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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: homicide

Appellate court upholds murder conviction amid DNA concerns

A trio of appellate court judges have upheld the 2012 murder conviction of Julio J. Davila in the beating death of John G. “Jack” Allen Jr. during an apparent robbery in 2007, despite concerns about the incompetence of a DNA technician handling the case.

Jeramie R. Davis was convicted and spent nearly seven years in prison for his alleged role in the porn shop robbery. But investigators asked for a second look at DNA evidence found at the crime scene, a pornography shop on East Sprague Avenue. Traces of Davila's DNA on the murder weapon, a baseball bat, lead to his arrest, conviction and sentencing in a subsequent trial. Davis was set free shortly after the conviction, as prosecutors could not prove he ever swung the murder weapon.

Davila appealed his conviction, saying prosecutors did not turn over evidence of incompetence on the part of Washington State Patrol crime lab technician Denise Olson. The now-fired lab worker was described as a “loose cannon whose work cannot be trusted,” according to an internal WSP review of her work released through a public records request. During a court hearing evaluating Olson's work and how it might have affected the case, a coworker detailed an incident in which Olson looked for semen stains on clothing when the suspect was a woman.

Attorneys for Davila argued his conviction should be overturned because prosecutors knew about Olson's shoddy work at the time of trial, but didn't reveal her record to the defense team, which could have used it to question the believability of the state's evidence. The U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Brady v. Maryland (1963) requires prosecutors to turn over all evidence that might be used to impeach their witnesses to defense attorneys.

In the opinion delivered by the court, Third Division Appellate Judge Robert Lawrence-Berrey wrote prosecutors erred when they did not turn over the WSP reports, but such evidence likely wouldn't have led to a different trial outcome for Davila. He cited extensive testimony at trial that indicated how the DNA evidence was collected, and that there was no reason to suspect Olson contaminated evidence in this particular case, despite her history of incompetence.

“While evidence of Ms. Olson's incompetence could have been used for impeachment purposes, it was not material to the accuracy of Ms. Olson's work in this case,” Lawrence-Berrey wrote.

Davila is serving what remains of his 16-and-a-half year sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Davis pleaded guilty to a second-degree robbery charge, was given credit for time served and released.

Trial for teens accused of killing WWII vet pushed again

Teenagers Kenan Adams-Kinard and Demetruis Glenn are now scheduled to go before a jury in November for their alleged roles in the August 2013 slaying of 88-year-old World War II veteran Delbert Belton.

Judge Annette Plese delayed the court date in a ruling handed down last month. The teens, now both 17, face murder and robbery charges after their fingerprints were discovered on Belton's car, where he was found severely beaten in the parking lot of an ice rink Aug. 21. Plese signed an order indicating review of investigative materials and negotiations between defense attorneys and prosecutors were ongoing in the case, which made national headlines late last summer.

Adams-Kinard and Glenn have been in custody since their separate arrests a few days after Belton's death. Glenn turned himself in to authorities after surveillance video surfaced of the two teens entering nearby businesses around the time of the alleged beating. Adams-Kinard was apprehended in a basement apartment a few days later, where authorities found a letter they tied to the teen that alleged the beating took place after Belton stiffed Adams-Kinard on a drug deal.

Friends and family of Belton have vehemently denied he dealt drugs.

The order Plese signed calls for the teens to be tried as adults in a juvenile courtroom. It is the third delay in the case. Prior to Plese's order, the jury trial was scheduled to begin today.

 

Where Spokane’s officer-involved homicides occurred in 2013

Five men died after confrontations with Spokane law enforcement in 2013, according to Spokesman-Review records. Investigations into the shooting by a multiagency task force ended in no recommendations for charges against any of the law officers. The five fatal shootings is up from one reported fatality during incidences with local law enforcement in 2012, according to Spokesman-Review reports.


Blue icon: Spokane Police Department was the responding agency.
Green icon: Spokane County Sheriff's Office was the responding agency.

Public safety reporters Kip Hill, Kaitlin Gillespie and others contributed to the creation of this map. Click on a map icon for more information on a specific event, and visit the Google spreadsheet it's based upon to change views of the information to your preferences. As a companion to this database, the Spokesman-Review is also publishing a list of all homicides we covered beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

Where Spokane’s homicides occurred in 2013

According to Spokesman-Review reporting, local law enforcement investigated 23 deaths as homicides in and near Spokane County in 2013. Public safety reporters Kip Hill, Kaitlin Gillespie and others kept track of each of the cases, and we're making our records available to you below.


Blue icon: Case has been resolved, either through legal procedures or the death of a suspect.
Yellow icon: A suspect (or suspect) is (are) in custody, and the case is moving through the legal process.
Red icon: No suspects have been apprehended to date.

Click on the icon to learn more about the case, and visit the Google spreadsheet for specific case details and customize the map to your preferences. As a companion to this piece, the Spokesman-Review is also publishing a list and map of the homicides involving law enforcement officers in 2013.

Body found at home of DB Cooper parachute packer

WOODINVILLE, Wash. (AP) — A homicide victim’s body has been found at a Washington state home owned by the man who packed the parachutes used by infamous airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper.

King County sheriff’s detectives responded to the Seattle suburb of Woodinville on Friday night after a woman called to say she had found her father dead. She reported that she had gone to the house to check on him because she hadn’t heard from him in several days.

The victim’s identity has not been released. But Sgt. Cindi West said Saturday that investigators have ruled the case a homicide.

Property records show the house is owned by 74-year-old Earl Cossey.

When DB Cooper hijacked a passenger jet from Portland, Ore., to Seattle in 1971, demanding $200,000 and four parachutes, it was Cossey who packed the chutes.

After asking to be flown to Mexico, Cooper jumped out somewhere near the Oregon line. Some of the cash has been found, but his fate is unknown, and investigators doubt he survived.

Spokesman-Review archives: In 2008, Cossey was quoted as saying: “They keep bringing me garbage. Every time they find squat, they bring it out and open their trunk and say, ‘Is that it?’ and I say, ‘Nope, go away.’ Then a few years later they come back.”

Reports described Cossey as a man from Woodinville, Wash., who packed the parachutes demanded by fabled airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper, after telling authorities that the chute found recently in southwestern Washington was not used in Cooper’s 1971 crime.

Ammunition found in car previously owned by homicide suspect

Detectives found a .22 caliber ammunition cartridge earlier this week inside a vehicle previously owned by Donna Perry, 60, a woman linked to the 1990 slaying of Spokane prostitutes, according to recently filed court documents.

The search warrant says Perry, previously known as Douglas, sold her 1969 white International Scout about five years ago and after several owners it ended up in the possession of a Woodland, Wash. man who planned to salvage it for parts.

Detectives offered to buy the vehicle, but the current owner declined to sell. Detectives seized the vehicle with a search warrant and towed it 20 miles to the Washington State Patrol crime lab in Vancouver for analysis.

The car had not been altered since it was owned by Perry, according to court documents. Detectives seized the unused ammo, floor mats and remaining debris lifted by tape from the car during the Dec. 17 search.

The cartridge appeared old and was buried under things on the passenger floor board, according to Detective Jim Dresback. The car had not been running for sometime and the current owner had only had it for about a year.

The ammunition was identified as the same type found inside the bodies of Yolanda Sapp, 26, Nickie Lowe, 34 and Kathleen Brisbois, 38. All three prostitutes were shot to death with a .22 caliber-gun. Their nude bodies were found in or near the Spokane River.

Detectives arrested Perry, previously known as Douglas, earlier this year after a retired detective saw her buying ammo and a pistol magazine. The detective recognized her as a felon and is prohibited from possessing firearms.

Women’s panties were discovered boxed up inside a closet at Perry’s 2006 E. Empire Avenue home during a federal search of the home for firearms.

According to court documents, Perry became a woman in 2000 during a gender reassignment surgery while in Bangkok.

Attorney blasts McGill probe

Were detectives just doing their job or did they go too far?

A Spokane attorney has accused detectives of misrepresenting facts surrounding a homicide investigation in order to obtain permission to search the belongings of the victim's daughter.

Recently unsealed court documents show Spokane police detectives seeking search warrants told a judge the daughter, Billie McKinney, 25, was an uncooperative witness who hindered the investigation into the May stabbing death of her mother, Sharlotte McGill.

She has since been cleared of any involvement.

Jeffry Finer, who is representing McKinney, released a statement Wednesday stating he would seek an explanation of the alleged misstatements from authorities, but did not specify what those misstatements were.

Authorities were looking into a possible connection between McKinney and 20-year-old Steven Lewis, who matches the physical description given by McGill just before she died. Lewis was dating the mother of troubled teenager Avondre Graham, 17, who now faces charges for McGill's murder and two separate assaults.

Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said detectives have a duty to look at anyone close to the investigation.

The story surrounding the recently released documents is sparking a lively discussion in the comment section.

Read more here.

Police find man sought for homicide questioning

A suspected drug dealer sought for questioning in the Sept. 13 shooting death of a Yakima man found dead in a downtown Spokane motel parking lot has been captured.

Kevin Heaton, 35, was taken into custody Friday at a small apartment complex in the tiny town of Metaline Falls near the Canadian border, according to the Spokane Police Department. Federal agents and the Metaline Falls town marshal assisted Spokane police in the apprehension.

Heaton was taken into custody without incident on an unrelated felony drug warrant. “They were looking to talk to him about his possible involvement on that Days Inn homicide,” said Spokane police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe.

On Sept. 13, police responded to shots fired at the Days Inn hotel at 120 W. Third Ave. and found Paul A. Haney, 33, of Yakima, in the parking lot, dead from gunshot wounds.

Detectives searched three hotel rooms and found additional weapons and methamphetamine, according to a previously released statement from police.

Heaton’s record includes an April arrest for his alleged role in a burglary ring. Police found large amounts of stolen goods, including motorcycles and guns, and seized about 3  1/2 pounds of meth and marijuana in the case, which included six other arrests.

Ex con sought for questioning in downtown homicide

Kevin Heaton

Police are still searching for 35-year-old Kevin Heaton, the man identifed as a “person of interest” in last week's homicide outside a downtown Spokane motel.

Heaton should be considered “armed and dangerous,” according to Spokane police, and has an extensive criminal history that includes potential links to a drug trafficking ring targeted by authorities earlier this year.

He's wanted for questioning in the death of Paul A. Haney, 33, of Yakima, who was gunned down Thursday in the parking lot of the Days Inn motel at 120 W. Third Ave. Methamphetamine and firearms were recovered from three rooms searched by detectives at the motel, police said.

Read more about the case by clicking here for the initial coverage and here for the follow up.

Dive team discovers probable murder weapon

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office dive team recovered what is believed to be a murder weapon in the Spokane River Tuesday.

Authorities believe the AK-47 rifle was used to kill Marcus Allen Schur, who died of multiple gunshot wounds Dec. 27, 2011 in north Whitman County. His body was discovered March 25 in a shallow creek at the end of Bonnie Lake.

Through their investigation, Whitman County Sheriff’s detectives learned the weapon had been dumped off the T.J. Meenach Bridge sometime after the murder.

Robber gets 41 years for ‘92 murder

A serial bank robber and protected federal witness has been sentenced to 41 years in prison for the 1992 murder of a Spokane Valley furniture store owner.

Patrick Kevin Gibson, 60, was convicted of first-degree murder of the Nov. 7, 1992, shooting death of Brian Cole, 48, at Cole's Furniture Store on East Sprague Avenue in July after a bench trial before Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

Cole was killed during a botched robbery after the gunman said he was willing to hurt Cole's wife, who was in a scooter and witnessed the murder.

The crime went unsolved for 19 years before DNA from a fake beard left at the crime scene prompted detectives to arrest Gibson, who served 12 years in federal prison for a string of bank robberies that began in 1992.

He enrolled in the federal witness protection program after helping authorities convict his former cellmate of murdering a mother and her two children in Iowa in the early 1990s. That man, Dustin Honken, is now on federal death row.

Gibson also was convicted of robbing convenience stores and raping clerks in the late 1970s, about the same time he was shot in the face by a law enforcement official during a chase in Utah.

Gibson testified a partner in his bank robberies must have reused the beard, but Eitzen concluded he was the killer and had also robbed a children's store in Coeur d'Alene hours before the murder.

The trial began in May but was delayed when prosecutors learned “America’s Most Wanted” used the hat worn by the killer when re-enacting the murder in a 1993 episode. The trial resumed after authorities tested DNA samples from host John Walsh, a retired sheriff's detective and the actor who played the killer, Spokane County native Trevor St. John.

Eitzen sentenced Gibson on Friday to 493 months in prison. His lawyers have appealed his conviction.

Past coverage:

July 20: Gibson's bravado as robber didn't help

Suspect had victim’s obituary in his truck

Detectives search murder suspect Daniel Arteaga's home at 19329 E. Valleyway Ave., in Spokane Valley on Tuesday. (SRPhoto/Meghann Cuniff)

Detectives found a newspaper containing murder victim Kim Schmidt's obituary when they searched the truck of her suspected killer recently.

Daniel R. Arteaga, 40, had the obituary in his GMC truck, along with .45 caliber handgun in a fanny back, cartridges and magazines, DVDs and a notebook and earrings.

Detectives seized those items Aug. 7 after Arteaga was arrested for first-degree murder. They also seized nearly 100 items from his home at 19329 E. Valleyway in Spokane Valley.

Among the times found at Arteaga's home were notebooks and at least 29 firearms, including shotguns, rifles and pistols. Arteaga has a concealed weapons permit.

He remains in jail on $1 million bond for first-degree murder. He's accused of killing Schmidt, who was found dead of a gunshot wound to her head at her home in north Spokane on Jan. 1.

Arteaga has been married for about 22 years and told detectives his wife of 22 years didn't know he'd been having an affair with Schmidt for about 6 1/2 years.

Detectives believe Schmidt's desire to end their relationship and the money he owed her may have been a factor in her murder. Schmidt and Arteaga also were named in two lawsuits, and Schmidt had told Arteaga she was romantically involved with another man.

Idaho killer returns to prison for assault

A convicted killer who left prison in 2008 is headed back there after a jury in southwest Idaho convicted him of assaulting a family member with a large knife.

Donald Leonard Houser, 39, was living in Plummer in 1995 when he shot his former girlfriend, Angela LeSarte, to death in front of Bobbie's Bar in Plummer.

LeSarte's father is former longtime Coeur d’Alene Tribal Chairman Bernard LeSarte. She was the mother of four children.

Houser was sentenced to 15 years in prison in February 1996 for second-degree murder and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence. He began his five-year probation period on Oct. 30, 2008, and worked part-time on a ranch in Washington County and at a hardware store in Weiser, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He started working full-time as a self-employed mechanic in November 2010.

Houser was arrested on Aug. 22 for aggravated assault. He was sentenced in April to two to three years in state prison. He was sentenced today to two years in federal prison for violating his probation on the murder conviction. One year of his federal sentence will run concurrent to the state sentence, the other will run consecutive, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

New details revealed in Schmidt homicide

A former scuba diving instructor arrested for murder dated the victim for years and was described by her friends as violent and controlling, according to information released Wednesday.

Daniel R. Arteaga, 40, remains in the Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond after appearing before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese Wednesday on a first-degree murder charge.

Artega must surrender his passport should he post bond. Deputy Prosecutor Gayle Ervin described him as an “international traveler” whose trips which include excursions to the Caribbean and Fiji.

Read the rest of my story here.

Scuba instructor arrested for murder

Detectives search murder suspect Daniel Arteaga's home at 19329 E. Valleyway Ave., in Spokane Valley on Tuesday. (SRPhoto/Meghann Cuniff)

A Spokane diving instructor romantically linked to a woman who was found shot to death on New Year’s Day has been arrested as a suspect in her murder.

  Daniel R. Arteaga, 40, was arrested at the Public Safety Building Tuesday after voluntarily reporting there for an interview. He is expected to appear in Spokane County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon via video from the jail, where he is booked on a first-degree murder charge for the shooting death of Kimberly Schmidt.

Read the rest of my story here.

Shoddy DNA work delays sentencing

A Spokane County judge on Wednesday postponed the sentencing of a man convicted almost exclusively on DNA evidence after defense attorneys learned that tests identifying their client as the killer had been done by a crime lab technician who later was fired.

The technician’s work was so deficient that a co-worker described it as a “nightmare,” and an internal report said it could “not be trusted.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 27: Convicted killer to get new trial

Gun thief gets more time than murderer

A Stevens County judge on Tuesday sentenced a convicted gun thief to 125 years in prison — a term that’s about 100 years longer than the sentences handed down to three others for a murder committed using one of the stolen guns.

Superior Court Judge Pat Monasmith sentenced convicted felon Christopher G. Nichols, 27, to 125 years in prison, despite the fact that he had no role in the 2011 killing of Colville resident Gordon Feist.

Nichols wept, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

March 8, 2012: 2 men get 25+ years in Colville murder

Sept. 26: Two more charged in Stevens County homcide

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Convicted killer will get new trial

A judge on Thursday granted the request for a new trial of a man convicted four years ago of the 2007 beating death of an adult bookstore owner in Spokane following the conviction two weeks ago of another man for the same crime.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Accused killer pleads guilty in gun case

A Spokane man accused of murdering a gang rival 2 1/2 years ago has admitted to unlawfully possessing the murder weapon.

Edward Lee “TD” Thomas, 26, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to felon in possession of a firearm, halting a scheduled trial.

Thomas, who has felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing firearms, faces up to 10 years in prison when he sentenced, which is scheduled for Oct. 11. The charge stems from a Ruger mini 30 rifle found in a Nissan Altima rental car near the body of John S. Williams, 38, who was shot to death on Jan. 17, 2010, outside a party at 5405 N. Crestline St.

The gun had Thomas' fingerprints on it. He was arrested in Los Angeles in September 2010 on a second-degree murder charge and is in Spokane County Jail awaiting trial. Spokane County prosecutors dismissed the murder charge but are expected to refile when the federal gun charge is resolved.

Federal prosecutors had asked a judge to allow jurors in Thomas' gun trial to know about his gang membership and the gun's link to the murder. Thomas' lawyer objected.

Gibson’s bravado as robber didn’t help

In the end, Patrick Kevin Gibson's bravado as a professional bank robbery didn't exactly contribute to his defense in the 1992 murder of a Spokane Valley furniture store owner.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Etizen said he appeared to be bragging about his exploits and gave more detail than necessary when he testified at his murder trial last week. 

Gibson, 60, also didn't sway Etizen with his claims that the robbery at Cole's Furniture store that ended with the shooting death of Brian Cole was sloppy and likely done by someone other than the man who robbed a children's store in Coeur d'Alene three hours earlier.

Gibson suggested during testimony last week that the robbers were perhaps partners but initiated the heists separately - Eitzen rebuked that theory Thursday when she convicted him of Cole's murder and said the killer was the same man who robbed Teresa and Steve Brenner's store in Coeur d'Alene.

He also theorized that a man named Tim whom he'd hired to assist in bank robberies in Oregon and California in the early 1990s reused a disguise from one of the robberies to commit the Cole's Furniture Store robbery.

Gibson said Tim was one of two men secured a storage facility for him in the Portland area where he disguises and a police scanner to be used in the robberies. He also stored there a bank directory and a mailing list of all the police department sin the United States. He said he used the material to research potential small-town banks to rob. Gibson said he didn't know Tim's last name and Tim did not know his identity.

Gibson described the Cole robbery as “completely inept.”

“The store is supposed to be closed at 5 pm., so this was a spur of the moment crime,” Gibson said. “Both crimes, it's probably the only furniture store and kid's clothing sore that's ever been robbed in either town.”
Gibson described the “personnel” he hired out of Portland, Ore. to assist in the robberies.

“I used a total of eight males and four females for the operation, but only five of the males were involved in the bank robberies themselves. The other people were only involved in obtaining cars or acting as props so that I could stay in that town. Sometimes I had to stay right in the town. There was no way to get out.”

Gibson also described his involvement in the federal witness protection program, which occurred after he shared a federal prison cell with Iowa methamphetamine dealer Dustin Honken and told authorities that Honken had bragged about getting way with the murder of two confidential informants, a mother and her two young daughters. Honken is now on fedearl death row. Gibson said he became a protected witness in 1999.

“They do investigating for a year. Polygraph tests. It's very strenuous. You can't get into the witness protection program unless they verify you're telling the truth,” he said.

Gibson said he would tell the truth if he had killed Cole. He pointed to the fact that he's been diagnosed with stage 2 prostate cancer.

“I know I'm gong to die from cancer,” Gibson said. “I've almost always pled guilty to everything I have done. If I did this crime, I would give the Cole family some closure. I would admit to it and I would give them closure, because they need closure.”

On cross-examination, Gibson told Deputy Prosecutor Tony Hazel he “learned his lesson” about robbing small places after he robbed a Taco's John's in Portland and a gas station in Carterville, Nevada. (He and his partner also raped two clerks.) Gibson said he only targeted bank in towns with no law enforcement presence whatsoever. Coeur d'Alene had a police department so it “wouldn't qualify,” Gibson said.

Hazel pointed out that Gibson had been laid off just before Cole was murdered and was angry at society. He'd only started planning bank robberies and didn't successful rob one until December 1992. Before then, he'd only targeted small stores like gas stations.

Gibson said he wasn't proud of the robberies but he made about $840,000 in cash and more than $1 million in traveler's checks that he destroyed.

“The FBI said I was one of the most successful bank robbers going, sophisticated bank robbers operating at that time, but I regret it,” Gibson said.

After Eitzen convicted him Wednesday of first-degree murder, as the now convicted killer walked down the third floor hallways of the Spokane County Courthouse, a reporter asked him: “Patrick, did you do it?”

“No I did not,” Gibson replied. “Do I look 5-8?”

Cole's wife, Michele Cole, had described the killer as being about 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9. She said she recognized a scar on Gibson's face when she saw a picture of him in 2011. That scar is from being shot by a sheriff's deputy in Utah in 1998. The bullet went though Gibson's face.er it c

Gibson was arrested last year after his DNA was found on a piece of beard worn by Cole's killer.

His bench trial began in May but was delayed after prosecutors learned “America's Most Wanted” host John Walsh and a TV actor handled the killer's actual hat in a 1993 reenactment of the Cole murder

Authorities obtained DNA samples from Walsh, actor Trevor St. John and tried sheriff's Detective Mark Henderson and compared it to the hat. Doing so helped forensic analysts determine that the chance of the DNA on the hat not belonging to Gibson was one in 10 million.

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