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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for December 2012

Man crashes into tree while fleeing authorities

A Spokane Valley pursuit ended Wednesday night when a man crashed an allegedly stolen car into a tree near Valleyway Avenue and Walnut Road.

The driver, identified as Justin D. Martin, 29, was originally sought by a Washington State Patrol trooper who spotted Martin’s vehicle around 10:41 p.m. with a broken headlight at the Argonne Road exit along Interstate 90.

The trooper chased him all the way to Alki Avenue and Bowdish Road where he called off the chase, but a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy found him to continue the chase.

Martin swerved the vehicle head on into a deputy’s patrol car, but the deputy avoided the collision. Martin continued his flight from authorities by speeding about 50 mph, according to Spokane County Sheriff’s spokesman Craig Chamberlin, through a residential neighborhood along Valleyway Avenue.

Martin reportedly crashed the car at Walnut Road into two large trees. Spokane Valley Fire Department had to extricate him from the vehicle. Medics transported himto a local hospital with serious injuries, a broken leg and arm, Chamberlin said. He remains detained and investigators are waiting on blood results for possible THC intoxication.

Martin faces charges of attempted first degree assault for attempting to ram a police car, eluding deputies and possession of a stolen vehicle.

The vehicle allegedly belonged to Martin’s mother. She was purchasing the vehicle from a family friend, but was not the registered owner.

Thompson being held at Phoenix security facility

Authorities have transferred 65-year-old Karl F. Thompson from the Federal Detention Center Sea-Tac in Seattle to a medium security facility in Arizona, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Though he's listed as being located at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix, Thompson's release date is listed as unknown. He was sentenced Nov. 15 to four years in prison.

The former Spokane police officer was listed as “in transit” as of Friday last week.

Stabbing suspect bonds out, victim in satisfactory condition

A fight outside a Chattaroy bar led to a man being stabbed multiple times and was found unconscious and bleeding on the ground by responding Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies. The victim, now identified as Orlan Knuth, is in satisfactory condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center, according to staff.

Deputies arrested two suspects who left the scene, but came back. Brian D. Reinhart, 25, faces first degree assault charges as does Dwayne W. Hackley, 42, and appeared in court Thursday afternoon.

Reinhart allegedly stabbed Knuth in the torso and thigh with a Gerber knife after an altercation in the parking lot of Prime Tyme, located at 4211 E. Westwood, according to a court affidavit. Reinhart claimed he stabbed the victim in self defense, documents said.

Knuth allegedly spun a chain in his hand and a knife in the other, according to court documents. Detectives picked up several items from the crime scene as evidence including a knife, chain, hat and cell phone.

Reinhart was transported to the hospital for a single stab wound to his arm before his interview at the Public Safety Building along with Hackley.

Judge Annette Plese placed Reinhart’s bond at $10,000, but according to staff at Spokane County Jail, he bonded out Thursday night. Hackley remains in custody with a $30,000 bond.

SCRAPS recommends animal cruelty charges against Evergreen Pet Shop owners

An investigation of an out-of-business Spokane Valley pet store has led to charging recommendations by SCRAPS officials to Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office, according to a news release.

The owner of the closed Evergreen Pet Shop could face first and second degree animal cruelty charges for the treatment of their animals that were kept in the store while in transition to a new property owner.

SCRAPS officials have also recommended misdemeanor charges of confining animals in an unsafe manner. Numerous complaints were filed in Nov. against the store for reports of dead animals and failure to provide proper food, water and sanitation for what pets were being housed.

Investigators found 12 dead rats and 9 dead mice during their initial look into the store, according to Nancy Hill, director of SCRAPS. The rodents were examined by local veterinarians for SCRAPS’ report. They also looked at some of the live animals adopted by members of the community after the store’s ownership was transferred to new property owners.

SCRAPS has received several complaints over the years for the pet store, said Nancy Hill in an earlier interview, but nothing has risen to the point of being a violation until now.

Spokane’s police chief - groom to be

Congratulations to Frank Straub and his fiancee. The couple's marriage license application was submitted to Spokane County Auditor's Office this week.

Straub will soon be wed to Amber Myers. The couple moved to Spokane together earlier this year when Straub was hired as Spokane Police Department's new police chief.

Our city editors spotted the public record late last night while scanning the Northwest section of the paper. You can see the notice in the Dec. 21 edition on page A6. 

Garbage truck breaks home’s gas meter

A gas leak evacuated four homes Friday morning after a Spokane garbage truck broke a residential gas meter.

It was garbage day today for a home near Carlisle Avenue and Lincoln Street when a garbage truck clipped their gas meter meter around 8:30 a.m., causing it to leak natural gas from a small half-inch pipe.

Property owner Mark Loe said the mishap caused the basement tenant to wake up unexpectedly.

“He thought the Mayan calendar had finally come true,” Loe said.

Firefighters evacuated four homes as a precaution, but easily turned off the gas valve at the source, according to firefighter Jeff Estes. Meters can easily be damaged, but it’s more common to have digging accidents, he added, like Thursday afternoon incident where a contractor busted a natural gas pipe in the 1600 block of North Cook Street.

Nearby homes were briefly evacuated including a residential day care. Betsy Olson corralled her four grandchildren and four neighborhood kids to Chief Garry Park for some playtime.

This morning’s gas meter damage is the second publicized incident this week involving a city garbage truck. Two trash men were helping a woman move her stuck car when the parking brake on their truck broke sending the massive vehicle down an icy hill into several parked cars.

(The broken gas meter remains on the ground after a garbage truck broke a pipe and started a natural gas leak. | Nicole Hensley photo)

Slick, steep South Hill road - catalyst for multiple vehicle pile-up

Icy conditions got the best of a Spokane garbage truck during the Thursday morning commute as it slid down a treacherous South Hill road and collided with several parked vehicles.

The drivers said their chains and parking brake of a garbage truck snapped as they were outside helping another driver stuck in the roadway. The heavy truck slid down Howard Avenue and hit several parked cars near Sixth Street.

Nobody was injured during the pile-up, according to Spokane Police officers, but multiple vehicles were towed away due to damage.

Maureen Henderson was inside her stuck car as the truck careened toward her. It hit hard, she said, but it wasn’t as jarring as she thought it was going to be.

“Last year it was a school bus that knocked out a couple cars,” Henderson said. “If the city - if they would come and gravel this, it wouldn’t happen.”

Because the garbage truck is owned by the city of Spokane, officers could not cite the drivers, but the incident report will be examined by a traffic lieutenant who will decide if a citation merits the situation.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said the drivers will not be held liable for damage to the other vehicles.

According to witnesses, the garbage men had finished picking up trash in a nearby alleyway when they stopped to help Henderson.

(The chains and parking brake of a Spokane garbage truck snapped during the Thursday morning commute. The truck collided with multiple cars on its way down Howard Street near Sixth Avenue. Nicole Hensley photo)

Ammunition found in car previously owned by homicide suspect

Detectives found a .22 caliber ammunition cartridge earlier this week inside a vehicle previously owned by Donna Perry, 60, a woman linked to the 1990 slaying of Spokane prostitutes, according to recently filed court documents.

The search warrant says Perry, previously known as Douglas, sold her 1969 white International Scout about five years ago and after several owners it ended up in the possession of a Woodland, Wash. man who planned to salvage it for parts.

Detectives offered to buy the vehicle, but the current owner declined to sell. Detectives seized the vehicle with a search warrant and towed it 20 miles to the Washington State Patrol crime lab in Vancouver for analysis.

The car had not been altered since it was owned by Perry, according to court documents. Detectives seized the unused ammo, floor mats and remaining debris lifted by tape from the car during the Dec. 17 search.

The cartridge appeared old and was buried under things on the passenger floor board, according to Detective Jim Dresback. The car had not been running for sometime and the current owner had only had it for about a year.

The ammunition was identified as the same type found inside the bodies of Yolanda Sapp, 26, Nickie Lowe, 34 and Kathleen Brisbois, 38. All three prostitutes were shot to death with a .22 caliber-gun. Their nude bodies were found in or near the Spokane River.

Detectives arrested Perry, previously known as Douglas, earlier this year after a retired detective saw her buying ammo and a pistol magazine. The detective recognized her as a felon and is prohibited from possessing firearms.

Women’s panties were discovered boxed up inside a closet at Perry’s 2006 E. Empire Avenue home during a federal search of the home for firearms.

According to court documents, Perry became a woman in 2000 during a gender reassignment surgery while in Bangkok.

Burglar linked to additional residential break-ins

A thief accused of breaking into a South Hill home earlier this month has been linked to additional homes targeted Dec. 7, according to court documents filed Friday, but formal charges for those extra crimes have not been filed yet.

Police arrested 26-year-old Kyle P. Murphy after vigilant neighbors spotted a suspicious looking man checking out homes. Officers found him leaving a home in the 2800 block of south Manito Blvd. with a backpack filled with what they believed was stolen goods.

In addition to the 2800 address, detectives have linked Murphy to two burglaries in the 2100 block that occurred that same day, according to court documents, including the Emmersons who were featured in previous coverage.

Some of the property reported by neighbors as stolen were recovered inside a backpack including a fish finder that was meant as a gift to Scott Emmerson from his wife. The thief reportedly tore through the presents after breaking into the home through the dog door.

The fish finder will not be returned to the victims in time for Christmas, said Celeste Emmerson. They’ll have to wait until the investigations concludes while the gift remains at police property.

Murphy remains in custody at Spokane County Jail with a $15,000 bond.

Minnesota fugitives arrested at Bead Lake cabin

A man wanted on theft charges in Minn. was caught over the weekend by Pend Oreille County authorities after he was found hiding in a cabin near Bead Lake with his girlfriend, according to a Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s news release.

Deputies learned last week Justin L. Feldt, 32, and Jessie A. Pechia, 26, were possibly on their way to Bead Lake, about ten miles north of Newport, Wash. Deputies found an abandoned vehicle that matched his vehicle’s description and began canvassing nearby summer homes.

They also learned a small row boat had been stolen nearby and they believed it was used to visit the other side of the lake only accessible by boat or an ATV, according to the news release.

Deputies borrowed an ATV from Idaho authorities and drove it to the lake cabin where they found Feldt and Pechia. They were arrested on Dec. 15 local burglary, firearm, theft, obstruction charges and the additional out-of-state warrants from Minnesota.

Feldt was originally sought by Minn. authorities for felony charges of check and mail theft and financial fraud. A warrant for his arrest was issued Nov. 21, according to the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office website.

Firefighters rescue trapped horse from Spokane Valley pool

A wandering horse named “Missy” found itself trapped inside a swimming pool this morning after it was set loose from yesterday’s strong winds that knocked over its fencing, according to a Spokane Valley Fire Department news release.

The homeowners woke up to find their neighbor’s horse inside their backyard pool in the 17600 block of east Montgomery Avenue, according to the news release. They believe Missy got into their backyard last night and stepped right into the pool.

Firefighters built a series of steps so the horse could walk out of the shallow end, said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford, who suspects the 15-year-old mare avoided drowning or hypothermia because her hooves tore through the winterized cover draining the water.

The horse’s owners stood by to keep Missy calm while firefighters worked to free her. Using the constructed steps, she stepped out of the pool and reportedly only suffered minor injuries.

The owners led their horse back to her stable for food, water and of course, some rest.

Couple arrested for Cusick home burglaries

Authorities arrested a couple last week for allegedly burglarizing eight homes near Usk, Wash., according to a Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Based on tips and evidence, deputies searched a home near the burglaries where a suspect, James L. Nenema, 25, lives.

Not only did deputies uncover a cache of stolen goods, but they found another suspect, Sarah J. Lucier, 25, hiding in the crawl space under the home.

Deputies recovered a variety of reportedly stolen items including tools, furniture, televisions, electronics, home decorations and some miscellaneous household items.

Nenema and Lucier were arrested for residential burglary and theft, but may face additional charges as deputies continue their investigation and process evidence.

SPD sent officers to city schools in show of support

Although more symbolic than practical, Spokane police sent officers to every school today in an effort to demonstrate that the community is working together to keep kids safe.

New Chief Frank Straub said he hoped it also would provide anxious parents with some level of comfort to see officers positioned near their schools as the nation struggles to make sense of the deadly Connecticut school shooting.

“The Spokane Police Department works very closely with Spokane Public Schools to be able to respond to emergencies,” Straub said in prepared remarks. “Every SPD officer is trained to respond to active shooter situations. We have trained in our local schools, developed joint plans, and have detailed layouts of every school within in the City to speed our response. Protecting our students and our schools is very important to us, and we have increased our police coverage at our schools today in light of the day’s events.”

You can find full coverage of the Connecticut shooting online and in Saturday's edition of The Spokesman-Review.

Idaho State Police seize 120 lbs. of pot in I-90 stop

Idaho State Police seized about 120 pounds of marijuana Thursday from a vehicle traveling east on Interstate 90 in Shoshone County.

The driver, Serafin Moreno, 40, was arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana, a felony. Moreno said he lives in Texas.

Scores of shrink-wrapped bags full of marijuana buds were found in duffle bags in the back of the Mazda SUV, which has California license plates, officials said. The drugs have an estimated street value of more than $386,000, the ISP said.

Cpl. Kevin Kessler stopped the vehicle for speeding about 1:30 p.m. near milepost 46. He became suspicious that the driver was attempting to smuggle drugs and obtained Moreno’s consent to search the vehicle.

Man drove wrong way down Division, arrested by WSP

An alleged drunk driver was arrested early Friday morning after driving the wrong way on Division and speeding away from authorities, according to a Washington State Patrol news release.

The trooper tried to pull over the driver, identified as Ian S. Hill, 26, around midnight, but Hill sped away into a parking lot near Boone Avenue and Washington Street, the news release said. The flight made Hill’s truck spin off the roadway onto Atlantic Street and hit a sign.

Hill reportedly drove through another parking lot and into an alleyway where he crashed into a concrete wall and then a neighboring building, according to the news release.

Hill was not injured during the crash and neither was his passenger. He was arrested and booked into Spokane County Jail driving under the influence and hit and run charges.

Woman hit by truck downtown, breaks leg

Nicole Hensley photo

A woman's leg was broken after she was hit by a truck in a downtown Spokane intersection this morning.

Around 7:55 a.m., the driver of a truck was turning left on Washington Street from Riverside Avenue and hit the woman, said Spokane Police Officer Brad Moon.

Medics transported her to the local hospital for her injuries. The driver was cited for failure to yield to the woman in the crosswalk.

(Spokane Police Officer John O'Brien holds an IV while medics tend to a woman with a broken leg after the driver of a truck hit her in a downtown intersection Thursday morning. Nicole Hensley photo)

Felon flees argument, K-9 dog finds him hiding under snow

A man tried to hide from police after an argument with possible gunfire erupted at a north Spokane County home Tuesday afternoon, but a Spokane County Sheriff’s K-9 dog found him hiding in a hole under a tree.

Anthony Young, 38, had four active felony warrants out of Stevens County, according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office news release, and reportedly ran into the woods before deputies could arrive to the home at the 37000 block of North Newport Highway, a woman told police.

Jet, the K-9 dog, followed tracks in the snow for one mile from the property and found Young hiding, the news release said. Jet could smell him through a pile of snow, sticks and pine needles Young used to hide himself with.

The other parties of the argument had left the property as well. Deputies saw them driving away earlier and stopped the car with two men inside.

Deputies were advised that the passengers were involved with the argument and they checked the vehicle and found a .22 caliber revolver with the serial number ground off inside a backpack.

The driver, identified as William Talbert, 24, told deputies the gun belonged to someone else and he was arrested for felony firearm possession, altering the serial number and driving with a revoked license.

Young was arrested for the felony warrants which included burglary, taking a motor vehicle without permission, theft and possession of stolen property.

Deputies were unable to confirm if a shooting took place.

Reckless driver’s car found on fire

Police attempted to pull over a reckless driver near Park and Trent late Tuesday night, but lost it after the driver ignored a stop light at the Havana Street and Mission Avenue intersection, according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office news release.

A car with a similar description was found reportedly on fire in a homeowner’s driveway near 200 N. Bessie, said the news release. Deputies confirmed it was the same car and fire crews responded to put out the fully engulfed car.

The fire was declared not arson, according to Spokane Valley Fire investigators, but it may have started somewhere in the engine compartment, they told police.

Police don’t know at this time who the driver was or if the vehicle was stolen. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Authorities seek info on vehicle theft suspect

Do you recognize this man?

Spokane Valley property crimes detectives are asking for the public's assistance in identifying a vehicle theft suspect. 

The theft occurred Nov. 20 near the 13100 block of East Indiana Avenue in Spokane Valley. 

Anyone that can assist detectives in identifying the suspect in the surveillance photos from Walmart on East Broadway in Spokane Valley is asked to contact Detective Darin Staley at 509-477-3363.

New Crime Stoppers fugitives

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Authorities are offering rewards for information on these these five fugitives.

Persons with information regarding their whereabouts should call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-800-222-TIPS, or should forward the tip via www.crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org.

Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect the cash reward.

Man pleads not guilty of animal cruelty

A man suspected of stabbing his own dog at his northeast Spokane home Nov. 24, pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon during his Spokane County Superior Court arraignment.

Nathan V. Meier, 22, remains in custody at Spokane County Jail with a $10,000 bond for first degree animal cruelty.

Police found him with blood on his person and wounds to his wrist near the 3700 block of north Regal Street. Police believe he stabbed his dog, a 7-year-old German Shepherd mix named Raider, in the throat causing serious injuries.

Meier was taken to the hospital for his own injuries, but was booked into jail afterward.

Idaho fugitive well-known to Montana sheriff

Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard needs no refresher course on 57-year-old Mitchell L. Walck after overseeing a standoff about 11 years ago in western Montana that led to Walck’s arrest for shooting at his deputies.

Howard also remembers the death threats he received from Walck during the 10 years he was housed in Montana State Prison after assaulting a corrections deputy and beating him “pretty good.”

Walck was released last year after serving his sentence and is currently on the run from Idaho authorities after allegedly fleeing a traffic stop late Friday night and firing at an Idaho State Police officer and missing. The officer was not injured.

Kootenai County set Walck’s bond at $1 million after he allegedly kidnapped a Rathdrum, Idaho, woman at gunpoint, stole her car and took her on a multiple state road trip before leaving her, unharmed in Glendive, Mont.

Authorities believe Walck is armed, dangerous and a threat to officers.

“I’m really concerned. He’s really weird character to explain in words,” Howard said. “He sees and hears a lot that are just not there.”

In the 2001 incident, when Howard’s deputies approached the abandoned rancher near Drummond, Mont., they found Walck and his girlfriend inside the home. The girlfriend bolted to deputies and warned them that Walck intended to shoot and kill them, which led to the standoff, Howard said.

Howard recalled the strange things Walck would do during the standoff including putting down his rifle, jumping outside through a window and dancing. He’d jump back inside the home before he could be detained.

Howard coaxed him slowly out of the home and the SWAT team from Montana State Prison shot him with a rubber bullet which “knocked him senseless”, Howard said.

Deputies arrested Walck for burglary, theft, criminal trespass and and assault for shooting at deputies inside the rancher. He was booked into Powell County Jail where he began acting out and was placed into isolation, Howard said. When officers responded, he ambushed them and attacked the first officer through the door, he said.

The charges from the standoff were eventually thrown out due to a technicality, but Walck landed 10 years at Montana State Prison for assaulting a peace officer. He later sued Howard and the prison’s warden because “he truly believed he owned that property” where the standoff took place, Howard said.

“He wanted that property - and from the prison, he wanted the old slaughter house from out there,” Howard said. “He truly believes those things and those type of people in my opinion, and I’ve been doing this since ‘86, they’re dangerous people when they’re that way.”

However, Howard said if Walck came knocking at his door, “He’s not walking away.”

Crackdown on illegal firearms possession

Two gun-toting North Idaho men prohibited from possessing firearms because of prior criminal records are headed to prison.

George J. Bondurant, 35, of Bonners Ferry, was ordered Monday to serve 10 months in prison after a shotgun was found in the backseat of his car in May, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Bondurant was convicted in 1999 of involuntary manslaughter, which prohibits him from possessing firearms, and pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Jason Patrick Day, 35, of Plummer, was ordered Monday to serve 28 months in prison after police discovered a concealed pistol in his possession during a traffic stop in March, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Day doesn’t have a concealed weapons permit, and is prohibited from possessing firearms because of a prior domestic violence conviction. He pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm.

Both men were sentenced in U.S. District Court at Coeur d’Alene. The cases were prosecuted as part of Idaho's Project Safe Neighborhoods Program, which seeks to reduce gun violence in Idaho.

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