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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for September 2012

Chattaroy sex offender sought

A convicted sex offender from Chattaroy is being sought after a Spokane County Sheriff’s investigation alleges that he had been providing alcohol and drugs to juvenile females before groping them.

Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said detectives raided the home of 42-year-old Leslie Morgan, who lives near the 24000 block of North Elk-Chattaroy Road.

“He was out of state when we served the search warrant” on Thursday, Chamberlin said.

The warrant followed a two-month investigation following allegations that Morgan provided marijuana, alcohol and hallucinogenic mushrooms to girls and then groped them.

The search warrant Thursday found a large marijuana grow in Morgan’s home and other evidence previously identified by the female victims, Chamberlin said.

Morgan has convictions in California for the same type of activity, Chamberlin said.

Detectives have warrants seeking to charge Morgan with four counts of delivery of a controlled substance with sexual motivation and one count of child molestation in the third degree. Additional charges are expected as the investigation continues, Chamberlin said.


Kicked door nets man burglary charge

In what appears to be a case of she said/he ran, Spokane Valley Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 50-year-old man who was accused Thursday of breaking into a woman’s home.

Deputies, who are contracted to provide police service in Spokane Valley, responded at about 11 a.m. on Thursday to the area of 6800 E. 8th Ave. to a report of a burglary in progress.

The female homeowner said that Kevin Bunch, 50, had kicked in the back door of her residence and remained in her home. Deputies went to check and saw Bunch running westbound on 8th Avenue away from the home, sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

The deputies set up a containment area and searched with a police dog. They found Bunch hiding between a fence and nearby house and took him into custody, Chamberlin wrote in a news release.

“Bunch told deputies he and the victim were in a relationship, which the victim said was not true whatsoever,” Chamberlin wrote.

Bunch was booked into the Spokane County Jail on the charge of residential burglary.

High court upholds Coe commitment

When I interviewed Kevin Coe in prison in 2006, I noted in the May 21, 2006, article that Coe looked fit for a 59-year-old man. Coe later wrote me a letter saying: “I look fit for any age.”

But it appears his legal fight for freedom has reached an end, at least in Washington.

The Washington Supreme Court today upheld the sexually violent predator civil commitment of South Hill rapist Kevin Coe.

A jury committed Coe in 2008 following a month-long trial. The state moved to commit Coe in 2006 just before his release after serving 25 years in prison on the only rape conviction that survived appeal even though he was suspected in dozens more during a reign of terror that became a best selling crime novel and made-for-television movie.

Coe and his attorneys appealed that commitment on the argument that Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor erred when she allowed assistant attorneys general to introduce evidence from 36 sexual assaults that did not result in criminal charges against Coe. They also contended that he had ineffective counsel and that he deserved a new trial.

“Finding no reversible error in any of Coe’s claims, we affirm his commitment,” Justice Susan Owens wrote for the majority.

Read the breaking story on today's development at this link.

TIP: Probably best to avoid mocking police leniency

Here's a useful tip:

If you're being stupid and the cops cut you a break, it's probably best to avoid making the officers regret it by mocking their leniency on YouTube.

The following article that just moved on the Associated Press wire, if you stick with it to the end, shows what happens when you don't follow the above advice.


BC-US —Rocket Launcher-Hoax/150
Eds: APNewsNow.
Phoenix filmmaker jailed for rocket launcher hoax

PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix police say they've arrested a man after he reportedly dressed a teenage relative in a sheet and sent him into a street to aim a fake rocket-propelled grenade launcher at passing cars.

Police spokesman officer James Holmes says 39-year-old Michael Turley was arrested Monday on charges of knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Holmes tells KTVK-TV ( ) Turley filmed the teen pointing the fake grenade launcher at passing cars on July 28.

Responding police didn't make any arrests after Turley told them he was making a movie.

Police made the arrest after the self-described filmmaker reportedly posted a video on You Tube that said he was testing how fast Phoenix police responded to the mock terrorist.

Feds join Spokane shooting probe

A man charged with attempted second-degree murder in connection with a shot targeting three black youths was ordered held in jail Tuesday as federal authorities also indicated that they would investigate the shooting as a possible hate crime.

Jimmy J. Blackburn, 29, pleaded not guilty before Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza, who ordered Blackburn to remain in custody on a $500,000 bond. Cozza set Blackburn’s trial on the three attempted murder charges for Nov. 19.

Blackburn was arrested Sept. 13 as Spokane police officers converged at the Days Inn, at 120 W. Third Ave., to investigate the shooting of Paul A. Haney, 33, who was found dead in the parking lot.

According to court records, investigators believe Kevin M. Heaton, 35, is responsible for that shooting and remains on the loose. Heaton had paid for the room in which Blackburn was found at the Days Inn, but the court records don’t indicate whether Blackburn had any involvement in the Haney shooting.

Double amputee made threats, police say

HOUSTON (AP) — The FBI will help investigate what led a Houston police officer to shoot and kill a wheelchair-bound double amputee who was agitated and threatening police with what turned out to be a ballpoint pen, the city's police chief said Monday.

Police Chief Charles McClelland also asked the community to “reserve judgment” on the officer and his actions this weekend at the Healing Hands group home for the mentally ill, and sought to reassure the public that all of the city's officers are trained to deal with people with mental problems.

Officer Matthew Marin shot 45-year-old Brian Claunch early Saturday after responding to a call that the one-armed, one-legged man was causing a disturbance inside the home. Police have said Claunch cornered and threatened Marin, who reportedly told investigators he didn't know the object in Claunch's hand was a pen.

“It is my desire to have everyone reserve judgment until all the facts and evidence in this investigation have been gathered,” McClelland said in a statement.

Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said she didn't know if FBI assistance in officer-involved shootings was rare, but said “it's the step we're taking at this point.” She referred other questions to McClelland's statement.

Marin, a five-year veteran of the department, has been placed on three-day administrative leave. That is standard department procedure for all officer-involved shootings, and Silva said no unusual measures were being taken that would prevent Marin from returning to duty this week.

It's the second time Marin has killed a suspect while on duty. In 2009, investigators said Marin came upon a man stabbing his neighbor to death at an apartment complex and fired when the suspect refused to drop the knife.

Marin and a partner arrived at the group home around 2:30 a.m. responding to a disturbance call made by the group's caretaker. Police have not elaborated on the nature of the disturbance before they arrived.

Once inside the home, the department said in a separate statement released Monday, they found an agitated Claunch threatening to kill the officers and other residents. While yelling at the officers, Claunch “waved a shiny object in his hand in their direction,” according to the statement.

Police say Claunch refused an officer's direction to drop what turned out to be a ballpoint pen.

“As the suspect backed one of the officers into a corner, he attempted to stab the officer with the object,” the statement said. “Officer Marin, fearing for his partner's life, and his own safety, discharged his duty weapon one time, striking the suspect.”

Call nets burglary arrests and stolen car

   A suspicious-person call ended up with a ride to the Spokane County Jail for a couple Sunday morning after the it was caught stealing items from an unoccupied home and placing them into a Subaru that was also stolen.

   Spokane Police officers Dave Kennedy and Bill Hager responded at 8:30 a.m. Sunday to a vacant home in the 1200 block of North Jefferson Street.

   Upon arriving, they found Cory M. Gonzales, 24, inside the home, police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said in a news release. Gonzales had been sleeping in the car with his 20-year-old girlfriend, Megan D. Petit.

   “Both had been seen by witnesses going inside the home, removing belongings, and putting them in their car,” DeRuwe wrote.

   Officers then discovered “their car” had also previously been reported stolen by someone else. That registered owner gave officers permission to search the car where officers discovered several stolen items from the vacant home, DeRuwe said.

   The officers booked Gonzales and Petit into jail on the charges of residential burglary and possession of a stolen vehicle.

   “This is another example of the SPD’s dedication to investigating and solving property crimes,” she wrote.

Stealth burglar escapes with spoon collection

A Spokane County woman told sheriff’s deputies that she slept Sunday night while a burglar cleaned out her coin collections and spoons from all over the world.

The 73-year-old homeowner called sheriff’s deputies after she awoke and realized that someone had come through an unlocked window at her home in the 1100 block of East Lake Road, sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said in a news release.

The burglar made away with the spoon collection and also several coin collections, including presidential gold coins, said Chamberlin, who did not have an estimate of the total loss.

Anyone with information could be eligible for a cash reward from Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest, which can be reached at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or by visiting

Man shot by police suffered from dementia

SEATTLE (AP) — The family of a man shot to death by Seattle police says the 77-year-old suffered from dementia.

The King County medical examiner's office hasn't yet released the name.

Family members told The Seattle Times he's Henry Lee Sr.

His son, Henry Lee Jr. said he suffered from dementia and other disease. The dead man's grandson, Gabriel Lee, told the Times he was a retired construction worker who lived alone and had been losing his memory over the past three years.

Police say they shot an armed man who raised a gun at an officer. They went to the home because he complained about a disturbance outside his home, which turned out to be a fire department aid call.

The man had called 911 using his medical alert relay service, said Detective Mark Jamieson.

“He was talking about the lights outside and said he had a weapon and wasn't afraid to use it,” Jamieson said.

He mentioned a prowler, but there was none, Jamieson said.

The disturbance was the fire department responding to a person in a car who appeared to have some sort of medical crisis.

Additional officers responded to protect the firefighters and an officer at the scene. When they approached the house to talk to the man, he came to the door with a gun, Jamieson said.

The man refused commands to drop the weapon. Police said when he aimed it at one officer, two other officers fired. The man was killed at the scene. No officers were injured.

The officers involved have been placed on leave for the shooting investigation.

“We don't know what his thinking process was,” Jamieson said.

SPD looking for reserve officers

Can you do at least 21 pushups? Sprint 300 meters in 71 seconds or less? Run a mile-and-a-half in under 14:31? What about 30 situps in under a minute?

If so, you may be eligible for the Spokane Police Department's reserve officer program.

The department is looking to bolster its reserve force and urging those interested in serving as voluteers to explore opportunities at SPD. Reserve officers, once they've completed training, carry full police commissions while on duty and are paired up with full-time officers to help augment available resources.

Reserve officers must be at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma or GED with at least a 2.0 grade-point average, a valid driver's license with no suspensions in the past five years. They must commit to a 15-week training academy that meets three nights a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) plus eight hours on Saturdays, and serve at least 20 hours a month on the job once commissioned.

Upcoming physical agility tests are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sept. 30, 5 p.m. on Oct. 3 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 5. Those who pass the physical agility tests are invited to proceed with the next step in the application process, which includes polygraph and background investigations.

Here's a link to SPD's Reserve Officer Program web page. Information also is available by contacting the department's Volunteer Services Unit at (509) 363-8283 or (509) 363-8281.

WSP job applicants’ drug use an issue

Washington State Patrol officials announced the unenviable position Thursday of acknowledging its search to replace retiring troopers has been slowed by applicants who made poor decisions with prescription drugs.

“These candidates may have taken the drugs for legitimate medical conditions, and might well have been prescribed the same drugs had they gone to a doctor,” Capt. Jeff DeVere, commander of the Patrol’s Human Resource Division, said in a news release. “Getting them from a friend is an illegal drug transaction, and will likely disqualify you from employment as a State Trooper.”

Earlier this year, the WSP struggled to find enough applicants who could meet the physical condition requirements. But after getting the word out, several candidates came forward who could complete the requisite number of sit-ups, pushups and timed runs.

But, recruiters found a number of applicants who were using medications prescribed to someone else to care for ailments, such as rolled ankles.

“Go to your doctor, not your roommate,” DeVere said.

The unauthorized prescription drug use, which could lead to felony charges, was discovered in background checks of applicants.

DeVere said the WSP is not concerned “about drugs, of whatever type, that might have been legally prescribed by a doctor.”

The applicants will be required to undergo a medical exam that should determine whether they are fit to perform the duties of a trooper.

Is this Spokane’s unluckiest burglar?

Admitted burglar Jeramie Davis, who looted a Spokane porn shop in 2008 as its slain owner lay dead on the floor,  will remain in jail while waiting for his rare second chance to try convincing a jury that he's not a killer — just Spokane's unluckiest thief.

Davis insists porn shop owner John G. “Jack” Allen, 74, already was dead when he broke in after hours and carted off carloads of adult-oriented merchandise in several return trips. It was Davis himself who eventually called 911 — at a relative's urging — to report the corpse and while he readily admitted to burglarizing the place, he steadfastly disputed any connection to the homicide.

Neither his fingerprints nor his DNA were found on the bat that detectives concluded was the murder weapon. The only DNA, in fact, belonged to someone else, who detectives would later identify through lab tests and send to prison for the same murder Davis already had been convicted of.

Prosecutors say the emergence of a second killer does nothing to weaken their case against Davis, even though they argued in the first trial that Davis was the sole perpetrator and that his assertions of a second, unidentified intruder who was responsible for the murder were nonsense.

Here's a link to SR reporter Thomas Clouse's story on Davis losing his bid for release from jail while waiting for his new trial. Davis already has served the amount of time he was ordered to spend in prison for the burglary.

Now on to the penalty phase …

For nearly a year, former Spokane Police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. has avoided sentencing on his federal convictions for using excessive force in the beating of Otto Zehm and then lying to investigators about it.

But with yesterday's refusal by U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle to throw out the convictions and order a new trial, as Thompson's defense team had urged, the long-delayed sentencing hearing soon will be rescheduled for a new legal clash: what is the appropriate punishment for a decorated police officer who continues to insist he did nothing wrong even though a jury ruled otherwise?

Van Sickle agreed with Thompson's contention that prosecutors failed to turn over favorable information from a forensic videographer to the defense but the judge concluded the omission was so insignificant that it wouldn't have altered the outcome.

Here's a link to SR reporter Chelsea Bannach's article on Van Sickle's ruling. Bannach was filling in for SR reporter Thomas Clouse, who was on vacation when the ruling was issued.

Suspect similar in pair of armed robberies in CdA

Coeur d’Alene police are investigating two armed robberies overnight, involving similar suspect descriptions, at a gas station and a drug store.

The first robbery was at a Tesoro service station at 2301 Sherman Ave. late Monday night.

A clerk told police a man in a black hoodie came into the store at 11:35 p.m.., asked about the price of cigarettes, then said he’d have to come back. He returned at 11:47 p.m., wandered around until other customers left, then approached the counter and lifted his shirt to display a handgun in his waistband.

The robber demanded money and the clerk gave him an undisclosed amount of cash. The man fled on foot.

At 1:15 a.m. today, officers responded to Walgreens at 335 W. Appleway for another robbery. (Watch the video.) The clerk said a man in a black hoodie came in and lifted his shirt to display a handgun in his waistband. He demanded money from the till but the clerk was not able to give it to him. The robber took some cigarettes from the counter and fled on foot.

Officers reviewed surveillance video that showed the suspect appear to get into a dark vehicle waiting outside the Walgreens. The vehicle drove east through the parking lot and left the area.

In the first robbery the suspect was described as white, 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes, stubble on the side of his face, wearing a black cotton hoodie zipped all the way up with a white ball cap underneath, blue jeans and dusty black work boots.

In the second robbery he was described as white, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, slender build, wearing a grey or white billed hat with a black hoodie pulled over it and blue jeans, and with two piercings on his upper lip.

Anyone with information on either crime is asked to call the police at (208) 769-2320.

Spokane hosts national ombudsman conference

With the future of Spokane's police ombudsman program in question, the city soon will be awash in government ombudsmen (and women) arriving for an international conference on public oversight.

The United States Ombudsman Association is gathering in Spokane for its 33rd annual conference Oct. 8 to 12 at the Red Lion Inn at the Park. Training opportunities include a session on conducting independent investigations, which is a hot-button issue in Spokane where the police ombudsman is prohibited from investigating allegations of police misconduct.

Spokane's office of Police Ombudsman is hosting the conference. Last month, Spokane Mayor David Condon stunned the City Council and others by announcing the departure of the city's first police ombudsman, Tim Burns, whose contract is expiring and wasn't being renewed. Condon later asked Burns to stay through the end of the year.

Among the reasons Condon gave for avoiding a new contract for Burns is that the city could be changing the way it oversees police conduct after the mayor's Use of Force Commission completes its study of the police department.

Ex con sought for questioning in downtown homicide

Kevin Heaton

Police are still searching for 35-year-old Kevin Heaton, the man identifed as a “person of interest” in last week's homicide outside a downtown Spokane motel.

Heaton should be considered “armed and dangerous,” according to Spokane police, and has an extensive criminal history that includes potential links to a drug trafficking ring targeted by authorities earlier this year.

He's wanted for questioning in the death of Paul A. Haney, 33, of Yakima, who was gunned down Thursday in the parking lot of the Days Inn motel at 120 W. Third Ave. Methamphetamine and firearms were recovered from three rooms searched by detectives at the motel, police said.

Read more about the case by clicking here for the initial coverage and here for the follow up.

Crocker’s DUI hearing postponed

The court hearing was postponed Wednesday for Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, who was charged last month with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

Crocker did not appear before Spokane County District Judge Sara Derr. But his attorney, Julie Twyford, did appear. She said the judge agreed to move the hearing to Oct. 10 at 1:30 p.m.

Crocker, 63, was charged Aug. 14 following a crash with a semi-truck at a busy Spokane Valley intersection. He reportedly drove away from the crash and was followed by a witness who alerted Washington State Patrol troopers.

The Spokane Valley native retired from the U.S. State Department in July, citing health reasons and left the Afghanistan capital of Kabul at a period of transition as the United States prepares to withdraw most of its troops from the country by the end of 2014. He also oversaw the reconstruction of war-torn Iraq.

Read previous coverage of the crash that resulted in his DUI charges here.

Valley shooting probe expected soon

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Monday that he expects within days that detectives will complete and turn over to prosecutors the probe into last week's deputy-involved shooting.

Deputies Aaron Childress and Eric Werner remain on paid administrative leave as Spokane Police detectives work to complete the investigation into their shooting last Wednesday of 47-year-old Edward S. Gover.

Knezovich had indicated earlier in the investigation that deputies knew Gover was suicidal or homcidal prior to the car chase, foot chase and eventual shooting.

Asked where that information came from, Knezovich indicated that the reports will include comments that Gover made to another woman prior to his returning to the home at 1309 N. Skipworth Court.

The incident began when Gover returned there driving his girlfriend's Mercedes convertible as deputies were taking a domestic violence report from the night before where the girlfriend claimed that Gover had held her captive and cut her with a knife.

Read previous coverage here.


Shellye Stark trial 2.0

Jury selection is set to begin today before Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen. More than a hundred jurors have been called in for the pool.

It's not yet clear whether Eitzen will begin testimony this week. Judges here typically do not hear testimony on Fridays.

The Stark case is one of the longest running crime stories for Spokane, rivaling the six years it took to complete the trial against former Spokane Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. in connection with the deadly confrontation in 2006 with Otto Zehm.

Stark is charged with killing her estranged husband, Dale Robert Stark, on Dec. 9, 2007. She claimed self defense when she shot him five times in their South Hill home.

Shellye Stark said she worked as a prostitute lasted through their marriage and was a bargaining chip for Dale, who threatened to tell her family what she did.

Read previous coverage here and here

Dive team discovers probable murder weapon

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office dive team recovered what is believed to be a murder weapon in the Spokane River Tuesday.

Authorities believe the AK-47 rifle was used to kill Marcus Allen Schur, who died of multiple gunshot wounds Dec. 27, 2011 in north Whitman County. His body was discovered March 25 in a shallow creek at the end of Bonnie Lake.

Through their investigation, Whitman County Sheriff’s detectives learned the weapon had been dumped off the T.J. Meenach Bridge sometime after the murder.

Suspect’s droopy pants aid in his capture

A suspected burglar was captured after his droopy pants got stuck on security window bars last week, while a police dog tracked and caught his suspected accomplice, police said.

Responding to a report of a burglary in progress Friday night at Holz Fuel, 5526 N. Market St., officers observed two men ransacking the front office, Spokane police Sgt. Kevin King said. The men fled out the other side of the business.

Officers found Christopher S. Lincoln, 34, hanging upside down with his pants around his ankles and caught on the window bars, King said. Lincoln had a footlong knife but was arrested without further incident, King said.

Officer Jake Jensen, who was first to arrive at the scene, dispatched his K-9 partner, Duke, to find the second man. That suspect, later identified as 20-year-old Bogdan G. Pustovit, was caught about three blocks southeast of the business, King said.

“That dog was amazing,” King quoted Pustovit as saying.

After being treated for “minor injuries from the K-9 contact,” Pustovit was booked into Spokane County Jail on a charge of first-degree burglary. Lincoln was jailed on the same charge.

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