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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Road Rage

Gunman arrested for road rage encounter

A man threatened three people with a gun during a road rage incident on Wednesday, police said today.

Jarred Woods, 30, was contacted by a Spokane County sheriff's deputy after his alleged victims provided 911 dispatch with his license plate number.

The victims, a man and two juvenile females, said they were driving south on Argonne Road near Wellesley Avenue when they passed Woods' vehicle and he swerved to the left, causing them to nearly swerve into oncoming traffic, according to the sheriff's office.

Woods then displayed a handgun and yelled at the victims as they called 911, the sheriff's office said.

Woods has a concealed weapons permit.

A deputy called his phone after running his license plate number and located him in the area of Argonne and Trent Avenue. He was contacted there and first said he only kept the gun in his trunk, but then admitted it to pointing it at the occupants of another vehicle because he feared the driver, according to the sheriffs office.

A .40 caliber Baretta handgun was seized from the trunk of Woods' vehicle. He was arrested on three counts of intimidation with a firearm.
  

Man gets 8-18 years for road rage death

A North Idaho man who fatally ran over a woman during a 2006 road rage incident was sentenced Monday to 18 years in prison.

 Jonathan Wade Ellington, 51, had been serving a 25-year sentence when the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his convictions last May because of problems with his first trial.

Under the sentence imposed Monday by Kootenai County Judge John Luster, Ellington will be eligible for parole after eight years and credited for time already spent in custody, according to the Associated Press.

A jury convicted Ellington Jan. 31 of second-degree murder for the death of Vonnette Larsen and two counts of aggravated battery for ramming her daughters’ vehicle.

The fatal encounter began when Ellington punched Larsen’s daughters’ car window and the women, and eventually their parents, gave chase at about 90 mph.

Vonnette Larsen's husband fired a .44 Magnum pistol at Ellington seconds before she was run over.

According to the Coeur d'Alene Press, Luster said “poor decisions” were made “across the board” by all the parties involved in the incident.

“I’ll never be able to make sense of the behaviors of that day,” Luster said.

He said the Larsens “clearly” share in the responsibility Vonnette Larsen’s death, even though they have denied so.

Man guilty in road rage murder re-trial

A jury today convicted a North Idaho man of second-degree murder for fatally running over a woman during a 2006 road rage incident with her husband and two daughters.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, 51, has already served six years in prison for the Jan. 1, 2006, incident but was released last year after the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his convictions because of problems with his first trial.

Judge John Luster today allowed him to stay out of jail until his new sentencing, which is scheduled for March 26.

Read the rest of my story here.

Deputy Prosecutor Luke Malek, who is running for the Idaho state Legislature, congratulated his office in a Facebook post: “8 months after a scathing, dicta-filled opinion, professionalism and justice prevail. Congratulations to Art Verharen and Barry McHugh for courage in the face of populist ridicule.”

Past coverage:

May 27: Idaho Supreme Court overturns Ellington murder conviction

2nd trial begins in ‘06 road rage death

Jonathan Wade Ellington and his girlfriend leave Kootenai County District Court during a break in the opening day of his trial Thursday. (SRPhoto/Meghann Cuniff) Ellington is pictured below in 2006.

Prosecutors say he used his vehicle as a weapon against two sisters and their mother in an angry road encounter fueled by his own rage.

But Jonathan Wade Ellington’s lawyers told jurors at the opening day of his murder trial Thursday that the North Idaho man was simply trying to get away from gunfire when he ran over and killed Vonnette Larsen on Jan. 1, 2006.

“It’s a tragedy, but it’s not a crime,” said John Adams, head of the Kootenai County Public Defender’s Office.

Read the rest of my story here.

Ruling clears way for 2nd road rage trial

A judge this morning refused to dismiss murder charges against a North Idaho man because of a last-minute evidence issue in his 2006 road-rage case, clearing the way for a second trial.

Jonathan Wade Ellington (pictured) was imprisoned for four years  on a murder conviction that was overturned because the Idaho Supreme Court ruled a state trooper lied at the first trial in 2006.

Opening statements in his second trial are expected Thursday morning. A jury is being selected today in Judge John Luster's courtroom at the Kootenai County Courthouse in Coeur d'Alene.

Ellington has been free since early November on a $50,000 property-backed bond after returning to Kootenai County from a prison near Boise.

Ellington is accused of running over Vonnette Lee Larsen, 41, in 2006 during a fit of road rage north of Coeur d’Alene. Larsen and her husband were pursuing Ellington after their daughters told them he’d punched their windshield, and at one point before the fatal crash Joel Larsen fired a rifle at Ellington.

When Ellington was sentenced in December 2006, his girlfriend, Ann Thomas, vowed to appeal. “Eventually, it’ll get to a real court,” Thomas said.  Ellington called the case against him “mind-boggling.” “I don’t understand this – I never will,” he said. Read that story here.

The case is being prosecuted by Barry McHugh and Art Verharen. Ellington is represented by John Adams and Ann Taylor.

I'll be covering the trial. Look for updates here and on my Twitter page throughout the opening day.

More past coverage:

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Cop arraigned in road rage gun case

A Portland police captain accused of brandishing a gun during a road rage incident on Interstate 90 in Post Falls acted arrogantly to state troopers as if he thought “I'm a cop and it's no big deal,” according to a police report recently unsealed in Kootenai County.

Todd Loren Wyatt, 43, pleaded not guilty Friday through his attorney in Kootenai County District Court to exhibition of a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor, for the alleged incident on Aug. 13. Trial is scheduled for Feb. 6.

A 20-year police veteran, Wyatt was off duty when he was stopped on I-90 at the Freya Street exit in Spokane by Washington State Patrol troopers after his alleged victim called from the Post Falls area stayed on the phone with dispatchers describing Wyatt's blue Ford F-150.

WSP Trooper Greg Birkeland said Wyatt asked to speak to him away from his wife and children, and Birkeland asked “what difference it would make talking in front of them compared to his prior actions in front of them,” according to the report.

“Mr. Wyatt's response to him was, 'All right, I hear your attitude,'” according to the report. “Trooper Birkeland said he thought Mr. Wyatt showed lack of common sense and good judgment. He was arrogant and cocky and played the situation down, not realizing the severity of what he had done.”

Another trooper told investigators he thought Watt's attitude was that of “I'm a cop and it's no big deal,” according to the report.

Wyatt's lawyer, Gary Amendola, said Wyatt disputes the charge..

“I'll tell you right now, Capt. Wyatt did not point his gun at anyone,” Amendola said. Amendola said Wyatt was “concerned for the safety of his family” because the alleged victim appeared to be trying to cause a crash.

Wyatt, who was with his wife, 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, when he was stopped in August told troopers there was a road rage incident “and he did in fact display his weapon in a holster along with his service badge,” according to an Idaho State Police report. “It was reported the gun was never pointed at the reporting party.”

Wyatt's wife told troopers she thought “those people were going to kill us.”

Wyatt was not arrested. He was removed from his position as head of the Portland Police Bureau traffic division when the investigation opened and was placed on paid administrative leave after he was formally charged last month, The Oregonian reports.

The alleged victim, Nicholas James Cox, 28, told police he was driving westbound on Interstate 90 behind Wyatt's Oregon-plated pickup when he passed the pickup because it was driving slowly.

Cox said the pickup started tailgating and trying to pull up beside him before the driver pointed a gun at Cox and his wife.

“Mr. Cox said he did not wish to pursue charges but wanted the driver to be aware of the seriousness of the offense,” according to the report. But Cox later changed his mind. He told police he'd spoken with his father-in-law, who is retired from the Seattle Police Department, and realized the severity of the incident.

“Mr. Cox told me he could not drive past where the incident happened without getting a sick feeling in his stomach,” according to the report, prepared by Idaho State Police Trooper Kevin White. “He also said when he sees a pickup that looks like the one the suspect was driving, he gets nervous until he sees the state of the plate.”

“Mr. Cox said when he first saw the pickup tailgating, he thought it was just some crazy guy,”  the report continues. “When he saw the pistol, he knew it was more than some crazy guy.”

Wyatt was on vacation from the Portland Police Bureau when the incident occurred.

Wyatt told police Cox was driving his Honda dangerously and appeared to be trying to cause a crash after passing him.

Wyatt said the driver and passenger “were young and possibly gang members” and he showed them his police badge in hopes they would leave him alone. When they didn't, he held up his holstered gun behind his badge, according to a report.

“He indicated once the problem was solved and the Honda quit trying to cause a crash, he put his badge and gun away,” according to the report.

Murder conviction tossed in ‘06 road rage

BOISE – State Supreme Court justices have thrown out the second-degree murder conviction of a North Idaho man, citing prosecutorial misconduct and the likelihood that an Idaho State Police officer committed perjury during the 2006 trial.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, of Hayden, was sentenced to 25 years for second-degree murder and 15 years each on two counts of aggravated battery charges for running over a woman during what was described as a road-rage encounter on New Year’s Day 2006.

But Friday, Idaho’s high court unanimously ruled Ellington should get a new trial. In the 32-page ruling, the justices wrote the Kootenai County prosecutor engaged in misconduct during the trial, in part by engaging in improper questioning meant to turn the jury against Ellington.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

When Ellington was sentenced in December 2006, his girlfriend, Ann Thomas, vowed to appeal. “Eventually, it’ll get to a real court,” Thomas said.  Ellington called the case against him “mind-boggling.” “I don’t understand this – I never will,” he said. Read that story here.

Other past coverage:

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Cops: Road rage with gun yields heroin

A convicted felon is accused of brandishing a gun during a road rage incident on U.S. Highway 395 that led to the discovery of heroin.

Brian L. Sellers, 34, is in jail on felony assault, gun and drug charges after the alleged victims called police about 3:45 p.m. May 3 and said a man in a Toyota was pointing a silver handgun at them while following too close on the highway near Wild Rose Road. Sellers appeared in court Wednesday after police recommended further charges.

The caller said the Toyota was following them at 90 mph and was just inches from their rear bumper. Two children ages 1 and 2 were in the back of the caller's vehicle, police said.

A Washington State Patrol trooper and a Spokane County sheriff's deputy stopped Sellers' car and arrest him and a passenger, Michael George Swan, 41.

Sellers told police about the gun, which they found sitting on the passenger-side floorboard with a loaded magazine next to it.

Sellers is on Department of Corrections probation and has several felony convictions, including first-degree theft and forgery, which prohibit him from possessing weapons.

The victim said she saw the Toyota driving erratically and trying to pass her before the driver exited and tried to stop her. She drove away, but Sellers followed and motioned with his gun for her to pull over, according to court documents.

Police found a baggie of methamphetamine in Seller's 2002 Toyota Tundra.

A search with a K-9, Jet, revealed a digital scale with 84.6 grams of black tar heroin.

Biker shoots to stop driver; driver arrested

An alleged road rage incident between a driver and motorcyclist Sunday in North Idaho led to the arrest of a 44-year-old Athol man after the biker fire a shot at him.

Keith W. Williams is charged with battery and aggravated assault after a man identified in court documents as Thomas Helton told police he had to fire a small handgun at Williams’ front car tire to stop an attack about 4 p.m.

Witnesses in the area of U.S Highway 95 and Neider Avenue told police that Williams punched Helton in the head as they were stopped at a light, then drove northbound toward Helton and his motorcycle, police said.

Helton fired one round into Williams’ car’s front tire. Williams is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly using his vehicle as a weapon. He’s out of Kootenai County Jail on bond.

Witnesses to the incident are asked to call Coeur d’Alene police at (208) 769-2320.

Court upholds ‘road rage’ sentencing

By Kevin Graman

The state Court of Appeals let stand the sentencing condition imposed on a Spokane motorist who assaulted a bicyclist during a road rage incident two years ago – that he keep his anger in check.

When a jury convicted Dylan T. Anstrom, 32, of second-degree malicious mischief and fourth-degree assault last year, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen gave him two years’ probation, provided that he had no further road rage incidents.

Anstrom appealed, saying the condition violated his due process rights. This week, the Court of Appeals for Division III refused to review his appeal because he could not show that “he has been harmed by the condition in any way.”

In July 2008, Anstrom was driving near the Centennial Trail when he drove up behind two bicyclists and started honking his horn before speeding past them, nearly hitting one of them.

When Anstrom stopped at a traffic light one of the bicyclists rode up and told Anstrom he had nearly caused a serious accident, according to court documents.

Enraged and believing the bicyclist had damaged his car, Anstrom chased the bicyclist through a nearby parking lot. Unable to catch the first bicyclist, Anstrom stopped the second bicyclist and demanded to know the name of the first.

When the second bicyclist refused to give him the name, Anstrom knocked him off his bicycle, kicked him, punched him, threw the bicycle on top of the cyclist and then threw the bicycle against a telephone pole, according to court documents .

Reward offered in road rage assault

The mystery of the road rage van continues.

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives have been trying to track down the driver of a van who faces a vehicular assault charge for allegedly dragging a motorcyclist during a fight on North Division Street on Aug. 14.

Detectives found the van’s previous owner, a Spokane man, who said he sold the vehicle to a man he thought lived in Cheney, said Sgt. Dave Reagan.

The van’s current license plate is Washington plate 102YVY, but it’s registered to a Post Falls church detectives don’t believe exists, Butch Stephen’s Organizational Church, Reagan said.

Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that solves the crime. “It would appear on it’s face that the van has been fraudulently registered, that’s why we’re having trouble tracking it down,” Reagan said. “We need help.”

The incident began when the van cut off a motorcycle while southbound on Newport Highway, according to the Sheriff’s Office

The motorcyclist and his passenger eventually parked when traffic was backed up on North Division and smashed out a side window on the van with his helmet before the van backed over the driver, dragging him about 20 feet.

The van is described as a 1986 full-size black and silver Chevrolet “beater” with a left rear side sanded down and primered. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (509) 327-5111 or submit tips online at www.crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org.

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