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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: David Elton

Elton gets credit for time served in jail

A man convicted of harassing the Spokane city council president and the chairwoman of the company that owns The Spokesman-Review was sentenced today to credit for time already served in jail. 

David H. Elton, 44, will be on unsupervised probation for two years. He was sentenced to a year in jail with 351 days suspended. Elton already spent two weeks in jail after his arrest in February 2009.

A jury convicted him of misdemeanor harassment against Council President Joe Shogan and Cowles Co. chairwoman Betsy Cowles for emails sent in December 2008 and February 2009.

Prosecutors had sought felony convictions against Elton for threats to kill, but the jury ruled the victims did not reasonably fear for their lives.

A third charge alleging Elton harassed his ex-wife has been dismissed.

This morning, Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy asked Judge Maryann Moreno to prohibit Elton from consuming alcohol while on probation, but the judge declined, saying there was no way to enforce the requirement.

Past coverage:

Oct. 8: Jury convicts Elton of 2 misdemeanors

Oct. 6: Shogan, Cowles testify against Elton

Oct. 5: Elton on trial for Shogan, Cowles threats

Shogan, Cowles testify against Elton

According to court testimony Tuesday, Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan sent a mass email this week describing his near-death experiences at war.

“These look like, for lack of a better word, scary experiences,” said Mark Hodgson, lawyer for David Elton, who’s on trial for felony harassment against Shogan and Cowles Co. Chairwoman Betsy Cowles. “And David Elton didn’t make the list?”

“No,” Shogan replied. He then asked if he could explain why he was looking to rooftops after learning of threats from Elton in February 2009. Hodgson replied that he couldn’t.

“Oh? OK,” Shogan said huffily. A male juror smiled at the exchange.

Shogan later got a chance to explain his fixation on rooftops - saying he’d heard that “Mr. Elton considered himself a superb marksmen.”

The testimony came Tuesday afternoon, the first day of a trial that’s expected to end tomorrow morning. Shogan, city council president for five years, was the last witness to take the stand Tuesday. Read my full story on the opening day here. 

Here are a few additional tidbits:

Shogan recalled a confrontation with Elton at City Hall on Election night 2007. Elton ended his public comment by saying “May I say Mayor Vernor?” which violated council rules on political speech because Verner hadn’t yet been elected. Shogan banged his gavel and told Elton he was out of order, then was confronted by Elton outside council chambers.

“We talked really toe-to-toe together,” Shogan said. “He told me he didn’t like the way I run the meetings. I told him I didn’t like that he couldn’t follow instructions.”

Shogan said he feared for his life when he learned from Spokesman-Review blog contributor John Olsen that Elton had threatened Shogan.

“When I saw the line about decapitation, I really wondered whether there was someone else out there who sort of did this work for him,” Shogan said, referring to December 2008 email in which Elton said he would “enjoy the decapitation of Joey boy.”

Olsen had called Elton after receiving an email in February 2009 in which Elton listed seven poeple, including Betsy Cowles, he wanted to kill. Shogan was not mentioned until Olsen called Elton to discuss the email. The administrators of the Community Comment blog, Dave Laird also received the email and notified the Spokesman-Review.

 Hodgson emphasized the fact that neither email was sent directly to Shogan or Cowles, and that neither directly threatened to kill. In the February 2009 email, Elton writes, “That is the crux of the problem, I want to murder the following people,” and lists seven names, including Cowles and her brother, S-R Publisher Stacey Cowles.

“Does Mr. Elton say he will murder the following people?” Hodgson asked.

“No, he just says he wants to,” Olsen said.

In the phone call, Olsen said Elton never said he was going to kill Cowles or Shogan, nor did he saw he was going to harm them. He just wouldn’t agree to contact Olsen if decided to.

“I was still concerned,” Olsen said.

Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy asked Olsen if Elton can be “cunning.”

“Mr Elton has led me to believe that he could subvert the truth and pull things off in a wily way if that’s what you’re asking,” Olsen replied.

Elton on trial for Shogan, Cowles threats

Trial begins today in the case of a Spokane man accused of threatening to kill the Spokane City Council president and the chairwoman of the company that owns The Spokesman-Review. 

David H. Elton, 44, is charged with two counts of felony harassment - threats to kill in connection with e-mails sent to Joe Shogan and Betsy Cowles in early 2009. UPDATE AFTER TODAY’S TESTIMONY: Elton did not send the messages directly to the two, rather they learned of the messages through concerned citizens.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. before Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno . A jury of 12 Spokane County residents, with two alternates, was selected Monday.

Elton, who was arrested Feb. 10, 2009, has said the emails were a joke and that he would never hurt anyone. Elton also was suspected of threatening to kill Cowles’ brother, Spokesman-Review Publisher Stacey Cowles, but the publisher declined to pursue charges.  (Stacey Cowles and Betsy Cowles are pictured.)

Spokane police Detective Corey Turman said in January that Elton said he wanted the Cowles family to sue him so he could use the evidence process to obtain company records. 

But Elton, who described himself as a “hyperactive political activist,” claimed “he was not willing to commit a crime just to get them in court,” Turman said.

Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy has read portions of the e-mails naming Shogan (left) and Cowles at pre-trial hearings. They discuss Elton’s knowledge of high-powered rifles and his intended victim’s schedules, Nagy said. Elton also advises that getting him locked up won’t do any good because he’ll tell experts everything they want to hear, then cause mass destruction when he’s released, Nagy said at a past court hearing.

The case has gone through seven judges and at least one defense lawyer. Elton faces a second trial on a charge that he threatened to kill his ex-wife, Robin Stewart.

In June, Moreno ordered Elton to undergo a mental evaluation to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial. She cleared him for trial in August.

Betsy Cowles and Shogan are expected to testify. Nagy said he expects to wrap up his side of the case by Wednesday. Elton is represented by Mark Hodgson.

Previous coverage:

June 16: Candidate will undergo mental evaluation

April 15: Elton avoids jail after violating court orders

April 3: Elton’s wife donated to Stevens’ campaign

Jan. 21: Trial set for Elton on threat charges

Feb. 12, 2009: ‘Murder’ email meant as joke, suspect says

Elton to get court-ordered mental evaluation

The mental state of a Spokane County commission candidate is in question.

 A week before filing for office Friday, civic gadfly David H. Elton was ordered by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno to undergo mental evaluations to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial on harassment charges related to threatening e-mails sent last year to Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan and to Betsy Cowles, chairwoman of the Cowles Co., which owns The Spokesman-Review.

Elton’s trial, previously set to begin June 28, is on hold pending his mandatory mental health evaluation, Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Previous coverage:

April 15: Elton avoids jail after violating court orders

April 3: Elton’s wife donated to Stevens’ campaign

Jan. 21: Trial set for Elton on threat charges

Feb. 12, 2009: ‘Murder’ email meant as joke, suspect says

Elton avoids jail after violating court orders

A man accused of threatening to kill Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan and Cowles Co. Chairwoman Betsy Cowles avoided going to jail in advance of his May trial, even though a judge ruled today that he “clearly” violated court orders.

David H. Elton, 44, will be jailed if he continues to disregard orders such as the requirement that he notify the court 48 hours in advance if he’s leaving the county, said Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno.

When defense lawyer Mark Hodgson questioned how she knew Elton violated that order, Moreno pointed to a folder filled with emails sent by Elton to Moreno and her judicial assistant .

Elton spoke of his travels in the emails “but that’s long after he’s already left,” Moreno said.

When Moreno asked Elton to stop emailing her, he began emailing her judicial assistant, she said.

“Some of them are fine, some of them are absolutely vile,” Moreno said. “You’re correct, Mr. Hodgson, that Mr. Elton has shown disrespect for the court and disrespect for the court’s officers.”

Hodgson said he “can only express my deepest regrets that emails like that were ever sent to the court.”

“I make my living in this system and I think it deserves the highest respect,” Hodgson said. “That type of behavior is simply not tolerable.”

Hodgson said Elton has been “admonished by me personally that he needs to follow court orders.”

Hodgson said Elton is not a flight risk.

“I think there’s a lot of people in Spokane County who would like Mr. Elton to leave the county, (but) he really is not fleeing prosecution,” Hodgson said. “He stands ready. He wants to go to trial.”

Trial for Elton on charges that he threatened to kill his ex-wife, Robin Stewart, is to begin May 17. The trial for the charges related to Shogan and Cowles (the Cowles Company owns the Spokesman-Review) is to begin after that trial is complete.

The charges have been separated into two cases because the charge involving Stewart includes an amendment related to Elton’s previous conviction for harassing her. That previous conviction can’t be heard by jurors considering the Shogan and Cowles charges - only the Stewart charge.

Previous coverage:

Elton’s wife donated to Stevens’ campaign

Trial set for Elton on threat charges

‘Murder’ email meant as joke, suspect says

Elton’s wife donated to Stevens’ campaign

A candidate for Spokane County prosecutor has accepted a $500 campaign contribution from the wife of a man being prosecuted by the office he wants to oversee.

Records show that Republican prosecuting attorney candidate Dave Stevens accepted the donation in February and has kept the money despite knowing that the contributor’s husband, David Elton (left), faces three counts of felony harassment.

David Elton wrote in an e-mail in February that he would “donate as much as he could afford” to Stevens’ campaign. Documents from the state Public Disclosure Commission show that Elton’s wife, Belinda Elton, contributed $500 in February.

Read the rest of Jonathan Brunt’s story here.

Elton, 44, is accused of making threats in e-mail messages to his ex-wife, Robin Stewart, Cowles Co. Chairwoman Betsy Cowles and Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan. Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy is seeking a bench warrant for Elton, alleging he’s failed to notify Nagy on several occasions that he’s leaving town 48 hours in advance as required by a court order.

Judge Maryann Moreno is set to hear that motion on April 15.

Mark Vovos withdrew as Elton’s lawyer late last month. Elton has said he may represent himself.

Past coverage:

Trial set for Elton on threat charges

‘Murder’ email meant as joke, suspect says

Trial set for Elton on threat charges

A man accused of threatening to kill City Council President Joe Shogan and the chairwoman of the company that owns The Spokesman-Review will go to trial in April, a judge ruled today.

David H. Elton, who turns 44 on Friday, is charged with three counts of felony harassment for alleged threats made to Shogan, Cowles Co. chairwoman Betsy Cowles, and Elton’s ex-wife, Robin Stewart.

Elton was arrested Feb. 10 after police obtained an email in which Elton said he wanted “to murder”several people, including Cowles and Stewart. Elton was suspected of threatening to kill Spokesman-Review Publisher Stacey Cowles, but that charge was dropped the day of his arrest after Cowles “expressed no fear or concern about Mr. Elton’s conduct,” according to court documents.

Elton has said the emails were a joke and that he would never hurt anyone. Spokane police Detective Corey Turman testified on Thursday that Elton said he wanted the Cowles family to sue him so he could use the evidence process to obtain company records.

But Elton, who described himself as a “hyperactive political activist,” claimed “he was not willing to commit a crime just to get them in court,” Turman said.

On Thursday, Judge Maryann Moreno, the eighth judge assigned to the case, ruled that statements Elton made to police were voluntary and can be admitted at trial.

She also ordered that sixty Spokane County residents should be called for a jury pool. Jury pools typically have about 35 people.

Elton’s defense attorney, longtime trial lawyer Mark Vovos, has filed a motion asking for the charges to be dismissed because of judicial mishandling.

Past coverage:

‘Murder’ email meant as joke, suspect says

Courthouse watch: 5.21.09

A man charged with threatening to kill city of Spokane and Cowles Co. officials and a man charged with impersonating a federal agent were among cases with hearings today in Spokane County.

Steven E. Escallier, 40, (left) is charged with criminal impersonation, first-degree attempted robbery and malicious mischief after police say he tried robbing two men who were completing a cell phone sale arranged through Craigslist in early March.

Escallier told officer he thought the men were drug dealers when he identified himself as a DEA agent and ordered one to “hand over his drugs,” according to police. He was arrested a few blocks away from the crime scene at Crestline and Empire.

David H. Elton, 43, was another defendant in court today who’s made the news.

Charged with three counts of felony harassment - threats to kill, Elton was arrested in February after several people told police of emails he’d sent threatening to kill Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan and Betsy and Stacey Cowles, who own The Spokesman-Review. Elton has said he suffers from bipolar disorder.

“Elton states that the people he has targeted are largely semi-innocent, but his hate for them is based on their greed and ignorance,” according to court papers. “He states that the only exception is his ex-wife. He writes that he dreams of killing her and burning her remains and he listens to Chopin and Van Halen.”

Judge Ellen Kalama Clark granted trial extensions for Escallier and Elton Thursday. She also allowed a special judge to be assigned to Elton’s case.

Escallier remains in Spokane County Jail; Elton, who is out on bond, is represented by private criminal defense lawyer Mark Vovos. Vovos described the case as “complex.”

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