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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: drugs

Woman gets 10 years for shooting

A woman who shot a man three times after he accidentally hit her with a half-pint bottle has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

Leona Sutton, 34, is a methamphetamine addict who federal prosecutors say is very dangerous.

“Defendant's livelihood has been a criminal one. Daily use of methamphetamine and distributing it to feed the habit,” according to a sentencing memorandum prepared by the U.S. Attorney's Office. “The public is not safe when she consumes alcohol or methamphetamine. It also is not safe when she has access to a firearm.”

Sutton shot the man, with whom she frequently used meth, on Oct. 2 with a .22 caliber rifle in Keller, Wash., on the Colville Indian Reservation.

Family told the FBI she had a history of violence and frequently tried to coerce her ex-boyfriend into assaulting people” and “routinely told him that she wanted “to kick someone's ass,” prosecutors wrote.

U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen on Thursday sentenced Sutton to 120 months and 1 day in prison for discharging a firearm during a crime of violence and assault with a dangerous weapon, followed by three years of probation. She also is to pay $5,796.24 restitution. Nielsen recommended she undergo treatment for drug addiction while in prison.

Mike Ormsby, U.S. Attorney in Eastern Washington, praised the sentence in a prepared statement.

“Crimes of violence will not be tolerated in the Eastern District of Washington, particularly those crimes occurring on Tribal lands,” Ormsby said. “The Sutton case is yet another example of the United States Attorney's Office’s commitment to prosecute vigorously violent crimes.”
  

2 arrested in South Hill home robbery

Two men believed to be serial home robbers are responsible for a takeover-style invasion at a residence on the South Hill in late May.

Flint Fire Herrmann, 35, robbed the home at gunpoint with David F. Smith, already in jail for a May 31 robbery at a home on West Spofford Avenue, according to Spokane police.

Herrmann and Smith, 40, are accused targeting two safes with cash, coins and narcotics inside when they knocked on the door of a home in the 4400 block of East 46th Avenue about 12:30 a.m. 

A sleeping resident, Gordon Lagasse, III, awoke and answered the door but was knocked to the ground, then held at gunpoint while the other gunman stole the safes, according to court documents. The robbers also made Lagasse's father get on the floor at gunpoint.

The victims said they believe a family member “either intentionally or unintentionally informed another person” of the lock boxes, according to a search warrant filed last month by Detective Jack Rosenthal.

A cousin who admitted to detectives that she was a prostitute and a heroin addict said she knew of two men who commit robberies with shotguns while wearing black clothes and ski masks, according to the search warrant.

Smith also is believed to have shot Robert Ruth during a robbery on West Princeton Avenue on May 29. Ruth is accused of helping cop shooter Charles Wallace.

Members of the Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team located Herrmann at his home in the 4200 block of West Everett Avenue in Spokane Sunday. His mother allowed police to search the home, and she showed Rosenthal where Herrmann's girlfriend had asked her to store a gun so he wouldn't go back to prison.

Rosenthal found the Glock 17 9 mm gun, which was loaded with hollow-point bullets, in a shed in the backyard, according to court documents.
  

Jury indicts woman in April shooting

A Moses Lake woman has been indicted by a grand jury for illegally possessing a firearm after her friend was shot in what Spokane police believe was a drug-related assault.

Alicia Marie Favro, who turned 42 last week, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of possessing a chrome Walther semi-automatic .380 caliber handgun that was found in her purse when she tried to go through security at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in April.

Favro was at the hospital to see Arthur Frank Cardenas, 33, who was shot in the stomach April 26 by an unidentified gunman near 1800 W. Sixth Ave. Favro drove Cardenas from the scene and flagged over a police officer near 13th Avenue and South Cedar Street.

Favro, who has felony convictions for assault and forgery that prohibit her from possessing firearms, told police several versions of what happened but admitted to putting the firearm in her purse after finding it on the rear floorboard of Cardenas' white Chevy Malibu, according to court documents.

Cardenas' gunshot wound was not life threatening. A medic who treated him was severely burned by a chemical substance while treating Cardenas. Police didn't find toxic substances in Cardenas' car, but they did find large amounts of cash and methamphetamine.

Favro told police she went to Northern Quest Casino with Cardenas after he won $3,000 gambling in Moses Lake, according to court documents. She said two women needed a ride home from Cardenas because they were worried about their kids not making it to school. Favro said Cardenas was driving the woman home when the shooting occurred.

Cardenas was arrested in 2010 as part of a large gang sweep in Grant and Adams counties. Police at the time alleged he was the leader of a large criminal gang. Spokane police continue to investigate the shooting and the possible drug connections.

A detective filed a search warrant late last month for phone records related to the case. A grand jury indicted Favro July 3 in U.S. District Court on one count of felon in possession of a firearm. She remains in custody at Geiger Corrections Center.

Dumpster dive leads to felony arrest

A man arrested for being inside a dumpster outside a drug store was booked into jail on a felony charge after police found methamphetamine in his backpack.

Darrell Leon Brunson, 47, told Deputy David Westlake he believed it was legal to be inside a store dumpster when Westlake found him hiding in the dumpster outside Walgreens, 7905 N. Division St., about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

“When Deputy Westlake asked why he was not making a noise as he approached, Brunson did not have an answer,” according to a news release by Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Walgreens employees requested trespassing charges be pursued against Brunson. Westlake found the meth in a plastic baggie inside Brunson's backpack and says it tested positive for the drug.

Brunson has previous convictions for drugs and trespassing.

Wallace contested Edwards’ ‘02 search

Ten years before Charles Wallace shot two Spokane County sheriff's deputies, he had an encounter with a now former Spokane police officer who's the subject of a criminal probe regarding his search and seizure procedures.

Wallace contested the search of his car and home conducted by Officer Alan Edwards on May 13, 2002. His public defender asked a judge to throw out the evidence on the grounds it was obtained illegally. 

But Superior Court Judge Neal Rielly, now retired, denied the motion to suppress, and Wallace ended up pleading guilty and going to prison for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver cocaine and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver heroin, as well as second-degree escape for escaping from Geiger Corrections Center.

When still fighting the charges, Wallace signed an affidavit supporting his lawyer's efforts to suppress the evidence obtained by Edwards, who was fired last February for lying to an on-duty officer to obtain contact information for a woman he'd met at a bar.

Edwards was suspended for two weeks last fall after being on paid leave for seven months amidst a criminal probe into his use of an unlicensed bounty hunter to catch fugitives. That probe was recently reopened, and Edwards remains a target.

In the affidavit filed Nov. 27, 2002, Wallace stated he was driving his 1988 Toyota MR2 with a valid driver's license, valid registration and valid proof of insurance in the car when he was stopped about 11:30 p.m. “for no apparent reason.”

Wallace said his power window was not working, so he opened the door and started to get out of the car until Edwards ordered him back inside.

Wallace said he held his license, registration and insurance through the open window when Edwards said to Officer Greg Thieschafer “That's him. Take him out,” according to the affidavit.  Thieschafer handcuffed Wallace and placed him in the back of a patrol car while Edwards started searching through the car. Edwards located heroin in the trunk.

Police also found heroin, cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia at Wallace's home in the 1200 block of West Alice Avenue. Wallace's wife at the time, Jessica Wallace, signed an affidavit contesting the legality of that search, too.

Jessica Wallace said she was home with her two-week-old baby and her younger brother when police officers, including Edwards, arrived and told her her husband had been arrested. One of the three officers said they needed to search the home.

Jessica Wallace said she was told police would get a search warrant for the home if she didn't let them in.

“In my mind, I felt I had no choice other then to let them enter and search my home,” according to the affidavit. “I was extremely frightened fearful and did not know what to do. As I result, I let them into the house.” The officers found something, then returned with a search warrant for a locked bedroom, according to the affidavit.

Reilly denied the motion to suppress in December 2002. Charles Wallace pleaded guilty in January 2003.

Past coverage:

July 5: Wallace's wrist, risk factors at hearing

June 25: Wallace had been to drug rehab before

51-time felon accused in car prowlings

A 51-time felon who was told by a judge 10 years ago that “the system's had enough of you” is back in jail for property crimes police suspect are related to his severe heroin addiction.

 Brian Lee Danner, 40, was stopped last week in the area of North Cedar Street and Northwest Boulevard while driving a green 1995 Jeep Cherokee belonging to another longtime felon, Johnie Leo Vick, Jr., 42.

Spokane police Officers Nick Geren and Brian Eckersley, along with Sgt. Joe Peterson, were looking for the Jeep after learning of vehicle prowlings in Spokane involving it and a 1984 Chevy Blazer also registered to Vick.

Vick was arrested the same day as Danner, June 26, when police located him working on the Blazer at Auto Zone, 2526 N. Division St. Danner had heroin on him when he was arrested, police say. Also arrested was Rabecca Hearn, 26, who police say received stolen purses from Danner.

Police believe Danner often smashes car windows to steal purses and other valuables. Danner told police he'd been prowling vehicles to support “a severe substance abuse problem,” according to court documents. Vick also told police he's a heroin addict who prowls cars to support his habit.

Vick, who has a neck tattoo that says “Ladies Love Outlaws,” could not be booked into jail because of medical reasons; police sent charging recommendations to prosecutors and expect him to be summonsed to court once charges are filed.

Danner remains in jail on $10,000 bail for charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of stolen property.

Police searched Vick's vehicles on Monday and seized suspected stolen identifications and credit cards.

Danner's remarkable criminal history, which includes at least 41 adult felonies and 10 juvenile felonies, includes 25 convictions from 2002 for second-degree possession of stolen property. He was sentenced to two years in prison by Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark.

His co-defendant, Shelly M. Ose, received nine years in prison when Judge Greg Sypolt rejected a plea bargain. Their criminal records were similar. (Ose's sentence was reduced on appeal to about four years.)

At the time, Clark said she saw no reason to give Danner, who was returned to prison for the fourth time, an exceptional sentence. She did give him a warning, however: “I'm going to remember you, Mr. Danner. The system's had enough of you,'' she said.

Her warning apparently had little effect on Danner.

He went to prison again in 2006 for property crimes in Stevens County, then returned for his sixth stay in 2010 for - again - property crimes.

Clark isn't likely to see Danner this time around; she's assigned to juvenile court but does sometimes handle adult felonies.

Cops: Gun malfunction stopped murder

A Spokane man who police say would have killed a man had his gun not malfunctioned has been charged with attempted murder.

Carlos Himminez “Atlanta” Hodges, 38, was armed with a handgun when he confronted Kenneth Watkins at Watkins' home in the 1000 block of East 14th Avenue on Dec. 23, charges allege.

Hodges, who allegedly kicked in the front door about 4:38 a.m., demanded Watkins take him to his medical marijuana grow and hit Watkins with the gun when Watkins tried to disarm him, according to court documents.

Hodges stole marijuana, police say, but Watkins said he refused to take him to the basement because he feared Hodges would kill him there.

“Hodges then pointed the gun at Watkins and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not discharge,” according to court documents. “Hodges then ran away.”

Police completed their investigation in April. Hodges was charged this month with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and attempted first-degree robbery. He remains in jail on $150,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court last week.

Heroin bust today nets Wallace’s friend

A heroin bust today at a Spokane home involves associates of cop shooter Charles Robert Wallace.

Julie Ann Lewis-Rice, 38, was arrested during a SWAT team search at a home in the 900 block of East Bismark Avenue this morning.

She was one of eight suspects named in a federal investigation into a heroin distribution ring involving Wallace, who killed himself Tuesday after shooting two sheriff's deputies, but prosecutors moved to dismiss her charges on May 15.

She was booked into jail on heroin delivery charges about 1:30 p.m. today. The raid came after a confidential informant bought heroin from a woman who obtained it from the home June 14.

Spokane police drug detectives seized police scanners, $777 in cash, heroin, loaded syringes and other drug paraphernalia from the home during a search that began at 10:31 a.m.

Sex offender arrested after car chase

A sex offender sought by Crime Stoppers was arrested Thursday after leading troopers on a chase in the West Plains area.

Phillip John Motyka, 45, pulled into a parking lot but just circled through and exited back on state Route 2 after Washington State Patrol Trooper Chad Kindler tried to stop him for driving without a front license plate.

Trooper Tom Shirey joined in the pursuit and followed Motyka to another parking lot and attempted to stop the car with a PIT maneuver after Motyka struck his patrol car, according to WSP.

Motyka exited the car with his hands up, then drove to the ground and was arrested without further incident.

Motyka had methamphetamine, heroin and morphine on him, according to WSP. He was arrested on drug charges, as well as attempt to elude, hit and run, and driving while suspended.

He had warrants out for his arrest, including for failing to register as a sex offender. Motyka was convicted of third-degree rape in 1990. He's a level 1 sex offender, which is the classification considered least likely to reoffend.

Wallace’s co-defendant skips rehab, too

A co-defendant in the heroin trafficking case involving cop shooter Charles Wallace also left a drug rehab center after being released from jail.

Gary Erwin Douglass, 57, had second thoughts after leaving the center on Wednesday, so he contacted his lawyer and turned himself in at the federal courthouse within a few hours, said Bob Doty, supervisory agent with the U.S Marshals.

Douglass is now in the Spokane County Jail without bond. U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno allowed him to leave jail to go to rehab, just as she did with Wallace.

Douglass has a felony conviction for forgery from the late 1990s - hardly the extensive criminal history of Wallace, who shot himself to death Tuesday after shooting two sheriff's deputies.

3 Oregon men admit to Idaho pot grow

   Three Oregon men have pleaded guilty to growing large amounts of marijuana in Boundary County, Idaho.

Robert Wayne Baucum, 56, of Scio (left), Ronald Clifford Underwood (right), 55, and Raymond Earl Hogle, 50 (bottom left), both of Albany, grew marijuana in barns on property owned by Baucum in Naples, Idaho, from 2004 to 2011.

Hogle pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge in April. Baucum and Underwood pleaded guilty this week in Coeur d'Alene.

The men are to be sentenced July 17.

Co-defendants Justin Egner of Springfield, Ore., and Charles Goodenough of Willow, Alaska, are set for trial on July 17.

The case was investigated by the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Linn County Sheriff’s Office (Oregon), and the Alaska State Troopers.

Plea agreements and all other documents that might give details on the investigation have been sealed.

4th suspect arrested in ‘09 home robbery

A fourth suspect has been arrested in a gunpoint home-invasion robbery that occurred nearly three years ago.

Travis J. Kulhavy, 28, is accused of robbing four people at a home in the 500 block of East Garland Avenue on Oct. 8, 2009.

Co-defendant Brian L. Gilliam, 28, was sentenced to five years in prison last week.

He and Maurice D. Lofton, 31, (pictured) who pleaded guilty in May 2010 to felony riot, helped police identify Kulhavy and Nicole A. Thompson, 21, as the final suspects in the robbery during interviews in late December and in January.

Thompson pleaded not guilty to the charges in May and is out of jail awaiting an August trial. Kulhavy had been wanted on a $150,000 warrant since May 3. He was booked into the Spokane County Jail Friday afternoon.

The incident began when a woman believed to be Thompson knocked on the front door and asked to use a telephone. Two men then appeared and one used a handgun to strike a man who exited the home and force him back inside. That man was forced to kneel down on the floor in an “execution-style position” as his wrists and ankles were bound with duct tape, according to court documents.

Three other people in the home also were restrained with duct tape and two were beaten with handguns. The robbers asked about drugs and money as they stole a duffel bag of marijuana, as well as cell phones, DVDs, a PlayStation and jewelry.

Police tracked one of the phones to the area of 200 E. Wedgewood Ave. the night of the robbery, where they arrested Gilliam and Lofton.

Gilliam described one of his accomplices as a woman named NIkki who had a tattoo that said “GD” and included a pitchfork.

Thompson showed detective Jeff Barrington that tattoo during an interview in March. “GD” is short for Gangster Disciple. Thompson told Barrington she was present during the robbery but “I did no harm. I didn't hurt no one. Travis did everything. All I did was get the door open,” according to court documents.

Kulhavy and Thompson are charged with four counts of first-degree robbery, four counts of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of second-degree assault and single counts of first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary.

Lofton was given the plea deal after the victim failed to identify him in a police lineup. He told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno at his sentencing that  “I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I was messing around with the wrong friends.” Read more here.

Killer in hotel trashing left prison in ‘11

A convicted killer accused of trashing a Spokane Valley motel while celebrating he and his wife's anniversary was released from prison just 15 months ago.

Danial Caleb Peters, 38, murdered Melissa Mae Wageman, 40, on  Dec. 22, 1995, after smoking crack cocaine. He told police he didn't member beating the woman to death with 4-foot pipe but awoke to find her bloody body nearby.

The circumstances are similar to what Peters' public defender, Mike Elston, said apparently happened Tuesday night at the Pheasant Hill Inn, 12415 E. Mission Ave., in Spokane Valley.

Peters “claims a drug-educed paranoid episode” led to him destroying the room he and his wife, Danielle Lea Wozniak, 27, returned to celebrate their one-year anniversary, Elston said Thursday at Peters' appearance in Spokane County Superior Court.

Wozniak told police Peters destroyed the room after they used methamphetamine.

“I want everybody to know that I'm very sorry for the drug use that I did,” Wozniak said in court Thursday.

Peters told police “that he felt people were after him” and broke a water sprinkler in an attempt to get help, according to court documents.

He said Wozniak destroyed other items like a mirrors, lamps, air conditioner and phone, but Wozniak said it was Peters. Police responded about 6 a.m. and say the duo caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the hotel, which had recently been renovated.

Water damage from the sprinklers means only 28 of the hotel’s 104 rooms usable. Peters and Wozniak were booked into jail on a felony charge of first-degree malicious mischief. They married in March, Wozniak said.

Wozniak's criminal history includes a single misdemeanor conviction two years ago. Judge Annette Plese ordered her to stay in jail unless she posts $2,500 bond.

Plese set Peters' bond at $5,000 and told him she had “really serious concerns about your criminal history.”

Peters said he has a “very good job” at a construction company that was set up through a church.
The couple was staying with Peters' mother, according to court testimony, but she told court officials they are no longer allowed there.

Peters was sentenced to 17 years in prison in February 1996, but his conviction and scores of others were overturned in 2004 because the Washington Supreme Court ruled the second-degree murder law was defective. He was re-sentenced in 2005.

Wageman met up with Peters while celebrating her 40th birthday at the Happy Time Tavern, 3506 N. Division St. She was killed at a nearby home where Peters had been staying with his his older gay lover after smoking marijuana and crack cocaine. Peters then used his lover's truck to take Wageman’s body to a friend’s house in Stevens County. Upon arrival, the friend handed Peters a phone so he could turn himself in.

Peters didn't deny killing Wageman but said he didn't remember doing so. Wageman was a single mother who was raising a son who, at the time, was an honor student and musician at Shadle Park High School.

Peters finished his sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla in January 2011 and still is completing his two-year probation term, according to the Washington Department of Corrections.
  

Fugitive’s wig, dyed hair don’t deter cops

A fugitive wanted on heroin charges was arrested this week after a U.S. Marshal spotted him at a home in Spokane disguised in a blond wig.

Frisco San Juan Ayala, 32, was wearing the wig when federal agents observed him placing backpacks inside two vehicles between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. Monday, according to court documents filed today.

About 9:45 a.m., Ayala got into a gray Dodge truck but crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of East Empire Avenue and North Napa Street, then fled on foot, leaving behind a black pistol, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

He was arrested near Napa and East Gordon Avenue with more than 10 grams of methamphetamine, as well as heroin and “numerous suspected precious gems,” documents say.

Ayala was not wearing the wig at the time, but his hair was dyed and investigators found the wig in the cab of the truck, said Deputy U.S. Marshal Bob Doty.

Ayala is described by federal agents as a “mid- to upper-level drug trafficker in the Spokane area,” according to court documents.

Agents searched the home in the 2100 block of E. Heroy Ave., where Ayala had been spotted that morning, and seized a meth pipe, ammunition and hair dye from the home. The homeowner has a felony crack cocaine distribution conviction from the late 1990s.

Ayala had been wanted since April 18 for a federal case involving the alleged distribution of at least 100 grams of heroin.

Gary Erwin Douglass, 57; Charles R. Wallace, 41; Samuel William Wright, 36; Brian L. Sellers, 35; and James Clayton Lindsay, 57, also are charged.

Charges against Julie A. Rice-Lewis, 38, and Chad Jason Benefield have been dismissed.

Duo arrested for mall-related crimes

A woman and man arrested at the Spokane Valley Mall with stolen credit cards led to an investigation into a series of property crimes.

Tabitha Dawn Creel, 30, and John Andrew Howard, 29, are accused of buying gift cards with stolen credit cards, then trying to return the gift cards for cash.

Howard and Creel was arrested at the mall May 30 after allegedly trying to use a stolen credit card. Creel told deputies she's a heroin addict, and police found heroin in her purse as well as a digital scale.

She said she often pawned stolen items for Howard that included guitars, laptops and an air compressor.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office burglary task force completed an investigation into the duo Tuesday that calls for them to be charged with 26 felonies, including vehicle prowling, possession of stolen property, money laundering, trafficking in stolen property, possession of a deadly weapon, possession of heroin, identity theft and forgery.
  

Man accused of robbing local pharmacy

A 30-year-old man has been arrested for robbing a north Spokane pharmacy of Oxycodone.

Paul Raymond Hunt, Jr., was arrested Monday for the June 5 robbery at Rite Aid, 12420 N. Highway 395.

Pharmacy employees identified him as the man who showed up at the store in a black baseball cap and sunglasses and slid one of them a note demanding Oxycodone. A pharmacist handed him a bottle of the drug, but he told him he knew there was more and waited for another bottle, according to court documents.

The pharmacist said he asked the man “are you sure you want to do this? There are cameras everywhere,” and the man replied “Just do it or something really bad will happen,” according to court documents.

Sheriff's deputies obtained surveillance video of the robbery. It's unclear how they identified Hunt as a suspect. He already was in jail on a residential burglary, drug and theft of a firearm charges after an arrest on Saturday. He appeared in Superior Court Tuesday on a charge of second-degree robbery.

Judge won’t reverse medical pot rulng

A judge has refused to reverse a decision about a marijuana search that local law enforcement says could hinder their ability to investigate pot cases.

U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen said Monday that his decision to prohibit prosecutors from using marijuana plants and other evidence seized during a sheriff's search of a northeast Spokane County home last November stands.

Spokane lawyer Richard Wall, who represents one of five men indicted by a federal grand jury on marijuana charges, had written a motion asking Nielsen to suppress the evidence because police did not consider the Washington Legislature's overhaul of medical marijuana laws when they obtained a search warrant for the home.

“In this case they simply just did what they'd always done,” Wall said.

The Legislature had rewritten the law to state that using, growing or distributing marijuana in compliance with medical marijuana laws was not crime. Before July, it had been an affirmative defense - law enforcement could arrest users and make them prove their case in court.

The request from the U.S. Attorney's Office to reconsider the decision reiterated their previous argument that legislators did not intend to change the law when they rewrote it.

“The Court concurs with the Government that “it is axiomatic that plain language is to be given plain meaning and enforced accordingly,”” Nielsen wrote.  “Reading “use” to exclude possession, delivery, or manufacture would be in contravention to the entirety of the statute. It is impossible to imagine a scenario where a person could use without possessing. 

Further, the statute clearly indicates exactly how much a person can manufacture under the statute, so clearly the drafters anticipated that manufacture, under specific circumstances described by the statute, also is not a crime. Additionally, the statute permits a person to manufacture the medical marijuana for another, thus the statute addresses delivery of medical marijuana.”

A drug detective said the case could prohibit them from investigating suspected marijuana grows because it's difficult to establish whether someone's obeying medical marijuana laws.

Past coverage:

Feb. 14: Grand jury indicts men in marijuana grow

Nov. 21: 'Judge Judy' to feature Spokane pot defendant

Chronic DUI suspect Crabtree sentenced

A chronic drunken driving suspect who badly injured a sheriff's deputy in a crash about 10 years ago has been sentenced to two years in prison on drug charges.

James Lee Crabtree, 51, is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison after being sentenced to 24 months for possession of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance.

He was sentenced last month to a year in jail and two years probation for a felony DUI charge.

Crabtree was a Spokane County sheriff's deputy in the 1980s. He went to prison for vehicular assault in 2003 and was arrested in November 2011 on suspicion of drunken driving after motorists noticed him passing out at the wheel of his car.

Police found an open can of Four Loko in the car, but his blood-alcohol level was under the legal limit for driving, and he was never charged. His current convictons stems from drunken driving and meth arrests in April and July.

In January, Crabtree was assaulted in a home-invasion robbery in which two assailants demanded “dope and money,” according to court documents.

Ruling puts marijuana searches in limbo

A recent court ruling that deemed a drug raid illegal has raised questions about how law enforcement in Spokane County investigate marijuana growers.

Sheriff’s detectives had reason to believe marijuana was being grown at a northeast Spokane County home when they raided it Nov. 2, but they didn’t have reason to believe the growers were violating the state’s medical marijuana law – or at least they didn’t say they did when they got authorization from a local judge to search the home.

A federal judge ruled the search violated Washington’s recently expanded law governing medicinal marijuana and last week prohibited prosecutors from using marijuana plants and other items seized at the large grow house.

Now a federal grand jury indictment against five young men, two of whom have previous drug convictions, is in limbo, and drug detectives in Spokane are wondering how they’ll continue investigating marijuana growers.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 14: Grand jury indictments men in marijuana grow

Nov. 21: 'Judge Judy' to feature Spokane pot defendant

Thief hits Homeland Security officer’s car

A Spokane woman is accused of stealing a federal Homeland Security officer's passport and and using it to pawn two stolen rifles.

 Investigators identified Amanda Wayne Macklin, 23, as a suspect after finding her number in Double Eagle Pawn's phone records. They say she called the pawn shop on Nov. 21 asking if a passport could be used to sell items there, then went to the East Sprague Avenue store and sold the stolen guns for $475 using a passport belonging to Shannon L. Hart.

Hart was at Oz Fitness at 603 E. Holland in Spokane on Nov. 20 when someone prowled her vehicle and stole her Homeland Security identification card, her passport and a Sig Sauer .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, according to court documents.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms obtained surveillance video of a woman pawning the rifles, which were stolen in a burglary Nov. 21 at a home in the 12000 block of North Denver Street. Macklin's family members identified her as that woman, according to court documents. Macklin told them she dumped Hart's passport and pistol into a dumpster, investigators say.

Federal agents also obtained a recording of Macklin telling her mother in a phone call from the Spokane County Jail that she pawned the guns and burglarized other homes to support her and her sister's drug habit. Macklin and her sister, Jordan Newkirk, already are charged with several felonies for an alleged burglary ring.

In the Dec. 26 break-in, the thieves used a spring-loaded punch to break holes through a lower window at a home in the 100 block of West Falcon Avenue and stole thousands of dollars in jewelry, including a ring that contained the ashes of the homeowner's mother.

Police in Kent, Wash, had noted the unusual burglary tool in Macklin's Kia Spectra when they arrested her there four days before the burglary.

Spokane County sheriff's Detective Mark Newton noted in his report that he and his partner have been detectives for 45 years total and have never found anyone in possesses of such a device, which he said would shatter normal glass but didn't at the Falcon Avenue home because the glass was tempered.

“If one were to use such a punch on a normal piece of glass, the punch would shatter the glass leaving no indication a punch was used,” Newton wrote in court documents.

Macklin was charged in that case in March. Prosecutors filed six new gun and property crime charges May 25 for theft of Hart's passport. Then a federal grand jury indicted her last week on a charge of unlawful possession and barter and disposal of a stolen firearm and misuse o a passport for allegedly dumping Hart's gun and passport.

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