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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: mental illness

Ex-Shock player in solitary confinement

Judy Reisner wants her son, Kevin Ellison, to get mental health treatment, but he sits in the Spokane County Jail. (SRPhoto/Dan Pelle)

A former pro football player arrested for arson in June remains in solitary confinement at the Spokane County Jail, and his mother says his mental health issues will worsen without treatment.

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was a starting linebacker and defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, has twice been denied release from jail for mental health treatment. His lawyer appealed U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno’s last decision, but U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko rejected the appeal Aug. 1, citing in part an altercation Ellison had with jailers last month.

Ellison’s mother, Judy Reisner, traveled from Los Angeles to Spokane to visit Ellison in jail on Wednesday. He’s not doing well, she said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 20: Kevin Ellison to stay in jail without bail

June 14: Shock player says God told him to start fire

Watch me talk about this story with KHQ's Dave Cotton:

‘Doomed’ man admits to cop gun theft

A Spokane man who stole a handgun from Spokane County sheriff's detective's squad car has been sentenced to about three years in prison.

A judge recommended James Warren Peterschick, 30, undergo drug treatment and be placed in a federal prison with a medical facility in hopes of addressing what his lawyer described as a lifetime of mental problems.

“Mr. Peterschick was doomed from the start,” his lawyer, Robert Fischer, wrote in a sentencing memorandum. Fischer referenced a doctor's report detailing Peterschick's troubled life.

“Reading this is reminiscent of a Charles Dickens novel that tragically doesn’t wind up with a happy ending,” Fischer wrote.

Peterschick was abused by several people as a child and began using methamphetamine when he was 13 or 14, according to the report.

“When James was nine years old his mother moved to Dallas, Texas, taking him with her to “start fresh,” Fischer wrote. “His mother managed to find a new boyfriend that she stayed drunk with for the next fifteen years.”

Peterschick is described as “a functional illiterate with below average intelligence” who suffers from auditory visual and kinesthetic hallucinations.

In addition to 33 months in prison, Peterschick was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation. He still has pending drug and stolen property cases in Spokane County Superior Court; he'll likely serve those sentences the same time as his federal sentence.

Peterschick smashed out a window on Detective Leroy Fairbanks' government-issued vehicle April 21, 2011, at 5830 N. Division St. and stole fishing poles and a backpack containing electronics, a Glock handgun, handcuffs, a flashlight, badge and IDs for the Sheriff’s Office and FBI.

A jail inmate looking for a break on drug charges told detectives of a dumpster at Garland Avenue and Post Street where most of the items had been dumped.

Peterschick also was arrested in February 2010 for a suspected burglary spree in Pullman.

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.

Bearded woman asks for new trial

A woman who wears a beard as a symbol of her activism and lives as a man is asking for a new trial following her conviction earlier this month for grabbing a Spokane Police officer's genitals in 2009 during an arrest.

 Joseph Ali Bin Muhammad, 45, formerly Paula K. Reynolds-Eblacas, represented himself at trial in which a jury deliberated just 20 minutes before convicting him April 11. He is scheduled to be sentenced today.

In his motion for a new trial, Muhammad alleged misconduct, “surprise” and jury manipulation by Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Patrick Johnson. He also said Johnson was simply using the assault case as an evidence-gathering mission to charge the two officers, who were attempting in 2009 to take Muhammad into custody for a mental evaluation.

“The defendant felt a great aversion to being misused by the prosecutor to embarrass and humiliate the officers as it is not the defendant's intent or desire to be the target of corrupted officers in Spokane,” Muhammad wrote, referring to himself as “defendant.” “The defendant's safety was being put in jeopardy by a bizzarre, backwards, and most likely illegal strategy of the prosecutor to gain more evidence against the officers, and so the defendant changed his defense strategy to not show the video. Had he entered the video as evidence, the jury may have voted for acquittal as the video gives great suggestion that no charge should have ever been placed on the defendant and that (Officer John) O'Brien and (Officer Jeremy McVay) are blatant liars who violated the defendant that day.”

Johnson had argued that Muhammad was not mentally competent to stand trial. Muhammad, however, successfully argued he was competent despite the fact that him being delcared incompetent would have resulted in dismissed charges.

As part of his seven-page motion, Muhammad also wrote that 20 minutes was not enough time for the jurors to fully consider the case.

“Jurors may have held mulpitle bias against the defendant, including for him being a hermaphrodite and for being a Muslim,” said Muhammad, who gave birth to a daughter prior to changing his name. “Jurors may have been motivated by the second sunny warm day after a long cold winter to disregard their oaths and the United States Constitution … so that they could finish their task before lunch and have the rest of the sunny afternoon to enjoy free from work or juror responsibilities.”
  

Past coverage:

Dec. 14: Fugitive since February jailed on $50k bond

Aug. 11, 2009: Bearded woman back in court

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.

State wanted case halted for mental issue

A woman who lives as a man, including wearing a full beard she previously described as a public display of her activism, was ruled competent Tuesday to stand trial on the charge of assaulting a police officer in 2009.

 Prosecutors are disappointed.

Yes, you read that right.

In a reversal of the norm, it wasn’t a defense attorney or even the defendant, Joseph Ali Bin Muhammad – formerly Paula K. Reynolds-Eblacas, 45who asked to avoid prosecution by a ruling of mental incompetence.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 14: Fugitive since February jailed on $50k bond

Aug. 11, 2009: Bearded woman back in court

Man guilty in Bayview hammer murder

In this Sept. 30 photo, Bayview hammer attack vicitm Yvonne Wallis says she wants Larry Cragun to receive the death penalty for the attack. (SR/Kathy Plonka)

A North Idaho man who bludgeoned four people with a hammer in a brutal murder in Bayview last year has pleaded guilty.

 Larry Ward Cragun, 32, faces a mandatory life sentence with possible eligibility for parole after 10 years when he’s sentenced in May, Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said Friday.

McHugh said he’ll recommend Cragun serve 40 years before he’s eligible for parole.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 23, 2011: Bayview victim: 'I'm just an invalid'

Dec. 20, 2010: 1 dead, 3 injured in Bayview hammer attack

Mentally ill robbery suspect still jailed

A mentally ill Spokane man accused of robbing a downtown bank for the second time in two years remains jailed on $50,000 bond.

David Donald Thometz, 49, was arrested in his room at the Carlyle Hotel, just down the street from Washington Trust Bank, 706 W. Second Ave., Friday morning after the robbery.

Investigators used a GPS device included with the stolen cash to track Thometz, who did not wear a disguise during the robbery and is not believed to have had a weapon.

Thometz robbed Sterling Savings Bank on North Wall Street in May 2010 and served time in jail and was placed on probation for five years.

He is supervised by the Special Needs Unit because he is a mentally ill offender. A corrections officer last had contact with him Feb. 21.

Thometz said in 2010 that voices in his head told him to rob the bank. He was also sentenced to a year in jail after burning down his Spokane Valley home in May 2008. He also told investigators a voice in his head named told him to do it.

Even if Thometz posts the $50,000 bond, he won't be able to leave jail because of a Washington Department of Corrections hold.

Robbery suspect sought ‘loony bin’ spot

A man accused of robbing a downtown Spokane bank told police he didn't have a place to stay and wanted to return to a mental hospital, according to court documents.

Donnie Wayne Snow, Jr., 45, was arrested Friday after a robbery at Banner Bank, 508 W. 3rd Ave., about 5:23 p.m.

Employees said he entered the bank and said “Hey ladies, I'm here to rob your bank. Give me all your money,” Spokane police allege. He left with $1,684 - police noted in court documents the presence of two $2 bills - and was arrested a short while later near 3rd and Lincoln.

Police say Snow told them “I did it because I need a place to stay and want to go back to the loony bin.”

Snow is in jail on $20,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court Monday on a first-degree robbery charge.
  

Fatal police shooting ruled justified

From upper left, Spokane police Officers Dan Cole, Bill Hager, Kyle Heuett, Mike McNab, Bruce Palmer and Doug Strosahl were involved in the fatal shooting of Ethan Corporon.

Police were justified when they shot and killed a 29-year-old man who was running with a shotgun outside a busy Spokane restaurant last fall, the Spokane County prosecutor’s office has ruled.

 Ethan A. Corporon fired six shots at a home at 1402 W. Buckeye Ave. on Nov. 12 before fleeing police and abandoning his father’s pickup in the middle of southbound Monroe Street in front of Shari’s restaurant. Witnesses at the time said Corporon appeared to be firing the shotgun while running from officers, though a police investigation determined Corporon never fired but did refuse to drop the weapon.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said Corporon’s refusal to drop the shotgun gave police legitimate concerns for their own safety and the safety of others.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past covergae:

Nov. 16: Gunman killed by police described as volatile, explosive

Nov. 12: Shotgun-shooting man killed by police

Absconder in chase returns to prison

A Spokane man who triggered a weeks-long federal manhunt and a wild police chase in Montana is going back to federal prison.

 Anthony E. Burke, 23, was sentenced to a year in prison last week for escaping from a halfway house last spring. After he serves that sentence he's to return to Montana, where he's to serve four years in prison for criminal endangerment related to the April 2010 chase.

Burke, alias Garver, served three years in federal prison after police found him with 100 rounds of Russian ammunition at his family’s Spokane-area home. He was prohibited from having the bullets because he’d been committed to a mental hospital as a teen.

Burke was to report to a work release center when released from prison, but he never showed up, triggering a search that ended with his arrest on July 31, 2009. He was sentenced to an additional seven months but later left a halfway house for an eye appointment and never returned.

A warrant for his arrest was issued the same day Burke led Montana law enforcement on an intense chase that included Burke driving the wrong way on Interstate 90, driving in reverse, sideswiping barriers and trial, smashing a guardrail. Police drew their guns on him “several times” before h e was arrested after trying to swim away in a creek, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Burke has serious mental health issues and has threatened to kill public officials and cause mass casualties at public events, according to court documents. Documents portray Burke as a troubled man haunted by his stepfather’s abuse and angry at authorities for calling him mentally ill.

Burke will be on probation for nine months after his release. 

Murder defendant to wear shock device

SEATTLE (AP) — Jurors have spent the past three weeks listening to sometimes heart-wrenching testimony about the brutal rape and stabbing of a lesbian couple.

Now they're finally going to get their first look at the defendant, who will be wearing an electroshock sleeve so guards can jolt him if he gets out of line. 

Isaiah Kalebu, 25, (pictured earlier this month) was so disruptive in pretrial hearings — sometimes cursing his own lawyers and knocking over chairs — that Judge Michael Hayden barred him from attending his own trial.

But that decision has run up against Kalebu's constitutional right to testify in his own defense, and Hayden said Tuesday he was taking special precautions to keep everyone in the courtroom safe when Kalebu testifies Wednesday.

The judge also warned him against thinking he could obtain a mistrial by resorting to his old tricks, which have included swallowing a small pencil at the King County Jail earlier this month.

“If you disrupt the courtroom as you have in the past, the jury will be excused and we will end your testimony,” Hayden said. “There will be no mistrial.”

“I'm not planning on acting up,” Kalebu responded as he sat strapped into a restraint chair.

Kalebu is accused of slipping in an open window of the couple's home in Seattle's South Park neighborhood two years ago and repeatedly raping and stabbing them during a horrific two-hour attack. One woman, Teresa Butz, died naked and blood-soaked in the street in front of her home as neighbors tried to help; her partner survived and told the jury that Kalebu was the man who did it.

The use of such electroshock sleeves — called a Band-It — is rare but not unheard of during criminal trials. They consist of a small box that can be wrapped around a defendant's arm or leg and activated remotely by a corrections officer. The device would only be activated if Kalebu tries to assault someone, escape or otherwise refuses orders — not if he starts swearing or being verbally disruptive.

A defendant wore one during a trial in King County three years ago, and courts in other states have upheld their use as long as they are worn under street clothes to prevent jurors from seeing them.

Kalebu will also be wearing soft leather restraints under his clothes, and he'll testify while sitting from the defense table, rather than the witness stand, to prevent jurors from seeing his restraints or the electroshock device — either of which could be grounds for a mistrial, because such a glimpse could prejudice jurors.

The defendant's behavior has been extreme, even when he's not in the courtroom. He's been repeatedly taken to the hospital for what prosecutors dubbed “suicide gestures” rather than serious attempts, and he was hospitalized June 15 for the pencil-swallowing incident.

He first indicated that he wanted to testify Monday, when prosecutors rested their case. He said he wanted to be wrapped in a “dragon robe” or an American flag to hide his restraints, but Hayden refused.

He planned to question himself, because his lawyers didn't want to ask him anything. Instead, Hayden insisted Tuesday that Kalebu dictate in advance what questions he wanted asked, and one of his lawyers will ask them.

Despite a history of mental illness, Kalebu is not pursuing any type of mental-health defense. His lawyers, Michael Schwartz and Ramona Brandes, are arguing that he didn't commit the crime — an argument prosecutors say is amply disproved by DNA evidence and witnesses.

Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty due to Kalebu's history of mental illness. Experts have found that although he might suffer from bipolar disorder, he has been faking or exaggerating the symptoms, and in January, Hayden found him competent to stand trial.

If he's convicted, he would face life in prison with no opportunity for release.

Seattle murder suspect injures self again

Isaiah Kalebu is pushed by police officers to a room to watch the proceedings of his trial via closed-circuit television at King County Superior Court June 6 in Seattle. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Ellen M. Banner)

SEATTLE (AP) — The murder trial of Isaiah Kalebu resumed Wednesday afternoon after he was treated at a hospital for a medical situation that developed Monday morning while he was alone in his cell at the jail, the King County Prosecutor's Office says.

This is the second time in two weeks he was taken to a hospital. Trial was interrupted on June 15 when he swallowed a small pencil.

Kalebu is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary in a July 2009 stabbing attack on two women at their Seattle home, in the South Park neighborhood. Teresa Butz died of her wounds; her partner survived and has testified that Kalebu is her attacker.

If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.

Past coverage:

June 9: Survivor of Seattle attack testifies

June 7: Man barred from own trial in rape case

Seattle murder suspect swallows pencil

Isaiah Kalebu is pushed by police officers to a room to watch the proceedings of his trial via closed-circuit television at King County Superior Court on June 6 in Seattle. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Ellen M. Banner)

SEATTLE (AP) — The defendant in a Seattle murder and rape trial was taken to a hospital after swallowing a small pencil during a recess.

KOMO-TV says officials originally said it was possible Isaiah Kalebu would require endoscopic surgery, but a Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman said Tuesday afternoon it was likely he would be treated and released.

Guards saw him swallow the item, similar to the pencils golfers use to record scores.

KOMO says officials are studying case law for the next move in the trial and recessed for Tuesday afternoon.

Kalebu is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary in a July 2009 stabbing attack on two women in their Seattle home. Teresa Butz died of her wounds; her partner survived and has testified that Kalebu is her attacker.

The man has a history of mental illess.

Past coverage:

June 9: Survivor of Seattle attack testifies

June 7: Man barred from own trial in rape case

Family of man in river: ‘Heartbreaking’

A man found dead in the Spokane River on Sunday had a long history of mental illness and likely committed suicide, family said on Monday. 

Peter L. Jose, 34, had schizophrenia but regularly skipped his medication and frequently threatened to harm himself, said Mary Lee Gaston, mother of Jose’s ex-wife.

Gaston’s daughter, who also has schizophrenia, left Jose about a year ago, and he hadn’t seen their young daughter in months because of his ongoing struggle with his mental health, Gaston said.

Gaston learned of Jose’s death Monday after an autopsy by the Spokane County medical examiner’s office.

“It’s just heartbreaking, but it’s just totally out of our hands,” Gaston said. “When people are very, very mentally ill, they have another world they live in. And poor Peter did.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Jose is pictured during theater performances in 2000 and 2006. He was active in the now closed On Stage! theater group.

Insanity defense explored in ‘08 murder

The aggravated murder trial of accused crossbow killer Cole K. Strandberg will proceed in January following a hearing to allow his defense attorney to present a case that his client should be acquitted because he is insane. 

Defense attorney Chris Bugbee asked Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen Tuesday for what amounts to a mini-trial on Jan. 5 to present evidence about his client’s mental state at the time of the killing. Strandberg has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Eitzen reluctantly agreed, but said the January trial date is “written in concrete.”

Strandberg, who was featured earlier this year in a Discovery Channel episode of “Behind Bars,” is charged with sexually assaulting and using a crossbow to kill 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron on Jan. 7, 2008.

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

Bank robbery suspect: Voices made me do it

A man accused of robbing a downtown Spokane bank told police voices in his head told him to commit the crime, according to court documents prepared by detectives.

It’s not the first time David D. Thometz, 47, has blamed crimes on the voices. He was sentenced to a year in jail after burning down his Spokane Valley home in May 2008 and telling investigators a voice in his head named Jack told him to do it, according to court records.

Thometz remains in jail on $50,000 bond after a security officer at Sterling Savings Bank, 11 N. Wall St., detained him until police arrived Tuesday. Thometz was trying to leave with stolen cash after he handed a teller a threatening note about 9:20 a.m., police said.

Police recovered the stolen money and say Thometz had an additional $400 in his wallet. Thometz also had a knife in his pocket but did not display or mention it during the robbery, police said.

Thometz told police “the voices in his head had been telling him to rob a bank and he had been dreaming of committing the robbery for three weeks,” according to court documents.

After Spokane police Detective Tim Madsen read Thometz his rights, Thometz said he understand then said, “What the hell, go for it,” according to the documents. “Thometz stated he wanted to talk to Det. Madsen and he realized an attorney would tell him not to. Thometz stated that he had been through this before when he was arrested for arson.”

Thometz then asked for a lawyer after the audio recording began and the interview ended.

Man in ‘caffeine psychosis’ crashes acquitted

(AP) A Moscow man whose lawyer blamed caffeine-induced psychosis for alleged hit-and-run crashes at Washington State University in December has been acquitted by reason of insanity.

Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier ruled today that Daniel Noble, 31, was temporarily insane during the Dec. 9 incident and acquitted him of two felony counts of vehicular assault, two felony counts of hit-and-run and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Frazier granted a defense motion to acquit Noble based on Noble’s attorney’s intent to use an insanity defense at trial.

The two crashes injured pedestrians, Neil Waldbjorn, 19, of Malaga, Wash., and Hogun Hahm, 23, of Pullman. Each suffered a broken leg. Officers used a Taser to subdue Noble.

Noble’s attorney, Mark Moorer, had previously said his client was suffering from caffeine-induced psychosis brought on by too much coffee and energy drinks.

Past coverage:

March 11: ‘Caffeine psychosis’ defendant fit for trial

Dec. 9: Lawyer: Blame it on the caffeine

‘Caffeine psychosis’ defendant to stand trial

(AP) A Moscow man whose lawyer blamed caffeine-induced psychosis for alleged hit-and-run crashes at Washington State University in December has been released from a hospital and will face trial.

Dan Noble, 31, (left) has been declared fit to stand trial by doctors at Eastern State Hospital, said Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy.

He is charged with two felony counts of vehicular assault, two felony counts of hit and run and misdemeanor resisting arrest after being arrested in December.

Drivers on the highway between Moscow and Pullman reported Noble’s car driving erratically in the westbound lanes Monday morning, according to previously published reports.

Noble then turned onto Stadium Way, the main street through the WSU campus, where he allegedly struck students Hogun Hahm, 23, of Pullman, and Neil Waldbjorn, 19, of Malaga, Wash., in crosswalks about a block apart, according to the Associated Press. Both pedestrians suffered a broken leg and other injuries.

Noble then reportedly stopped and exited the vehicle at the intersection of Stadium Way and Grimes Way, about 175 yards from the second victim.

When WSU police approached him, Noble became “argumentative, incoherent, and resistive,” documents said. Officers used a Taser to subdue him.

Noble’s arraignment is set for April 9, court records show.

Noble’s attorney, Mark Moorer, has previously said his client was suffering from caffeine-induced psychosis brought on by too much coffee and energy drinks.

Past coverage: Lawyer: Blame it on the caffeine

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