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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: harassment

$17 records dispute reaches state Appellate Court

A disagreement between Spokane County prosecutors and a man facing a felony harassment charge over a 911 call recording costing $17 was decided by a three-member panel of the Washington state Court of Appeals this week.

“Neither party, out of principle, will budge one cent,” wrote Judge George B. Fearing in a decision handed down Thursday. The court ordered Daniel Lee Brown must pay the fee to get a copy of the phone call that sent him to jail on suspicions he'd threatened to kill his girlfriend's new beau in January 2012.

Brown had argued his requirement to pay for the record violated his state constitutional rights as a criminal defendant. Prosecutors countered Brown filed his appeal of a trial court order “to make a point” and asked rhetorically, “is the defendant entitled to get anything he wants for free?”

Brown is fighting accusations he sent text messages to an ex-girlfriend who was staying with another man at his apartment. The man called police, a recording which has prompted the latest legal challenge. Brown was arrested outside the apartment complex and found with two firearms, including a loaded handgun in Brown's pants pocket. Brown admitted to police he'd sent threatening text messages, according to court documents.

Fearing and two colleagues sided with prosecutors and threw out Brown's request to dismiss the case or suppress the recordings at trial. Brown's trial was put on hold in June 2013 to give the appellate court time to reach a decision. He is not in custody, according to jail records.

Man who robbed woman at nail salon, threatened to shoot grandma sentenced

Kyle Henriksen, 23, will spend the next seven years in prison after pleading guilty earlier this month to first-degree robbery of a woman at gunpoint in a Spokane Valley nail salon last December.

Henriksen pleaded guilty to the robbery in September, but his original sentencing date was pushed back because of an October incident when the 23-year-old allegedly threatened to kill his grandmother. That incident does not appear to have affected Henriksen's plea deal. According to court records, Henriksen received an 87-month sentence, the lowest end of a sentencing range dictated by his criminal history.

Henriksen is currently being held at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, Wash., according to prison records.

The salon robbery took place Dec. 28, 2012, when Henriksen - clad in a black sweatshirt and wearing sunglasses - walked up to a woman he knew and demanded her purse, which contained $150 in cash. The woman tried to hit the gun out of Henriksen's hand, then he fled on foot before an arrest a few days later when a search during a traffic stop turned up drugs. Henriksen also pleaded guilty to assault charges stemming from a 2009 incident in which he pistol-whipped a man trying to return a stolen purse to Henriksen's girlfriend, according to court records.

Nicholas Richardson, 24, told police he'd driven the getaway car for Henriksen after the salon robbery. He pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery in March and served three months in prison, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Henriksen told police who responded to the alleged death threat made in October that his grandmother had misunderstood what he said. The grandma told police she tried to keep Henriksen from pawning her big-screen television, prompting the spat.

Attack suspect to undergo mental exam

A man accused of a bizarre attack in downtown Spokane earlier this month is to undergo a mental health examination.

 Justin T. Betts, 29, is due back in Spokane County Superior Court next month to determine if he's competent to stand trial. An arraignment scheduled for last Thursday was cancelled.

Police say Betts, who had just been released from jail, was high on methamphetamine when the owner of Thompson's Food Mart at 1208 W. 3rd St., saw him get into a customer's car April 7 about 9:30 a.m.

Betts threatened the owner with a gun when confronted, police say, and also threatened several other people in the area. Betts also walked into the nearby Honda dealership and threatened employees, police say.

He told police his name was “Jimmy Jake Franks,” but officers eventually identified him as Betts, whose criminal convictions include third-degree child molestation in 2004.

Betts remains in jail on charges of first-degree robbery, two counts of felony harassment and possession of controlled substance.

Fire fueled by Molotov cocktail, meth offer

A truck fire outside an East Sprague Avenue motel was spurred by a lover's triangle and fueled by not just a Molotov cocktail but the promise of methamphetamine in return.

Donald S. Georgette was staying at the Maple Tree Motel, 4824 E. Sprague Ave., with a woman who was trying to end her relationship with Odean B. Chappel, 44, when Georgette received threatening text messages from Chappel around Feb. 5, according to court records filed last week.

Georgette's 1975 Ford truck was set on fire Feb. 6 between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

A woman who was staying in a shed at 1828 E. Riverside Ave., told fire investigators two men prepared a Molotov cocktail there using a beer bottle, rag and gasoline while they discussed doing a job for Chappel, documents say.

One of those men told investigatorshe later saw Chappel give the other man, Jesse James Icard, 43, methamphetamine as a payment for burning the truck.

Chappel has been arrested and is due in court today on arson, harassment and manufacture of an incendiary device charges.

Icard still is at large.

Guns seized from mental health patient

A Cheney man with suspected mental health issues remains in protective custody after police found an arsenal of weapons at his home Wednesday  following weeks of threats against public officials.

Douglas J. Dibiasi, 53, was already in protective custody when law enforcement searched his home at 9018 S. Medifor Road about 9:30 a.m.

Spokane County sheriff's officials seized 26 pistols, rifles and shotguns as well as 4,000 to 5,000 rounds of ammunition throughout the home, according to a search warrant.

The search came after officials with the State Bar Association said Dibiasi had filed a grievance against an attorney that had been dismissed, and he continued to leave voicemails threatening to kill federal officials. He threatened to blow up the post office in Cheney and has repeatedly alleged that the sheriff's office is out to get him.

A store owner in Cheney told detectives that he had to tell Dibiasi to stop entering the business with his pistol after an incident with an employee last fall.

Dibiasi was taken into protective custody March 7, and a doctor on March 12 forbid him from possessing weapons.

Army officer charged with harassment

By MANUEL VALDES and  SHANNON DININNY,Associated Press
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A 20-year Army officer in Washington state threatened to blow up the state Capitol and kill his superior officer, his estranged wife and his girlfriend, authorities said Tuesday, adding scrutiny to the troubled base of a soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a shooting spree.

Lt. Col. Robert E. Underwood, who was arrested Monday night and pleaded not guilty to felony harassment charges, told his girlfriend he'd paid a hit man $150,000 to kill both his wife and superior officer, according to court documents.

Underwood threatened to kill the girlfriend after she confronted him about a naked photograph of his daughter on his laptop computer, the documents said. And he reportedly threatened to blow up the state capitol in Olympia, Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist said, although no charges have been filed on those accusations.

“We charged him with three counts of felony harassment. That's what the evidence supports, that's what we can prove,” he said. “But it's an ongoing investigation.”

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a sprawling base south of Seattle, is already under scrutiny this week because a soldier based there has been held in Afghanistan following the massacre that left 16 Afghan civilians dead in two villages.

The name of the 38-year-old soldier in custody at a base in Kandahar has not been released pending charges. The soldier was deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 3 with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, according to a congressional source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Underwood, 46, is assigned to the 191st infantry brigade, a training support brigade, Lewis-McChord spokesman Joe Piek said.

He was being held in the Pierce County jail on $250,000 bail after entering a not guilty plea during his Superior Court arraignment on Tuesday.

Underwood had just arrived at Lewis-McChord in January, after serving a year in Afghanistan from his then-base in Naples, Italy. He also served a stint in Iraq, from March 2004 to February 2005, and spent four months in Bosnia in 1998.

Lindquist said the military has concluded that Underwood does not suffer PTSD, though there may be other mental health issues to be considered.

According to court documents, Underwood witnessed his mother kill his two siblings when he was a young child, and she shot Underwood multiple times and left him for dead.

It's not clear whether Underwood actually went through the plan to hire a hit man, Lindquist said.

Underwood and his wife have been going through a divorce, and recent court hearings regarding money and custody of their children had not gone in his favor.

“The victims obviously had a concern that he meant it, but we don't know what steps, if any, were actually taken,” Lindquist said.

Underwood was commissioned into the Army as a lieutenant in 1992, and was the ROTC instructor at Eastern Washington University from February 2005 to December 2007.

He faces up to five years in prison, but standard sentencing range would be between four and twelve months, Lindquist said.

___

Dininny reported from Yakima, Wash. Gene Johnson contributed from Seattle.

2 arrested for meth after police chase

A Spokane man suspected of domestic violence was arrested on drug charges after a police chase late Sunday.

Shane Patrick Wilson, 34, drove away from the 500 block of East Everett Avenue in a white Acura after officers were called to the area by a man who identified Wilson as his estranged wife's boyfriend, according to the Spokane Police Department. The man told officers Wilson was harassing him and damaging his property.

Officers Ben Yinger and Aaron Ames stopped Wilson in the Acura, but he sped way.

Police say Wilson jumped out of the car in the 500 block of East Nebraska and ran into a home, where officers arrested him for attempting to elude police and possession of methamphetamine. He was booked into jail about 2:21 a.m.

Christopher John Steinbaugh, 31, also was contacted at the home and arrested for possession of meth.

Wilson already faces two felony drug charges for an arrest in January. He was scheduled to be in court Tuesday for those charges; now he'll be in court today on the new charges, too.

Wilson has previous convictions for possession of meth and second-degree robbery.

Woman stalked by aggressive turkey

Godzilla, a wild turkey, walks around the front yard of the home belonging to Edna Geisler, 69 of Commerce Township, Mich. (AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Eric Seals)

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — An Oakland County woman says she's become a prisoner on her own property, stalked and harassed by a 25-pound turkey.

Edna Geisler calls the foul bird “Godzilla.” The 69-year-old told the Detroit Free Press that the turkey wanders near her Commerce Township property each day from nearby woods. She recently couldn't get to her front door after a trip to the grocery store.

“I have to go to the post office at 6 o'clock in the morning to avoid him,” said Geisler, who has been bumped and clawed.

She has tried changing her schedule but this turkey is no dummy. A friend, Rick Reid, said the turkey went after him, too, when he opened the door on his minivan.

“He tried to come right in the door,” Reid said. “He bit me on the elbow.”

Indeed, a video posted online by the Free Press shows Godzilla roaming the grounds like they're his own. State wildlife expert Tim Payne said adult turkeys are known to aggressively defend their territory, although most fear people.

“This bird has probably attacked, and the person retreats,” said Payne of the Department of Natural Resources. “What it tells the bird is, 'What I'm doing is good.' It reinforces the aggressive behavior.”

Payne suggested Geisler open a large umbrella to drive the turkey back to the woods.

“Make some runs at the bird and become the aggressor,” he said. “The bird needs to learn who's the boss.”

Geisler wants the turkey gone by summer so she can work in her garden. The hunting season opens in April.

“Every time I eat turkey I smile,” she said. “I'd like to do that to him.”

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.

Middle-finger salute leads to gunfire

A father and son were arrested Wednesday after a neighborhood dispute that began with a middle finger led to a pistol being fired into the ground.

Stephan R. Day, 53 is accused of firing the pistol while his son, Stephan D. Day, 18, is accused of trying to hide his father's guns before police arrived. Police say the incident began about 9:15 p.m. when the elder Day “extended his middle finger” at a neighbor and his friends, according to a news release by Spokane Valley police Sgt. Dave Reagan.

The neighbor said Day has a history of harassment. He and his friends were leaving when Day again flipped them off, so they “decided to return and respond in kind,” Reagan said. Day retrieved a .44-caliber pistol from his home and fired it into the ground at the men's feet, who retreated and called 911. No one was injured.

Police arrived to find the victims hiding behind a car and saw a man later identified as Day, Jr., drop a gun over the fence at the home. Police ordered him to drop the weapon and located three rifles on the ground, as well as two guns along the fence line. Day, Jr., was arrested for possession of a pistol by a minor and evidence tampering.

His father, who has felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing firearms, was arrested for five counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and single counts of harassment – threats to kill and reckless endangerment.

Police seized the pistol as well as a .330-magnum rifle, a 7mm rifle, a .45-caliber muzzle-loader rifle and a final rifle of unknown caliber. The Days are due in Superior Court today.

Felon arrested for kidnapping, threats

A Spokane man released from prison in March is accused of kidnapping his girlfriend and threatening to kill her.

Duane L. Comeslast, 32, is charged with felony kidnapping, harassment and car theft after his girlfriend told police he forced her into her Jeep Cherokee at 2130 E. North Crescent Ave. and drove toward Upriver Drive, where he told her “he was going to kill her and throw her body in the river where no one would find it,” according to court documents.

The woman told police she acted complaint and asked Comeslast to talk her to East Longfellow Avenue and North Florida Street to use the bathroom, knowing she had friends near the park.

She got out of the Jeep and Comeslast recognized her uncle's car and tried to drag her back to the Jeep, but she was able to break free, according to court documents.

Police arrived at her uncle's home at 4111 E. Longfellow and discovered the alleged victim with bruises and swollen lip. Comeslast was arrested and held in Benton County on a parole violation until he was transferred to the Spokane County Jail to face charges.

He appeared in Superiro Court Tuesday and remains in jail on $75,000 bond. Comeslast has previous convictions for domestic violence assault.

Comeslast and his family were featured in this 1995 article about his younger brother's arrest on murder charges.

Extreme neighbor dispute ends in arrest

A 47-year-old Cheney man is accused of burglary after his 25-year-old female neighbor said he’d repeatedly threatened to “chop her head off” before bursting into her apartment and trying to pull her shirt off.

The extreme case of a bad neighbor occurred Sunday in a motel on B Street in Cheney, where the alleged victim said a man in a nearby rental unit was harassing her via telephone and had also contacted her in person, according to court documents.

Police arrived to find the woman being consoled by two friends in the room. The woman said she believed the man, identified as Paul A. Columbus, was capable of carrying out the threats. She said he'd burst into her room after she called 911 but she was able to push him outside and lock the door.

The woman said she was never in a relationship with Columbus and that he has never been allowed inside her room. Her two friends told police they witnessed Columbus threatened to cut the woman's head off and kill her dog.

Columbus remains jailed on $7,500 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court on a first-degree burglary charge.

Renegade squirrel stalks Vermont area

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont neighborhood is being stalked by a renegade gray squirrel.

Several people in Bennington say they've been attacked by a squirrel over the last few weeks.

Kevin McDonald tells the Bennington Banner he was shoveling snow when the squirrel jumped onto him. He says he threw the animal off, but it twice jumped back onto him. A game warden says there have been other reports, too.

One woman is being treated for exposure to rabies, but Vermont Public Health Veterinarian Robert Johnson says there's never been a case of a squirrel passing rabies to a human.

Johnson says it's possible the squirrel was raised as a pet and lost its fear of humans. He says the squirrel might “go ballistic” when it encounters people it doesn't recognize.

Murderer, rapist jailed for 6 months

A convicted killer and rapist deemed so dangerous that prosecutors said they wished his 19-year prison term had been longer is back in jail after serving just half of his original sentence. 

Joseph Earl Singleton, 47, is to serve six months in jail for failing to check in with his probation officer or attend drug treatment. He could serve longer if he’s convicted of a felony harassment charge for allegedly threatening to kill his wife.

His public defender, Scott Mason, said Singleton is “pleasant in court,” trying hard and was able to find a job before his arrest.

“I know it’s tough getting a job with that kind of history,” Mason said.

But the attorney who prosecuted Singleton in 2000 said the case exemplifies what a 10-year-old change in Washington’s sex offender sentencing laws aimed to address.

Read my full story here.

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

Burton: ‘I know I didn’t murder this man’

Six days after tanking a plea deal by professing his innocence, a Spokane man who drove the suspected gunman from a murder in January pleaded guilty to four felonies but maintained he played no role in the gang-related slaying.

“In my heart, I know I didn’t murder this man or help murder this man,” said Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton.

Burton, 23, said he knew the victim, John S. Williams, “personally.”

“He was a nice guy to me, too. He was real cool,” Burton said. “…I do feel sorry for him.”

He lamented the lifestyle that leads to shooting deaths like Williams’.

“I’m from Cali. I see it constantly, everyday,” Burton said.

He said he felt Williams’ family’s pain because people close to him have been murdered, too. He mentioned his cousin, Aaron Bascomb, who was shot to death in Los Angeles in April.

“I know the severity of what you have to deal with this,” Burton said to the members of Williams’ family who sat in the courtroom. “I’ve lost so many people I grew up with…We go through it constantly down there.” 

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese approved Burton’s plea deal, which sentenced him to 60 months in prison. He’ll serve the sentence the same time as a 63-month sentence for a second-degree assault conviction handed down by a jury last month.

He pleaded guilty today to harassment, bail jumping, and two counts of rendering criminal assistance. The deal reduced robbery and assault charges to rendering (Burton drove a man who robbed and assaulted a woman from the scene) and dropped an additional count of bail jumping. The harassment charge stemmed from text messages Burton sent to the mother of his 14-month-old daughter.

Burton said his child is his impetus for resolving his criminal charges quickly.

“Being deprived of your freedom, it teaches you a lot,” he said.

Burton has a previous assault conviction for a 2005 gang shooting in which Demetrius Route was convicted of murder and Deric D. Burton was convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.

That conviction coupled with his assault conviction from last month makes two strikes for Cedric - one more and he’ll be sent to prison for the rest of his life. His public defender, Mark Hannibal, said Burton understands that.

“He is a young man,” Hannibal said. “He does have a few goals in his life; one is to continue his education.”

Burton said he trusts in God and said though he’s made a lot of mistakes, “Regardless of what’s on my record, I’ve never intentionally assaulted anyone or robbed anyone.”

“I was becoming a victim to the lifestyle I was getting myself into,” he said. “A second of freedom, a second with my daughter, it’s worth more than a lifetime of bondage.”

Burton acknowledged Williams’ supporters as he was taken from the courtroom back to jail.

“God bless you guys,” he said.

Williams’ mother, Cindy, said she appreciated Burton’s kind words about her son and said she isn’t sure Burton even knew who’d been killed when he drove the alleged shooter, Edward L. “TD” Thomas, from the party at 5405 N. Crestline Jan. 17.

Thomas, who was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for John Williams’ slaying and the attempted slaying of his son. Police say Thomas had a gun pointed at him by a gang member associated with Williams and felt he needed to retaliate.

Past coverage:

June 4: Seven face charges in shooting death

May 21: Lawyer: Fugitive was in Cali for cousin’s funeral

March 9: Homicide case not a ‘simple’ investigation

Plea deal halted after suspect complains

A Spokane gang member set to plead guilty today to several felonies changed his mind at the last minute and is now set for trial.

Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton (right), accused of helping a murder suspect avoid arrest, told Judge Tari Eitzen that he was going to plead guilty because “I don’t want to jeopardize any more time,” but then insisted “I’m not guilty of any of these allegations at all, and I know I can beat 90 percent of these allegations.” 

Eitzen questioned him repeatedly about his intention and asked if he wanted to plead guilty because he was worried about what would happen if he went to trial (the basis for an Alford plea.)

Burton, 23, said he wasn’t worried about a trial.

“I don’t think I can be found guilty,” Burton said. “I know I’m not guilty of any of these crimes.”

Burton was to plead guilty to harassment, bail jumping and two counts of rending criminal assistance, one in connection to the Jan. 17 murder of John S. WIlliams.

The deal would have dropped first-degree robbery and second-degree assault charges, as well as an additional bail jumping charge.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla was to recommend Burton receive 5 years in prison, which he would serve concurrently with a 63-month sentence imposed last month after a jury convicted him of second-degree assault. The charges stemmed from Burton skipping a court hearing, threatening to kill the mother of his child, helping a man who robbed and assaulted a woman escape the home, and for helping murder suspect Edward L. “TD” Thomas after Thomas (left) allegedly shot Williams to death in January.

Burton said Cipolla’s version of the events was wrong and said he missed court because he had a flat tire.

“My speedy trial rights have been violated…just a lot of things,” Burton said. “I don’t feel I have been treated fairly.” Burton said he had a 15-month-old daughter and was “already off the scale with all these strikes, you know what I mean?”

Etizen replied that she didn’t.

“It really truly doesn’t matter to me,” Eitzen said. “We can halt this process and you can go to trial.”

The judge did just that, sending the case to Judge Michael Price to be assigned a trial date.

Burton was taken back to the Spokane County Jail, where he’s been since early May after being arrested in Los Angeles. He said he’d left the state to attend his cousin’s funeral.

Burton is among six men facing charges for the Jan. 17 fatal shooting outside 5405 N. Crestline. His cousin, 33-year-old James C. Henderson, pleaded guilty to riot on Friday and was credited for 102 days served in jail.

Thomas, the alleged triggerman, still is at large. Anyone with tips on his location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

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