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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Kootenai County District Court

Hate-crime suspect gets 9 years for firearm

One of three Coeur d’Alene brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic man last August was sentenced today to nine years in prison for being a felon in possession of a handgun.

Ira Tankovich (pictured), 48, will be eligible for parole in three years. 

Adding to Tankovich’s potential sentence was his status as a persistent violator which gave Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster the option of imposing up to life in prison.

During an Aug. 16 incident at the home of Kenneth Requena in Coeur d’Alene, police arrested Tankovich after seeing him throw his .22-caliber handgun into a nearby driveway. Tankovich later pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Court documents show Tankovich’s previous felony convictions stretch from 1989 to 2001 and consist of voluntary manslaughter, grand theft by possession of stolen property, first-degree burglary and receiving stolen property.

In connection with the Aug. 16 confrontation with Requena, a jury found Tankovich guilty on April 19 of conspiracy to disturb the peace, a misdemeanor.

The jury split 11-1 in favor of not guilty on two felony counts of malicious harassment against his brothers, William M. Tankovich, 50, and Frank J. Tankovich, 47.

The latter two are scheduled to be retried in October.

Luster also sentenced Ira Tankovich on Tuesday to six months in prison each for the misdemeanor convictions of conspiracy to disturb the peace and for obstructing a police officer during the Aug. 16 incident.

Tankovich, who has been in the Kootenai County Jail for almost a year, will receive credit for time served.

In the April trial, Ira Tankovich was found not guilty of the more serious felony charge of conspiring to commit malicious harassment.

The jury deadlocked 8-4 in favor of not guilty on similar conspiracy counts against his brothers.

Babysitter accepts plea in Idaho sex case

After making national news last summer, a babysitter sex scandal in North Idaho was plea-bargained out Thursday after the alleged victim gave the accused a perfect alibi: He said the sex acts occurred on dates when the babysitter was living out of state. 

Summer Kelli Ashle Hughes, 29, also known as Summer Nelson, will be on supervised probation for two years after entering an Alford plea to four lesser counts of misdemeanor injury to a child.

Kootenai County prosecutors were prepared to take her to trial on felony lewd-conduct charges before her teenaged accuser, who was 14 at the time of the crimes, testified at a preliminary hearing in May.

Read the rest of my story here.

Ex-church volunteer could be free in months

A former Post Falls church youth leader could be out of custody in about six months after being sentenced Thursday for three counts of statutory rape.

Jordan C. Vernon, 20, was sentenced by Kootenai County District Court Judge John Mitchell to three consecutive sentences of two to six years.

But Mitchell retained jurisdiction over the case, which means Vernon will go to the North Idaho Correctional Institute in Cottonwood for treatment.

The judge will hold a hearing in about six months to decide if Vernon should be released on probation or sent to prison in Boise, where he could stay for as long as 18 years.

Vernon was arrested in December on charges that he had sex with at least two girls, ages 14 and 17, and had inappropriate contact with at least two others, ages 12 and 14, from 2007 to 2009.

Police say he met and began grooming the girls for sex while serving as a youth leader in training at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls.

A statement from the church at the time of Vernon’s arrest said he had been dismissed from his volunteer positions in July 2008. Church records showed he had not attended the church since November 2008.

Similar retained jurisdiction sentences were handed down in two vehicular homicide cases last year. Read about it here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 14: Man back in jail on rape charges

Jan 6: More charges likely in sex abuse case

Jan 5: Ex-church leader accused of rape

6 months for CdA boater who injured boy

 A Coeur d’Alene man is serving six months in jail for leaving the scene of a boating accident on Lake Coeur d’Alene that injured a 5-year-old boy.

Anthony James Judge, 33, was sentenced Thursday by Kootenai County District Judge John Mitchell, who also ordered five years of supervised probation. He was booked into jail that day.

A jury convicted Judge in March after he hit the boy with his boat trailer after pulling a boat out of the water at the Blackwell Island launch on May 31, 2009. The boy suffered broken facial bones, scrapes and bruises, according to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office.

Mitchell left open the possibility of further restitution for two years in case the boy needs additional medical treatment.

“The incident could have resulted in a much more serious injury,” Prosecutor Barry McHugh said in a prepared statement. “With the busy boating season approaching, this case is a reminder to all of us to be careful and patient when using the area boat launches.”

$500,000 bond for CdA rape suspect

A man accused of raping a Coeur d’Alene woman early Saturday remains in jail on $500,000 bond.

Thomas C. Dickerson, 40, appeared before Kootenai County District Judge Scott Wayman on Monday on charges of rape and battery with intent to commit rape.

Dickerson remains in jail on $500,000 bond after appearing before Kootenai County District Judge Scott Wayman on Monday on charges of rape and battery with intent to commit rape.

When asked by Wayman if he wished to comment on his bond amount, Dickerson said: “It doesn’t really matter. This is a bunch of a bull … .” He declined a jailhouse interview.

Dickerson has previous convictions for failing to register as a sex offender in Pierce County, along with convictions for drug and stolen property possession.

But he wasn’t required to register as a sex offender - a plea deal stemming from a debate over the legality of the registry requirment led to his dmissmal.

Read my story here.

Dad in court over deaf girl’s treatment

A deaf Washington man faces a contempt charge in Kootenai County 1st District Court for refusing to force his deaf daughter to wear cochlear implants in a case that has attracted national attention.

Emma McLaughlin-Orton was born to Jennifer Orton Miller and Shaun McLaughlin in February 2002. The child had surgery to install a cochlear ear implant on the right side when she was 1 year old, and on the left side when she was 5, court documents show.

Although part of the device is implanted, users cannot hear without also wearing an external processor and transmitter.

The girl’s parents, who are not married, share custody; when Emma is with her father, she wants to “be deaf like daddy,” said Judy McLaughlin, Emma’s paternal grandmother.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs’ story here.

New hate-crime trial for 2 CdA brothers






Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said Thursday that he will re-try two Coeur d’Alene brothers on malicious harassment charges stemming from a racial incident last summer.

Frank J. Tankovich, 46, and William M. Tankovich, 49, will be tried on charges of conspiracy to commit malicious harassment and malicious harassment, related to an incident that occurred in August. The brothers are accused of making racially motivated threats toward Kenneth Requena, who is Puerto Rican.

The brothers were tried earlier this month in Coeur d’Alene, along with a third brother, Ira G. Tankovich, 48, in the first hate-crime case to go to trial in North Idaho in recent years.

Read Alison Boggs’ story here.

Ira, Frank and William are pictured above from left to right.

Heroin dealer sentenced to at least 4 years

A Coeur d’Alene heroin dealer will spend four to 15 years in prison after being sentenced in Kootenai County District Court.

 Loren Paul Arey, 53, had nearly 11 grams of heroin when he was arrested on Jan. 1.

Judge John Mitchell sentenced Arey on Monday to 15 years in prison with eligibility for parole after four years. He pleaded guilty to trafficking in heroin, the last felony conviction in a criminal history that prosecutors say began in 1982.

Arey will have access to programs in prison that will help determine if he can be released on supervision, Prosecutor Barry McHugh said in a prepared statement.

“Unless he stops his drug use, he is a risk to any community in which he finds himself,” McHugh said. “We hope the sentence will deter Mr. Arey and others from engaging in similar conduct.”

Misdemeanor conviction in hate-crime trial

Jurors convicted a North Idaho man of conspiracy to commit disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor, in the first hate-crime case to go to trial in Coeur d’Alene in recent years.

The jury hung on two counts against the man’s brothers.

Ira G. Tankovich, 48, (left) was charged with conspiracy to commit malicious harassment, while his brothers, William M. Tankovich, 49, and Frank J. Tankovich, 46, faced that charge as well as the charge of malicious harassment.

The charges stemmed from an August incident with a Coeur d’Alene man, Kenneth Requena. Ira Tankovich will be released on his own recognizance, having already served six months in jail — the equivalent to the maximum penalty on the misdemeanor conviction.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs’ story here.

Read past coverage here.

Jury expected to get hate-crime case today






Closing arguments are expected today in the trial of three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene men man because of his ethnicity.

The prosecution and defense rested Thursday in the trial of Ira G. Tankovich, 48, Frank J. Tankovich, 46, and William M. Tankovich, 49 (left to right). The brothers are charged with malicious harassment after an encounter with Kenneth Requena, who is Puerto Rican, in August.

The judge presiding over the trial said Thursday if he were ruling on the case instead of the jury, he wouldn’t convict.

Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster made the comment outside the presence of the jury while denying a defense motion to dismiss the case against three brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic man in August.

Read Alison Boggs’ story here.

Hate-crime defense targets alleged victim

Defense attorneys in the Coeur d’Alene hate crime trial of three brothers lost an attempt Wednesday to challenge the alleged victim’s credibility by introducing his criminal record, which includes felony convictions for illegally transporting guns.

At one point, defense attorney Brad Chapman asked the alleged victim, Kenneth Requena, if he was in the federal witness protection program, but the prosecution quickly objected and 1st District Judge John Luster threw the question out.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs’ story here.

Tankovich erases the smile just in time

By Thomas Clouse

The hate crime trial in Coeur d’Alene taught one of the defendants to check his gear before he draws a practical joke.

Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen used an erasable board to have a witness draw how the Tankovichs’ pickup, which had a swastika and “born to kill” written in the dirt, parked in front of the home of Kenneth Requena in Coeur d’Alene.

During a trial break, Frank Tankovich (right) drew a smiley face on the board. But to Tankovich’s chagrin, he didn’t realize it was a permanent marker until he tried to erase the face before Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster returned to the courtroom.

At one point, Tankovich improvised by scribbling over the black permanent marker with the blue erasable marker. But Luster’s break lasted long enough for Tankovich to finally rub the board clean.

Read Clouse’s complete coverage of the trial’s opening day here.

Hate-crime trial begins in CdA, again

Opening statements are expected today in the trial of three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene man because of his ethnicity.

Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) were indicted by a grand jury last under Idaho’s hate crime law.

The men were to stand trial last month, but Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster declared a mistrial after the jury heard a recording of a 911 made by a next-door neighbor, who called the incident “a racist thing.” (Read the story here.)

Selection of a new jury concluded Monday.

Ira Tankovich, who has a star with the word “Aryan” tattooed on his left calf and a star with the word “pride” tattooed on his right calf, was arrested Aug. 16 after Requena and his wife told police he’d been approached by Tankovich and his brothers in a truck decorated with swastikas and the words “born to kill.”

The men left after Requena got a gun from his wife, then returned about 20 minutes later with a gun and a pit bull, yelling racial slurs, according to court documents Requena told police he asked his wife to bring him a gun from inside the home when the men first pulled up because “he knew he was about to get a beat down,” according to a police report.

Frank and William Tankovich were arrested after a grand jury indicted them in November. William Tankovich posted $100,000 bail but was jailed in December after a judge ruled he’d fraudulently posted a property bond. He’s since been released on bond.

Their lawyers have characterized the Aug. 16 incident at the home of Kenneth H. Requena as a misunderstanding blown out of proportion after Aryan literature was distributed in Coeur d’Alene.

The brothers say they simply asked to buy electrical equipment from the man and were stunned when he pulled a gun on them.

Ex-caretaker accused of kidnapping woman

 A man already accused of assaulting a woman he used to care for now is accused of kidnapping her from the Coeur d’Alene Casino, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department. 

John M. Costa, 47, of Chewelah, appeared in Kootenai County District Court today after he was arrested Saturday about 4:20 p.m. on suspicion of first-degree kidnapping.

He’s accused of kidnapping a 49-year-old woman he used to care for from the Coeur d’Alene Casino, then taking her to a hotel in Plummer to try to persuade her to drop battery charges against him in Washington, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Costa faces possible assault charges in Benewah County for the incident at the hotel.

Security detained Costa after he took the woman back to the casino, where her son and caregiver found her. Deputies responded to the casino for a report of a man causing a disturbance.

The woman was taken to Kootenai Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Court documents show Costa was not facing criminal charges in Washington involving the woman, but the Department of Social and Heath Services sought a protection order  for the victim after she declined to press charges against Costa.

The woman was hospitalized Jan. 27 after Costa allegedly assaulted her and threatened her with a gun. He’d been staying at her home “because of her care needs and his house was flooded due to a pipe breaking.”

He’s now in Kootenai County Jail on $50,000 bond.

Mistrial declared in CdA hate-crime case



A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the trial of three Coeur d’Alene brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic family in August.

Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster declared the mistrial after Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen played a recording of a 911 call made by witness Julie Oliver, a next-door neighbor. Oliver could be heard telling the dispatcher she believed the incident she saw from her kitchen window was “a racist thing,” and that her neighbor, Kenneth Requena, was being threatened.

A new trial for Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) has been scheduled for April 12.

Read the rest of Alison Bogg’s story here

Previous coverage: CdA men deny hate crime allegations

Hate-crime trial to begin in Coeur d’Alene


Three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene man because of his ethnicity will stand trial this week in Kootenai County District Court.

Opening statements are expected today in the trial of Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) who were indicted by a grand jury last under Idaho’s hate crime law.

The men’s lawyers have characterized the Aug. 16 incident at the home of Kenneth H. Requena as a misunderstanding blown out of proportion after Aryan literature was distributed in Coeur d’Alene. The brothers say they simply asked to buy electrical equipment from the man and were stunned when he pulled a gun on them.

Ira Tankovich, who has a star with the word “Aryan” tattooed on his left calf and a star with the word “pride” tattooed on his right calf, was arrested the day of the incident after Requena and his wife told police he’d been approached by Tankovich and his brothers in a truck decorated with swastikas and the words “born to kill.”

The men left after Requena got a gun from his wife, then returned about 20 minutes later with a gun and a pit bull, yelling racial slurs, according to court documents Requena told police he asked his wife to bring him a gun from inside the home when the men first pulled up because “he knew he was about to get a beat down,” according to a police report.

Frank and William Tankovich were arrested after a grand jury indicted them in November. William Tankovich posted $100,000 bail but was jailed in December after a judge ruled he’d fraudulently posted a property bond. He’s since been released on bond.

William Tankovich faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Prosecutors amended charges against Ira and Frank Tankovich to declare them habitual offenders, which increases their potential penalty to five years to life in prison.

Read more about the case in this story from December: CdA men deny hate crime allegations

Child molester could be locked up for life

A Coeur d’Alene man could be in prison for the rest of his life for two sex crimes, a judge ruled recently. 

Kyle Richard West, 41, will serve four years in prison before he’s eligible for parole, according to a sentence imposed by Kootenai County District Judge John Mitchell.

West was sentenced to life in prison, with four years fixed and the rest indeterminate after pleading guilty Feb. 4 to two counts of lewd conduct with a minor under 16.

West’s “lack of remorse and inability or unwillingness to acknowledge the damage” done to his victim were factors in the sentence, according to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office.

“Mr. West has an opportunity to seek and benefit from counseling while in prison so that he can avoid victimizing children in the future,” Prosecutor Barry McHugh said in a prepared statement. “If he is unable to comply with the terms of supervision, Judge Mitchell’s sentence allows for him to be removed from society for the rest of his life.”

Man in fatal CdA shooting pleads guilty

A man who fatally shot another man after a fight at a Coeur d’Alene bar last year pleaded guilty this week to second-degree murder.

Juan C. Aldana Villanueva, 23, (right) is in Kootenai County Jail awaiting sentencing for the murder of Timothy I. Wolfe, 21, on May 9, 2009.

Villanueva, who worked at a Post Falls restaurant, had argued with Wolfe, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe who was home from college for Mother’s Day, at a Coeur d’Alene bar before Villanueva left, then returned to the downtown area with a gun, according to court documents.

Wolfe was shot to death near Third Street and Indiana Avenue about 2:15 a.m. Villanueva claimed self-defense, and police noted scratches on his face where he said Wolfe’s friends had attacked him.

Villanueva had been charged with first-degree murder but pleaded to the lesser charge in Kootenai County District Court on Monday. He faces 10 years to life in prison.

Past coverage: Police: CdA murder suspect waited for victim

Child molester to serve at least 3 years

A Coeur d’Alene man will spend at least three years in prison for lewd conduct with a minor under 16, a judge ruled this week.

John A. Shepherd, 56, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday with eligibility for parole after three years, the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office announced today.

Shepherd pleaded guilty Dec. 11, but District Judge John Luster ruled he “had only nominally accepted responsibility for his actions,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Shepherd said the molestation was a one-time event driven by his methamphetamine use and excessive drinking, despite having said in a previous interview that he’d been abusing the victim for several years, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“The alcohol and drug use here reinforces the appropriateness of law enforcement’s aggressive enforcement of controlled substance laws, and the responsible consumption of alcohol,” Prosecutor Barry McHugh said in a prepared statement. “…While incarcerated in the state prison system, Mr. Shepherd will be able to receive sex offender and substance abuse treatment should he choose to do so. In the meantime, the decision by Judge Luster protects the community from Mr. Shepherd for at least three years.”

Cocaine dealer gets 8 years

A 27-year-old Hayden man will spend at least three years in prison for selling cocaine.

Logan M. Young was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday, with eligibility for parole after three years, the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office announced today. He’s to pay a $10,000 fine.

Young pleaded guilty in November to trafficking 28 grams or more of cocaine. The conviction stemmed from May 2008, when he bought more than two hundred grams of cocaine from a confidential informant working with the North Idaho Regional Violent Crimes Task Force.

“The large quantity of cocaine delivered by Mr. Young, along with Mr. Young’s stated desire to continue trafficking cocaine in large quantities, justify the sentence imposed in this case,” Deputy Prosecutor Ann Wick said in a prepared statement. “We hope the sentence deters him and others from dealing drugs in our community.”

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