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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Spokane County Jail

Man who denies selling cocaine found with cocaine

A 31-year-old man arrested at the Spokane Valley Mall with cash and cocaine in his pockets faces more jail time after twice denying to officers he possessed drugs.

Johnnie Counts is being held in Spokane County Jail on drug sale and prisoner possession charges after his arrest around 2:30 p.m. Friday by a deputy assigned to the mall, according to court documents. Deputies placed Counts under arrest on an outstanding warrant and searched his pant pockets, revealing more than $700 in cash. Counts was asked if he was holding drugs and given a warning their discovery at the jail would bring “more trouble,” according to the deputy's sworn statement.

Counts told the deputy, “I used to use and sell cocaine; not anymore,” according to court documents.

Searched before booking, Counts was given another chance to inform officers of drugs. Again he declined, according to court documents. Jail officers then discovered a substance that tested as crack cocaine falling to the floor during a strip search. According to investigators, the drugs were packaged for sale. Because he was being detained by jail officers when the drugs were found, prosecutors are pursuing a prisoner-in-possession charge for Counts.

Counts is being held in lieu of $15,000 bond on the two felony charges, according to jail records.

 

Death threat against grandma lands robber back in jail

A 23-year-old man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to robbing a woman at gunpoint in a Spokane Valley nail salon will likely face a longer prison sentence after police say he threatened to shoot his 80-year-old grandmother.

Kyle Henriksen was booked into Spokane County Jail last week after police said he violated conditions of his release. Henriksen was scheduled for sentencing in an armed robbery that occurred at the Super Nails salon at 1525 N. Pines Road on Dec. 28. Witnesses said a man walked into the salon, clad in a black hooded sweatshirt and wearing sunglasses, and pointed a gun at a woman getting a pedicure, demanding her purse.

The thief fled the scene on foot, and the woman identified Henriksen as the likely suspect. After trying to pin the robbery on an acquaintance, Henriksen eventually admitted to carrying out the robbery.

A few days after the robbery, police pulled Henriksen over for a broken tail light. They found drug paraphernalia and a blue powder that Henriksen said was “probably Oxycontin,” but said it didn't belong to him. Henriksen was also arrested later in July for leading police on a chase that ended at the apartment he was sharing with his grandmother.

Court records show Henriksen pleaded guilty to the December 2012 robbery in September. Sentencing in the case was scheduled for Nov. 18, in which prosecutors anticipated seeking the lower end of the sentencing range for first-degree robbery: 87 months, or a little over seven years.

But on Oct. 23, police were called to Henriksen's apartment on accusations he'd threatened to shoot his grandmother. When they arrived, the grandmother told police that Henriksen was pawning all of her possessions and had attempted to unplug her big-screen television so he could sell it. When she resisted, he yelled “I'll shoot you,” she told police.

Henriksen said his grandmother misunderstood what he said. He also told police he had a drug problem and said they would find drug paraphernalia under the cushions of a sofa in the home where he'd been sleeping. Police later arrested him for driving with a suspended license.

Police arrested Henriksen in 2009 when, as a 19-year-old, he assaulted two men who said they were attempting to return a purse belonging to Henriksen's girlfriend. Armed with a handgun, Henriksen struck one of the men in the face, causing the gun to fire and strike his jaw, according to previous news reports. Henriksen pleaded guilty to two counts of assault in the incident in December 2010, according to court records.

Court records show sentencing has not yet occurred in the December 2012 robbery case. Henriksen is being held in the Spokane County Jail.

Fire department axes jailhouse blood draws

The Spokane Fire Department responds to the county jail for calls ranging from diabetic episodes to overdoses.

But it will no longer offer a service it has long provided there – blood draws.

That's because it's considered a nonemergency service, said Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer.

“It doesn’t fit into our core mission,” Schaeffer said.

With the elimination of a three-person fire engine company at South Hill's Station 9 last year, the department needs to reserve personnel for emergency services, Schaeffer said.

“It’s going to be important for us to stay in service as much as possible,” he said. “We just don’t have the depth in the system to be without a unit for any amount of time.”

Blood draws make up a small portion of the department's responses to the jail; it did about six blood draws from April 28, 2012 to Dec. 26, 2012.

Others can provide the service, including private companies, licensed nurse practitioners or registered nurses, Schaeffer said.

Responding to the jail for the service doesn’t cost taxpayers extra – they pay for the fire department to be available 24/7 regardless - but fire officials are eliminating a lot of the noncritical services they provide in response to budget cuts.

The department will continue to respond to emergency calls for inmates at the jail, and typically sends a three-person company from Station 3, 1713 W. Indiana Ave., if they are in service and the closest at the time of the call.

“Just because they’re incarcerated doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to emergency response if they need it,” he said.

Wallace’s alleged accomplice tries suicide

A man accused of helping Charles Wallace, who shot two sheriff’s deputies before shooting himself to death last month, tried to kill himself at the Spokane County Jail on Friday.

Robert Lee “Bo” Ruth, 42, who was jailed last week after his girlfriend told police he’d assaulted her, remains on life support at a local hospital.

Ruth was found hanging unconscious in his jail cell Friday about 8:35 a.m. A corrections deputy cut him down and performed CPR until medics arrived, said Capt. John McGrath.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 5: Recording lends insight into Wallace's release

June 22: Man accused of helping cop shooter to stay in jail

June 21: Man arrested for allegedly helping cop shooter

Accused killer attacks cellmate at jail

A mentally ill man accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend choked his cellmate unconscious at the Spokane County Jail Friday, police say. 

Robbie W. Bishop. 22, faces a second-degree assault charge for attacking Terry Ingram, Jr., 33, who is in jail on a $1,000 District Court warrant, according to jail records.

Ingram told deputies that Bishop challenged him to a fight about 12:20 a.m. and said, “I'm going to kill you” before choking him unconscious.

A corrections deputy said he heard someone yelling “guard” and went to the cell, where Ingram said “He tried to kill me; get me out of here! Bishop choked me and I sh*t my pants!”

The deputy said Bishop said, “Yeah, I choked him out.” The men were removed from the cell.

Bishop has been in custody since July 2009 for the stabbing death of 33-year-old Robin M. Anderson, who was pregnant with Bishop’s child.

Bishop had been in jail before the murder but was released because Eastern State Hospital officials said they didn’t have room for him.

Closing Geiger: Wise or worrisome?

On its face, moving inmates from the Spokane County jail system to a jail in Kennewick solves big problems.

In the short term, local governments would save hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time when they’re continuing to deal with difficult budget decisions.

In the long term, it could take pressure off the county to build a new jail to replace the aging Geiger Corrections Center, which county leaders have fought to replace for years with little political success.

But county officials are fighting the potential move, which was sparked by city of Spokane officials who have long battled the county over the daily rates the county charges to hold inmates.

Read the rest of the story here.

Past coverage:

April 21: Officials say Geiger to close

Jailer catches vehicle prowling suspect

A corrections deputy caught a man prowling a county-owned vehicle early Saturday outside the jail, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Suspect David Allen Mackin, 21, was arrested after Deputy Mark Sprecher saw him getting out of a county vehicle parked about 4:10 a.m. in a lot on the east side of the jail, where Sprecher had just finished his shift.

Mackin ran east toward Monroe Street, but Sprecher followed him in his vehicle and caught up with him in the YMCA parking lot on the east side of Monroe Street near the Public Safety Building.

Sprecher told the Mackin he was a sheriff's employee, called 911 and stayed with the suspect until police arrived.

Mackin was booked into jail on a charge of second-degree vehicle prowling. He was released alter that morning on his own recognizance per a judge's order.
  

Deputy avoids spit; suspect faces felony

A Spokane man arrested on a disorderly conduct charge Friday upped the judicial ante by spitting at a deputy's face, authorities said today.

Christopher Joseph Davison, 23, faces a felony third-degree assault charge after the incident at the jail with Deputy Liljenberg. Liljenberg arrested Davison on a misdemeanor charge after contacting him in the parking lot at Safeway on West France Avenue.

Davison was confrontational and drunk and had been walking in the roadway and disrupting traffic, according to a news release by Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Liljenberg asked Davison if he could give him a ride somewhere, but Davison declined “and told the deputy he was going to walk to the moon,” Chamberlin wrote.  “As expected, Davison continued to yell and kick at traffic causing traffic to slow due to Davison unpredictable actions.”

Davison was transported to jail, where he spit at Liljenberg's face while being escorted to the booking area. Liljenberg avoided the saliva, Chamberlin said.

Davison remains in jail on $1,000 bond after appearing before a judge Monday.
  

Fugitive haunted by son’s murder in jail

A man targeted by Crime Stoppers for failing to register as a sex offender committed the same crime three years ago while haunted by the brutal jailhouse murder of his son.

William R. Rentz, 58, was convicted of third-degree child molestation in Cowlitz County in 1994.

He was living in an abandoned van at a gas station in the winter of 2008-2009 and walked to the police station to register as a sex offender each week. He left for Idaho without notifying authorities when his brother learned he was living in the unheated van, according to court documents.

Rentz never registered in Idaho, which led to his criminal conviction in 2010.

Rentz is the father of Christopher Lee Rentz, a 21-year-old gas theft suspect who was brutally murdered by cellmates Michael Lee West and Brandon West Martin in the Spokane County Jail in 2004.

The county settled a lawsuit over Rentz's death for $180,000, and Martin and West were convicted of murder. West is now accused of brutally assaulting two other inmates at the Airway Heights Corrections Center.

Rentz considered his son to be his best friend and has not recovered from his murder, according to a memorandum his public defender, Kari Reardon, filed before his sentencing in 2010 for failing to register as a sex ofender.

Rentz was in jail, too, when he was son was killed, Reardon wrote. Jailers put him on suicide watch after informing him of the murder.

“Unfortunately for William, part of him died with Chris,” according to a letter from his brother, Terry Rentz that was included with the memo.

Terry Rentz described how he searched for his brother at various convenience stores when he learned of his condition. He said his brother was physically unable to register, and when he was, “he could not face the fact hat he would need to contact the sheriff in the same building in which his son was murdered.”

William Rentz, who was credited for 417 days served in jail at his sentencing in 2010, suffers from mild dementia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic injury caused when he was buried in concrete, according to the memo.

A no-bail warrant for his arrest was issued Jan. 25 for failing to register as a sex offender, a felony. Crime Stoppers last week offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Police: Man jailed for forging jail check

A former inmate due $15 for money not used at the Spokane County Jail earned himself another stay behind bars by forging the check for more than 200 times the amount, sheriff's officials say.

John P. Oak, 44, was arrested Jan. 12 for forgery and second-degree theft after he tried to withdraw money from Banner Bank in Rockford, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Jail staff on Jan. 11 noticed Oak had cashed a check from the jail for $3,042.21, though jail records showed the check was originally written for $15.

Oak received $1,000 in cash and deposited the rest in his account, according to the Sheriff's Office. Bank employees notified police Jan. 12 that Oak had tried to withdraw more funds but was denied. Deputy Jeremy Jeske stopped a vehicle as it traveled north on Highway 21 from the bank and arrested Oak, who was a passenger.

Two other passengers, John M. Hamilton, 49, and Amanda M. Powers, 28, were arrested and booked on outstanding warrants.  The driver of the vehicle was released shortly after the traffic stop and is not facing charges, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Oak has been released from jail and is to be arraigned on Jan. 24, according to online court records.

New charges in Forker Road homicide

The girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel sergeant-at-arms Ricky Warren Jenks has been charged with three felonies for her alleged role in the murder of a 22-year-old man whose body was found in the back of his burning car in April.

Britney Bjork, 30, is accused of helping burn Nicholas J. Thoreson's car and driving murder suspects Taylor J. Wolf, 20; Justice E.D Sims, 19; and Breeanna C. Sims, 20; from the scene at Forker Road near Bigelow Gulch. Thoreson is pictured left; Wolf is pictured lower right.

In addition to first-degree rendering criminal assistance and second-degree arson, Bjork is charged with conspiracy to commit perjury in the first-degree for allegedly helping Wolf craft false statements.

She pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court and was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial. She declined comment today after Jenks was sentenced in U.S. District Court to two years in prison.

Wolf had been staying at Jenks and Bjork’s home at the Knotty Pines Cottages, 13615 E. Trent Ave., since before Jenks’ arrest on federal gun charges in March, according to court documents.

Detectives Bjork sent Wolf a text message early April 13 that said to tell a friend “that everything is fine that you got lost and stranded. you thought you were around bigalow but really you were by otis orchards. clear the fact that you were anywhere near that area!”

Wolf talked to Bjork over the phone from jail after his arrest. Detectives listened to the calls and say Bjork told him, “You've been with me…this whole…time,” to which Wolf responded, “I know, I never left your side.”

But detectives say Wolf also told Bjork on April 22 he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, citing recorded phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

Wolf and the Simses are charged with aggravated first-degree murder, among other charges, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison because prosecuters are not seeking the death penalty.

Also charged in the case is the Simses' half-brother, who pleaded guilty in juvenile court to threatening a witness in the case. The teen is not being named because he was charged as a juvenile.

Emily K. Karlinsey, 19, who is accused of making threatening phone calls to a witness, is set to go to trial in Superior Court.

Past coverage:

May 20: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

Murder suspect’s jail death a mystery

Friends and family say they are baffled by the death of a former Marine and accused killer found dead at the Spokane County Jail last weekend.

 Tristen Nebrae Jordan, 25, showed no signs of trauma when jail employees found him unconscious in his cell about 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Experts hope toxicology reports will help determine the cause and manner of his death, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Jordan’s lawyer, Chris Phelps, said he met with his client at the jail last week and didn’t suspect anything was wrong. He said he doesn’t want to speculate as to why Jordan died but emphasized the inmate didn’t appear suicidal.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 7: Murder suspect returns to Spokane

Dec. 15: Murder suspect a former Marine

Dec. 13: Police: Murder suspect shot self on Gonzaga campus

Pot, pills found during jail strip search

A Spokane woman set to serve four months in jail for money laundering has been charged with another felony after corrections deputies found drugs during a strip search.

Rebecca Suzanne Townley, 33, had pills and suspected marijuana concealed in a condom when a corrections deputy searched her during booking on July 27, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Another deputy also saw the contraband during the search, according to court documents.

Townley later admitted to investigators that she'd smuggled the drugs into the jail, documents say.

She appeared in Superior Court on Friday on a charge of prisoner in possession of a controlled substance.
  

County to pay $230k in jail mail lawsuit

Spokane County will pay $230,000 to settle a lawsuit over restrictions on jail inmates’ mail.

County commissioners and Sheriff’s Office officials also agreed Tuesday to abandon a policy of requiring messages from friends and families of prisoners to be written on postcards.

A consent decree negotiated with Prison Legal News also will prohibit other mail policies that county officials dropped less than a month after PLN filed suit Jan. 21.

Read the rest of John Craig's story here.

Past coverage:

March 2: Jail changes postcards-only policy

Large jail population limits bookings

UPDATE: The jail was downgraded to emergency status as of 3 p.m. with the population dropping below 620. That means staff will book all charges in the general bail order and will book and release all other gross misdemeanors and misdemeanors. 

It was a busy weekend at the Spokane County Jail.

So many people have been taken into custody that the jail began limiting bookings at 6 a.m. today when the population exceeded 650 inmates.

Until the population drops below 650, bookings will be limited to:

    * All felony charges, new or warrants.
    * All probation violations, Department of Corrections or U.S. Marshal
    * Legislatively-mandated misdemeanor charges or warrants for domestic violence
    * All NEW Driving while Under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs charges
    * All DUI warrants, including those with bonds
    * All warrants stating “No release own recognizance/Spokane County Jail”

“Charges that won’t be booked include misdemeanor thefts, malicious mischief, trespass, etc.,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release. “Exceptions can be made by jail shift sergeants depending on circumstances.”

The jail was built to house 470 inmates and has been upgraded with double-bunking in some areas to increase capacity to 650.  Administrators consider population greater than 650 inmates to be unsafe.
  

Killer’s history not communicated at DOC

When a rapist who murdered one of his cellmates in the Spokane County Jail requested a transfer to a medium-security prison several years later, the approval process at the Washington Department of Corrections was quick and routine.

Although prisoner Michael Lee West Jr. was known for his disturbing levels of violence, he’d managed to avoid serious trouble for about four years. The transfer request was approved, and a prisoner long deemed a serious threat arrived at Airway Heights in 2010 as a minimum-security inmate.

The results were tragic.

Just 10 days into his stay, the 35-year-old attacked two cellmates in what prison officials describe as a horrific barrage that left one man blind. Prison staff who rushed to the cell found a victim with his left eye hanging from the socket and his right eye severely damaged. West stood by, chanting religious phrases and proclaiming himself Lucifer.

Despite a well-documented history that included pleas by prison officials for lifetime lockup, none of those warnings and concerns traveled with him. The brutal assault was the Airway Heights staff’s first indication that this new inmate was prone to severe behavioral problems – even though West had warned his psychiatrist that he planned to stop taking his medication after his transfer.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 14: 'Graphic' attack leaves inmate blind

Charges sought in inmate’s drug death

Detectives are seeking a manslaughter charge against a former Spokane County Jail inmate they believe provided prescription drugs used in another inmate's suicide.

Ronald F. Edwards, 41, could be charged with delivery of a legend drug and second-degree manslaughter under a charging recommendation sent  to Spokane County prosecutors.

Detectives believe Edwards provided the prescription antidepressant amitriptyline to Christopher H. Devlin, a convicted killer who died of an overdose on Sept. 20, five days after being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Edwards was one of two jail inmates prescribed the drug.

Investigators believe Edwards gave his daily dose to Devlin after hiding the pills in his mouth so jail employees would believe he'd ingested them.

DNA on a pill hidden in Devlin's mattress matched a DNA sample taken from Edwards at state prison in Forks, Wash., May 6, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office announced today.

Edwards is serving 25 months for third-degree assault. Detectives say Edwards frequently spent time with Devlin when the two were out of their cells.

Devlin was convicted last August of the May 2008 shooting death of 52-year-old Daniel Heily, who was to testify against Devlin in an assault case.

Skinhead accused of damaging jail door

A skinhead jailed on a federal gun charge could be charged with an additional felony for damaging a jail door. 

James Daniel Bacon, 23, allegedly slammed the door to a jail day room backwards against a concrete wall so hard that the middle and bottom hinge bolts broke from the concrete.

Bacon refused to stop and was forcefully removed from the room by the jail's crisis response team, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said. He was placed in a restraint chair, where he told a jail deputy that “he had nothing to say other than to ask what charges he now faces,” according to a news release.

The room will be out of service for about two weeks as the door frame is replaced.

Bacon could be charged with felony malicious mischief, depending on how much the repair costs.

Bacon says he is a member of the Valhalla-Bound Skinhead movement, which was founded by Keegan Van Tuyl.

He recently was convicted of misdemeanor assault for punching a man charged with producing child pornography.

He's been in jail since Dec. 7 after running from Spokane police with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun. He's charged in U.S. District Court with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Authorities believe Bacon is trying to draw attention to himself.

He told The Spokesman-Review in a jailhouse letter that he had a speech planned at his bench trial for the assault, but no one from the newspaper went. He also sent the newspaper a copy of the speech he read, but that was ignored, too.

Overdose traced back to inmate’s pills

A convicted killer who committed suicide at the Spokane County Jail did so using pills prescribed to another inmate. 

Now detectives are investigating whether the pill provider could be at least partly responsible for the suicide of Christopher H. Devlin, who was found dead in his jail cell Sept. 20, five days after being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

An autopsy determined Devlin, 58, died of an overdose of amitriptyline, an antidepressant prescribed to only two jail inmates.

Detectives are awaiting test results comparing inmate Ronald F. Edwards' (pictured) DNA to the DNA found on a pill hidden in Devlin’s mattress.

Read the rest of my story here.

Photos released of MLK bomb suspect

 

 

 

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office has released booking photos of Martin Luther King, Jr., bomb suspect Kevin William Harpham.

Capt. John McGrath emailed the photos to mediaThursday night in response to public records requests. The photos show Harpham, 36, after he was booked into the Spokane County Jail on March 9. He was arrested that morning near his property north of Addy, Wash. A second set of photos from the U.S. Marshals Service has not been released.

Harpham has pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment charging him with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device and is being held without bail. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Harpham's father, Cecil Harpham, told The Spokesman-Review that his son was with him the day the backpack bomb was discovered along the panned route of the Unity March on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day in downtown Spokane.

Federal investigators say the device was capable of inflicting mass causalities and have called it an act of domestic terrorism.

Kevin Harpham has posted more than 1,000 comments on the racist website Vanguard News Network under the name “Joe Snuffy.”

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