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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Cole Strandberg

Strandberg gets 36+ years for murder

A sentencing Monday brought together two troubled families, one grieving the loss of a beautiful girl who wanted to become a crime scene investigator and the other a family who tried unsuccessfully for years to find help for a mentally troubled son.

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen consoled both families as she sentenced crossbow killer Cole K. Strandberg to what attorneys expect will be a life sentence for the brutal 2008 slaying of 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron.

“This is a horrible situation,” said Eitzen, who described the case as one of the worst she’s seen in 18 years on the bench. “I can’t help but feel the pain on both sides. My heart breaks for all of you.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 26, 2010: Strandberg on cable TV: 'The horror is real'

Jan. 16, 2008: Strandberg's parents struggled to get him treatment

Jan. 12, 2008: Deputy remembers his slain niece

Strandberg pleads guilty to ‘08 murder

Cole Strandberg is led back to the Spokane County Jail on Feb. 14.

Cole K. Strandberg has pleaded guilty to killing a Spokane woman with a crossbow in 2008.

Defense attorney Chris Bugbee has acknowledged in past hearings that Strandberg killed 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron on Jan. 7, 2008. However, Bugbee argued unsuccessfully to have Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen find Strandberg, 25, not guilty by reason of insanity.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 26, 2010: Strandberg on cable TV: 'The horror is real'

Jan. 16, 2008: Strandberg's parents struggled to get him treatment

Jan. 12, 2008: Deputy remembers his slain niece

Morbid question leads to legal oddity

Questions about whether an accused killer had sex with his victim before or after she was dead has led to the suspect's lawyer being named a witness in the case.

A judge ruled Monday that defense attorney Chris Bugbee will continue to represent accused crossbow killer Cole K. Strandberg (pictured in February).

Bugbee has a different recollection of what his client said during a mental health exam regarding when he had sex with the victim than the doctors, putting the defense lawyer in the unusual position of having to present Strandberg’s legal defense as well as present testimony as a sworn witness.

Because of that potential conflict, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mark Cipolla asked Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen to remove Bugbee as Strandberg’s attorney. The judge rejected it.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Jury to decide Cole Strandberg’s fate

A Spokane County jury will now decide whether Cole K. Strandberg should face the prospect of life imprisonment or indefinite commitment to a mental institution after a judge concluded he was sane in 2008 when he shot a woman with a crossbow. 

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen was highly critical of the review of Strandberg’s case by mental health professionals at Eastern State Hospital, but found that the 24-year-old mentally ill man probably was not insane on Jan. 7, 2008, when authorities said he killed 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron.

“I cannot find… that Mr. Strandberg was insane at the time of the act,” Eitzen said. “But the question should be submitted to the jury.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 16, 2011: Strandberg trial testimony questions mental evaluations

Feb. 26, 2010: Strandberg on cable TV: 'The horror is real'

Jan. 16, 2008: Strandberg's parents struggled to get him treatment

Strandberg to Bugbee: ‘I have a wife’

Accused killer Cole K. Strandberg has done little during the two days he's spent in Judge Tari Etizen's courtroom. 

But on Monday, he made sure his marital status was clear.

 After his lawyer, Chris Bugbee, (left) asked a neuropsychologist about discussions of Strandberg's mystical world and plans by the defendant's fictitious wife for a trip to Europe, Strandberg blurted out, “I have a wife, asshole.” 

It was another bizarre moment in a court hearing set to determine if Strandberg can stand trial for January 2008 crossbow slaying of Jennifer Bergeron, or if he should be found not guilty to be reason of insanity.

“He says he was married in Las Vegas Washington, so there are no records in this world,” Dr. Craig Beaver testified on Monday. “He’ll just go to another time or his wife will come get him and take him to Europe. So (the criminal charge) just doesn’t matter.”

Strandberg has his wrists bolted to the courtroom table and his legs bolted to his chair.

On Tuesday, he wore a face mask at Bugbee's request. Strandberg had spit in the lawyer's face at the end of Monday's hearing.

Strandberg is pictured up top on Tuesday.

Past coverage:

Feb. 26, 2010: Strandberg on cable TV: 'The horror is real'

Jan. 16, 2008: Strandberg's parents struggled to get him treatment

Insanity defense explored in ‘08 murder

The aggravated murder trial of accused crossbow killer Cole K. Strandberg will proceed in January following a hearing to allow his defense attorney to present a case that his client should be acquitted because he is insane. 

Defense attorney Chris Bugbee asked Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen Tuesday for what amounts to a mini-trial on Jan. 5 to present evidence about his client’s mental state at the time of the killing. Strandberg has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Eitzen reluctantly agreed, but said the January trial date is “written in concrete.”

Strandberg, who was featured earlier this year in a Discovery Channel episode of “Behind Bars,” is charged with sexually assaulting and using a crossbow to kill 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron on Jan. 7, 2008.

Group honors jailer hurt by murder suspect

A sheriff’s deputy who fractured his neck in an encounter with one of Spokane County Jail’s most notorious inmates was honored today by a local civic group. 

Dan Leonetti received the Downtown Exchange Club’s Blue and Gold Award for law enforcement injured in the line of duty, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office announced this morning.

Leonetti broke a bone in his neck and injured his shoulder when he and other members of the jail’s critical response team tried to remove mentally ill accused killer Cole K. Strandberg from his cell for a court hearing on Sept. 26, 2008.

The incident was shown on cable TV in February as part of the “Behind Bars” show. Watch the clip above.

On the video, Strandberg is seen waiting at his cell door when jailers approach. Jailers rush in and slam him down, but the struggle continues and Leonetti’s head strikes a concrete wall.

Leonetti recovered and is back working at the jail. Strandberg remains in jail on one count of aggravated first-degree murder of the January 2008 crossbow slaying of 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron.

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen ruled in January of this year that Strandberg was incompetent to stand trial; he’s been on medication since.

His next hearing is set for July 9.

Spokane jail on cable TV: ‘The horror is real’

It was the Spokane County Jail’s time to shine last night on the cable TV show “Behind Bars.”

The hour-long episode on the Discovery Channel featured a belligerent Army sergeant arrested for suspected drunken driving, an accused armed robber trying to overdose, a man arrested in a home-invasion robbery being dragged to the jail’s isolation room in his underwear, a woman accused of murder communicating with her inmate boyfriend through the jail’s plumbing system, and mentally ill accused killer Cole K. Strandberg, (top) whom the show dubbed our jail’s “most notorious inmate.”

Controlling chaos was a running theme in the show, highlighted by the footage of jailers dragging Bradley S. Hickey (right) to “the hole” in his underwear. Hickey was arrested last June in a violent home-invasion robbery.

Strandberg was featured throughout much of the show, including snippets of a jailhouse interview in which he open his jail suit to show off his tattoos and called himself “the most dangerous man in the world.”

At one point, Strandberg looked into the camera and said, “the horror is real.”

The show was the first of three on the Discovery Channel Thursday. The Memphis and Cleveland jails also were featured.

“Behind Bars” producers spent a few weeks at the jail in September and October, interviewing guards and inmates and filming them throughout the day. They focused on the Corrections Response Team, which deals with the most dangerous inmates.

The episode included video of Strandberg attacking the team in his jail cell in September 2008, breaking a bone in a deputy’s neck.

One deputy can be heard saying “Oh, wrong move, Cole,” after Strandberg lunges at them. Strandberg is tackled by the guards, then slams a deputy’s head against the cement wall. (Strandberg is pictured above with the CRT. Deputy Nathan Foo, who was interviewed for the show, is at the left.) 

Another inmate, Dennis Sprayberry, showed producers how he slips other inmates prohibited items like hot water while handing out laundry. Sprayberry is no stranger to the newspaper - he was featured in a June 2005 article that began “Alcohol, trouble and Dennis Sprayberry have been fellow travelers for many of his 19 years.” (Read it here.) He’s now in a state prison serving 116 months on charges connected to a case you can read about here.

Two other inmates, Michael C. “Temper” Painter and Maggie Mae Tyler (left), “prove that love in lock down is still possible,” the show’s announcer said. Painter, who the show said is facing life in prison, likely under the state’s three-strikes law, is shown trying to talk with Tyler through the jail’s plumbing system. One downside to the method, he says, is “you can taste other people’s fecal matter.” (Read about Tyler’s case here.)

The show stuck a nice balance between incarcerated citizens and the guards charged with maintaining control. I’ll let you know if I hear about it airing again.

Accused killer ‘severely disturbed’

A 24-year-old accused killer is not mentally competent to be tried for the crossbow slaying of a Spokane woman two years ago, a judge ruled today.

Cole K. Strandberg, charged with first-degree murder for the Jan. 7, 2008 slaying of 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron, has a “long, long standing history of being severely, severely disturbed,” said Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

“He needs to be and he must be involuntarily medicated,” Eitzen said.

Eitzen rejected claims from Eastern State Hospital doctors that Strandberg was either faking the symptoms or had experienced methamphetamine-induced psychosis.

She said the two-day competency hearing showed Dr. Randall Strandquist left out crucial information in his reports, causing her to reject that evaluation and focus on the past reports themselves.

She also rejected Dr. William Grant’s suggestion that Strandberg had been faking his mental illness for years to create a defense for murder.

There’s too much information in evaluations beginning in 2002 to suggest Strandberg was lying about his condition, Eitzen said.

Strandberg, who is accused of assaulting and harassing jailers and court officials, has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Strandberg is fascinated with Nazi, swastikas and World War II and refuses to work with his lawyer, Chris Bugbee, because he thinks Bugbee is Jewish, Eitzen said.

“Also Mexican,” Strandberg interrupted. He said nothing else.

Past coverage: Strandberg’s parents struggled to get him treatment

Deputy remembers his slain niece

Strandberg says he wants to plead guilty

Decision soon on accused killer’s mental state

A judge will decide Friday if accused murderer Cole Strandberg is competent to stand trial for the crossbow killing of a 22-year-old Spokane woman two years ago.

During a two-day hearing this week in Spokane County Superior Court, prosecutors argued Strandberg was faking signs of a mental condition.

Doctors from Eastern State Hospital said if he ever was afflicted with anything it was because of his methamphetamine use. (Strandberg's shown left in a December 2007 family photo, but he's lost a lot of weight in jail.)

His defense lawyer, Chris Bugbee, says those doctors ignored key details about Strandberg in order to fit their preconceived opinions. He argues that Strandberg is mentally incompetent to stand trial and needs treatment. 

Doctors from Sacred Heart Medical Center have for years diagnosed Strandberg as a paranoid schizophrenic.

Strandberg's mother, Barbara Strandberg, testified on Tuesday that his problems seemed to begin when he reached puberty. “His interests were bizarre and different,” she said.

“Talking to him would be impossible.”

Her testimony echoed much of what she said about a week after her son's arrest in 2008. (Read the story here.)

Strandberg is charged with first-degree aggravated murder for the brutal slaying of 22-year-old Jennifer M. Bergeron on Jan. 7, 2008. (Read past coverage here )

He faces additional charges of second-degree assault, third-degree assault and harassment for four alleged incidents with jailers, his former attorney and a psychologist.

Judge Tari Eitzen is expected to rule on Strandberg's mental competency Friday afternoon.

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