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Sirens & Gavels

WSU professor, Spokane Police featured in CNN segment on crisis intervention research

A Washington State University professor of criminal justice and the Spokane Police Department have been featured on CNN for their collaboration on research into the physical and emotional responses of law enforcement in crisis situations.

As part of its “AC360” program hosted by Anderson Cooper, reporter Gary Tuchman visited a police confrontations lab run by students at WSU Spokane. Volunteers, including members of the Spokane Police Department, are placed in a virtual reality situation involving dramatizations of real-life confrontations, and their heart rate, brain waves and other vital signs are monitored as they make decisions about use of force.

You can watch the segment in its entirety below:



Professor Bryan Vila says the experiments are designed to determine the effect of training on decisions to use force in real-time.

“We still don't know if there's a connection between the training we give police officers and their performance in a combat situation,” Vila says in the clip.

The CNN report was filed as part of its coverage into the shooting death of an unarmed teenager in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Spokane police highlight their involvement in the project as part of their ongoing efforts to train officers in crisis intervention, part of a settlement reached with the department in the wake of the death of Otto Zehm at the hands of former Spokane police officer Karl Thompson in 2006. Police have also turned to the classroom to practice and evaluate their techniques of crisis de-escalation.

Death row inmate Woods receives another look at case

A man sentenced to death for his role in the brutal slaying of two women in a Spokane Valley trailer in 1996 has won another look at his case from a federal appeals court, though at least one judge said it's unlikely that review will change his fate.

Dwayne Anthony Woods is being held at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla following his 1997 conviction on two counts of first-degree aggravated murder in the bludgeoning deaths of Telisha Shaver and Jade Moore, along with raping Moore. A jury, made up of nine women and three men, sentenced Woods to death after two days of deliberations.

During the penalty phase of the trial, Woods told his attorneys not to offer evidence of mitigating circumstances that could have prevented him from receiving a capital sentence. After prosecutors made their case, Woods told the jury he did not object to his own execution, according to court documents.

“So I ask that each of you go back and return a vote to impose the death penalty,” Woods said in court, according to transcripts. “Thank you.”

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

Ex-Center for Justice spokesman files complaint against police chief

Tim Connor, a longtime independent law enforcement watchdog and former spokesman for the Center for Justice, filed a complaint with the police ombudsman today against Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub for misrepresentation.

According to Connor's complaint, the chief said at a public City Council meeting in March that the Center for Justice was working with the police department in developing procedures and policies for the use of body cameras on officers. Connor, who left the Center in late 2013, said this is not true.

“Because the Chief either knew, or should have known, that these statements were untrue he either misrepresented the facts or was negligent in his misrepresentations,” Connor wrote in the complaint.

Rick Eichstaedt, the Center's chief executive director, said earlier today the Center is not involved in the complaint, even if he agreed that his group wasn't involved in development of body camera policies when Straub said they were. The police department will begin a pilot implementation of the cameras next week.

Read an excerpt from the complaint below:

40 in Spokane protest Ferguson police shooting

Spokane resident Sarah Peterson isn’t generally an activist.

But as she grew more concerned about the events Ferguson, Missouri, she decided to take action.

She organized a rally, took to Facebook and spread word to her church, Spokane Friends Church, and to the Spokane Peace and Justice Action League.

The result was a drive-time rally with about 40 people Friday evening at Monroe Street and Riverside Avenue, across from the Spokane Club.

“I hope that the people Ferguson, Missouri, see that we see what’s going on there and that we want to stand in solidarity with them,” said Peterson, who held a sign that said “Makes me wanna holler.”


  

 

 

 

Appellate court upholds murder conviction amid DNA concerns

A trio of appellate court judges have upheld the 2012 murder conviction of Julio J. Davila in the beating death of John G. “Jack” Allen Jr. during an apparent robbery in 2007, despite concerns about the incompetence of a DNA technician handling the case.

Jeramie R. Davis was convicted and spent nearly seven years in prison for his alleged role in the porn shop robbery. But investigators asked for a second look at DNA evidence found at the crime scene, a pornography shop on East Sprague Avenue. Traces of Davila's DNA on the murder weapon, a baseball bat, lead to his arrest, conviction and sentencing in a subsequent trial. Davis was set free shortly after the conviction, as prosecutors could not prove he ever swung the murder weapon.

Davila appealed his conviction, saying prosecutors did not turn over evidence of incompetence on the part of Washington State Patrol crime lab technician Denise Olson. The now-fired lab worker was described as a “loose cannon whose work cannot be trusted,” according to an internal WSP review of her work released through a public records request. During a court hearing evaluating Olson's work and how it might have affected the case, a coworker detailed an incident in which Olson looked for semen stains on clothing when the suspect was a woman.

Attorneys for Davila argued his conviction should be overturned because prosecutors knew about Olson's shoddy work at the time of trial, but didn't reveal her record to the defense team, which could have used it to question the believability of the state's evidence. The U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Brady v. Maryland (1963) requires prosecutors to turn over all evidence that might be used to impeach their witnesses to defense attorneys.

In the opinion delivered by the court, Third Division Appellate Judge Robert Lawrence-Berrey wrote prosecutors erred when they did not turn over the WSP reports, but such evidence likely wouldn't have led to a different trial outcome for Davila. He cited extensive testimony at trial that indicated how the DNA evidence was collected, and that there was no reason to suspect Olson contaminated evidence in this particular case, despite her history of incompetence.

“While evidence of Ms. Olson's incompetence could have been used for impeachment purposes, it was not material to the accuracy of Ms. Olson's work in this case,” Lawrence-Berrey wrote.

Davila is serving what remains of his 16-and-a-half year sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Davis pleaded guilty to a second-degree robbery charge, was given credit for time served and released.

Cheney couple faces animal cruelty charges

Prosecutors have filed animal cruelty charges against the Cheney couple who owned multiple animals, including horses and a llama, seized during a search of their property last month.

Terri Marlin, 51, and Thomas Marlin, 53, face multiple animal cruelty criminal counts following an investigation into the conditions at their property at 23239 S. Cross Road in July. Authorities were initially alerted to the couple, who have an extensive history of animal abuse complaints, after several emaciated horses appeared at the Cheney Rodeo Grounds during a wildfire evacuation.

Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services seized two horses, a llama, eight dogs and six cats from the residence. The Marlins face seventeen criminal counts apiece, including first-degree animal cruelty, second-degree animal cruelty and confining an animal in an unsafe manner, according to a news release from SCRAPS. First-degree animal cruelty is a felony, while the other charges are misdemeanors.

`Breaking Bad’ spinoff `Better Call Saul’ to debut in February

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — AMC-TV says that “Breaking Bad” spinoff, “Better Call Saul,” will debut in February.

The network recently released a clip of sleazy attorney Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, arguing about the importance of always having a lawyer. After the clip the word “February” is shown.

Previously, AMC said “Better Call Saul” would premiere in November 2014.

The series will follow Goodman as he defends drug lords, petty criminals and those allegedly injured in minor traffic accidents.

In “Breaking Bad,” Odenkirk played the lawyer of meth lord Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston.

The New Mexico Film Office said in May that “Better Call Saul” would be filmed in Albuquerque.

Trial for teens accused of killing WWII vet pushed again

Teenagers Kenan Adams-Kinard and Demetruis Glenn are now scheduled to go before a jury in November for their alleged roles in the August 2013 slaying of 88-year-old World War II veteran Delbert Belton.

Judge Annette Plese delayed the court date in a ruling handed down last month. The teens, now both 17, face murder and robbery charges after their fingerprints were discovered on Belton's car, where he was found severely beaten in the parking lot of an ice rink Aug. 21. Plese signed an order indicating review of investigative materials and negotiations between defense attorneys and prosecutors were ongoing in the case, which made national headlines late last summer.

Adams-Kinard and Glenn have been in custody since their separate arrests a few days after Belton's death. Glenn turned himself in to authorities after surveillance video surfaced of the two teens entering nearby businesses around the time of the alleged beating. Adams-Kinard was apprehended in a basement apartment a few days later, where authorities found a letter they tied to the teen that alleged the beating took place after Belton stiffed Adams-Kinard on a drug deal.

Friends and family of Belton have vehemently denied he dealt drugs.

The order Plese signed calls for the teens to be tried as adults in a juvenile courtroom. It is the third delay in the case. Prior to Plese's order, the jury trial was scheduled to begin today.

 

Five nominated to Spokane Police Ombudsman Commission

The five candidates chosen by Spokane Mayor David Condon and the City Council to sit on the Police Ombudsman Commission were revealed today.

According to a statement put out by the mayor's office, the mayor chose Rachel Dolezal, a professor at Eastern Washington University and blogger for local weekly publication, The Inlander, and Kevin Berkompas, a  former Air Force colonel. 

The City Council chose Scott Richter, community indicators project manager at Eastern Washington University, Debra Conklin, pastor at Liberty Park United Methodist Church and Spokane Alliance member, and Adrian Dominguez, a Spokane Regional Health District epidemiologist. Dominguez has also thrown his name in the hat to replace former City Councilman Steve Salvatori, who resigned earlier this year.

The selections still must be approved by the City Council.

 

Man accused of billing Medicaid for services in Vietnam

A Spokane man pleaded not guilty this week to charges he stole more than $14,000 in pay and benefits from government programs.

Landon Armani is charged with theft and completing false applications for government assistance after local, state and federal authorities found holes in his story that he’d been caring for his aging Vietnamese mother since August 2012. Investigators say Armani’s mother was not in the United States when the son billed the government for more than $12,000 in services rendered as a Medicaid provider.

Armani told investigators he’d billed for services then sent the money overseas to a health care provider in Vietnam, according to court documents. That practice is outlawed by federal rules, however.

Trial pushed in ‘Kettle Falls 5’ case

The controversial federal trial of a marijuana growing co-operative calling themselves the “Kettle Falls 5” has been delayed so that defense attorneys can review new evidence obtained by prosecutors.

U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle granted a continuance of the trial last week. The case, brought by federal prosecutors against five Stevens County residents who say they were legally growing marijuana on property in rural Stevens County to treat medical conditions, could have far-reaching implications for the state’s budding pot industry.

The defendants face several criminal counts that carry mandatory sentences of 10 years in prison. A new trial date has not been set as attorneys review electronic materials they say prosecutors made available to them earlier this month. The trial had originally been scheduled to begin Monday.

Wanted man flips plain-clothes cop the bird

A wanted man was jailed earlier this month after he swore at and gave the finger to a plain-clothes sheriff's detective, then struck the detective and ran, according to court documents.

David E. Lee, 22, is in custody at the Geiger Corrections Facility. He faces charges of assaulting a police officer, obstruction and resisting arrest after a series of events around 8 p.m. on July 9 near Mount Spokane High School.

Lee was a passenger in a Chevy sedan that came upon two trucks, one pulled off to the side of North Lowe Road so the driver could take a photo of the sunset, she told investigators. The driver of the sedan sped past the two trucks, at which time Lee yelled profanity and “flipping the finger,” witnesses said. The driver of the second truck, Spokane County Sheriff's detective Shannon McCrillis, pulled the sedan over for a traffic stop.

A woman inside the car told police Lee asked whether McCrillis was a “real cop” because he had warrants out for his arrest. McCrillis said Lee was not compliant with his commands to keep his hands where he could see them during the stop, and when he tried to take Lee into custody on his warrants, the 22-year-old struck the detective with his elbow and ran to the woods nearby.

Police dog Laslo was eventually called in to take Lee into custody. Drug paraphernalia was found in a bag belonging to Lee inside the car, according to police reports.

Suspected van burner leaves trail of hard lemonade for police

A 60-year-old Spokane man was arrested on suspicions of arson after investigators found empty cans of Mike's Hard Lemonade at the scene of a scorching van and in the man's vehicle.

Steven Klemz was booked into Spokane County Jail early Thursday morning facing charges of arson and malicious mischief. Police were initially called to a home in the 6900 block of North G Street on Wednesday night around 10 p.m., according to court documents, after a home owner and Stemz got into an argument about yard work. An officer asked Stemz to leave, and he complied.

About two hours later, the home owner called police to say a van outside her home had been set ablaze and the tires of her nearby Chevy sedan slashed. The hoses in the yard had also been cut to prevent her from dousing the flames and the area was soaked in gasoline, she told investigators.

A neighbor reported hearing a bang shortly before midnight, shortly before the fire was reported. The neighbor also reported seeing Klemz in the yard. Found in a van nearby, Klemz denied involvement in the fire, but police found an empty Mike's Hard Lemonade can matching those found near the scene of the cut hoses and an empty gas can near the site of the fires.

Klemz's criminal history in Spokane County includes a burglary conviction in the 1970s, according to court records.

Police want ‘chronic offender’ to stay in jail

A Spokane police officer who monitors “chronic offenders” asked a judge this week to help keep a man considered one of the city’s most prolific burglars in jail by setting bail high.

Zachory J. Davis, 22, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of possession of a controlled substance after he was pulled over for driving erratically. Davis was already facing six charges of residential burglary in addition to charges of trafficking in stolen property, possession of stolen property and fourth-degree assault, all from last year.

Officer Kyle Yrigollen said he and his partner in the police department’s Chronic Offender Unit met with Davis eight times to offer him services to help him get out of his life of crime. He got a job, but then failed to show up for an appointment with Yrigollen, and Davis’ employer said he had stopped showing up for work.

Loud music leads to arrest

A man who refused to turn his music down after repeated visits from the Spokane Valley Police Department found himself temporarily housed in the Spokane County Jail.

An officer was called to the 1100 block of North University Road around 7:45 p.m. Monday on a noise complaint. The officer reported hearing the music well down the street and feeling the bass in his body, said police spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin. The resident, identified as 27-year-old Zachary Villareal, was less than cooperative and reportedly told the officer “This is the third time you guys have been here. Why don’t you just give me a ticket so I can go back to my music.”

Once Villareal made it clear he had no intention of lowering the volume he was arrested for a violation of the city’s noise ordinance, said Chamberlin.

Suspected robber uses spoils to spoil mother

A 24-year-old man used a credit card he swiped from a Spokane Valley shopper in a strong-arm April robbery to buy a Mother's Day present online, according to investigators.

Spokane Valley authorities searched several residences last week looking for Damian Plumley and evidence of the April 24 incident. A woman said she was walking from her car following a shopping trip when a man matching Plumley's description bumped her from behind, knocking her to the ground. The man took her purse, which contained several credit cards.

Detectives learned those credit cards were used to buy items at a local convenience store and at several department stores' websites. While searching Plumley's residence in the 11000 block of East Fourth Avenue, police found an electric tea kettle they confirmed was bought using the robbery victim's credit card.

Plumley's mother told police her son had bought it for her as a Mother's Day gift.

Plumley is in custody of the Spokane County Jail facing charges of robbery, identity theft, leaving the scene of an injury accident and possession of stolen property.

Dog rescued from Spokane River

The Spokane Fire Department’s technical rescue team pulled a cold and tired dog from the Spokane River Wednesday afternoon in Riverfront Park.

The dog apparently fell down a steep embankment and was spotted swimming in the river near Canada Island, said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “It was an animal in distress,” Schaeffer said. “The only way to rescue the animal safely was to treat it as we would a human.”

Firefighters used their equipment to get down the embankment and save the dog. A harness was fashioned for the dog and firefighter/paramedic Kelly Hoyt held the dog as he was pulled up the steep slope.

The dog appeared tired and didn’t struggle, Schaeffer said. “I think the dog was very surprised and looking for some help,” he said.

The dog’s tags enabled the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service to contact its owner, part-time Spokesman-Review employee Mike McLaughlin. McLaughlin said that the dog, named Dana, was frightened by Tuesday’s thunderstorm and bolted outside while he was trying to come in the front door of his home.

Dana is fine and resting quietly, McLaughlin said, and shows no desire for leaving home again. “She’s pretty worn out,” he said.

Armed career criminal tries to check bag with gun at Northern Quest

A 54-year-old convicted felon tried to leave a bag containing drugs and a revolver at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino last week, prompting criminal charges and a federal investigation.

John B. Suttle was booked into Spokane County Jail on Friday after a coat check attendant reported he tried to check a bag containing a hypodermic needle. A later search of the bag revealed a .22 revolver and a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine and another that looked like heroin, according to court documents.

When asked about the gun, Suttle said he found it outside the casino and picked it up to sell because he needed money, according to court documents. Because of his prior convictions, an investigative agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrived to interview Suttle, who said he knew he shouldn't be handling a gun as a convicted felon, according to court documents.

Suttle faces charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing drugs with intent to deliver.

Supreme Court decision prompts more restitution from Greg Jeffreys

A recently filed U.S. Supreme Court opinion has federal prosecutors asking for about $2 million more in restitution from jailed Spokane developer Greg Jeffreys, who pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud in a series of real estate schemes.

Sentencing documents filed ahead of a scheduled hearing in June had originally asked Jeffreys - who admitted in November to duping individual investors and banks on projects including condominiums, units in the downtown Ridpath Tower and a military facility off Highway 2 - to pay back $10.3 million. But a decision rendered in Washington, D.C., earlier this month in the case of a convicted mortgage fraudster out of Wisconsin prompted prosecutors to revise that amount closer to $12 million.

The unanimous decision in Robers v. United States, decided in a lightning-fast (for the court) 10 weeks after oral argument, overturned restitution guidelines set forth by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to prosecutors. While the Wisconsin court ruled Benjamin Robers, a man who bought two houses using fraudulent loan applications, must pay the difference between the amount the bank lent and how much the properties sold for after foreclosure, the Ninth Circuit had calculated restitution based on the value of forfeited properties at the time they were seized. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in February 2013 to settle the dispute in the way the two courts calculated restitution.

The decision affirming the Wisconsin court's practice increases the amount Jeffreys owes banks and investors on three properties that were foreclosed upon, prosecutors say in documents filed last week. This includes units in the downtown Ridpath tower.

Jeffreys' ex-wife, Kimberly Jeffreys, also pleaded guilty in February to a charge of fraud in dealings surrounding the military facility. She is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced in July for her role in the scheme, facing a potential six-month sentence and restitution of close to $160,000.

Shannon Stiltner, a woman who lived with Greg Jeffreys in Las Vegas and pleaded guilty in November to deliberately ignoring signs her boyfriend was swindling investors, is serving her seven-month sentence at a federal detention center in Seattle. Stiltner has been ordered to pay $58,000 in restitution and is scheduled for release in August.

Prosecutors have not filed requests to change Kimberly Jeffreys' or Shannon Stiltner's restitution amounts.

Second man accused of selling heroin arrested

Spokane police arrested 55-year-old Ernie Hern this week, the second of a pair accused of selling heroin out of a residence in the East Central neighborhood through March of last year.

Hern faces multiple possession and sale of drug charges after police used a confidential informant to buy heroin from him in January 2013, according to court documents. The informant allegedly twice bought heroin at home in the 200 block of Fiske Street, once from Hern and a second time a month later from Timothy Price, 36.

When authorities raided the house in March 2013, Price was there, but Hern wasn't. Price was arrested and scheduled to be arraigned, but never showed up, according to court records. He was taken back into custody last month and has pleaded not guilty to a drug trafficking charge.

Both Hern and Price have criminal histories that include past drug charges. Prosecutors are asking Hern be held on $1,000 bond in the new charge.

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