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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for March 2011

3 men accused of robbing elderly women

A 19-year-old man accused of robbing an 88-year-old woman is suspected of targeting four other elderly women.

Jonathan R. Crisler was charged Wednesday with Isaac J. Murphy, 19, for a string of purse snatchings between March 17 and March 19.

In each case, an elderly woman was followed home from the grocery store and attacked.

Crisler was arrested March 19 with Andrey A. Murray, 20, after a motorist witnessed Crisler running with the 88-year-old victim's purse near 3604 N. Washington St. before getting into a Green Pontiac driven by Murray.

Police believe the men used the stolen cash to buy OxyContin.

Crisler is charged with four counts of second-degree robbery and one count of attempted second-degree robbery.

Murphy is charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and one count of attempted second-degree robbery, and Murray is charged with second-degree robbery.

Sex fugitive since ‘83 arrested in Nevada

A fugitive wanted in Spokane since 1983 has been arrested at the University of Nevada Reno. 

The Marshals Service says marshals and UNR police arrested 59-year-old Steven M. James on Tuesday as he arrived for class.

He was booked into the Washoe County Jail, awaiting extradition to Washington.

James, also known as Steven Mell, is accused of violating probation on a conviction for attempted indecent liberties with a child.

Plea deal expected after shooting mistrial

A judge has declared a mistrial in the case against a Spokane Valley man who was facing up to 50 years in prison following an attack on his ex-girlfriend and his former best friend.

Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque declared the mistrial Wednesday after a witness offered testimony that the defense said was a surprise.

The witness said defendant Don R. Davis, 29, admitted possessing a gun that investigators said was used in a drive-by shooting as part of the case.

Defense attorney Rob Cossey objected because that information had not been presented to him by the witness or by Deputy Prosecutor Gayle Ervin in preparation for the trial.

“It was completely out of the blue. It was out of the witness’s mouth before I could do anything,” Cossey said. “I asked for a mistrial and the judge granted it.”

Davis is expected to plead guilty to some of the charges on April 6.

“We think we can reach a resolution,” Cossey said, “but it doesn’t include the attempted murder charges.”

Ervin had charged Davis with 10 criminal charges, including two counts of attempted first-degree murder, following a series of events that began on Oct. 4, 2009, with wild vehicle chase on Interstate 90 that included several collisions as Davis attempted to force his former best friend, Clayton Cooper, off the roadway, according to court testimony.

Davis was also charged with breaking into an apartment and stealing a shotgun that witnesses said was used in a drive-by shooting. Just minutes after that event, deputies conducted a search warrant and found the stolen gun in the trunk of the car Davis was driving, according to court testimony.

If convicted of all charges, Davis faced as much as 411 months in prison plus about 200 months for the weapons charges.

2 arrested in car dealership prowlings

Two teenagers were arrested for breaking into vehicles at a Spokane Valley car dealership early today, police said.

William Russell Kelly and Mecayla Ann Santjer, both 18-year-olds living at 8100 E. Appleway Ave., are due in Superior Court this afternoon on a second-degree burglary charge

A private security guard for Gus Johnson Ford told police about 2:15 a.m. that two people were prowling cars at Appleway Honda on East Sprague Avenue.

Officer Mark Benner arrived to find Kelly and Santjer crawling under a fence. They said they'd been drinking and decided to look at vehicles.

Kelly pocketed disposable face masks, a key fob and several keys while prowling 10 to 15 cars, police said.

DOJ launches probe of Seattle police

SEATTLE (AP) — The Justice Department today launched a formal civil rights investigation of the Seattle Police Department following the fatal shooting of a homeless woodcarver and other incidents of force used against minority suspects.

Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and the assistant attorney general for the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, Thomas E. Perez, held a conference call Thursday morning to discuss the investigation. Durkan previously said her office was reviewing the Seattle Police Department's actions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and 34 other community groups called for the inquiry after a Seattle officer shot and killed Native American woodcarver John T. Williams after he crossed a street downtown. The officer who shot Williams, Ian Birk, resigned from the force but was not charged criminally.

Other incidents captured on surveillance or police-cruiser video include officers using racial slurs and stomping on a prone Latino man; an officer kicking a non-resisting black youth in a convenience store; and officers tackling and kicking a black man who showed up in a police evidence room to pick up belongings after he was mistakenly released from jail.

ACLU of Washington spokesman Doug Honig welcomed the announcement.

“We think the DOJ has a lot of experience and expertise in dealing with situations like this around the country,” he said. “Our hope is that they can make recommendations that will help the city of Seattle curtail the use of excessive force in the future.”

Robber targets couple in Valley home

A man at the door of a Spokane Valley home pushed his way into the residence and robbed a couple in their 60s, police said today.

The robber knocked on the couple’s door about 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday, asked for someone named Steve and then forced his way inside demanding money.

The robber pushed the husband over the couch and grabbed the wife’s purse and ran out. The purse contained credit cards and other items.

Officers and a K-9 team checked the area, but were unable to find the man, described as white, in his mid-20s, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-10 and unshaven with dark hair and dark eyes. He was wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt and khaki-colored pants.

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

Grand jury indicts Hells Angels leader

The sergeant at arms of the Washington chapter of the Hells Angels has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Ricky W. Jenks, 33, faces up to 10 years in federal prison after the jury indicted him in U.S. District Court for felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded not guilty to the indictment on Friday and remains in the Spokane County Jail without bond.

Jenks, whose felony convictions include manslaughter, was the only suspect arrested at the clubhouse after investigators found eight firearms. The five other men at the clubhouse during the March 3 raid were from out of town and are not prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition, prosecutors say.

One of those men, Hells Angel member Jameal A. Hadeed, has claimed ownership of five of the eight firearms, according to court documents filed Tuesday. Another, Travis I. Vanweerdhuizen has claimed ownership of one.

But prosecutors have said four of the five men with Jenks at the clubhouse arrived in Spokane via airplane and did not check firearms.

Prosecutors are refusing to release the affidavit that authorized the search because it “contains material regarding an ongoing investigation,” documents said.

Another Hells Angel arrested March 4, Michael R. Fitzpatrick, 33, was jailed on a marijuana charge but released the next day.

Charge filed in head-on South Hill crash

A 41-year-old Spokane woman has been charged with vehicular assault for a crash on the South Hill last summer that severely injured her and the other driver.

Maxine Kristen Tindle pleaded not guilty last week for a head-on collision that injured Molly P. Sutor at 1600 Southeast Boulevard on Sept. 20.

Both women were rushed to the hospital with what police described as life-threatening injuries. Sutor, who was northbound when southbound Tindle crossed the center line, fractured an ankle, punctured a lung and lacerated her liver and spleen. She suffers from long-term disabilities that affect her vision and mobility.

Tindle's fiance told police she was coming from a doctors appointment and shopping trip and may have “overdone it and exhausted herself.” But police say Tindle's blood sample showed methamphetamine in her system at the time of the crash, along with medications legally prescribed to her.

Spokane police Cpl. Dave Adams said in court documents that Tindle has a history of blackouts “due to her physical ailments” as well as a history of muscle spasms.

Tindle is represented by the Spokane County Public Defender's Office. Trial is scheduled to begin June 13.

No death penalty in triple murder case

CHEHALIS, Wash. (AP) — The Lewis County, Wash., prosecutor won't be seeking the death penalty in the case of a man accused of killing three people last August in the town of Salkum.

KOMO-TV reports that Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer has filed court papers indicating he won't seek capital punishment. John Allen Booth Jr., who was arrested in Spokane, is charged with aggravated first-degree murder.

Life in prison without parole is the only other punishment in Washington for conviction on that charge. Authorities have said they believe the shooter in the Aug. 21 triple killing may have been trying to collect on a drug debt.

Booth was arrested three days later in Spokane at 1911 W. Gordon St.

Killed were 52-year-old David J. West Sr. and his 16-year-old son, David Jr., along with 50-year-old Tony E. Williams, of Mineral. A woman was injured.

3 arrested in Cheney home robbery

Three suspects have been charged  in a gunpoint home-invasion robbery in Cheney last week.

Merle Leon Weeks, 17, Meshion M. Woodruff, 19, and Samuel Chavez, 23, are accused of breaking into their marijuana dealer's home, handcuffing and binding him with an iPod cord and stealing cash, pot and electronics.

Weeks appeared in Superior Court today on charges of second-degree assault, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery and unlawful imprisonment. Woodruff appeared in court Tuesday. Both are in the Spokane County Jail, along with Chavez.

The robbery occurred at March 21 at 15 N. 3rd St.

The victim, David K. Lindsay, 25, went to the Cheney police station at 2:30 a.m. and said two men broke into his home with guns and told him they were the police before ransacking him home. .

Weeks “was a bit emotional” when he was arrested Friday at 620 W. 7th St., in Cheney, and apologized to his mother as he was led to the police car, according to court documents.

He gave a detailed interview to police and has been charged as an adult.

Sex offender, WSU library patron jailed

A sex offender suspected of using college library computers to look at pornography is in jail for failing to register in Spokane County.

James Robert Sorrell, 66, alias Douglas Doolittle, was convicted in Ada County, Idaho, in 1987 of lewd conduct of a minor and infamous crime against nature. He was released in 1997, then convicted of failing to register as a sex offender in Oregon in 2008.

The U.S. Marshals Service began looking for him earlier this year after learning he may be in Washington. He was arrested Friday after security at Washington State University's Riverpoint campus told federal investigators that Sorrell was looking at pornography on the library's computers, including a visit on Thursday.

Sorrell was arrested near the House of Charity, where investigators believe he sometimes stayed. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

U.S. Marshal William Downey said he regularly saw Sorrell near Main Street and Lincoln Street in downtown Spokane.

“He actually would walk right by the courthouse here on his way to the library,” Downey said.

Sorrell is pictured above last April on the Gonzaga University campus. He told the photographer he was taking a research break.

Transient faces 10-12 years for slaying

A Spokane transient faces 10 to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaguther for the beating death of a man last April. 

Roland E. Benton II pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree manslaughter with a deadly weapon in the slaying of Douglas J. Klages, 46.

Klages' badly beaten body was discovered by hikers April 30 in a small cave at Camp Caro Community Park at Dishman Hills.

 Detectives retracing Klages' final hours found surveillance video of Klages leaving a Spokane Valley Rosauers store with Benton the day his body was discovered. Benton was arrested May 5.

Benton, who appeared in Spokane County Superior Court before Judge Sam Cozza, initially was charged with first-degree murder. The lesser charge to which he pleaded guilty carries a sentencing range of 102 to 126 months.

The deadly weapon adds two years to the sentencing range, and Benton will not be eligible for an early release based on good behavior. His sentencing is set for April 25. “The victim's family members were present and were satisfied,” Deputy Prosecutor Jim Kaufman said. Klages is pictured with his two daughters. Past coverage: May 5: Homicide victim hoped for fresh start

Ex-lover on trial after shooting, chase

The criminal trial began Tuesday in a case the prosecution presented as an angry, drug-induced ex-lover threatening both his former girlfriend and his former best friend.

Don R. Davis, 29, faces a total of 10 charges, including first-degree burglary, drive-by shooting and violation of a no-contact order, in a trial being argued in front of Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque.

Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Gayle Ervin told the jury that Davis disapproved of the new relationship between his former girlfriend, Nicole Allen, and his former best friend, Clayton Cooper.

The dispute culminated on Oct. 4, 2009, when Davis confronted the couple as they tried to leave Cooper’s home.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Father: MLK bomb suspect ‘pretty worried’

The father of domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham said he believes his son was set up by someone wanting to pocket the big reward posted by the FBI.

“They put out a reward for $20,000, and one of his slimy friends turned him in for the money,” Cecil Harpham, 68, of Kettle Falls, Wash., said Tuesday. “Now, the government won’t admit it to me, but I happen to know it’s true.”

Harpham, in his first comments to The Spokesman-Review since his son’s March 9 arrest, said it appears federal agents quit trying to solve the case and focused in on his son simply because of his racist Internet postings.

“He’s sad and he’s pretty worried,” said Harpham, who visited with his son Monday at the Spokane County Jail, where he’s being held while awaiting trial on federal charges.

“To detain him for a year, or as long as the feds drag this thing out, that’s got to be … terrible.”

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Past coverage:

March 22: Grand jury indicts Harpham in MLK bomb case

March 13: Postings reveal suspect's views

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

Suspects keep showing up after burglary

Suspects in a south Spokane County burglary continued to show up after deputies were called, leading to the arrest of six people Tuesday.

Blaze E. Smith, 40, and William George Tapio, 35, were arrested after a 61-year-old home and shop owner on West Purvis Road blocked them with his vehicle and called Crime Check.

The homeowner had discovered the buildings, which were unoccupied but filled with property, burglarized Monday. The burglars left a hand cart behind; the victim told Deputy Matt Gould he suspected they might return to retrieve it, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Gould responded Tuesday about 12:20 p.m. and found the victim in a Dodge Ram pickup truck on the front lawn as a Chevrolet Lumina tried to leave.

Smith and Tapio were inside, along with 34-year-old Christina Marie Simmons, aka Johnson. Johnson was not arrested but will be charged with burglary later, Detective Dan Blashill said.

At 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, the victim's daughter called Crime Check to say her father was again at the property blocking additional burglars.

Three deputies, a K-9 team and Patrol Sergeant Kris Thompson arrested  Richard C. Rasmusan, 33, who also had an outstanding misdemeanor traffic warrant; Scott G. Klassen, 24, who was driving on a suspended driver’s license; and Joseph A. McKee, 35.

Klassen’s Mazda pickup was also seized pending a search Wednesday.

Warning: Light posting ahead

Sirens & Gavels will be on a break until Wednesday, March 30.

Feds: Ex-bank manager embezzled $500k

A former North Idaho bank manager is accused of stealing $514,000 over a 12-year period.

Mary A. Head is charged with false entries, a federal felony that carries a maximum 30 years in prison.

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

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

In September 2009, Head's control over the ATM changed because the bank installed a new imaging machine. Three months later, she was confronted about discrepancies in the books, records and ATM statements and admitted embezzling more than $500,000, according to the indictment.

Along with the criminal charge, Head is being asked to forfeit the stolen money. She is not in custody.

A smiliar indictment was returned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Spokane. 

Melissa K. Garcia is accused of stealing $5,000 from U.S. Bank in Othello in July 2006. She's charged with bank embezzlement, which carries a maximum 30 years in prison.

Court: Zehm’s innocence not admissible

A jury likely will not learn that Otto Zehm was innocent of a crime when he was confronted by a Spokane police officer in a fatal encounter five years ago, federal appeals court judges ruled Thursday. 

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supported a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle to exclude from the trial of Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. the evidence that Zehm had not committed a crime prior to the incident on March 18, 2006.

Carl Oreskovich, one of the attorneys defending Thompson against the felony charges of excessive force and lying to investigators, said he was “obviously” pleased with the decision.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Deputies to work at Red Robin for charity

Law enforcement will work as waiters at Red Robin Saturday to raise money for the Special Olympics.

Uniformed Spokane County sheriff's deputies will assist regular wait staff at the Spokane Valley Red Robin, 14736 E. Indiana Ave., from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Tips earned during the event will support the Special Olympics program in Washington State.

The downtown and North Spokane Red Robin restaurants also are participating.

SCOPE volunteers also will be at the Spokane Valley location to register children in the Operation ID program. Vital statistics and the child’s photograph are loaded onto a computer disk which is then provided to parents. Should the child ever go missing, the disk can be provided to law enforcement to speed the recovery process.

Information regarding the new Spokane County jail project also will be on display at the Valley restaurant.

Felon arrested w/ pistol, cocaine, weed

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

A 23-year-old Spokane man was arrested Wednesday evening after a deputy discovered drugs and a pistol inside his vehicle during a traffic stop.

Deputy Daryl Smith was southbound on Market from Hawthorne Road about 7:30 p.m. when he saw a blue car ahead of him with a defective license plate lamp.  He stopped the car and identified the driver as Rodney E. Barce, 200 E. Wedgewood.

Barce’s driver’s license is suspended and Smith arrested him. The deputy identified the female passenger to see if she could drive the car away, but she too had a suspended license.  She was the registered owner of the car and gave the deputy permission to search it.

Smith opened the trunk and discovered a loaded .22-caliber pistol and two plastic baggies, one containing marijuana and the other cocaine. During interviews with both Barce and the female passenger, he determined that the woman knew nothing of the gun and drugs, and that they belonged to Barce.

A criminal records check revealed that Barce has a prior conviction for a crime of violence, third-degree assault, which makes it unlawful for him to possess firearms.

Smith drove Barce to the Spokane County Jail and booked him for the misdemeanor license and marijuana violations and felony counts of Possession of Cocaine and First-Degree Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.

South Hill rapist Kevin Coe loses appeal

Appellate judges on Thursday rejected South Hill rapist Kevin Coe’s claim that state prosecutors in his recent civil commitment trial should have been prohibited from presenting evidence from dozens of sexual attacks that never resulted in charges.

Coe had asked the Division III Court of Appeals to undo the civil commitment that’s expected to keep him locked up for the rest of his life under state laws allowing for the detainment of rapists deemed sexually violent predators by the juries.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Cavity search produces 50 bags of heroin

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — Police in northeastern Pennsylvania say they recovered more than 50 bags of heroin, cash and loose change from a woman following a cavity search.

Authorities say 27-year-old Karin Mackaliunas was detained last weekend following a crash. Scranton police say they found three bags of heroin in her jacket and after being taken to the police station she told investigators she had more hidden in her vagina.

A doctor performed a search and recovered 54 bags of heroin, 31 empty bags used to package heroin, prescription pills and $51.22.

Mackaliunas was jailed on $25,000 bail on charges including possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. It was not clear if she had an attorney.

Burglars wheel away bakery’s safe

Burglars used a wheeled dolly to steal a safe from a Spokane Valley bakery early today or Wednesday, police say.

Employees at Oroweat Bakery, 5424 E. Sprague Ave., believe the theft occurred between 6:45 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. today. An employee arrived at 7:30 a.m. to find the garbage man standing by the unsecured front door.

Police believe the burglars disassembled the front door locket, then rifled desk drawers and files before pulling the “large and heavy” safe from its concrete fixture and rolling it outside on a dolly, according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan. The safe contained cash, business keys and paperwork.

Police also are looking for tips on a burglary that occurred early Wednesday at Spokane Quik Lube,  14704 E. Sprague.

Police responded to an alarm about 1:45 a.m. and found loose change scattered on the floor. The manager said the suspect entered the officer but did not steal cash.

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

Blu-ray thief got on tape in $800 heist

Police are looking for help identifying a man who stole more than $800 in movies from a Spokane Valley store.

The thief, who appeared to be in his early to mid-20s, stole Blu-rav discs from Barnes and Noble, 15310 E. Indiana Ave., about noon on Feb. 16.

“The thief’s tastes leaned toward television series such as The Office, Mad Men, Lost and Dexter,” according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Surveillance photos show the man wearing jeans, a red shirt, tan jacket and dark cap .

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

Ex-clerk pleads not guilty to $139k theft

A former Kootenai County deputy clerk accused of embezzling $139,000 over 10 years has pleaded not guilty to a grand theft charge.

Sandy Martinson, 62, entered the plea Monday in 1st District Court. Her attorney, Frederick Loats, estimated in court documents that a trial would last three days. Grand theft is punishable by up to 14 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

When Martinson retired in November, a routine review of records revealed irregularities that led the county to suspect embezzlement, officials say.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall is handling the case because of Martinson’s more than three-decade career with Kootenai County.

Cocaine suspect already on DEA’s radar

A Canadian man arrested with 71 pounds of cocaine near the international border is believed to be a major drug smuggler who's been on the Drug Enforcement Administration's radar since 2009, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Family members of Jonathan Darren Smith, 39, wrote letters to the court describing Smith as a former professional rugby player known as Grundy.

The DEA suspects Smith is the same “Grundy” described as a major drug smuggler during a briefing with a drug informant in 2009, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Ohms said Wednesday at Smith's bail hearing.

Smith matches the physical description of Grundy, and aspects of his personal life match what the informant told drug investigators, Ohms said. Smith also has a “Grundy” tattoo.

Ohms said the informant described four or five drug smuggling trips conducted by Grundy, including the transport of Ecstasy into the United States by foot, then to Redding, Calif., by automobile, and the transportation of 11 kilos of cocaine from the United States into Canada.

Grundy's father also was convicted of flying a plane full of marijuana into Redding. He served 60 months in prison, Ohms said. Grundy also “has done extensive traveling” including trips to Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Mexico.

“The inference is that this defendant is, in fact, occupied as a smuggler,” Ohms said. “That's what he does. This is not an isolated incident.”

Should Smith be allowed to return to Canada, “he's going to be subject to answering to that organization, and perhaps that organization won't want him to return. Because why would they? He might cooperate,” Ohms said.

Smith's lawyer, Jeff Niesen, emphasized that Smith has “serious medical problems” that likely won't be address at the Spokane County Jail.

“It would have been nice if he had been married. It would have been nice if he had 15 kids,” but he's still entitled to be considered for pre-trial release, Niesen said, noting that Smith has never been accused of violence.

Smith, who played on the Canadian Rugby Junior National team in 1990 and 1994, has been at the Spokane County Jail since his arrest Feb. 16.

U.S Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno's decision on whether to hold Smith without bond has not yet been filed.

Condom machine stolen in Bellingham

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — A burglar who broke into vacant sports bar in Bellingham got away with a condom machine.

Police spokesman Mark Young also says an ATM machine was damaged in the break-in early Tuesday at the old Quarterback Pub. It's been closed for more than a year and fixtures are being auctioned.

The Bellingham Herald reports an auction company employee discovered the burglary. It's unknown if any condoms were left in the machine.

Spokane fugitive charged w/ child porn

A man wanted for failing to register in Spokane County is in custody on federal child pornography charges in Idaho.

Jody Michael Thomas, 40, was at a home in Caldwell, Idaho, when Idaho State Police served a search warrant for drugs last October.

Detectives found a computer containing child pornography that belonged to Thomas. He was arrested that day for failing to register as a sex offender in Idaho. He said he'd registered as a sex offender in Spokane but moved to Idaho in December 2009, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court.

Thomas was convicted of aggravated child molestation, statutory rape and three counts of child molestation in Georgia in 1988 for having sex with a 10-year-old girl. He served 15 years in prison. He also was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender in Okanogan County in 2004.

Thomas pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of sexually explicit images of minors, which bring a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and failure to register a s sex offender, which carries up to 10 years incarceration. He's to be sentenced June 14 in Boise.

He's still wanted in Spokane County on a $25,000 warrant for failure to register as a sex offender.

MLK bomb suspect due in court today

A man suspected in the attempted bombing the Unity March on martin Luther King Jr. Day in Spokane is due in court this afternoon.

Kevin W. Harpham, 36, is expected to plead not guilty to charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device at his arraignment today before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno.

The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., but Imbrogno has three hearings scheduled at 1:30 p.m. that may push it back.

Harpham has extensive ties to the white supremacist movement and authored more than 1,000 postings on the racist website Vanguard News Network.

A grand jury indicted him Wednesday.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Past coverage:

March 13: Postings reveal suspect's views

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

Dumpster hideout prompts mental exam

A man hid in the back of a garbage truck near East Wenatchee on Tuesday, prompting authorities to take him to receive mental health treatment.

The site manager of the Waste Management Land Fill, 191 S. Webb Ave.,saw the man crawl out of the back of a garbage tuck as employees were dumping it into the land fill.

The man was not injured. He told Douglas County sheriff's deputies he was ridding in the dumpster “to escape people who were chasing him,” accoridng to a news release.

A deputy drove the man to a hosptial for a mental health evaluation. He does not face criminal charges.

No charges in accidental WSP shooting

A Washington State Patrol sergeant who shot an unarmed pregnant woman during a drug raid in Spokane last fall will not face criminal charges, officials confirmed Tuesday. 

Sgt. Lee Slemp has been on paid administrative leave since the Sept. 24 incident. He will return to work today in an administrative position while WSP conducts an internal investigation into the shooting, said Bob Calkins, spokesman for the State Patrol.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 1: WSP sergeant says shooting was accidental

Sept. 24: State patrol officer shoots unarmed pregnant woman

Car salesman attacked w/ pepper spray

A would-be thief pepper sprayed a car dealership employee who tried to stop him from stealing a pickup last week, police say.

Brandon K. Hutchinson, 26, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to six felony charges related to his arrest last Thursday at Avista Stadium. He's accused of assaulting an employee at Affordable Auto, 4229 E. Sprague Ave., with the spray after the employee arrived to work and saw him inside a 1999 Chevrolet Kingswood pickup, according to court documents.

Spokane police tracked Hutchinson to the stadium and found meth, shaved keys and pliers on him after his arrest. Officers also found screwdrivers in the pickup, which also had a damaged ignition.

Hutchinson was jailed on a $250,000 warrant for first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, attempted car theft, possession of a controlled substance, second-degree malicious mischief and making or possessing a motor vehicle theft tool.

Hutchinson already was wanted for missing a pre-trial conference regarding a car theft charge from last April.

Man sentenced for ‘09 robbery spree

A 23-year-old man who participated in an armed robbery spree was sentenced Tuesday to 3 1/2 years in prison. 

Nathan J. Molina received 43 months in prison for second-degree robbery, according to court records. That will be served at the same time as 51-month sentence for first-degree robbery handed down on March 4.

His accomplice, Daniel I. Neace, is serving 14 years in prison for robbery, assault and unlawful imprisonment.  (Neace is pictured.)

The two were arrested July 27, 2009, after Neace, wearing a fake beard, robbed Check into Cash, 555 E. Francis Ave., while his roommate, Michael J. Anderson, distracted the clerk.

Police found Molina sitting in a parked car registered to Neace’s father a few block from the cash store. Molina and Neace had portable talk radios tuned to the same channel, according to police.

Neace is in custody at the Airway Heights Corrections Center. Molina had been free on bond but was booked into Spokane County Jail after his first sentencing March 4. He's now awaiting transport to prison.

Man gets 93 mos. for gunfire over $40

A Spokane man arrested during a SWAT team standoff on Christmas Eve will be celebrating the holidays behind bars for several more years.

Robert T. Finkbeiner, 45, was sentenced recently to 93 months in prison for first-degree assault. Finkbeiner was arrested last March after he shot a woman during a fight over a $40 debt.

The victim suffered a non life-threatening wound to her leg.

Finkbeiner was out of jail on bond when police tried to arrest hm on Christmas Eve at 121 S. Haven. A SWAT team used teargas to help take him into custody. He was sentenced Tuesday.

Alleged child molester assaulted in cell

A convicted robber jailed on federal gun charges is accused of assaulting an alleged child molester at the federal courthouse.

James D. Bacon, 23, (pictured) is charged with misdemeanor assault for punching Darrel W. Monzingo, 44, as the men shared a holding cell at the Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse on March 10.

Another defendant in the cell, Fabian Vaksman, said Bacon punched Monzingo after Monzingo refused to discuss his charges, which include two counts of production of child pornography.

Bacon “made statements to the effect that he hated sex offenders,” Vaksman told U.S. Marshals. Vaksman also noted blood on Monzingo's face; Marshals say his lower lip was split.

Bacon and Monzingo were Spokane County Jail inmates but were at the courthouse for hearings before U.S. District Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen.

Monzingo, whose trial is scheduled in September, faces up to 30 years in prison after Spokane police found child pornography during a search of his home at 3403 E. Fairview Ave. on Dec. 16.

Bacon pleaded guilty March 10 to felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and faces up to 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in June. The new assault charge, filed today, carries a maximum six months incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.

Bacon, who was convicted of armed robbery in 2004, was wanted for a felony drug violation and Department of Corrections warrant when he ran from police near Wellesley Avenue and Regal Street on Dec. 7. Police arrested him in a struggle, then realized he was armed with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun.

Man in ‘97 slaying gets 7 years for gun

A convicted killer arrested in a widespread methamphetamine investigation was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday for a gun charge.

Christopher Clay Gober, 32, was on probation when a search was conducted on his hotel room in Coeur d'Alene last April.

Investigators say they found used syringes, two meth pipes, a box of .38 ammunition and lockbox inside his Dodge Charger that contained a loaded .38 caliber pistol and six rounds of ammo.

Gober is prohibited from possession firearms or ammo because of felony convictions that include manslaughter, escape, aggravated assault and intimidating a witness.

In 1998, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for shooting a Spokane Valley man to death in what Gober said was self defense. Gober originally was charged with first-degree murder for the death of Jeremy Moore, 20, who died on Dec. 23, 1997.

He was out of prison only a short while when he was arrested in the current case, which stems from a federal methamphetamine investigation that led to prison sentences for several people.

He's been attending anger management and drug addiction classes while in state prison for probation violations and is committed to continuing his rehabilitation, according to documents prepared by his public defender.

In addition to 84 months in prison, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ordered Gober to serve three years probation and perform 100 hours of community service.

Meth dealer nabbed by chief sentenced

A Coeur d'Alene methamphetamine dealer arrested at gunpoint by the city's police chief was sentenced Monday to 14 years in federal prison.

 Daniel W. Bisher, 36, was arrested in a sweeping methamphetamine investigation that has resulted in prison sentences for several North Idaho residents. He pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to distribute meth, distribution of meth and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Bisher, who has previous felony convictions, will serve 168 months in prison, be on probation for five years, forfeit two firearms and perform 100 hours of community service, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled Monday.

Bisher was one of several people believed to have been supplied by Hector Palomera-Palomeras, who was sentenced last year. Bisher also was linked to the sale of methamphetamine in Montana.

He fled a stolen motorcycle Aug. 10 when Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Wayne Longo, backing up a patrol officer, chased him through the Appleway Avenue and Government Way area.

Bisher had a loaded .40 caliber Glock handgun in his jacket and a knife in his pants pocket upon his arrest, as well as methamphetamine. Bisher told the FBI after his arrested that he'd bought about four pounds of methamphetamine from a source and Washington and from people involved with Palomera-Palomeras.

Other defendants sentenced in the case include Brenda Barron, Amber Larsen, Harold R. “Hank” Dillon, Daniel Napier, Charlotte Wilson, Randi Peil, Gregory Herron and N'Quala Bigman.

Jewelry store owner tracks theft suspect

A jewelry store owner tracked down a theft suspect and Idaho fugitive Monday by warning nearby pawn and jewelry shops to be on the lookout for someone selling a gold wedding band.

Donald Jack Seed, 23, of Liberty Lake, was arrested on a misdemeanor third-degree theft charge after trying to sell the stolen ring at Pawn One, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Seed is accused of stealing the ring from Artistry in Gold, 13817 E Sprague Ave., after looking at a pair of rings but only returning one, police said. Seed ignored an employee's command to stop and drove away in a gray Saturn, police say.

The owner described the Saturn to nearby businesses when calling to warn them that a thief may soon be trying to sell a gold ring.

Shortly after the warning, Seed allegedly tried to sell the ring at the pawn shop. Employees called police, and Officer Ken Dodge arrested Seed without incident.

Seed also was booked into jail on a felony fugitive charge related to a probation violation for a drug conviction in Idaho.

2 teens arrested in Northside purse theft

Two 19-year-old men are accused of attacking a woman outside her north Spokane home and stealing her purse.

Jonathan R. Crisler and Andrey A. Murray each face a charge of second-degree robbery after a woman said Crisler stole her purse after she exited her car at 3604 N. Washington St.

A motorist witnessed Crisler running with a purse eastbound on Gordon from the alley behind the woman's home before getting into a Green Pontiac driven by Murray. The driver memorized the license plate number and provided it to Spokane police.

Officers contacted the suspects a short while later and recovered $80 from Crisler's coat pocket that the victim had reported stolen.

Crisler and Murray were booked into the Spokane County Jail.

Undercover probe nets meth, 6 firearms

An undercover police investigation Saturday led to the seizure of six firearms as well as methamphetamine, scales and packaging materials at a north Spokane home.

Jeffery S. Finney, 30, is accused of selling two of the guns to a confidential informant being followed by members of the Spokane Police Department's drug unit.

Police followed Finney and the informant to a location in north Spokane County, where Finney picked up three other firearms for sale. He was arrested as they returned to the Spokane area.

Police then executed a search warrant at his apartment, 13110 N. Addison St., and seized the drug evidence, according to an affidavit. Finney was arrested with a loaded a Colt MK IV Series 80, which police seized, as well as the guns for sale: a .38, a cap and ball revolver, a Mossberg 500-A shotgun, a Bolt action M77 Ruger rifle and a Hawken black Powder Rifle.

Finney is a convicted felon, which prohibits him from possessing weapons. His felony convictions include delivery of methamphetamine, third-degree assault and second-degree burglary.

In 2001, he fled the Public Safety Building just as a judge was to sentence him to jail for domestic violence. He was caught hiding behind a garbage bin behind Russell Van Camp's law office west of the courthouse on West Broadway Avenue, according to news archives.

Pot advocates speak to City Council

Medical marijuana supporters on Monday urged the Spokane City Council to support local dispensaries after a jury convicted an owner last week of felony drug charges.

 Representatives from Spokane Indicare and other dispensaries said they fear being shut down after Scott Shupe was found guilty last Thursday.

Indicare co-owner Surisa Arispe said the dispensary has paid $10,000 in sales taxes in the six months it’s been open.

City Council President Joe Shogan said he has no control over the state’s medical marijuana law.

“You want us to do something we have no power to do,” Shogan said. “Really, you should be contacting your legislator.”

Though the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has said dispensaries are illegal, authorities say more than 40 are operating in the area. No law enforcement actions against dispensaries have been reported since Shupe was convicted.

Lawyer Pat Stiley, who works with dispensaries, said Monday that he’s hoping Senate Bill 5073, which addresses dispensaries, will proceed in the Washington Legislature this week and give amnesty to current operations.

Stiley compared the fear from dispensary supporters after the Shupe verdict to the fear gripping Japan in the wake of a tsunami, earthquake and potential nuclear catastrophe.

“As you can imagine after that verdict, there was a lot of terror and fear in the community,” Stiley said. “The dispensary community in Spokane sounded a lot like the northern Japanese communities to me.”

Sheriff, ombudsman want patrol cameras

For police agencies, cameras that record officer encounters with the public can help prove suspects are guilty and set the record straight if officers are wrongly accused of misconduct.

“It tells you the facts,” Post Falls police Capt. Pat Knight said. “It keeps us out of trouble.”

Over the years, law enforcement officials in Spokane County have largely dismissed cameras as not worth the cost. But as agencies deal with high-profile cases of alleged misconduct, the cameras are getting a new look.

Spokane police Ombudsman Tim Burns recommended in his annual report to City Council earlier this month that cameras be installed in police cars to provide definitive evidence in cases that otherwise would be mostly the officer’s word against the accuser’s.

Read Jonathan Brunt's full story here.

Robber sentenced for bear mace attack

A man who robbed a Spokane convenience store with bear mace was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty to second-degree robbery.

Daniel A. Sweetland, 21, was accused with Alexander J. Smith of robbing the Zip Trip at 1523 W. 10th Ave., of an 18-pack of Bud Lite on Nov. 28 after spraying the clerk with mace.

The clerk suffered eye pain and blurry visions for about two days after the attack attack, police said. Spokane police detectives identified the men through tips obtained after a surveillance video of the attack was released to media.

They were arrested Feb. 16. Smith was released from jail on $30,000 bond March 3 and is scheduled for trial on April 18.

Sweetland pleaded guilty on Friday and was sentenced to 12 months in jail and ordered to pay $1,623 restitution. He'll be credited for 30 days already served and for four months counted under the jail's good time policy.

Sweetland is also banned from all Zip Trips in Washington for 10 years. Sweetland has convictions as a juvenile for burglary, malicious mischief, criminal trespass and reckless burning. The last conviction was related to a fire that gutted the historic Clayton Grange Hall.

Idaho sgt. in fatal shooting interviewed

An Idaho State Patrol officer recently was interviewed about an officer-involved shooting that took place a month before.

ISP Cpl. Dan Howard shot and killed Christie O’Leary Little on Feb. 7, but for weeks declined to be interviewed by investigators.

Recently, however, Howard “agreed to (the interview) and contacted us,” Lt. Lee Richardson of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.

The interview on March 8 lasted “a couple of hours,” he said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Maskell is investigating the shooting, during which Little’s husband, Mark Marion Maykopet, was wounded.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs' story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 24: Couple shot by ISP trooper were married

Feb. 18: ISP corporal fired fatal shots

Feb 9: Fugitive shot dead by Idaho State Police trooper

Vehicular homicide trial delayed till May

The second trial for a Spokane stockbroker accused of killing a woman in a car crash has been postponed until May 31.

A car technician recently downloaded data from Jon Strine's 2002 Mercedes that could regard speed and other information. Some of the information has been provided to Strine's lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, and Mercedes' legal department is deciding who can testify in court regarding the information, said Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady.

Strine's first trial ended in a bizarre mistrial after jurors said they'd reached a not guilty verdict but six said they disagreed during polling.

Strine is charged with vehicular homicide and vehicular for the June 2, 2009 crashed that killed motorcycle passenger Lorri Keller paralyzed the driver, her husband, Gary Keller.

Past coverage:

Feb. 4: Strine says he wasn't drunk during fatal crash

Jan. 21: Husband recounts fatal crash

Verdict a blow to booming pot shops

Local marijuana dispensaries hoping to earn Spokane the nickname 'Spokansterdam' may be considering a vacation.

Jurors on Thursday convicted dispensary owner Scott Q. Shupe (pictured) of possession, delivery and manufacture of a controlled substance for his work at Change, the first commercial dispensary raided in Spokane.

Marijuana advocates and law enforcement were awaiting the outcome of the trial as the number of dispensaries has skyrocketed since Shupe's arrest. 

Shupe's lawyer, Frank Cikutovich, had said he “kind of” hoped Shupe lost so he could take the case to the Court of Appeals “to get a ruling on what the law means.”

Change co-owner Christopher P. Stevens was called as a witness for the prosecution but testified that Shupe never sold marijuana to more than one patient at a time and always kept receipts.

To avoid the debate over the meaning of the “at any one time” law, some dispensaries requires patients to sign a form appointing the dispensary as caregiver, then sign a form relinquishing them from caregiver duties after they receive the product because the law doesn't specify how long someone can be a caretaker.

Spokane police testified that Shupe was extremely upset when he was arrested in September 2009.

“He basically started yelling that he wasn't a criminal,” said Detective Larry Bowman. “He yelled that the President of the United States smokes marijuana, that the U.S. Attorney General doesn't prosecute marijuana cases. He also stated that we were all stupid, stupid bastards; using the f-word a lot…It was very difficult to calm him down.”

Soon, Shupe “again began yelling that the president smokes marijuana, and he was going to sue all of us,” Bowman said. Cikutovich pointed out that while Shupe was upset, he did not resist arrest.

Cikutovich's law partner, Pat Stiley, said any prospective jurors who indicated they supported the legalization of marijuana were eliminated from the pool at Shupe's trial.

Shupe is to be sentenced April 12. He still faces felony drug charges in Oregon after he was arrested during a traffic stop with 4 pounds of marijuana and more than $18,000.

Bloody fight w/ Taser leads to five arrests

A bloody fight between a Spokane man, his ex-girlfriend and a group of her friends led to the arrest five people Thursday, police said.

Sandra L. Blindauer, 19, and several friends allegedly forced their way into the home of Anthony Haines, her ex-boyfriend, at 1735 W. Boone Avenue about 3:46 a.m. and beat him, according to an affidavit filed in Spokane County Superior Court.

Haines, who sustained facial injuries, said he used a knife and a Taser to defend himself and stabbed Jose Casarez during the altercation. Casarez sustained a non life-threatening stab wound.

Police said they found blood inside and outside Haines’ apartment, a taser just inside the door and a bloody knife on the stairs.

Christopher D. Blindauer, 22, and Sandra Blindauer are being held at Spokane County Jail on $50,000 bond.

Christopher Blindauer’s public defender asked for him to be released on his own recognizance, saying he was a student at Spokane Community College and missed a final exam on Thursday, but Judge Michael Price declined to do so and imposed the $50,000 bond. 

The judge imposed the same bond for the man's sister, saying he believes they share “I think, likely, equal responsibility.”

Price said the case was “really just an extraordinary situation that could have ended up much worse.”

“But all things considered, it's still pretty bad,” Price said.

Three other suspects, Annie F. Mendenhall, 20, Kayla R. Ensor, 20, and Karla R. Licea, 19, were arrested for first-degree burglary.

Police: Teens stole $123k in silver, gold

An accidental shooting last summer was linked to a suspected burglary ring involving $123,000 in stolen gold and silver coins, court documents allege.

Joseph S. Denison, 19, brought the Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver to a party in Deer Park on Aug. 21, where it accidental discharged and caused a non-life threatening injury to a young woman, according to court documents.

The gun was one of 10 stolen from a home at 5501 E. Handy Road in August, detectives say.

Denison pleaded not guilty to 31 felony charges Wednesday that include several counts of burglary and theft of a firearm. He is not in custody.

Patrick Hayes Wellman, who is in federal custody on Ecstasy and gun charges, is charged with 10 felonies related to the case.

The alleged burglary spree between April and September, including a burglary on Sept. 7 in the 32000 block of North Rimrose Drive in which seven firearms, 85 ounces of gold coins and 1,500 ounces of silver was stolen.

The home belongs to Denison's ex-girlfriend's father, who told police Denison knew of the valuables and knew how to access them.

Detectives believe Wellman also participated in that burglary, along with Anthony D. Fuerte, 18, and Denison's brother, George A. Denison, 20, who also face felony charges.

Renegade squirrel stalks Vermont area

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont neighborhood is being stalked by a renegade gray squirrel.

Several people in Bennington say they've been attacked by a squirrel over the last few weeks.

Kevin McDonald tells the Bennington Banner he was shoveling snow when the squirrel jumped onto him. He says he threw the animal off, but it twice jumped back onto him. A game warden says there have been other reports, too.

One woman is being treated for exposure to rabies, but Vermont Public Health Veterinarian Robert Johnson says there's never been a case of a squirrel passing rabies to a human.

Johnson says it's possible the squirrel was raised as a pet and lost its fear of humans. He says the squirrel might “go ballistic” when it encounters people it doesn't recognize.

Hamper hinders burglar in Arizona

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — A man is in custody after police say he broke into an Arizona townhome and got stuck in a clothes hamper underneath the window he climbed through.

Mesa police say 20-year-old Michael Trias was arrested on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage.

The East Valley Tribune reports a resident inside the home heard the commotion of Trias becoming entangled in the hamper at about 9 a.m. Thursday.

The owner of the home restrained Trias and was able to take him outside and call police.

Authorities say no property was taken from the home, but there was some damage done to the window.

It was unclear Friday whether Trias has legal representation yet.

Colo. woman busted for DUI after griping

DENVER (AP) — Police in a Denver suburb say a woman was arrested for drunken driving after she complained to officers about how they parked their patrol cars as they were investigating a DUI-related crash.

Trevor Materasso of Westminster police told KMGH-TV that 49-year-old Katherine Morse was taken into custody after she walked up to police trying to move a car in the crash Sunday.

Materasso says police had parked their cars to prevent a suspected drunk driver in the crash from leaving the scene. He says officers told Morse to return to her car and she became “belligerent with them, telling them it was a stupid place” for a traffic stop.

Materasso says that's when officers realized “she too was drunk.”

Morse also faces obstructing police charges.

‘Ho-Hum Bandit’ may have hit Colo. bank

DENVER (AP) — The FBI believe a bank robber who has held up banks on the West Coast has struck in Colorado.

Authorities have dubbed him the “Ho-Hum Bandit” because of his bland appearance.

The FBI says a man fitting his description held up a Chase Bank in Edgewater, just outside Denver, on Wednesday.

He's described as a white male in his early 30s. He's five-foot-five and weighs about 150 pounds.

The FBI says the “Ho-Hum Bandit” has robbed banks in San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle and Cheyenne, Wyo.

Lasagna trail leads to fugitive in Italy

ROME (AP) — He avoided Italian police for a decade on the run, but couldn't resist his wife's lasagna.

Police say Giancarlo Sabatini went into hiding in 2000, shortly after being given a 3-year, 8-month prison sentence in a cocaine trafficking case.

Acting on a tip, police staked out the homes of Sabatini's wife and daughter March 8 in Rocca Priora, a town near Rome. When they spied the daughter leaving her mother's house and furtively dashing toward her home bearing a tray of lasagna, police, suspecting a secret guest, burst in and arrested Sabatini.

Many Italians prepare lasagna with meat sauce for lunch on the last Tuesday of Carnival. Police say Sabatini came from his hideout in Belgium to celebrate the last day before Lent with his family.

Man robs Subway at knifepoint

A man robbed a northeast Spokane sandwich shop at knifepoint today.

The man displayed a knife at Subway, 3900 N. Market St., and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash about 3:30 p.m., police said.

Witnesses said the man escaped in an older model white Subaru.

The vehicle was last seen southbound on Regal.

The man wore a teal bandanna over his face and a brown, hooded sweatshirt and jeans.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Teen arrested on Ecstasy, gun charges

A 19-year-old Spokane man is in custody after a federal drug informant recorded him discussing how he'd stolen firearms and would “shoot it out with the cops” if he was approached.

Patrick Hayes Wellman was arrested on Friday just yards from Glover Middle School and within 1,000 feet of Shadle Park High School, where he attended, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks.

He appeared in U.S. District Court on Wednesday and is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail.

Investigators found hundreds of Ecstasy tablets in a safe at Wellman's apartment at 221 S. Adams in Spokane Valley, as well as marijuana on a coffee table and several bongs that “all smelled pretty bad,” Drug Enforcement Administration agent Sam Keiser testified on Wednesday.

The DEA began investigating Wellman after a confidential informant told them Friday that Wellman sold large quantities of Ecstasy and repeatably said he could obtain as many pills as he wished.

The informant was to buy 100 pills from Wellman for $450. During a recorded conversation, Wellman allegedly boasted to the informant of stealing firearms; when the informant asked what he would do if stopped by police, Wellman responded “Well, I'm not going to go down easy. I'm going to shoot it out with the cops,” Keiser testified.

That comment led police to initiated a traffic stop after tailing Wellman as he drove in Spokane last Friday. Five police vehicles blocked Wellman's car, and he was arrested without incident, Keiser said. He had  a loaded .44 revolver in the car, Keiser said.

Wellman called his girlfriend from jail and told her a possible name of the informant, then asked her to inform two of his friends. The informant told the DEA he received a message from an unknown number saying “We know you're a snitch. You're dead.”

Asked by Wellman's public defender if the informant, who was previously arrested on drug charge, won't face criminal charges because of his cooperation, Keiser said, “if it's enough to warrant that, then yes.”

Wellman faces federal charges of possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy and carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. He's also charged in Spokane County Superior Court with residential burglary, first-degree theft, second-degree car theft, and six counts of theft of a firearm.

Judge OKs charge against Hells Angel

The sergeant at arms of the Washington chapter of the Hells Angels will remain in jail after a federal judge ruled there was probable cause to hold him on a gun charge.

Ricky W. Jenks, 33, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

His public defender, Kailey Moran, said prosecutors have no evidence Jenks possessed any of the loaded guns found at the Hells Angels Spokane clubhouse on March 3, just that his jacket was near them.

But Judge James Hutton said prosecutors need only to show that Jenks had knowledge of the firearms and had the ability to control them, not that he physically possessed them.

If police spotted the guns so easily, “one would infer that Mr. Jenks would also be able to see these firearms,” Hutton said Wednesday.

Moran said the federal warrant authorizing the search of the clubhouse remains sealed but that it is a document-based warrant targeting another suspect, not Jenks.

Jenks, whose felony convictions include manslaughter, was the only local Hells Angels at the clubhouse. Another was from Tacoma and four others had flown in from out of state. None checked firearms when traveling and none are prohibited form possessing weapons because they aren't felons, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed.

Investigators originally reported finding six firearms. Ahmed said Wednesday that investigators found two others in an additional search.

Another Hells Angel arrested in March, Michael R. Fitzpatrick, 33, wasjailed on a marijuana charge but released the next day.

He was to be arraigned Wednesday, but county prosecutors haven't yet filed charges.

New details emerge on MLK bomb

A “joint intelligence bulletin” issued on the day federal agents raided the Colville-area home of Kevin W. Harpham suggests that the bomb may have included a rocket motor igniter and was made in such a way to focus shrapnel at a specific target. 

The bomb consisted of a steel pipe with a hole drilled at its base.

“The pipe was welded to a roughly cut steel plate,” according to the report, which was posted to a research Web site Wednesday.

The explosive charge was described as black powder, which was contained in a plastic bag.

“While not yet confirmed, the initiator appears similar to a rocket motor igniter,” the report states. “An RMI was used in a crude IED carried by a lone individual who took hostages and threatened employees in the Discovery Channel Building” in Silver Spring, Ma., on Sept. 1, 2010.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Past coverage:

March 13: Postings reveal suspect's views

March 11: MLK bomb suspect wrote on race wars

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

Drunk man’s home mix-up leads to arrest


A suspected drunken driver was arrested this morning after repeatedly using his house keys to try to open a home that wasn't his.
John Stephen Cullen, 56, twice tried to open a front door in the 18600 block of East Courtland Avenue before police detained him on a misdemeanor drunken driving charge.
A woman called 911 about 9:25 a.m. and said a suspicious man had parked his car in the driveway and tried his keys in her door. She watched as Cullen drove way westbound, then again parked in her driveway and tried his keys in the door.
Officer Glen Hinckley detained Cullen until Traffic Officer Jack Rosenthal arrived to process the suspect as a potential DUI driver.  Rosenthal booked Cullen into jail on the misdemeanor.   
“Cullen’s home address is in the 18700 block of East Boone Avenue,” according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan. “The two addresses are on opposite sides of the Spokane River and about a mile apart.” 

Murderer, rapist jailed for 6 months

A convicted killer and rapist deemed so dangerous that prosecutors said they wished his 19-year prison term had been longer is back in jail after serving just half of his original sentence. 

Joseph Earl Singleton, 47, is to serve six months in jail for failing to check in with his probation officer or attend drug treatment. He could serve longer if he’s convicted of a felony harassment charge for allegedly threatening to kill his wife.

His public defender, Scott Mason, said Singleton is “pleasant in court,” trying hard and was able to find a job before his arrest.

“I know it’s tough getting a job with that kind of history,” Mason said.

But the attorney who prosecuted Singleton in 2000 said the case exemplifies what a 10-year-old change in Washington’s sex offender sentencing laws aimed to address.

Read my full story here.

Man arrested in post office burglary

A 20-year-old Metaline Falls man faces federal charges for allegedly burglarizing the town's post office last weekend.

Derick Ray Hughes is in the Spokane County Jail without bail after investigators determined he stole a digital camera and three money orders worth $585 from the post office between closing Saturday and opening on Sunday.

Two people who cashed the money orders at a bank in Ione, Wash.m, told a U.S. Postal Inspector that they'd cashed them for Hughes. Hughes admitted to breaking into the post office and stealing the items from packages.

Authorities found other stolen items in his apartment at 109 E. 5th Ave. on Monday, according to court documents.

Two men arrested in a similar break in at a Spokane Valley post office in February are to be sentenced in June.

Canadian cocaine suspect asks for bail

A Canadian man arrested with 71 pounds of cocaine near the international border last month will ask a judge to grant him bail next week.

Jonathan Darren Smith, 39, filed a motion this week through his attorney, Jeffrey Niesen, asking to be released from jail pending trial. A hearing is scheduled next Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno.

 Smith is a former professional rugby player who played on the Canadian Rugby Junior National team in 1990 and 1994.

Known as Darren or “Grundy,”.Smith's family said in letters that he is in “very poor health” after many concussions and a stroke five years ago that left him disabled on the left side of his body.

“His devotion to the togetherness of our family and his commitment to creating meaningful connections with our family is incredible,” a cousin wrote.

Wrote Smith's uncle, “If we had more people like Darren then there would be less strife in the world and more understanding.”

Smith worked construction for 16 years before suffering the stroke in March 2006. His criminal history includes a conviction in Canada for failing to declare currency while entering the country, as well as a drunken driving charge that's still pending.

Smith was born and raised in Kelowna, where his father currently resides, but lived at a home owned by his brother in Whistler, B.C. prior to his arrest on Feb. 16.

A border patrol agent spotted him on the east side of Highway 395 “frantically trying to climb the snowy berm at the edge of the roadway,” near the Laurier border crossing, according to federal court documents. Investigators found 30 individually wrapped, sealed packages (pictured) of cocaine in two backpacks.

Smith has pleaded not guilty to intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.

Lawyers question new court fee system

A decision by Spokane County District Court to privatize the collection of all fines and fees, using the same company that handles its bad debts, is raising conflict-of-interest questions within the legal community.

Defense lawyers and advocates for the poor worry that PAR Acceptance Corp., hired by District Court in December to handle time-payment agreements, has an incentive to push past-due accounts into bad debt status as quickly as possible because it benefits its subsidiary, Valley Empire Collections.

Both companies are owned by Troy Peterson, a Spokane Valley businessman who’s made millions handling debt collection for courts in Spokane.

District Court officials say there’s nothing improper in the arrangement, noting that collection duties were outsourced to accommodate the elimination of several jobs due to county budget cuts.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.


Judge says 'we're comfortable' with collections arrangement

Somali pirate suspects charged w/ piracy

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Thirteen Somalis and a man from Yemen pleaded not guilty to piracy, kidnapping and firearms charges today in the February hijacking of a yacht that left four Americans dead.

They entered their pleas in federal court in Norfolk, where five other men convicted of piracy in a separate case last year had been sentenced to life in prison a day earlier.
“There's nothing I know about these charges. I do not admit that I was a pirate,” Mohamud Salad Ali said through an interpreter Tuesday.
Each of the men requested a jury trial and all were ordered to remain jailed until then by Magistrate Judge Tommy Miller, who said they are a threat to society and a flight risk.
A trial has been set for May 17, although prosecutors want it pushed back because trying such cases is complicated.
Pirates have rarely been charged in the U.S. The case against the five Somalis sentenced Monday for attacking the USS Nicholas was the first to go to trial since the Civil War, when a New York jury deadlocked on charges against 13 Southern privateers.
If convicted of piracy against the yacht Quest, the 14 men would face mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph DePadilla said several have already confessed their involvement in piracy to the FBI.
Prosecutors have said other charges are also possible.
The yacht's owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle (pictured), were shot to death after they were taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman.
They were the first U.S. citizens killed in a wave of pirate attacks that have plagued the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in recent years. The pirates are typically motivated by the potential for millions of dollars in ransom money.
The men who pleaded not guilty Tuesday were all in their 20s or early 30s, though at least two said they weren't sure exactly how old they were.
Most said they had little or no education or that it was of little value to them.
“I am illiterate,” Mounir Ali, the Yemeni, said through an interpreter who was translating for him through a speaker phone. “I went to school but I did not learn anything.”
Several said through an interpreter that they did not understand all of the charges they face, although 22-year-old Ahmed Sala Ali Burale said he did because he is “a wise person.”
Each was previously assigned a defense attorney by the court because they couldn't afford them.
The government is prosecuting a separate group of Somali defendants for an alleged April 10 attack on the USS Ashland, also off the African coast. A judge in Norfolk dismissed the piracy charge, but the government is appealing. Oral arguments on the definition of piracy are scheduled for March 25.

Pizza delivery man robbed at knifepoint

The smell of hot pizza helped police arrest a robbery suspect Monday.

Marco Antonio Rocha, 23, is accused with Courtney R. Araiza, 21, and Augustin Tello, 17, of robbing a Domino's pizza delivery driver at knifepoint after arranging a delivery in northeast Spokane.
The driver called the customer after knocking on a door in the 700 block of East Nebraska Avenue and getting no answer. A woman assured him someone would be out shortly, but three people approached and ordered him to the ground, police said today.
The victim ran, but one of the robbers struck him in the face, and another pulled out a “knife-like object” and demanded his wallet and money bag, police said.
They also stole pizza.
Two robbers drove away in the victim's car but abandoned it after attacking a man who'd yelled at them to slow down.
Police responded at 12:22 a.m. and learned the caller who ordered the pizza lived just a couple houses away from the address given to the driver. Officers approached the home and smelled hot - literally and figuratively - pizza inside.
They located Rocha in a bedroom at 808 E. Nebraska with time-stamped pizza boxes labeled with the 700 block address. They also found the victim's cell phone and money in the room, as well as a pizza bag and money bag in garbage cans behind the home.
Araiza was arrested after admitting to police he'd planned the robbery with Rocha and Tello and acted as a “look out,” according to court documents.
Tello was arrested after he arrived at Holy Family Hospital with a cut on his head. Staff called police, and the boy admitted to being involved in the robbery and said someone hit his head as he was fleeing. He was booked into the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center but faces a first-degree robbery charge in Superior Court.
Rocha remains in jail on $40,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court Monday on a first-degree robbery charge.

Woman fakes heart attack in court

A Spokane woman faked a heart attack during her son's first court appearance on a drug charge Monday, court officials said.

An ambulance rushed to the Spokane County Courthouse but did not transport the woman, who had fallen to the floor after Judge Michael Price imposed $1,000 bond for her 29-year-old son on a drug possession charge.

“She fell into the aisle and was yelling 'I'm having a heart attack,'” Price said.

Though suspicious, court officials immediately called 911, and a transport deputy tended to the woman outside the courtroom.

The woman's son told court officials there was a 10 percent chance his mother wasn't faking.


Death penalty sought in guard’s slaying

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe says he'll seek the death penalty if Byron Scherf is convicted of aggravated murder in the death of Monroe prison Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl.

In announcing his decision Tuesday in Everett, Roe said jurors “should have the opportunity of imposing the ultimate punishment if they see fit.”

Biendl was strangled Jan. 29 in the prison chapel.

The 52-year-old Scherf is already serving a life sentence as a three-strikes convicted rapist. His final conviction occured in Spokane County after he kidnapped and raped a real estate agent.

Roe said he met Monday night with Biendl's family and it believes the death penalty should be sought. Roe also said he met with senior prosecutors and considered mitigating information about Scherf.

A jury also will be asked to consider mitigating information in a death penalty decision if Scherf is found guilty.

Past coverage:

Feb. 11: Officer's alleged killer asked for prayers

Man’s lack of teeth contributes to arrest

A 27-year-old man was arrested on meth charges after he raised the suspicions of feed store employees by purchasing two pounds of a substance commonly used to cut methamphetamine. 

Suspect Henry P. Bevans' dental health apparently didn't help: The complaint noted that Bevans was toothless when he purchased the methylsulfonylmethane at Aslin Finch feed store.

“The store manager advised that they carry MSM for horses but did not believe that Bevans was going to use it for horses,” according to search warrant. “The manager stated that Bevans did not have any teeth and stated he wanted to report the suspicious transaction believing that the transaction was methamphetamine related.”

Detectives used the warrant to search Bevan's room at the Mirabeau Park Hotel, 1100 N. Sullivan Road, Feb. 2. They arrested him on a Department of Corrections escape warrant after a struggle and found meth in the room, as well as a scale and other drug paraphernalia.

Bevans, who has previous felony drug convictions, also had meth in his pocket, police said. He was booked into jail but released pending formal charges, which were filed Feb. 28.

He was arrested again March 9 and remains in custody after appearing in Superior Court on a drug charge. He's to be arraigned Thursday.

Gun, meth, bong lead to woman’s arrest

A pistol-packing St. Maries, Idaho, woman was arrested in Spokane Valley Sunday after an officer found methamphetamine in her 1993 Mercury Cougar during a traffic stop, police said today.

Brenna Ann Haynes, 21, told Officer Juan Rodriguez her driver's license might be suspended and that she had a syringe and baggie of drugs in her pocket when she was stopped for failing to use her turn signal near Sprague Avenue and McDonald Road.

Rodriguez determined she was correct on both accounts, Sgt. Dave Reagan said.

When Rodriguez asked to search the car, Haynes said she'd locked the keys inside but “added that he might be able to see the pistol stuffed between the front seats,” Reagan said.

Rodriguez arrested the woman on meth and gun charges after determining she didn't have a concealed weapons permit. He obtained a search warrant for the Cougar and recovered a Smith and Wesson .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol loaded with 13 bullets.

A second magazine with 13 bullets also was located on the back seat, as well as a bong, marijuana pipe, digital scale and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), a horse supplement commonly used to cut methamphetamine, Reagan said.

Feds raid medical pot shops in Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Federal agents with guns drawn raided at least 10 medical marijuana operations across Montana on Monday, the same a day that a bill to repeal the state's medical marijuana law stalled in the Legislature.

Agents near Helena burst into Montana Cannabis' greenhouse, where the company grows more than 1,600 plants for its four stores across the state. The greenhouse runs about half the length of a football field and is packed with marijuana plants that can be seen from U.S. Highway 12.

About 15 workers were inside the warehouse during the morning raid. Montana Cannabis employee Brett Thompson, 30, said he stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and saw agents running up the driveway.

“They came in, guns drawn, got us down on the ground and in cuffs as fast as they could,” Thompson said.

Federal agents detained Thompson and his co-workers in handcuffs outside the greenhouse, where sheriff's deputies and Helena police officers stood guard. Inside, agents in DEA and FBI jackets wearing respirator masks and blue gloves yanked waist-high plants from their pots and hauled them out of sight wrapped in blue tarps.

It was not immediately clear why the raids took place.

A spokeswoman in the U.S. attorney's office in Montana said the federal agents executed search warrants that are under seal. She declined to comment further.

Agencies involved included the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Medical marijuana has become a hotly debated issue in Montana, and the Legislature has been debating whether to eliminate the law. The industry has exploded in the last year and reached the point where one out of every 19 households in Montana now has a medical marijuana card.

Montana Cannabis co-owner Christopher Williams (left) told The Associated Press that raids were taking place at his business' four locations. An advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, said at least 10 businesses were raided in six cities across the state.

The DEA and U.S. attorney's office would not confirm how many businesses were raided.

Thompson said they questioned each worker individually and then released them, except for one worker who had an outstanding warrant.

The search warrant allows agents to take the company's computers, data storage, products and plants, Williams said, but he wasn't sure why the raids were taking place. His personal and business bank accounts were also frozen, he said.

A warrant obtained by Americans for Safe Access and signed by U.S. magistrate judge Jeremiah Lynch of Missoula listed 13 items to be seized, including marijuana and hashish, drug paraphernalia, computers and other electronic storage devices, cell phones, firearms, transportation and customer records, transaction records, cash, jewelry and vehicle titles.

The warrant, which was for Big Sky Patient Care of Bozeman, did not say why the items were to be seized.

“It's strictly a political move to stop us from providing medicine to sick people,” Williams said, standing outside the fence at Montana Cannabis.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-6 to reject House Speaker Mike Milburn's House Bill 161, which would repeal the medical marijuana law approved by Montana voters in 2004. Republican Committee Chairman Sen. Terry Murphy said the panel will look into creating a reform bill to tighten regulation of the industry.

Barbara Trego, Williams' mother and another worker at the Montana Cannabis, was at the Capitol for the hearing, said she received word of the raid before the vote. She said some of the people who use the company's marijuana are cancer patients and she feared what would happen to them if the operation shut down.

“We weren't trying to hide anything. Our windows are open. Our door was open,” she said. “We've got patients that could die just by what's happened today.”

The raid caused traffic to slow as people passing by tried to ascertain what was happening. One man in a minivan honked his horn and shouted out the window, “Thank you, Helena Police Department! It's about time!”

Williams said of the 1,680 plants inside the greenhouse near Helena, 480 were flowering plants that produce about 5 ounces of marijuana each. He said he sells an ounce for $190 — meaning approximately $456,000 worth of marijuana was confiscated from that one location.

State bar to honor Clark posthumously

Spokane lawyer John Clark will be honored posthumously this week by the Washington State Bar Association.

Clark's wife, Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark, and son, Steven Clark, will accept Local Hero Award on his behalf Friday during a meeting of the WSBA Board of Governors at the Davenport Hotel. 

Also honored will be Spokane lawyer Paul B. Mack.

Clark, a legendary local defense lawyer known for representing clients pro bono, died of cancer last October. He was 58.

“John was always an advocate for the oppressed and downtrodden,” according to a prepared statement by his law partners, James Domanico and Robert Crary. “He exemplified his professionalism by giving back to the community, his friends and his clients, who would soon become his friends. John was instrumental in changing the law on a number of occasions and was also first in line to help a fellow attorney.”

Said Spokane County Public Defender John Rodgers, “All of my contacts with John and the many people he influenced reflect a person whose candor, diligence and motives surpassed our highest standards of professionalism and greatly benefited on our legal community.”

In March 2010, the Spokane County Bar Association presented Clark with the Smithmoore P. Myers Professionalism Award; the same month, Clark was named an honorary member of the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office.

Cops’ crash damages 5th car in 2 weeks

Two patrol cars were damaged in a chase over the weekend - the fourth and fifth police cruisers taken out of service in the last two weeks.

The latest crash occurred when Spokane Valley police Officers Scott Bonney and Todd Miller slammed into each other while pursuing a suspect. Two other officers had tried to stop a Honda Prelude about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday when the driver, Jason Edward Cooper, 25, sped away and ran stop signs and red lights, said Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Bonney and Miller may have been going to put down spike strips when they collided in the intersection at Sprague Avenue and Bowdish Road, Reagan said, damaging their cars, a light pole and a fire hydrant. Bonney was not hurt but Miller suffered minor cuts from broken glass.

Cooper was arrested, but a passenger in his car escaped. Anyone with information about the passenger's identity is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

The crash came one week after Deputy Matt Spink's patrol car was totaled as he responded to an assault call at Hawthrone Road on Highway 2. Motorist Judith Ann Vanderbosch, 71, of Mead, was cited for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

Six days before that crash, a sheriff's patrol car was destroyed after crashing into a truck driven by a retired sheriff's sergeant, who was cited for failure to yield.

Marijuana dispensary trial begins today

A groundbreaking trial for the area's medical marijuana dispensaries is set to begin today in Spokane.

Scott Q. Shupe, 56, faces felony drug charges stemming from a 2009 police raid at Change, a pot dispensary he operated on Northwest Boulevard, near Maple Street. 

Prosecutors have said they believe dispensaries are illegal because they distribute marijuana to more than one patient.

But pot advocates note that the statute technically states a caretaker can provide to one person “at any one time.” Owners of medical marijuana dispensaries use that interpretation to justify their businesses; Shupe says he only sold marijuana to one patient in the business at a time.

The investigation began when a detective saw a TV news article about the business.

“The news story advised that Scott Shupe dispenses marijuana and that he grows, possesses and sells marijuana and that ‘it’s all perfectly legal,’” according to search warrants used in the September 2009 raid.

Shupe is represented by Frank Cikutovich. Teresa Border is prosecuting. Judge Tari Eitzen is presiding. Opening statements are expected this afternoon or Tuesday morning.

Trial for Change codefendant Christopher P. Stevens, 37, is scheduled to begin April 11.

While Spokane County authorities say the dispensaries are illegal, dozens are operating in the area, including one on Northwest Boulevard that offers to deliver.

Tips sought on 3 fugitive sex offenders

UPDATE 3/14: Rice and Gilmore are in custody.

A sex offender living as a transient in Spokane County now has a warrant out for his arrest.

David Wayne Rice, 21, (left) is accused of not registering as a sex offender as his child rape and child molestation convictions require.

Rice recently registered as a transient; the sheriff's office announced that registration last week without knowing of the $50,000 warrant, Sgt. Dave Reagan said. Rice, a level 3 sex offender, was convicted in Grant County in 2005. He also has a previous conviction for failure to register.

Two other Spokane County sex offenders are wanted for failure to register.

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

Gilmore, 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds, last gave a home address in the 100 block of East Main in Spokane. A $25,000 arrest warrant was issued on March 9. Gilmore is a level 1 sex offender, the classification considered least likely to reoffend.

 Level 1 sex offender Jody Michael Thomas, 40, (left) has an out-of-state sex crime conviction from 1988.

Thomas, 5-foot-2 and 115 pounds, last gave home address in the 9500 block of East Eighth in Spokane Valley.

A $25,000 warrant was issued in Spokane County March 10 for failure to register.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest Rice, Gilmore or Thomas.

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

Who is bomb suspect Kevin Harpham?

He grew up in rural Eastern Washington, played football in high school and worked at a fast-food restaurant as a teen.

 Childhood friends remember him as quiet and normal – far from the angry racist that Kevin William Harpham portrayed himself as in more than 1,000 posts on a hate-themed message board for white supremacists.

But acquaintances later in life recall an eerie loner who unabashedly disparaged other ethnicities and seemed to have big plans. 

A former neighbor in East Wenatchee said Harpham, now accused of attempting to bomb a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Spokane, once laughed at the idea of transporting black people to a desert island and blowing them up.

“I think Kevin was serious,” said Jill Truax. “My son just told me flat out, ‘I think he’s some white supremacist person … think he has an artillery in there.’

“It was like he on a mission or something,” Truax said.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

March 11: MLK bomb suspect wrote on race wars  

Pimp, robbery suspect jailed in Spokane

A convicted pimp suspected of robbing nine banks in Oregon and Western Washington is in the Spokane jail.

Kevin Antoine Jones, 23, was arrested in Pullman Wednesday and appeared in U.S. District Court on Thursday.

He's awaiting transport back to Seattle. Jones is charged with four counts of bank robbery for hold ups Oct. 16 at U.S. Bank in Tukwila and Wells Fargo in Des Moines, Oct. 18 at U.S. Bank in Seattle and Oct. 19 at Chase Bank in Des Moines.

He's also suspected of robberies Nov. 5 at a U.S. Bank in Portland, and Nov. 6 at a U.S. Bank in Gresham, Bank of the West and Wells Fargo in Troutdale.

Also suspected is Isaiah Jordan Summers, who is in custody.

The two were arrested after a robbery at Columbia Bank in Milton, Wash,., on Nov. 8.

It's unclear why Jones was released from custody, but he was featured on Washington's Most Wanted Feb. 25 and 26.

A viewer's tip led to his arrest at an apartment in 1800 block of Northwest Lamont Drive in Pullman after a brief SWAT team standoff.

Jones has prior convictions for promoting prostitution and gun possession, according to Washington’s Most Wanted.

Man w/ 50 lbs of pot jailed in Oregon

A Spokane man arrested in Oregon with 50 pounds of marijuana on Sunday remains in jail.

Michael Allen Orman, 30, has previous drug convictions in Spokane County in 2007 and 2006.

Police say he was driving a rented Dodge Charger when he was stopped about 7:15 p.m. Sunday for a traffic violation on Interstate 5 near Grants Pass.

Orman was wanted in Marion County, Ore., on a felony warrant for money laundering, according to Oregon State Police. His license also was suspended.

Orman was booked into Josephine County Jail on the felony warrant and the rental vehicle was towed and impounded.

Troopers obtained a search warrant for the vehicle Monday and found about 50 pounds of marijuana in the trunk, authorities said.

Orman is in the Josephine County Jail on charges of unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful distribution of marijuana, as well the money laundering count.

Child rapist is now a Spokane transient

A convicted child rapist considered likely to reoffend is living as a transient in Spokane County, the sheriff's office announced today.

David Wayne Rice, 21, was convicted of first-degree rape, first-degree child molestation and second-degree child molestation in Grant County in 2005.

His victims were a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl.

Rice was released from prison in October 2007 but returned in September 2009 after failing to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced to 22 months in prison with credit for 130 days served in jail.

Rice remains under supervision by the state Department of Corrections. He's a level 3 sex offender, the classification considered most likely to reoffend.

Rice is not wanted by authorities, but the sheriff's office wants the public to be aware of his presence.

Spokane prostitute charged with perjury

A Spokane prostitute is accused of lying about her identity and fabricating testimony during a bench trial last fall.

Jodi R. Macabitas, 42, alias Jodi R. Rima, appeared in court Tuesday on charges on felony charges of first-degree perjury and false swearing.

Investigators say Macabitas identified herself as Madison McBride during a possession of stolen property trial before Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque last October.

Defendant Robert Wilkening, Jr., was acquitted after testimony that included Macabitas describing a plot between two men to falsely accuse Wilkening. Investigators believe Macabitas fabricated the story.

Deputy Prosecutor Bob Sargent said in court documents that Macabitas' testimony was “crucial to the case.”

But Wilkening's lawyer, Doug Phelps, said he doesn't believe Macabitas' was crucial to Wilkening's acquittal.

“We really didn't even need that testimony,” Phelps said. Phelps said he didn't relaize the woman had lied about her identity until Sargent told him after the trial.

Prior to testifying, Macabitas provided police a phone number that Detective David Staben says belonged to someone who claims not to know the woman. After her testimony, the man said he had a friend who matched the witness's description, leading Staben to identify Macabitas as a suspect.

Her parents described her as “a homeless person involved in the drug lifestyle,” according to a probable cause affidavit. Staben contacted Macabitas at 1st and Cowley, where she identified herself as a prostitute and “admitted that she lied about everything in court,” according to the affidavit.

Macabitas remains jailed on $2,000 bond.

Guilty verdict in 1st Craigslist killing trial

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Jurors have convicted the first Craigslist killing defendant to go on trial of first-degree murder in the death of a Tacoma-area man gunned down in his home after advertising a diamond ring for sale.

Pierce County Superior Court jurors deliberated only a few hours Tuesday before convicting 23-year-old Kiyoshi Higashi (right) in the death last April of 43-year-old Jim Sanders. Higashi was also convicted of first-degree burglary and two counts each of second-degree assault and first-degree robbery.

The News Tribune says Higashi could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Higashi is the first of four defendants to go to trial. He took the witness stand in combative testimony Monday and admitted taking part in the robbery, but denied shooting Sanders.

Sanders' brother, Derek, and widow, Charlene Sanders, are pictured above hugging supporters after the verdict.

Past coverage:

May 5: Craigslist murder suspects arrested in California

Hells Angel to stay in jail without bail

A ranking member of the Hells Angels will remain in jail without bail after his arrest last week on a federal gun charge.

Ricky W. Jenks, 33, poses a threat to the community based on his criminal history and the seriousness of the allegation, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno said Tuesday before approving a request from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to keep Jenks in custody.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Van Marter said Jenks has a “disturbing history of violence” that includes manslaughter and has been aided by his association with the Hells Angels.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

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

March 5: 2nd suspect in Hells Angels raid leaves jail

March 4: Police raid Hells Angels clubhouse in Spokane

Intruder, victim call police on each other

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon police say both an intruder and a Portland homeowner phoned 911 to report the same thing: a strange man in a home.

Lt. Kelli Sheffer says the intruder told police he had just broken into a home Monday evening when the owner arrived — and the caller was worried the homeowner might have a gun.

Accompanied by his two German Shepherds, the homeowner found the intruder and asked what he was doing in the house. That's when the stranger locked himself in a bathroom and phoned police.

The homeowner called police with his account.

Sheffer says 24-year-old Timothy James Chapek, of Portland, was booked into jail for investigation of first-degree criminal trespass.

Asbestos victims consider $43M deal

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — More than 1,100 victims of asbestos contamination are nearing a $43 million settlement over claims that Montana health officials failed to warn miners about the hazards of a deadly vermiculite mine, documents in the case show.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands sickened following decades of exposure to asbestos from the now-shuttered W.R. Grace & Co. mine in the small northwestern Montana town of Libby.

Claimant notices obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday show at least 1,125 victims are considering a deal that calls for payments ranging from $21,500 to the $60,700, depending on the severity of sickness. Attorneys in the case would get one-third of the $43 million, which would be subtracted from victim payments.

Terms of the deal were first reported by the Daily Inter Lake.

In 2004, the Montana Supreme Court said the state should have warned miners about hazards first identified by state officials in Libby in the 1950s. Attorneys for the state and victims have since been negotiating terms of a monetary settlement under which state agencies would be released from future liability.

Those negotiations stem from multiple lawsuits brought against the state asserting it failed to protect victims in Libby.

Attorney Tom Lewis, whose Great Falls firm represents some of the victims, said he could not comment on the settlement.

“The people of Libby have been waiting a long time. We've been working on this case a long time,” Lewis said. “I can't comment on ongoing litigation because it's not ethical for me to do so.”

Lewis added that claimants “have to keep quiet until this goes through the proper process.”

The Libby mine closed in 1999, and more than $300 million has been spent on a cleanup that is expected to go on for years.

W.R. Grace & Co. escaped most liability when it filed for bankruptcy after the extent of contamination was revealed.

One claimant in the state settlement said he was not satisfied with the terms but signed anyway to move on and be done with the lingering litigation. People involved in the case have been told by lawyers not to speak publicly about the case while settlement talks are ongoing, and the man spoke on condition of anonymity because he was worried about jeopardizing claims made by other members of his family.

Past coverage:

Feb. 11, 2007: Vermiculite mining in Libby left trouble in the air

Pot supporters halt City Council meeting

Supporters of marijuana legalization briefly halted last night's Spokane City Council meeting.

The protesters from Sensible Washington stood during the annual report to the council from Police Ombudsman Tim Burns, prompting City Council President Joe Shogan to order them to sit or leave. 

Rebeckah Aubertin, who said she is the Spokane recruiter for Sensible Washington, held two large signs.

One read: “Stop funding dirty cops.” Another said: “Prohibition hurts family.”

Jon Brunt has the full story at Spin Control.

‘Nemesis’ of property owners sentenced

A serial burglar who fled Spokane County District Court last April was sentenced recently to just under six years in prison.

Cole T. Monson, 37, described by law enforcement as the “nemesis” of property owners, pleaded guilty to 21 felonies for a crime spree that ended last March. A Spokane County Sheriff's raid related to the crime spree netted so much stolen property that detectives used a moving truck to transport the items.

According to court documents, Monson admitted the burglaries to police and said he “wrote the book on pursuits with the police.”

Monson told police after a March 13 chase that “he was so high at the time that all he could do was focus on not getting caught and not getting killed in a crash,” documents say.

Monson posted bond after his arrest but returned to jail the next month after fleeing a courtroom and falling outside the Public Safety Building. A judge had revoked his bond for a driving while suspended charge.

Monson was sentenced to 68 months in prison and ordered to pay $54,259 restitution after pleading guilty Friday to second-degree theft, second-degree possession of stolen property, second-degree identity theft, two counts of third-degree assault, second-degree trafficking in stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, theft of a motor vehicle and 12 counts of second-degree burglary.

Man admits shooting driver in head

A 26-year-old man who was shot in the head early Saturday has been identified as Shane Reilly.

Reilly is at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Court documents filed today say he is on life support and is not expected to survive.

Suspect Robert Dean Startin, 27, remains in jail on $750,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court today on a first-degree assault charge.

According to court documents, Startin told detectives he was walking home from the Ironhorse Saloon when he joined Reilly - whom he referred to as “the big guy” - and three others as they drank around a fire at 615 S. Woodruff.

Read my full story here.

Steele trial postponed, moved to Boise

Trial for a North Idaho attorney accused of hiring someone to kill his wife has been postponed until late next month and will take place in Boise.

Lawyers for Edgar Steele requested the continuance to allow more time to prepare an expert witness who is expected to question the authenticity of audio recordings of Steele allegedly discussing the plot with hitman-turned-FBI informant Larry Fairfax.

Court scheduling and concerns about pretrial publicity prompted U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill to move the trial to Boise.

Read my full story here.

Woman cited for hit and run in Valley

A Spokane Valley woman told police she was distracted by her 5-year-old son when she hit a pedestrian Saturday, then fled “because she was confused and scared,” police said today.

The man who was hit was sore but not injured, police said.

Wendy E. Berg, 32, was arrested after police located her truck at 11900 E. Broadway Ave. A witness said he was stopped at Pines Road and Broadway Avenue when he saw the the truck hit the pedestrian, then drive away on Pines.

Berg told police “she slammed on the brakes, but panicked when she knocked the man down,” according to a news release. “She said she drove home in a circuitous route because she was confused and scared”

Berg was cited and released.

Local firefighters climb stairs for charity

The Spokane Valley Fire Department was the top department in a firefighter stair climbing competition in Seattle last weekend.

The Spokane Fire Department placed 8th out of 118 departments. A team of 47 Spokane firefighters participated in the annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, which raises money for blood cancer research through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Spokane firefighters raised more than $23,000, nearly twice what they raised last year. Results for this year are being calculated. Donations can be made here. Last year's competition raised more than $780,000.

About 1,300 firefighters participated, climbing 69 flights of stairs and 1,311 steps at the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle.

Several local firelighters placed in the top 30, including Paul Kimball and Mark Knokey of Spokane Valley, Steven Harms of Spokane County Fire District #9 and Jason Keen and Eric Ross of Spokane City

Complete results can be found here.

Electronics stolen from Valley church

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

A thief broke into a Spokane Valley church sometime between Wednesday night and 5 p.m. Saturday and stole several thousand dollars worth of electronic equipment.

The pastor at Valley Landmark Mission, 9021 E. Boone, told Officer Mark Benner that the congregation held a service Wednesday night and that all of the stolen property was stored in the electronic storage room that night.

When a cleaning crew arrived about 5 p.m. Saturday, they discovered the room pillaged and several items missing.  The stolen property included a Canon HD camcorder, an Acer laptop computer and two Phillips portable DVD players.

Benner found that the point of entry appeared to be a narrow window.  Anyone with information regarding the break-in is encouraged to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Witnesses sought in WSP v. semi crash

A Washington State Patrol trooper remains hospitalized in Spokane after his patrol car was rear-ended by a semi-truck on Highways 395 near Ritzville.

Dean T. Burt, 53, a 19-year veteran, was stopped on a paved portion of the shoulder with his patrol car's emergency lights flashing when a northbound semi-truck driven by James A. Helms, 54, of Phoneix, Ariz., left the road and crashed into Burt's patrol car about 5:45 p.m., according to WSP. 
Helms' truck then went through the median and came to a rest in the southbound lane of the highway, WSP said.
The crash remains under investigation, said Trooper Troy Briggs. Anyone who may have witnessed the crash “or any event leading up to or following the crash” is asked to call Detective Sergeant Jerry Cooper at (360) 805-1192 or Detective Greg Wilcoxson at (360) 805-1195.
Burt's injuries are not considered life threatening. He was taken to East Adams Rural Hospital in Ritzville before being flown by helicopter to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

Man shot by deputy denies being armed

A suspected thief shot multiple times by a Stevens County sheriff’s deputy disputed law enforcement reports Sunday that he was armed with a pistol even though authorities say they recovered a gun and several other stolen items at his home.

“I woke up with my body hit like a freakin’ target,” said Trinidy C. Lopez, 23, who explained during a brief telephone interview from his hospital bed that he had been asleep in his bedroom after a night of partying when deputies arrived at his Loon Lake home early Saturday and one of them began shooting. “I woke up in excruciating pain.”

Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen, however, said Lopez was wielding a stolen pistol. “It was either pointed at the deputy or coming to bear onto the deputy,” Allen said of the firearm.

Read Jonathan Brunt's story here.

Spokane cemetery gunfire leads to arrest

A man upset because he couldn't locate a family member's grave fired a gun in a Spokane cemetery Sunday, leading to his arrest, police said today.

Jeffrey B. Holcomb, 32, was arrested after police respond to a report of shots fired at Fairmont Memorial Gardens, 5299 W. Wellesley Ave, about 1:10 p.m.
Witnesses said two men in a car pointed a handgun out a car window and fired at the cemetery. Police stopped the vehicle as it left the cemetery.
Offices say Holcomb, the driver, said he “fired the handgun out of frustration” at not being able to find a gravesite, according to a news release.
Holcomb was arrested for drunken driving, driving on a suspended license, reckless endangerment, unlawful discharge of a firearm and possession of marijuana.
Police found “a loaded and cocked handgun” on the seat of his car, according to Officer Tim Moses. No one was injured.

Biker’s arrest pleases ‘01 victim’s mother

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Dolores Taylor heard the news from her daughter, who lives in Pullman.

“She said 'I finally have some good news. He's been arrested again,” Taylor recalled during a phone call Friday from her east Texas home.

Taylor was referring to Ricky Jenks.

Jenks, arrested Thursday in a police raid at the Hells Angels headquarters in Spokane, was involved in the shooting death of Taylor's son, Lonnie Earl Taylor, 37, on March 21, 2001, in what authorities described as a murder plotted by the Hells Angels, Jenks' outlaw motorcycle gang.

Taylor said she was troubled when Jenks was convicted of only manslaughter and served just 21 months in prison.

 Now she's hopeful Jenks (pictured in 2002) will go away for longer.

“If anybody belongs up there in prison, it's him,” she said.

A family member of Jenks' has not returned a phone call seeking comment. Jenks is in federal custody and unavailable for interviews.

Jenks, sergeants of arms of the Washington chapter of the Hells Angels, was arrested at the gang's headquarters at 1308 E. Sprague Avenue in Spokane Thursday. He's being held without bail on a single charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. A bail hearing is scheduled Tuesday.

Another Hells Angel member, Michael Ryan Fitzpatrick, was arrested on a marijuana charge at another location Thursday. He was released from jail on Friday.

Jenks and Joseph D. Shafer were convicted of second-degree mansluaghter in Taylor's death, which authorities say occurred during a drug rip will Taylor made methamphetamine.

Jenks was wanted on a first-degree murder charge for several months before an an off-duty sheriff’s lieutenant spotted him at a grocery store, leading to his arrest.

Taylor, a 37-year-old mechanic, was found fatally shot in a house at 1125 S. Robinhood in the Sherwood Forest subdivision in the Valley.  The homeowner told investigators that Taylor came to the house and was making meth when the shooting occurred, court documents say.

Taylor recalled attending Jenks' court hearings, which she said were packed with patch-wearing Hells Angels members.

“The courtroom was hell. We had to be escorted out.”

Taylor said she deeply disagrees with Jenks' short prison stint.

“He killed my son,” said Taylor, who lives in Jacksonville, Texas. “I'm 82, and I'm waiting for justice before I go.”

2nd man in Hells Angels raid leaves jail

A Hells Angels member arrested on a marijuana charge Thursday in Spokane was released from jail on his own recognizance Friday.

Michael Ryan Fitzpatrick, 33, was booked into jail Thursday on one felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance after selling marijuana in a “controlled drug buy” set up by the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force last fall, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The one-paragraph affidavit, signed Thursday by Jeff Barrington, alleges the transaction occurred in October.

Superior Court Judge Michael Price allowed Fitzpatrick to leave jail Friday without posting bail, which pre-trial services recommended and is common in marijuana cases. Fitzpatrick has three felony convictions from several years ago, Price said.

The affidavit contains no information about Fitzpatrick's arrest, which occurred Thursday after federal agents and Spokane police searched the Hells Angels clubhouse at 1308 E. Sprague Ave. Fitzpatrick was not at the club at the time but was arrested at a different location.

 Also arrested was Hells Angels sergeant of arms Ricky W. Jenks, 33.

Jenks remains in jail without bail on a federal charge of felon in possession of a firearm. Investigators say they found six loaded firearms in the clubhouse.

Jenks was among those indicted in 2006 with now imprisoned chapter president Richard “Smilin’ Rick” Fabel (pictured).

Read my full story here.

3-time bank robber gets 8 years in prison

A bank robber arrested in Spokane last summer has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison

Cameron Len Gaunt, 28, was ordered Thursday to serve 96 months in prison. He'll be on probation for three years.

Gaunt, of Chelan, been in custody since his arrest outside a Spokane motel room at 12803 E. Sprague Ave. on July 20. He was caught with a motorcycle he had purchased with money obtained in one of the robberies.

Gaunt robbed the Bank of America in Omak July 13, a Washington Trust Bank in Wenatchee on July 16 and a Washington Trust Bank in Moses Lake on Tuesday. The robberies netted more than $12,000; a citizen's tip led federal authorities to identify Gaunt as a suspect.

The crime spree came less than a month after Gaunt was released from federal prison for passing counterfeit currency across the Pacific Northwest.

He had a prior history of passing forged checks and told police he was released from jail in June 2007 but soon became addicted to methamphetamine and “started hanging around the wrong crowd,” according to sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors.

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

Jury acquits man of house theft, arson

A jury acquitted a man accused of the theft and arson of his former landlord's Spokane home.

Stephen J. Czako, 26, was found not guilty after a trial before Superior Court Judge Tari Etizen.

Czako said he was buying the home at 4621 N. Post St. from Joanne Tucker; Tucker (pictured) says he forged her signature.

Investigators said Czako set the home on fire in October 2008, but jurors didn't buy the claim.

Czako was repsrented by Chris Phelps.

His sister, Shannon Czako, is scheduled to stand trial next month on charges attempted first-degree theft and official misconduct for allegedly using a notary on a document she knew was forged.

Past coverage: June 3, 2009: Suspicious blaze at center of house dispute

Wallet theft leads to 100 mph car chase

Two suspected wallet snatchers led the victim on a 100 mph chase in Spokane Valley Thursday night, police said today.

Valley resident Robert A. Hunter, 25, and Jenna L. Myers, 25, of Coeur d'Alene, were arrested on theft charges after allegedly fleeing the Tesoro gas station, 13800 E. Trent Ave., with a wallet Myers picked up in the parking lot.

A 22-year Spokane Valley man dropped the wallet about 7:45 p.m. as he exited his car to buy a soda at the store, where he was a regular customer.  The store employee told police he saw Myers (pictured) get out of a car and pick up the wallet, then enter the store and whisper something to Hunter before the two fled.

The victim ran to his car and pursued the couple westbound on Trent as the Tesoro employee called police with the suspects' license plate number.

The victim gave up the pursuit, police said, but officers soon arrested Hunter and Myers at Sprague Avenue and Flora Road. The victim told police the couple ran stop signs and reached speeds of more than 100 mph on arterials, neighborhood streets and Interstate 90.

Myers stashed cash in her underwear and threw the wallet from the car as they crossed a bridge over the Spokane River, police said. Officers recovered both.

Both suspects are to appear in court today on felony counts of second-degree theft of credit cards and third-degree theft for the wallet. Hunter also was booked for third-degree driving while license suspended.

Myers, a 2009 Crime Stoppers graduate, has at least two previous convictions for theft.

Man jailed in police chase, robbery spree

A man faces several felony charges after allegedly punching someone in the face, stealing their car, and robbing two Walgreens pharmacies before fleeing from police Wednesday evening.

Jordan M. Lewis, 21, is jailed on charges of second-degree assault, first-degree theft, three counts of first-degree robbery and eluding.

He allegedly made off with an undisclosed amount of a prescription drug in the first robbery, about 8:15 p.m. at 12315 N. Division St.;  it was unclear Wednesday whether he made off with any in the second, said

Sgt. John Roys of the Spokane Police Department. Lewis allegedly told employees he had a weapon, but was actually unarmed, Roys said.

He robbed the second store, 1708 W. Northwest Blvd., about 9 p.m. An officer who was staking out the area saw the stolen car, a Subaru SUV, parked behind a nearby business. Lewis led him on a short pursuit before he was caught at Buckeye Avenue and Cannon Street.

“There were drugs on the ground, drugs all over the car,” Roys said. “It appeared like he was ingesting some of the drugs.”

As a result, Lewis was taken to a local hospital and was later booked into Spokane County Jail, where he remained Thursday night on $30,000 bond.

The driver of the Subaru, who Lewis allegedly punched in the face before stealing the car, was treated at a local hospital for some facial injuries, police said.

Ohio DUI suspect drinks in front of cop

ELYRIA, Ohio (AP) — Police in northern Ohio say a man who was asked during a traffic stop whether he'd been drinking took a swig from an open can of beer and told the officer, “Yes.”

 According to Cleveland's WJW-TV, the Elyria police report says 25-year-old Stephen Supers was pulled over early Wednesday because the officer had observed him speeding.

The report says that after Supers took the drink in front of the officer he failed a series of field sobriety tests.

Supers is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday on charges including driving under the influence, driving under suspension and possession of marijuana.

A message was left at his home phone number in Elyria on Thursday. Court records do not list his attorney

Jury deadlocks in police shooting trial

A hung jury led to a mistrial today in the case of a man charged with assault after he was shot by Spokane County sheriff's deputies.

A new trial will be held for Michael E. Young, 56, who is charged with two counts of second-degree assault after deputies said he pointed a gun at them as they responded to reports that he was suicidal.

Deputies Walter Loucks, Darell Stidham and Scott Bonney shot Young outside his home at 11709 E. Fairview Ave., on Dec. 27, 2009.

A neighbor who witnessed the shooting said Young never pointed his gun at deputies but refused orders to drop it.

The jury of five women and seven men began deliberating about 10:30 a.m. today and announced they were deadlocked about 3 p.m. The trial began Monday.

Young's lawyer, James Kirkham, said the jury was divided 6-6.

Past coverage:

March 2: Man shot by deputies on trial for assault

Reward for tips on school bomb threat

A reward is being offered for tips that identify a suspect ina bomb threat at North Idaho elementary school last fall that police believe may be connected to a bank robbery.

A man believed to be in his 20s called a bomb threat into the main office at Garwood Elementary School on Oct. 21 at 10:30 a.m.

About an hour later, a masked gunman robbed Wells Fargo Bank, 16234 North Highway 41 in Rathdrum.

The robber, who police believe was alone, is described as a white man in his 20s, 5-foot-5 with a thin to medium build. He drove away southbound on Highway 41 to westbound Highway 53 in a two-door silver compact car, possibly a newer Honda, that was parked in the bank lot.

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

Retired sergeant will be cited for crash

A retired Spokane County sheriff's sergeant blamed for a crash that destroyed a new patrol car Sunday will receive a $175 ticket, officials said today.

Clifford Berry, 63, will be cited for failing to yield right of way after he turned in front of Deputy Chuck Sciortino's westbound patrol car about 7:15 p.m. on Sunday.

Berry was eastbound on Francis when he attempted to turn onto Freya. He had a green light, but the light called for him to yield to oncoming traffic before turning, said Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Sciortino and Reserve Deputy Kathleen Hurst were responding to a threat complaint at the time of the crash and did not have the car's emergency lights or sirens activated.

Computer information from the wrecked patrol car showed Sciortino was driving at or under the 45 mph speed limit eight seconds before the crash and was traveling at 25 to 28 mph at impact.

Sciortino and Hurst were treated for back and neck pain at a local hospital. Berry, who retired from the Sheriff's Office in 1997, was not injured. His ticket will be mailed to him, Reagan said.

The patrol car, which had been in service for about a month, will be replaced next fall when new police vehicle models are introduced. Ford no longer accepts orders for Crown Victorias.

Ex-car dealer accused of identity theft

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of an ex-car salesman accused of ripping off his former place of employment.

Jeremy M. Frechette, 37, was to buy a 1999 Dodge Durango from TCS Auto Wholesale, 2915 E. Sprague Ave., for $2,985, but employees say he only made two $300 payments.

Police believe Frechette, who worked as a sales manager, forged a dealership employee's signature and sold the Durango to a woman for $1,000 last March.

Prosecutors filed charges of second-degree identity theft and making false statement on certificate of ownership on Feb. 2.

A $20,000 warrant was issued for Frechette's arrest after he didn't show up for an arraignment on Feb. 16.

Frechette, 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, last gave ha home address in the 7900 block of East Valleyway Avenue in Spokane Valley.

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

Pete’s civil suit against Olsen dismissed

Former Spokane Police Officer James “Jay” Olsen won’t face any civil penalties for shooting a fleeing, unarmed man in the head in 2007. 

U.S. District Court Judge Edward F. Shea agreed with a request by Olsen’s attorney, Rob Cossey, to dismiss the civil lawsuit brought by Shonto Pete, who was unable to find an attorney to represent him after Shea ruled last year to drop the City of Spokane from the case.

“I know this is a sad day for you Mr. Pete,” Shea said. “I gave you 100 days to complete discovery. You have simply failed to carry that out, so I’m dismissing the case.”

Pete yelled at Shea as he walked off the bench: “That’s what you call justice? Justice is a joke.”

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Grand jury indicts man for 71lbs of coke

A Canadian man arrested with 71 pounds of cocaine near the U.S. border last month faces at least 10 years in prison under a grand jury indictment filed Tuesday.

Jonathan Darren Smith, 39, has been in custody without bail at the Spokane County Jail since Feb. 16, when a border patrol agent spotted him on the east side of Highway 395 “frantically trying to climb the snowy berm at the edge of the roadway,” near the Laurier border crossing, according to federal court documents.

Investigators found 30 individually wrapped, sealed packages of cocaine in two backpacks.

Smith declined to talk to investigators. His trial on one count of possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine is scheduled to begin May 10.

The charge carries 10 years to life in prison.

According to Canadian news reports, Smith was arrested with $165,000 in undeclared U.S. currency when he tried to enter B.C. in 2007. He was convicted in 2009.

He has not yet had a bail hearing in this case. He's represented by Jeffrey Niesen.

Jail changes postcard-only mail policy

Restrictions on inmate mail have loosened at the Spokane County Jail in response to a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a prisoner rights publishing group.

While mail sent to inmates from friends and family remains limited to postcards, with jail staff citing security precautions as a primary reason, the restriction no longer applies to outgoing mail.

Also, the jail will make exceptions to the postcard-only rule for businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The changes were triggered by a lawsuit filed by lawyers for Prison Legal News, part of the nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center. The organization’s publications were being blocked from delivery to inmates because they weren’t postcards.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage: Aug. 14: Tight rein on jail mail

Police: Dog abuser beat boy, too

A Spokane Valley man already accused of abusing his dog has been charged with felony assault against a child.

Jeffrey S. Brown, 40, is accused of beating his 4-year-old stepson at the home they shared with Brown's wife and the couple's 18-month old son at 14819 E. Fourth Ave.

Brown remains in Spokane County Jail on $50,000 bond after appearing before Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt today on one count of second-degree assault of a child. That's in addition to $10,000 bond already imposed for a first-degree animal cruelty charge

According to court documents, the victim's mother noticed unusual bruising on the boy Dec. 27 and took him to a hospital, then fled Spokane with her children “in cooperation with Child Protective Services.”

Brown was arrested in February after animal protection officers found his 1-year-old brown dog, Gizmoto, with a broken femur sustained during months of abuse.

Brown released ownership of the dog to SCRAPS, and the organization paid for the dog to be examined. SCRAPS director Nancy Hill said Wednesday that the veterinarian took the dog in but said she wasn't sure if it had been adopted yet.

In an interview with a sheriff's detective, Brown initially denied hurting the boy but then said he'd been too forceful on several occasions and needed counseling to control his temper.

Driver in patrol car crash is ex-sergeant

The motorist involved in a crash that destroyed a new Spokane County sheriff's patrol car on Sunday is a retired sheriff's sergeant.

Clifford Berry, 63, retired from the Sheriff's Office in 1997, Sgt. Dave Reagan confirmed today.

Berry was eastbound on Francis Avenue in a 2006 Dodge Ram pickup pulling a trailer full of household goods when he turned left onto Freya Street and was struck by the westbound patrol car driven by Deputy Chuck Sciortino. (The crash is pictured above, courtesy KHQ-TV.)

Sciortino and Reserve Deputy Kathleen Hurst were treated for back and neck pain at a local hospital then driven home after the crash, which occurred about 7:15 p.m.

Reagan said Berry appeared to have violated a green light, which allows for left turns after oncoming traffic has cleared, but he hasn't been cited.

Reagan did not say how fast the patrol car was driving or it had its lights or siren activated.

Detectives are awaiting data from the patrol's car computer before making a charging decision, Reagan said.

Wanted: Man accused of helping escapee

A Spokane man who police say allowed to jail escapee at his home is wanted by Crime Stoppers.

Arthur Garcia, 51, (right) is charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle for a 1990 Jeep Cherokee discovered on his property on Nov. 29.

Jason W. Breedlove, 38, (below) told police of the stolen Jeep while an inmate at the Spokane County Jail, according to court documents.

Two days later, he was allowed to clean up snow with a work crew despite a recent recommendatipn that he placed in a more secure facility because of a felony warrant in Kootenai County.

Breedlove walked away from the clean up crew on Dec. 1. 

Anonymous tips led police to Garcia's home at 918 E. 10th Ave., where they say Garcia had earlier agreed to call 911 if Breedlove showed up.

Breedlove was in the backyard when officers arrived on Dec. 9. He was sentenced to three months in jail last month for the escape and is in custody in Kootenai County on 21 charges, including four counts of grand theft, four cunts of burglary and five counts of pharmacy violation/drug delivery.

Garcia, who's criminal history includes a single drug possession conviction, was arrested for misdemeanor rendering criminal assistance.

Garcia was charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle last month. A $10,000 warrant was issued Feb. 16 after he failed to show up for an arraignment.

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

Bill ends statute of limitations for rape

A proposal to end the statue of limitations on first- and second-degree rape unanimously passed the Washington House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The House voted 98-0 to send House Bill 1657 to the Senate, where it will first be considered by the judicial committee.

Current state law requires victims who were abused as children to report the sexual abuse by their 28th birthday.

“This legislation says that we won’t allow sexual predators to live their lives free of justice while their victims pay a life sentence,” bill sponsor Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, said in a prepared statement.

Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin recounted her own sexual abuse as a child while testifying in favor of the bill earlier this month.

“The victims who testified on this legislation told us it took them a very long time to heal from the crimes against them, to cope and recover from the mind control,” Ahern said. “We must not remove their ability to accuse their abusers simply because they’ve reached a certain age.”

Idaho lifted the statute of limitations on all child sex crimes in 2006.

Man shot by deputies on trial for assault

Trial began Monday in the case of a man charged with assault after he was shot by Spokane County sheriff's deputies.

Michael E. Young, 56, is charged with two counts of second-degree assault after deputies said he pointed a gun at them as they responded to reports that he was suicidal.

Deputies Walter Loucks, Darell Stidham and Scott Bonney shot Young outside his home at 11709 E. Fairview Ave., on Dec. 27, 2009.

Young had reportedly threatened to kill himself and was armed with a .40-caliber Glock. A neighbor who witnessed the shooting said Young never pointed his gun at deputies but refused orders to drop it.

Loucks and Sgt. Dale Golman received life-saving awards for their work on Young after he was shot, but a review by sheriff's officials criticized the move.

“Was it possible their rapid response saved the suspect's life? Possibly,” according to a report by Daniel Knight, the sheriff's lead firearms instructor. “But rushing up to someone who was armed and just fell to the ground is dangerous…The deputies could have stayed in position and assessed the situation for a short period of time before making the approach to ensure their safety.”

Golman is credited with helping control Young's bleeding; Loucks established an airway to keep Young breathing, according to a sheriff's office report. Sheriff's officials recommended reiteration training on how to respond to injured suspects and to “continue to reinforce the concept of 'shoot until the threats ceases to exist.'”

Young is represented by private defense lawyer James Kirkham. Patrick Johnson is prosecuting and Judge Sam Cozza is presiding.

A similar jury trial ended in acquittal last month.

Suspect in S-R carjacking remains jailed

A man suspected of stealing a truck with a newspaper carrier still inside remains in jail on $3,000 bond.

Adrian B. Garcia, 22, was arrested on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle and unlawful imprisonment after Spokesman-Review carrier Jeremy Wavra and his wife, Leigh Wavra, reported the theft near West Garland Avenue and North Washington Street about 2:19 a.m. on Sunday.

Leigh Wavra was in the back of the1984 Chevrolet S-10 when Garcia allegedly stole it as Jeremy Wavra delivered newspapers.

Garcia slowed to about 5 mph to allowed to her to get out of the car, according to court documents. The truck was found abandoned and Garcia was arrested near North Whitehouse Street and West Walton Avenue. He appeared in Superior Court on Monday.

Pasco mom chases suspected burglar

PASCO, Wash. (AP) — A suspected teen burglar in Pasco took on the wrong opponent in a foot chase.

Kim Robison didn't stop to think when her sister pointed at an intruder wearing a black, hooded jacket jumping from the second floor of her home and fleeing down the sidewalk Monday. Instead, the 29-year-old mother of two just ran after him.

Robison has run a couple of half-marathons, she said, “but I'd always lost my momentum in the winter.”

Not this year. She set a goal this winter of running 1,000 miles, which means she has to run about 19 miles each week.

“If he hadn't had a little jump on me, I think I would've caught up with him,” she said.

Robison ran four miles Monday morning, then went to lunch with her sister and their young children, only to return home for a coupon.

Robison went through the garage to get into the house, but froze when she discovered shards of glass on the laundry room floor. She backed out of the garage, hollering at her sister to corral the kids in the car.

“I asked her, 'Should I go inside?'” Robison said. “She told me, 'No, call your husband.'”

But Robison couldn't resist taking a peek through a window on the other corner of the house first.

As she came back around toward the garage, her sister yelled, “There he is!”

An intruder had broken out a screen from the second-floor window, jumped off the roof and was now darting down the sidewalk. When Robison first saw him, he was about four houses away.

She took off after the suspect.

“I was running after him like a crazy woman,” she said, laughing. “I was yelling at him, 'I see you! I'm going to get you!'”

Robison ended the chase when the intruder turned away from the neighborhood street onto a secluded path, then stopped to dial 911 as her sister had done minutes earlier. She told the emergency dispatcher the suspect's location, and police made an arrest while she was still on the phone.

Police have not identified the suspect, who is a minor.

As the adrenaline was wearing off Monday afternoon, Robison said she surprised herself during and after the chase.

“I thought I'd be scared or maybe cry,” she said. “But I'm proud that I defended my home.”

Information from: Tri-City Herald,

Arsonist pleads guilty after just 13 days

A longtime felon and litigation seeker faces 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges related to two arson fires in Spokane Valley.

Anthony W. Sotin, 42, was indicted by a grand jury just 13 days ago. He pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court in Spokane to use of a fire to commit a federal felony and malicious use of property to damage property used in interstate commerce.

Sotin will remain in custody pending sentencing, which is scheduled for May 27. The first charge mandates 10 years in prison; the second by at least five years and no more than 20. 

The plea deal calls for prosecutors to recommend Sotin be sentenced to 120 months in prison and three years probation. It also drops one count of wire fraud, which carried a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.

Sotin was accused of starting a fire in a building on Nora Avenue Feb. 9 and setting a car on fire Jan. 12, then filing a false insurance claim.

Sotin is well known by law enforcement and has filed more than 15 lawsuits against various government entities, including 12 in 1996 alone.

He currently has a lawsuit filed against the city of Spokane, alleging his rights were violated because he wasn't allowed to leave messages for a public defender representing him in a Municipal Court case.

Past coverage:

Feb. 19: Arrest made in building, vehicle fires

Aug. 8, 1997: Latest antics add to Sotin's long rap sheet

Fugitive assailant may be in CdA area

A fugitive wanted for failing to check in with the Idaho Department of Corrections may be in the Coeur d'Alene area. 

Bonner County authorities say Grant “Bear” Timothy Larson, 31 (left), is possibly at a motel with friend Rok Tugmother Bass, 33 (below), and a woman identified only as Amanda. 

They no longer believe Larson is with Marie Thompson, who they said last week may have been traveling with the fugitive to Canada

. The North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force released updated information today based on tips.

Larson, 5-foot-7 and 210 pounds, has numerous tattoos, including “savage” and “oso tight” on his neck.

He was convicted of third-degree assault in king County in December and allowed to move to Idaho, but he didn't check in with authorities as required. Now he's wanted for escape from community custody. He's also wanted on assault and battery charges from 2008.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the task force at (208) 666-5747 or the Bonner County Dispatch at (208) 265-5525.

4th suspect charged in robbery spree

A fourth suspect has been charged in a series of convenience stores robberies.

Donald M. Lindquist, 21, is to be arraigned next week on two counts of second-degree robbery and two counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery. He is not in custody.

Three other suspects, Sean T. Smith, 23; Vanessa E. Orr, 23; and Aaron L. Goldstein, 18, are in jail. Lindquist is Orr's brother.

Orr told police that Lindquist owns the vehicle used in five robberies committed between Nov. 28 and Dec. 6. He was a passenger in car during robberies at Sam’s Stop and Shop on Nov. 28 and the McQuick Mart on Dec. 5, she said.

Orr said she and Lindquist “would get cigarettes, food, methamphetamine, shelter and gas money when needed from the proceeds of the robberies,” according to court documents.

Goldstein admitted participating in six robberies to Spokane County sheriff's Detective Mike Ricketts when he was arrested in December, documents say.

Goldstein was allowed to leave jail for drug rehabilitation but returned after ditching the center and invoking an arrest warrant and Crime Stoppers fugitive reward.

Bomb suspects charged w/ manslaughter

Manslaughter charges have been filed against two men for a deadly explosion outside a party north of Chattaroy last fall.

Christapher A. Harris, 20, (left) and James J. Crouchman, 35, pleaded not guilty Monday in Spokane County Superior Court. Neither is in custody.

Harris is charged with first-degree manslaughter and Crouchman second-degree manslaughter after a homemade bomb exploded outside a home at 3110 E. Dennison-Chattaroy Road on Nov. 6 and killed Cody R. Hathaway, 28 (below).

 “He died because they were using illegal devices,” said Sgt. Bill Beeman of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Although authorities don’t believe anyone intended to kill Hathaway, the charges allege Harris’ reckless actions and Crouchman’s negligence caused the death.

Hathaway's mother, Gloria Hathaway, said the party was an annual gathering for friends and family and that Harris was not invited but showed up at Crouchman's behest.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

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

Driver soon regrets drunken pick-up

An Athol man quickly regretted picking up a drunk man who was laying in the middle of a downtown Coeur d'Alene street last weekend.

According to police, Micah A. Wulff, 25, allowed the man into his truck just before 3 a.m. on Saturday but kicked the man out while northbound on Ramsey Road.

The angry man struck Wulff's truck, then swung at Wulff with a metal baton when confronted, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department.

The man then “racked” the slide of a pistol and pointed it at Wulff. Wulff drove away and called police.

An Idaho State Police trooper arrested suspect Mason D. Brown, 22, in the 2400 block of West Dakota Avenue.

Brown had a handgun and said he was from Spokane Valley, according to a news release. He was booked into jail on charges of attempted aggravated battery, aggravated assault and intoxicated person with a firearm.

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