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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Benewah County Sheriff's Office

2-time jail escapee back in custody

A burglar who escaped from the Benewah County Jail in July escaped again early Tuesday, authorities say, but was back in custody by Tuesday night.

Jesse John Wilkenson, 20, also known as Jesse Brebner, was in custody on charges related to the July 15 escape when he left the jail about 12:15 a.m. A Benewah County sheriff's deputy, acting on a tip, arrested Wilkenson after establishing a roadblock west of St. Maries, according to the St. Maries Gazette Record.

Wilkenson had been sentenced to a 365-day prison treatment program for a burglary conviction but hadn't been transferred to a state facility because he was awaiting the resolution of his escape charge, which carries up to five years in prison, said Teresa Jones, spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Correction.

Benewah County authorities did not notify state prison officials of Wilkenson's escape in July for several days, but Jones said the department knew of Tuesday's escape early that day.

Past coverage:

July 21: Cross deputization helped nab jail escapee

July 19: Benewah County kept jail escape quiet

Niece found fit for trial in man’s death

ST. MARIES, Idaho (AP) — A psychologist has found a North Idaho woman is fit to stand trial in the shooting death of her uncle in May.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports Daniel Hayes of Hayden Lake found 28-year-old Melisa R. Bates could both understand the charge against her and help her attorney with her defense.

Bates is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Robert D. Marek at his house eight miles south of St. Maries. Court records say Bates had been staying with Marek.

Benewah County Prosecutor Douglas Payne said Marek was shot with a handgun and beaten with a metal rod and an attempt was made to burn his body.

Bates is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 22 in St. Maries before Magistrate Patrick McFadden.

Cross-deputization helped nab escapee

A convicted burglar who escaped Friday from Benewah County Jail has been recaptured, thanks in part to Kootenai County’s cross-deputization agreement with the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police.

Tribal officers made the arrest working with Plummer city police and the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office, authorities said Wednesday.

Jesse John Wilkenson, 20, also known as Jesse Brebner, was recaptured at 2 a.m. Wednesday on Conklin Park Road, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs' story here.

Past coverage:

July 19: Benewah County kept jail escape quiet

Benewah County kept jail escape quiet

UPDATE: Wilkenson was arrested early Wednesday in Kootenai County. Read more here.

State authorities issued a warning that a convicted felon escaped Friday from Benewah County Jail after learning local officials failed to do so.

“Anytime someone is running from the law, we consider them to pose a measure of risk because they may be acting desperately and irrationally,” said Jeff Ray, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Correction. “You gotta hit the red button when these guys get loose.”

Jesse John Wilkenson, also known as Jesse Brebner, is 20 and has brown hair and brown eyes. He is 5-foot-8, 146 pounds and has a medium complexion, a news release from the Idaho Department of Correction said Tuesday.

Wilkenson was sentenced Friday to a year-long retained jurisdiction program following a burglary conviction and a probation violation. Judges can retain jurisdiction over offenders during evaluation and treatment. If they complete the program successfully, offenders can be released on probation and avoid longer prison sentences, the release said.

Wilkenson escaped a few hours after the sentencing, the news release said.

Ray said Benewah County officials alerted the Department of Correction about the escape in the notes column of a form faxed to the state Monday that details when a prisoner can be transported.

As a felon, Wilkenson falls under the state’s jurisdiction, Ray said.

“We didn’t know about it until Monday and then it was buried,” Ray said. “If it’s an offender under our jurisdiction, we want to know if he’s loose.”

Benewah County Sheriff Robert Kirts did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Anyone with information about Wilkenson’s whereabouts is asked to call local law enforcement.

Idaho murder suspect to get mental eval

A 26-year-old woman accused of killing her uncle in St. Maries, Idaho, will undergo a mental evaluation.

 Melisa R. Bates could be heard yelling uncontrollably from her holding cell upstairs from the Benewah County courthouse Wednesday, according to KHQ.

Bates was to be arraigned on a murder charge, but that has been postponed 30 days as she completed a mental health evaluation. Bates will be held at a mental health institution in Lewiston, KHQ reports.

Bates was arrested near Bayview Tuesday after deputies found the burned remains of her uncle, Robert Dean Marek, 43, while checking to see why he didn't show up for work.

A motive for the slaying has not been released.

Sheriff: Critics are ill-informed ‘whiners’

BOISE - A Kootenai County human rights group sent a letter to the Idaho Legislature on Thursday saying criminals are going free in Benewah County because the sheriff there refuses to sign a cooperative agreement with the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police.

Benewah County Sheriff Bob Kirts vigorously disputes the letter, calling the assertions “ill-informed” and from “whiners.”

Read the rest of Betsy Z. Russell’s story here.

The Spokesman-Review explored racial tensions in Benewah County in this September 2008 story: Tensions linger.

Gym teacher accused of sexual abuse

A high school gym teacher and local cheerleading coach is accused of sexually abusing a teenager.

Darin J. DeBolt, 26, a teacher at Lakeside High School in North Idaho, appeared in court today on one count of sexual battery of a minor child ages 16 or 17 and one count of sexual intercourse with a minor child.

DeBolt was arrested Tuesday at the 130-student high school in Plummer, where the Spokane resident has worked for five years, said Judi Sharrett, superintendent of the Plummer-Worley School District.

“The district is fully cooperating with police,” Sharrett said.

DeBolt remains in Benewah County Jail on $50,000 bail.

The alleged incident occurred last month, according to the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office.

DeBolt was on the cheer squad at Eastern Washington University (he’s pictured above in September 2008) and is a coach with All Star Cheer and Dance in Spokane Valley, according to the group’s Web site.


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