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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for February 2014

Rex Newport makes Alford plea

There were a few questions from readers about the article in today's Spokesman-Review reporting the guilty plea of Rex Newport, a Colville Police officer who had been accused of multiple sex crimes spanning a period from 2011 to 2013.

The Spokesman Review has obtained a copy of the pleading paperwork filed in Stevens County, which has been attached to this Sirens and Gavels blog post. The initials of victims and addresses have been redacted. No other changes have been made to the versions that appeared online.

Newport, 45, entered an Alford plea Tuesday, according to his statement made on page 16 of the attached document. The pleading means Newport admits the evidence against him may have convinced a jury to convict, though he continues to maintain his innocence.

According to court documents, Newport will have to surrender his badge and service weapon as a result of the felony conviction. He must also register as a sex offender with the state for a decade.

Wednesday's story indicated Newport faced a sentence of between 22 and 29 months. The pleading paperwork, which includes the terms of the deal, states prosecutors are recommending Newport serve his sentences concurrently for the five charges. That means the maximum amount of time he would spend in jail, if a judge accepts the plea, would be 22 months - the low end of the sentencing range. See page 13 of the attached document.

Finally, the Spokesman has reported Newport faces a civil case in which a pilot claims Newport used excessive force when detaining him during an arrest at a municipal air field in 2011. Newport and the City of Colville have denied the charges, according to court documents. The case is being heard in federal court and has a current trial date in September. There have been no new filings in that case since November.


Documents:

Pair of alleged ‘best friend’ teenage car thieves arrested

A pair of teenagers accused of stealing multiple cars they dumped when the gas ran out are both in jail facing auto and firearm theft charges.

Eli Olson, 19, was booked into Spokane County Jail on Friday after police pulled him over driving a Dodge SUV that had been reported stolen, along with a .45 caliber handgun that had been in the vehicle at the time it was taken. Olson said he was high on methamphetamine at the time of his arrest and that he'd stolen the car along with 18-year-old Austyn Witcher, who is “like a brother to him,” according to court documents.

In a subsequent interview, Olson said he and Witcher stole five vehicles that had been reported stolen by “punching the ignition,” manipulating the starter so that it can be engaged by a screwdriver, according to court documents. The two ditched the stolen vehicles when they stopped running and broke into another nearby car, their preference being Dodge and Nissan model cars, Olson said.

Witcher was subsequently arrested driving a 2000 Dodge truck that had also been reported stolen. Investigators recovered a gun in his belongings at a girlfriend's apartment, but the .45 handgun is thought to have been sold on the West Side, earning Witcher an additional money laundering charge.

Bail was set for Olson and Witcher on their charges at $25,000 and $50,000, respectively.

Say, “cheese” Einstein

You'd think crooks would have figured out by now there's cameras everywhere.

But apparently not.

Take this Einstein, for example.

Notice how he walked up to the Spokane espresso stand, placed an order and even looked up at the surveillance camera while waiting for his beverage to be prepared, but covered half of his face only after informing the barista that he's actually there to rob the place?

The robber got away this morning with an undisclosed amount of cash — and a cup of coffee.

Spokane police are asking for the public's help identifying the robber, and are hoping anyone with information about the robbery will call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233. There's practically a full facial image about 6 seconds in to the video. FYI.

Stiltner receives 7-month sentence

The woman who lived with jailed Spokane developer Greg Jeffreys and was implicated in his schemes to defraud real estate investors was sentenced to seven months in prison last week after pleading guilty to concealing plots through ignorance and conspiracy.

Shannon Stiltner was also ordered to pay more than $58,000 in restitution to two defrauded investors by a federal judge at a sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court on Feb. 10. Jeffreys was originally slated to be sentenced last week as well, but that hearing was stayed as attorneys continue to stipulate the amount the former real estate developer owes, which may total in the millions.

In court documents asking U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson to accept the seven-month sentence, Stiltner said Jeffreys swept her off her feet after a failed marriage, guiding her drug-addicted daughter to sobriety.

“(Jeffreys') actions established a deep and powerful trust between him and Shannon,” Stiltner's attorney, John McEntire, wrote.

That trust kept her from questioning Jeffreys' business deals, even after news reports began to indicate something was wrong, McEntire said.

Stiltner's sentence ends one chapter of a legal saga that has been ongoing since Jeffreys' arrest more than a year ago. Jeffreys' wife, Kimberly, continues her legal fight with a trial tentatively scheduled for April. Greg Jeffreys sentencing, at which dozens of witnesses are expected to testify about his alleged debts, will take place in March.

 

Five idling vehicles stolen this week alone

Auto thieves had easy pickings this week in Spokane.

Police say five vehicles that were left idling and unattended have been stolen this week alone, and urged motorists to resist the temptation to start their cars and trucks to let them warm up without anyone in them.

Moreover, leaving an automobile idling unattended is illegal and can result in a $124 fine, according to the Spokane Police Department.

Here's a list of idling vehicles police say were stolen in Spokane this week:

  • 2-09-14 at 6:00 am at 6000 N. Alberta.
  • 2-10-14 at 7:00 am at 2200 N. Dakota.  The vehicle was recovered on 2-10-14 at 2400 N. Cincinnati.
  • 2-11-14 at 8:30 am at 6400 N. Sutherlin.  The vehicle was recovered on 2-11-14 near the intersection of Walnut/Garland.
  • 2-11-14 at 7:00 am at 600 E. Mission.  The vehicle was recovered on 2-12-14 near the intersection of Sutherlin/Taft.
  • 2-13-14 at 7:30 am at 3100 E. Indiana.  The vehicle was recovered on 2-13-14 near the intersection of Regal/Upriver.

Traffic cameras capture part of standoff

 

Portions of the chase and final confrontation between a despondent Army veteran and Spokane-area law enforcement were broadcast across the Internet by state traffic cameras.

Although the Washington Department of Transportation doesn’t store the images, those who were on the website Tuesday night were able to follow the chase westbound along Interstate 90 from the state line and see part of the standoff at the end of the Sullivan exit ramp.

Some quick-thinking viewers pulled screen grabs of the photos before they expired, some of which were posted to Facebook by the siren-obsessed website Spokane News. Among them is the above image of a man, thought to be 23-year-old Jed Zillmer, standing alongside a stopped car facing a fleet of law enforcement vehicles behind him.

Zillmer, who reportedly was despondent and threatening to shoot people, was killed by Spokane County sheriff's deputies in the confrontation. A multi-agency investigation is underway.

The state's traffic control cameras capture and display new images every two minutes.

Al Gilson, a spokesman for the state Transportation Department, said they are intended to provide people with a glimpse of current traffic conditions and to alert authorities to potential problems as quickly as possible. The cameras are monitored around the clock in Spokane by traffic operators who can call police or paramedics to advise of collisions or other unsafe conditions.

The cameras generally are pointed at the freeway but can be rotated. On Tuesday night, the freeway camera at Sullivan Road was rotated to the north when the fleeing vehicle exited and continued to broadcast as the chase turned to a standoff.

“They keep track of what’s going on,” Gilson said of the camera monitors.

Accused car thief back in court

A man with a long history of felony and misdemeanor crimes was back in court again Tuesday, facing his fifth charge relating to car theft in the past year.

Nickolas N. Davis, 28, was ordered held on $7,500 bond on his most recent charge of theft of a motor vehicle. In 2013 he was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle four times and pled guilty to attempting to elude a police vehicle. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt also imposed a $7,500 bond on each of the 2013 stolen vehicle cases, which have not yet gone to trial.

Sypolt noted that Davis has failed to appear in court 25 times and his previous cases include charges of intimidating a witness and bribing a witness.

Davis was released to the care of American Behavior Health Systems on Jan. 22 for a drug treatment program and ordered to appear in drug court, but court documents state that Davis never showed up for court. He was arrested Monday driving a car that he allegedly stole from a former girlfriend, court documents state.

 

Man arrested on DUI suspicion blames mom who isn’t there

A man arrested after crashing his vehicle and refusing a breathalyzer test earlier this week blamed the accident on his mother, who was nowhere near the scene of the accident.

Larry Coleman was found by Liberty Lake firefighters sitting behind the steering wheel of his car, which was resting in a snowy ditch along Interstate 90 around 6 p.m. Monday, according to court documents. Coleman was not injured and was the only person in the car when law enforcement arrived.

When a Washington State Patrol office arrived, Coleman had moved to the passenger's seat, according to court documents. He told the patrolman his mother had been driving at the time of the one-vehicle accident and that she'd started walking along the highway toward Liberty Lake following the crash.

Liberty Lake police officers and firefighters found no woman on the highway, according to court records.

Coleman admitted to drinking a couple beers and refused a breathalyzer test after speaking with an attorney. A court order was signed to test his blood for intoxicants and he was arrested, according to court documents.

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