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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for January 2014

Where Spokane’s homicides occurred in 2013

According to Spokesman-Review reporting, local law enforcement investigated 23 deaths as homicides in and near Spokane County in 2013. Public safety reporters Kip Hill, Kaitlin Gillespie and others kept track of each of the cases, and we're making our records available to you below.


Blue icon: Case has been resolved, either through legal procedures or the death of a suspect.
Yellow icon: A suspect (or suspect) is (are) in custody, and the case is moving through the legal process.
Red icon: No suspects have been apprehended to date.

Click on the icon to learn more about the case, and visit the Google spreadsheet for specific case details and customize the map to your preferences. As a companion to this piece, the Spokesman-Review is also publishing a list and map of the homicides involving law enforcement officers in 2013.

Where Spokane’s officer-involved homicides occurred in 2013

Five men died after confrontations with Spokane law enforcement in 2013, according to Spokesman-Review records. Investigations into the shooting by a multiagency task force ended in no recommendations for charges against any of the law officers. The five fatal shootings is up from one reported fatality during incidences with local law enforcement in 2012, according to Spokesman-Review reports.


Blue icon: Spokane Police Department was the responding agency.
Green icon: Spokane County Sheriff's Office was the responding agency.

Public safety reporters Kip Hill, Kaitlin Gillespie and others contributed to the creation of this map. Click on a map icon for more information on a specific event, and visit the Google spreadsheet it's based upon to change views of the information to your preferences. As a companion to this database, the Spokesman-Review is also publishing a list of all homicides we covered beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

Stalking suspect released from custody

The Spokane man accused of sending threatening letters to a former neighbor alluding to his belief he was the Archangel of Death has been released under supervision to seek psychiatric evaluation.

 

Brent Russ, 33, had been in custody of the U.S. marshals since his arrest in September. Federal agents investigating letters and phone messages to Russ’ southwest Spokane neighbor, a tribal police officer, discovered guns and a journal outlining Russ’ beliefs he was the “embodiment of God’s wrath.” Prosecutors were charging him with one criminal stalking count and two counts of mailing threatening communications.

 

Those charges were suspended for five years by a federal judge Friday, who ordered Russ stay with his parents in western Washington, surrender his guns and seek psychiatric evaluation. Russ will also be supervised by federal court officials as part of the pretrial agreement.

 

The order puts the prosecution on hold so that Russ can demonstrate “good conduct,” according to U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice. The ruling leaves the door open for future prosecution or to dismiss the charges entirely.

Unconscious teen found at drug bust in Bonners Ferry

A drug bust turned up an unconscious teenager in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, on Monday along with items believed to be stolen from the Kootenai River Inn and other locations.
An ambulance was called for the 17-year-old, who eventually revived enough to be released to a parent, according to a Boundary County spokesman Michael Meier.
The Bonners Ferry Police Department served a search warrant on the home and found marijuana, drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine packaged for sale in addition to the stolen items. Police arrested two men, both from Spokane, but their names have not been released.

Sentencing delayed for jailed developer Greg Jeffreys

The sentencing of jailed developer Greg Jeffreys, who pleaded guilty to fraud and contempt charges in November, will take a little longer than planned, in part to accommodate the dozens of witnesses the former Ridpath Hotel investor plans to call on his behalf.

A U.S. District Court judge this week delayed a hearing, expected to last at least two days, at which Jeffreys is expected to dispute the amount owed numerous debtors listed in court filings. Scheduled for February, the sentencing and a decision on how much Jeffreys owes in restitution will not come until later in March.

In his request for the continuance, Jeffreys and his attorney cite an extensive witness list - including bankers, assessors and family members - as part of the reason for the needed delay. In total, Jeffreys plans to call more than 30 people to testify about his debts and character. Some of those he plans to call were involved in leasing deals at the Ridpath, Spokane's historic hotel whose revitalization was impeded by Jeffreys' legal woes.

Jeffreys was indicted in January 2013 on multiple federal counts of bank and wire fraud, money laundering and theft tied to real estate dealings and developments that never materialized. Jeffreys and his wife, Kimberly, were implicated in a plot to steal federal government money when constructing a military entrance processing station off Highway 2. Employee Shannon Stiltner, who allegedly shared a casino suite with Jeffreys in Las Vegas, also pleaded guilty in November to concealing knowledge of a Ponzi scheme.

Stiltner's sentencing is still set for February.

 

$17 records dispute reaches state Appellate Court

A disagreement between Spokane County prosecutors and a man facing a felony harassment charge over a 911 call recording costing $17 was decided by a three-member panel of the Washington state Court of Appeals this week.

“Neither party, out of principle, will budge one cent,” wrote Judge George B. Fearing in a decision handed down Thursday. The court ordered Daniel Lee Brown must pay the fee to get a copy of the phone call that sent him to jail on suspicions he'd threatened to kill his girlfriend's new beau in January 2012.

Brown had argued his requirement to pay for the record violated his state constitutional rights as a criminal defendant. Prosecutors countered Brown filed his appeal of a trial court order “to make a point” and asked rhetorically, “is the defendant entitled to get anything he wants for free?”

Brown is fighting accusations he sent text messages to an ex-girlfriend who was staying with another man at his apartment. The man called police, a recording which has prompted the latest legal challenge. Brown was arrested outside the apartment complex and found with two firearms, including a loaded handgun in Brown's pants pocket. Brown admitted to police he'd sent threatening text messages, according to court documents.

Fearing and two colleagues sided with prosecutors and threw out Brown's request to dismiss the case or suppress the recordings at trial. Brown's trial was put on hold in June 2013 to give the appellate court time to reach a decision. He is not in custody, according to jail records.

Mendoza nominated for Eastern Washington judgeship

A Superior Court Judge in the Tri-Cities was nominated today by President Barack Obama for a federal judgeship in the Eastern District of Washington.

Salvador Mendoza Jr. would replace U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko, who has moved into senior status. The appointment must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The nomination was among four announced today the White House. Federal judges are paid $174,000 a year.

Mendoza was appointed to the Benton and Franklin County bench in April by Gov. Jay Inslee. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and completed his law degree from UCLA in 1997. In addition to having worked as a deputy prosecutor and assistant attorney general, he had focused on criminal defense while in private practice.

The Eastern District of Washington is based in Spokane but has judges in the Tri-Cities and Yakima.

Mendoza is the second judicial nominee awaiting Senate confirmation in Eastern Washington. Wenatchee lawyer Stan Bastian was nominated last fall to replace U.S. District Judge Ed Shea, who moved to senior status in the summer of 2012.

Federal judges who meet certain requirements are able to move into senior status rather than retire. It’s intended to keep experienced judges on the job by offering them reduced caseloads.

Judge denies stalking suspect’s request to dismiss charges

The Spokane man accused of sending threatening letters to a tribal police officer that included allusions to his belief he was the “Archangel of Death” remains in custody pending trial after a federal judge shot down his contention the mailings were protected by the First Amendment.

Brent Russ, 33, argued earlier this month the letters he sent a former neighbor expressed his religious views, not an intimidating intent. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice denied the claim, as well as a request from Russ that he be released from custody ahead of his upcoming trial after two mental health experts deemed he posed no threat to the community.

“The Court continues to harbor reasonable concerns about Defendant’s mental stability that prohibit it from releasing Defendant at this time,” Rice wrote in an order denying Russ' release. Rice also found the language of the letter suggesting legal action, in which Russ wrote that he would “take everything you have, everything you ever had, and everything you ever will have through the courts,” was not solely a legal communication and thus did not qualify for First Amendment protection.

Concerns about Russ' mental state were raised after a disturbing manifesto was found at his home by federal agents investigating the stalking claims. In the journal, Russ admits slaying nocturnal creatures by slicing through their brains with a Samurai sword and says he experienced a “download” in early 2013 that prompted him to file lawsuits against the nation's biggest banks. He also wrote about sending plans to dissolve the government to President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, according to court documents.

Russ has been in custody of U.S. marshals since his arrest in September. Defense attorney Andrea George has asked Rice to push the trial date from later this month to February to allow more time for experts to determine Russ' mental state.

Defendant in massive Oxycontin bust arrested for DUI

A Spokane woman implicated in a massive 2013 bust of an alleged prescription painkiller peddling ring was arrested early Tuesday on suspicions of driving under the influence, according to court documents.

Ashley Arredondo, 28, is one of 62 named defendants in a federal court case that has grown so large the judge has separated defendants into three groups. She was arrested in late February 2013 and released after posting bond a week later, according to court records. Arredondo faces a federal count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, a charge which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday, Arredondo was arrested in North Spokane near the 500 block of West Sierra Way, according to court documents. Deputies found Arredondo after she allegedly crashed into a home in her 2004 Cadillac Escalade and drove off. She told police she'd been drinking at two bars.

When deputies attempted to walk Arredondo to a nearby patrol car to take her to jail, she allegedly turned and spit in the face of one of the officers “without warning,” according to court documents.

Arredondo faces charges of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of a collision and third-degree assault of an officer. She is listed in custody of the Spokane County Jail.

The federal drug case continues its lengthy trek through the legal system. A jury trial in the case has been tentatively scheduled for May.

SpongeBob robber sentenced to 13 years

A Worley man who donned a cartoon character mask to rob an espresso stand in Coeur d’Alene last year will spend at least four years behind bars.

Kyle Ernest Campbell, 25, wore a SpongeBob SquarePants mask when he robbed Lean Bean Espresso at 1207 E. Sherman Ave. on Jan. 30, 2013.

Campbell, who pleaded guilty to armed robbery on Oct. 3, entered the stand armed with a handgun and demanded money from employees, who complied. He then fled on foot.

He was sentenced Monday by 1st District Judge Lansing Haynes to a prison term of four years fixed and another nine years indeterminate, with credit for time served.

Campbell has a lengthy arrest history, primarily on tribal charges, but only two convictions – for misdemeanor careless driving and minor in possession of alcohol, the Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.

He acknowledged he has a substance abuse problem, the prosecutor’s office added.

Doctors: ‘Archangel of Death’ stalking suspect in remission

Citing two mental health professionals who say his psychosis was a “one-time episode” that is now in remission, the attorney for the Spokane man charged with stalking a tribal police officer after federal investigators discovered a disturbing manifesto in his home is asking for her client's release.

Brent Russ has remained in custody of U.S. marshals since his arrest in September. At the time, federal agents following up on claims from a tribal police officer she was being stalked by Russ, a former neighbor, found modified weapons and a journal in the man's home that discussed establishing a “kill room” similar to that featured in the television program “Dexter” and a “download” that prompted him to file civil claims against the nation's biggest banks. He also wrote of being an agent of Azrael, the fabled Archangel of Death.

A federal judge ordered Russ held pending a psychiatric evaluation in October. Another judge upheld that order last month.

But with two doctors now writing after independent evaluations that Russ poses no threat to the community, attorney Andrea George is asking Russ be released pending his trial, scheduled for later this month.

George will make her case, and ask that the charge against Russ be dropped, at a hearing scheduled for later this week. 

Police suspect woman in 2 pharmacy robberies

Spokane police are asking the public to help identify a woman suspected of robbing two pharmacies over the weekend.

The first robbery was at Safeway, 3919 N. Market, just after 4 p.m. Saturday. The second was at Fred Meyer at 400 S. Thor just before 5:45 p.m. Sunday. Both times, a female demanded prescription medication and fled.

The woman is described as white with brown hair, 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-6, 120 to 130 pounds, and 20 to 30 years old.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward for anyone providing information leading to an arrest. Call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-800-222-TIPS or forward the tip via www.crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org.

Jailed thief hides jewelry in Star Wars model, cellmate says

Thomas Clement decided not to hide diamond rings stolen from a Spokane jewelry store in a galaxy far, far away, according to a cellmate.

The convicted thief told a fellow inmate he secreted the spoils of a string of burglaries in the basement of his sister who lives on the South Hill. Among the hiding spots, according to court documents, was “a Star Wars model.”

Investigators also planned to search the sister's home for items stolen during break-ins at a rare coin shop and two video game retailers early in 2013, according to court documents. Those thefts occurred around the same time as the others that landed Clement in jail, according to investigators, and Clement confessed to the crimes to a fellow inmate while the two shared cells in both Spokane County Jail and Airway Heights Correctional Center.

The informant told police of the county jail confessions in November, hoping to receive a shorter sentence for a firearms charge that put him behind bars. Investigators then moved the two men, who were both being held at Airway Heights on separate charges, to the same cell in an effort to get Clement to say more about his alleged crimes. The timing of the thefts and the stolen items, included two Wii game systems and several rare coins, matched initial police reports of the incident, prompting the search of the South Hill home.

Investigators have not yet said what, if any, items were recovered at the house, including Wookies or padawans.

Multiple guns found in felon, robbery suspect’s home

A police search of a home near a Browne's Addition convenience store robbed multiple times last month revealed multiple guns thought to be owned by the nine-time convicted felon implicated in the thefts.

Justin Werle, 28, remains in custody at Spokane County Jail, facing charges of owning modified weapons illegally. He was previously implicated in at least one attempted robbery at Sunset Grocery, 1908 W. Sunset Blvd. on Dec. 28. But police said the store had been robbed twice previously in the previous four weeks and they thwarted Werle's plot for a third.

Investigators think the same white man - disguised in a hooded sweatshirt, gloves and a bandana - committed the two successful robberies. Police found a .22 revolver, a rifle and an “old rusty revolver” in Werle's residence, just behind the convenience store. Also recovered was a pack of cigarettes matching the brand of a carton stolen from the store earlier and a pair of gloves that appeared similar to those worn by the robber.

Prosecutors have not yet said whether they will pursue additional robbery charges against Werle, who was released from prison in January 2013 after serving time on multiple riot charges. A woman who identified herself as Werle's mother appeared at a court hearing last week, saying her son showed up at the convenience store armed with a sawed-off shotgun to protect a clerk who was concerned about the recent spate of robberies.

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