sept. 12 assault on his then-girlfriend. Moen choked the woman, hit her head against a hall and punched and kicked her in the head several times, according to the Kootenai County Prosceutor's Office.

Moen's extensive criminal history includes five felony convictions and 17 misdemeanor convictions. He was convicted of domestic violence assault in 2002 for an incident with another ex-girlfriend, according to news archives.

Moen was on federal probation for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine when he was arrested last year.

In a prepared statement, Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh praised the 33-month sentence for the repeat offender.

“His conduct reveals his inability, at this time, after many convictions, to comply with society's rules…Following his incarceration, we hope his federal probation will continue so that sufficient incentives are in place to convince Mr. Moen to avoid further violation,” McHugh said.

Reckless driver insults cop, gets away

A reckless driver who cut off a Washington State Patrol detective in the Hillyard area offered this assessment of the man, according to police: “You're a pussy.”

Detective M.C. Bambino said Justin Tyler Whitney, 30, yelled that at him from his 1981 Volkswagen pickup truck before ramming Bambino's unmarked squad car and fleeing the area.

The suspect was arrested Monday - nearly one month after the May 9 incident.

Trooper Troy Briggs, spokesman for WSP, said detectives encountered several dead ends when trying to locate Whitney, delaying his arrest.

Bambino was southbound on North Market Street approaching East Garland Avenue when he noticed a speeding green pickup driving erratically.

The driver insulted him before swerving toward his vehicle, then refusing to pull over, according to an affidavit. The truck stopped in near East Carlisle Avenue, then reversed and rammed a Toyota car that had stopped nearby. The truck then rammed part of Bambino's vehicle and was last seen driving northbound on Greene Street.

Bambino obtained the pickup's license plate, which showed the vehicle was registered to Whitney.
Bambino said Whitney had a “crazed look on his face” during the melee and believes he was on drugs.

Whitney appeared in Superior Court Tuesday on charges of reckless driving, two counts of hit and run and two counts of first-degree assault
  

Man who shot off-duty deputy indicted

A Grant County man already serving four years for shooting an off-duty sheriff's deputy in 2008 faces up to 10 more after a federal grand jury indicted him on weapons charges Tuesday. 

Robbie Joe Marcher (left) was convicted at trial of second-degree assault, failing to summon assistance and unlawful hunting after the shooting of Deputy Earl Romig (right) on Jan. 10, 2008. 

Jurors also found Marcher showed an “egregious lack of remorse” on the assault charge, which lengthened his prison sentence, according to the Division III Court of Appeals. The court upheld the convictions May 17.

Now Marcher faces up to 10 years in federal prison under the indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Spokane. He's accused of possessing a Springfield Savage 30.06 rifle the day he shot Romig, and of possessing two shotguns, a rifle and nearly 160 rounds of ammunition four days later.

Romig was hunting coyotes and in civilian clothing when Marcher shot him in the back. He said he saw Marcher pointing his rifle at him earlier and looking at him through the scope.

A motorist found Romig with extensive injuries, but he's recovered well.

Marcher, who was hunting with his father, told police he thought Romig was a coyote.

Arrest in La. leads to break in cold case

Tacoma Police detective Brian Vold starts a second hole during the search for the remains of Wallace Guidroz along Ruston Way in Tacoma on Tuesday. (AP Photo/The News Tribune, Joe Barrentine)

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Police in Washington state believe a man arrested in Louisiana in the death of his wife was also involved in the disappearance of his young son 28 years ago.

 Stanley Guidroz was never eliminated as a suspect in the 3-year-old's disappearance in 1983, and now police are more certain than ever before that Guidroz was involved, Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said Tuesday.

Investigators spent Tuesday digging in a spot along Ruston Way in Tacoma where they believe little Wallace's body was buried.

Guidroz claimed at the time that the boy had been abducted by an unknown couple they had met in the area of the duck pond at Point Defiance Park. A search was unsuccessful.

Cold case detectives began reviewing the case in 2007. This March they learned that Stanley Guidroz had been arrested in Terrebonne Parish, La., in the slaying of his wife, and they traveled to Houma, La., to interview him.

Guidroz, 53, was indicted June 2 for second-degree murder in connection with the March 9 death of his wife. He is being held in Terrebonne Parish jail.

His public defender, Kentley Fairchild, had left for the day when The Associated Press called and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Guidroz turned himself into officers at the Zachary, La., police station on the afternoon of March 9, telling officers he had killed his wife earlier that morning in Houma, La., according to a March 9 release from the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office. He directed officers to his vehicle in the parking lot, where they found the body of 47-year-old Pepettra Guidroz in the back of a Ford Mustang, Zachary police Capt. David McDavid told the Courier of Houma.

An autopsy showed that she died as a result of fatal stab wounds to her neck and chest, according to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office.

Guidroz told detectives that he and his wife were arguing about their relationship moments before the stabbing, the sheriff's office said.

In Washington state, police never found traces of little Wallace after he went missing on Jan. 10, 1983.

The boy's father told police the two had fished with another couple in Commencement Bay that afternoon, and later the boy went to play with a young girl whom he didn't know and her mother near the duck pond at Point Defiance Park, the News Tribune reported. Guidroz said he went for a walk around dusk and shared a beer with a man he took to be the girl's father, the newspaper reported.

“I could see the kids playing. I guess I felt secure,” Guidroz told The News Tribune at the time. “When I turned around to look for the child, he was gone.”

He told police he searched for the boy for about two hours and then called police from a nearby pay phone and reported him missing. Nearly 200 searchers looked for the boy over the next couple of days, but found nothing.

Appeal denied in Summer Phelps case

An appeal by a man sentenced to 75 years in prison for the torture death of his young daughter has been denied.

 Attorneys on behalf Jonathan D. Lytle appealed Superior Court Judge Michael Price’s decision that Lytle was able to understand and assist in his own defense.

But appellate judges from the Division III Court of Appeals ruled today that Price had legal justification for his ruling and affirmed Lytle's conviction of homicide by abuse.

A jury convicted Lytle in late 2008 of killing his 4-year-old daughter, Summer Phelps, on March 10, 2007.

Adriana L. Lytle, the girl’s stepmother, pleaded guilty and received a sentence of about 62 years.

Over six months in 2006 and 2007, Summer was beaten, bitten, shocked with a dog collar, burned with cigarettes, denied food and dunked in cold water after being forced to stand in a bathtub for hours washing urine-soaked clothes.

Doctors later testified that it was the worst case of child abuse they had ever seen. The girl’s death caused state officials to revamp the system that tracks abuse cases.

Woman still missing after eight months

For the first few months, Jackie Forney barely slept.

She handed out fliers, knocked on doors, visited transient camps and worried incessantly about what may have happened to her daughter, Heather Higgins, who was last seen Sept. 20 at her apartment complex on Spokane’s lower South Hill.

The drive to Spokane from her Stevens County farm home became routine.

Now, nearly nine months later and as a police investigation continues, Forney isn’t losing hope that the nerve-racking fear consuming her will end.

“I love her with all my heart, and I’m not going to give up. But I’m just at a dead end,” Forney said. “People say, ‘I can’t imagine what you’re going through,’ and I say, ‘well, try to imagine what my daughter’s going through. … Try to imagine how a missing person would feel.’ ”

Read the rest of my story here.

Robbery suspects were wannabe roomies

Three teenagers accused of robbing women in north Spokane parking lots say they planned to use the money to get an apartment together, according to court documents.

Now Donovan T. Johnson, 18; Keona A. Crossley, 19; and Logan R. Sims, 18, are sharing space at Spokane County's crossbar motel.

The suspects were arrested Saturday after a standoff at Crossley's home at 1903 E. Decatur. Police found suspect Logan R. Sims, 18, in a nearby yard.

Johnson told detectives that two days befor the hesits, he and the other suspects discussed getting an apartment.

“Keona Crossley said they needed to do some licks to get money,” according to a probable cause affidavit. “Crossley talked about finding women and taking their purses from them. Sims said he could get a gun to help them do the robberies.”

Johnson said Crossley got a shutgun from a friend, but Sims used a black handgun to commit the first robbery at the North Colton Street Wal-Mart. The victim said Sims punched her in the face after she told him she didn't have any money, according to the affidavit.

Johnson said he didn't see Sims point the gun at the second victim outside Northtown Mall, but that he did have the gun on him during the robbery, police said.

A witness then reported occupants of a tan vehicle were dropping credit cards and receipts into the roadway near North Napa Street and East Central Avenue.

The cards belonged to the Northtown robbery victim, police said.

Police arrived at Crossley's home after locating a Cadillac matching the description of the car used in the robberies

All remain in jail on $75,000 bond after Judge Michael Price deemed them significant risks to the community.

Sims and Johnson are scheduled to graduate from high school next week.

Man accused of raping 4-year-old girl

A Whitman County man is facing a charge of first-degree rape of a child after his arrest by sheriff’s deputies.

The Whitman County Sheriff’s Office today reported that Steven Thomas Schuler, 34, was taken into custody in Rosalia following a complaint about the rape of a four-year-old girl in Lamont on Friday.

He was scheduled to appear on Monday in Whitman County Superior Court to hear the charge against him, deputies said.

Long-term meth lab busted in Blanchard

A longstanding methamphetamine was dismantled and its operator arrested recently in Blanchard, Idaho.

Wilifred J. Dechenne, 38, was “taken through a decontamination process” before being booked into the Bonner County Jail on charges of manufacturing and possession of methamphetamine.

A team from the Bonner County Sheriff's Office arrested Dechenne while executing a search warrant Thursday at noon in Blanchard.

A hazardous materials team and the Spirit Lake Fire Department assisted.

Detectives processed the scene for five hours “safely removing hazardous materials and taking evidence samples,” according to a news release.

Man barred from own trial in rape case

In this May 12 photo, accused rapist and murderer Isaiah Kalebu, lower center, is taken in a wheeled restraint chair through a hallway at the King County Courthouse following a court hearing in Seattle. Judge Michael C. Hayden has taken the unusual step of tentatively barring Kalebu from attending his own trial when opening statements began in King County Superior Court on Monday because of outbursts during pre-trial hearings. Instead, Kalebu will be able to watch the proceedings via closed-circuit television from a nearby courtroom.

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — The trial of a man accused of horrifically raping and stabbing a lesbian couple began without him Monday, after a judge barred him for repeatedly interrupting pretrial hearings with profane outbursts.

Isaiah Kalebu, 25, was chained in a restraint chair in a room on a different floor of the courthouse after King County Superior Court Judge Michael Hayden took the unusual step of barring him.

Kalebu sat in a heavy suicide-protection smock and a neck brace and he watched the proceedings by closed-circuit television. An apparent attempt on his own life landed him at a Seattle hospital on the eve of the trial, but a prosecutor called it a “suicide gesture” rather than a serious attempt.

Defendants have a right to be present at all stages of their trial, but can forfeit that through disruptive behavior.

Kalebu is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary in the random attack on Teresa Butz and her partner at their home in Seattle's South Park neighborhood.

The judge has said he will reconsider allowing Kalebu in the courtroom if he promises to behave. Defense attorneys said that Kalebu asked Monday to attend opening statements, but jail staff declined to relay that request to them or to the court — a development one of his lawyers, Michael Schwartz, described as troubling.

A jail spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

Even if Kalebu attends the trial, he could be forced to wear an electroshock sleeve, which could be activated by a deputy if he tries to attack anyone in the courtroom.

Hayden told jurors before opening statements that whether Kalebu is present has no bearing on his guilt or innocence.

Kalebu was arrested after he was identified using DNA evidence and surveillance video from an earlier unsolved burglary at the city hall in the suburb of Auburn. The two-hour-long attack on Butz and her partner kept their neighborhood on edge for days until Kalebu's capture.

Butz was credited with helping her partner escape when she kicked the attacker off a bed and threw a metal table into a window through which she climbed. She collapsed and died in the street as stunned neighbors tried to help. She was naked and covered in blood from having her throat cut and heart stabbed.

Senior deputy prosecutor Brian McDonald told the jurors that much of the testimony and evidence in the case would be difficult to hear and see.

“But what I suggest won't be difficult is determining that the crimes occurred, and the defendant is the person who committed them,” he added.

The couple, who was planning their commitment ceremony, was asleep when they found Kalebu standing over them with a large chef's knife, telling them, “Shut up, I won't hurt you,” McDonald said. Kalebu came in through an open window, he said.

Kalebu raped the women repeatedly as he held the knife to their necks, McDonald said. When he started to slash their throats, Butz — just 5-foot-2 — kicked the 6-foot-tall suspect off the bed and created a diversion that allowed her partner to escape and seek help, authorities said.

Her partner was covered in so much blood that she had trouble opening the front door to escape, the prosecutor said. Before Butz died, she told a neighbor: “He told us if we did what he asked us to do, he wouldn't hurt us. He lied, he lied.”

The first witness to testify was neighbor Jennifer Lutz, who had just finished feeding her 17-day-old baby when she heard the sound of glass breaking and saw Butz fall from a first-story window.

Butz's partner survived the attack and is expected to testify.

Despite a history of mental illness, Kalebu is not pursuing a mental-health defense; several experts determined him to be faking or exaggerating his symptoms. Instead, his lawyers say they will argue that he didn't commit the crime.

His pretrial antics have included swearing at the judge and lawyers involved in the case, knocking over chairs and gesturing obscenely at photographers.

The defense lawyers did not make an opening statement, saying they reserved the right to give one later.

Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty if Kalebu is convicted, due to his history of mental illness. Instead, he would face life in prison without release.

Tips sought on owners of killer dogs

Authorities are asking for help identifying the owners of dogs that are believed to be attacking farm animals in southern Stevens County.

The dogs pictured are thought to be responsible for the deaths of animals in the areas of Bittrich Antler, Scotts Valley Road and Casberg Burroughs Road as well as the 6800 to 7200 block of Highway 291. 

Photos from a camera set up at the location of a previous attack recorded images of the dogs when they returned.

Anyone with information is asked to call (509) 684-2555 or 1-800-572-0947.

2nd suspect arrested in Pullman robbery

A second suspect has been arrested in a home-invasion robbery in Pullman last week.

Jeremiah J. Lafave, 27, was booked into the Idaho County Jail after being arrested at a relative's home in Steites, Idaho, about 5 p.m. on Saturday.

He's awaiting extradition back to Whitman County, where he faces charges of robbery, kidnapping, burglary, theft and harassment.

Police believe Lafave and Matthew E. White, 35, of Clarkston, tied up a man at gunpoint at an apartment complex last Tuesday and stole carious items. White was arrested Thursday.

Surveillance photos and videos from a convenience store helped identify the suspects.

“Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins thanks those who provided tips and the assisting law enforcement agencies that led to the identification and arrest of the suspects so quickly,” according to a news release. 

Jury rejects claims in fatal crash lawsuit

Dorothy Mullican sat on a courthouse bench and cried Thursday after losing a five-year legal battle to hold someone responsible for her son’s death.

Mullican’s son, Daren Lafayette, 19, was working on a road crew on Sept. 12, 2006, when a truck began rolling downhill toward a car that had two people inside. Lafayette chased down the truck and climbed inside, but could not stop it before it careened over an embankment and exploded.

A Spokane County Superior Court jury absolved the general contractor, N.A. Degerstrom, a brake manufacturer and the worker who installed the brake on the truck.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

June 1: Fatal runaway truck case in hands of jury

Police: Masturbator caught outside mall

A Post Falls man is accused of masturbating in the Spokane Valley Mall parking lot Sunday afternoon.

Brian J. Jeffries, 25, was booked into jail on a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure after witnesses reported him to mall security about 3:20 p.m. and he fled in his Toyota pickup, police said.

Police traced the pickup to a man named Jeffries, and witnesses said the masturbator was wearing a shirt “embroidered with the name of a national retailer,” according to a news release.

Police showed an image from mall security video to the store manager, who identified the man as Jeffries. Jeffries was arrested a few minutes later when he arrived to begin his shift.

Police have not released the name of the business.

Jeffries is the second Idaho man to be accused of masturbating in a Spokane Valley business parking lot in five days.

On Wednesday, a Rathdrum man was arrested on voyeurism charges after police say he masturbated while filming a coffee shop employee's reaction.

3-time armed robber gets 51 months

A man who robbed three convenience stores at gunpoint in March has been ordered to spend about four years in prison.  

Joseph D. Maine, 23, (pictured last year) was sentenced last week to 51 months in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree robbery.

Maine, who was featured in a news article last year for helping car crash victims, told police he was an unemployed heroin addict with a family to support when he robbed Mike's Grocery, 2025 N. Hamilton St., and at Zip Trip, 2005 N. Hamilton, and the Broadway Mini Market, 10304 E. Broadway Ave., over the course of two days.

Police seized a black Daisy BB gun from a home where Maine was staying in the 3800 block of South Bowdish Road.

Police also found drugs in Maine's jeans and noted hat Maine asked them to “remove used needles from under his daughter's mattress,” according to court documents.

In addition to the prison sentence, Maine is required to pay $370 restitution.

Man in fatal street fight gets 21 years

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor described a series of random events that came together two years ago in an altercation that left a 24-year-old man dead and resulted in a 21-year prison sentence for the convicted felon who brought a knife to a fistfight.

The judge last week sentenced Matthew M. Nedeau, 26, to 252 months in prison after a Spokane jury convicted him in April of second-degree murder in connection with the July 6, 2009, slaying of Vitaly Shevchuk.

“All of us in this room shake our heads,” O’Connor said. “This didn’t have to happen.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

 

Past coverage:

April 29: Man, woman guilty in fatal 2009 stabbing

April 20: Man, woman on trial for fatal '09 stabbing


  

Holder vows to clarify medical marijuana

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, right, tours the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, R.I., Thursday, June 2, 2011. With Holder are Teny Gross, left, executive director of the institute, Ajay Benton, second from left, and Juan Carter, third from left. Holder promised Thursday to clarify the Justice Department's position on state medical marijuana laws after federal prosecutors warned they might prosecute everyone from licensed growers to regulators. (AP Photo/Bob Thayer, Pool)


LAURA CRIMALDI, Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised Thursday to clarify the Justice Department's position on state medical marijuana laws after federal prosecutors warned they might prosecute everyone from licensed growers to regulators.

“We're going to bring clarity so that people understand what this policy means and how this policy will be implemented,” Holder said during a visit to a Providence, R.I., institute that specializes in nonviolence.

Holder didn't go into detail about plans for clarification. But he said the department was wary of medical marijuana dispensaries being seen as a form of de facto marijuana legalization.

Several U.S. states have started reassessing their medical marijuana laws after U.S. attorneys recently sent stern warnings that everyone from licensed medical marijuana growers to regulators could be subjected to prosecution. The cautions were sent to officials in California, Colorado, Montana and Rhode Island. Federal authorities also recently conducted a series of raids at grow operations in Montana and at dispensaries in Washington.

More than a dozen states have approved the medical use of marijuana, which is not legal under federal law. About half of those states regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee suspended plans last month to license three such dispensaries after U.S Attorney Peter Neronha sent him a letter warning that they could lead to prosecutions.

Chafee does not believe Holder's comments imply a change in the Justice Department's underlying position and dispensary plans will remain on hold, his spokesman Michael F. Trainor said.

“He will await whatever resolution that Attorney General Holder indicated would be forthcoming,” Trainor said of the governor. “He will take that under advisement. At that point, he'll make a decision concerning whether or not he feels it's prudent to move forward with issuing certificates to the three applicant dispensaries.”

Suspect arrested in Pullman robbery

A suspect has been arrested in a home-invasion robbery in Pullman earlier this week.

Matthew E. White, 35, of Clarkston, is in the Whitman County Jail on charges of robbery, kidnapping, burglary, theft and harassment.

Tips helped police identify him as one of two men who tied up and robbed a Pullman man at gunpoint Tuesday.  Police and the Whitman County SWAT team searched White's home in the 2800 block of 6th Avenue in Clarkston just before 8 p.m. Thursday.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Pullman police at (509) 334-0802.

Surveillance photos and videos of the suspects can be viewed here.

Man claims abuse in teen boot camps

By LYNN DeBRUIN,Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Spokane man has become the latest to sue a Utah-based organization for troubled children, claiming he was physically and emotionally tormented during its teen boot camp programs in Mexico.

Attorneys for Carl Brown Austin, 24, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City against World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools.

Austin spent nearly two years, starting at age 13, at the organization's Casa by the Sea and High Impact programs. He alleged he was a “virtual prisoner” in programs that meted out primitive punishment for hours on end.

The lawsuit said Casa by the Sea in Ensenada, Mexico, was never licensed by any state regulatory authority as a “treatment center” and that High Impact in Baja, Mexico, was shut down by government edict in 2002 after complaints from parents.

Austin claimed he was hogtied, given limited access to bathrooms and food and endured “The Big Green” — which meant having his head rubbed into an artificial turf until his face and mouth were bloody. It also claimed the organization and its officials conspired to conceal the abuse at its boarding schools.

“I'm just now trying to change my life around,” Austin said. “I've been through so much. It's a traumatic thing to have to go through when I was just 13.”

An attorney for the organization, which was based in St. George, Utah, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Austin said he wanted his own lawsuit filed rather than join a lawsuit pending in federal court after five years because “I would like to have my story heard.”

The other lawsuit, brought in 2006 initially on behalf of a Texas man, now has 350-plus plaintiffs — mostly victims claiming abuse and parents who sent their children to various alternative programs run by the organization.

Also named as defendants are organization principals Robert B. Litchfield, of Toquerville, Utah, and Brent M. Facer.

Facer, reached in California on Thursday, said he was a board member of World Wide for four or five years but indicated it exists now on paper only. He said World Wide shut down because there wasn't a need for its programs any more.

He maintained that Casa by the Sea was “a well-run program” and that “safety and security were paramount.” He said he had no knowledge of Austin or abuse allegations and knew only of “a few isolated incidents that got some attention.” Asked why former students might bring such accusations, Facer said children brought to such schools have a history of misrepresenting the truth.

“That's why these kids need help,” Facer said. “They lie to their parents, lie to their superiors, teachers, people who maybe they would consider an authoritative type of figure. That's not uncommon.”

Austin's mother, Glenna Pierson, and her husband also are plaintiffs in his lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks to recover more than $50,000 Pierson spent for her son to be in the Casa by the Sea program, as well as actual and punitive damages for the abuse he suffered.

Austin said his relationship with his mother is still “on the fence” as he struggles with trust issues after being sent from home for being a troublemaker.

“It's hard for me to forgive but I'm trying,” he said of his mother.

The 36-page lawsuit said Pierson pulled him from the program in 2002 but claimed he could not adjust to normal life after the abuse. It said he had trouble with the law and drugs.

The programs “wrecked the life of a very young adolescent that needed nurturing, patience, and love, not the foolish 'behavior modification' at which defendants excel,” the lawsuit said.

Austin, who along with his girlfriend runs a babysitting service from his home in Spokane, said even smells can trigger flashbacks.

“They made this juice with syrup and water and I'd be out driving and have the window down and … it'd take me right back again to where I was when I was 13,” Austin said. He said he had been having recurring nightmares but that prescription medicine has helped him sleep better.

“Coming back from that environment, I was so angry,” he said. “My head had been messed with. There was lots of brainwashing.”

He insisted he no longer is in trouble with the law, and is trying to be a role model for the children he babysits. “But part of the reason I got this job is because I don't like to leave the house. I have this wall built around myself. I don't trust anyone,” he said.

“I don't think these kids frankly ever get over it,” said Salt Lake City attorney Thomas Burton, who filed the suit on behalf of Austin. “It's that bad, when they're adolescents and their psyche is just developing.”

He pointed to other cases where children in wilderness or residential programs committed suicide or serious crimes against others “because they can't take it anymore.”

“I know people who say the Army saved my life. But the Army has good food, recourse, oversight. It's rough, but it's fair,” Burton said. “In these (programs), who knows? They're off in the wilderness and nobody's checking on them.”

Drug fraud suspect arrested 6x in 1 year

A Spokane woman arrested on felony prescription forgery charges six times in one year has been jailed on an usually high bond of $125,000.

Theresia L. Beckett, 56, has at least eight pending felony charges related to alleged prescription forgeries at Spokane pharmacies since last June.

Beckett was arrested June 16, July 20, Sept. 26, Oct. 14 and April 12 but was out of jail on $60,000 bond when she was arrested again Wednesday at a Walgreens in Spokane Valley.

Beckett is accused of forging a prescription for hydrocodone at the pharmacy, 15510 E. Sprague Ave. Deputies said she tried to flee the business before she was arrested.

Prosecutors asked Judge Michael Price to impose the extraordinarily high bond after Beckett's latest arrest.
Her lawyer, Tim Note, said he “understands the state's frustration.”

Price said the prosecutor's request was reasonable.

“I've seen Ms. Beckett time in and time out,” Price said. “I'm certainly not trying to be gruff or rude to her, but…every time she bonds out, arguably, she just goes right back out and does it again, possibly within hours. I have some real concerns for Ms. Beckett.”

Beckett was convicted of six counts of prescription fraud in 2008 and given two years of probation.

Charge filed in crash that killed CdA men

(AP) A 20-year-old man is charged with reckless driving for his alleged role in a crash near Twin Falls that killed two Coeur d'Alene High School graduates last September.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports Twin Falls County prosecutors filed the charge against Kade D. Laughlin, of Filer, on May 5. His preliminary hearing is set for June 21.

The crash killed College of Southerin Idaho students 18-year-old Ryan Reinhardt and 19-year-old Devon Austin of Coeur d'Alene. Austin was a baseball player at CSI and had been drafted by the Chicago Cubs.

Laughlin was charged after a third person in Reinhardt's vehicle — 19-year-old Jessica Duran — reported Laughlin had been chasing their vehicle after they left a party.

Laughlin has pleaded guilty to driving under the influence that night. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
  

Police shoot gator, then realize it’s fake

BILL DRAPER,Associated Press
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Police responding to a rare alligator sighting in suburban Kansas City took quick action to dispatch of the beast, shooting it in the head, as instructed, while it lurked menacingly in the weeds leading down to a pond.

It wasn't until a second rifle shot bounced off the reptile's head that the officers realized they had mortally wounded a concrete lawn ornament.

A resident of a subdivision near the pond called police Saturday evening to report that his children spotted the alligator while they were playing in some nearby woods.

After consulting a conservation agent, who told them to kill the gator if they felt it posed a danger, one of the officers shot it twice in the head before realizing something was up, said Tom Gentry, an Independence police spokesman.

“It didn't move,” Gentry said. “They inched up closer and closer and discovered it was a mock-up of a real alligator made to look like it was real.”

In the officers' defense, it was growing dark when they shot the fake gator and it was partially submerged in the weeds.

The property owner told police that the gator was meant to keep people off his property, Gentry said. Officers told him a no-trespassing sign would have been wiser.

“Now he'll have to patch up his alligator,” Gentry said.

Conservation agent Derek Cole said the department has received calls in the past about alligators that had been set free in populated areas, so there was no reason to believe the Saturday sighting wasn't valid.

“The department doesn't get involved in something like that,” Cole said. “They asked if they could go ahead and dispatch it if it was a danger, and I said there's a kill shot on alligators, a small kill shot on the head. I said if they can get a shot like that, go ahead.”

Pair serves pool time for rafting offense

PAINESVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A northeast Ohio couple found themselves up to their ankles in trouble for rafting on a flood-swollen river without life preservers and lying about it afterward.

 A judge sentenced them to stand in a tiny swimming pool while wearing life jackets and handing out water safety brochures Saturday at a festival in Painesville, 30 miles northeast of Cleveland.

Twenty-year-old Grace Nash and 22-year-old Bruce Crawford pleaded guilty to misdemeanor misconduct during an emergency. Searchers spent hours looking for them last month after they were spotted on the Grand River. They made it to land but lied to an official about being in the water.

They chose the pool punishment and community service over 60 days in jail.

Nash tells The News-Herald in Willoughby they've learned their lesson.

Voyeurism suspect works at Silverwood

A man accused of masturbating while videotaping the reaction of a barista is a supervisor at Silverwood Theme Park.

Matt Alan Lambert's public defender told a judge that today when asking for Lambert to be released from jail on his own recognizance or on a low bond. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price imposed a $5,000 bond.   Prosecutors had requested $15,000.

Lambert, 50, has four misdemeanor convictions from more than 15 years ago but no felonies. He's accused of masturbating in his 1992 Ford Aerostat minivan at Dagny's Coffee Co., 12900 E. Trent Ave., Wednesday while videotaping the barista, police say.

Spokane Valley police officers were staking out the stand after employees complained of a customer masturbating in his car on at least two occasions.

Lambert, who lives in Rathdrum with his wife and children, admitted he'd videotaped the barista on Monday and Wednesday, police said.

Silverwood spokeswoman Nancy DiGiammarco did not immediately know Lambert's employment status with the theme park late Thursday afternoon.

Lambert's public defender, John Whaley, called the allegations against his client “disturbing.” Price called voyeurism ” a charge the court rarely sees.”

DNA identifies suspect in ‘09 robbery

DNA found on a sweatshirt has helped police identify a suspect in a two-year-old bank robbery.

A Spokane County sheriff's detective obtained a new DNA sample from Rodney R. Phillips, 48, on Wednesday to verify a match noted by the Washington State Patrol crime lab last month.

Phillips is in prison in Walla Walla for robberies in Western Washington. He was arrested July 4, 2009.
 
Banner Bank at 1521 N. Argonne Road in Spokane Valley was robbed June 18, 2009, by a man wearing a 2002 Lady Royals sweatshirt and Spokane Riverhawks hat. Both items were discarded near East Sinto Avenue and North Sargent Road the next day.
 
Surveillance photos show Phillips' preferred outfit in robberies in  Snohomish and King counties was a hooded sweatshirt, hat and sunglasses, according to a search warrant used to obtain Phillips' DNA sample.
 
Police are awaiting the results of the new DNA test before sending the case to prosecutors.

‘Barefoot Bandit’ injures ankle in jail

SEATTLE (AP) — The man accused of being the Barefoot Bandit injured an ankle while playing volleyball at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.

Attorney Emma Scanlan told The Seattle Times today that Colton Harris-Moore is on crutches.

The 20-year-old from Camano Island is accused of a crime spree that stretched from Puget Sound to the Caribbean, including burglaries, and boat and airplane thefts.

He earned the nickname because he allegedly committed some of the crimes while barefoot.

Harris-Moore was arrested on July 11 in the Bahamas and is awaiting trial on six federal charges and more than 30 state felonies. One of the federal charges accuses him of stealing a plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar.

Attorney John Henry Browne says a plea deal is in the works.

Child luring suspect leaves jail on bond

A Coeur d'Alene man accused of offering a woman money in exchange for her granddaughters left jail just hours after he was arrested Wednesday.

Shan A. Anderson, 32, posted $1,106 bond on four misdemeanor charges, including attempted child enticing, Wednesday night, according to the Kootenai County Jail.

Police were called to 1034 N. 3rd St. at 3:58 p.m. Wednesday, where they were told that Anderson approached a grandmother and “attempted to give her money so he could have her granddaughters,” according to a Coeur d'Alene police news release.
 
While investigating that case, officers learned Anderson also attempted to lure a boy walking home from school just minutes earlier, police said. 
 
Anderson was booked on four charges, attempted child enticing, attempted child custodial interference, disturbing the peace and obstruction. Each is a misdemeanor. Suspects arrested on felonies in Kootenai County cannot post bond until seeing a judge.

Suspected pervert arrested at coffee shop

A 50-year-old man is accused of fondling himself in front of a Spokane Valley coffee stand employee while videotaping her reaction.

A police officer was inside Dagny's Coffee Co., 12900 E. Trent Ave., when Matt Alan Lambert, of Rathdrum, Idaho, began fondling himself in Wednesday, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department. 
 
Police received a complaint earlier this week about a man who fondled himself while at the stand.
 
Officer Darin Powers stationed himself inside the stand Wednesday evening, and  Officer Eric Werner, who was stationed out-of-sight nearby, according to a news release.
 
Powers and Werner arrested Lambert on two counts of voyeurism, and he was booked into jail about 6:15 p.m. His 1992 Ford Aerostat minivan was impounded in anticipation of detectives obtaining a search warrant.
 
News archives show Lambert unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Congress while living in Murray, Idaho, in the mid 1990s.  He also had unsuccessful bids for the Idaho House of Representatives. Part of his campaign platform advocated for tougher sentences for sex offenders.

Arrest in ‘This Guy Has My MacBook’

By SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The images began arriving in Joshua Kaufman's inbox. The grainy photos are low-lit and intimate: a man curled up on a couch, sound asleep; the same man propped up against pillows on a bed, shirtless.

 Who was this stranger sitting with Kaufman's stolen laptop?

 The Oakland resident collected the images and took them to police, who did not help him. So he went online, publishing the pictures on Twitter and in a blog titled “This Guy Has My MacBook.”

 “People who followed me on Twitter retweeted it. It got picked up by social media and the press. It went super viral,” he said. On the same day that he posted his website on Twitter, police came calling.

Police on Tuesday arrested a 27-year-old cab driver, Muthanna Aldebashi. On Wednesday, Kaufman picked up his laptop from the police.

Kaufman said he was “surprised and amazed” when he began receiving images of the man using his laptop.

Kaufman's case is the latest example of people, not police, using technological tools to help find their own stolen property such as cars, cell phones and digital cameras.

Kaufman had just moved to a new apartment in Oakland when a burglar broke in, taking the laptop, a bag, an electronic book reader, and a bottle of gin on March 21. He activated theft-tracking software he had installed, which began sending photos taken by the computer's built-in camera of the unauthorized user three days later.

“I wasn't sure if it would work because I never tested it before,” he said. Most of the images “were honestly really boring photos — people staring into the screen. But some were definitely more humorous.”

Among them was a screenshot of the man logging onto his Gmail account, which showed an email that appeared to include the name of a business, Kaufman said. A quick Internet search revealed it was a cab company in nearby Berkeley, which Kaufman assumed was the man's workplace.

Kaufman submitted the information to police, but said they were unwilling to help and didn't respond to numerous follow-up emails.

“I know a stolen computer is small in the larger scheme but it would be nice to feel like you actually cared,” he tweeted three days after the break-in.

Kaufman said he turned to the Internet because he became “frustrated and thought I should try and get some attention from the media.” He posted some of the photos (two are pictured), including captions such as “I really don't want to know what this guy is doing with my MacBook” for the image of the shirtless man in bed.

Kaufman said he received a call from Oakland police spokeswoman Holly Joshi on the day he included a link to his blog. Joshi said she first heard about the case after receiving calls from media outlets Tuesday.

“From that point on, they seemed to be on my side completely,” he said of police. “They were apologetic, and they continually told me that they would be doing something about it immediately.”

Joshi blamed the large volume of theft reports Oakland police receive — about 2,400 a month for three theft investigators — and human oversight for the department's failure to follow up on Kaufman's leads.

“It was filed away,” Joshi said. “It had leads, so it shouldn't have been filed away.”

Police arranged a cab ride from Aldebashi and nabbed him when they recognized his face, according to Kaufman. Aldebashi was being held in an Oakland jail on $20,000 bail, according to the Alameda County sheriff's office.

The laptop's return was the culmination of a one-man crusade of online sleuthing, social networking and moments of voyeuristic creepiness aided by the software called Hidden.

The software — part LoJack, part nanny cam — is equipped with location positioning software. A representative for the product's London-based developer, Flipcode Ltd., did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Many portable electronics, including some digital cameras, are now equipped with wireless Internet capability and automatic geographic tagging on any photo taken — a helpful tool when trying to see where a thief has been hanging out. It's a step beyond the LoJack system invented two decades earlier that emitted a signal from a stolen vehicle.

Joshi said investigators did not know whether Aldebashi burglarized Kaufman's apartment, noting that stolen merchandise often changes hands. Aldebashi was scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

Mobster ‘Gorgeous’ avoids death penalty

By TOM HAYS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) — A combative, fashion-conscious mobster already serving a life prison term dodged a death sentence on Wednesday for ordering a gangland hit while taking control of a once-fearsome crime family.

An anonymous jury deliberated less than two hours before rejecting the government's longshot bid to have Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano (pictured) put to death and giving him another life sentence at the penalty phase of his trial in federal court in Brooklyn.

The jury had previously found the former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family guilty last month of murder, racketeering, conspiracy and other charges. Prosecutors said he had orchestrated the killing of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo.

Basciano, 51, cracked a slight smile and nodded at the jurors as they exited the courtroom.

Moments later, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis told defense lawyers they could meet privately with the jury and Basciano eagerly asked if he could tag along. The judge's blunt response: “There's not a chance in the world of that.”

Prosecutors used the unprecedented testimony of former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino to try to portray Basciano as a stone-cold killer who deserved death. Massino — the highest-ranking member of the city's five long-standing Mafia families to ever take the witness stand for the government — recounted a conversation about the possibility of knocking off an assistant U.S. attorney while the prosecutor dined at his favorite Manhattan eatery to avenge an onslaught of criminal cases brought against the family leadership.

“Let me kill this guy when he comes out of the restaurant,” Basciano said, according to Massino, who by mob rules had to sign off on the killing.

The prosecutor, Greg Andres, had “pretty much destroyed the Bonanno family,” Massino testified.

The government also sought to convince jurors that life behind bars wouldn't prevent Basciano from trying to use visitors to sneak orders to his underworld crew — a tactic he'd used in the past.

“Even with a life sentence, he will not be stopped,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri said in closing arguments. “His mind will always be in the street. … The defendant has earned the ultimate punishment.”

Defense attorney Richard Jasper argued the former owner of the Hello Gorgeous hair salon would pose no threat if imprisoned with other notorious gangsters and terrorists in the fortress-like lockup in Florence, Colo., “the biggest, baddest house in the federal system,” where “everybody is in lockdown.”

He urged jurors to follow their consciences and “suspend the work of death until Vincent Basciano dies in a federal prison by himself — in God's time, not man's.”

The jury indicated on their verdict sheet that it didn't buy prosecutors' argument that Basciano posed a future threat. Ten of the 12 jurors wrote their decision also was based on the fact that other mobsters who “have admitted to an equal or greater number of serious crimes … are not facing the death penalty.”

Throughout the capital case, Basciano was a colorful presence in the courtroom. He had won Garaufis' approval to wear a wardrobe of five different suits — one for each day of the week — and always kept his full head of gray hair carefully coiffed.

He also gave regular pointers to his lawyers and even sparred with the judge at length over whether he could introduce new evidence while testifying on his own behalf.

“I can't properly defend myself,” he complained in one rant before deciding not to take the stand.

Last year, the judge asked the Department of Justice to reconsider bringing a death penalty case — which at the time had already cost taxpayers more than $3 million — against a defendant who was already serving life without parole for a 2007 conviction. The U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn also was defying modern history: There's been only one federal defendant — convicted police killer Ronell Wilson — sentenced to death in the city since 1954, and that decision was overturned on appeal.

But prosecutors decided to press ahead anyway and showcase the straight-talking Massino at the guilt and penalty phases of the trial.

Massino, 68, broke his family's sacred vow of silence and began talking with investigators after his 2004 conviction for orchestrating a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes as he rose through the ranks of the Bonannos. The bloodshed included the shotgun slayings of three rival captains and the execution of a mobster who vouched for FBI undercover agent Donnie Brasco in the 1980s. Brasco's story became a movie starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.

While imprisoned together in 2005, the former Bonanno boss agreed to wear a wire and betray Basciano by recording their jailhouse banter.

Jurors heard one recording of Basciano boasting, “I'm a hoodlum. I'm a tough guy. Whatever happens happens. Let's go.” In another, a wistful Massino mused about the demise of the family.

“We was OK until I got pinched,” he said. “We was on top of the world.”

Serial burglar sentenced to 10 years

A serial burglar is to spend 10 years in prison and pay more than $14,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to 17 felonies.

Robert J. Frates, 27, burglarized tanning salons, tattoo shops and other small businesses in a burglary spree that ended in late March when police followed him using a GPS tracker affixed to Frates' Bronco and watched him burglarize a business.

He also burglarized sports card shops last winter and stole the firearm used in the shooting death of John S. Williams on Jan. 17, 2010.

Frates' 120-month prison sentence and $14,650 restitution order came after he pleaded guilty last week to possession of a stolen firearm, second-degree attempted burglary. three counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree possession of stolen property and four counts of second-degree burglary.

Past coverage:

April 1: Police link burglary suspect to gun used in gang slaying

Videos show Pullman robbery suspects

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Pullman police are asking for help identifying two men involved in a home-invasion robbery Tuesday. 

Surveillance videos shows the suspects, described as white men between the ages of 21 and 25. 

One man wore jeans, a red undershirt and a black and white plaid long-sleeved shirt; the second man wrote denim shorts, white shoes, a hat and a gray sweatshirt and had tattoos on his lower left leg. 

The men are believed to have robbed a man at gunpoint at the Aspen Village Apartments in the 16000 block of N.E. Northwood Drive.

The robbers stole items and tied up the victim before leaving the home, police said. No one was injured. Police were called about 11 a.m.

A white woman with blond hair, a yellow shirt and a tattoo on the right side of her neck is seen with the suspects, who are believed to be driving a light-colored, mid-sized SUV.

Anyone with information on the robbery or suspects is asked to call the Pullman Police Department at (509) 334-0802.

Dozing driver arrested after near collision

A dozing driver nearly crashed into an off-duty Spokane police officer Tuesday evening, the Spokane Valley Police Department said today.

Clarence R. Keesler, 49, of Coeur d'Alene, was arrested for misdemeanor reckless driving and making false statements after allegedly telling Spokane Valley police he was asleep in the passenger side of his Ford Bronco when it drove over a sidewalk and crashed into a chain link fence.

Off-duty Spokane police Officer Nathan Donaldson was westbound on Broadway Avenue about 5:40 p.m. when he swerved to avoid the eastbound Bronco when it crossed the center line, police said.

Keesler said a vehicle “had cut him off and forced him to drive into the yard,” according to a news release. A jail deputy found a small baggie of meth on Keesler during booking, leading to a felony charge.
  

Fatal runaway truck case in hands of jury

Nearly five years after he died in a fiery crash, the family of Daren Lafayette should know soon who, if anyone, is responsible and how to compensate the family for his loss.

The jury began this morning deliberating the case that included three weeks of testimony about what happened Sept. 12, 2006, on the highway construction site on Flowery Trail Road near Chewelah when a work truck began rolling downhill toward waiting cars. 

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Man robbed while looking for prostitute

A man looking for sex with a prostitute was robbed of his cash after soliciting women on East Sprague Avenue in Spokane last weekend, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Jessica N. Shelton, 22, and Joel M. Arevalo, 19, were arrested on first-degree robbery charges Saturday after Rodney G. Tongue said Arevalo attacked him after he approached Shelton and another female, whose name was not released because she is a juvenile, for sex, according to the Spokane Police Department.

Tongue said he believed the women were prostitutes, and they agreed to walk behind a dumpster at a gas station at 3602 E. Sprague to discuss “a prostitution deal,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Arevalo knocked Tongue to the ground, knocking out his hearing aid, then left with Shelton, the juvenile and Tongue's $20. Police helped Tongue find his hearing aid. Officers located the three suspects at East 3rd Avenue and South Freya Street, and Tongue identified them in photo line ups.

Arevalo told police he devised the plan to rob Tongue with Shelton and the juvenile. Shelton said Arevalo gave her the money and they bought Camel cigarettes and five cans of Blast, an alcoholic energy drink by Colt 45, which police photographed as evidence.
  

Judge bars gang terms at Jenks’ trial

Prosecutors are prohibited from referencing the terms “Hells Angels,” “Mongols” and “gangs” in the upcoming trial of club Sergeant at Arms Ricky Jenks.

U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush said federal prosecutors can refer to Jenks' membership in a “motorcycle club” only. He said the other references “would be unfairly prejudicial and generate 'more heat than light.'” Those orders were reiterated in pretrial documents filed last week.

Jenks' trial, originally set to begin Tuesday, is now scheduled to begin July 11 at 9 a.m. He faces 10 years in prison if convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

He has been in jail since his arrest March 3 during a raid at the Hells Angels Spokane clubhouse on East Sprague Avenue.

The raid came as tensions between the Hells Angels and Mongols were rumored to be heating up.

Past coverage:

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

March 31: Grand jury indicts Hells Angels leader

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