ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Franklin County Superior Court

Ex-Spokane man faces life for murder

A 27-year-old Pasco murder suspect facing life in prison under the three-strikes law got his first strike in Spokane County.

Joseph William Hart pleaded not guilty Tuesday n Franklin County Superior Court for second-degree murder.

Hart is accused of killing Rodger A. Lincoln, 53, outside their east Pasco mobile home last Tuesday.

Hart was 20 years old when he was convicted in Spokane County of first-degree robbery and sentenced to 46.5 month in prison. Hart stabbed a man after the man picked Hart up in a car near Coeur d'Alene Park in Browne's Addition in May 2004.

Hart got his second strike in prison for beating up a cellmate, according to the Tri-City Herald.

Though Hart's defense attorney, Scott Johnson, told Judge Craig Matheson that he's not requesting an evaluation of his client's competency, Johnson did note that “there are clearly mental health issues in this case,” according to the Associated Press.

Hart and Lincoln shared a home in the Sundance Mobile Home Park, 925 N. Elm Ave. space 72. The mobile home is one of several owned by Lourdes Health Network and is used as supported housing for people with mental illnesses.

Lincoln died of multiple stab wounds to his head and torso, autopsy results showed.

Hart is being held in the Franklin County jail on $750,000 bail.

Cell phone call leads to juror’s dismissal

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — One of the jurors has been dismissed at the aggravated murder trial in Spokane of a man accused of killing five people at a Pasco auto body shop 23 years ago.

The Tri-City Herald reports the juror was excused Tuesday because he was making a cell phone call in a hallway and may have seen the defendant in the custody of guards. The court has taken care not to show Vicente Ruiz in custody to avoid the implication of guilt.

Two alternates remain on the jury.

The trial of the 46-year-old was moved to Spokane from Franklin County after two mistrials.

Prosecutors are wrapping up their case and the defense may start calling witnesses on Friday.

Read a longer story from the Tri-City Herald by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

Dec. 7: Spokane medical examiner is ‘87 Pasco murder witness

Medical examiner is ‘87 murder witness

A Pasco murder trial moved to Spokane because of extensive publicity featured testimony Monday from Spokane County Medical Examiner John Howard.

Howard performed autopsies on the five men killed in the 1987 Pasco body shop slayings and described their gunshot wounds to jurors.

Three of the men, who were all reportedly lined up inside a garage before being gunned down, were hit two times, Howard said. Another had four gunshot wounds and the fifth was struck seven times, with four bullets hitting the same area in his back, Howard said.

Some of the injuries were consistent with “being confronted and ducking or turning around,” Howard confirmed for prosecutors.

 Howard was a Washington State Forensic Pathology Fellow based at the University of Washington 23 years ago when the Franklin County coroner asked him to examine the five victims.

Howard was testifying in the trial of Vicente Ruiz, the second man accused in the killings in Medina’s Body Shop on Oct. 13, 1987.

Ruiz, 46, is charged in Franklin County Superior Court with five counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

The case was moved to Spokane because of extensive media coverage during the first two trials, which both ended in mistrials.

This trial started Nov. 9 with jury selection, and has gone through 12 days of witness testimony. Prosecutors expect to wrap up their case later this week, with defense lawyers planning to call their first witness Friday.

The trial has included a refusal to testify by a convicted killer whose life was spared when he agreed to testify against Ruiz, his cousin. The Tri-City Herald reports Pedro Mendez-Reyna asserted his right not to incriminate himself 29 times before the jury last Thursday and was found in contempt of court for refusing to testify.

Read in-depth coverage from the Tri-City Herald by clicking the link below.

Spokane jury hearing Pasco murder case

(AP) — Testimony continued today in the aggravated murder trial of a man accused of killing five people at a Pasco auto body shop 23 years ago.

The trial of 46-year-old Vicente Ruiz was moved to Spokane County from Franklin County after two mistrials. Court officials are from Franklin County, but the jury is comprised of Spokane County residents. Testimony began Wednesday.

The Tri-City Herald reports that prosecutors told the jury Ruiz was identified by the lone survivor of the 1987 shooting. Defense lawyers say it’s a case of mistaken identity. One man already convicted in the case is serving a life sentence.

This is the third trial for Ruiz. His first trial in 2008 was called off when more DNA testing was requested on evidence. The judge halted the second trial in June because the defense had not received some police reports.

Read an in-depth story from the Tri-City Herald on the trial’s opening day by clicking the link below

Pasco murder trial starts in Spokane

(AP) — Jury selection is under way this week in Spokane for the third aggravated murder trial of a man accused of shooting five men in 1987 at a Pasco auto body shop.

The trial of Vicente Ruiz was moved from Pasco to Spokane because of news coverage of his first two trials.

The first trial in 2008 was called off when more DNA testing was requested on evidence. The judge halted the second trial in June because the defense had not received some police reports.

The Tri-City Herald reports a sixth shooting victim who survived identified Ruiz as one of two gunmen, but his lawyer says it’s a case of mistaken identity.

One man already convicted in the case is serving a life sentence. Franklin County Superior Court Judge Cameron Mitchell is presiding over the trial, which is being held in room 400. A jury of Spokane County residents will be selected.

Read a story from the Tri-City Herald by clicking the link below.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Sirens & Gavels.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here