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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Merle Harvey

Gunman gets 63 years for 2 murders

A Spokane man who gunned down two men in a dispute over a car trade has been sentenced to nearly 63 years in prison.

Merle W. Harvey, 28, is in jail awaiting transport to state prison after Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen sentenced him on Friday to 753 months in prison.

A jury convicted him in late September of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm for the Sept. 26, 2009, killings of 41-year-old Jack T. Lamere and 45-year-old Jacob J. Potter.

Harvey had claimed self defense. He declined to speak at the hearing, which included testimony from victim family members. He was ordered to serve consecutive sentences for the murders with an extra 10 years because two firearms were used.

Defense lawyer Scott Mason had requested a sentence of 40 years. But Eitzen pointed out that she’d sentenced Harvey to an exceptionally low sentence after he was convicted of first-degree assault in 2000. She believed he would turn his life around then, but he proved her wrong.

Sept. 29, 2010: Harvey convicted of 2 murders

Sept. 23, 2010: Forced haircut preluded double homicide

Sept. 16, 2010 : Trial begins in double homicide over cars

Sept. 28, 2009: Suspect at large after shooting

Sept. 29, 2009: Victim had sought new life

Oct. 9, 2009: Hells Angels vowed to kill murder victim 10 years ago

Oct. 17, 2009: Man says he killed in self defense

Harvey guilty of 2 murders over car trade

A Spokane man faces a minimum of 45 years in prison after a jury convicted him Wednesday of two counts of murder that followed a dispute over a car swap.

The jury convicted 28-year-old Merle W. Harvey of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death Sept. 26, 2009, of 41-year-old Jack T. Lamere.

The jury also convicted Harvey of second-degree murder for the killing of 45-year-old Jacob J. Potter, who just happened to be with Lamere on the day of the shooting.

Spokane County Prosecutor Deputy Dale Nagy said Harvey faces a minimum of 45 years because the murder convictions must be served consecutively.

The jury found that Harvey used a gun in the commission of the killings, which added 10 years to the murder sentences. The sentencing date is set for 3 p.m. on Oct. 22.

“I think it was a just verdict,” Nagy said. “And most importantly … the family is pleased.”

Terry Eaglefeather, 67, who is Lamere’s uncle, yelled “all right” as Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen read the verdict.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

View photos of the victims and read background on the case here.

Deliberations begin in double-murder trial

A jury of six men and six women began deliberating this morning whether a Spokane man murdered two men last September or was defending himself when he gunned them down.

 Merle W. Harvey, 28, faces two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the killings on Sept. 26, 2009, of 41-year-old Jack T. Lamere and 45-year-old Jacob J. Potter.

Jurors have the option of convicting Harvey of lesser charges like second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Harvey, a convicted felon, claims he shot Lamere in self-defense after Lamere brought a gun to a dispute over a vehicle. Harvey said he thought he saw Potter - who was with Lamere at the time - put a gun in his shirt, but it turned out to be a flashlight.

After the shooting outside an apartment complex at 1310 W. Boone Ave., Harvey stole a truck in Spokane. He drove it to Coeur d’Alene where he stole another vehicle before he was finally apprehended in Kennewick on Oct. 10, 2009.

Testimony in the trial, which began Sept. 16, included a host of familiar names as witnesses described the weeks of unreported threats - and one unwanted haircut - that led to the gunfire.

Past coverage:

Sept. 23: Forced haircut preluded double homicide

Sept. 16, 2010 : Trial begins in double homicide over cars

Sept. 28, 2009: Suspect at large after shooting

Sept. 29, 2009: Victim had sought new life

Oct. 9, 2009: Hells Angels vowed to kill murder victim 10 years ago

Oct. 17, 2009: Man says he killed in self defense

Oct. 19, 2009: Stolen jeep had ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ coin inside

Forced haircut preluded double homicide

Testimony in a Spokane County double-homicide trial expected to end next week includes a host of familiar names as witnesses describe the weeks of unreported threats - and one unwanted haircut - that led to the September 2009 gunfire.

Merle W. Harvey, 28, (right) feared Jack T. Lamere and had been threatened by him several times, Harvey’s mother and best friend testified Wednesday.

Lamere’s friend Dare Douglas had brawled with Harvey’s girlfriend, Diane L. Richardson, and tow truck driver Richard Ziesmer had reportedly taken calls from Harvey lamenting a car trade and threatening Lamere. According to testimony, Lamere often visited Harvey’s home, including once with a man prosecutors called Matt Short - a 6-foot-1, red-haired man who was Wednesday’s Crime Stoppers’ fugitive.

Harvey killed Lamere, 41, and Jacob J. Potter , 45, (left) on Sept. 26, 2009, in what he says was self defense but prosecutors say was a planned murder out of revenge for weeks of problems with Lamere over a car dispute. Harvey said Lamere took his Chevy Blazer for a test drive and never returned, leaving him with a title-less Cadillac he couldn’t drive.

Court testimony on Wednesday described a bizarre altercation weeks before the homicides in which Lamere arrived at Harvey’s East Rich Avenue trailer, instructed him to sit down and be quiet, then forcefully cut Richardson’s hair.

When Harvey visited Lamere later, Lamere had knives and scalping instruments displayed on a table, along with Richardson’s braided hair, according to court testimony.

Some time later, Richardson brawled with Douglas, said Harvey’s mother, Faith Harvey. Lamere learned of the fight and called Harvey, threatening him, according to court testimony.

“He said that Merle was going to be dead,” Faith Harvey testified.

She said her son and his girlfriend were so frightened they went camping for several days. Lamere (right) visited the home several times while they were gone. He often bragged about his past time in federal prison and told Faith Harvey he’d committed “violent, heinous crimes,” she said. (Read more about Lamere here.)

Faith Harvey was the first defense witness to testify.

The prosecution’s last witness, Spokane police Detective Chet Gilmore, testified Wednesday morning, saying that though both Lamere and Potter had brass knuckles, Harvey didn’t mention the weapons after his arrest.

Gilmore said Harvey told him he shot the men on purpose and said Potter “was ready to F us up.”

He said Potter was wearing spiked brass knuckles and carrying a pistol-gripped black flashlight, but that Harvey claimed Potter had hidden a black handgun under his shirt. Gilmore said it would “probably” be difficult to hide the flashlight under a shirt.

It’s undisputed that Lamere was carrying a handgun when he was killed. Lamere’s girlfriend, April Fletcher, also had a knife, but Gilmore said Harvey admitted to never seeing Fletcher, thus the knife has no bearing on the case.

Harvey’s friend Aaron Cunningham (left) testified that he feared Lamere because Lamere held a gun to his head during a meeting over the car trade.

He said Lamere bragged about his history as a torturer “and said that he’s not afraid to do it again,” Cunningham said.

Testimony is to resume Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Past coverage:

Sept. 16, 2010 : Trial begins in double homicide over cars

Sept. 28, 2009: Suspect at large after shooting

Sept. 29, 2009: Victim had sought new life

Oct. 9, 2009: Hells Angels vowed to kill murder victim 10 years ago

Oct. 17, 2009: Man says he killed in self defense

Oct. 19, 2009: Stolen jeep had ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ coin inside

Trial begins in double homicide over cars

Trial began Wednesday for a man accused of gunning down two others in a dispute over a car trade last September. 

Merle W. Harvey said he shot Jack T. Lamere, 41, and Jacob J. Potter, 45, in self defense after the men, who were high on methamphetamine, threatened him with weapons.

But prosecutors contend 28-year-old Harvey, convicted of felony first-degree assault for a shooting 10 years ago, planned the slayings and then lied about what happened to investigators when he was arrested after two weeks on the run.

Opening statements were given Wednesday afternoon, followed by testimony from one of the first responding police officers. The trial is expected to last through next week, said Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy.

  Harvey shot Lamere and Potter to death Sept. 26 in the parking lot of Lamere’s apartment at 1310 W. Boone Ave., then fled with his girlfriend at the time, Diane L. Richardson.

They were arrested Oct. 10 while walking in a field in Kennewick after allegedly stealing jeep in Coeur d’Alene, then crashing it into a canal in the Tri-Cities following a shoplifting incident at a convenience store.

Richardson pleaded guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance in February and was sentenced to six months in jail with credit for time served.

Harvey is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He’s said since he was first arrested that he shot Lamere and Potter in self defense after the men surrounded his truck with guns.

He said he wasn’t looking for the men that night but spotted his Chevy Blazer in the parking lot while driving with Richardson.

Harvey said Lamere, who had been released from prison in September 2008, had taken his Blazer for a test drive but never turned it and left Harvey with a Cadillac but no title.

Harvey said he called Lamere (left) repeatedly asking for the title but didn’t get anywhere.

“The problem was compounded by the fact that Merle was aware of Jack’s history of violence and torture,” according to court documents prepared by Merle’s lawyer, Scott Mason. “Jack was a convicted felon, known as a debt collector (“taxman”) and enforcer. He often carried a knife and/or brass knuckles.” 

Harvey said Lamere refused to give him his Blazer without the Cadillac, so Richardson borrowed and STA security guard’s cell phone to have the car driven to the parking lot.

While Richardson was gone, Lamere and his girlfriend, April Fletcher, armed themselves with a gun and knife. Lamere and Potter each had a pair of brass knuckles; Potter’s were spiked, according to court documents.

Police photos show a metal baseball bat and knife on the floor of the car Lamere had been working on; a loaded gun was in a nearby toolbox, and another knife was in the bed of a truck, according to court documents. Lamere and Potter had high levels of meth in their bloodstream.

Harvey shot the men with two guns but “it was not until the scene became hostile and Merle felt Diana’s and his life were being threatened that he revealed the weapons and fired,” Mason said in court documents.

But other witnesses dispute Harvey’s account, prosecutors say. According to court documents, one man told police he heard the shooter “say something to the effect of, ‘This is for ripping me off.’”

And Richard Ziesmer, a tow truck driver who worked with Lamere, said Harvey had called threatening the men in the days leading up to the shooting.

Ziesmer told The Spokesman-Review in June that his court paperwork had been getting mistakenly mailed to Harvey’s mother’s home. Ziesmer says he learned of the mix up when he found the paperwork stuck to his tow yard fence with the word “snitch” scrawled on it.

Harvey’s mother, 55-year-old Faith M. Harvey is expected to testify. She was jailed Tuesday on a material witness warrant.

The trial resumes this morning before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

Past coverage:

Sept. 28: Suspect at large after shooting

Sept. 29: Victim had sought new life

Oct. 9: Hells Angels vowed to kill murder victim 10 years ago

Oct. 17: Man says he killed in self defense

Oct. 19: Stolen jeep had ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ coin inside

Accused killer’s driver gets 6 months

 A woman who drove an accused killer from the scene of a double homicide last fall will spend a couple more months in jail.

Diane L. Richardson, 34, was on the run with her then boyfriend, Merle W. Harvey, 27, for two weeks after Harvey gunned down two men Sept. 26 in what he said was self defense.

Richardson pleaded guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance today and was given six months in jail with credit for time served. She’s been in custody since Oct. 10. Superior Court Judge Michael Price approved the plea deal.

“You’re going to have to deal with this for the rest of your life,” Price told Richardson.

Harvey and Richardson were arrested while walking in a field in Kennewick after allegedly stealing jeep in Coeur d’Alene, crashing it into a canal in the Tri-Cities after stealing from a convenience store.

Harvey remains in jail, charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of Jack T. Lamere, 41, and Jacob J. Potter, 45.

Lamere’s family attended Richardson’s sentencing and left the courtroom in anger after Price imposed the sentence.

Past coverage:

Suspect at large after shooting

Victim had sought new life

Hells Angels vowed to kill murder victim 10 years ago

Man says he killed in self defense

Stolen jeep had ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ coin inside

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