Sirens & Gavels

Guilty plea halts 'life is a bitch' jury trial

A last-minute plea deal has halted a trial for a Spokane man accused of intimidating a public servant for a courthouse outburst at a deputy prosecutor.

Roland W. Finney, 36, (pictured) pleaded guilty to riot today in Spokane County Superior Court and was sentenced to six months in jail. He'll be credited for 59 days already served.

Sixty prospective jurors and a visiting judge were at the courthouse today for what was to be the start of Finney's trial.

Finney was accused of intimidating Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla on Aug. 30, 2010, after Cipolla refiled drug-related charges against him that had earlier been dismissed.

Cipolla said Finney 'threatened to take me outside and ‘kick my ass,’ ” according to court documents. “The threats continued to escalate including killing my wife, ‘Life is a bitch, you marry one and then she dies’ and that I had better watch out,” Cipolla wrote.

In response, Finney's lawyer, Kari Reardon, wrote: “The truth of the matter is that for some, life is a bitch. Further, everybody dies." She said her client's statements didn't constitute threats against Cipolla.

Retired Ferry County Judge Rebecca Baker and Lincoln County Prosecutor Jeff Barkdull were called in to handle the case.

Finney pleaded guilty today before jury selection proceedings began, thus ending any possibility of Reardon cross examining Cipolla.

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