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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: motion hearings

Trial set for Elton on threat charges

A man accused of threatening to kill City Council President Joe Shogan and the chairwoman of the company that owns The Spokesman-Review will go to trial in April, a judge ruled today.

David H. Elton, who turns 44 on Friday, is charged with three counts of felony harassment for alleged threats made to Shogan, Cowles Co. chairwoman Betsy Cowles, and Elton’s ex-wife, Robin Stewart.

Elton was arrested Feb. 10 after police obtained an email in which Elton said he wanted “to murder”several people, including Cowles and Stewart. Elton was suspected of threatening to kill Spokesman-Review Publisher Stacey Cowles, but that charge was dropped the day of his arrest after Cowles “expressed no fear or concern about Mr. Elton’s conduct,” according to court documents.

Elton has said the emails were a joke and that he would never hurt anyone. Spokane police Detective Corey Turman testified on Thursday that Elton said he wanted the Cowles family to sue him so he could use the evidence process to obtain company records.

But Elton, who described himself as a “hyperactive political activist,” claimed “he was not willing to commit a crime just to get them in court,” Turman said.

On Thursday, Judge Maryann Moreno, the eighth judge assigned to the case, ruled that statements Elton made to police were voluntary and can be admitted at trial.

She also ordered that sixty Spokane County residents should be called for a jury pool. Jury pools typically have about 35 people.

Elton’s defense attorney, longtime trial lawyer Mark Vovos, has filed a motion asking for the charges to be dismissed because of judicial mishandling.

Past coverage:

‘Murder’ email meant as joke, suspect says

Motion to suppress filed in Elm Street homicides

The attorney for accused double murderer Justin Crenshaw wants all statements Crenshaw made to detectives thrown out as evidence for his February trial, according to a motion to suppress filed this week.

The legal question at hand: Were the statements from Crenshaw given during a noncustodial interview as investigators claim, or was Crenshaw being interrogated without having been read his rights, as defense lawyer Chris Bugbee argues in 10-page motion filed Oct. 14 in Spokane County Superior Court?

“Most telling in the present case is that when the officers finally got around to informing Justin Crenshaw of his constitutional rights after more than nine hours of interrogation his first response was: I think I need an attorney,” according to the motion, which notes that detectives had already called Crenshaw a suspect in a report before they talked to him.

Included with the motion are investigation reports that have never been made public until now.

The reports say Crenshaw, who denies killing Sarah A. Clark and Tanner E. Pehl, told a detective he wanted “to tell you what happened, but I want to know the evidence against me first.”

According to the reports, “Detective Drapeau told Justin that he understood how things can happen involving relationships and betrayal that could possibly lead a man to do things he normally would not do. Detective Drapeau reports that Justin shook his head and said “shit happens.” Detective Drapeau told Justin that all of the evidence pointed to his guilt. Justin purportedly responded “the evidence doesn’t lie.’”

No hearing on the motion to suppress those statements (and others) has been set.

Read past coverage here and here.

Hearing delayed for killer’s boyfriend

Brian Moore’s big day will have to wait.

A hearing on a motion to dismiss murder charges against Moore, accused of helping Shellye Stark kill her husband, was delayed today because the prosecutor is having hip surgery. 
Judge Sam Cozza set the new hearing for Sept. 17.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla appeared on behalf of Larry Haskell. Moore was in court in a blue jail jumper but said nothing during the short hearing. 

As he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, he said hi to Stark’s sister, Donna Haggerty.
“Love you sweetie. Be good,” Haggerty said. 

“Love ya honey,” Moore said.

Spokane police traveled to Orange County, Calif., in April and arrested Moore on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale Stark. 

Detectives don’t believe Moore was in Spokane when Shellye shot Dale, rather they allege he plotted the murder with Shellye and helped her concoct a sordid tale of spousal abuse in a failed attempt to dupe authorities into thinking the killing was in self defense.

Read past coverage here.

Big day tomorrow for killer’s boyfriend

Will the charges against the boyfriend of the woman convicted of killing her husband stand?

We’ll find out tomorrow in Spokane County Superior Court.

Lawyers in the Brian L. Moore case are set to argue a motion to dismiss first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Moore.

Moore is accused of helping Shellye L. Stark plan her husband’s murder, then concocting a sordid tale of spousal abuse to try to dupe authorities into thinking the slaying was self defense.

Moore’s public defender, Jeff Compton, is asking that charges against Moore, who’s accused of helping Stark with the plan to kill her husband, be dismissed because of lack of evidence. Moore was arrested in California in April. (Read about it here.)

Private investigator Ted Pulver is considered a key witness against Moore, but a judge has denied prosecutor access to material regarding Pulver and Moore that had been part of Stark’s case.

Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell has said he believes he still has a case. Judge Sam Cozza will preside over the motion hearing, which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

Courthouse watch: 7.30.09

No material from convicted killer Shellye Stark’s former lawyer’s files will go to prosecutors seeking a murder conviction against her married boyfriend  because the material could be critical to Stark’s appeal, a judge ruled today.

Spokane County Superior Judge Ellen Kalama Clark dodged a legal debate posed by state appeals lawyer Gregory Link and Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell when she declined to quash a subpoena that she herself had granted two weeks ago.

Instead of addressing the legality of the subpoena, she said she was quashing the subpoena because she’d seen the materials and had decided they couldn’t be used.

In her decision June 22, Clark had said she would sort through Russell Bradshaw’s files to see if there was information pertaining to Moore and private investigator Ted Pulver, the key witness in the case against Moore. Neither Haskell nor LInks has seen the material.

“I have an advantage over you gentlemen,” Clark said to Haskell and Links Thursday. “I have that infomation.”

By deeming all of the material too sensitive to Stark’s case to disclose, Clark avoided a legal debate about, essentially, a decision she’d already made -  whether material in one defendant’s case could be used in another’s.

She told the attorneys of her decisions after the debate because, “I wanted to hear what you had to say.” (Read a blog post about the legal filings here.)

Haskell said he believe the state’s case against Moore,  who’s accused of helping Stark with a plot to kill her husband, then of concocting a sordid tale of abuse to dupe police into thinking the killing was in self defense.

“It’s not helpful, but it is what it is,” Haskell said. “I think he still have a case.”

Moore, who was arrested in Orange County April 27 in a story you can can read here, appeared in court with Link (Stark’s appellate attorney), and Moore’s public defender, Jeff Compton.

“Excellent job,” Moore told the lawyers after the hearing.

His trial is set for Oct. 26. 

Courthouse watch: 6.12.09

Suspects on today’s Spokane County Superior Court docket included a woman whose cat-packed house was raided after a neighbor found what turned out to be broken freezer filled with dead felines and called authorities.

Once described as an animal advocate, Penny K. McIntosh, 57, faces ten counts of first-degree animal cruelty after 85 cats and four dogs were seized from a small house she rented at 2812 W. Sharp Ave. last summer.

Her neighbor described his situation as “like living next to a human toilet,” in a story you can read here.

McIntosh and her attorney, Dave Hearrean, were due to ask for a trial extension today

Two accused OxyContin robbers were also on the docket .

Adam J. Dally, 25, is accused of using a gun to rob the Liberty Lake Walgreens of nearly 900 OxyContin pills Dec. 5. He’s also charged with first-degree robbery for a Nov. 26 at the South Hill Walgreens, 2830 S. Grand Blvd. That Walgreens was robbed again Sunday in a case that remains unsolved. Read about it here.

Liberty Lake Detective Ray Bourgeois spent months building a case against Dally, who traveled to Seattle after the robbery, according to previously published reports.

People who led Bourgeois to Dally included a former girlfriend who claimed to have been having sex with him in exchange for drugs and heard him brag about robbing the pharmacy, records show.

Dally joined Sunshine VanCleave on the pre-trial conference docket. VanCleave is accused of robbing a Deer Park pharmacy in a story you can read here.

She discussed her addiction in a major story on OxyContin back in January that you can read here.

Also on the docket was Scott A. Johnson, 49.

He’s charged with bail jumping and possession of stolen property but is part of a larger Washington State Patrol investigation involving Pinnacle realty found Joe Ward.  

Courthouse watch: 5.21.09

A man charged with threatening to kill city of Spokane and Cowles Co. officials and a man charged with impersonating a federal agent were among cases with hearings today in Spokane County.

Steven E. Escallier, 40, (left) is charged with criminal impersonation, first-degree attempted robbery and malicious mischief after police say he tried robbing two men who were completing a cell phone sale arranged through Craigslist in early March.

Escallier told officer he thought the men were drug dealers when he identified himself as a DEA agent and ordered one to “hand over his drugs,” according to police. He was arrested a few blocks away from the crime scene at Crestline and Empire.

David H. Elton, 43, was another defendant in court today who’s made the news.

Charged with three counts of felony harassment - threats to kill, Elton was arrested in February after several people told police of emails he’d sent threatening to kill Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan and Betsy and Stacey Cowles, who own The Spokesman-Review. Elton has said he suffers from bipolar disorder.

“Elton states that the people he has targeted are largely semi-innocent, but his hate for them is based on their greed and ignorance,” according to court papers. “He states that the only exception is his ex-wife. He writes that he dreams of killing her and burning her remains and he listens to Chopin and Van Halen.”

Judge Ellen Kalama Clark granted trial extensions for Escallier and Elton Thursday. She also allowed a special judge to be assigned to Elton’s case.

Escallier remains in Spokane County Jail; Elton, who is out on bond, is represented by private criminal defense lawyer Mark Vovos. Vovos described the case as “complex.”

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