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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for February 2012

Sex offender admits child porn charge

A registered sex offender admitted today to possessing child pornography at his home in Hayden Lake, Idaho.

John Patrick McClaren, 46, faces up to 15 years in prison when he's sentenced June 19 in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force began investigating McClaren in December 2009 after learning his Internet Protocol address was involved in the distribution of child pornography online.

Investigators seized a laptop computer and two hard drives from his home in the 3100 block of East Cambridge Drive on Jan. 27, 2010, that contained at least 160 sexually explicit images of minors. One child was identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as being a sex abuse victim from New Hampshire, officials said.

McClaren was convicted of possessing child pornography in Kootenai County in 2001, according to the Idaho Sex Offender Registry.

Bank manager sentenced for $400k theft

A woman who embezzled  $400,000 from the bank she managed in North Idaho for 12 years is to spend 2 1/2 years in prison.

Mary Ann Head, 59, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene after pleading guilty in December to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution - Bank of America in Hayden Lake.

In addition to 30 months in prison, Head will be on probation for five years after prison and is to pay $400,000 restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

Head began misappropriating ATM funds in 1997 to cover overdraft fees for a longtime customer, according to court documents.

The man never repaid her the $100,000, starting a series of financial discrepancies that soon became a routine way for Head to pay her credit card debt.

Head lived with heavy stress for years as she deceived the bank, but that “pales in comparison to the enormous shame and sadness that weighs upon her.”

Head was caught in December 2009 when the bank installed a new ATM.

Her life has since unraveled.

“She has lost all of her friends as news of her case spread through the community,” according to her sentencing memorandum. She has sold her home in an effort to have money to pay toward restitution and currently lives in a motel…Her husband has moved to New Mexico to look for work and left her alone in Idaho to wait for sentencing.”

Head had no criminal history when she began stealing money from the bank. She has two children ages 37 and 23 and married her husband, Ricky Head, in 1972. She started at the bank as a part-time teller in 1993 and has never worked anywhere else, according to court documents.

5 cited for porn shop indecent exposure

Five people were cited for indecent exposure during an undercover police investigation at a Spokane Valley porn store Tuesday.

Undercover detectives walked through the Hollywood Erotic Boutique in the 9600 block of East Sprague Avenue and observed five acts of indecent exposure, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives also checked for criminal activity at the boutique in May 2009 and May 2011. Seven violations were reported during those visits.

The five people identified Tuesday were cited for indecent exposure and released at the scene. Their names have not been released.

Detectives checked other adult stores in the area, but no other violations were reported.

N. Idaho man sentenced for child porn

A Hayden Lake man is to spend more than six years in federal prison for possessing child pornography.

Charley Brigham Leighton II, 41, also is to be on probation for 15 years, forfeit the computer and media used in the crime and register as a sex offender under a sentence imposed today in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

Investigators seized computers from Leighton's home in August 2010 that contained pornography images of children. Leighton told investigators he'd downloaded more than 1,000 images in about a year, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty in October.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said the images depicted children from Missouri, Georgia, Connecticut, Michigan, Florida, Washington, France, Germany, Brazil, Belgium, England and the Netherlands, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

“Obtaining and possessing child pornography sexually exploits the children who appear in these heinous images again and again and again,” U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said in a prepared statement.  “Mr. Leighton’s lengthy prison sentence sends a strong message that Idaho law enforcement, prosecutors and courts well understand that protecting our children against those who would exploit them is a critical criminal justice mission.”

Couple charged in armed robbery spree

A couple accused of robbing a video game store with a pellet gun in January has been charged with five other gunpoint robberies.

Merle A. Andrew Jr., 36, and his girlfriend, suspected getaway driver Nicole N. Stearns, 29, (pictured) are accused of robbing an elderly man Nov. 13 after going to the man's home on West Four Mound Road and claiming Andrew had car trouble.

 Andrew told police he was familiar with the man because the man helped him get his car out of a ditch a couple years ago, police say. He said he used the stolen money to buy heroin.

Police beleive Andrew and Stearns also robbed Village Center Cinemas in Wandermere at 12622 N. Division St. on Dec. 2.

The couple also is accused of robbing a movie theater in Airway Heights Nov. 21, according to court documents.

They were arrested for that robbery Jan. 17, after they were already jailed for the holdup at GameStop in Airway Heights, which occurred just after Andrew stole a pellet gun from Wal-Mart.

Andrew also is accused of robbing the GameStop at 410 E. Holland Road on Nov. 26.

He's also believed to have tried to rob Ace Cash Express, 3515 N. Division St., on Nov. 29 and the Howard Johnson, 3033 N. Division, on Nov. 30.

Stearns and Andrew were charged Monday with four counts of first-degree robbery and one count of attempted first-degree robbery.

Big meth dealer gets 10 years in prison

A Spokane man who transported large amounts of methamphetamine to the Inland Northwest from Southern California is to spend 10 years in federal prison.

James Stewart, 50, also is to forfeit drug proceeds of $180,000, perform 120 hours of community service and be on probation for 10 years after his release under a sentence imposed today in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Stewart's co-defendant, Shad Alan Johnson, of Rathdrum, Idaho, was sentenced Sept. 7 to five years in prison.  Johnson was also ordered to forfeit $180,000, or substitute property equal to the money judgment.   
Stewart, who pleaded guily in July, traveled to California several times to pick up meth. He switched cars with a co-conspirators who would hide meth in the door panels before swapping vehicles again. Stewart transported the drugs to Lewiston, Coeur d’Alene, and Spokane.

“These two defendants received lengthy prison sentences for bringing this dangerously addictive drug to Idaho communities,” said U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson.  “The U.S. Attorney's Office will continue to work with state and federal law enforcement officers throughout Idaho and our neighboring states to ensure that drug traffickers are caught, prosecuted and convicted.”

Johnson was arrested with a stolen Jeep and a handgun on Jan. 7, 2009, as detectives staked out Pinnacle Realty founder Joseph G. Ward’s home on Long Lake.

Ward was arrested that day, too, in a massive Washington State Patrol investigation into a methamphetamine- and sex-fueled criminal enterprise allegedly operated out of his home.

Ward pleaded guilty in October to possession of a stolen motor vehicle and nine counts of first-degree possession of stolen property. He was credited for two days served in jail, given a year probation and ordered to pay $68,152 restitution.

Johnson and Stewart are connected to Larry McMillan, Brenda Barron and her daughter Amber Larsen, Daniel Napier and Christopher Gober, who are serving time in federal prison for meth, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Stewart was born and raised in the Post Falls area and has been married and divorced four times, according to court documents. He has two children ages 31 and 15 and has worked in construction and property management.

He previously served five years in prison for a federal counterfeit case and also has a previous methamphetamine conviction.

Man pleads not guilty in fatal stabbing

A man accused of stabbing another man to death in downtown Spokane pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a second-degree murder charge.

David J. Fagundes, Jr., 34, is accused of killing Casey W. Anderson, 23, during a fight that included Anderson peppery spraying Fagundes, according to court documents.

Anderson fell into traffic near the intersection of Third Avenue and Howard Street about 4:50 a.m. Feb. 19 with two stab wounds to his back and bite marks on his forehead.

Anderson broke into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, assaulted her and stole her cellphone, police say. He then went to Fagundes’ apartment at 225 S. Wall St., where the men fought and Fagundes bit Anderson on the forehead several times.

The two men fell to the floor and “Anderson apparently ‘fell’ on top of a ‘butterfly knife,’ ” according to documents prepared by police.

Detectives say Fagundes became uncooperative during questioning and tried to grab a concealed firearm. He was disarmed and detained after a brief struggle.

Fagundes has a felony conviction for burglary in Montana in 1996 that prohibits him from possessing firearms. He also has a conviction in Bonner County for felony battery.

Fagundes remains in jail on $100,000 bond after his arraignment Tuesday before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese.

Mentally ill robbery suspect still jailed

A mentally ill Spokane man accused of robbing a downtown bank for the second time in two years remains jailed on $50,000 bond.

David Donald Thometz, 49, was arrested in his room at the Carlyle Hotel, just down the street from Washington Trust Bank, 706 W. Second Ave., Friday morning after the robbery.

Investigators used a GPS device included with the stolen cash to track Thometz, who did not wear a disguise during the robbery and is not believed to have had a weapon.

Thometz robbed Sterling Savings Bank on North Wall Street in May 2010 and served time in jail and was placed on probation for five years.

He is supervised by the Special Needs Unit because he is a mentally ill offender. A corrections officer last had contact with him Feb. 21.

Thometz said in 2010 that voices in his head told him to rob the bank. He was also sentenced to a year in jail after burning down his Spokane Valley home in May 2008. He also told investigators a voice in his head named told him to do it.

Even if Thometz posts the $50,000 bond, he won't be able to leave jail because of a Washington Department of Corrections hold.

Serial robbery suspect pleads not guilty

Pepper spray apparently didn't deter a drug-seeking pharmacy robber in Deer Park: Police believe he tried robbing the store two more times.

Aaron David Kenny Miller, 24, pleaded not guilty today to first-degree robbery, second-degree robbery and attempted second-degree robbery for holdups at the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Deer Park in December and February.

Detectives believe Miller was the gunman who robbed the store of oxycodone on Dec. 5 after displaying a gun and placing a note on the counter that demanded drugs and said he needed rent money for his children.

A pharmacy employee pepper sprayed Miller, but police believe he again robbed the store on Dec. 30 with a note claiming he had a gun and demanding drugs. He was pepper sprayed again but returned to the store Feb. 21 seeking more drugs, police say. He didn't get them that time, but he did get another dose of the spray.

Miller ran  from the pharmacy to a home at 116 S. Fir in Deer Park covered in pepper spray, according to court documents. A resident called police after Miller told him he'd tried to rob a store, documents say.

Miller reportedly confessed to Spokane County sheriff's deputies that he'd robbed the pharmacy twice before. He remains in jail on $100,000 bond.

Past coverage:

Jan. 27: Sketch shows OxyContin robbery suspect

Deputy avoids spit; suspect faces felony

A Spokane man arrested on a disorderly conduct charge Friday upped the judicial ante by spitting at a deputy's face, authorities said today.

Christopher Joseph Davison, 23, faces a felony third-degree assault charge after the incident at the jail with Deputy Liljenberg. Liljenberg arrested Davison on a misdemeanor charge after contacting him in the parking lot at Safeway on West France Avenue.

Davison was confrontational and drunk and had been walking in the roadway and disrupting traffic, according to a news release by Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Liljenberg asked Davison if he could give him a ride somewhere, but Davison declined “and told the deputy he was going to walk to the moon,” Chamberlin wrote.  “As expected, Davison continued to yell and kick at traffic causing traffic to slow due to Davison unpredictable actions.”

Davison was transported to jail, where he spit at Liljenberg's face while being escorted to the booking area. Liljenberg avoided the saliva, Chamberlin said.

Davison remains in jail on $1,000 bond after appearing before a judge Monday.

Say what! Self-filmed suspect back in jail

This is a screen shot of a video vehicle prowling suspect Nathan Calvert posted on his Facebook page.

A car prowling suspect who escaped from Geiger Corrections Center now faces an additional felony charge.

Nathan John Calvert is to be arraigned next week on a charge of second-degree escape.

He was arrested Feb. 23 in the area of 2900 E. Cleveland Ave. after escaping Geiger on Feb. 11.

 Calvert, 28, already is charged with residential burglary, possession of a stolen firearm and three counts of second-degree theft for a theft spree that included him posting a video of himself with suspect stolen property on his Facebook page.

The alleged spree ended when an attorney caught him in his truck. Spokane Valley police say Calvert told detectives he committed 30 to 40 vehicle prowlings and garage burglaries a night for two to three weeks throughout Spokane County. 

Past coverage:

Dec. 14: Cops: Man's Facebook post is evidence

Police: Burglary suspect assaulted cop

Spokane police arrest Albert V. Bergen, 46, on charges of burglary, resisting arrest and assaulting police. (SPD photo)

A man is accused of assaulting a police officer after he was caught in the backyard of a home in northwest Spokane Friday.

According to Spokane police, a woman spotted a man later identified as Albert V. Bergen, 46, enter the backyard of her home in the 6200 block of North A Street, just south of West Francis Avenue, and begin rummaging through a shed.

The woman told Bergen to leave, but he refused and tried to enter her home, she told police. Bergen lunged at Officer Holton Wildhalm when confronted about 2:46 p.m. and struck him in the chest with his elbows.

Wildhalm was fighting with Bergen on the muddy lawn when Bergen picked up a jagged rocked and began trying to strike Wildhalm in the head, police say. Other officers arrived and detained Bergen.

Bergen remains in jail on charges of second-degree burglary, third-degree assault and resisting arrest.

Judge rejects mom-based lawyer plea

A 50-year-old Spokane man recently sentenced to prison for drugs won't be allowed to retain his publicly funded lawyer while he awaits legal advice from his mother, a judge ruled Monday.

Vernon V. Jackson had objected to public defender Mark Hannibal's routine request to withdraw as his attorney after Jackson was sentenced last week to two years in prison for three counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Jackson said Monday that he spoke with his mother after he pleaded guilty and “might have a change of heart” but needed to talk to his mother again. He wanted Hannibal to stay on as his attorney just in case.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese asked Jackson if his mother was a lawyer. He said no, but she “has lawyer skills.”

“I wanted to become an attorney, but I messed up,” Jackson said.

Plese denied Jackson's request, noting there was no legal basis for Hannibal to continue to represent him. Jackson can still try to change his plea once he talks to his mother even without a lawyer currently assigned.

No charges in fatal Colville cop shooting

A Colville police officer was justified when he shot and killed a 21-year-old car prowling suspect who investigators say was armed with a stolen gun last November, prosecutors recently concluded.

 Officer Dan Spring Spring feared for his life when Sean Bergstrasser (pictured) grabbed a stolen gun in a motel room Nov. 12, and his use of deadly force to stop the threat posed by Bergstrasser was legal, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen and Deputy Prosecutor Mathew Enzler concluded.

Andy Hydorn, president of the Colville Chamber of Commerce and owner of Benny’s Colville Inn, was in the motel room and watched Officer Dan Spring fire six shots at Bergstrasser after Bergstrasser picked up a firearm and pointed it toward the officer “as if to fire the weapon,” according to a report released Monday by the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 14: Man killed by Colville police a California native

No witness tampering in Mehring case

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has declined to charge former Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi with witness tampering in a wrongful termination case the city eventually lost and is currently on the hook for about $1.5 million in damages and attorneys fees.

The complaint, was filed in October by an attorney for Spokane Police Officer Jay Mehring, alleged that Kirkpatrick and Treppiedi failed to renew a contract of a police psychologist Deanette Palmer after she deemed Mehring fit for duty following allegations the officer threatened to kill his estranged wife.

The allegations came during a messy divorce, and a jury later sided with Mehring and awarded him $722,000 in damages and a judge approved $833,00 in fees to attorney Bob Dunn.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich asked the Washington State Patrol to investigate and that report was forwarded to Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll for review. Driscoll declined to file charges, according to a news release.

Past coverage:

Nov. 5: Jury awards Mehring $700,000

Oct. 5: Spokane police detective alleges witness tampering

Kirkpatrick out for Phoenix top cop spot

Former Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick is out of the running for top cop in Arizona's largest city.

The City of Phoenix announced today that four candidates have been selected as finalists for police chief: San Jose Police Chief Robert Davis, Dallas Assistant Police Chief Daniel Garcia, Phoenix Assistant Police Chief Kevin Robinson and acting Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner.  

Kirkpatrick, who left the Spokane Police Department in early January after more than five years as chief, was one of seven semifinalists who met last week with panels that included 31 business and community leaders. She also participated in a “meet and greet” with the public, according to a news release.

“Our selection of finalists follows a national recruitment process and critical input from the community,” Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos said in a prepared statement.  “Thank you to everyone who helped with the process of choosing the four best candidates for this critical leadership position in the City of Phoenix.”

Past coverage:

Feb. 17: Kirkpatrick a finalist for Phoenix police chief

Jan. 3: Kirkpatrick looks back on 5 years as chief

Spokane police honored for heroism

The courage and heroism of more than a dozen Spokane police officers who went above and beyond the call of duty will be honored tonight.

Check back with The Spokesman-Review for full coverage of the recipients. The awards presentation which is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Spokane City Hall.

An advance preview of the ceremony, shared by police organizers, indicates this year's recipients include:

  • An officer who responded to a suicide call and resuscitated the victim before paramedics arrived.
  • An off-duty officer who pulled a suicidal woman away from her attempted jump the Monroe Street Bridge.
  • A motorcycle officer who was injured by a live utility wire that had fallen after the wreckless driver he was pursuing hit an  electrical pole.  The wire wrapped around his neck, severely injuring him.

UPDATE — Here's a link to reporter Chelsea Bannach's story as it appeared in Friday's edition of The SR.

Spokane makes Tonight Show w/ Leno

I will be out of the office for at least this week. My colleagues may update this blog occasionally. Meanwhile, enjoy Spokane's time in the sun.

Past coverage:

Feb. 9: Report: Traveling prostitutes cited ugly Spokane competition

Geiger fight leads to stitches, charges

An inmate assaulted another inmate at Geiger Corrections Center Friday evening, officials said today.

Anthony Neil Carson, 33, was moved to the Spokane County Jail to face a second-degree assault charge after entering the victim's room and punching him in the face and body repeatedly, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The victim, whose name has not been released, received stitches and treatment for a facial fracture at a local hospital.

Carson “apparently felt the victim inmate was spreading rumors and talking bad about him,” according to a news release by sheriff's spokesman Deputy Mark Gregory.

Carson was serving a 180-day sentence for a District Court bench warrant, according to jail records. He was convicted last year of possession of a controlled substance, driving while intoxicated and third-degree theft.

Suspended driver arrested after chase

A driver with a suspended license who fled a traffic stop in his 2006 Ford Mustang was arrested on a bevy of charges late Sunday, officials said today.

David B. Middleton, 44, stopped his black Mustang near East Sprague Avenue and North Farr Road about 9:13 p.m. and reached toward the passenger's console as if he was complying with orders to show his documentation, but he suddenly drove off at a high rate of speed, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Russ Olson joined Corporal Dave Ellis in the pursuit, which they ended near the 8800 block of Sprague as Middleton's exceeded 100 mph in the 35 mph zone, according to a news release.

Deputy Jason Karnitz spotted Middleton turn north into a parking lot of on Sprague, and he and Olson pinned Middleton's Mustang with their patrol cars as Middleton accelerated toward Karntiz, the sheriff's office said. Middleton resisted arrest and “received a small abrasion” when the deputies took him to the ground, according to the release.

Deputies say a bag from Middleton's Mustang was found on the ground about five feet from the passenger's door. It contained plastic baggies, glass pipes commonly used to smoke illegal narcotics, scales, a pellet gun and paperwork with Middleton’s name on it.

Middleton was booked into jail on felony charges of eluding police, second-degree assault, possession of meth with intent to deliver and possession of heroin. He also faces misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana, obstructing a police officer, resisting arrest and third-degree driving while suspended.

Speeding stop yields 2.5 lbs. of cocaine

A traffic stop on Interstate 90 near Ritzville yielded nearly 2 1/2 pounds of packaged cocaine and led to the arrest of two men recently.

Marshall Jay Devore, 31, and Rudolph Salvador Pyne, 32, are facing federal drugs charges in U.S. District Court in Spokane after a state trooper stopped a 2003 Jeep Cherokee for driving 84 pm in the 70 mph zone near milepost 221 about 11 p.m. Feb. 11, according to documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Devore, the driver, had a misdemeanor warrant for driving while suspended. Pyne, his passenger, also had a suspended license, so troopers impounded the Jeep, which was registered to a woman in the 2400 block of East Rowan Avenue in Spokane. 

While doing an “inventory” on the Jeep, troopers found a duffel bag open with what appeared to be a brick of packaged drugs visible. Detectives say Devore said he'd picked up Rudolph with the bag in Seattle. He  gave them permission to search the Jeep, detectives say, and they located packages of cocaine that weighed 1,079 grams, according to court documents.

Pyne has a previous federal felony conviction for bank robbery in California. He said nothing in the Jeep belonged to him. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration filed papers Friday seeking to charge the men with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Devore, who has previous felony convictions for manufacturing a controlled substance in Spokane County in 2008, is in the Adams County Jail. Pyne does not yet appear to be in custody.

Body found downtown; suspect arrested

A man was found dead from a stab wound in a downtown Spokane street early Sunday.

The man has not been publicly identified, but suspect David Joseph Fagundes, Jr., 34, has been jailed on a second-degree murder charge.

The victim was found near the intersection of Howard Street and Third Avenue shortly before 5 a.m., according to the Spokane Police Department.

Police dispatched major crimes detectives to the scene. A portion of Third Avenue was closed to traffic for about four hours as police scoured the scene for clues.

Fagundes also faces a charge of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm because of a previous felony conviction, according to the jail roster. '

Fagundes has a felony conviction in Bonner County, Idaho, for felony battery. He also had a misdemeanor warrant there for failing to pay fines on convictions for driving without privileges and failure to provide proof of insurance.

Residents react to property crimes cut

Veronica Evans had her front door kicked in recently in the Chief Garry Park area. After she replaced the door, someone has tried to enter her home twice more. (SRphoto/Dan Pelle)

The thieves are brazen in Veronica Evans’ neighborhood. They kicked in her door three weeks ago and ransacked her home, stealing valuables and leaving her fearful.

They’ve hit other homes near Chief Garry Park, too. At least 17. And they tried to burglarize Evans’ home twice more since she installed a new door.

She and her neighbors aren’t sitting idly by.

“People are just fed up and angry because it continues to happen,” Evans said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Public invited to Aders’ memorial

Melted and lit candles mix on the curb at the Ader family memorial at Heroy Avenue and Whitehouse Street Sunday. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

A mother and her two sons killed in a triple homicide last week will be remembered Sunday.

 The public is invited to attend the memorial service for Tracy Ader, 32, and her sons Damien, 10, and Kadin, 8, who police say were strangled in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St. Friday by Dustin William Gilman, 22.

 Gilman, who had been staying with the family for several months, was found dead Monday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

Ader's stepfather, Steve Ponsness, said today that the public has been overwhelming supportive. They're holding the service at Turning Point Open Bible church, 11911 N. Division St., at 3 p.m. to make sure everyone can attend.

“The public has just been awesome, so how could I deny the public from being there?” Ponsness said. “That'd be just stupid.”

Ponsness' brother, Dave, will host the service.

“God has given me the strength to be able to basically deal with everything and not break down emotionally,” Ponsness said. “Until yesterday.”

Ader and her sons were found dead in the basement of the home Friday. The boys’ bodies were located near marijuana plants in the basement.

Ponsness said Tracy's husband, Nick, is authorized to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes because of ailments like gouty arthritis.

Tracy was visiting him in the hospital Thursday and Friday, where he was being treated for pancreatitis, when she returned home Friday to check on the boys, who weren't in school that morning.

The police investigation into the triple homicide is ongoing.

Ponsess said he's still struggling to understand why thishappened, though he realizes he may never know.

“It's almost like he had a split personality, because there's no way in this world I would have ever suspected him of doing something like this, because those kids loved him,” Ponsness said of Gilman.

He said Damien and Kadin fought like brothers do, but “I was watching them mature to the point where I could just see them growing up into a great little young men,” Ponsness said. “To have them ripped away like that is just something that's really hard to swallow.”

A fund to help cover funeral expenses for the Aders is available at Numerica Credit Union.

Read their obituary here.

Cops: ‘Bobcat bandit’ stole laughing gas

A medication and laughing gas thief who fled on a snow removal vehicle was arrested early Thursday in north Spokane County, officials say.

Joseph Franklin Knapp, 30, told Deputy Dan Dutton he was working for the state when he was stopped about 1 a.m. while driving the skid steer-style Bobcat northbound on the shoulder of Highway 395, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Knapp said he'd finished moving snow near West 4th Street and Northwest Road in Deer Park, but Dutton knew the Deer Park roads were clear of snow, and that the city had its own road department.

Dutton then noticed two bottles of nitrous oxide and other medications, syringes and needles in the front loader of the Bobcat. Knapp said he found the items when he was plowing and planned to dispose of them in Clayton “so no children would find them,” according to a news released.

Dutton detained Knapp as other deputies checked the area of Deer Park and Riverside. They located a medical facility in the Riverside area that had the door torn off - Dutton suspects Knapp stole the laughing gas and medication from the facility.

The Bobcat was stolen 27 miles away at the Winco on North Nevada Street.

Sheriff's spokesman Craig Chamberlin dubbed Knapp “the bobcat bandit.”

He remains jailed on $30,000 bond for felony charges of second-degree burglary, first-degree theft and second-degree malicious mischief and a misdemeanor charge of third-degree driving while suspended.

Court records show he was sentenced in early January to seven days in jail for misdemeanor making or having burglar tools, possession of marijuana, malicious mischief personal property and two counts of theft.

Man accused of sex abuse in North Idaho

A Spokane man is wanted in North Idaho for allegedly sexually abusing a child.

Chad Andrew Radden, 21, is being sought on a $40,000 warrant in Kootenai County for sexual abuse of a minor under 16, as well as a probation violation warrant in Washington.

Radden has felony convictions in Spokane County for property crimes and is awaiting trial on a car theft charge that he was arrested on in December.

Radden was arrested in October 2010 for an alleged car-prowling and window-breaking spree in Spokane Valley.

Anyone who knows where Radden, 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, is now is asked to contact the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force (208) 665-1471.

Reward money is available. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Radden is one of several people wanted on a felony warrant spotlighted this week by the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department. Read more at Dave Oliveria's Huckleberries blog.

Kirkpatrick a finalist for Phoenix chief

Former Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick is a finalist for police chief in Phoenix, Ariz.

Kirkpatrick left Spokane in early January after having served as police chief since Sept. 11, 2006.  She called her departure a retirement but said she was open to other options.

By that time she had already applied for the Phoenix job - applications were due in mid-December, according to Arizona media reports.

Kirkpatrick is one of seven candidates to be interviewed next week. Other candidates include acting Phoenix police chief Joseph Yahner and assistant Phoenix police chief Kevin Robinson.

Also in the running are Robert Davis, former police chief of San Jose; Michael Dirden, executive assistant police chief of Houston; Daniel Garcia, assistant police chief of Dallas and Carlos Maldonado, police chief of Laredo, Texas.

Man’s rendering conviction overturned

The Washington State Supreme Court Thursday overturned the conviction of a Spokane man who was convicted of rendering criminal assistance after investigators alleged that he refused to tell them who shot him.

The split decision erases the conviction, in which a judge sentenced Kenneth R. Budik to spend more time in prison than the two men who pleaded guilty to the 2007 shooting that injured him and killed 28-year-old Adama R. Walton.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Read an in-depth story on the case here.

Out-of-gas fugitive calls cops for help

EVANSTON, Wyo. (AP) — A 59-year-old fugitive is back behind bars after he ran out of gas in Wyoming and called the local sheriff's office for roadside assistance.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol said Tuesday that Richard Vincent of Prineville, Ore., was wanted in Georgia for violating parole on a murder and escape conviction.

Vincent called the Uinta (YOO'-ihn-tah) County Sheriff's Office sent state troopers to help him out. When they learned that Vincent had an outstanding felony warrant from Atlanta, he was taken into custody.

Vincent is now being held for Georgia authorities pending extradition.

$100k bond for BB gun-wielding man

 Ryan Lancaster, 39, surrenders to the Spokane County SWAT team after a standoff Wednesday. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

A man who caused lock downs at two Spokane Valley schools Wednesday when he was reported to be running around with a gun is to remain jailed on $100,000 bond.

Ryan C. Lancaster, 39, appeared in Superior Court today after he was arrested during a SWAT team standoff Thursday in the 12000 block of East Valleyway.

Lancaster was armed with a BB gun when he confronted his ex-girlfriend and another woman after entering the apartment at 11910 E. Broadway Ave. though a window, according to court documents.

One of the women told police Lancaster pulled the trigger but the gun didn't fire, which led her to believe it was one of his BB guns. He left the apartment with $160 and his ex-girlfriend's wallet.  The woman's daughter asked a neighbor to call police. She returned to see Lancaster pointed the gun at her mother, according to police.

Neighbors Shawn Loughbom, 23, and James Hoover chased Lancaster but backed off slightly after he pointed a gun at him, police say. Lancaster went to an acquaintance's home on East Valleyway, where he was arrested by the SWAT team.  A 57-year-old man and an infant were inside the home. Read more here.

In interviews with police, Lancaster denied pointing the BB gun at anyone but said he was scared when the men were chasing him and did show the gun to them.

Lancaster appeared in Superior Court today on charges of first-degree robbery, possession of meth, second-degree theft and two counts of second-degree assault.

Citizen’s tracking busts theft suspects

A citizen who found his stolen property at a Spokane pawn shop in November led police to identify suspects more than three months later.

A detective recently reviewed reports regarding the Nov. 1 burglary in the 2700 block of North Cedar and identified Casey G. Griner, 21, and William C. Calamanco, 25, as suspects.

A patrol officer had responded to Pawn One on Nov. 2 after Dmitri Cole and his wife, Winifred, found their stolen video game consoles there. Pawn shop employees said Griner had pawned the property.

The reports went untouched until Detective Bob Mosman reviewed them on Jan. 17, interviewed victims, then contacted Griner and Calamanco earlier this month. Mosman believes the men burglarized the home, pawned the property and used the money for drugs.

Calamanco already was in jail when police contacted him - he's facing a vehicular assault charge for a crash Feb. 5.

Griner and Calamanco now face charges of residential burglary, second-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property.

Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the police department, said the case is an example “of how citizens can be proactive in helping police solve property crimes.

The victims in this case had recorded the serial numbers of their stolen items prior to the theft and filed a stolen property report with police following the incident, both of which are critical to an investigation,” DeRuwe said.

Gilman used Aders’ phones after murder

Triple murder suspect Dustin William Gilman used his victim’s cellphone to text message her husband after he killed her, according to new court documents.

Nick Ader, who was in the hospital with pancreatitis, told police he received two text messages from his wife’s phone at 9:49 a.m. and 9:51 a.m. Friday saying she was taking one of their sons to the hospital because of a fever.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 14: Gilman called father before bodies were found

Feb. 13: Body of triple murder suspect found north of Spokane

Feb. 13: Killing suspect remains at large

Feb. 11: Killer sought in Spokane triple homicide

Reward targets Spokane burglary suspect

A burglary suspect arrested after police followed a fluid trail left by his fleeing vehicle is wanted by Crime Stoppers after missing a court hearing.

Dmitriy A. Stepanov, 26, was to begin trial last week on a second-degree burglary charge and two counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, but he didn't show up for a pre-trial hearing.

The burglary charge stems from an incident at the pro shop at Esmeralda Golf Course last July. He already was charged with two counts of car theft when he as arrested in that case.

Stepanov, 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, has been a Crime Stoppers fugitive on at least one other occasion.

He has previous convictions for second-degree assault, first-degree trafficking in stolen property, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and second-degree malicious mischief.

He was out of jail on $26,000 bond when he missed court. A $30,000 warrant was issued for Stepanov's arrest Jan. 30.

Crime Stoppers on Wednesday offered a reward for information that leads to his arrest. He last gave an address in the 4400 block of East Frederick Avenue.

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

Man accused of kicking baby nephew

A man was arrested for allegedly kicking his 18-month-old nephew in the face Tuesday night.

Eric S. Peters, 33, drove away from his sister's home in the 7700 block of North Colton Street drunk and with his young child in the car after the altercation but was arrested at an apartment in the 2200 block of East North Crescent Avenue, police said today.

Peters exited the apartment after an hour and a half of negation and was arrested without incident, according to police.

Peters' sister said he slapped her before her boyfriend escorted him out of the apartment and told her he'd kicked her son about 8 p.m. She said her son was screaming and had blood gushing from his nose. Doctors said the child had a mild concussion, police say. Officers observed injuries on both the child and mother.

Peters was arrested on charges of felony third-degree assault of a child and misdemeanor city assault and reckless endangerment.

Murder spree suspect wants Cocoa Puffs

(AP) EVERETT — Lawyers spent more than two hours arguing whether a woman charged with murder should be allowed to eat Cocoa Puffs and other snacks while in the county jail, the Everett Herald reported Tuesday.

And they're not done. Another hearing is scheduled for March, when a judge is expected to decide if jail staff must allow the woman access to the Snohomish County Jail's commissary, the paper said.

Attorneys for Holly Grigsby and David “Joey” Pedersen have filed motions complaining about jail conditions and that their clients are not allowed to use the jail store to supplement their meals. A hearing on the complaint went on for more than two hours Monday.

The pair are accused of killing Pedersen's father, David “Red” Pedersen, and his wife, DeeDee, of Everett, last September. Police believe the pair also killed two other people — an Oregon teenager and a disabled California man — in October before their capture in northern California.

Staff at the Snohomish County Jail said that inmates like Grigsby and Pedersen are denied commissary rights since they are maximum-security prisoners and because sugary snacks can be used to make jailhouse alcohol. Grigsby wanted to buy Cocoa Puffs and coffee.

Grigsby defense lawyer, Pete Mazzone, said it violates his client's constitutional rights to deny her access to the commissary based on the nature of the charges against her.

The Herald said Grigsby has received several violations since she's been incarcerated, including trying to brew alcohol in her cell.

Grigsby and Pedersen are white supremacists who reportedly claimed they wanted to “kill more Jews.”

Past coverage:

Oct. 10: 4th victim identified in alleged murder spree

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

Man charged with woman’s Aug. murder

A sex offender suspected of killing a Spokane woman who was working as a prostitute last August has been charged with murder.

Derrick Ross Vargas, 25, is to appear in Superior Court today on a first-degree murder charge for the brutal slaying of Evon M. Moore, 48, whose body was found in an alley near North Ralph Street and East Riverside Avenue 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.

He's been in the Spokane County Jail since Sept. 23 after a Washington State Patrol trooper contacted him during a traffic stop and a woman jumped out of his truck and said she'd been raped. 

Police say the woman was working as a prostitute on East Sprague Avenue when she met Vargas.

Police realized Vargas' truck matched a truck seen on the surveillance video near where Moore's body was found.

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, who was a student at Spokane Community College.

Spokane police recommended murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping charges against Vargas in a case sent to prosecutors earlier this month. Look for an update later this afternoon on the formal charges against Vargas, which were filed Monday.

Man sentenced for herpes-related heist

A 19-year-old man is to spend about seven years in prison for an armed robbery that was sparked by his fear of contracting herpes from a shared marijuana pipe.

Aziem L. Richardson pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree robbery for a July incident in which he invited the victims to an apartment at 1119 W. Augusta Ave., to smoke marijuana in celebration of his 19th birthday.

Richardson left after several minutes and returned with a shotgun and threatened the teens, telling them “I heard you or your girlfriend has herpes and we have been sharing a bong,” according to court documents. “If I get herpes, I'm going to kill you both.”

Richardson stole the men's cellphones and a wallet. He has juvenile convictions for robbery.

He was sentenced Monday to 87 months in prison by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza.

New details in triple homicide case

Tracy Ader and her sons, 10-year-old Damien and 8-year-old Kadin, are shown in this undated family photo.

A man suspected of murdering a woman and her two sons told his father he’d shot someone before police even knew there was a crime scene Friday.

Spokane police were notified by 911 about 6:38 p.m. that Larry Gilman was talking to his son, Dustin Gilman, on the phone and that his son had confessed to shooting someone and said he was lost in the woods.

Larry Gilman told police that his son told him he’d been “partying all night on the South Hill” when he woke up with a gun and a dead person next to him, according to information released Tuesday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Father accused of assaulting baby girl

A 25-year-old man is accused of beating his infant daughter, who was taken to a medical clinic with broken bones and other injuries.

Tyson Joseph Romaneschi told police his daughter, Ellyana, would go to sleep faster if she had been crying, so he sometimes would squeeze her up against his chest, according to court documents used to support an assault charge against him.

Read the rest of my story here.

Blown stop sign leads to felony arrest

A traffic stop for running a stop sign turned into a short vehicle and foot chase Tuesday in Spokane Valley.

Joseph Louis Barton, 48, was arrested after rolling out of the driver's seat of his car and onto the ground, then running into a backyard.

A large bush proved to be his undoing - Deputy Kevin Mosher saw he was having trouble getting past the bush and arrested him, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Mosher tried to stop Barton after seeing him run a stop sign at Third Avenue and Havana Street. Barton accelerated westbound on Third, then stopped at Second Avenue and Dearborn Road, where Barton fled the vehicle.

He was arrested on a felony charge of attempted to elude as well as misdemeanor charges of driving while license suspended, hit and run, drunken driving, violating an ignition interlock requirement.

SWAT team nabs property crime suspect

In this Oct. 27, 2005 photo, Parolee Victor Luna, left, listens to his mentors Tom Murphy and Suellen Pritchard during a weekly meeting to help Luna adjust to life outside of prison. Luna was arrested this morning on stolen property charges. (SRphotoarchives)

A 30-year-old felon who pledged to turn his life around several years ago is back in jail after a long-term investigation into stolen property trafficking.

Victor Alonzo Luna was arrested after a SWAT team secured his home in the 12700 block of East 31st Avenue in Spokane Valley this morning, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Luna has 10 felony convictions that include assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, riot burglary and possession of stolen property, which prompted the use of the SWAT team.

Luna was arrested without incident on a charge of first-degree trafficking in stolen property.

The Spokane Valley property crimes unit had been investigating Luna for dealing in stolen property. Detectives observed him purchase several items he believed to be stolen, police say.

Luna told investigators he purchases property from a lot of people and “that he did not want to know if the property was stolen or not,” police said. He's prohibited from dealing with pawn shops because of his criminal history, but Luna admitted to enlisting others to pawn property for him, police say.

Luna gave an extensive interview to The Spokesman-Review in 2005 while a member of  Going Home, the Washington State Re-entry Project, a pilot program to keep young felons with a history of serious violent crime from victimizing the neighborhoods in which they are released.

At the time, Luna said every day “on the outside” is a major victory.

“So many times I wanted to go back to (crime). Money’s tight, and it’s so much easier money,” Luna said.

Read the story here.

Grand jury indicts men in marijuana grow

Eight pounds of marijuana and more than 1000 plants seized from a Spokane County home in November has led to federal charges against six suspects. 

A grand jury this month indicted Jerad J. Kynaston, 23 (pictured left), Samuel M. Doyle, 25 (pictured right); Brice C. Davis, Jayde D. Evans, 24; Tyler S. McKinley, 27; and Peter M. Magana, 23, on marijuana manufacturing charges for plants found Nov. 2 during a search at 11900 N. Judkins Road.

Along with eight pounds of pot, Spokane County sheriff's detectives found 695 marijuana plants and 500 plants that had recently been harvested.

Each plant is generally capable of yielding one-half to one-pound of marijuana, leading investigators to value the seized pot and plants between $1.2 million and $2.4 million.

 “Numerous medical marijuana provider forms were located at the residence,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a new release at the time. “One of the patients had previously contacted the Sheriff's Office and complained that he had contracted with an individual associated with the Judkins Road address for his medical marijuana supply, but that this individual was selling the marijuana to other people rather than supplying the patient. The Washington state medical marijuana law has recently been amended to allow up to ten individuals to form a co-op and grow up to 45 marijuana plants. ”

Detectives searched Doyle's home in the 10900 block of East 7th Avenue in Spokane Valley on Nov. 16.

All suspects except Davis pleaded not guilty to the charges last week in U.S. District Court and remain in the Spokane County Jail without bail.

Each charge carries 5 to 40 years in prison unless the defendant has a previous felony drug conviction, in which case the minimum sentence is 10 years.

Kynaston was convicted in Spokane County in 2009 for being in possession of five pounds of marijuana. He also was convicted in Sherman County, Oregon in 2010 for being in possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana. Doyle is on probation for possessing 10 pounds of marijuana in Oregon.

Past coverage:

Nov. 21: 'Judge Judy' to feature Spokane pot defendant

Suspect’s body found; questions remain

The body of Dustin Gilman is placed in the medical examiner’s van after it was discovered on property along the Little Spokane River on Monday. (Colin Mulvany/SRphoto)

A tracked cell phone signal led police Monday to the body of the suspected killer they’d been hunting ever since a mother and her two children were found dead Friday in their North Spokane home.

A police dog found 22-year-old Dustin William Gilman’s body in on a forested hillside near the Wandermere area, just north of Spokane city limits, about 10 a.m.

Gilman’s father and others had speculated earlier that he’d shot himself after fleeing the murder scene but Spokane police did not disclose how the suspect died or whether firearms were found near the body.

Gilman is the only suspect in the murders of Tracy Ann Ader, 32, and her sons, 8-year-old Kadin, and 10-year-old Damien, who were found dead in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 13: Killing suspect remains at large

Feb. 11: Killer sought in Spokane triple homicide

Trio charged in Bonner County homicide

A Bonner County man on Monday was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 19-year man who was reported missing in September and found recently buried in a shallow grave, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office reported.

   Austin Blake Thrasher, 19, (left) is accused of killing Michael Wyatt Smith, (right) the sheriff’s office said.  

Thrasher’s wife, Jennifer Dunnagan Thrasher, 22, (bottom left) and Christopher Garlin, 19, (bottom right) each face a charge of accessory to murder.

Smith was reported missing Sept. 15 from a residence on the Hope Peninsula and was last seen walking on Penninsula Road in Hope on Sept. 13, the office reported.

Detectives received a tip early last month that a 19-year-old was picked up near Hope “on the pretense of attending a party,” the news release said.

Detectives were told that the teen was instead driven to a woods, shot twice and moved to an unknown location and buried.

Detectives found Smith’s body in a shallow grave on private property off of Wellington Road, north of Hope, the news release said.

The defendants already were in the Bonner County Jail when they became suspects in Smith’s murder.

Last month they were arrested in connection with the burglary of Pawn Now in Ponderay.

Traffic school paper IDs theft suspect

A shoplifting suspect was identified as a traffic school student after the teenager dropped his paperwork in the parking lot while fleeing the store Sunday, police say.

Cameron Rose, 18, was on a lunch break from class at the Sheriff's Office training center when employees at Rosauers, 10618 E. Sprague Ave., contacted instructors and said one of their students had possibly stolen soda and candy.

A loss prevention officer tried to detain the man, but he escaped by running through the parking lot. The officer picked up paperwork Rose dropped while running, “and to his surprise, the paperwork showed Mr. Rose was scheduled for class right next door at the Training Center,” according to a news release by Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The security officer identified Rose after the students returned from lunch. He was cited and released for third-degree theft and dismissed from traffic school.

Say what! Self-filmed suspect escapes

This is a screen shot of a video vehicle prowling suspect Nathan Calvert posted on his Facebook page.

Authorities still are looking for a car prowling suspect who escaped from Geiger Corrections Center Saturday, officials said today.

Nathan John Calvert, who posted a video of himself with suspected stolen property on his Facebook page just before his arrest in December, had been working in the kitchen area when staff noticed he was gone about 3:30 p.m. The facility was locked down as staff looked for Calvert, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Calvert, 28, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges related to a car prowling spree that ended when an attorney caught him in his truck. Spokane Valley police say Calvert had a stolen Jeep filled with stolen property. Calvert told detectives he committed 30 to 40 vehicle prowlings and garage burglaries a night for two to three weeks throughout Spokane County.  

Detectives expect to use Calvert's Facebook video as evidence. The video shows Calvert in a vehicle he describes as a Jeep. He focuses on stolen property in the back of the vehicle and says he hasn't decided what he's going to do yet. Then he raps. Check out the video here.

Anyone with information on Calvert's location is asked to call 911. Anyone who was near Geiger at the time of the escape and may have seen someone matching Calvert's description also is asked to call 911.

It's the second escape from Geiger in three weeks. Two women were arrested after escaping in January.

Killer still sought in triple homicide

A 2007 Nissan Pathfinder is towed Sunday after being taken from the Aders’ home and left parked near Monroe Street and Wellesley Avenue. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

UPDATE: Gilman's body has been found. Read more here and look for updates.

Police continue to search for a man suspected of killing two young boys and their mother Friday in Spokane.

Dustin William Gilman, 22, (pictured) is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees him or has information on where he may be should call 911.

Gilman has been wanted since Friday, when the bodies of Tracy Ader, 32, and her 8- and 10-year-old boys were found in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St. Police believe he may be heavily armed with weapons stolen from the home, including a bullet-proof vest.

Police believe Gilman murdered the three while Ader's husband, Nick Ader, was in the hospital. 

Gilman has been staying with the Aders for the last few months. Tracy Ader's mother and stepfather said he spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them at their Spokane Valley and was great with the boys.

Ader and her sons are pictured left in a photo provided by her family.

Ader worked at Pitney Bowes, a business service company, with Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34, who was found shot to death in her north Spokane home on New Year’s Day. No one has been arrested in that case, but sheriff’s detectives say they have a person of interest.

“Tracy was having a hard time dealing with that because (Schmidt) was a direct coworker of hers,” said Steve Ponsness, Ader's stepfather.

Ponsnesskept a gun at his side Saturday as police searched for Gilman, who is believed to have stolen Ader's 2007 Nissan Pathfinder.

A citizen spotted the Pathfinder near West Wellesley Avenue and North Monroe Street Sunday and notified police, who are searching it for evidence.

Gilman is a convicted felon who was sentenced to nine months in jail in 2009 after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree trafficking in stolen property. He has an extensive juvenile criminal history, including convictions in Kootenai County in 2005 for stolen property and car theft. Court records show he was arrested for assault when he was 10.

See a picture story about the case here.

Rapist registers as transient in Spokane

A convicted rapist considered likely to reoffend has registered as a transient in Spokane County.

Douglas James Dennis, 44, served 10 years in prison after being convicted in March 1985 of kidnapping and raping a 17-year-old girl.

Dennis is required to check in with authorities once a week because he is not registered at a permanent address.

Dennis is a level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend.

He is not wanted by authorities, but the Spokane County Sheriff's Office wants people to be aware of his presence.

Spokane County's sex offender registry is available here.

Judge grants Thompson interview request

A federal judge Friday granted a request by the attorney for former Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. to interview a government expert witness who claims that federal prosecutors mischaracterized his expected testimony.

The move further delays the sentencing of Thompson, who was convicted Nov. 3 of using excessive force and lying to cover up his actions during the March 18, 2006, confrontation with Otto Zehm, who died two days later.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Suspect displayed victim’s death notice

A Deer Park man accused of strangling his ex-wife and posing her dead body had her death certificate displayed in his home when detectives arrested him this week, detectives say.

  Clay Duane Starbuck, 47, is charged with aggravated first-degree murder and sexually violating human remains in the death of Chanin Denice Starbuck, 42. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. The only other punishment if convicted of aggravated first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Starbuck, a former Alaska oil worker with no criminal history, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Friday afternoon via video from the jail after prosecutors formally charged him Thursday. He remains in jail on $1 million bond.

Read the rest of my story here.

Feb. 9: 911 dispatcher broke protocol in homicide call

Feb. 7: Police: Starbuck hid in home, posed ex-wife's body

Spokane stabbing suspect turns self in

A Spokane man accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend's new beau turned himself into police Thursday.

Ezra Lawerence Bedeski, 35, faces a first-degree assault charge for the stabbing Tuesday about 9 p.m. outside the Walgreens at 2105 E. Wellesley Ave.

The victim, Jared Reichenberg, 26, needed 13 stitches for a large cut on his neck. Reichenberg said he was going to Walgreens to pick up his girlfriend when he saw Bedeski yelling at her.

Reichenberg told him to leave her alone, and Bedeski “bum rushed him,” according to court documents. There is a restraining order between Bedeski and the woman, according to court documents.

Police attempted to track Bedeski with a police dog Tuesday night but were unsuccessful.

Bedeski was booked into jail Thursday after showing up at the Public Safety Building and requesting a lawyer. He remains in jail on $20,000 bond after appearing today in Spokane County Superior Court.

Prostitutes cite ugly local competition

A group of traveling prostitutes suspected of settling in Spokane told police they were making good money here because the local competition is so ugly.

One woman is in custody and other arrests are possible as part of an ongoing investigation into a 36-year-old California man who investigators believe has been brokering sex deals while living out of motels in Portland, Seattle and Spokane. Two motel rooms in Spokane were searched this week.

Read the rest of my story here.

‘Bad-tooth bandit’ of ‘95 arrested again

A Spokane man dubbed “the bad-tooth bandit” for a robbery spree more than 17 years ago was arrested Thursday after fleeing a traffic stop, officials say.

 Aaron Wayne Coats, 48, (pictured left in 2009 and below in 1994) was arrested minutes after a police chase ended in north Spokane when a sheriff's deputy spotted his vehicle at an apartment complex at 6800 block of North Atlantic Street.

 Deputy Clay Hilton had tried to stop Coats for running a stop sign at Atlantic and West Lyons Avenue when Coats sped away, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Hilton pursued Coats to the area of Lyons Street and Division Street before ending the chase for safety reasons.

Minutes later, Deputy Michael McNees located Coats' vehicle at the apartment complex. Two passengers, Ronald Clement, 31, and Angelica Myers, 20, were arrested on warrants.

A Spokane police dog was called in after officer learning Coats had locked himself in a closet.

Coats surrendered after the K-9 officer announced his presence. He was arrested on charges of attempting to elude police, first-degree driving while suspended, obstructing and violation of a no contact order. Another passenger, Lori Peterson, had a no contact order against Coats. Peterson told police Coats fled because he knew he was violating that order and driving on a suspended license, according to court documents.

Coats was sentenced in 1995 to 20 years in prison for an armed robbery spree that terrorized Spokane store clerks. Coats said he commited the 31 holdups to feed his heroin habit. He also made headlines when he attacked a bailiff in court. He'd been dubbed the bad-tooth bandit because of witness reports that the robber had a mouthful of crooked, decayed or missing teeth.

Coats was released from prison in November 2009, according to the Washington Department of Corrections. He complete probation last May.

Past coverage:

Nov. 23, 1994: Suspect grins, denies he's 'bad-tooth bandit'

Jail inmate accused of aiding escape

A woman who escaped federal custody last month was assisted by another inmate at the Spokane County Jail, prosecutors allege.

Andrea Nicole Falsetta, alias Hartnett, 37, is accused of helping Sandra Irene Duffy arrange to be helped by Barbara F. Haight, 61, after Duffy (pictured) walked away from a doctor's appointment at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center Jan. 10.

Duffy, 47, had been in custody on a federal drug charge. Falsetta, who has been jailed since August, helped Duffy contact Haight and arrange the escape, prosecutors allege.

Duffy was arrested at a home in north Spokane Jan. 14.

A grand jury indicted her Tuesday on an escape charge, which carries a maximum five year sin prison. Falsetta and Haight were indicted for aiding and assaulting escape, which also carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Duffy was missing for two days in July 2008 after she leaped about 20 feet from a bridge into a river to avoid Wenatchee police. Police arrested her at her home about 23 miles from the bridge two days later on methamphetamine charges. She was sentenced to two years in federal prison and a year of probation.

Duffy was arrested again last summer as one of more than 20 people indicted in a federal investigation into widespread cocaine and meth distribution in Eastern Washington.

Hundreds ask Vt. to keep prank police pig

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Remember the pig hidden within the decal on the doors of some Vermont State Police cruisers?

There's now a movement under way to keep it there.

But it turns out there was more wrong with that image than just the white pig hidden as a splotch on the cow, made to resemble one of Vermont's ubiquitous Holsteins. State law requires that the cow in the crest be red — not red and white — as a tribute to the hardy Devon cattle first brought to Vermont by English settlers.

“What I would really like is for the governor to just leave the pigs on the car. That's the bottom line, at no expense to anybody,” said Barre musician Cid Sinclair, who created the Facebook page “Save the Vermont Pigs.” The site has been liked by more than 500 people. Two hundred people have signed an online petition, he said.

“No harm, no foul, take it as an opportunity to have some fun,” Sinclair said. “We live in pretty bleak times and it's pretty rough. We have an opportunity to laugh together as one, as Vermonters.”

The pigs in the 16-inch decal were first noticed last week by a state police trooper who was washing his car. The crest is believed to have been altered by a Vermont prison inmate who made the image several years ago. The pigs, a derogatory term for police, are on about 30 cruisers.

The Department of Corrections said last week that new decals would be made at a cost of $780. But state police spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro said Thursday that so far none of the offending decals had been removed.

She said officials had been made aware of the state law that requires the cow in the crest to be red but had been told it was OK to use the existing emblem.

“We value our emblem and what it represents for our state and our agency and we want to be in compliance,” Dasaro said.

Facebook unfriending leads to murders

MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A father who was upset after a Tennessee couple deleted his adult daughter as a friend on Facebook has been charged in the shooting deaths of the couple, authorities said Wednesday.

 The victims had complained to police that Marvin's Potter's daughter was harassing them after they deleted her as a friend on the social networking site, Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said Wednesday.

Potter, 60, (pictured left) has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder last week's slayings of Billy Payne Jr. and his girlfriend, Billie Jean Hayworth. The couple was shot to death in their Mountain City home in the far northeast corner of the state. Their 8-month-old baby was found unharmed in Hayworth's arms.

“It's a senseless thing,” the sheriff said.

 Authorities have been involved other cases where Potter's daughter, Jenelle Potter, believed she had been slighted by someone.

Marvin Potter's friend, Jamie Curd, has also been charged in the killings. Curd, 38, (pictured right) had romantic feelings for Jenelle Potter, 30, the sheriff said.

Potter and Curd were arraigned Wednesday. Potter asked for time to hire an attorney while Curd was assigned a public defender who did not immediately return a phone message.

Assistant District Attorney General Matthew Roark said Curd's initial bond was raised to $1.5 million while Roark agreed to put off a bond hearing for Potter until next week, when he is expected to have an attorney. Potter remains jailed on his initial $200,000 bond.

The victims lived with Billy Payne Sr., who was the last person to see them alive. He told detectives he saw Hayworth get up to feed the baby before he left for work at about 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 31.

The slayings were discovered about five hours later when a former neighbor stopped by to pick up mail the family would save for him.

The younger Payne was found in his bedroom, and Hayworth was found in the baby's room.

Judge: Buy wife flowers, then dinner

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A spat over forgetting to wish his wife a happy birthday landed a South Florida man in jail on domestic violence charges.

When Judge Jay Hurley heard the circumstances that brought 47-year-old Joseph Bray to bond court Tuesday, he issued a unique ruling.

Hurley ordered Bray to buy a birthday card and flowers for his wife before taking her to dinner at Red Lobster and bowling afterward. Hurley ruled the couple should begin seeing a marriage counselor immediately.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports Hurley felt this was a “better resolution” since the incident was minor and Bray had no prior arrests. Bray's wife told the judge she's not afraid of her husband.

A police report indicates Bray pushed his wife during an argument but never hit her.

Fugitive bounty hunter arrested in Fla.

Federal agents have arrested an unlicensed bounty hunter whose alleged apprehension techniques led to felony charges and a criminal investigation against a Spokane police officer.

Dennis Kariores, 42, was taken into custody today in Pensacola, Fla., on a $150,000 warrant for first-degree burglary, unlawful imprisonment and second-degree kidnapping, according to the U.S. Marshals.

The federal Gulf Coast Regional Task Force arrested Kariores after agents here learned he'd fled to Navarre, a small city just outside Pensacola.

Kariores called The Spokesman-Review Wednesday and said he planned to turn himself in.

Spokane police Officer Alan Edwards was suspended for two weeks for arranging a ruse with Kariores that involved using a fugitive to help them gain access to a home they were otherwise not legally authorized to enter. (Other law enforcement officers have admitted to working closely with Kariores. Read much more here.)

Kariores has been a fugitive since Aug. 30, when he was charged for allegedly unlawfully detaining suspects while acting as an unlicensed bounty hunter.

According to court documents, Kariores and licensed bond agents John P. McCormick, 43, and Eric W. Houchin, 40, unlawfully stayed inside a home in the 1100 block of North Nelson Street in February 2010 and grabbed a woman while trying to contact her husband for failing to uphold his bond agreement with All City Bail Bonds. The woman was not wanted by police, which meant the bondsmen had no authority to detain her.

The men are charged with first-degree burglary and unlawful imprisonment for the incident.

Charles E. Dasenbrock, 26, is charged with second-degree kidnapping, along with Kariores, for an Aug. 26, 2010, incident in which the men detained a fugitive at a home in Spokane Valley and transported him to Spokane, where Edwards arrested him. Prosecutors say neither had the authority to apprehend and transport the man against his will. McCormick, Houchin and Dasenbrock have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Kariores said he was only doing as the police told him.

Kariores, a convicted felon, applied for a recovery agent license with the state of Washington in March 2009 but was rejected.

In his application, he said he’s worked with police in Spokane County and North Idaho and has arrested more than 500 people in six years. “I am known as the guy to go to when they can’t find people, whether it be in Washington or out,” Kariores wrote.

Repeat con artist headed back to prison

Convicted bank swindler John Earl Petersen is pictured in 1997. (S-R archives)

A convicted bank swindler who boldly walked out of a Spokane courtroom three years ago to avoid arrest is headed to federal prison.

John Earl Petersen, the key figure in the collapse of a Montana bank more than a decade ago, was sentenced this morning to 27 months for stealing nearly $170,000 from a brother and sister in 2006 after telling them they would receive $100 million in return.

Petersen was convicted of wire fraud and tax evasion, the latest for an admitted con man and frequent Las Vegas gambler who had a business office in Spokane when he was arrested in 1998, accused of masterminding the $10.5 million collapse of Montana Bank of Whitefish, Mont.

Petersen, 61, admitted to bribing bank officials to allow him to cash phony checks. He served five years in prison after turning in co-conspiring bank officials. He was sent back in 2008 after investigators alleged he was misusing his 95-year-old aunt’s money.

At his parole revocation hearing in 2008, federal prosecutors said Petersen used more than $400,000 of her money for personal use, including a lavish home remodel.

Petersen was arrested on the new federal indictment just as he was to be released from SeaTac federal prison on Dec. 8, 2010.

He also is charged in Spokane County Superior Court with nine counts of felony theft for the alleged scheme against his aunt. Spokane County prosecutors were waiting for Petersen to resolve his federal case, which he did today after pleading guilty last May.

In addition to 27 months in prison, Petersen is to be on probation for three years and pay $167,794.94 restitution.

Petersen shocked federal authorities in December 2007 when he walked out of U.S. District Court in Spokane after reviewing paperwork indicating he would be taken into custody at the hearing.

He sped away in his Cadillac and was arrested five months later in Boulder, Colo., with a blond wig and books about changing identity.

Past coverage:

Feb. 1, 1998: Agent paints Petersen as loan-sharking mobster

Man Tasered over $150 heroin debt

A Spokane woman forced her way into a man's home and shocked him with a Taser over a $150 heroin debt early Wednesday, police say.

Faith M. Lee, 39, was arrested on a first-degree burglary charge with Roger Larry Blair, 53, after a resident at 2922 W. Hartson Ave., Micah W. Kaluzny, said they shoved their way into his apartment. Lee shocked Kaluzny with a Taser and stole his cellphone.

Spokane police saw red marks on Kaluzny's stomach that were consistent with a Taser.

Officers located Lee and Blair at an apartment at 2232 E. 1st Ave.  Police found a scale and heroin in the apartment, as well as Kaluzny's cell phone. Blair, who was wanted on a felony warrant, told police he accompanied Lee to collect a drug debt and “act as muscle” to make sure she didn't get hurt, according to court documents.

Both suspects remain in jail after appearing in Superior Court Wednesday afternoon. Blair also faces a drug possession charge.

‘Boisterous’ claims to nurse aids in arrest

A driver involved in a one-car crash that engulfed his vehicle in flames allegedly bragged to a nurse about the incident, police say.

William C. Calamanco, 25, “was in a boisterous state and explained to the nurse that he was 'driving really, really, really fast,'” Officer Aaron Kirby said in court documents filed Wednesday. Kirby said he overheard Calamanco talking to the nurse after a blood draw at Deaconess Medical Center.

Kirby already suspected Calamanco of vehicular assault. He'd contacted him in the 2800 block of West Summit Boulevard in West Central about 10:05 p.m. Sunday after a car crashed into a tree and burst into flames. Calamanco and his brother and passenger, Eric Calamanco, suffered minor injuries.

Calamanco denied driving but then said he'd hit his head on the steering wheel, according to court documents. Police said he smelled of alcohol. Kirby found burnt beer cans in the car after the fire was extinguished.

Calamanco remains in jail on felony charges of vehicular assault and making a false statement.

24 lbs. of pot in Ore. leads to Spokane

The discovery of 24 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop in Oregon led police to arrest a suspected distributor in Spokane this week.

The investigation began when Kevin C. McKeag, 28, of Chattaroy, was arrested near Roseburg, Ore., Feb. 2 after a drug dog detected marijuana in his 2003 Dodge pickup during a stop on Interstate 5 about 5 p.m., according to the Oregon State Police.

Troopers found the marijuana in a hidden compartment in the truck. McKeag said he was traveling to Spokane to deliver the pot, according to police.

McKeag was transported to the Spokane office of the Drug Enforcement Administration after agreeing to cooperate with law enforcement. He told them he'd been transporting marijuana to Spokane from California for the past year to sell 12 or more pounds at a time to Jeremy Scott Thornton, according to court documents.

The Spokane Regional Drug Task Force arranged for McKeag to sell marijuana to Thornton, 35, in a monitored transaction on Feb. 3. Detectives then searched Thornton's home at 2509 E. Diamond Ave. Feb. 6 and arrested him on drug charges.

Thornton, a self-employed landscaper and avid disc golfer, left the Spokane County Jail Monday on $10,000 bond.

Man wanted for stealing from grandfather

A Spokane man accused of stealing from his grandfather by forging his checks is wanted by Crime Stoppers.

Bryan Henry Morales, 32, was to begin trial this week on a leading organized crime charge for allegedly directing men to cash the forged checks, which cost his grandfather, John Camacho, more than $7,000, according to court documents. He also faces separate charges of forgery and delivery of a controlled substance

Morales never showed up for a pre-trial hearing, and a $10,000 warrant for his arrest was issued Jan. 31.

Crime Stoppers on Wednesday offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.

Tod Michael Ives, 49, is charged with nine counts of second-degree identity theft for allegedly cashing the checks. Thomas D. Plante, 28, faces 10 counts.

Morales, 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, last gave an address in the 1200 block of South Rotchford Drive in the Spokane Valley.

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

Harvey sues for back pay, damages

Former Spokane police Detective Jeff Harvey filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the department that fired him last year, seeking back pay and damages for emotional, physical and mental “injuries” to be determined at trial.

Harvey’s attorney, Bob Dunn – who recently won a $722,000 jury award and $833,000 in attorney’s fees in similar case involving Office Jay Mehring – pointed the finger at former police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Tips sought on school district tool theft

Spokane Valley police are trying to identify two men who stole tools from the East Valley School District.

Surveillance photos released today show one of the thieves in the maintenance yard in the 18000 block of East Euclid Avenue on Jan. 27.

Police say the thieves entered a fenced area and stole about $300 worth of tools.

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

Man gets 11+ years for selling meth

A Western Washington man who sold large amounts of methamphetamine to people in Idaho will spend about 11 years in prison under a sentence imposed today in Coeur d'Alene.

Jason Paul Patrick, 33, of Federal Way, admitted to selling meth to Idahoans who traveled to Western Washington about twice a week between August 2010 and June 2011.

His public defender, John McEntire, described him as a longtime drug addict whose criminal history began in 1997 and “spiraled into a multi-year pattern of possessing methamphetamine.”

Patrick attended a drug treatment program while incarcerated at Coyote Ridge Corrections Cneter, but he needs more help, McEntire wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

McEntire said Patrick was shocked by the length of federal prison sentences.

“Gone are the days of 18-month sentences and getting out in half that time,” McEntire wrote. “These are the big leagues….Simply put, Mr. Patrick feels this guideline range. And now, for the first time, the punishment outweighs the risk. It is time for Mr. Patrick to stop.”

Patrick was sentenced this morning to 140 months in federal prison and 10 years of probation.

“Methamphetamine trafficking is a threat to the health and safety of Idaho's communities,” U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said in a prepared statement..  “With our law enforcement partners, we are committed to addressing this threat through aggressive investigations, strong prosecutions and stiff sentences.  Mr. Patrick's conduct was well deserving of his lengthy prison sentence.”

Appeal denied in grisly Ferry Co. murder

A decision Tuesday by appellate judges most likely ended all legal recourse for a man convicted of killing his 19-year-old employee in a brutal slaying that will forever haunt a Ferry County man who witnessed it and barely escaped with his own life.

The Division III Court of Appeals denied an argument by Cory J. Monaghan, 38, of Maple Valley, Wash., that he was not guilty by reason of insanity of first-degree murder for killing Jeremy Karavias and first-degree arson for setting fire to his uncle’s Malo, Wash., home in 2008.

“He killed and butchered that kid,” Ron Wessel said of his nephew, Monaghan. Karavias “was just an innocent kid. I think about it every day.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 29, 2008: Slain man identified as Kent 19-year-old

‘Fugitive’ missed court while in jail

A man targeted by Crime Stoppers missed his court appearing last week because he's jailed in another county, and officials refuse to transport him.

Mark William Bush, 35, is in the Benton County Jail under the Washington Department Corrections warrant for violating his probation.

He was there on Jan. 24 when he was scheduled to appear in Spokane County Superior Court for an arraignment on a felony marijuana possession charge.

When he didn't show up, a judge issued a warrant for his arrest for missing court.

State prison officials say that's not unusual - it's standard not to transport inmates to court until they've address their DOC violations, which spokeswoman Selena Davis said Bush has yet to do.

“This is absolutely par for the course,” Davis said.

What's not par for the course is Crime Stoppers targeting fugitives who are already in custody.

Bush's father, Leonard Bush, is quick to say his son - who has at least four felony and 23 misdemeanor convictions - has done wrong. But he also questions why the criminal justice system seems only to contribute to his son's legal troubles.

“When they have you in custody, shouldn't they notify the court that you are in jail?” he said.

Leonard Bush was with his son when he appeared in court Jan. 10 for an arraignment. His son thought he had a warrant out for his arrest and tried to run himself in, but no one would take him, Bush said.

The next day, Spokane police released a K-9 in pursuit of Mark Bush. They arrested him and described him to media as a prolific criminal with 167 criminal charges.

His father said some of those arrests stem from his son being incarcerated in another county and unable to make court, which leads to an arrest warrant. That's the current situation with the Crime Stoppers fugitive reward.

“Don't get me wrong here - he's done wrong,” Leonard Bush said. “it's just the procedure that I can't understand…But people out there don't understand. All they see is 'caught a fugitive. 160 arrests.'”

Police said they had no idea Bush was in court a day before they tracked him down and arrested him.

Bush still is listed on the Crime Stoppers website and the Benton County Jail roster.

Tipsters can collect $100 - twice the usual amount - if they alert police to his location because he's a repeat offender. No word on whether jail employees will be eligible.

New details in Starbuck murder case

A Deer Park mother of five found strangled to death in her home was positioned in a way to humiliate her and make detectives believe she had been sexually assaulted, according to information released Tuesday.

Clay Duane Starbuck, 47, is accused of murdering his ex-wife, Chanin Denice Starbuck, 42, after luring her from her home with their children, then breaking in and hiding until she returned, detectives wrote in a warrant that was used to search the suspect’s home at 1625 E. 2nd St. Monday night. Investigators seized dozens of items, including cameras, documents, computers and a cell phone.

Starbuck, a former oil worker in Alaska with no criminal history, was arrested Monday morning during a traffic stop in Deer Park. He remains in jail on $1 million bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon on charges of aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. He’s prohibited from contacting his children, who are witnesses in the case. Spokane County sheriff’s officials say the children are staying with a close family friend.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 6: Ex-husband arrested for Deer Park woman's murder

Dec. 14: Search warrants sealed in Deer Park murder case

Police: Fraud suspect bilked 17+ people

Police say a recently arrested fraud suspected swindled people out of money through false car advertisements and Craigslist rental ads.

Eric Pittsley, 35, of Newman Lake, was arrested Feb. 1 in an investigation that detectives say includes at least 17 victims, officials said today.

Some victims said Pittsley introduced himself as an auto repo man who could get various cars at 'unbelievably” low prices, according to a news release by Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. The victims would paid Pittsley a deposit of about $500 and arranged to have a vehicle delivered, but it would never arrive, Chamberlin wrote.

Other victims responded to a Craigslist ad Pittlsey posted regarding home for rent through a Rent-to-Own program, or Pittsley contacted them through ads they posted seeking rental properties, according to the sheriff's office.

Pittsley did not own the home he advertised but would meet with potential renters, tell this them the homes were about to be vacated and collected the first month's rent and security deposit. He sometimes asked for additional months upfront and said they could get one month free if they paid, Chamberlin said. Many victims received a signed lease and key, but the keys turned out not to work for the properties in question.

“The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the Spokane Valley Police Department would like to use these unfortunate events to remind everyone that they need to be aware of scams and to be cautious of people who place free ads on the internet,” Chamberlin wrote.  “While the internet is a great tool for the community to find excellent opportunities and for businesses to reach out, when it comes to your money changing hands, the proper paperwork should accompany the transaction or agreements entered into.  When paying in cash always ask for receipts.  If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Check around if you’re unsure.  Ask for references or ask others who have experience in the type of dealings you’re pursuing.”

Dad arrested after crash injures children

A father was arrested on suspicion of vehicular assault Monday after a one-car crash that injured his 5-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter in south Spokane County.

Heath Barden, 35, of Cheney, was driving north in the 14000 block of South Murphy Road when his 2004 Mitsubishi Montero left the roadway as he tried to complete a curve, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. The car rolled at least twice before coming to a rest on the driver's side. Investigators say the crash scene extended 200 feet, which indicated Barden was driving faster than the 35 mph speed limit.
Barden's daughter received only minor injuries, but his son had glass in one of his eyes, and it was swollen shut, the sheriff's office said. Investigators believe Barden had been drinking. 
“Child Protection Services was notified of the incident per the recent new law requiring such notification when DUI suspects are arrested with children in the vehicle,” Deputy Craig Chamberlin said in a news release. “The collision is still under investigation.”

Hate crimes alleged in assault spree

A 19-year-old man and his two brothers have been charged with hate crimes for allegedly attacking people because of their race.

Deven James-Allen Hood is accused of smashing car windows and beating people Jan. 20 in what police allege was a hate-fueled drive through Spokane.

He is wanted on a $100,000 warrant for 10 felony charges filed Monday in Spokane County Superior Court

Police say Hood threw something at a truck driving through the intersection of West Wellesely Avenue and North Cedar Street early Jan. 20, then punched the driver, Anthony Martinez, when Martinez got out to confront Hood about 1 a.m. Martinez said his assailant repeatedly called him a derogatory term for Hispanic people.

Then at 1:46 a.m., a woman, Jaylean Tayloe, went outside her home along North Cedar to confront two men she believed were attempting to steal a truck, according to court documents.

The men, later identified as Hood and his 15-year-old brother, attacked her, according to court documents. Two men, Dumar Jones-White and Sean Michels pursued Tayloe's attackers in the truck only to be attacked by Deven Hood as his younger brother yelled racial epithets. Hood's other brother, Jeaun Don Hood, 17, also participated in the beating, police allege.

Deven Hood stole the truck, and his youngest brother followed Michels and Jones-White back to a home on Cedar while yelling racial epithets about black people, documents allege.

Police caught the 15-year-old as he tried to run from a home in the 5400 block of North Adams Street. Deven and Jaeun Hood were found hiding on a bed inside the home.

The Hoods were booked into jail Jan. 20 but later released because no charges were filed.

Prosecutors on Monday charged Deven Hood with two counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of malicious harassment (a hate crime), four counts of second-degree assault, and single counts of third-degree malicious mischief and attempted first-degree robbery.

Jeaun Hood was booked into jail early today on a $100,000 warrant for two counts of second-degree assault and single counts of malicious harassment and first-degree robbery.

Their 15-year-old brother is charged in juvenile court.

Ex-husband arrested in Deer Park murder

The ex-husband of a woman found strangled in her Deer Park home has been arrested for murder.

Clay Duane Starbuck was booked into jail Monday for the murder of Chanin Denice Starbuck, 42, who was found dead in her home at 509 N. Reiper St. Dec. 3. Deputies arrested him without incident during a traffic stop this morning in Deer Park.

The Starbucks, who have five children between the ages of 10 and 21, were in the midst of a contentious divorce when Chanin was killed.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 14: Search warrants sealed in Deer Park murder case

Suspected peeper arrested in Cheney

A man with unzipped pants was arrested on suspicion of voyeurism following witness reports that he was spying on young women in Cheney late Friday.

Police responded to the 500 block of Clay Street about 10:45 p.m. Friday, where an Eastern Washington University student said she arrived home to find a man looking into her apartment window.

The woman told officers she'd seen the same man looking into her neighbor's window last week. Police didn't find anyone, but they were called back to the apartment about 11:30 p.m. on reports the same man had returned. A witness told police the man said he was getting fresh air and walked away.

Police didn't locate anyone, but officers responded to the apartments again about 12:52 a.m. after hearing reports the man's vehicle was seen driving by. They stopped the dark Hyundai SUV and identified the driver as Richard Michael Wallingford, Jr., 37, who matched the description of the peeper provided by the victims.

Wallingford's pants were unzipped when he exited the SUV, police said. Two women identified Wallingford as the man who was looking in windows.

Wallingford left jail on $7,500 bond over the week. He appeared in Superior Court today on three counts of voyeurism, where he was given an arraignment date of Feb. 22.

Police guild ‘embraces’ Council’s reforms

Spokane Police Guild officials announced in a news release Monday that the union “embraces” a police reform resolution that the Spokane City Council is likely to approve tonight.

“The Guild wants to thank the Council members for recognizing that many of the steps presented in the resolution may affect the working conditions of represented employees and would need to be negotiated with the affected unions,” the news release said. “The City Council can expect the Guild to negotiate in good faith.”

Jonathan Brunt has more at Spin Control.

Drug suspect wanted after missing court

 A man charged with a drug felony after police found him passed out just east of downtown is wanted by Crime Stoppers.

Joseph Wade Davis, 27, has a colorful criminal history that includes a chase with a sheriff's deputy in June 2010 and another chase in April 2010 that ended with a car running out of gas near the Splash Down Water Park on Interstate 90.

He was arrested Sept. 13 after a Spokane police officer found him passed out in a grassy area on East Riverside Avenue at North Hogan Street and discovered prescription pills in his pocket that were authorized to him, according to court documents.

The officer said Davis had a felony warrant for his arrest at the time. He also was wearing a hospital ID bracelet - he told the officer he'd obtained the drug by using a false name at a hospital.

Davis was summonsed to court earlier this month for an arraignment on a felony charge of prescription fraud of a legend drug. He didn't show up, and a $5,000 warrant was issued for his arrest.

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

Reward targets man who skipped trial

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of an assault suspect who missed the scheduled start of his trial last week.

Joseph I. Ackaret, 28, is accused of hurling a beer bottle at a resident in the 2900 block of East Central Avenue on May 19.

 The alleged victim, Robert Dougan, said he awoke about 1:40 p.m. to people fighting in his home. He exited his bedroom and was struck in the face with the beer bottle, which knocked a tooth out and gave him a cut below his eye, according to court documents.

Ackaret was to begin trial Jan. 30 on a second-degree assault charge, but he never showed up for a pre-trial hearing Jan. 20. A no-bail warrant was issued Jan. 26.

Ackaret has a previous conviction for second-degree assault, according to Crime Stoppers. He last gave an address in the 2700 block of West Sunset Boulevard in Spokane.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

A look at Spokane police use of force

To understand why the Spokane Police Department’s use-of-force training is under a microscope, consider this disconnect: Although the state’s top police trainer concluded that the fatal 2006 confrontation with unarmed janitor Otto Zehm was indefensible, the department’s own instructors and the city’s legal advisers have insisted that Spokane police officers were justified and handled the encounter appropriately.

 Here is how Spokane police Officer Terry Preuninger, a department training instructor (pictured), defended Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr.’s decision to beat and shock the retreating Zehm: “If the officer believes that they were in danger, then that use of force would be authorized,” Preuninger told a federal jury in October, adding that there doesn’t have to be a “factual basis” for the officer’s fear of harm.

Read the rest of the story here.

Also check out this profile on new interim police chief Scott Stephens.

Fugitive haunted by son’s murder in jail

A man targeted by Crime Stoppers for failing to register as a sex offender committed the same crime three years ago while haunted by the brutal jailhouse murder of his son.

William R. Rentz, 58, was convicted of third-degree child molestation in Cowlitz County in 1994.

He was living in an abandoned van at a gas station in the winter of 2008-2009 and walked to the police station to register as a sex offender each week. He left for Idaho without notifying authorities when his brother learned he was living in the unheated van, according to court documents.

Rentz never registered in Idaho, which led to his criminal conviction in 2010.

Rentz is the father of Christopher Lee Rentz, a 21-year-old gas theft suspect who was brutally murdered by cellmates Michael Lee West and Brandon West Martin in the Spokane County Jail in 2004.

The county settled a lawsuit over Rentz's death for $180,000, and Martin and West were convicted of murder. West is now accused of brutally assaulting two other inmates at the Airway Heights Corrections Center.

Rentz considered his son to be his best friend and has not recovered from his murder, according to a memorandum his public defender, Kari Reardon, filed before his sentencing in 2010 for failing to register as a sex ofender.

Rentz was in jail, too, when he was son was killed, Reardon wrote. Jailers put him on suicide watch after informing him of the murder.

“Unfortunately for William, part of him died with Chris,” according to a letter from his brother, Terry Rentz that was included with the memo.

Terry Rentz described how he searched for his brother at various convenience stores when he learned of his condition. He said his brother was physically unable to register, and when he was, “he could not face the fact hat he would need to contact the sheriff in the same building in which his son was murdered.”

William Rentz, who was credited for 417 days served in jail at his sentencing in 2010, suffers from mild dementia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic injury caused when he was buried in concrete, according to the memo.

A no-bail warrant for his arrest was issued Jan. 25 for failing to register as a sex offender, a felony. Crime Stoppers last week offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Jury convicts man of threatening officer

A jury has convicted a Spokane man of felony harassment for threatening to kill a Spokane police officer.

Rudy Ray Cordova, 38, was acquitted of fourth-degree domestic assault, which is the suspected crime that brought him in contact with Officer Chris McMurtrey.

Cordova's lawyer, Doug Phelps, questioned McMurtrey at trial about his support for Officer Karl Thompson and pointed out that McMurtrey said he feared Cordova in part because of his felony convictions. Phelps emphasized that Thompson was a convicted felon, too, but McMurtrey didn't fear him.

It apparently didn't sway jurors, who returned the guilty verdict on Thursday. Cordova is now awaiting sentencing on the felony harassment charge.

McMurtrey had arrested Cordova on suspicion of domestic violence assault Feb. 26 when Cordova told him, “That’s how people died, by taking the wrong people to jail…Don’t worry. I’ll get out tomorrow and find out where you guys live. I’ve been to prison,” according to court testimony.

Repeat Best Buy pest charged w/ felony

A 19-time felon banned from Best Buy allegedly returned to the store 13 times in seven months, leading to a slew of felony burglary charges.

Police arrested William Steven Neis, 49, at his apartment at 1119 W. 11th Street on Jan. 25.

Officers had responded to north Spokane Best Buy Jan. 13 after employees said a shoplifter “has been harassing them and blatantly stealing things from them in full view for months,” according to the Spokane Police Department.

Best Buy policy prohibits employees from physically contacting theft suspects. Police believe Neis knew of this policy and continued to shoplift because of it.

Neis is believed to have stolen more than $5,000 in items from the store on 13 occasions between May and December last year., police say.

Neis was permanently banned from he store in July 2010. Spokane County prosecutors charged him with 13 counts second-degree burglary last week unlawfully entering the store.

Officers Dusty Howe and Stephanie Kennedy “spent a full week locating Neis” and went to Best Buy on their day off to continue the investigation, police say.

Neis remains in jail on $19,500, as well as $3,500 bond for misdemeanor assault and theft charges.

Cigar leads to arrest in July burglary

A cigar left at a burglary scene last summer led detectives on Wednesday to arrest a 21-year-old man as a suspect.

DNA on the cigar that was sent to the state crime lab matched DNA that Trevor Codi Frantz provided when he was convicted of a felony first-degree theft in April 2010, according to court documents.

Detectives seized the cigar while investigating a burglary in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue in Spokane Valley July 30. They believe the burglars used the cigar to try to light the home on fire.

A career criminal now serving life in prison, Larry A. Powell, fired shots at a neighbor who tried to stop the burglary. Powell was arrested shortly after the shooting. He already was wanted for not showing up for the end of his trial for a different robbery case.

Frantz was booked into jail Wednesday about 1 p.m. on charges of attempted first-degree arson and first-degree burglary.

‘Teacher Grandpa’ sentenced for rape

A man known as “Teacher Grandpa” at a Spokane day care has been sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for child rape.

Eugene R. Wright, 66, is to serve 123 months and undergo a sexual deviance evaluation before he's released, which could mean he stays in prison for the rest of his life.

Wright was arrested in August 2010 for sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl at the Bigfoot Child Care Center at Spokane Community College.

Wright passed a background check and began working at the center in late June 2010. He was dismissed in mid-August 2010 when a young girl told her mother that Wright had molested her. Another parent told police she’d witnessed inappropriate contact between Wright and the girl.

Wright also worked at the East Central Head Start program from January 2010 until he transferred to the Bigfoot center.

Wright passed a background check through the state Department of Early Learning and was paid a stipend through a Catholic Charities program that finds work for low-income elderly people.

Wright pleaded guilty to first-degree child rape Jan. 27 and was sentenced by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke. He's in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Spokane police Detective Stephanie Barkley investigated the case. Sgt. Steve Wohl of the sexual assault unit “credits the cooperative efforts among the Daycare on the SCC campus and other criminal justice partners for this very thorough and extensive investigation,” according to a news release.

Inmate adds pig to Vt. police cruisers

Some Vermont inmates have gotten the best of the state police by adding a pig to the state decal on their cruisers. One of the spots on the cow in the state crest has been changed to the shape of a pig, a derogatory term for police.  (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A prison inmate who makes stationery and license plates pulled a fast one on state police by adding the image of a pig to the state decal on their cruisers.

On the 16-inch car door decals, made by prisoners in Windsor, one of the spots on a cow in a scene with mountains and a pine tree has been changed to the shape of a pig, a derogatory term for police.

A Vermont state trooper discovered the pig while inspecting his vehicle on Wednesday. State police say they believe the decals have been added to about 30 cruisers in the past year.

About 60 altered decals were made over the last couple of years, said Andy Pallito, commissioner of the Department of Corrections, which is looking into who made the modification and when.

New decals will be made by Monday at a cost of $780. The expense will be covered by a surplus in the revolving fund that supports the offender work program, Pallito said.

State police Maj. Bill Sheets wasn't amused by the prank.

“While some may find humor in the decal modifications, the joke unfortunately comes at the expense of the taxpayers,” he said Thursday.

The Burlington Free Press newspaper first reported the pig decals.

Toothless robber: I needed dentures

WAYNESBURG, Pa. (AP) — A woman who appeared to not have any teeth in surveillance photos from a bank robbery last month has confessed, apologized and told police she planned the heist because she needed the money for dentures.

Evelyn Marie Fuller, 49, remained in a jail Wednesday unable to post bond on bank robbery and other charges filed a day earlier by police in Waynesburg, in western Pennsylvania, where she's accused of robbing the First National Bank on Jan. 20.

Arresting Officer Tom Ankrom said Fuller, of Carmichaels, about 10 miles east, explained her motives when she confessed to the crime.

“During her confession, she stated she wanted to use the money to pay for dentures she was unable to get through welfare until next year,” Ankrom said.

Police distributed a surveillance photo of the robber, who appeared to be toothless, and an unnamed witness went to police and told them he had loaned Fuller the coat the robber was seen wearing in the picture. The man told police Fuller returned the coat because the zipper didn't work, and police said it matched one the robber is wearing in the picture.

Fuller, at her arraignment Tuesday, told a district judge she has mental health problems and lives on disability benefits, the Observer-Reporter newspaper, of Washington, said Wednesday.

After her arraignment, she told a reporter, “I'm very sorry for what I did, and I know God is going to punish me for it,” before explaining that her pastor told her to tell the truth about what she did.

Another escape attempt at Benewah jail

State officials learned of an attempted Wednesday escape at the Benewah County Jail when officials at another jail called to say the inmate had been transferred there, and they wanted him gone. 

The Idaho Department of Correction is working to transport Timothy Wesley Allen, 30, to another facility, said spokesman Jeff Ray.

Allen was awaiting transfer to state custody on a parole violation when he tried to break through a wall at the jail, Ray said.

Jailers discovered the attempted break-in about 10 p.m., Ray said. Benewah County Sheriff's Office transferred Allen to the Shoshone County Jail in Wallace, Idaho.

Jailers called the state official in charge of the facility and asked that Allen be removed as soon as possible.

“He said 'how come?' and found out why,” Ray said.

The Benewah County Sheriff’s Office did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Allen has convictions for grand theft, robbery, DUI and accessory to a robbery in Montana in 2009, Ray said.

This is the second time in six months Benewah County has failed to notify the department of an escape or attempted escape by a state inmate.

Jesse John Wilkenson, also known as Jesse Brebner, 20, has escaped twice - last July and last September.

Burglary suspect arrested after chase

A north Spokane County man followed a burglary suspect as he sped away from his home this afternoon, leading to a chase with a sheriff's sergeant that ended with the suspect's arrest.

Harold A. Willey, 52, avoided spike strips at Bruce Road and Highway 206 but was arrested after Sgt. Jay McNall used his patrol car to force Willey's car into a spin that brought it to a stop, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

McNall was chasing Willey after a resident in the 12000 block of North Forker Road left his home for about 10 minutes to borrow tools from his father and returned about 1:45 p.m. to find Willey loading items from his garage into Willey's truck.

Willey left the items behind and sped away when he saw the man. The man called 911 as he followed Willey, who was driving west toward Argonne Road. McNall was at Argonne and Bruce roads when he saw Willey and took chase.

Willey was booked into jail on charges of  second-degree burglary, attempting to elude, resisting arrest, second-degree driving while license suspended as well as a felony warrant for possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor warrant for violation of a protection order.

Chase in stolen rental car leads to arrest

Spokane police arrested the fleeing driver of a stolen rental car after a using their patrol car to stop the vehicle late Tuesday.

  Christopher B. Gooch, 35, told police his cousin told him the car was stolen when police pulled up next to them, and “I wasn't just going to pull over and go to jail for a stolen car,” according to court documents.

Gooch had fled police in a 2011 Toyota Corolla while southbound on North Market Street near East Wellesley Avenue. He sped through red lights before Officer Sean Wheeler nudged the back of the Corolla with his patrol car, which forced it into a spin that brought it to a stop

. Gooch ran from the car but was arrested in a backyard near Buckeye and Atlantic. Wheeler noted in court documents that he advised Gooch that “he was a terrible driver.”

Police say Gooch had suspected stolen checks on him when he was booked into jail. He remains jailed in this case and another attempting to elude police case and a felony drug case from last year.

Gooch's cousin, Justin C. Taylor, 27, who police suspect stole the car, is jailed on drug and car theft charges.

New leader for federal public defenders

Andrea George moved to Spokane from Minnesota to become the executive director of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho. (SRPhoto/Jesse Tinsley)

Andrea K. George has just begun as the new executive director of the team of attorneys representing indigent crime suspects in Spokane and North Idaho. But the Wisconsin native is sure of one thing: The worst of Spokane’s weather doesn’t scare her at all.

“If this is what the winters are like, I can handle this,” George said with a laugh. “I love it.”

Last month, George replaced outgoing executive director Roger Peven at Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho in the job that advertised a salary of $155,000 a year.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Would-be traffic stop turns into chase

An attempted traffic stop for going 10 miles over the speed limit in Spokane Valley Wednesday night turned into police chase with a felony drug suspect, officials said today.

 Danny D. Harman, 36, was arrested after Officer Mark Brownell performed a Pursuit Intervention Technique on his vehicle, which involves nudging the back bumper with the nose of the patrol car to force it into a spin that brings it to a stop.

Brownell had tried to pull Harman over for driving 35 mph in a 25 mph zone near the 11600 block of East 8th Avenue when Harman refused to stop, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Brownell found a  clear, gallon-size bag in the bed of Harman’s pickup that contained a glass pipe with suspected methamphetamine inside, as well as other baggies and a scale with suspected meth on it.

Harman was sentenced in 2007 to 25 months in prison for attempting to elude a police vehicle, second-degree theft and second-degree burglary.

Deputies tackle wrong man outside court

A suspected child rapist suffered shoulder injuries when Spokane County corrections deputies apparently mistook him for another man who they’d been sent to detain outside a courtroom.

“The whole time I was telling them that they got the wrong guy,” said Robert C. Botzon, 47, who said he may have suffered permanent damage in the Jan. 19 encounter, which included being forcibly knocked to the ground while officers swarmed and put him in handcuffs.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

ISP gun found in Del Taco drive thru

(AP) — The Idaho State Police is investigating after an off-duty officer's loaded service weapon was found in the parking lot of a North Idaho taco restaurant.

Officials say the officer took off his holster to change his license plates, placed the .45-caliber gun on the top of his truck and drove off without retrieving the weapon. It eventually fell off in the parking lot of Del Taco in Post Falls.

Customer Greg Wiltse spotted the gun as he was pulling into the drive-thru at about 9 p.m. Tuesday. He says he put the holstered gun on the floorboard of his truck and called police.

ISP Capt. Curtis Karstens says the case is being treated as a personnel matter and declined further comment. He says it's possible the employee could face disciplinary action.

$50k bond for suspect in fatal crash

A 21-year-old woman accused of leaving the scene of fatal drunken crash has been charged with two felonies.

Hannah K. Hahn, 21, remains in jail on $50,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court today on charges of vehicular homicide and failure to remain at the scene of an accident for the crash early Saturday that killed pedestrian Dennis Burgess, 47.

Hahn posted bond over the weekend on a vehicular assault charge but was to be rearrested on the vehicular homicide charge Monday after officers learned Burgess had died.

She didn't show up for court Monday afternoon, and her public defender said she tried to turn herself into he jail later that day but was turned away, according to KHQ. She was arrested on Tuesday.

Hahn, who is pictured courtesy KHQ, has two misdemeanor convictions for minor in possession of alcohol and possession of another person's ID.

Police say Hahn smelled of alcohol and had “some small bottles of alcohol” on her when they stopped 1999 Dodge Durango as it sped north on Market near Hawthorne Road about 2:17 a.m. Saturday.

Officers seized three cans of Mike's Harder Blueberry Lemonade, a bag of suspected marijuana from the car, according to a search warrant filed Tuesday.

 Burgess was struck on Market near East Providence Avenue. His family said he was father of three and worked as a carpenter and landscaper.

Past coverage

Jan. 30: Patrols follow pedestrian-auto crashes


Cop questioned over Thompson support

A Spokane police officer who says he feared for his life after being threatened by a felon was asked in court Wednesday about supportive comments he posted on a Facebook page in support of another convicted felon – former Officer Karl Thompson.

 Defense lawyer Doug Phelps questioned Officer Chris McMurtrey’s contention that 38-year-old Rudy Ray Cordova’s prior convictions for violent crimes were a cause for concern, noting that Thompson has been convicted of a violent crime, too.

Read the rest of my story here.

Rape alleged in prostitute’s brutal murder

Spokane police are recommending murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping charges against a sex offender suspected of killing a Spokane woman who was working as a prostitute last August.

Major crimes detectives have submitted the charging request for Derrick Ross Vargas, 24, (right) to the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office, police said today.

Vargas, who has long been a suspect, is accused of raping and murdering Evon M. Moore, 48, whose body was found in an alley near North Ralph Street and East Riverside Avenue Aug. 13. Police said the condition Moore's body showed she was obviously the victim of a “brutal murder.”

Detectives were looking for clues from cars seen on surveillance video in the area when a Washington State Patrol trooper contacted Vargas during a traffic stop Sept. 23.
A woman jumped out of his red truck and said Vargas had raped her. Police say the woman was working as a prostitute on East Sprague Avenue when she met Vargas - just like Moore (left). And Vargas' truck matched  a truck seen on the surveillance video near where Moore's body was found.
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.
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, who was a student at Spokane Community College.
He's been in jail since Sept. 23 on a rape charge for the alleged incident with the prostitute. He has not yet been formally charged in Moore's death.

Public urination claim doesn’t stop probe

A 22-year-old man's claim of public urination didn't stop a sheriff's deputy investigating suspicious activity at a north Spokane church  late Monday, officials said today.

Yuriy V. Siriy had 19 car keys of various shapes and sizes when Deputy Daryl Smith searched him after arresting him on misdemeanor warrants, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.
Smith was patrolling the Morgan Acres area of north Spokane County when he spotted a man “step out of the shadows” from behind Morgan Acres Community Church, 7319 N. Regal St., according to a news release by sheriff's spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin.
Smith contacted the man and identified him as Siriy. 
” Siriy stated he was walking home and needed to urinate so he went behind the church to stay out of sight,” Chamberlin wrote. Siriy was wearing a nylon belt with pockets containing the keys, many of which were shaved.  
“Shaved keys are commonly used to defeat locks during crimes such as vehicle theft, vehicle prowling and burglary,” Chamberlin wrote.
Chamberlin said Siriy “became verbally abusive and uncooperative” while in the patrol car and was unable to unlatch his seat belt. A second deputy rode in the vehicle after restraining Siriy and re-securing his seat belt.
Siriy was booked into the jail on misdemeanor charges of possession of burglary tools and obstructing in addition to the misdemeanor warrants for hit and run of an unattended vehicle and hit and run of an attended vehicle. 

Indiana man sentenced in CdA for pot

An Indiana man who grew marijuana in Latah County is to spend 18 months in federal prison under a sentence imposed this week in Coeur d'Alene.

Kevin Brett Waters, 45, said he planted 67 plants on co-defendant Dawn C. Wilson's property in Kamiah before leaving for Alaska in spring 2008 to go fishing. Authorities found about 175 pants on the property in August 2008. Wilson said she was caring for the plants while Waters was gone, police said.

Wilson, 54, was sentenced in June 2009 to 30 months in prison for conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants.

Waters, who moved back to Lebanon, Indiana, after his arrest, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to manufacture between 5 and 10 kilograms of marijuana. In addition to 18 months in prison, he'll be probation for three years and is to perform 120 hours of community service.

He was sentenced Monday in Coeur d'Alene by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge. A sentencing memorandum disecribed him as an active member of the Moose Lodge in Indiana who has worked as a mechanic, tree cutter, in the restaurant industry and on the fishing boats in Alaska.

The case was investigated by Nez Perce Tribal Police, the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office, the Idaho State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Driver in fatal pedestrian crash jailed

A 21-year-old vehicular homicide suspect who missed her court appearance on Monday is back in jail after turning herself in.

Hannah Kay Hahn was arrested Tuesday at her lawyer’s office, KHQ-TV reports.

She was booked into jail about 5:15 p.m. on charges of vehicular homicide and hit-and-run for a crash early Saturday that killed pedestrian Dennis Burgess, 47, at North Market Street and East Providence Avenue. Her bond is set at $50,000. She'll appear before a judge today.

Police say Hahn smelled of alcohol and had “some small bottles of alcohol” on her when they stopped her SUV as it sped north on Market near Hawthorne Road about 2:17 a.m. Saturday.

The SUV’s windshield was broken and its front end and hood were damaged.

Hahn was arrested Saturday but posted bond on a vehicular assault charge. Police planned to arrest her on the upgraded vehicular homicide charge Monday but she didn't show up for court.

Burgess was a father of three and worked as a carpenter and landscaper, his family said.

Past coverage

Jan. 30: Patrols follow pedestrian-auto crashes

Stevens Co. murder suspect fit for trial

The suspected shooter charged with the July 17 killing of a 63-year-old Colville man has been found competent to stand trial.

  Eric L. Booth, 26, is expected to appear in court next Tuesday to schedule a trial, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said this week. But based on preliminary discussions, a trial may not be necessary, Rasmussen said.

Booth is charged with first-degree murder  for the shooting death of Gordon Feist in what detectives believe was a botched robbery. Also charged are 27-year-old Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin and 25-year-old Collette Marie Pierce.

Booth and his attorney, Paul Wasson, have been working with law enforcement, Rasmussen said.

Past coverage:

Sept. 26: Two more charged in Stevens County homcide

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

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