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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Doug Phelps

Jury convicts man of threatening officer

A jury has convicted a Spokane man of felony harassment for threatening to kill a Spokane police officer.

Rudy Ray Cordova, 38, was acquitted of fourth-degree domestic assault, which is the suspected crime that brought him in contact with Officer Chris McMurtrey.

Cordova's lawyer, Doug Phelps, questioned McMurtrey at trial about his support for Officer Karl Thompson and pointed out that McMurtrey said he feared Cordova in part because of his felony convictions. Phelps emphasized that Thompson was a convicted felon, too, but McMurtrey didn't fear him.

It apparently didn't sway jurors, who returned the guilty verdict on Thursday. Cordova is now awaiting sentencing on the felony harassment charge.

McMurtrey had arrested Cordova on suspicion of domestic violence assault Feb. 26 when Cordova told him, “That’s how people died, by taking the wrong people to jail…Don’t worry. I’ll get out tomorrow and find out where you guys live. I’ve been to prison,” according to court testimony.

Cop questioned over Thompson support

A Spokane police officer who says he feared for his life after being threatened by a felon was asked in court Wednesday about supportive comments he posted on a Facebook page in support of another convicted felon – former Officer Karl Thompson.

 Defense lawyer Doug Phelps questioned Officer Chris McMurtrey’s contention that 38-year-old Rudy Ray Cordova’s prior convictions for violent crimes were a cause for concern, noting that Thompson has been convicted of a violent crime, too.

Read the rest of my story here.

Medical pot suspect released from jail

A medical marijuana advocate jailed for violating the conditions of his release on federal drug charges has been allowed to leave jail under strict conditions.

Jerry Wayne Laberdee, 57, was ordered to be released from jail on Monday but U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno, who imposed bond and called for frequent status conferences to ensure Laberdee complies with his conditions of release, which include drug tests and refraining from excessive use of alcohol.

Laberdee was required to post a $25,000 signature bond, meaning a friend or family member is responsible for the bond, and a $15,000 surety bond through a bonds company, said his lawyer, Doug Phelps.

Family members said Laberdee was on a hunger strike at the Spokane County Jail, where he'd been since he turned himself in last month.

Laberdee had been allowed to stay out of jail pending trial on federal charges related to his work with the Spokane medical marijuana dispensary Medical Herb Providers when Lincoln County sheriff's officials found marijuana plants at his home on Aug. 12.

Federal probation officer Richard Law contacted Laberdee on Aug. 16, and Laberdee  “made it very clear to this officer that he would not permit me inside his residence,” according to court documents prepared by Law.

Laberdee also refused to submit to a drug test as his release conditions require, documents allege.

Phelps described Laberdee as “kind of an old hippie.” Supporters say he views the case as a civil rights issue, and Laberdee has called on Willie Nelson for support.

A status hearing in his case is set for Oct. 4.
  

Federal medical marijuana suspect jailed

A medical marijuana advocate recently indicted in federal court is in jail after authorities found pot plants at his home in Lincoln County.

 Jerry Wayne Laberdee, 57, (pictured at a pro-marijuana rally in downtown Spokane, courtesy of the Inlander) turned himself in Tuesday after U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno issued a warrant for his arrest, said his lawyer, Doug Phelps.

Laberdee was prohibited from possessing firearms and from violating federal law when he was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial on federal charges related to his work with the Spokane medical marijuana dispensary Medical Herb Providers.

On Aug. 12, the Lincoln County sheriff's officials found marijuana plants at his home, as well as a dismantled handgun and ammunition rounds. Federal probation officer Richard Law contacted Laberdee on Aug. 16, and Laberdee  “made it very clear to this officer that he would not permit me inside his residence,”according to court documents.

Laberdee also refused to submit to a drug test as his release conditions require, documents allege.

Phelps said a hearing is scheduled Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to determine if Laberdee will stay in jail.

Phelps said Laberdee had about 45 plants and was complying with state medical marijuana laws.

“Federal law says you can't have anything, and state law says you can,” Phelps said.

Laberdee  and Medical Herb Providers co-owner Dennis Whited are among five medical marijuana advocates indicted by a grand jury after federal authorities warned them to shut down or face prosecution.

The men are charged with distribution of marijuana, which carries up to five years in prison; manufacture of marijuana, which carries five to 40 years; and maintaining a drug-involved premise, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

Phelps said his client is eager to bring attention to the federal case against medical marijuana.

“He's not trying to evade the process,” Phelps said.

Past coverage:

July 26: Medical marijuana suspect calls on Willie Nelson
  

Police divvy drugs to catch dealers

Two men looking for drugs found help quickly on East Sprague Avenue in Spokane last April. A drug user eager for his next high took them to a west Spokane parking lot, where he handed them a rock of crack cocaine he’d bought from a dealer in a nearby car.

The men gave their assistant a small portion of the drug and drove back to Sprague, but they didn’t join him in getting high. Instead, the remaining crack cocaine was secured at the Spokane police evidence room and the man suspected of selling it was charged with a felony.

The investigation was detailed in a court hearing Thursday that provided a rare look at the Spokane Police Department’s undercover drug unit, where confidential informants are used daily and some drug users have no idea they’re actually helping police.

Read my full story here.

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