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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Judge Jerome Leveque

Con man sent to prison for recent scams

   A con man whose schemes made victims out of dozens of people in three states was sentenced today to 29 months in prison.

   Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque sentenced 60-year-old Ronald G. Stratton to the high end of the range after a jury convicted him last month of 12 counts of theft by deception.

   The new convictions added to Stratton's eight convictions for grand theft in Kootenai County in 1995 and nine convictions for theft in 1997 in Missoula.

   Stratton placed advertisements promising custom carpentry work. He would make a deal, deliver promises and skip out with the money, according to court records.

   Read previous coverage here.

Child killer’s prison sentence upheld

Appellate judges have upheld the enhanced sentence of convicted child killer Robert Doney, Jr., who pleaded guilty in 2005 to bludgeoning a 2-year-old girl to death as her mother pleaded for her life on the day after Christmas 2003.

The case has bounced repeatedly back between the Division III Court of Appeals and Washington Supreme Court based on legal arguments surrounding the exceptional sentence levied against Doney.

While Doney, 36, admitted killing 2-year-old Victoria Ramon, he disputed the determinations – known as aggravating factors — that he showed a lack of remorse, acted with deliberate cruelty and that Ramon was particularly vulnerable.

A jury found two of three of those factors and Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque sentenced Doney in 2005 to 35 years in prison, which was more than seven years longer than the standard sentence for first-degree murder.

Doney and his attorney appealed and the courts eventually overturned the enhanced sentence until the Washington Legislature amended the law that allows judges to empanel juries to decide aggravated sentences.

Then in 2010, another jury found aggravating factors and Leveque imposed the same 35-year sentence against Doney. He appealed on the grounds that Leveque did not have the authority to apply the law retroactively, but the appellate judges today unanimously ruled against Doney and upheld Leveque’s sentencing.

“All defendants who received an exceptional sentence based on aggravating factors are eligible for a jury trial on remand to determine whether the aggravating factors exist,” Judge Teresa Kulik wrote for the majority. “The application of the statute does not violate the due process clause.”

Murder for $7.25 gets man 31 years in prison

A convicted killer’s lawyer called a judge’s comments to the victim’s family “one of the most moving statements I’ve ever heard a judge give” in a sentencing Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court.

Judge Jerome Leveque urged the family of Timothy Eby, who was stabbed to death by 53-year-old Terry Conner, to live his legacy and urged Conner to pay attention.

“Your life isn’t over,” Leveque told Conner, though the judge said the man likely will die in prison. “And to the family, the things common to all of you - you all referenced a man who had a tremendous belief in what can be. He never gave that up. That is a tremendous legacy. I extend my condolences to everyone.”

Public Defender Ed Carroll praised Leveque’s statement. “He was right. Don’t let yourselves get torn apart by this,” Carroll said to Eby’s family.

Conner was sentenced to 31 years in prison Tuesday.

Read Tom Clouses’s story on the sentencing here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 8, 2008: Slaying may have been over $7.25

Trial continues in YWCA ex-director’s lawsuit

Monica Walters, the former longtime Spokane YWCA executive director who’s suing the organization, is expected to continue testifying at a bench trial today in Superior Court.

The trial began last week before Judge Jerome Leveque.

Walters, who was director for 13 years, left the YWCA in February 2009. She filed a lawsuit in April 2009, alleging breach of contract, disability discrimination and privacy invasion.

Deborah Booth, president of the YWCA board at the time, released a statement in February saying Walters resigned for medical reasons:

“Everybody loves Monica, but it’s time for her to get out of the hectic crossfire of all this and get some time for herself.”

Booth retracted the statement a couple days later, saying  “my suggestion that Ms. Walters resigned for medical reasons was not accurate.” Oops!

A lawsuit by Walters’ attorney, Paul J. Burns, says the board breached Walters’ contract by interfering with her ability to manage day-to-day operations, including making hiring and firing decisions, causing “severe, medically diagnosable stress, mental anguish and emotional distress,” the lawsuit states.

Walters said that the medical condition was a disability and that the YWCA failed to accommodate it. The decision to discharge her “constitutes unlawful disability discrimination,” according to the lawsuit.

Walters’ invasion of privacy allegation stems from the YWCA’s disclosure to the media that Walters had resigned. Walters is seeking damages for economic loss, mental anguish and emotional distress.

Walters’ testimony began Thursday; no testimony was heard Friday.

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