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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for November 2013

Images released of Hayden Domino’s robber

 

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office has released video of the person who robbed Domino's Pizza in Hayden on Nov. 15. 

A man entered the restaurant, struck an employee in the face with a handgun, stole cash and fled northbound. He was a white male, about 6 feet tall, with a hooded sweatshirt and a red bandana over his face.

Anyone with information about this robbery is encouraged to call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (800) 222-TIPS. 

Tasing for Dollars

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (AP) — Knightstown police Chief Danny Baker has used pig roasts and golf tournaments to augment his department's shrinking budget, but badly in need of $9,000 for a new squad car, he's reprising his most shocking fundraising approach to date: getting shot by a stun gun.

The jocular 63-year-old chief and another Knightstown official were planning to have a detective shoot them with a Taser at a free event Wednesday night in the middle school gym in their small eastern Indiana town. Spectators — who Baker hopes feel compelled to donate — will get a firsthand look at how 50,000 volts of low-amp electricity affects the human body.

“It's a shame we have to go to the extent of having fundraisers and getting electrified and so forth, but with small-town budgets you have to do something to get by,” said Baker, a lifelong Knightstown resident who has been in law enforcement for 35 years.

Many rural communities like Knightstown, a mile-square town of 2,100 about 25 miles east of Indianapolis, are having to become inventive to fund needed services, said Brian Depew, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, an advocacy group based in Lyons, Neb.

Depew said federal farm bill funding for rural development has fallen by a third since 2003, leaving less money for police cars and other necessities in an era of shrinking rural populations and tax bases.

Some communities have taken to putting ads on cruisers, while others, like Knightstown, are relying on donations for help.

While Baker concedes that his fundraising gambit is extreme, he believes it will also educate the crowd, which will also get to see a police dog demonstration.

Since he became police chief in 2007, Baker has staged a series of fundraisers, including an annual golf outing and hog roast that raises about $5,000 a year and has paid for new digital cameras for the town's cruisers, blood-testing kits and other items.

Death threat against grandma lands robber back in jail

A 23-year-old man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to robbing a woman at gunpoint in a Spokane Valley nail salon will likely face a longer prison sentence after police say he threatened to shoot his 80-year-old grandmother.

Kyle Henriksen was booked into Spokane County Jail last week after police said he violated conditions of his release. Henriksen was scheduled for sentencing in an armed robbery that occurred at the Super Nails salon at 1525 N. Pines Road on Dec. 28. Witnesses said a man walked into the salon, clad in a black hooded sweatshirt and wearing sunglasses, and pointed a gun at a woman getting a pedicure, demanding her purse.

The thief fled the scene on foot, and the woman identified Henriksen as the likely suspect. After trying to pin the robbery on an acquaintance, Henriksen eventually admitted to carrying out the robbery.

A few days after the robbery, police pulled Henriksen over for a broken tail light. They found drug paraphernalia and a blue powder that Henriksen said was “probably Oxycontin,” but said it didn't belong to him. Henriksen was also arrested later in July for leading police on a chase that ended at the apartment he was sharing with his grandmother.

Court records show Henriksen pleaded guilty to the December 2012 robbery in September. Sentencing in the case was scheduled for Nov. 18, in which prosecutors anticipated seeking the lower end of the sentencing range for first-degree robbery: 87 months, or a little over seven years.

But on Oct. 23, police were called to Henriksen's apartment on accusations he'd threatened to shoot his grandmother. When they arrived, the grandmother told police that Henriksen was pawning all of her possessions and had attempted to unplug her big-screen television so he could sell it. When she resisted, he yelled “I'll shoot you,” she told police.

Henriksen said his grandmother misunderstood what he said. He also told police he had a drug problem and said they would find drug paraphernalia under the cushions of a sofa in the home where he'd been sleeping. Police later arrested him for driving with a suspended license.

Police arrested Henriksen in 2009 when, as a 19-year-old, he assaulted two men who said they were attempting to return a purse belonging to Henriksen's girlfriend. Armed with a handgun, Henriksen struck one of the men in the face, causing the gun to fire and strike his jaw, according to previous news reports. Henriksen pleaded guilty to two counts of assault in the incident in December 2010, according to court records.

Court records show sentencing has not yet occurred in the December 2012 robbery case. Henriksen is being held in the Spokane County Jail.

Government shutdown may slow trial of Spokane ricin suspect

Add the investigation of a Spokane man accused of mailing letters laced with ricin to various government agencies to the list of casualties from the 16-day federal government shutdown last month.

Matthew Buquet, 38, has been indicted on federal charges alleging he sent mailings in May containing the castor bean-based poison to President Barack Obama and a federal judge. Subsequent letters to a post office and Fairchild Air Force Base were also discovered by the FBI, but were not mentioned in a superseding indictment in the case filed in June.

No one was harmed by the mailings. The letter sent to Obama allegedly read, “We have a bomb placed, we are going to kill you! Hezbollah,” referring to the militant group formed by members of the Shiite sect of Islam.

The trial has been delayed by the recusal of U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko, who is a colleague of the intended target of one of the alleged mailings, as well as Buquet's request to have an expert witness examine the substance that was included in the packages. The alleged toxin is being housed at a federal government lab whose workers were the target of furloughs during last month's government shutdown, according to a filing by Buquet earlier this month.

No delays in the anticipated May 2014 trial date have yet been announced.

An extended look at the Gonzaga gun issue

After the story on the legal questions raised by the two Gonzaga University seniors disciplined for violating school policy by keeping weapons in school-owned housing was put to bed Tuesday, Sirens and Gavels received a phone call from Lewis Wasserman, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Wasserman practiced law in New York for 20 years before joining the faculty in Arlington and has written extensively on the subject of student's rights on college campuses. In January 2012, he published a lengthy look at the gun rights of students in the wake of the Supreme Court's decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010), two decisions that clarified if and when the government could regulate the Second Amendment rights of citizens.

Wasserman agreed with several experts who said Gonzaga, as a private entity, is on fairly firm legal ground by banning firearms from properties they own. However, he said that a brief glance at Washington's relatively extensive gun control laws could create an implied right for citizens to carry concealed weapons in certain private places, including college campuses.

State law prohibits anyone from carrying firearms on the grounds of state elementary or secondary schools, though there is no mention of higher learning institutions. However, as reported in the article appearing in Wednesday's Spokesman-Review, the two major public universities - University of Washington and Washington State University - have policies in place that also ban deadly weapons on their property, as does Gonzaga.

“The odds are the kids would lose the case, I think,” Wasserman said Tuesday night.

Wasserman said the most effective strategy for students wishing to carry weapons on campus would be to lobby the state Legislature, whose laws could supersede the policies of universities. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports several legislative bodies have either already passed such measures or are considering laws that would enable concealed carry on campuses (including Utah, Kansas and Wisconsin).

Wasserman called the Gonzaga case a “very, very interesting issue,” but said the dispute would be more interesting legally if a similar event took place at a state school.

“It's a much closer question,” Wasserman said of the hypothetical situation on public grounds. “(The school) may still win, but you could put up the good fight.”

 

Medical expenses thrown out in repo man case

A federal judge ruled Friday a Liberty Lake father had not proven the police officers who used a stun gun to subdue him  were liable for the man's past and future medical expenses.

Franklin Duncan rested his case against Victor Grant and the Liberty Lake Police Department on Friday afternoon after four days of testimony from his family, doctors and other parties in the civil case. Duncan alleges Grant, a repo man tasked in February 2010 with towing a 1997 Audi A8 belonging to Duncan's son, intentionally crushed his hand using the truck's winch, while Grant says Duncan struck his girlfriend in the truck's cab then attempted to strangle him before police arrived. When they did, the officers - including Liberty Lake Police Chief Brian Asmus - eventually used a stun gun to arrest Duncan on charges of vehicle prowling and assault.

Duncan was seeking medical damages totaling less than $20,000, according to his attorney, Marcia Meade. But U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice ruled Friday that Meade had not proven Liberty Lake should have to pay any amount for Duncan's medical expenses.

Claims that the officers made Duncan's existing injuries worse through their conduct and used excessive force in detaining him remain in play with jurors, who will this week consider a countersuit brought by Grant against Duncan before their deliberations. The federal court is shuttered Monday in observance of Veteran's Day, but the trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.

Judge denies gang shooting suspect’s request for dismissal

A Spokane judge denied a suspected gang member's request to throw out the murder and assault charges against him following a deadly shooting at a Monroe Street music venue in September.

Carlos Fuentes, 25, asked the court to dismiss the first-degree murder and 12 drive-by shooting charges against him stemming from the shooting death of Julian Morrison, 26, at The Hop! late on the evening of Sept. 8. Investigators say the shooting, which took place in the parking lot behind the club, was likely the result of an ongoing gang feud exacerbated by the no-show of a popular rap artist club-goers thought was scheduled to appear.

Judge Ellen Clark ruled Thursday morning police had provided enough evidence to show Fuentes “was involved in some kind of incident or confrontation with the deceased,” despite witness statements indicating Kalen Bedford, 23, also arrested in connection with the homicide, was the only one who fired on Morrison. Fuentes' attorney, Robert Cossey, argued in a filing last month the only evidence against his client was hearsay and investigators could not prove he fired at people milling in the parking lot as he was driven from the scene.

As a result of Clark's ruling, Fuentes remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bond. A trial in the case is tentatively scheduled to begin next month.

Woman who stalked deputy denied cigarettes, says “game on”

A Spokane woman who pleaded guilty to sending hundreds of sexually explicit and threatening text messages to a Spokane County Sheriff's deputy in 2010 allegedly chased a stranger in her car after he refused to buy her cigarettes.

“I guess it's game on then,” the man reported Tina Blanchette, 44, said when he denied her the smokes at a Spokane Valley gas station on Sept. 2.

The man left the station after buying a newspaper, then noticed Blanchette driving a tan Mazda in his rearview mirror, according to court documents. Eventually, Blanchette rammed the man's truck, he said, and he ran away to hide in some nearby brush and call 911 while Blanchette returned to the gas station parking lot nearby.

Blanchette was granted two years probation after pleading guilty to a charge stemming from a series of texts she sent the law enforcement officer in 2010 after a marijuana growing bust she said put her life in danger. While vacationing in Hawaii, Blanchette sent the deputy texts that mentioned his family and her proficiency aiming a shotgun.

“U wanna tlk yet or u want me 2 make us all famous,” one text read, according to court documents.

The deputy who interviewed Blanchette following the Spokane Valley incident in September wrote the 44-year-old was “acting paranoid and delusional” when he arrived at the gas station. She told him the man she chased was “a gang member and after her,” according to the deputy's sworn statement.

Blanchette was arrested and booked on a charge of second-degree assault. She has undergone psychiatric evaluations and was released on her own recognizance last month. A trial in the case is tentatively scheduled to begin in late December.

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