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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for October 2012

Special Olympics awards Knezovich

Special Olympics Washington honored Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich for his support of the program.

Knezovich received the 2012 Special Olympics Washington Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign, Sheriff of the Year Award.  Special Olympics Washington gives the award to one Washington sheriff and police chief each year.

Sheriff Knezovich was awarded, in part, for serving with the Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign for more than eight years. He also participates in Special Olympics Washington events such as Tip a Cop, the Polar Bear Plunge, Cops on Roof Top and the Plane Pull.

“It’s a privilege to be involved with Special Olympics Washington and have the opportunity to meet and support such great athletes,” Knezovich in a Wednesday news release from the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Knezovich has “remained supportive of the movement and most specifically the campaign,” said Tukwila Police Officer Ted Rutt, who presented Knezovich with the award.

”He has lead by example though his active involvement in every Special Olympics related event community wide and has continued to make a difference in lending any assistance available to him,” Rutt said.

Excessive force case loses appeal

   Appellate judges have upheld a civil judgment in favor of Spokane County after a jury ruled in 2011 that a deputy did not use excessive force during a traffic stop in 2006.

   Mary Schultz, the attorney for Daniel B. Strange, appealed several rulings by Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza during the civil trial in January 2011.

   Strange alleged that Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Welton used excessive force when he used his Taser on Strange during a traffic stop in 2006 in Spokane Valley.

   Among the issues raised by Schultz, was a ruling by Cozza barring her from raising previous internal investigations where citizens had alleged that Welton, who has since been promoted to detective, had used excessive force in the past.

   Schultz said she was never allowed to show the jury a report in the case by a paid expert who wrote that Welton was named in 13 of 42 excessive force complaints against his patrol division between 2001 and 2006.

   But the Division III Court of Appeals took no issue with Cozza’s ruling.

   “The court held that ‘all of the occurrences sought to be admitted were investigated and reviewed pursuant to Sheriff's departmental policy, resulting in findings of either exoneration, not sustained, or unfounded,’” Judge Dennis Sweeney wrote for the majority.

  Schultz also asked for reversal on the grounds that Cozza allowed the attorney representing Spokane County to introduce evidence during the trial that had not previously been provided to the defense.

   Again, the appellate judges ruled that Cozza allowed Schultz to fully cross-examine the witnesses to explore that issue at trial.

   “Certainly the perfect case was not tried here,” Sweeney wrote. “But the perfect case has not been and never will be tried. The parties here are not entitled to a perfect trial.”

Police reform meeting canceled/rescheduled

A previously scheduled meeting to discuss Spokane police reform and an update of its progress was canceled on Monday afternoon due to an absent chief of Police.

Due to a scheduling conflict, chief of Police Frank Straub was unable to attend the Public Safety Committee and members of Spokane City Council voted to reschedule the meeting for a tentative date next week.

They were slated to discuss progress in the city’s reform outlined earlier this year. A resolution was passed by city council on Feb. 6, to improve oversight, community involvement, training, and service through specific goals like developing a body camera program, discipline matrix, more civilian oversight, etc.


Documents:

America’s violent crime rate keeps falling

You'd never know it from watching TV these days but America's violent crime rate is continuing its plunge.

The latest FBI stats, released today, show the number of murders, robberies, rapes and other felony assaults fell 3.8 percent nationwide in 2011, the fifth straight decline in a row. Property crime such as burglaries and theft fell a modest 0.5 percent.

Spokane saw a slight increase in violent crime, though the number of murders again were down.

The violent crime rate hit records levels nationally, as well as in Spokane, during the 1990s but has fallen steadily since. The nation's violent crime rate has fallen 65 percent since 1993, according to the FBI.

You can find The Associated Press article on the national statistics by clicking on the “continue reading” button below.

Burglar targets bereaved

Spokane Police detectives say a man may have targeted the home of a burglary victim because of an online obituary, entering when he believed she would be gone.

The burglar’s haul included multiple firearms, antiques, and the victim’s dead husband’s wedding ring. The crime occurred Sept. 22 on the 2800 block of West Lyons.

On Oct. 24, Detective Lonnie Tofsrud, with SPD’s Targeted Crimes Unit, arrested 27-year-old Michael Sisneros after Sisneros allegedly sold one of the stolen firearms, a .22-caliber gun, to Joseph Travis Sizemore.

Sizemore, 33, was arrested Oct. 4 after allegedly fleeing the scene of a crash that occurred near Monroe Street and Boone Avenue and leading police a short pursuit.

After police caught up to Sizemore, a convicted felon, they found a .22-caliber bullet, a .22-caliber revolver and methamphetamine. Follow-up investigation revealed the firearm was stolen from the West Lyons burglary.

Sisneros was booked into Spokane County Jail Wednesday on unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm and trafficking in stolen property.

While they have nabbed the alleged thieves, police have yet to track down the wedding band and the other stolen items and are asking for the public’s help locating the items. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at 509-456-2233. 

Items taken in burglaries tend to move quickly through the black market and are often difficult to track down, SPD crime analyst Tom Michaud said. Police encourage people to write down serial numbers and take pictures of valuables to help police locate them if they are stolen.

Police: Beware of panhandlers

Spokane police arrested a panhandler Thursday afternoon after discovering he had a stolen car.

A man left a vehicle parked near the Office Depot by Wellesley Avenue and Division Street and proceeded to the intersection with a cardboard sign to panhandle, according to a Spokane Police Department news release.

Officers discovered the car had been reported stolen from the South Hill area two days ago and arrested Alex D. Treadway, 30, as he returned to the vehicle after collecting money from a number of motorists.

Treadway was booked into Spokane County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle. He is a convicted felon with numerous Spokane-area arrests, including felon in possession of a firearm, armed burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and theft, according to police.

“Consider carefully who you might be rolling your window for,” police Spokesman Sgt. Jason Hartman said in the news release.

“The Spokane Police Department wants to remind the public that a multitude of government and charitable services exist, especially downtown, to assist people with food, shelter and medical needs,” Hartman said. “Members of the department are aware of numerous instances where panhandled donations have not gone for the stated purpose.”

The Spokane City Council passed an ordinance in August banning panhandlers in certain areas from reaching into the street to take money from drivers.

The affected area is south of Boone Avenue, west of Hamilton Street, north of Seventh Avenue and east of the Maple-Ash corridor on major arterials, including state highway routes. It also includes interchanges along the entire Interstate 90 corridor inside the city of Spokane.

Man pleads guilty to gang shooting

   A man, charged in a gang-related shooting in which a 6-year-old girl was hit in the foot, pleaded guilty today in Spokane County Superior Court.

   Abubakar Samura, 21, had been charged with two counts of first-degree assault following the March 4 shooting in the 1800 block of East Fourth Avenue. Today he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault with firearms enhancements.

   Matthew W. Woods, who was 23 at the time, suffered gunshot wounds to the legs and back. The girl, who was inside the house where the shooting took place, was struck by a stray bullet in the foot.

   Spokane Police said that Woods was at the home with a friend when someone from a home nearby in the 300 block of South Pittsburg Street yelled a derogatory statement about Woods’ gang.

   The yelling led to a confrontation in which Samura shot Woods and then fired several more times as Woods ran to a nearby home.

   Samura appeared today before Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza and pleaded guilty to the second-degree assault charges. Cozza set Samura’s sentencing for Nov. 8 at 1:30 p.m.

Police guild “circled the wagons” after Zehm

   In addition to revelations that Spokane Police detectives were feeding information about the Zehm investigation to Officer Karl F. Thompson, Jr., the grand jury testimony of Detective Jeff Harvey had several other insights into how the Spokane Police handled the case.

   Harvey was a vice president of the Spokane Police Guild when he was subpoenaed to testify in March 2009 before the grand jury investigating the March 18, 2006, beating of mentally disabled Otto Zehm, who later died from the incident.

   Harvey testified that he spoke with a forensics employee who had spoken to Detective Mark Burbridge, who investigated the Zehm confrontation along with former Detective Terry Ferguson.

   Burbridge showed the forensics employee a video of the Zehm confrontation and Burbridge “had drawn the conclusion that it appeared that the officers were following policy and procedure,” Durkin said, reading Harvey’s notes.

   Harvey also testified about a call he took on March 18, 2006, from Sgt. Dan Torok, who was one of several officers who responded to Thompson’s call for help in restraining Zehm.

   Harvey said Torok “had concerns that detectives were not following our critical incident protocol. They were asking way too many questions of the officers at the time of the incident.”

Harvey said the officers believed they should be given 48 hours before answering questions about the Zehm confrontation.

   Torok and other officers indicated that they wanted an attorney at the same time Spokane Police officials were telling the public that Zehm “attacked” and “lunged” at Thompson, who used the least amount of force necessary to subdue Zehm.

   Harvey’s notes show that he spoke to Ernie Wuthrich, the current guild president, at about 1 a.m. on the night of the incident.

   Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Durkin asked Harvey about a reference in his notes about setting something up for Tuesday after the Zehm confrontation.

   “Tuesday morning we were going to circle the wagons, so to speak, get things together and figure out what’s going on,” Harvey said.

   Tuesday would have been three days after the confrontation, which is when Officer Jason Uberuaga told the same grand jury that several officers were called into a room with a union attorney to fill out their incident reports about the Zehm confrontation.

Read that story here.

Man reportedly assaults Spokane Valley paramedic

A reportedly intoxicated man assaulted a Spokane Valley Fire paramedic on Monday evening while crews treated a woman for a seizure.

While the Station 1 paramedic in full uniform and his partner treated the patient, 51-year-old William J. Nachtwey became hostile toward the paramedic and grabbed him by the shirt collar demanding they leave the trailer in the 9500 block of east 4th Avenue.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office say the paramedic pushed Nachtwey over a coffee table. When he got up, he confronted them with a boxing stance.

The paramedic and his partner left the trailer while Spokane County sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene. According to a news release, before Nachtwey was arrested for 3rd degree assault, he tripped over a garbage can outside the trailer.

The firefighter was not injured during the confrontation. The woman was taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center for further treatment.

Nachtwey was not injured when he fell over the coffee table or garbage can.

Accused cop killer gets own TV in cell

King County Jail's decision to give an accused cop killer a personal TV to watch in his cell has got more than a few people steamed.

“This is just terrible,” said Seattle Police Officers' Guild President Rich O'Neill. The Seattle Police Department also sent notice that it opposed the special treatment.

In defending the move, jail officials noted that accused killer Christopher Monfort spends 23 hours a day  in isolation and is paralyzed from being shot when officers returned fire following the 2009 attack that killed one officer and wounded another. He's scheduled to stand trial next year and could face the death penalty.

Here's a link to the Associated Press story examining the uproar.

Attorney blasts McGill probe

Were detectives just doing their job or did they go too far?

A Spokane attorney has accused detectives of misrepresenting facts surrounding a homicide investigation in order to obtain permission to search the belongings of the victim's daughter.

Recently unsealed court documents show Spokane police detectives seeking search warrants told a judge the daughter, Billie McKinney, 25, was an uncooperative witness who hindered the investigation into the May stabbing death of her mother, Sharlotte McGill.

She has since been cleared of any involvement.

Jeffry Finer, who is representing McKinney, released a statement Wednesday stating he would seek an explanation of the alleged misstatements from authorities, but did not specify what those misstatements were.

Authorities were looking into a possible connection between McKinney and 20-year-old Steven Lewis, who matches the physical description given by McGill just before she died. Lewis was dating the mother of troubled teenager Avondre Graham, 17, who now faces charges for McGill's murder and two separate assaults.

Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said detectives have a duty to look at anyone close to the investigation.

The story surrounding the recently released documents is sparking a lively discussion in the comment section.

Read more here.

Pelican shoots man, claims self defense

While no charges have been filed, deputies continue to investigate the case of an estranged Spokane Valley husband who was shot in the knee today by a man who was living in his wife’s garage.
Spokane Valley deputies responded at about 11 a.m. today to the 1200 block of North Bannen Road on the call of a shooting. When they arrived, they found 37-year-old Justin Chapman with a gunshot wound that fractured his kneecap, sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said in a news release.
The deputies spoke with Chapman, who explained that he and his wife had been separated at the same time she had allowed 41-year-old David Pelican to live in their garage.
“Angered that Pelican was in his garage, Chapman kicked the back door in to the garage and an altercation ensued between he and Pelican,” Chamberlin wrote.
The fight ended and the men separated. But Chapman “became enraged” and walked back to the garage a second time.
“Pelican told deputies he was in fear for his life and chose to shoot two .22 caliber rounds from a handgun at Chapman’s legs,” Chamberlin said.
Pelican said he fired the shots because he feared Chapman may kill him. Chapman was transported to a local hospital where he was listed in stable condition.
While Pelican has not been charged, Chamberlin said the shooting remains under investigation.
  

Man assaulted for bashing the Dallas Cowboys

A man was hospitalized earlier this month after allegedly being the target of football rage at a downtown Spokane bar.

On Oct. 2 at 3:06 a.m., police took a report from the victim at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. He said he was assaulted by numerous men outside the Monterey Cafe located at 9 N. Washington Street.

Police said the victim was targeted for disparaging the Dallas Cowboys.

There was a football game televised the night prior. On Oct. 1, the Cowboys played the Chicago Bears and lost 34-18.

The condition of the victim is unknown at this time.

Rehired SPD detective gets apology, $350k

City leaders have apologized to a police detective fired last year for what officials described as a “troubled work history.”

The Spokane City Council voted 5-1 on Monday to approve a $350,000 settlement with Detective Jeff Harvey, who was rehired earlier this year.

The settlement stipulates that Harvey will not be disciplined for the episode that led to his termination.

Harvey argued that then-Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired him in retaliation for his leadership of the Spokane Police Guild. But city officials at the time said the last straw was an alleged confrontation he had with a state Fish and Wildlife officer who had pulled him over on suspicion of violating hunting laws.

Here's a link to the full story by SR reporter Jonathan Brunt.

Spokane charges dropped in slaying plea

A man who just had three counts of aggravated murder dismissed against this week also had Spokane County charges dismissed as part of the same deal.

Kevin Harper, 30, had been convicted of three counts of aggravated murder in Yakima County. But before he was charged with that crime, he and his girlfriend drove through the Spokane area and were arrested for property crimes.

Harper was arrested in May 2010 for residential burglary, two counts of second-degree theft and theft of a firearm. Since he was picked up in Kootenai County, he first served time there while Spokane County prosecutors wrote up warrants seeking his arrest upon release from Idaho.

Harper was arraigned on the property crimes in June, 2010, but missed his next court date because he had been charged with the triple slaying in Yakima.

Earlier this week, prosecutors from Yakima called Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Bob Sargent and asked whether they could negotiate the Spokane County cases. Sargent gave his approval and that was wrapped up in his global plea this week.

Harper, according to media accounts, now faces about seven years in prison while the triple homicide remains unsolved.

Thompson supporters invited to potluck

UPDATE: Potluck for Thompson canceled.

Officer John Gately just called Friday afternoon to say that the Nov. 3 event “An Evening with Karl” F. Thompson Jr. has been canceled.

“It was never intended to offend anyone,” Gately said. “It's canceled.”

 

HERE'S THE ORIGINAL POST:

Most of the officers who belong to the Spokane Police Guild have been invited to attend “An Evening with Karl” at the home of an officer and her husband, who is also union vice president.

While the Nov. 3 event for former officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. is not union sanctioned, Assistant Chief Scott Stephens said he worries that the event may counter efforts to rebuild trust in the police department following the department’s handling of the investigation of the Otto Zehm confrontation and Thompson's conviction in federal court.

 “Our goal is to have behavior consistent with enhancing and rebuilding public trust and confidence in the department,” Stephens said. The scheduled event “could potentially harm that. I would hope that officers would keep that goal in mind in all of their actions.”

Officer Kellee Gately is hosting the event with her husband, Officer John Gately, in their home. She said she obtained approval to hand out the fliers in the inter-departmental mail system. She said Thompson just recently celebrated a birthday, but did not elaborate on the purpose of the event.

Guild president Ernie Wuthrich said no union funds will be used for what he described essentially has a potluck.

 “It’s a private deal, even though I believe every (Guild) member was invited,” said Wuthrich, who said he won't attend because of a scheduling conflict.

Asked if he was concerned about community reaction, he said, “I would hope that the community would remember that anybody convicted of a crime still has friends and family and people who care about them and want the best for them. You can’t eliminate the human factor in any of these things.”

Kirkpatrick could find new role in King County

Former Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick is back in the news.

Kirkpatrick, who turned in her badge last year after voters ousted Mayor Mary Verner, has caught the attention of King County sheriff's candidate John Urqhart, who says he would hire her to serve as his chief deputy if voters elect to the post next month.

Urqhart spent 24 years with the King County Sheriff's Office in various roles and is challenging Sheriff Steve Strachan, who was appointed to the post by the King County Council in April.

Here's a link to the article about Urqhart's announcement that SR reporter Nicole Hensley put together today.

Oreskovich gets another week to file

   The defense attorneys of former Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. have blamed a faulty email program for missing the deadline last Friday to file any objections to the pre-sentence report that could become the last major legal battle prior to sentencing.

   Thompson was convicted on Nov. 2, 2011, of using excessive force and lying to investigators about his confrontation on March 18, 2006, with Otto Zehm. The original sentencing date of Jan. 27 has been delayed as attorneys continue to argue every aspect of the case.

   But on Sept. 21, U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle set a deadline of 4 p.m. on Oct. 5 for both sides to file objections to the pre-sentence report.

   Federal prosecutors missed the deadline by about four-and-a-half hours, but did file its request Friday night asking that the judge to sentence Thompson to 10 years.

   The Spokesman-Review sent an e-mail to Oreskovich at 6:10 p.m. Friday asking whether he would file any arguments. He finally responded at 1:03 a.m. Saturday, writing: “I filed objections many months ago.”

   But on Monday, Oreskovich wrote in a pleading, under the penalty of perjury, that his office has been experiencing problems with its Microsoft Outlook program and as a result didn’t receive a notice of the pending deadline.

   “During the late-evening hours of Friday … I was checking my email when I came across an email from Spokesman Review reporter Tom Clouse he sent at 6:15 p.m. inquiring whether I would be filing any objection to the Presentence Report,” Oreskovich wrote. “This was the first I was aware that anything was due that day.”

   He then asked for a week extension to file those documents.

   On Wednesday, Judge Van Sickle ruled that because Oreskovich “demonstrated good cause for the relief requested,” he extended the deadline until noon on Friday.  

Police use family to find fugitive

   Recently filed court documents show how Spokane Police on Monday tracked down the man who has been charged with Oct. 1 shooting in which his girlfriend suffered a bullet wound to the face: They followed the family.

   Joshua D. Graham, 30 appeared Tuesday before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese. She ordered him held on a $250,000 on the charge of first-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm.

   At the hearing, Graham’s mother, Donna Hilliard, claimed that the shooting was an accident and that her son didn’t turn himself into police because family of the victim, 19-year-old Justine Fry, had threatened to retaliate against Graham.

   But the whereabouts of Graham was solved after Detective Ben Estes learned that Graham had been in contact with Hilliard, and his brother, Justin Graham, who also appeared in court Tuesday to support his brother, according to court records.

   Acting on that information, Sgt. Joe Peterson and Officer Glenn Bartlett began watching Graham’s family and they followed Justin Graham as he drove to a home at 1117 W. Cleveland Ave. Just before noon on Monday, Justin Graham left that home with Justine Fry.

   The officers approached the home, according to court records, and talked to the home owner who confirmed that both Joshua Graham and state Department of Correction fugitive Nicholas D. Renn were in the home.

   Someone inside the home slammed the door shut, and Peterson and Bartlett called in the SWAT team, which was able to arrest both men.

 

Con man sent to prison for recent scams

   A con man whose schemes made victims out of dozens of people in three states was sentenced today to 29 months in prison.

   Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque sentenced 60-year-old Ronald G. Stratton to the high end of the range after a jury convicted him last month of 12 counts of theft by deception.

   The new convictions added to Stratton's eight convictions for grand theft in Kootenai County in 1995 and nine convictions for theft in 1997 in Missoula.

   Stratton placed advertisements promising custom carpentry work. He would make a deal, deliver promises and skip out with the money, according to court records.

   Read previous coverage here.

Man charged in attack ordered held

   The man charged with attacking a 62-year-old woman during a burglary last month that left her with serious injuries told police he was just trying to get out of her house when he threw an elbow at her.

   David J. Bassford, 38, appeared Monday before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese who ordered Bassford remained held on a $100,000 bond. He faces the charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery and second-degree assault.

   On Sept. 6, police responded to 907 E. 8th Ave. after Rebecca Laurence said she found a man she didn’t know in her home trying to steal a camera.

   Laurence “yelled at him and ran up and grabbed the camera,” Sgt. Joe Peterson wrote in court records. “The suspect struck her in the face several times until she fell to the floor. (He) then hit her several more times while she was lying on the floor.

   “The suspect then picked Laurence up and threw her down a long flight of concrete stairs while maintaining possession of the camera and other items,” Peterson said. “The suspect then fled the scene.”

   The case broke when a witness said that on Sept. 6, he had been given a ride by David Bassford to his apartment, which is directly across from where Laurence lives.

   Bassford then told another witness, Gerry Ellerding, that he had just broken into a home and was surprised by a woman and forced to flee. Bassford then asked Ellerding to give him an alibi by claiming that Bassford was at the garage all day.

   On Friday, Peterson and another officer arrested Bassford and he agreed to talk to them.

Bassford told the officers that he knocked on Laurence’s door and when she didn’t answer, he went around to the back door and entered the home.

   “Bassford said he took several items including a camera and was then confronted by a woman,” Peterson wrote of Bassford’s statement. “When he turned to leave the residence, the woman grabbed his right shoulder and he swung his right elbow at the woman in order to let her go.”

   Department spokesman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said in an earlier news release that Laurence suffered “significant” injuries.

‘Blinded by anger’ leads to arson charge

   A Spokane man, who said he was blinded by anger, remains in jail on a $20,000 bond after he admitted smashing out the windows of his ex-girlfriend’s car before he set it ablaze early Saturday morning.

   Matthew A. Radeck, 26, appeared Monday before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese on the charge of second-degree arson.

   The former girlfriend, who lives in apartment at 5317 S. Palouse Highway, said Radeck began texting her friend, Samuel Perez, and accusing him of sleeping with her.

   Several witnesses heard noises outside early Saturday. They went out to investigate and found the ex-girlfriend’s car windows broken out. Then about 1:31 a.m., the witnesses went out again and found the ex-girlfriend’s car engulfed in flames.

   Deputy Steven Paynter responded to the report of a vehicle fire and spoke with the girlfriend. She indicated that Radeck had just been at the apartment and was upset because he believed that she was involved with Perez.

   Paynter then found Radeck just a few blocks from his home at 623 E. 27th Avenue and took Radeck into custody. Deputy Paynter said he could “smell the distinct smell of fire coming for Radeck’s clothing.”

   Radeck waived his rights and admitted being angry at Perez and his ex-girlfriend because he thought they were dating.

   “Radeck admitted smashing the windows out with a rock, scratching ‘whore’ into the paint, and then returning a few minutes later to set the vehicle on fire,” Paynter wrote in court records. “Radeck stated that he did this because he was ‘blinded by anger.’”

Friedlund’s antics at an end

A sentence on Friday of 10 years likely ends any chance of John “Herb” Friedlund of ever seeing another sunrise as a free man.

At 79, and in poor health, Friedlund also faces several felonies in federal court now that he has been convicted of raiding the retirement account of Frances Swan, who is now 107. Nearly $1 million is gone.

In a rambling three-hour interview in April, Friedlund made it sound as if Swan was the one who wanted to meet the young men on gay websites. It was she, Friedlund said, who recommended buying one young man in Texas a new car and sending him money for a surgery.

It was always somebody else: Frances' family or her caretakers who were stealing from her. A jury of his peers saw it differently last week.

Read previous coverage here, here and here.

Lawman named Lawless turns in his badge

The Inland Northwest's most unfortunately named police chief has resigned.

Pat Lawless, who until Wednesday served as chief of the Spirit Lake Police Department, reportedly had engaged in an inappropriate conversation with other officers, two of whom have been disciplined. The city wouldn't say what the conversation was about.

Lawless had been the small North Idaho town's top lawman for three years and had been with the police force for six years.

Here's a link to more about the resignation.

Going pink

Spokane's largest ambulance service is going pink for October.

American Medical Response has emblazoned one of its Spokane-based ambulances with bright pink stripes for breast cancer awareness month. Most of its 150 employees in Spokane also are wearing special pink shirts they bought themselves to help raise money and awareness for breast cancer research and prevention.

“We really believe it’s important to raise awareness of breast cancer risks, prevention and ways to screen for it,” Rocco Roncarati, general manager of AMR Spokane, said in a prepared statement. “Our employees have completely embraced this effort and they’re already jockeying over who gets to drive the pink ambulance.”

Family seeks information on missing teen

The family of Austan Tyler Stone, 16, is asking the public for information on his whereabouts.

The teenager was reported as a runaway on Sept. 10, according to the Post Falls Police Department.

Stone's family says his cell phone was turned on briefly in Modesto, Calif., but they have no further leads. They're asking for any tips to be logged on a special Facebook page, www.facebook.com/helpfindaustanstone, or by calling (509) 480-1027 or emailing geogypsy@gmail.com.

Police find man sought for homicide questioning

A suspected drug dealer sought for questioning in the Sept. 13 shooting death of a Yakima man found dead in a downtown Spokane motel parking lot has been captured.

Kevin Heaton, 35, was taken into custody Friday at a small apartment complex in the tiny town of Metaline Falls near the Canadian border, according to the Spokane Police Department. Federal agents and the Metaline Falls town marshal assisted Spokane police in the apprehension.

Heaton was taken into custody without incident on an unrelated felony drug warrant. “They were looking to talk to him about his possible involvement on that Days Inn homicide,” said Spokane police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe.

On Sept. 13, police responded to shots fired at the Days Inn hotel at 120 W. Third Ave. and found Paul A. Haney, 33, of Yakima, in the parking lot, dead from gunshot wounds.

Detectives searched three hotel rooms and found additional weapons and methamphetamine, according to a previously released statement from police.

Heaton’s record includes an April arrest for his alleged role in a burglary ring. Police found large amounts of stolen goods, including motorcycles and guns, and seized about 3  1/2 pounds of meth and marijuana in the case, which included six other arrests.

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