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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for October 2011

Honorable man or SPD whitewash?

Before closing arguments today in the excessive force trial of Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson, lawyers debated the addition of two crucial jury instructions: one regarding Otto Zehm's right to defend himself against unlawful force and the other regarding the need for Thompson to be acting willfully to be convicted of depriving Zehm of his civil rights.

Both instructions were mentioned in closings arguments.

 Federal prosecutor Victor Boutros said Zehm had the right to kick Thompson in the groin if he wanted to stop the unlawful force, but he chose not to. Instead, he defended himself with a pop bottle simply by placing it over his face to try to protect it from baton strikes.

Boutros said Thompson, 64, (pictured) continued to disgrace his badge by lying about the March 18, 2006, incident.

“At that point he thinks Detective (Theresa) Ferguson is going to whitewash this thing and what happens? She does,” Boutros said, who also said Officer Tim Moses and Thompson lied to jurors about the alleged discussion of head blows the night of the incident. Boutros questioned why Moses would be fearful of the FBI recording him at an off-site meeting after his grand jury testimony - testimony he refuted at trial - if he was just telling the truth.

Boutros said the defense has tried to focus on the 'lunge' phrase not being used by Thompson (Moses told jurors he 'coined it'), but the real focus should be on the meaning of the word: Thompson said that night that Zehm came at him, and though he told jurors he tried to correct it, he never did so.

 Boutros said Thompson figured no one compared the video to his March 22 statement, which doesn't include anything about the lunge but doesn't mention Zehm taking a “boxing stance.” Boutros also questioned why Thompson didn't say anything about the lunge misstatement in that interview if he was so concerned about correcting it.

Boutros essentially took the defense's argument about not applying 20/20 hindsight to Thompson's actions and made it his own by saying the only one who used 20/20 hindsight was Thompson when he lied about what happened to cover his actions.

He said Thompson tried to “hide behind the shelf” of the Zip Trip by saying everything that justified his use of force happened outside of view. But jurors get to peer behind the shelf, Boutros said, through the eye witnesses who say Zehm never got up and took a boxing stance, and only struggled in pain.

“He counted on his police department to whitewash his misconduct, and it did,” Boutros said. “But now he is in a room where the law will not be ignored.”

“This is a tragic and terrible story, but it is not over yet,” Boutros continued, telling the jurors they get to “write the final chapter.”

“No one gets special treatment. Not even police officers,” Boutros told jurors. “You get the final word, and the final word is guilty.”

Oreskovich focused on the “willfull” requirement needed to convict Thompson and said even if jurors think Thompson was mistaken in his use of force, that doesn't mean they can convict.

“The government has to show you that he acted with a bad or evil purpose..” Oreskovich said. “Not that he went in there as a police officer to try to detain someone.”

Oreskovich said Thompson “was there to do one thing: Be a police officer.”

“When you look at the man you are judging you can stop right there and say 'that is a doubt,'” Oreskovich said. “This is an honorable man. A man who has fought for his country. A man who has been a good police officer for 42 years.”

Oreskovich called Thompson “someone who is respected. Someone who is a thinker. Someone who is not rash…someone who understands things and tries to make them better” for both police officers and citizens.

He mentioned Thompson's life-saving award and the petition by his fellow officer for him to be police chief in 2006.

“That's the man they want to say is a liar creating a 'web of lies.'” Oreskovich said.

“Just stop and think for a moment - does this look like the resume of a man who's going to act with bad intent?”

Oreskvoch reminded jurors that Thompson was on a dinner break filling out a report about a gun call to which he'd just responded.

When Thompson heard the call regarding Zehm, “What does our officer do? What does our liar do?” Oreskovich asked. Thompson went to his car and checked the dispatch log for more information.

“Those are the actions of a man who's doing the job that we want him to do,” Oreskovich told jurors. “Is it somewhere between the cop shop and the Zip Trip that he gets this bad evil purpose?…You know that didn't happen.”

Oreskovich said people who aren't in that situation can question Thompson's action afterward, but, “If those were my children standing at the counter…what I want is this man to go in there.”

Oreskovich said Thompson is the only witness whose statement was not tainted by the video. He spoke of a “boxing stance” in the March 22, 2006, because that's how he remembered it happening.
 
Oreskovich told jurors that Thomspon had “just learned about Otto Zehm's death right before” the interview and reminded them Thompson had told them it had an emotional effect on him and was a profound tragey.
 
Oreskovich called Thompson”a man who stands for something. Stands for something so much his own employees wanted him to be police chief.”
 
“This man has lived all of his life…to make life better. To save lives,” Oreskovich said of Thompson.
 
You “cannot second guess this type of decision making,” Oreskovich told jurors. “This is an innocent man doing his best. We should not be here in a criminal court of law.”

In rebuttal, Boutros said he surprised how little was said about what Thompson did during the fatal encounter. He said Zehm never knew why he was hit and we may never know either.

He pointed to how Officer Steve Braun calmly responded to the call as a sign Thompson used excessive force.

The defense says he was just doing his job, but “His job was not to go in and beat an unarmed man who posed no threat.”

Boutros said the defense has created hypothetical cause of head injuries by suggesting Zehm hit his head on shelves, but that's not corroborated at all by testimony.

Regarding Thompson's statement to Ferguson, Boutros said he wasn't forgetting things- he was adding them. He wasn't getting things out of order - he was “making stuff up.”

“Are people going to jail because statements are as wrong as this one?” Boutros said, questioning what happens in far more serious cases with real deadly weapons.

He told jurors to not “forget what happened to Mr. Zehm” and spoke of the pain and terror he felt while being beaten. 

Boutros also reminded jurors that Zehm's last reported words were “I only wanted a Snickers.”

Today would have been Zehm's 42nd birthday. Jurors were not told of that fact.

Zehm: No video allowed in jury room

Jurors are hearing instructions before closing arguments begin. Get minute-by-minute updates from the courtroom here.

When jurors began deliberations in the excessive force trial of Officer Karl Thompson, they won't be able to review the surveillance video of his fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm without first notifying the court.

Jurors are to review the video and any other electronic evidence such as photos in open court with prosecutors and defense lawyers present.

Jurors had requested a way to better view the video during deliberations. Defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich objected, saying this morning that he was worried about “someone controlling the flow of the information and doing it perhaps improperly” if jurors had free access to electronic playback equipment in the deliberation room.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Durkin said the technology requested was reasonable.

“I'm not going to call it the new age, because it's certainly not new. It's been around 15, 20 years,” Durkin said.  “We have a very intelligent jury panel” including man with PhD in chemistry and others with advanced degrees.

Durkin continued,  “For us to turn back to a time” and make jurors view evidence in court would “place a significant chill” on deliberations.

U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle said the request just wasn't fair or feasible, though he prefaced his ruling by saying, “I regard myself as a digital immigrant, but I have made every effort to progress.”

The surveillence video is available here.

Zehm closing arguments set for Monday

The case against Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. should be in the jury's hands by Monday afternoon, which would have been Otto Zehm's 42nd birthday.

Thompson, the first officer to confront Zehm following a mistaken report of a possible theft in 2006, is accused of using excessive force and lying to investigators about the fatal encounter. Zehm died two days later after being beaten with a baton, shocked with Tasers and hogtied.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Monday morning.

You can follow real-time highlights of the courtroom drama at Tracking the Trial, the SR's aggregated online Twitter feed.

Karl Thompson’s testimony resumes today

Karl Thompson is back on the stand right now as prosecutors finish cross examination. Get minute-by-minute updates here.

Thompson's testimony began Thursday:

YAKIMA – After more than five years of videotape review and federal allegations of a police coverup, Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. on Thursday explained his actions against Otto Zehm before a jury.

In his first public comments since his statement to detectives four days after the March 18, 2006, confrontation with Zehm, Thompson gave new justifications for his use of force that day and acknowledged that he erred in some of his descriptions of how he struck Zehm with a baton and Tasered him during a prolonged struggle.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Terry Ferguson testifes in Zehm case

Get minute-by-minute updates from the coutroom here.

A retired Spokane police detective who found no evidence that Officer Karl Thompson used excessive force when confronting Otto Zehm testified as a witness for the defense Thursday, but her most memorable testimony came on cross examination.

Defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich didn't get much from questioning Theresa “Terry” Ferguson (pictured) after U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle prohibited her from discussing Thompson's statements to her because of hearsay concerns from prosecutors.

Oreskovich asked Ferguson if she had a follow up discussion with Thompson on March 27 and discussed the “lunge” claim, but Ferguson wasn't allowed to answer. Oreskovich ended questioning, and prosecutor Victor Boutros proceeded to tear into Ferguson's investigation of the case in cross examination.

Boutros first asked Ferguson if her role as an investigators”was not to be an advocate for the defendant,” which she said was correct. Defense attorneys objected to the line of questioning, but a witness's credibility can be called into question on cross examination and Boutros was allowed to proceed.

Boutros asked Ferguson, “You can't prosecute someone who's dead, is that true?” Ferguson said yes, but she can investigate the crime, which is what she was doing when she called Zehm an assault suspect. Boutros focused on the two-hour, off-the-record “pre-interview”

He asked if Thompson said in that interview that Zehm just “maybe” had gotten the girls' money, that Thompson said he could have disengaged Zehm before shocking him with a Taser, and that he was using his baton to keep his distance from Zehm.

“What I don't recall are specific words but obviously that's what was said because it's in my notes,” Ferguson said.

Boutros asked Ferguson about recommending Spokane County prosecutors not charge Thompson. Ferguson said she did not make a recommendation one way or another on charges.

“I did not discourage them from doing anything,” Ferguson said.  “The report that I submitted are my results, which certainly aren't binding on a prosecutor - obviously.”

Ferguson said she didn't think to interview anyone with AMR, which is how federal investigators found the two medics who claim Officer Tim Moses told them Thompson said he hit Zehm in the head, neck and upper torso with a police baton. She also said she knows of three eye witness statements that spoke of possible baton strikes to the head.

In responding to an objection, Boutros said ” I want to show that her conclusion didn't take into consideration any of this information that she had.”

Boutros said Ferguson's report to county prosecutors found no evidence of excessive force, but “that was incorrect, wasn't it?” Van Sickle sustained a swift objection from defense lawyers. (Prosecutors have said Ferguson acknowledged to the grand jury that her investigation was “inaccurate.”)

On re-direct questioning, Oreskovich questioned Ferguson about standard procedure for officer interviews to show that Ferguson was just following policy. She said Thompson said he “could have disengaged” Zehm but chose not to because “he knew that there were other people in the store.” Ferguson said Thompson said there were objects that could be used as weapons in the store, and he didn't know if Zehm was armed.

Oreskovich asked Ferguson if Thompson said he was scared, but an objection from the prosecution was sustained and Ferguson was excused as a witness.

Thompson took the stand next and testified the rest of the day. Read more about that here. Cross examination is to continue tomorrow at 8 a.m.

Jury wants more information on Zehm

Get minute-by-minute updates from the courtroom here.

Jurors in the excessive force trial of Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. apparently are bothered by the lack of information about Otto Zehm being allowed in the trial.

U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle disclosed today that he received a letter from the jury advising they want more information about Zehm, the schizophrenic janitor who died following a violent 2006 encounter with Spokane police officers after being mistakenly identified as a suspect in a possible theft.

Although the specific letter was not disclosed in court, Van Sickle said he wouldn't be granting the jury's request, specifically anything that would show Zehm had not committed a crime when he was confronted by police nor was he high on drugs as some had speculated. Van Sickle has barred any mention in front of jurors of Zehm's innocence or toxicology reports showing no illegal drugs in his system.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed pleaded with Van Sickle to essentially give the jury what it wants.

“Several witnesses have indicated that Mr. Zehm was high on drugs,” Ahmed said. “The United States has to have some way of rebutting that besides just remaining silent.”

Defense attorney Carl Oreskovich told Van Sickle his earlier rulings should remain in place.

“We are at a point in the case where we are putting on our last day,” Oreskovich said. “I understand the jurors have questions. But to put evidence in based on a juror question is inappropriate.”

Karl Thompson is testifying right now

Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson is testifying now as the last witness in his excessive force trial in U.S. District Court in Yakima.

This is the first time Thompson has spoken publicly about the fatal confontation with Otto Zehm on March 18, 2006.

Retired Spokane police Detective Theresa Ferguson testified before Thompson.

Get minute-by-minute updates from the courtroom here.

Police chief addresses property crimes

Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick took to YouTube yesterday to address concerns about the elimination of the property crimes unit. While police are no longer investigating property crimes, Kirkpatrick said patrol teams and repeat offender programs have helped decrease property crimes in Spokane.

Past coverage (look for future coverage after the Zehm trial):

Oct. 6: Spokane police cut property crimes unit

Karl Thompson to testify tomorrow

Karl Thompson and his legal team, including Carl Oreskovich and Steve Lamberson, arrive at the William O. Douglas Federal Building in Yakima for the start of Thompson's trial. (AP file photo)

Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson will testify tomorrow at his excessive force trial in U.S. District Court in Yakima. I will be providing minute-by-minute updates from court through Twitter.

Thompson, 64, is expected to be the last witness before the defense rests its case. He's thought to be his own biggest defense against the lying to investigators charge. His lawyers, Carl Oreskovich and Steve Lamberson, questioned an expert earlier this week about “fractured memory” for police officers in critical incidents.

Testifying today were Detective Larry Bowman and Officer Terry Preuninger (pictured). Both men said Thompson followed training and used his baton and Taser accordingly against Otto Zehm. Read more from Tom Clouse in Yakima here.

Closing arguments in the case appear to be likely on Monday, which would be Zehm's birthday.

Thompson has been off patrol working a desk job since he was indicted in 2009. He had been back on patrol just after the March 18, 2006, fatal encounter.

Police: Biker purse theft suspect ID’d

Police have identified a suspect in a purse-snatching robbery outside a South Hill grocery store.

After releasing surveillance video Tuesday of the Oct. 20 crime, police realized that a suspect was already in custody for a similar purse theft that occurred Oct. 21 at Albertsons on 37th and Grand Boulevard.

Jared S. Crabtree, 25, was arrested for second-degree theft after the victim reported to 911 that he'd driven through the parking lot on his motorcycle and taken her purse.

Charges have not been filed, but detectives believe Crabtree also stole the woman's purse outside Huckleberries market on North Monroe Street last week, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

Track the Karl Thompson-Otto Zehm trial

The defense is expected to rest on Thursday. Defense expert Michael Schott, a forensic image analyst who disputes prosecutors' description of the surveillence video, is on the stand now. Get minute-by-minute updates from the courtroom here.

YAKIMA – Spokane police Officer Steven Braun Jr. on Tuesday described Otto Zehm to jurors as someone who probably had committed a robbery, was trying to flee and then struggled violently against Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr.

 Braun provided details of the confrontation not captured on surveillance video from the north Spokane Zip Trip. Braun, the second officer to respond that night, described what he heard from dispatchers on March 18, 2006.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Man, 20, arrested for 2007 homicide

A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a 2007 homicide.

 Derrick Gregory Martin-Armstead remains in the Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond after appearing in court on Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge for the Nov. 12, 2007, shooting death of Daniel J. Burgess, 30.

An informant told detectives this month that Martin-Armstead had talked about his involvement in the case while in custody at the Spokane County Jail.

Read the rest of my story here.

Tips sought on motorcycle-riding robbers

Spokane police are asking for helping identifying two people on a motorcycle who stole a disabled woman's purse last week. 

The woman was loading groceries into her vehicle in the Huckleberries market parking lot, 926 S. Monroe St., about 4 p.m. on Oct. 20 when two people on a motorcycle drove up grabbed her purse and fled through the parking lot.

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

2nd doctor says Zehm was not hit in head

A second medical expert testified today that injuries to Otto Zehm's head were not caused by a police baton.

Dr. Daniel Davis, a forensic pathologist and the medical examiner in Lane County, Ore., said Zehm's head injuries were not caused by Officer Karl Thompson hitting Zehm with a baton, despite what others have previously said.

“These are characteristic for someone who bangs their head against” a flat surface like a floor or wall, Davis said about bruising under Zehm's scalp.

Davis says he reviewed surveillance video and sees a “variety” of opportunities for Zehm to hit head on the floor or shelves.

White Elephant Manager Pat Conley is on the stand right now and is describing Zehm has combative and angry.

Spokane police officers are expected to testify this afternoon.

Get minute-by-minute updates from the courtroom here.

Judge blasts latest dispute in Zehm case

U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle apparently has grown weary of the continuing admissibility battles between the prosecution and defense in Officer Karl Thompson's excessive force trial.

“I don't recall spending as much time pre-trial on any criminal case I've ever tried, and I've been doing them for 35 years,” the judge declared outside the presence of the jury Monday during a clash over the qualifications of a defense witness.

The witness, William Lewinski, is a self-described expert in the field of police psychology who routinely testifies in favor of law enforcement in cases of excessive force.

He formerly taught what he calls police psychology at the University of Minnesota-Mankato and now focuses on research that shows police officers often have fractured memories of stressful events and typically won't remember the encounters in proper sequence.

The defense is using the research to help argue against the charge that Thompson lied to investigators.

Prosecutors sought unsuccessfully to bar Lewinski from testifying as an “expert” witnesss, calling into question his methods and training.

John Drake, a legal intern at the U.S. attorney's office in Spokane, said he reviewed Lewinski's credentials with Lisa Fornier, an associate professor of psychology at Washington State University.

“It's fair to say Dr. Fornier's initial reaction were shock and disbelief to claims made by Dr. lewisinski,” Drake said. “It's lacking in the most basic” scientific research methodology.

But Van Sickle said that ground had already been plowed when he previously ruled that Lewinski was qualified to testify as an expert.

During cross examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Durkin pointed out that Lewinski is not licensed to work as a psychologist and that police psychology isn't even a recognized field by the American Pyschology Association.

Lewinski - who charges a $3,800 retainer fee, $475 hourly rate and $3,500 to testify for four hours - said he has interviewed more than 1,200 officers who have been involved in deadly force situations.

Durkin asked Lewinski if he ever has testified that an officer was unjustified in using deadly force. “That's not my area,” Lewinski said.

“I don't make legal decisions.”

Doctor says Zehm was not struck in head

I'll be tracking the trial again today with minute-by-minute updates on Twitter. Another defense expert, Dr. Dan Davis, is testifying now. Check it out here.

Here's a summary from yesterday:

YAKIMA – After nearly two weeks of critical prosecution testimony, defense attorneys for Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. opened their case Monday with a medical doctor who told jurors Otto Zehm’s head injuries “couldn’t have” come from a police baton.

The conclusion of Dr. James Nania, a longtime emergency room physician at Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane, contradicts testimony of Spokane County Medical Examiner Dr. Sally Aiken and another medical expert called by federal prosecutors last week, both of whom said bleeding under Zehm’s scalp was consistent with baton strikes.

“They couldn’t have been,” Nania said. “You can’t do that kind of injury … without smashing the scalp.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Keep up with the Thompson-Zehm trial

The first witness of the day in the Karl Thompson trial is Angela Wiggins, who was working at Zip Trip the night of the encounter that led to Otto Zehm's death.

Prosecutors say Wiggins, who was arrested last week on a material witness warrant, heard Officer Sandy McIntyre say “there's no lunge,” which McIntyre denied last week.

Get minute-by-minute updates from the trial here.

Listen to Karl Thompson’s SPD interview

Get Adobe Flash player
Thompson Interview

Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson described his encounter with Otto Zehm in a 2006 interview with Detective Terry Ferguson, who has since retired.

Jurors heard that interview in court last week.

Now you can listen to it above.

Thompson is pictured outside the Yakima courthouse with his lawyer, Carl Oreskovich. He's charged with violating Zehm's civil rights and falsfying documents related to the investigation.

Oreskovich unsuccessfully tried to get the last charge dismissed in April 2010, arguing Thompson never swore to tell the trurth when he signed the document detailing the encounter.

McIntyre describes ‘intimidation’ by FBI

A Spokane police officer who is the target of a grand jury investigation for her role in the Otto Zehm case cried on the stand today as she alleged intimidation by federal agents.

Sandy McIntyre, who has a “father-daughter relationship” with Karl Thompson, has previously told federal investigators she though Thompson overreacted after she watched the video of the confrontation with Zehm.

But she told jurors in Thompson's excessive force case today that she doesn't actually believe that and doesn't remember saying that.

“I did not think he overreacted. I did not see the whole video and I wasn't there,” McIntyre said. “It's unfair of me to say he overreacted; I wasn't there.”

Federal prosecutor Victor Boutros said McIntyre talked to Thompson after watching video, but McIntyre said “I didn't speak to him about what was on the tape.”

Boutros said McIntyre exclaimed out loud that there was never a lunge, which McIntyre denied.

“I would not have made a note of that,” she said.

Boutros pointed out that after Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks told the department about the lunge, “You never corrected lunge lie, even though you knew it wasn't true.”

McIntyre replied: “I wasn't at work. It wasn't my job to correct that.”

McIntyre began crying when Thompson's lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, asked her whether she was scared when FBI threatened to charge her with obstruction of justice. She said it “very much” frightened her, though Boutros said the warning was a stand thing said before all interviews.

Oreskovich asked about her children, ages 19 and 14.

“My career means the world to me, just like my family does. That being said, it scared me to death,” McIntyre said. “I was told 'now's the time to save yourself.'”

McIntyre said that if you look at just a portion of the video or what's on TV “Yeah it looks horrible, it looks bad” but “I wasn't there when it started.” Only Thompson was, she said.

McIntyre admitted that she said “I don't recall” to grand jury questions when she actually did recall portions of it. “I did not feel like I could expand on my answers,” McIntyre said.

Oreskovich emphasized to jurors that federal agents “scared the hell” out of McIntyre to get her to say certain things to the grand jury.

Also testifying today was Officer Erin Raleigh.

Check out my minute-by-minute coverage here.

Look for Tom Clouse's full report from Yakima in The Spokesman-Review. We'll be back with full coverage on Monday.

Past coverage:

Oct. 21: Tim Moses claims feds manipulated him 

Tim Moses: Thought I could trust FBI

Spokane police Officer Tim Moses was so rattled after meeting with federal investigators about the Otto Zehm case that he feared an agent might be secretly recording him when he met with him afterward.

Moses knew an FBI agents from hostage negotiation team trainings, in which Karl Thompson also participated.

The agent heard Moses was upset about how he was treated, and the two met at a city gas fill-up area. Moses told defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich that he picked the spot because it was near railroad tracks. He wanted there to be a lot of extra noise in case he was being secretly recorded.

Moses said he doesn't want to use the word “manipulated” because he still respects law enforcement, but he feels the FBI basically forced him to say incriminating things against Thompson that weren't true, such as that Thompson claimed Zehm lunged at him.

“I trusted the FBI to tell me the truth. I didn't know any better.” Moses said.

Moses and federal prosecutor Victor Boutros sparred this morning as Moses criticized Boutros for only showing clips of the surveillance video instead of the entire thing.

Moses said he never talked to Thompson about what happened until after Zehm was en route to the hospital, which contradicts testimony from EMTs that Moses said Zehm had been hit in the head and neck with a police baton.

Boutros asked Moses about an alleged statement he made to a witness - that Zehm had gotten the “tar” beat out of him - prompting a swift objection from Oreskovich.

Jurors were instructed to disregard the statement.

Moses said he was taken aback by how the FBI threatened him with obstuction of justice chargs.

“I thought we were all professional law enforcement,” Moses said.

Oreskovich ended his questioning with this exchange: “You knew if you were charged with obstruction of justice you wouldn't work in law enforcement again would you?”

Moses replied yes.

“I was raised in a law enforcement family. I know exactly what obstruction of justice means,” Moses said.

Read more from Moses' testimony in this play-by-play from the courtroom.
  

Tim Moses’ testimony to continue today

A doctor who testified in the Rodney King police brutality case in 1992 told jurors the Karl Thompson excessive force trial Thursday that the case are comparable.

 “The Rodney King case had similar elements to the case at hand,” said Dr. Harry Lincoln Smith. He said medical evidence clearly shows Otto Zehm was beaten over the head with a baton. Read more from Tom Clouse here.

Smith's testimony began a packed day that ended with contentious testimony from Officer Tim Moses (pictured), who contradicted testimony given to a grand jury in 2009.

It was Moses, prosecutors say, who first revealed to EMTs that Zehm had been hit in the head with a baton.

But Moses said Thursday he doesn't recall his conversations with EMTs that night.

“I frankly don't remember what he asked me…it was 5 1/2 years ago. I wish I could tell ya,” he said.

But Moses told a grand jury about strikes to the head, neck and torso. He also said he'd heard Thompson say Zehm lunged at him.

Federal prosecutor Victor Boutros asked Moses if he swore to tell the truth to the grand jury.

“What I knew it to be at the time, yes,” Moses replied. “…I don't lie, no.”

Moses testified Thursday that he hadn't even been briefed by Thompson before Zehm left an ambulance.

Boutros asked Moses about a private “venting session” Thompson had with him outside the Zip Trip has Thompson was calming down. Moses said Thompson simply pointed out where his police car had been positioned. He said Thompson described baton strikes, but said he didn't hear anything about strikes to the head or neck.

Moses said video that prosecutors say shows him describing the baton strikes to two EMTs does not show that.

“I was not describing baton strikes right there,” Moses said.

Moses also said Thompson never used the words “lunge” or “lunged,” which contradicts what he told a grand jury.

 “He did not use the word lunge, no. I'm the one who coined that word,” Moses said of Thompson. Moses then told Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks, who “went right across the parking lot and put it into a news media microphone.”

Moses said he was threatened by the FBI with obstruction of justice charges if he said he did not remember facts, which led to his erroneous grand jury testimony.

“I was shocked that a fellow law enforcement officer would treat me that way,” Moses said.

“My family's FBI. I've been a cop my whole life,” Moses said. He said he thought they were going to tell truth, but they manipulated him.

Boutros emphasized that Moses is a 22-year officer who thinks he was influenced by FBI to make statements that weren't true. Moses agreed.

Moses' testimony continues today at 8 a.m.

Tom Clouse is providing daily coverage from Yakima. I'm following the live feed from Spokane with minute-by-minute updates on Twitter.
  

Zip Trip manager: Zehm was a regular

This screenshot of Zip Trip surveillance video shows Otto Zehm inside the store on March 18, 2006. One of the young girls pictured, Britni Brashers, testified at Karl Thompson's trial last week.

A Spokane convenience store who knew Otto Zehm as a regular customer since 2002 told jurors today that Zehm frequently bought 2-liter bottles of Pepsi at the Zip Trip at 10th and Maple.

Zeth Mayfield has worked at all Zip Trips in Spokane, he told jurors, though he never saw Zehm in the Zip Trip on North Division where Officer Karl Thompson confronted him.

Outside the presence of the jury, defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich tried to exclude Mayfield's testimony, telling Judge Van Sickle it was irrelevant to the point of the case, which is whether Thompson used too much force.

All Mayfield's testimony does, Oreskovich said, is establish that Zehm was a regular customer  “which is not at all what was known to Officer Thompson.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed said Mayfield was needed to help show that Zehm wasn't using the soda bottle as a weapon - that he regularly bought soda at Zip Trip.

“No one can speak for Mr. Zehm right now,” Ahmed said. “I can't prove anything about his innocence..” so he must look at intent.

Ahmed said were Zehm still alive, he surely would be allowed to testily that he didn't use the bottle as a weapon and that he always bought that kind of soda. He said Mayfield could show that Zehm “never acted aggressively” when he was in the store.

Ahmed said Zehm introduced himself when Mayfield began working at the store in 2002 and said “welcome to Zip Trip.” He said Zehm once found two $5 bills in the store, turned them in, then refused to keep one when the customer came back before them.

Mayfield didn't get into that with jurors, but he did say that he saw Zehm in Zip Trips more than 50 times.

Mayfield said Zehm bought  “sodas, snacks, anything that he needed for groceries. Milk, egg,” and went in just about every other day.

On cross examination, Oreskovich noted that Mayfield had not contacted Zehm in the months prior to the confrontation, and had not seen him the day of March 18, 2006.

Feds: Moses may contradict own testimony

Spokane police Officer Tim Moses may contradict testimony he gave to a grand jury in 2009 if he testifies as a prosecution witness in the federal trial of Officer Karl Thompson, according to court documents filed this week.

U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle issued an order today that requires Moses to testify. His lawyer, Chris Bugbee, has said he expects Moses to be offered immunity.

Bugbee told prosecutors that Moses' testimony “may be inconsistent with sworn testimony that he previously provided in front of the Grand Jury, in and for the Eastern District of Washington on June 16, 2009.”

Prosecutors say Moses changed his statement about Thompson hitting Zehm in the head with a baton after talking to Thompson “and having later met with Defendant's counsel while then unrepresented by Mr. Bugbee.”

Moses is one of 22 witnesses prosecutors sought to declare as hostile, which allows them more freedom in questioning. Hostile witnesses can be asked leading questions.

In a document explaining the need for the designation, prosecutors described the deep support Thompson has in the Spokane Police Department.

“Many local law enforcement officers and others have come to the defense of Defendant Thompson as they see this prosecution as an unwarranted attack on one of their own and on the Spokane Police Department that employs Defendant,” according to a document filed Tuesday.

Moses is expected to testify today. Check here for minute-by-minute updates from the courtroom.

Past coverage:

Oct. 19: Retired SPD cpl. declared hostile witness in Zehm case

Oct. 17: Police use '505' to support Thompson

Oct. 13: Officer may plead 5th in Thompson trial

EMT: Moses told me of Zehm head strikes

Another EMT who responded to the Zip Trip the night of Otto Zehm's fatal confrontation with Officer Karl Thompson told jurors this morning that Officer Tim Moses said Zehm had been struck in the head, neck and upper chest with a police baton.

Aaron Jaramillo, a former EMT with American Medical Response, reiterated what EMT Michael Stussi told jurors Wednesday.

“We needed to know what happened…how he was injured” beyond just the “confrontation” explanation, Jaramillo said. That's when they spoke with Moses, who said Zehm had been hit “up and down” in the head, neck and upper torso with a baton, Jarmillo said.

Federal prosecutor Victor Boutros showed Jaramillo images of the Zip Trip after the confrontation.
Jaramillo identified himself and Stussi as talking to Moses. Moses is seen gesturing up and down with his arm - Jaramillo said he was “trying to describe” how Zehm was hit.

Jaramillo said Moses was the only one who spoke of head strikes that night.

Jaramillo and Stussi wrote in a pre-hospital care report that Zehm was struck in the head. Spokane police employees were present when it was written; none disputed the head strikes claim, Jaramillo told jurors.

But Jaramillo wasn't so sure when he first testified before a grand jury in 2009. Boutros questioned him about getting only one hour of sleep because of a newborn baby and flying to Spokane from Florida. He was much more alert for his testimony the next day.

Defense lawyer Steve Lamberson said Jaramillo has previously said that Moses never mentioned a head strike, rather Jaramillo assumed he was referring to one by the way he was gesturing.

“No, he said head, neck and upper chest,” Jaramillo said.

 Lamberson also pointed out that in the first day of testimony before the grand jury, Jaramillo said “right now, I don't remember” when asked if Zehm lunged at Thompson.

He also noted that both Stussi and Jaramillo evaluated Zehm for head injuries but found nothing. Also, a doctor's report said nothing about head injuries or strikes.

Boutros then emphasized bruising takes time to develop, and that Jaramillo noted in his initial report that Zehm was struck in the head with a baton.

Jaramillo was told that Zehm threw bottle at Thompson, was Tasered but not affected, then lunged at Thompson.

Officer Tim Moses is expected to testify as early as this afternoon.
  

SPD: Hostile witnesses, immunity letter

A paramedic who wrote a report describing baton blows to Otto Zehm's head by police testified today that he heard about the head strikes from Spokane police Officer Tim Moses.

It was through Michael Stussi's report, prosecutors said in opening statements last week, that the “secret truth” about the level of response Officer Karl Thompson used on Zehm was revealed.

Stussi told jurors today that Moses (pictured left) was the only person who could have provided him the information the night of March 18, 2006. The report states that Zehm became “combative” and was hit in the “upper torso, neck and head” “by a nightstick per SPD.” 

Prosecutors introduced scenes of the Zip Trip that night that showed Stussi talking to Moses. Moses is seen moving his arm up and down, which Stussi mimics, indicating that may have been when Moses described the head blows.

On cross examination, defense lawyer Steve Lamberson pointed out that Stussi originally told federal investigators in 2009 that it was an officer or firefighter who told hm about the head strikes.

Stussi said he originally couldn't remember, but that he reviewed the video and realized Moses was the only one who could have told him about the head strikes.

“I don't recall talking to anyone else” other than Moses, Stussi said. That includes Thompson.

Moses is expected to testify Thursday in Yakima, with a live feed of the trial available at the federal courthouse in Spokane. 

Also expected to testify is Officer Erin Raleigh, who also responded to the Zip Trip the night of the fatal confrontation.

Outside the presence of jurors, prosecutors discussed wanting Moses and Raleigh designated as hostile witnesses so they can be asked leading questions.

Defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich questioned why Raleigh (pictured right) needed that designation. Prosecutors say he has alleged coercion by federal agents and is a major supporter of Thompson.

Chris Bugbee, lawyer for both officers, said Wednesday evening that he hadn't heard of the possible designation but doesn't feel it's necessary. Moses had not yet received a letter promising him immunity from prosecution if he testifies, but “I presume he will,” Bugbee said.

Bugbee said the immunity regards “not much, just anything that he may testify to on the stand.”

“I'm sure Mr. Oreskovich will bring out the full breadth of what it entails,” Bugbee said.

Testimony begins today at 9 a.m. Check here for minute-by-minute updates from the courtroom.

Past coverage:

Oct. 19: Retired SPD cpl. declared hostile witness in Zehm case

Oct. 13: Officer may plead 5th in Thompson trial

Jury: Husband, stepson killed Reynolds

CHEHALIS, Wash. — The 1998 shooting death of a Washington state trooper was a homicide and the woman’s husband and stepson were responsible, an inquest jury concluded today.

The verdict drew gasps in a small Chehalis courtroom. It also ended a long campaign by Ronda Reynold’s mother, Barb Thompson, of Spokane, to prove her daughter’s death was not a suicide, as it was initially ruled.

Jurors did not specify why they suspected Ronda Reynolds’ husband, Ronald Reynolds, and her stepson, Jonathan Reynolds. The jury’s rulings were unanimous.

Read the rest of the story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 4: Ruling changes in ex-trooper's death

Oct. 15, 2010: State trooper's death focus of Ann Rule book

Couple describe Zehm-Thompson fight

A Spokane couple who was in the Zip Trip parking lot the night of the fatal confrontation between Otto Zehm and Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson testified today that Zehm never lunged or attacked Thompson with a pop bottle.

Russell Balow said Thompson stopped “very briefly” for a second or two when he was about eight feet away from Zehm. He saw his mouth move just before Thompson struck Zehm twice with his baton.

“He seemed suprised” by the baton strikes, Balow said of Zehm.

Oreskovich asked Balow if he saw a baton strike that “grazed his head or face first before it struck his shoulder,” to which Balow said yes.

“All you are saying is what appeared to you some 60 feet away watching an officer swing a baton?” Oreskovich asked. Balow again said yes.

His wife, Kerry Balow, told jurors that she saw Thompson deliver two  “overhand” “roundhouse” baton strikes that surprised Zehm.

Balow said she never saw Zehm use pop bottle in threatening manner.

“What happened to Otto Zehm after the 2nd baton strike?” prosecutors asked. “He fell down,” Balow responded.

In cross examination, Carl Oreskovich emphasized that, though Balow couldn't hear what Thompson said, she saw his mouth move before the first baton strike.

“In your assessment of it he was speaking forcefully, correct?” Oreskovich said.

“Correct,” Balow replied.

Read more in Tom Clouses's story from Yakima.

Trial begins in SPD detective’s lawsuit

Trial began today in a lawsuit filed against the City of Spokane and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick by a detective who was fired in the midst of a messy divorce.

Jay Mehring alleges he was wrongfully terminated and defamed in 2007 when Kirkpatrick heard reports that he'd threatened to burn his wife's house down.

Kirkpatrick, who is sitting at the defendant's table for the trial, announced Mehring's arrest in a press conference.

 A jury acquitted him of felony harassment and he was reinstated with the police department. He's currently on paid administrative leave.

Bob Dunn is representing Mehring in the case, which continues with testimony Thursday before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Connor.

 Past coverage:

Oct. 8: City must turn over emails in Mehring suit

Oct. 7: Judge calls Mehring case 'dysfunctional'

Oct. 4: Detective alleges witness tampering in civil suit

Oct. 4, 2010: Detective in civil suit on leave

Jim Nicks testifies at Thompson trial

Assistant Spokane Police Chief Jim Nicks told jurors in Officer Karl Thompson's excessive force trial this morning that Thompson approached him a year ago and told him he'd tried to take back his initial statement about Otto Zehm lunging at him.

At the request of federal prosecutors, Nicks also read to jurors an email sent to police employees the night of Thompson's fatal confrontation with Zehm on March 18, 2006.

Written by Tom Lee, SPD public information officer at the time, the email doesn't name Thompson but said an officer responding to a report of a suspicious person encountered a “large and strong” man who “immediately lunged” at him.

The man was controlled after several minutes of “hand to hand combat,” according to the email, but stopped breathing without warning after medics responded.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Durkin asked Nicks, wearing a dark suit instead of a police uniform, if the information in the email was consistent with what he heard when he talked to police at the Zip Trip.

“Yes, that's very accurate,” Nicks responded.

Nicks then told jurors that, about a year ago, Thompson approached him at the Public Safety Building and told him he'd corrected him about the lunge statement, which Nicks disputes.

“That would have been very memorable, and I don't have any memory of such a conversation,” Nicks told jurors.

Prosecutors ended questioning by asking Nicks if anyone ever corrected him about the claim that Zehm lunged at Thompson.

“No,” Nicks said.

In cross examination, defense lawyer Steve Lamberson emphasized that Nicks never actually talked to Thompson that night. Thompson never told Nicks Zehm lunged at him, Lamberson said.

“That's correct,” Nicks said.

Lamberson went over Lee's email and focused on statements that the Taser was ineffective, and it took several minutes of hand-to-hand combat to control Zehm.

He also pointed out that Nicks never bothered to correct statements he'd made to the media after he reviewed the video. Nicks replied that he was waiting for the investigation to be complete.

Lamberson also pointed out that Thompson is still employed by the Spokane Police Department.

Spokane County Medical Examiner Sally Aiken is testifying now. Get minute-by-minute updates from the trial here.

Spokane police Officer Tim Moses' lawyer, Chris Bugbee, stopped by the live feed of the trial at the Spokane federal courthouse and said Moses is ready to be in Yakima tomorrow to testify.

Retired SPD cpl. testifies in Zehm case

A retired Spokane police corporal who was on scene after Karl Thompson confronted Otto Zehm was declared an adverse witness Tuesday as prosecutors described his friendship with Thompson.

That designation allowed prosecutors to ask retired Cpl. Ty R. Johnson leading questions during his testimony Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Yakima.

When asked if Thompson was a friend, Johnson (pictured left) said “I would hope so.”  He said they worked patrol together, and Thompson goes to Christmas parties at his home and also just to visit.

Johnson also said yes when asked if he'd rather not be testifying in the government's case.

Johnson said he was at the Zip Trip after the confrontation to photograph evidence in a possible case of felony assault by Zehm against Thompson and Officer Steve Braun, the second officer on scene.

Defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich emphasized in cross examination that Johnson's duty wasn't to get the whole story from Thompson.

Oreskovich introduced Johnson's evidence photos to jurors, including a close-up picture of Thompson that showed red marks on his cheeks. Oreskovich pointed out each one.

On re-direct questioning from prosecution, Johnson was asked about the claim that Zehm lunged at Thompson. “I'm asking whether he told you that night that Mr. Zehm had assaulted him?” the prosecutor asked.

 “I guess, I would assume,” Johnson said, adding that Sgt. Dan Torok was also on scene and the decision had been made to investigate a possible assault by Zehm, so the statement had to have been made at some point.

“I have idea where it came from. I never used it and it's never been used to me,” Johnson says of Zehm's alleged lunge.

Johnson said he never used the word lunged.

“I have no idea who initiated it,” Johnson said.

Johnson retired from the Spokane Police Department in July after 25 years. His testimony previewed what's expected to be a big day of testimony today from Spokane Police Department employees, including Assistant Chief Jim Nicks (pictured right).

Prosecutors disclosed Tuesday that Nicks said Monday night that Thompson tried to manipulate his testimony about the lunge statement in a conversation a year ago. Read more in Tom Clouse's report from the Yakima courtroom.

I'll be following the trial all day today with minute-by-minute updates on my Twitter page.

Officer Tim Moses is on the witness list. Prosecutors said last week that Moses may invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination but said Tuesday that he's expected to be offered immunity.

Testimony begins at 9 a.m. Stay tuned.

Behavior expert testifies in Zehm case

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An expert on human behavior and reaction time testified today that Otto Zehm had no opportunity to see Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson until he was about 10 to 12 feet away.

By then, Thompson had already pulled his baton, said Dr. Richard Gill. “His speed was 7.5 feet per second. Three times the speed that Zehm was traveling at,” Gill said.

Gill went through surveillance of the video frame by frame for jurors in the trial's fourth day of testimony.

He said Zehm entered the store at a casual pace of 2.5 feet per second - the average walking speed is 3.5 feet - and has his back toward Thompson as he approaches the aisle, where he grabbed a 2-liter plastic bottle of diet Pepsi.

“Watch his hair and his head and you'll see at no point is he looking back at the direction Thompson is coming,” Gill said.

Gill said Zehm “maintained a slow, calm walking speed” inside and outside store, bypassed two exits once inside and didn't attract attention when he entered like Thompson (pictured right) did.

Gill said the video disputes Thompson's statement that Zehm approached him.

Once Zehm sees Thompson, “Thompson is continuing to move forward. Zehm is continuing to move backward,” Gill said.

Thompson said he ordered Zehm to drop it after stopping and making eye contact. But Gill says video shows Thompson continuously moving.

“Notice Thompson never stops moving,” Gill said. “…There's never a time that he stops.”

Gill said the first baton strike was delivered after about 2.4 seconds.

“In my opinion there is not sufficient time for that verbal exchange to occur,” Gill said.

Gill told jurors he believes Thompson's hand somewhere within a specific video frame not because he definitely sees it, but because of how the hand is positioned in the frames before and after.

Defense lawyers have said that it was really a car headlight, but Gill said he considered the passing headlight when analyzing the video.

In cross examination, Carl Oreskovich (pictured left in a file photo) emphasized that the video doesn't show Officer Steve Braun's deployment of a Taser. Gill said Thompson was “very clearly” seen using a Taser.

“What we don't see is what Otto Zehm is doing, correct?” Oreskovich said.

“The only thing that we can conclude from that is Mr. Otto Zehm is not standing up with his head over the shelving,” Oreskovich said. “You don't know whether he's in crouch manner under the shelves.”

Gill acknowledged so.

Oreskovich replayed video frames of Zehm walking in to try to show jurors that Zehm could have seen Thompson coming. Oreskovich also said the video shows Zehm's feet moving and Thompson moving away, but

Gill said Thompson didn't appear to be moving back because of a kick.

Gill said Zehm's fists can be seen in the air in two frames.

Oreskovich: “What we see is a free left fist no longer being held by Officer Thompson.”

Gill: “That is correct.

Jurors told to disregard ‘robbery’ reference

Jurors in the federal trial of Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson were instructed this morning to disregard any reference to Otto Zehm as a “robbery suspect.”

The move by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle came after prosecutors argued the door had opened for them to tell jurors that Zehm was innocent of the theft that brought Thompson to the fatal confrontation at a Zip Trip in Spokane on March 18, 2006, because store clerk Leroy Colvin had referred to Zehm as a robbery suspect.

Van Sickle also barred defense lawyers from asking any non-expert witnesses about a possible robbery.

The issue of whether jurors can know of Zehm's innocence was hotly debated in pre-trial motions that delayed the trial last year as federal prosecutors appealed to the 9th Circuit Van Sickle's ruling barring any mention of it.

The 9th Circuit sided with Van Sickle, who later rejected an attempt by prosecutors to split the trial to allow mention of Zehm's innocence when arguing that Thompson lied to investigators.

Check here for minute-by-minute updates from the trial.

Expert: Thompson used excessive force

YAKIMA - Had the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm been a mock scenario used in training, Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. would have flunked, a use-of-force expert testified on Monday.

Robert Bragg, who directs use-of-force training for all police recruits at Washington’s police academy, said Thompson violated his training and had no reason to immediately begin striking Otto Zehm with a baton on March 18, 2006.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Lots of Spokane Police Department employees are expected to testify at the trial today.

While Clouse is staffing in Yakima, I will be in court here in Spokane starting at 9 a.m. using my Twitter account to follow the live feed of the trial. Check out my page here for minute-by-minute play-by-play from the courtroom.

Wife’s spot saves man from cop gunfire

A Spokane Valley man who pointed a starter pistol at officers last week was not shot because his wife was in the line of fire, police announced today.

William Thomas Laroque, 28, said “Well, hello officers” and began calmly walking toward Sgts. Don Manning and Matt Smith when they arrived at his home in the 5300 block of East 8th Avenue after 3:10 a.m. on Thursday, according to a news release from the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Officer Jeremy Howe had been there about three hours earlier after Laroque's wife reported to 911 that he slapped her during an argument. No arrests were made because Howe didn't find evidence of the assault, and Laroque had already fled the home. Laroque's wife called 911 again when he returned and refused to leave, police said.

Laroque was about 30 feet away from police when “he pulled what appeared to be a pistol from his pants and aimed it in a two-handed stance at Sgt. Smith,” according to the release.

Police drew their guns but realized Laroque's wife was behind him and in the line of fire. Laroque continued aiming the gun at Smith but dropped it several seconds after the sergeants began ordered him to do so. He also tossed a knife in the driveway and got on the ground, where he was handcuffed.

The wife repeatedly told police the gun was fake and also thanked them for not shooting her husband, police said. Laroque was arrested on a domestic violence charge and is in custody at Geiger Corrections Center on $3,500 bond.

Police use ‘505’ to support Thompson

As the excessive force trial of Officer Karl Thompson enters its second week, many Spokane police officers have made his badge number their personal Facebook profile pictures as a show of support.

Thompson is a mentor to many in the department and was drafted to run for police chief before Anne Kirkpatrick was appointed in 2006.

His indictment on federal charges of lying to investigators and violating Otto Zehm's civil rights during the 2006 confrontation that led to Zehm's death has drawn the ire of many in the department, who have joined a Facebook group that says Thompson is “a media scapegoat, wrongly accused, and wrongly charged.”

Several Spokane police employees are expected to be called as witnesses for the prosecution, including use-of-force expert Rob Boothe, who is a member of the support group.

The long-anticipated trial, coupled with pending leadership changes, prompted police to address the expected tough times in the recent department newsletter.

Past coverage:

Oct. 15: Eye witnesses dispute Thompson's account of Zehm encounter

Oct. 13: Officer Moses may plead 5th in Thompson trial

Oct. 13: Oreskovich calls Thompson prosecution 'vicious'

Bike-riding bank robbery gets 17 years

A bicycle-riding bank robber responsible for nine gunpoint heists in Spokane is to spend 17 years in prison and repay $150,118.59.

 Lucas G. Woodard, 34, is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to federal prison after being sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Woodard robbed nine banks between December 2009 and October 2010, when he was arrested after fleeing a Washington Trust Bank branch at 1906 W. Francis Ave.

Spokane police Sgt. Jason Hartman, who was driving home from work, heard radio traffic about a bank robbery, saw Woodard fleeing the scene and steered his patrol vehicle into the path of Woodard’s bicycle.

When Woodard fell to the ground, a Glock 9 MM semi-automatic pistol and some rounds of ammunition fell out of his backpack.

Hartman later received department commendations for his actions.

 Before his arrest, Woodard had no criminal record, was employed at Woodard Construction and was reportedly a regular at Maggie's South Hill Grill.

 

He lived alone in a rental home on High Drive on the South Hill. After his arrest, he thanked federal agents “for treating him well, explaining that…because of what he did, he could have been treated poorly,” according to court documents.

Woodard admitted that although he had a gun, he would never have used it. Woodard also stated that he was a ‘gentle guy’ apart from the robberies that he committed.”

Teen describes Zehm/Thompson encounter

Spokane resident Britni Brashers was 13 in March 2006 when she and her younger sister went to a Spokane convenience stores to buy a few things. She ended up being a witness to one of most controversial police encounters in city history.

“He walked in and stared looking at the items like any other person,” Brashers told jurors of Otto Zehm, who lost consciousness at the store during an encounter with police officer Karl Thompson. He died two days later.
Thompson arrived soon after Zehm, moving “very quickly, very frantically,” Brashers said.

“He just approached him without saying anything and just swung back and hit him,” Brashers said.

Zehm, she said, “was just screaming in agony…just moaning and groaning in pain.”

Brashers saw him holding pop bottle on ground while he was laying with stomach down but said she never saw him threaten police with it. Nor did Zehm ever take a “boxing stance” or get off the ground after the first Taser shock, Brashers told jurors.

Defense lawyer Stephen Lamberson used a mini replica of the Zip Trip store to imply that Brashers had a limited view of the encounter.

He asked Brashers why other witnesses reported hearing verbal commands when she said she heard none.

“It kind of surprises me,” Brashers said of the other witness claims. “Because i didn't hear anything and I was paying good attention to it.”

Lamberson asked: “But you don't know where those baton strikes landed?” to which Brashers responded: “I know it was in the upper body

Lamberson emphasized that the sounds Brashers heard Zehm make may have been out of anger and resistance, not pain. He said Brashers statements changed to emphasize the pain aspect of the sound once she talked to the FBI, and that she first told investigators that Zehm was “fighting” with police.

Brashers said she was never told what to say by federal investigators - only that she should tell the truth.

After the encounter, Brashers appeared on a local TV news station after hearing police claim that Zehm had lunged at police.

“When I watched the news that night it was different from what I saw, so I had my mom call and I told them that wasn't what I'd seen,” Brashers said.

Jurors hear Thompson’s interview w/ SPD

After the encounter that led to Otto Zehm's death, Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson told an investigator he didn't feel deadly force was needed against the suspect.

In a recorded interview with now-retired Spokane police Detective Terry Ferguson that was played for jurors today, Thompson said his first intent to was strike Zehm in the leg his baton “to be able to buckle his leg and put him on the ground.”

“I had deadly force available but i did not perceive this as a deadly threat,” Thompson said, adding that he wanted to continue issuing verbal commands.

But, as prosecutors have told jurors, Thompson repeatedly struck Zehm in the head with a baton, which is considered deadly force.

The recording outlines what prosecutors have said was nothing but a lie from Thompson — that Zehm lunged at him and fought with him using a plastic soda bottle.

In the interview with Ferguson, Thompson, who is now on trial in Yakima for allegedly violating Zehm's civil rights and lying to investigators, said Zehm posed a physical threat.

“His whole body suggested that it was tense and prepared to respond either by pushing, throwing or charging me,” Thompson said.

Thompson said Zehm was  screaming and groaning like someone with “a high level of commitment to resisting or attacking.”

He said Zehm took a “boxing stance” and threw punches, so Thompson hit anywhere he could with the baton, except the head. Thompson claimed Zehm stood up after being shocked with a Taser, which surveillance video disputes.

“He's standing there boxing with both fists, throwing punches,” Thompson said.

Ferguson asks: “Did he hit you?”

“Yes. He hit me,” Thompson responds.

Thompson said he was finally able to use his radio and knew Spokane police Officer Steve Braun was close by. But Zehm was still kicking, Thompson said. So when Braun arrived  “I told him, 'use your baton. Start hitting him.'”

Braun shocked Zehm with a Taser, but it had no effect, so Thompson directed his fellow officer to deploy the Taser on Zehm's neck.

Thompson looked around the store for his baton before realizing it was on his holster, he said in the recording. He said Zehm was still “resisting extremely forcefully” as police responded. Soon, he heard an officer say, “He's not breathing.”

Thompson again told Ferguson that he had no reason to shoot Zehm.

 “Had he tried to get my gun that clearly would have been a a deadly force issue to me…but he did not,” Thompson said. Thompson said it was important to detain Zehm for questioning.

 “We had at the very least a felony of assault on an officer,” Thompson said.

Pig gone, sheriff looking for stout thief

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) — Whoever has Arthur Olterman's pig is either very inventive or very strong.

Olterman called the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office to report the white pig had been taken from its pen at a neighbor's house near Kingsport — all 450 pounds of it.

A deputy's report stated property owner Mary Keys wasn't available for him to interview on Monday, according to the Kingsport Times-News.

However, deputy Lyndon Williams saw where someone had cleared a path through some brush to get access to the pig. How they got it into a vehicle is cause for conjecture.

The porker is valued at about $350. Anyone who knows where the pig is or anything about its disappearance should call the Hawkins County sheriff.

Oreskovich calls prosecution ‘vicious’

Karl F. Thompson Jr. arrives with his legal team, including Carl Oreskovich, far left, at the William O. Douglas Federal Building on Wednesday in Yakima.

Carl Oreskovich, a longtime defense lawyer representing Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson, told Judge Fred Van Sickle outside the presence of the jury that the prosecution of his client is the most vicious he's seen.

 That was after Oreskovich told jurors in his opening statement that this case is about that split second decision that a police officer has to make when apprehending a suspect “and protecting citizens like you and me.”

The “cruel irony” of the case is that the same quick decision making that brought him to the courtroom is “exactly the same quick-decision making” he used when he stopped a suicidal man from jumping from the Monroe Street Bridge and won the police department's lief-saving award, Oreskovich told jurors.

“It's not a case of 20/20 hindsight,” Oreskovch said, calling Thompson a “very good police officer” who left his lunch break to catch a fleeing criminal suspect. Thompson will testify, Oreskovich said.

“Police officers, particularly patrol officers, deal with risks on a daily basis,” including potential threats to their own well being, not just that of others, Oreskovich said.

He told jurors how Thompson was drafted by his coworkers for police chief (which went to Anne Kirkpatrick in 2006) and is well trained and experienced.

Thompson has the “training and experience of a man who's been shot at, who's had partners stabbed.”

“Being a good, responsible police officer,” Thompson looked at the dispatch report when he heard a report of a fleeing suspect who scared girls at an ATM, Oreskovich said.

Thompson realized that he was close by to the suspect and asked a confirming question to dispatch - “he took her money?” when he spotted Zehm in the Zip Trip.

“A police officer has a right to use force,” Oreskovich says. Police have tools, and they have a certain amount of time to be proactive.

“He observed that there were citizens, including two young girls inside the store at the counter,” Oreskovich said.

Oreskovich says surveillance video “doesn't give us all we need to have” because it doesn't show entire interaction, which Oreskovich described as violent.

“Thompson made very quick decisions, very quick commands, and when Mr. Zehm didn't drop the pop bottle” he struck him with baton, Oreskovich said.

Oreskovich told jurors that Thompson relied on his memory in interviews about the violent encounter.
“Unfortunately, he got some things out of order” in his story, Oreskovich said of Thompson. “Now he gets called a liar.

“This will be a long trial. I think in the end, the evidence will show this police officer was not acting in a bad purpose, but with the purpose he was charged with: to investigate and protect citizens. This honorable man is innocent of these crimes.”

Officer may plead 5th in Thompson trial

Spokane police Officer Tim Moses may invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if he's subpoened to testify in the excessive force trial of Officer Karl Thompson, who is charged in connection with the death of Otto Zehm.

 Federal prosecutor Victor Boutros told U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle before opening statements today that Moses may use the 5th Amendment protection in refusing to answer some questions. Van Sickle said they'll deal with how to present him as a witness when he's called to testify later in the trial.

Boutros soon introduced Moses (pictured) to jurors in his opening statement. It was Moses, he said, who heard the “secret truth” from Thompson outside the Zip Trip that night: that, despite what he'd said in his initial statement, he had struck Zehm in the head and neck with his baton.

“What the defendant didn't know is that a series of events had taken place that would unravel the 'no strikes' lie,” Boutros said.

Thompson didn't think it would ever come out, Boutros told jurors, but it did - in a report sent with EMTs who rushed Zehm, already unconscious, to a hospital, where he died two days later.

It was what ultimately revealed to federal investigators Thompson's “web of lies,” Boutros said. (That report never made it to county prosecutors, who ruled Thompson's use of force justified, but an autopsy also showed evidence of baton strikes to Zehm's head.)

Jurors weren't told of Moses' possible intentions to plead the fifth.

Boutros' description of the “secret truth” came in an opening statement that kicked off what's expected to be a five-week trial.

Boutros began by telling jurors: “This is a case about a police officer who chose to strike first and ask questions later.”

He continued by describing Zehm as a man who always went to the Zip Trip to simply get a bottle of soda, prompting a swift objection from defense lawyer Carl Oreskovich, who said the statement violated a ruling that barred mention of the fact that Zehm was innocent of the alleged theft that prompted the police call.

The issue arose again twice in Boutros' statement, prompting Oreskovich to ask Van Sickle for a mistrial, which was denied. Read more about that in Yakima-based reporter Tom Clouse's story here.

Boutros told jurors that Thompson continued “to disgrace the badge” by lying about what happened. He said Thompson is not charged with causing Zehm's death, but that when he “brutally beat” him he broke the law.

Boutros said the suspicious circumstance call regarding Zehm was a “very common, low-priority type call that rarely results in arrest” and there was no reason for Thompson to believe Zehm posed a threat.

“Even the defendant admitted that, based on the call, he didn't have any reason to believe that the man at the ATM had committed any crime,” Boutros said. Boutros told jurors that a 7-year-old girl covers her ears as Zehm scream in pain from a Taser shock. Five years later, witnesses, including the girl who made the 911 call about Zehm, are haunted by police beating hm like that and will testify, Boutros said.

After the encounter, Thompson crafted a lie about Zehm lunging at him, and, at the end of the night “the defendant's lie about the lunge was in an email circulated to everyone” in the Spokane Police Department, Boutros said. Soon, Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks was on scene “unwittingly spreading the defendant's lies to the public.”

Soon, Thompson's close friend and fellow officer Sandra McIntyre (pictured) arrived at the Zip Trip.

She viewed the surveillance video and exclaimed out loud that Zehm never lunged, Boutros told jurors. She conferenced with Thompson outside, who Boutros said had four additional days to craft a new story for his official interview. He was even given a practice interview.

(Unbeknownst to jurors, McEntire is facing a grand jury investigation for her role in the case.)

Cops: Vengeful beau fired shot in motel

A man accused of hiding in his ex-girlfriend's motel room and threatening her and her new boyfriend with a handgun appeared in court Wednesday on burglary and assault charges.

Matthew A. Raney, 24, was arrested Tuesday, two days after police say he attacked his ex-girlfriend, Sara Anderson, and her boyfriend, identified both as George Howard and John Howard in court documents, in a room at the Trade Winds Motel, 907 W. Third Ave.

Police swarmed the building Sunday about 9:19 p.m. amid reports of an armed suspect hiding somewhere in the motel. Officers did not find the gunman, but Anderson identified him as Raney, who she said lived with her at the motel until thee or four days ago.

She said she arrived home that night to find a note left by Raney, who then came out of the bathroom with a handgun and pushed her to the ground before hitting Howard in the head with the pistol.The two wrestled and a shot was fired, but no one was injured. A motel worker and another renter said he saw Raney exit the room holding the pistol.

A tip to Crime Check placed Raney back at the motel on Tuesday about 4:15 p.m. and indicated he may be ready to turn himself in. Raney was arrested without incident.

Raney told police he was high on heroin and upset about breaking up with Anderson, who he said was his wife of more than two years. He said he was high on heroin the night of the shooting and wanted to leave a note for his wife. But he was concerned her new boyfriend would see it first so he waited in the bathroom with the gun, according to court documents. Raney remains in jail on $50,000 bond.

Openings in Thompson trial today at 9 a.m.

Opening statements in the trial of Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson, charged in connection with the  death of Otto Zehm, are to begin at 9 a.m. today in Yakima.

Reporter Tom Clouse will be providing daily coverage from the courthouse in The Spokesman-Review and at our website. Here's his story on the jury pool, which is comprised of eight men and four women.

A screen shot of surveillance video from the altercation at Zip Trip is pictured.

Those looking to follow along with opening statements can check out my Twitter page here. I will be providing minute-by-minute updates from the live feed of the trial at the federal courthouse in Spokane. You can sign up for Twitter and follow me, or you can simply check my page whenever you're looking for an update. Text message updates are available.
 
Here's Clouse's preview story from earlier this week, and here's a page that explains the case and includes inks to all coverage.
 
For those wanting to know more about Thompson and Zehm, here are a couple of profiles: 
 
July 20, 2006: Otto Zehm: a life on the margins
 
June 25, 2009: Karl Thompson has lengthy, varied police career

Man gets 11 years in prison for 2 rapes

A man who raped two women on the Colville Indian Reservation in 2007 has been sentenced to about 11 years in prison.

Clarence J. Stensgar, Jr., 60, will be under federal supervision for life after he serves 135 months in federal prison under a sentence imposed today in U.S. District Court in Spokane. Stensgar raped a woman in April 2007 and another woman in November 2007.

He was indicted by a grand jury in September 2010 and pleaded guilty in July. He's in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to federal prison.

In a prepared statement, Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said, “I am committed to aggressively prosecuting violent crime on Tribal lands. It is especially important to remove and incarcerate repeat sexual offenders, because women on Tribal land suffer a greater percentage of assaults than the general population.”

Murder spree suspects headed to Wash.

GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — A boyfriend-and-girlfriend duo suspected in a murder spree that left four people dead in three Western states are expected to be returned to Washington state within a month to face charges that could bring the death penalty.

David “Joey” Pedersen and his girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, waived their right to an extradition hearing during a brief court appearance Tuesday in Yuba County, north of Sacramento, where they were arrested last week. The pair, who have expressed white supremacist beliefs, is suspected of killing his father, David “Red” Pedersen, 56, and his wife Leslie, 69, about Sept. 26 in Everett, Wash., and, later, two other people, including a 19-year-old man they believed was Jewish.

The pair was charged Monday in the Pedersens' deaths with aggravated first-degree murder in Snohomish County, Wash. Aggravated first-degree murder is punishable in Washington state only by execution or life in prison without release. Prosecutors have not determined whether to pursue the death penalty.

According to a prosecutor's affidavit in support of those charges, authorities have recovered bloody clothing, a knife and stolen credit cards that they believe the couple dumped in an Oregon trash can while on the run.

Grigsby told police she and her boyfriend were heading to Sacramento, Calif., to “kill more Jews” when they were arrested last week in California, the affidavit said.

If true, that could be a basis for federal hate-crime charges. Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle, confirmed Tuesday that her office had been in touch with counterparts in Snohomish County as well as federal prosecutors in other states to determine where the pair should be prosecuted.

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

Reward offered for tips on missing man

A reward is being offered information on a 44-year-old Spokane Valley man who was reported missing in May 2010.

 A Kellogg, Idaho, police officer found Terry L. Mattingly's red Ford Tempo in August 2010 when he stopped its female driver, who said she'd bought the car from Mattingly a week earlier in the Rose Lake area, authorities say.

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Department issued a plea last month to speak with anyone who may have knowledge of Mattingly's whereabouts since spring 2010. 

Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips on his disappearance.

Authorities said last year that Mattingly was reported missing by his daughter on May 17, 2010. 

Mattingly's daughter said her father “was becoming increasingly paranoid about other family members” and left his home in the 2100 block of North Lily a week earlier, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. 

Detectives entered his information in the national police intelligence network, which led Kellogg police to identify the Tempo.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Supremacists wanted to ‘kill more Jews’

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Authorities have recovered bloody clothing, a knife and stolen credit cards that they believe were in the possession of a couple accused of going on a deadly crime spree across the Pacific Northwest, according to an affidavit.

Prosecutors also say that one of the suspects, Holly Grigsby, claimed that she and her boyfriend, David “Joey” Pedersen, were heading to Sacramento, Calif., during their spree to “kill more Jews” when they were arrested last week in California. Pedersen is pictured right.

The pair, who have expressed white supremacist beliefs, are suspected of killing his father, David “Red” Pedersen, 56, and his wife Leslie, 69, about Sept. 26 in Everett, Wash., and, later, two other people, including a 19-year-old man they believed was Jewish.

The couple fled the state and, on Sept. 29, police found a backpack inside a garbage can in Corvallis, Ore., a deputy prosecutor wrote in a probable cause statement filed Monday in Washington state.

Inside were the bloody clothing, a knife and four credit cards belonging to the elder Pedersen and his wife, authorities said.

The couple faces charges of aggravated first-degree murder. They could face the death penalty if convicted. Their appointed attorney, Donald Wahlberg, said he did not know anything about the case beyond what had been reported.

In interviews with a reporter and police, the couple said they killed Pedersen's father because he molested two young relatives and killed his wife because she knew and still supported him.

Grigsby, 24, confessed during a five-hour, videotaped interview with Oregon state police, Snohomish County, Wash., deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson wrote in a probable cause statement.

Grigsby said the couple planned to travel from Oregon to visit Red Pedersen (pictured left) and his wife — and then kill him by shooting him in the back of the head as he was driving them to a bus station.

She said she was in the passenger seat and took the steering wheel after her boyfriend fired a shot to the back of his head. They then drove to the Pedersens' home in Everett.

Grigsby said she herself slit Leslie Pedersen's throat, and they headed south in Red's Jeep with his body inside.

They ditched the car off a steep embankment, and killed Cody Myers (right), who was on his way to a jazz festival on the Oregon coast, because his name sounded Jewish, according to Matheson's affidavit. Myers was a devout Christian.

When she was arrested, Grigsby said “the couple was on their way to Sacramento to 'kill more Jews,'” Matheson wrote.

Grigsby and Pedersen were arrested outside Yuba City, Calif., when a police officer spotted them in Myers' car. Authorities had been tracking them by use of stolen credit cards and had warned police in several states to be on the lookout for them.

Pedersen, 31, initially refused to talk with police, but on Saturday, he reconsidered.

He admitted murdering a man in Eureka, Calif., on Oct. 3 or 4, the probable cause statement said. The crime matched an open investigation into the death of Reginald Alan Clark, 53, who was found dead with a bullet wound to the head.

Police have not suggested a motive, but Clark is black.

On Sunday, Joey Pedersen, who has spent nearly half his life in prison, summoned a reporter for a California newspaper, the Appeal-Democrat, to the jailhouse for an interview and took “full responsibility” for “everything that's been reported.”

He said he killed his father because he had molested his older sister and an adopted cousin when they were young; that they had killed his dad's wife because she knew about the molestation but still supported him.

Pedersen said he expected to be charged with killing the “dead Negro” because “the bullet from my gun is in his head.”

Joey Pedersen has an extensive criminal history, having spent from age 16 to 31 behind bars, except for a one-year stretch. His convictions include assaulting a police officer and threatening a federal judge. He was released from prison in May.

Grigsby also spent time in prison beginning in 2006 for a variety of charges, including identity theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle. After completing probation, she served two years for identity theft. Even in prison, she got into trouble, including for assault.

Both share an interest in white supremacist ideology. Pedersen prominently displays a white supremacy tattoo on his neck. Grigsby's white supremacist leanings were made clear to fellow inmates at Oregon's women's prison.

City Council limits ombudsman powers

Spokane’s police ombudsman on Monday lost the power to independently investigate misconduct allegations against the city’s law enforcement officers.

The Spokane City Council voted 5-2 Monday to repeal police oversight rules it approved unanimously last year, blaming an arbitrator’s decision in July that determined the expanded powers violated the Spokane Police Guild’s labor contract.

Read the rest of Jon Brunt's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 23: Council debates police oversight rules

July 13: Police ombudsman rules downgraded

Remains found in Rainbow disappearance

STEVENSON, Wash. (AP) — Searchers found skeletal remains and jewelry in an area of Gifford Pinchot National Forest where a California woman was last seen during a peace rally last summer, authorities said Monday.

Information on when and where the remains were found was not released, but several extensive searches of the area have been made for any sign of Marie Hanson, a 54-year-old South Lake Tahoe, Calif., woman whose family reported her missing July 9.

Searchers were seeking any other evidence that might link the remains and jewelry to Hanson, the Skamania County Sheriff's Office said. ”

We are hopeful but not jumping to any conclusions at this point,” Undersheriff Dave Cox said in a statement. Cox said Hanson's family had been notified and asked for privacy.

Hanson made a spur-of-the-moment decision to travel with her neighbors to the annual gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light.

Borne from the 1960s counterculture movement, Rainbow Family is a loose gathering of peace activists who come together each July in a national forest. The weeklong event culminates July 4 with a circle to pray for world peace.

This year, the 40th annual gathering was attended by an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people. Hanson, a grandmother of two who cares for her disabled husband, had never before attended the event. Her family reported her missing after neighbors called and said they had not seen her for days.

All of her belongings were left in her tent, including her purse, medicine for pain following back surgery, a handcrafted doll for her granddaughter and a trinket for her grandson. She had traded for those items as gifts.

Past coverage:

Aug. 31: Man sought in Rainbow Gathering disappearance

Aug. 8: Woman still missing after Rainbow Gathering

Man dead in suicide/attempted murder

A Spokane woman was wounded Monday in a shooting by her ex-boyfriend, who then fatally shot himself, police said.

The man’s body was found slumped in a yard outside a home converted into apartments in the 3100 block of East Fifth Avenue, according to the Spokane Police Department. A gun was found nearby, neighbors said. Both the victim and gunman are in their mid 20s, police said. The two recently ended a relationship.

Read the rest of my story here.

Troubled U-Hi school teacher to be jailed

University High School teacher Michael Cronin was placed on paid administrative leave in August and has been sentenced to serve nearly a year in jail after being found guilty of two criminal charges in September.

Additional charges from a separate incident in Pend Oreille County – resisting arrest and obstructing a law enforcement officer – are still pending.

Read the rest of Nina Culver's story here.

4th victim ID’d in alleged murder spree

Four homicide victims – including an African-American man shot in the head at close-range in Eureka, Calif. – are now being linked to a jailed couple with extensive criminal records and white supremacy beliefs. Read Bill Morlin's report for the Southern Poverty Law Center here.

Here's a report from the Associated Press:
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man and his girlfriend have admitted to killing the man's father and stepmother in a 5-day crime spree that authorities said ultimately left four dead across the Pacific Northwest.

David Joseph Pedersen, 31, (pictured) told a California newspaper in a story published Monday that he killed his father and was responsible for the three other killings in Washington, Oregon and California. His 24-year-old girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, separately described to investigators in Washington state how she killed Pedersen's stepmother using two knives.

The crime spree began last month, as Pedersen's father drove the couple to catch a bus in Everett, Wash., according to Grigsby's statements to police. Pedersen shot his father from behind as Grigsby took control of the vehicle, she said. The couple then returned to the father's home, where Grigsby stabbed Pedersen's stepmother with the knives, she told authorities. Leslie Pedersen, called “Dee Dee” by friends and family, was found with a bloody pillow wrapped around her head.

The couple said Pedersen's father, David Jones “Red” Pedersen, was targeted because he allegedly molested his daughter and a niece when they were younger.

Grigsby told authorities the stepmother, Leslie Pedersen, was killed because she didn't do anything about the alleged molestation.

“I felt it was my responsibility to make sure it didn't happen again,” the younger Pedersen told The Appeal Democrat in a jailhouse interview. He said Grigsby was involved in the slayings only under duress and shouldn't be held responsible for the deaths.

Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said officers have not yet looked into the molestation allegations but planned to do so. He said evidence collected so far indicates much of Grigsby's story could be plausible.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Pederson at the Yuba County Jail were not immediately successful Monday.

The deaths of Pedersen's father and stepmother led the couple to the logging roads of Oregon, where authorities said they dumped the father's Jeep with his body still inside.

While in Oregon, police said they also fatally shot 19-year-old Cody Myers, who had been attending a jazz festival outside the coastal town of Newport. Police said Myers was shot in the head and chest. Pedersen and Grigsby were arrested last week in Myers' car outside Sacramento.

A fourth body, that of a 54-year-old man, was found with a gunshot wound to the head in California on Friday. Police in Eureka linked Reginald Alan Clark's death to the couple, but didn't release details. Clark is pictured at right.

Pedersen and Grigsby have pleaded not guilty to charges of weapons possession and vehicle theft, and their bail was set at $1 million. They are expected in court Tuesday for an extradition hearing. They have not been charged in the killings.

Their appointed attorney, Donald Wahlberg, said he did not know anything about the case beyond what had been reported.

In the days after Leslie Pedersen's body was found, suspicion quickly fell on her stepson and his girlfriend. David Joseph Pedersen has an extensive criminal history, having spent the ages of 16 to 31 behind bars, except for a one-year stretch. His convictions include assaulting a police officer and threatening a federal judge, and other disciplinary infractions included assault, extortion, disobedience, harassment and destruction of property.

Grigsby also spent time in prison beginning in 2006 for a variety of charges, including identity theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle. After completing probation, she served two years for identity theft. Even in prison, she got into trouble for assault and possession of contraband.

Both share an interest in white supremacy ideology, with Pedersen prominently displaying a white supremacy tattoo on his neck. Grigsby's white supremacist leanings were made clear to fellow inmates at Oregon's women's prison.

Oct. 6: Racist in murder spree threatened to kill Idaho judge

Oct. 5: Couple in NW. manhunt arrested in Calif.

Oct. 5: Body found in manhunt may be that of teen

Bank robbery suspect arrested in Ore.

A man suspected of robbing a north Spokane bank last week was arrested on Saturday in Portland, Ore.

Jeremiah J. Pickup, 21, was arrested about 4 a.m. Saturday at a hotel, said Spokane police Officer Tim Moses.

Pickup's booking photo is featured at right. A surveillence images from the bank robbery is at left.

Police believe he's the man who robbed the Chase Bank at 5508 N. Division St. on Wednesday afternoon.

The robber told a bank teller he had a weapon and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said. 

Police said last week that they believed the culprit was Pickup and released surveillance images showing the robber.

Pickup was taken into custody by Portland police and booked into the Multnomah County Jail on a heroin possession charge and a parole violation. He faces a first-degree robbery charge in Spokane County and also is suspected of robbing a bank in Multnomah County, Ore.

Gunman wanted in downtown shooting

Police are looking for a suspect in a shooting Sunday night in downtown Spokane.

Matthew A. Raney, whose age was not released by police, is accused of firing shots at 907 W. 3rd Ave.

Police locked down the four-story Trade Winds Motel about 9:10 p.m. Officers couldn't find a victim and had conflicting reports of where the suspect was. They found his room empty but blood on a bed, then learned a victim had located police in an office in the building and said there was a second victim, whom police found in a nearby room.

The victims said the suspect was hiding in their apartment and “and came at them with a gun,” according to a news release.

A fight over the gun ensued, and a shot was fired. The victim suffered a cut to his head but the second female victim was uninjured.

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

Man hits cop in groin with case of beer

A 32-year-old Nespelem man who threw a case of beer at a tribal police officer, striking him in the groin, was sentenced this week to about four years in prison.

James Edward Kensler was given 50 months in federal prison for assaulting a federal officer. He'll serve the term the same time as a 50-month sentence for assaulting his former girlfriend.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Colville Tribal Police received a report on Nov. 16 that Kensler had choked his girlfriend unconscious after acting like he was going to kiss her.

Then on Feb. 11, tribal officer W.E. Evans was driving south on state Route 155 when Kensler, carrying a case of beer, flagged him down and asked for a ride.

Evans told him he would have to “relinquish” the beer, but Kensler declined, according to a news release. He gave them a false name, and dispatched advised that that name actually had an active warrant. Evans went to arrest Kensler and was assaulted with the case of beer, authorities say.

Kensler fled but was later apprehended by Colville Tribal Police and officers from the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office. He pleaded guilty to the assaults in July and was sentenced Monday.
  

Therapist ‘broke family;’ to pay $675k

A therapist who is accused of ruining a Spokane couple’s marriage by misdiagnosing the husband as a sex addict and making unsubstantiated claims that he molested the couple’s sons was ordered Thursday to pay $675,000 to her former patients.

The allegations against Darlene Townsend, a licensed therapist, include a statement she gave a state investigator that one of the couple’s boys would either kill himself or his entire family. The boy was 5 at the time, said the couple’s attorney, John Allison. Of the total amount, $375,000 was for the former husband and the remainder for the former wife.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

New charges in Forker Road homicide

The girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel sergeant-at-arms Ricky Warren Jenks has been charged with three felonies for her alleged role in the murder of a 22-year-old man whose body was found in the back of his burning car in April.

Britney Bjork, 30, is accused of helping burn Nicholas J. Thoreson's car and driving murder suspects Taylor J. Wolf, 20; Justice E.D Sims, 19; and Breeanna C. Sims, 20; from the scene at Forker Road near Bigelow Gulch. Thoreson is pictured left; Wolf is pictured lower right.

In addition to first-degree rendering criminal assistance and second-degree arson, Bjork is charged with conspiracy to commit perjury in the first-degree for allegedly helping Wolf craft false statements.

She pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court and was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial. She declined comment today after Jenks was sentenced in U.S. District Court to two years in prison.

Wolf had been staying at Jenks and Bjork’s home at the Knotty Pines Cottages, 13615 E. Trent Ave., since before Jenks’ arrest on federal gun charges in March, according to court documents.

Detectives Bjork sent Wolf a text message early April 13 that said to tell a friend “that everything is fine that you got lost and stranded. you thought you were around bigalow but really you were by otis orchards. clear the fact that you were anywhere near that area!”

Wolf talked to Bjork over the phone from jail after his arrest. Detectives listened to the calls and say Bjork told him, “You've been with me…this whole…time,” to which Wolf responded, “I know, I never left your side.”

But detectives say Wolf also told Bjork on April 22 he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, citing recorded phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

Wolf and the Simses are charged with aggravated first-degree murder, among other charges, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison because prosecuters are not seeking the death penalty.

Also charged in the case is the Simses' half-brother, who pleaded guilty in juvenile court to threatening a witness in the case. The teen is not being named because he was charged as a juvenile.

Emily K. Karlinsey, 19, who is accused of making threatening phone calls to a witness, is set to go to trial in Superior Court.

Past coverage:

May 20: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

Judge calls Mehring case ‘dysfunctional’

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Connor had choice words Thursday for attorneys on both sides of the Jay Mehring civil case.

The wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit filed by the Spokane police detective against the city of Spokane and police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick is set to go to a jury trial Oct. 17, and O'Connor says she's lost her patience with the problems that keep arising. 

She ordered attorneys Bob Dunn and Ellen O'Hara to appear before her this afternoon “no matter what” with an agreed upon statement in the case and a list of issues that are in dispute and issues that aren't.

She threatened to hold the lawyers in contempt if they weren't able to do so “because I am sick of this.”

The judge also warned that she would have no time to look at motions for reconsideration, “so assume that they're all going to be denied.”

At one point, Dunn stood up, but only for a moment. “Counsel, I'm not done. Sit down,” O'Connor said.

The judge also picked up a report she said had been submitted that morning in violation of a previous order.

“See this? The one I got today? In the waste basket!” she said, holding up the waste basket and tossing the report inside. “Do you understand how dysfunctional this trial is?”

“Do you understand I never have these types of problems in any other cases?” she continued. “I've just lost my patience with all of you.”

O'Connor's criticism came at the end of a hearing in which she ordered the City of Spokane to produce emails regarding its contract with a police department psychologist who's part of a witness tampering allegation by Mehring against Kirkpatrick and city attorneys.

They contend the city didn't renew Deanette Palmer's contract because she had ruled he was fit to return to duty. Ellen O'Hara, an assistant attorney for the City of Spokane, blasted the witness tampering claim in court Thursday, calling it baseless and “literally defaming.”

O'Hara said the city has always planned to renew Palmer's contract. City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi “is a very busy man,” O'Hara said. “This is a minor $10,000 to $15,000 contract. It was not on top of his list and he didn't get to it. And he even apologized to Dr. Palmer.

O'Hara continued, “What this really is is an attempt by the plaintiff to smear Chief Kirkpatrick and the city” and to use the media to taint the jury pool by building on “all the smearing” from the Otto Zehm-Karl Thompson case.

She called the allegations “an absurd sideshow - one of many that are gong to be attempted to be presented din this case.”

“Dr. Palmer is not saying that the city obstructed her. She fell between a rock and a hard place,” O'Hara said. “It's clear to Dr. Palmer and the city that the chief wants the contract renewed.”

O'Hara also said, “This is beyond unbelievable to me that this is happening,” prompting O'Connor to say, “Well, I gather that. Why don't you sit down now.”

Dunn emphasized that when asked in deposition if she felt her work with Mehring had adversely affected her contract with the city, Palmer responded, “definitely.” But Palmer also said she didn't feel Kirkpatrick did anything unfair regarding her testifying in the criminal trial and that she didn't ahve “beef” with the chief.

“I said clearly that the issue was with the City Attorney's office,” Palmer said.  (Read the entire transcript of Palmer's deposition here.)

O'Connor said the issue could be discussed during the civil trial, and emails outlining the issue could be entered as evidence. She denied Dunn's request for Palmer's emails but ordered the City to hand over the copies.

“The issue of its relevancy goes to whether or not there's any bias on the part of Dr. Palmer or any attempt to have Dr. Palmer changer her position or testify differently at trial,” O'Connor said. “If such an email exists - and I'm not suggesting that it does - that would certainly be relevant.”

Mehring, 43, has been on paid leave since Sept. 9, 2010, after Kirkpatrick said he was unfit for duty based on claims he'd made in his lawsuit.

Mehring filed the lawsuit after a jury acquitted him of charges that he'd threatened to kill his wife. Kirkpatrick had put him unpaid leave but reinstated him with back pay and a demotion.

Feds target Calif. medical pot dispensaries

In this Tuesday Jan. 26, 2010 file photo, a pedestrian walks past a marijuana leaf neon sign advertising a medical marijuana provider along a street in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

By LISA LEFF,Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on some pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state's 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

In an escalation of the ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and the nation's burgeoning medical marijuana industry, at least 16 pot shops or their landlords received letters this week stating they are violating federal drug laws, even though medical marijuana is legal in California. The state's four U.S. attorneys were scheduled Friday to announce a broader coordinated crackdown.

Their offices refused Thursday to confirm the closure orders. The Associated Press obtained copies of the letters that a prosecutor sent to at least 12 San Diego dispensaries. They state that federal law “takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana.”

“Under United States law, a dispensary's operations involving sales and distribution of marijuana are illegal and subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions,” according to the letters signed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego. “Real and personal property involved in such operations are subject to seizure by and forfeiture to the United States … regardless of the purported purpose of the dispensary.”

The move comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana. For two years before that, federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors' recommendations.

The Department of Justice issued a policy memo to federal prosecutors in late June stating that marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical marijuana laws could face prosecution for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws. The effort to shutter California dispensaries appeared to be the most far-reaching effort so far to put that guidance into action.

“This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The administration is simply making good on multiple threats issued since President Obama took office,” said Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the president's drug czar and a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Substance Abuse Solutions. “The challenge is to balance the scarcity of law enforcement resources and the sanctity of this country's medication approval process. It seems like the administration is simply making good on multiple statements made previously to appropriately strike that balance.”

Greg Anton, a lawyer who represents dispensary Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said its landlord received an “extremely threatening” letter Wednesday invoking a federal law that imposes additional penalties for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds.

The landlord was ordered to evict the 14-year-old pot club or risk imprisonment, plus forfeiture of the property and all the rent he has collected while the dispensary has been in business, Anton said.

Marin Alliance's founder “has been paying state and federal taxes for 14 years, and they have cashed all the checks,” he said. “All I hear from Obama is whining about his budget, but he has money to do this which will actually reduce revenues.”

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said the warnings are part of what appears to be an attempt by the Obama administration to curb medical marijuana on multiple fronts and through multiple agencies. A series of dispensary raids in Montana, for example, involved agents from not only the FBI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, but the Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency.

Going after property owners is not a new tactic though, Hermes said. Five years ago, the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush made similar threats to about 300 Los Angeles-area landlords who were renting space to medical marijuana outlets, some of whom were eventually evicted or closed their doors voluntarily, he said.

“It did have an impact. However, the federal government never acted on its threats, never prosecuted anybody, never even went to court to begin prosecutions,” Hermes said. “By and large, they were empty threats, but they relied on them and the cost of postage to shut down as many facilities as they could without having to engage in criminal enforcement activity.”

Besides the dozen dispensaries in San Diego and the one in Marin County, at least three shops in San Francisco already have received closure notices, said Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The San Diego medical marijuana outlets put on notice were the same 12 that city officials sued last month for operating illegally, after activists there threatened to force an election on a zoning plan adopted to regulate the city's fast-growing medical marijuana industry, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. A judge on Wednesday ordered nine of the targeted shops to close, while the other three shut down voluntarily, Goldsmith said.

Duffy, the U.S. attorney for far Southern California, planned to issue warning letters to property owners and all of the 180 or so dispensaries that have proliferated in San Diego in the absence of compromise regulations, according to Goldsmith.

“The real power is with the federal government,” he said. “They have the asset forfeiture, and that means either the federal government will own a lot of property or these landlords will evict a lot of dispensaries.”

Cops: Pa. robber prayed w/ disabled victim

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) — Police say a man stopped to pray while robbed a woman in a wheelchair after breaking into her western Pennsylvania home.

Thirty-two-year-old Christopher Perretti II, of New Castle, is in the Lawrence County Jail awaiting a hearing on charges including burglary and robbery. Court records don't list an attorney.

The New Castle News reports Perretti forced open a door at the woman's house about 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 30. Once inside, he demanded money and the woman gave him $5, but he wanted more. The woman told police she began praying as Perretti pushed past her to take $20 from her purse. Perretti apologized — though he didn't give the money back — and knelt down as she prayed before running away.

Police found him a short time later.

Fla. thief picks wrong time for robbery

WILLISTON, Fla. (AP) — A would-be robber picked the wrong time to steal a jar of money from the counter of a north Florida convenience store.

Williston Police Chief Dennis Strow says 27-year-old Michael Wayne Aurilio took the jar containing $35.78 from the Kangaroo store Wednesday. But he didn't realize an off-duty Marion County Sheriff's deputy was standing behind him.

The Gainesville Sun reports that as Sgt. William Dietrich tried to take Aurilio into custody, the two fell through a plate glass door. Meanwhile, Williston police officers arrived and took the man into custody. Aurilio and Dietrich were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

The money was intended for a charity that sponsors recreational events for terminally ill children.

Aurilio was charged with robbery and felony battery on a law enforcement officer.

Cops: Murder suspect had victim’s purse

A sex offender accused of killing a 48-year-old Spokane woman had the victim's purse in his apartment when detectives searched it after his arrest in a separate rape case, according to newly filed court documents.

Police identified Derrick Ross Vargas, 24, as a suspect after he was arrested on  suspicion of rape after a traffic stop Sept. 23 in his 1995 red Chevy pickup with an extended cab.

Search warrants filed today say the tire treads on Vargas' truck appear to match the treads left where Evon M. Moore's body was found at Riverside and Ralph on Aug. 13. Her neck was broken, but medical examiners said they couldn't determine if she died of strangulation because of the damaged caused by a vehicle running her over.

Moore appeared to have been run over, and her skull was split open. Police saw what appeared to be blood splatters, human tissue and a single hair on the outside of the truck when they looked at it in the police evidence room Sept. 27.

Detectives found a pair of shoes with blood on them in Vargas' East Trent Avenue apartment that matched the shoe tread pattern found near Moore's body. They also found a purse believed to belong to Moore.

Family described Moore as a dedicated student studying to be a paralegal, but a woman told police she and Moore were working as prostitutes at East Sprague Avenue and South Altamont Street the day her body was found, according to the search warrants.

Vargas pleaded not guilty Wednesday to first-degree rape for an alleged attack on a prostitute that led to his arrest. He has not yet been charged in connection with Moore's death.

Past coverage:

Sept. 29: Sex offender suspected in Evon Moore homicide

Sept. 23: Recently released sex offender arrested for rape

Report: Murder suspect declined meds

A triple-murder suspect from Montana who was arrested in Spokane Valley will be returned to the Big Sky state as soon as possible to face federal charges, a fedearl judge ruled today.

Sheldon Bernard Chase, 22, faces a mandatory term of life in prison if convicted of murdering his 80-year-old grandmother, Gloria Sarah Goes Ahead Cummins; his cousin, 21-year-old Levon Driftwood; and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Rueben Jefferson.

Authorities say Chase has a history of mental illness and was not taking his medications when he used a rifle to kill the three victims Tuesday, southwest of Lodge Grass on Montana's Crow Reservation, then drove to the Spokane area. Two small children witnessed the killings, authorities say.

He was arrested Wednesday about 4 p.m. during a traffic stop near the Spokane Valley Mall.

Chase appeared before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno this afternoon in a hearing that was delayed an hour because Chase “felt faint,” court officials said.

Clad in a yellow Spokane County Jail jumper, Chase remained seated during the hearing instead of standing before Imbrogno as is typical. Chase waived all future hearings in Spokane and is to be transported back to Montana shortly.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a 3-year-old, one of two child witnesses, told investigators that Chase and Jefferson were fighting when Chase shot the three victims.

A neighbor who reported the shooting said she saw Chase driving from the home about 12:10 p.m., then went to the home and saw two of the victims.

Chase's mother in North Dakota told FBI agents that Chase took a commemorative gun with him when he left her home on Monday. Investigators found a text message on Driftwood's phone about 20 minutes before Chase was spotted leaving the home Tuesday that indicated he had arrived, according to the affidavit.

Tips sought on truck-driving burglar

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

Spokane Valley property crimes detectives are seeking the public’s help to identify a thief who stole cash, jewelry and computer components from a home in the 4800 block North Bannen on Sept. 23rd. 

On that date, the 60-year-old resident arrived home for lunch and discovered the back door kicked in and items missing from the home.

Officers Jim Ebel and Ryan Smith checked the home, but found no one inside and nothing to identify the suspect.

A short time after the two officers left, the victim received a call from an employee at Mega Wash Express, 17316 E Sprague. The employee advised that he had seen a man dumping items into the business dumpster, and that he had fled in a dark Ford pickup when confronted.

The dumped items turned out to be the resident’s driver’s license, social security card and other pieces of his identification.

The employee captured a suspect and his truck on security cameras and offered still photos to police. 

Officer Ebel went to Mega Wash and collected the photos which appear to feature a dark blue or black early-90’s Ford truck that pulls around behind the business about 9:40 a.m.

The truck has an extended cab, a long bed and is slightly lifted above a stock truck’s height.

The top of the bed rails are capped with chrome, as is the rear window. It appears to have chrome wheels and mirrors, and an oversize chrome rear bumper with extended trailer hitch.

The white male driver has a large tattoo of some kind on his left shoulder.

Anyone with information regarding the truck or its driver is encouraged to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Police: 5% of property crimes investigated

If you’re a victim of a burglary, theft or car prowling in Spokane, don’t expect to get the crime solved.

The Spokane Police Department announced Wednesday the official elimination of the property crimes unit and said citizens should expect only 5 percent of reported property crime to be investigated.

“We don’t want people to have that false impression that just because you make a police report a detective is going to look at it,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, department spokeswoman.

Read the rest of my story here.

Racist in murder spree has Idaho ties

California Highway Patrol Officer Duane Nokes takes David Joseph Pedersen into custody following a traffic stop on Marysville Road and Gettys Court near Yuba City, Calif. on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Appeal Democrat, David Bitton)

A white supremacist suspected of murdering two people in Washington and Oregon was convicted of threatening to kill an Idaho-based federal judge in 2001.

David Joseph Pedersen, 31, was sentenced to two years in prison in December 2001 after pleading guilty to mailing threatening communications and threatening to assault and murder U.S District Judge Edward Lodge and mailing threatening communications.

The case was prosecuted in Ada County. Retired Spokesman-Review reporter Bill Morlin has more at the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog.

According to the Associated Press, the paths of a teenager who called his mother daily and Pedersen and his girlfriend, who were fleeing a murder scene in Washington state, crossed in Western Oregon's Willamette Valley less than a week ago.

The teenager who had thoughts of joining the ministry was found dead, the victim of “homicidal violence.” The two people who commandeered his car — subjects of a manhunt in the death of a Washington state woman and disappearance of her husband — threw up their hands in surrender to police on Wednesday.

An Oregon sheriff called their weeklong road trip by down the West Coast “a vicious, vile reign of terror.” After days of searching on land and air, a California Highway Patrol trooper with a lingering doubt about the white sedan with Oregon plates arrested Pedersen and his girlfriend, Holly Grigsby (pictured right).

Someone stumbled on the teenager, 19-year-old Cody Myers, in the woods in western Oregon on Tuesday. Relatives and friends say he was studious, religious and caring.
  “Cody was devoted to his family. He would've done anything for anybody to help anybody,” said Myers' mother, Susan Myers. “He had passion for life, for God, for his beliefs. He didn't deserve this.”

Exactly what took place in the woods west of Corvallis, Ore., and outside Philomath near Mary's Peak is unclear. Police know that Grigsby and Pedersen were spotted by a camera at a convenience store on Sunday, where they used a stolen credit card.

The card belonged to Pedersen's stepmother, Leslie Pedersen. She was found dead on Sept. 28. His father, David Jones Pedersen, is still missing.

A martial-arts expert with a prominent white-supremacy tattoo on his neck, Pedersen spent the ages of 16 to 31 in one form of incarceration or another, save for a one-year stretch in the mid-2000s.

Even while in prison, Pedersen couldn't avoid trouble. Major disciplinary infractions included assault, extortion, disobedience, harassment and destruction of property.

Grigsby, whose white supremacist leanings were made clear to her fellow inmates at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, also found herself in trouble in prison, getting written up for assault and possession of contraband.

Sought in the slayings of Pedersen's stepmother, they went south, to Oregon. Pedersen's father's Jeep went missing with them, and police assume it has been abandoned somewhere in Oregon.

Grigsby was dating Pedersen, but is married to Dannel Larson of Portland, Ore. He told The Associated Press his wife is simply gullible, the victim of a person capable of manipulating her into doing things she never would otherwise

“That man,” Larson said, “took her on a road straight to hell.”

They somehow came into contact with Myers, who worked two summers for a relative's construction company, said the company's owner, Mike Klein. When the crews would go on the road, Myers (pictured) would call his mother at least once a day.

Myers' parents, brother and sister and other relatives were at a Wednesday night press conference in Salem where police confirmed the body that had been found was the missing teen's.

Myers' mother, Susan, cried at times. Her daughter, Brittany Klein, handed her tissues.

Details remain unclear. Pedersen and Grigsby have been named “persons of interest.” They were found with handguns and rifles, all of them loaded, but police have not said how Myers died.

Pedersen and Grigsby come from a world inhabited by convicts, violence and white supremacists.

Grigsby's father, Fred Grigsby of Portland, said his daughter had been involved with white supremacists, and also had battled drug addiction.

“She went to treatment. I thought she got her life together,” he told The Associated Press.

Grigsby spent time in prison for a variety of charges beginning in 2006, including identity theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle. After completing probation, she was again sentenced in 2008 on identity theft charges and served two years.

Her boyfriend, Pederson, has a white supremacist tattoo on his neck and convictions dating back to 1997. He was first convicted of robbery at age 16 in Marion County, Ore. and has a spent a total of 13 years in prison for felony offenses that include assault and robbery and sending a letter threatening to kill Judge Lodge.

Pederson was released from prison this past May. His time free of bars and handcuffs lasted 134 days.

On Wednesday afternoon, California Highway Patrol Officer Terry Uhrich was on a routine patrol in rural Yuba County. He spotted a woman standing next to a parked vehicle, three of its doors open. A man was inside the car.

“I pulled up to the side of them, just thinking they were needing assistance or something like that. I asked the female if they were all right. She said they were fine, she was stretching,” Uhrich told The AP. “It kind of hit me that dispatch had put out a BOL about an hour and a half before — be on lookout for a stolen vehicle out of Oregon and it had a male and female out of it.”

He ran the license number and confirmed it was Cody Myers' vehicle, then began following the couple as they drove slowly down the road. After about two miles, they turned into a side road leading to a church, and Uhrich followed them.

Uhrich turned on his patrol car lights, got out and, using his door as a shield, drew his sidearm and ordered them to turn off the engine. They complied, keeping their hands where he could see them. They occasionally leaned over and kissed.

Other officers arrived within minutes and arrested the couple, finding a rifle and two handguns inside the stolen car. The handguns were within reach of the suspects.

They were taken to a Yuba City police department holding cell to await interviews by the Oregon State Police and Everett, Wash., police.

Uhrich said they acted tranquil, “like they knew it kind of was over.”

Uhrich drove Grigsby in the back of his patrol car, while Pederson was taken in a separate car.

Along the way, said Uhrich, Grigsby sang along to a song on the radio — “not a worry in the world.”

New police evidence facility opens

Worker Jeffrey Reeder helps install a high-density mobile shelving system in the City of Spokane's new evidence storage facility aWednesday. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

Spokane-area law enforcement welcomed the opening of a new evidence storage facility Wednesday.

The 66,000-square foot facility at 4010 E. Alki Ave. has fire suppression capabilities not found in the previous 17,000-square foot facility on West Gardner Avenue.

The city announced plans to buy the warehouse in June 2010, more than a year after voters rejected a tax to pay for a new building.

The city borrowed from the main reserve and investment fund while consolidating work space in other buildings to eliminate the need for leased space. The savings went toward purchasing the new building, which cost about $3.4 million with upgrades.

“It's about a 100 percent improvement over our current facility,” said Tom Bell, police evidence technician.

Employees will be transferring evidence to the new facility over the next week.

Mayor Mary Verner said the new facility fills a crucial community need.
“Without the retention of evidence, justice cannot be served,” Verner said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Verner said the new facility should serve Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff's Office for 50 to 75 years.

Mont. murder suspect arrested in Valley

Law enforcement officers remove a shooting victim's body from a home about nine miles south west of Lodge Grass Tuesday near Montana's Crow Reservation. (AP Photo/The Billings Gazette, James Woodcock)

A 22-year-old man accused of killing three people in Montana was arrested Wednesday near the Spokane Valley Mall.

Sheldon Bernard Chase was taken into custody without incident during a traffic stop about 4 p.m., said Frank Harrill, agent in charge of the Spokane office of the FBI.

“We do not believe there are any other subjects at large,” Harrill said.

Chase is suspected of using a rifle Tuesday to kill his 80-year-old grandmother, Gloria Sarah Goes Ahead Cummins; his cousin, 21-year-old Levon Driftwood; and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Rueben Jefferson.

Read the rest of the story here.

Feds ask to keep Zehm trial in Spokane

A federal prosecutor has asked a judge to reconsider his Tuesday decision to move the upcoming criminal trial of Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. to Yakima. But defense attorneys support the move.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Durkin filed a motion outlining the difficulties of moving more than 100 witnesses some 200 miles for a trial he predicted would last five to six weeks. He asked for an expedited review of the motion by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Murder suspect pleads not guilty to rape

A sex offender suspected of killing a 48-year-old Spokane woman pleaded not guilty to a separate rape case today in Spokane County Superior Court.

Derrick Ross Vargas, 24, remains in Spokane County Jail on $250,000 bond after his arraignment before Judge Sam Cozza.

Family members attended but declined to speak with media.

Vargas (pictured with his lawyer, Kari Reardon) is charged with first-degree rape for allegedly attacking a prostitute in his apartment after picking her up on East Sprague Avenue, near where Evon M. Moore's body was discovered on Aug. 13.

Vargas was released from federal prison on Aug. 2 after serving about four years for having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl when he was 19.

Vargas was arrested Sept. 23 after a Washington State Patrol trooper stopped him for driving with a broken taillight and a woman jumped out of the truck and yelled, “He raped me!”, according to police.

Vargas was driving a red early ‘90s Chevrolet pickup, which matches the description of a vehicle caught on surveillance camera early Aug. 13 in the area where Moore’s body was found.

Vargas has not yet been charged in Moore's death.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 29: Sex offender suspected in Evon Moore homicide

Sept. 23: Recently released sex offender arrested for rape

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

Couple in NW manhunt caught in Calif.

By JONATHAN J. COOPER and NIGEL DUARA,Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A weeklong manhunt for a couple wanted in the slaying of a Washington state woman and the disappearance of an Oregon teenager ended Wednesday with their arrest on a Northern California highway.

David Joseph Pedersen and Holly Grigsby are suspects in the killing of Pedersen's stepmother in Everett, Wash., Sept. 28 and in the disappearance of a 19-year-old Oregon jazz fan last seen Saturday on his way to a music festival on the coast.

The body of a young man was found Tuesday night in a wooded area of the Willamette Valley, but authorities said they had not yet confirmed his identity.

The arrests north of Sacramento left unanswered the question of the whereabouts of Pederson's father, David Jones Pederson, who was last seen 700 miles to the north, in Everett.

The 31-year-old son and Grigsby, his 24-year-old girlfriend, were pulled over after a Highway Patrol officer spotted a white Plymouth Breeze that Cody Myers had been driving when he disappeared last weekend.

“I don't believe there was any resistance,” said Yuba County sheriff's Lt. Damon Gil.

The manhunt started when David Joseph Pedersen's stepmother, Leslie Pedersen, was found slain in her trailer home in Everett. Her hands had been bound with duct tape and a bloody pillow was around her head. A sword was found nearby.

Myers was last seen when he left his Willamette Valley home for a jazz festival in the Oregon coastal town of Newport.

Investigators said Pedersen and Grigsby had Myers' car Sunday when the woman tried to use a stolen credit card at a Salem, Ore., gasoline station.

The two were expected to be jailed in Yuba City, but one law enforcement official said it was unknown where they would be taken after that.

“All that is yet to be determined,” said Sgt. Robert Goetz of the Everett police.

Grigsby's father, Fred Grigsby of Portland, said earlier Wednesday that his daughter had been involved with white supremacists, but he was unsure whether Pedersen was as well. Mug shots of Pedersen show a tattoo on his neck reading “SWP,” which in prison jargon stands for “Supreme White Power.”

Police have not said whether they suspect any connections between the crime spree and white supremacists.

Fred Grigsby also said his daughter had kicked drug habits she developed as a teenager. “She went to treatment. I thought she got her life together,” he told The Associated Press.

David Joseph Pedersen's convictions date to 1997, when he was 16 and convicted of robbery in Marion County, Ore., according to public records. He spent nearly six years in prison and was released in January 2003.

Less than a month later, he was arrested on charges that included assaulting a police officer in Eastern Oregon's Umatilla County. He was convicted on one count and spent seven years in prison, four of them at a federal prison in Colorado.

In 2000, while Pedersen was an inmate at the Snake River prison in Ontario, Ore., he sent a letter threatening to kill U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge, according to a federal indictment. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in federal prison and three years of probation. The judge's office declined to comment.

On July 7 this year, Pedersen told his federal probation officer in Portland that he had run out of Zoloft, a medication he was taking to treat depression, according to federal court records. Pedersen agreed to modify his probation documents, adding a requirement that he seek mental health treatment and take medication.

Grigsby spent time in prison for a variety of minor charges beginning in 2006, including identity theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle. After completing probation, she was again sentenced in 2008 on identity theft charges and served two years.

Grigsby's father said his daughter has a 2-year-old son, who is safe with the boy's father.

___

Cooper reported from Salem, Ore. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Tim Fought and Terrence Petty in Portland, Ore., and Don Thompson in Sacramento; and news researcher Judy Ausuebel in New York.

Body found in manhunt may be teen’s

Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police, second from the left, speaks during a news conference as Cody Myers' family looks on Wednesday, Oct. 5 2011, in Salem, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
By NIGEL DUARA,Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Investigators in a Pacific Northwest manhunt said they have recovered the body of a young adult and have notified the family of a missing Oregon teenager, although the remains have not been positively identified.

The body was found late Tuesday in a wooded area in Oregon's Willamette Valley, and the evidence shows it was not an accidental death, Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police said Wednesday.

Authorities have been looking for Cody Myers, 19, of Lafayette, (right) who disappeared after leaving Saturday for a jazz festival on the Oregon coast.

The manhunt is focused on David Joseph Pedersen, 31, and his 24-year-old girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, who have been spotted using Myers' car. The couple are suspected of killing Pedersen's stepmother in Everett, Wash., and his father is also missing.

Hastings said Pedersen and Grigsby should be considered armed and dangerous and are believed to be in the Willamette Valley, Oregon's most populous region.

The two have criminal records, and Pedersen was released from prison in May after serving seven years on an assault conviction.

“We want to emphasize the public safety danger these two suspects pose in our community,” Hastings said.

Hastings said investigators have received 29 tips, and a few were promising.

Investigators are looking for a Jeep they believe the pair abandoned and for Myers' Plymouth Breeze, which investigators said Pedersen and Grigsby had on Sunday when the woman tried to use a stolen credit card at a Salem gasoline station.

Pedersen's stepmother, Leslie Pedersen, 69, was found dead Sept. 28 with her hands tied with duct tape and a bloody pillow wrapped around her head. Police said Tuesday they have probable cause to arrest the two suspects on murder charges.

Leslie Pedersen's husband, David Jones Pedersen, was missing, Everett police said.

David Joseph Pedersen's convictions date to 1997, when he was 16 and convicted of robbery in Marion County, Ore., public records show. He spent nearly six years in prison and was released in January 2003.

Less than a month later, he was arrested on charges that included assaulting a police officer in Eastern Oregon's Umatilla County. He was convicted on one count and spent seven years in prison.

Grigsby spent time in prison for a variety of minor charges beginning in 2006, including identity theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle. After completing probation, she was again sentenced in 2008 on identity theft charges and served two years.

Escaped offender caught in ND cornfield

TOWER CITY, N.D. (AP) — A convicted sex offender who escaped from a private transport company's van while being moved across the country was nabbed in a North Dakota cornfield Wednesday afternoon.

Authorities say 29-year-old Joseph Megna was being transferred from Florida to Washington when he fled the van during a stop west of Fargo Tuesday. Farmers in combines worked with SWAT team members on Wednesday to flush him from the field.

Local, state and federal officials had searched for Megna by land and by air. They believe he spent the night in a barn where he had access to a water faucet. They say he fled into the field Wednesday morning after a deputy spotted him.

Megna tells reporters he escaped because he's a vegetarian and wasn't getting enough to eat.

Alleged burglary ring leads to 17 charges

A 21-year-old Spokane man was arraigned on 17 felony charges Tuesday for a burglary spree that initially prompted authorities to consider charges of leading organized crime.

Trevor J. Haugen pleaded not guilty to nine counts of residential burglary, one count of first-degree theft, and seven counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property for a series of burglaries in the Nine Mile, Indian Trail and Five Mile Prairie neighborhoods in north Spokane County.

Haugen and a 17-year-old boy are accused of stealing jewelry, silverware, TV, iPods and other electronics from homes between May 6 and June 27, then selling the items at pawn shops.

Several people are believed to have sold items for Haugen and suspect Bo R. Poffenroth, 25, prompting authorities to file leading organized crime charges that have since been dismissed.

Haugen is at Geiger Corrections Center on $100,000 bond.

Tampering alleged in Mehring civil case

A Spokane Police detective has filed a formal complaint asking the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to investigate allegations that Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and city attorneys have engaged in felony witness tampering.

 Detective Jay Mehring filed the complaint with the sheriff’s office Sunday, alleging that the city refused to renew a contract with the department’s longtime psychologist after she gave an opinion favorable to Mehring as part of his $3.5 million civil suit against the city. That suit alleges he was wrongfully terminated in 2007 amid reports that he threatened to harm his wife.

City Spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Tuesday that the City denies any allegation of witness tampering.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 4, 2010: Detective in civil suit on leave

Karl Thompson trial moved to Yakima

A federal judge Tuesday moved the upcoming criminal trial of Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. to Yakima after defense attorneys raised concerns about the extent of local media coverage of the controversy surrounding the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm.

U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle also ruled to exclude Spokane County from the jury pool. Potential jurors will be selected from a portion of Adams County and all of Franklin, Walla Walla, Yakima, Kittitas, Benton and Klickitat counties.

While Van Sickle said he’s not persuaded that the publicity has created “actual” or “perceived” bias against Thompson, he decided to move the trial nonetheless.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Police identify pot thief shot by woman

Spokane police have identified a man who was shot Monday by a woman while trying to steal medical marijuana plants as Raymond P. Bates, 49.

Bates was scheduled to appear in Superior Court today on a first-degree robbery charge.

Bates was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to the back of his head before being booked into jail.

Police found him near North Crestline Street and East Empire Avenue after a woman who knows him called police to say he'd been shot while trying to steal marijuana plants.

According to police, Bates had fled the home at 1023 E. Gordon Ave. with at least one marijuana plant after being shot by the female homeowner, identified in court documents as Darcee Kapfer. Kapher lives at the home with Jason Kirby.

Kapfer said she armed herself with a 8-foot piece of wood, but the thief grabbed it and struck Kirby, so she retrieved a .38 caliber revolver from her home and fired it at him five times, according to court documents.

A man who reportedly drove Bates from the robbery has not been located, nor has the truck they were driving.

Kapfer, who did not call police after firing the shots, has a medical marijuana authorization, police said. Police found 11 plants in her yard, which is under the legal limit.

Woman sentenced in drug-binge attack

A woman who robbed a disabled man at knife point with her boyfriend last year has been sentenced to about seven years in prison.

Jeanette E. Menghini, 44, was given 87 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission last week in Spokane County Superior Court.

Menghini was arrested in September 2010 with her boyfriend, Ronald J. Schneider, who told police he was on a seven-month drug binge when he broke into a man's room at the Airway Express Motel, 3809 S. Geiger Blvd. and robbed him of cash, prescription drugs and his car at knife point, according to court documents.

Schneider was under investigation for a stolen car ring in Spokane and in Great Falls, Mont., where he resided. He's now serving 29 months in prison in Washington after pleading guilty to second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission in April.

Menghini's extensive criminal history includes convictions for delivery of controlled substances, possession of controlled substances with intent to deliver and second-degree robbery.

She was twice wanted by Crime Stoppers before her case was resolved.

Officer avoids head-on crash w/ convict

A convicted car thief took a man living in a Jeep Cherokee for a wild ride late Friday that nearly included a head-on collision with a Spokane police cruiser, officers say. 

Tyray H. Munter, 24, (pictured) who has previously led police on high-speed chases, is accused of stealing a white 1991 Jeep Cherokee that was parked outside the Union Gospel Mission.

The Jeep's owner, Steve Wilkinson, told officers he was sleeping hard after a night of drinking when he awoke to someone driving his car as police sirens blared behind.

Wilkinson said he'd never met the man before and asked him repeatedly to pull over, but the thief refused.

Officer Erin Blessing was en route to a domestic violence call when she saw the Jeep turned the wrong way onto Third Avenue. She tried to stop the vehicle but “it actually sped up even more” and drove directly at her.

Blessing drove up on a curb to avoid a collision. The Jeep was suspected in a rear-end hit-and-run crash at East Ninth Avenue and South Altamont Boulevard minutes earlier.

Blessing pursued the vehicle until it crashed near East Newark Avenue and South Arthur Street. Two pedestrians had to run out of the way to avoid being hit, according to court documents.

Munter remains in jail on $3,500 bond on charges of unlawful imprisonment, attempted second-degree assault, attempting to elude police and second-degree taking a motor vehicle with permission, as well as a no-bail hold from the Washington Department of Corrections.

Munter has a previous conviction for possession of a stolen motor vehicle for a high-speed police chase in a stolen car in September 2010.

John arrested after ‘trick gone bad’

A Spokane man was arrested on assault and attempted robbery after police found a prostitute bleeding from her head and barely conscious

James R. Jacobson, 32, is accused of assaulting the woman with a large rock while trying to get back $40 he'd given her for sex, according to court documents. He was released from jail on his own recognizance Monday after appearing in Superior Court.

Police found the victim bleeding in front of the Bel Air Motel in the 1300 block of East Sprague Avenue about 2:06 a.m. Sunday.

A man who lives in an RV at 1407 E. Sprague said he heard the woman screaming on Perry Street, just north of Sprague, and saw a man chasing her, according to court documents. The man got into his car and sped away. The witness told officers he suspected it was a “trick gone bad,” police say.

The woman told police she used a pocket knife to defender herself and cut the man's hand before he knocked her down and struck her in the head with the rock.

Police say Jacobson had a large cut on his middle right finger as well as small cuts under each eye that indicated he'd been in a fight.

Jacobson told officers the prostitute had tried to rob him and denied striking her with a rock but admitted to paying her for sex, according to court documents.

Tampering alleged before murder trial

A Spokane man whose guilty plea was overturned because of a sentencing error is accused of trying to intimidate a witness in his upcoming trial.

Michael Duke Coombes, 31, appeared in court Monday on a witness tampering charge after investigators say he asked another inmate at the Spokane County Jail to contact a man expected to testify at his trial in November.

The man, identified in documents as Eric Nelson, testified at Coombes’ first trial that Coombes had described killing the victim, 53-year-old William R. Nichols, by shooting him in the head.

Coombes allegedly gave notes to the inmate, Tevan T. Williams, convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, that encouraged him to “either let me know where he’s at, or shut him up before I go to trial….he just has to say I made it up and I'm home free,” according to court documents.

Coombes included Nelson's parents' addresses in his note to Williams and emphasized that Nelson's original interviews with police about the murder were voluntary, documents allege.

Report: ‘Bad Hair Bandit’ confesses

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A former nurse at the Kootenai County Jail suspected in a series of bank robberies while wearing a variety of wigs confessed to the crimes after her arrest, according to court documents.

Cynthia Van Holland, 47, accused of being the “Bad Hair Bandit,” remains in custody at the Placer County Jail near Sacramento, Calif., where a federal hold was recently implemented that prohibits her from leaving jail on bond.

Her appearance in U.S. District Court in Sacramento has not yet been set.

Van Holland previously was held on $500,000 bail for robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery after a Placer County sheriff's deputy arrested her and her 26-year-old husband, ex-con Christopher Alonzo, on Aug. 15 after a robbery at Bank of the West in Auburn, Calif.

The Bad Hair Bandit had been on the FBI's most wanted list since May.

Van Holland has not yet been indicted by a grand jury but is charged via complaint with three counts of robbery for heists in California.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court in Sacramento, Van Holland confessed to the 20-robbery, four-state spree and described each incident - including a May 9 robbery in Spokane - in an interview with an FBI agent at the Placer County Jail the day of her arrest.

She also confessed to robberies June 28 at banks in Sacramento and Davis. 

“Van Holland also indicated certain items of clothing she kept and other items that she threw away after some of the robberies,” according to the affidavit.

Police found clothes and accessories in Van Holland's car that were consistent with the clothing worn during the robberies. They also found two wigs in the car, along with a receipt indicating they were purchased at a store in Oregon on July 1. One of the robberies occurred in Lake Oswego, Ore., that day. Van Holland also reportedly had a cat and litter box in the vehicle.

The affidavit does not say if Van Holland said what motivated the crimes. The spree began in Tacoma in December, but the FBI believes Van Holland also may have robbed two banks in Spokane in June and August 2010.

Van Holland worked as a contract nurse in jails and prisons and met Alonzo, a convicted felon from North Idaho, when he was an inmate. She was working at the Kootenai County Jail until about a week before her arrest and also worked as a school nurse in Western Washington during the robbery spree.

Van Holland's cousin, Marlene Kootstra, of Bakersfield, Calif., said family has visited Van Holland in jail but she won't discuss the criminal charges against her because it's an ongoing case.

Alonzo also remains in the Placer County Jail. The Idaho Department of Corrections has a no-bail hold because he was on probation when he was arrested.

Spokane police prepare for busy time

It's going to be a big few months for the Spokane Police Department.

With pending leadership changes and the federal trial of Officer Karl F. Thompson for the death of Otto Zehm set to begin next week, the department is preparing for a stressful time, as Capt. Frank Scalise said in the latest employee newsletter.

Scalise (pictured) said police are used to dealing with unpredictable change, “but the control part creates a little anxiety or frustration,” he said. “Critical incidents, whatever our involvement, add to this,” Scalise wrote. “Media coverage, particularly if not entirely favorable or even accurate, compounds this further.”

Scalise offers this advice to navigate what he calls “these sometimes treacherous waters of change.”

“I would offer you two things to remember. One is that you are involved in an extraordinarily difficult, honorable profession. Take pride in that. You’re part of the SPD. You’re part of your individual team within the SPD. I know the good work you’re doing, and so do you. Be proud,” Scalise wrote. “Secondly, remember what we can control – how we treat each other. This is true at all times, but even more so when we get into difficult times. We are likely facing such a time over the next six months – legal events, media coverage, and leadership change. Any of these events would be a big change all by itself, much less all at once. At these times, we need to pull together as a family. Treat each other well. Look out for each other. Because no matter what else changes, we know we can count on each other.”

The entire newsletter is available in PDF format here.

Dead man in river was on ‘bath salts’

A 31-year-old man found dead in the Spokane River last month had psychological problems that were aggravated by his addiction to a hallucinogenic drug sold as “bath salts,” his family says.

For months, Christopher Don Rogers had been in what family described as a downward spiral. He left a mental health facility in Portland against the advice of doctors and returned to Spokane, where he experienced drug-induced delusions that prompted him to call the police. He ended up at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center this summer – delusional and dehydrated from hours of running around barefoot in downtown Spokane high on bath salts, a synthetic drug that is banned in Washington and Idaho.

Read the rest of my story here.

Washington state has now permanently banned 'bath salts.' Read more here.

CdA man busted in Ore. w/ 10lbs of pot

A Coeur d'Alene man was arrested in Oregon Thursday with 10 pounds of marijuana. 

Seth Anthony Mitchell, 22, was stopped for a traffic violation while driving a 2004 Ford F-150 on Highway 97 north of Madras at milepost 78 about 12:30 p.m.

Troopers found oxycodone and hydrocodone and arrested Mitchell for two drug charges, then obtained a search warrant and found the marijuana, according to Oregon State Police.

Mitchell faces an additional charge of unlawful possession, distribution and manufacture of a controlled substance.

He was booked into the Jefferson County Jail.

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