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Sirens & Gavels

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.

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