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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Spokane County prosecutor's office

No witness tampering in Mehring case

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has declined to charge former Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi with witness tampering in a wrongful termination case the city eventually lost and is currently on the hook for about $1.5 million in damages and attorneys fees.

The complaint, was filed in October by an attorney for Spokane Police Officer Jay Mehring, alleged that Kirkpatrick and Treppiedi failed to renew a contract of a police psychologist Deanette Palmer after she deemed Mehring fit for duty following allegations the officer threatened to kill his estranged wife.

The allegations came during a messy divorce, and a jury later sided with Mehring and awarded him $722,000 in damages and a judge approved $833,00 in fees to attorney Bob Dunn.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich asked the Washington State Patrol to investigate and that report was forwarded to Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll for review. Driscoll declined to file charges, according to a news release.

Past coverage:

Nov. 5: Jury awards Mehring $700,000

Oct. 5: Spokane police detective alleges witness tampering

Judge: Steve Tucker recall won’t proceed

A recall petition against Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tucker was dismissed this afternoon by a visiting Superior Court judge.

 Judge Craig Matheson of Benton and Franklin counties said that four recall charges drafted by Shannon Sullivan were insufficient and that one of the four lacked a basis of knowledge.

“I’m very relieved,” Tucker said after the hearing.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tucker disputes recall effort’s claims

Prosecutor Steve Tucker said Tuesday that he sees nothing in a petition to recall him except “rumors and hearsay, and ‘facts’ that are not true.”

 The petition for a recall election was organized by Shannon Sullivan, who led the successful recall drive against Spokane Mayor Jim West in 2005.

Read the rest of John Craig's story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 1: Recall effort targets Prosecutor Steve Tucker

Suspect who also is victim was fugitive

Crime Stoppers was offering a reward for tips on a Spokane woman who's both accused of a crime and the alleged victim of a crime.

Moleasha M. Barker, 32, (left) is charged with first-degree burglary, fourth-degree assault and resisting arrest. Barker was arrested Jan. 6 and told the court she would be staying at 12721 E. Shannon Ave. after she was released on her own recognizance.

 An investigator with the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office tried to locate Barker at that address May 11 to serve a subpoena for her to testify at the trial of Cameron D. Wilder (right), who is accused of assaulting her.

The apartment complex manager said Barker has not lived there in at least the past three years, leading to an arrest warrant that calls for her to be jailed without bail.

Barker is accused of drunkenly kicking down the door to an apartment at 2619 N. Market St. in January, allegedly screaming, “I am going to kill you,” as the victim was feeding her children and grabbing one of the chidlren by the arm.

A Spokane police officer said she was belligerent and called him a “white supremacist cop” as she was arrested, according to court documents.

Barker was arrested Thursday and appeared in Superior Court this afternoon.

No charges in accidental WSP shooting

A Washington State Patrol sergeant who shot an unarmed pregnant woman during a drug raid in Spokane last fall will not face criminal charges, officials confirmed Tuesday. 

Sgt. Lee Slemp has been on paid administrative leave since the Sept. 24 incident. He will return to work today in an administrative position while WSP conducts an internal investigation into the shooting, said Bob Calkins, spokesman for the State Patrol.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 1: WSP sergeant says shooting was accidental

Sept. 24: State patrol officer shoots unarmed pregnant woman

Man accused of threatening prosecutor

A crime suspect’s angry courthouse outburst after a series of prosecution mixups involving the case against him has led to an unusual new charge and prompted authorities to bring in an outside judge to preside over it. 

Roland W. Finney, who will turn 36 Friday, faces a single charge of intimidating a public servant in connection with a verbal altercation with Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla last year.

Spokane County prosecutors already had brought in Lincoln County Prosecutor Jeff Barkdull to handle the case, but Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen on Monday decided to send the case to a judge outside of the county, citing a witness list that includes a deputy prosecutor and fellow Superior Court Judge Michael Price.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse's story here. It includes this line: “The truth of the matter is that for some, life is a bitch.”

Woman can’t shake felony’s impact

Kristin Bell had what she calls a moment of weakness that has turned into a 2  1/2-year legal nightmare and forced her to give up a dream of ever working as a grade-school teacher.

Bell, 24, admits that she foolishly stole $163 worth of items in 2008 from a craft store in Cheney. But it’s what happened on her way to her car that forever changed her life and sparked a legal debate that continues today.

“It’s just been such an ordeal,” said Bell, who is about three classes short of her degree, unemployed and recently had a son. “I obviously admitted I shoplifted and paid the fines for it. I don’t believe being charged with robbery was right at all. It’s been ridiculous.”

The case, and others like it, has raised questions within Spokane’s legal community as to whether justice is being served when prosecutors turn what appears to be a shoplifting case into a felony at the same time they complain to county commissioners and taxpayers that they are understaffed and overworked.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse's story here.

Prosecutor: DUI case lacks evidence

The Spokane County deputy prosecutor who didn’t file a felony drunken driving charge against a man with a history of dangerous crashes said she’s not sure she has enough evidence to make the charge stick. 

James L. Crabtree, 49, appeared in court Tuesday and was told that a previous judge’s order that he not drive was lifted because prosecutors had not filed charging documents.

Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady said she expects to eventually charge Crabtree with something, but possibly not the felony driving under the influence charge being sought by investigators.

 Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 30: No charge means DUI suspect can drive

Nov. 23: Man faces felony Four Loko incident

Nov. 18: Motorists block path of negligent driver

Tucker wins 4th term as prosecutor

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker was reelected Tuesday night. 

Tucker (right) was leading defense lawyer Frank Malone 33,111 to 28,322 with 37 percent of ballots counted.

Meanwhile, Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Jim Reierson campaigned for write-in votes despite the fact that he wasn’t eligible to win the race because he lost in the primary. 

After complaining that the newspaper was ignoring his campaign, Reierson (left) backed out on a planned interview with a reporter on Tuesday, saying he wanted to enjoy the nice weather instead.

“I apologize for not calling you this morning, but I just did not feel like it,” Reierson said. 

Jim Camden has the full story at the Spin Control blog.

Stevens says he voted for Frank Malone

Dave Stevens, a Republican who lost his bid this summer for Spokane County prosecutor to incumbent Republican Steve Tucker and Democrat Frank Malone, said Wednesday that he cast his vote for Malone in the November election.

Jon Brunt has the full story at the Spin Control blog.

Past coverage:

Feb. 18: Stevens releases letter to Tucker

Candidate wants WSP to probe shooting

The Democratic challenger for Spokane County prosecutor on Monday called for the Washington State Patrol to take over the investigation into the fatal shooting of a Spokane Valley pastor.

Spokane lawyer Frank Malone said he had not contacted the WSP, but noted they were already involved in the investigation of the Aug. 25 shooting by Deputy Brian Hirzel as part of a protocol that is designed to avoid having a department investigate itself. “

This investigation is already compromised,” Malone said. “The deputy being allowed to go on vacation was ill-advised and created an unnecessary appearance of coziness with the legal system. The deputy is as interested in a credible investigation as anybody else. He doesn’t want this cloud hanging over him, either.”

Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.

Report: No ‘aha’ fix for prosecutor’s office

A consultant says he found no “aha” solution to a budget-driven slowdown in the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.

“A budget cut of the size imposed upon the prosecutor’s office is bound to have serious repercussions, as it appears that it did,” longtime Florida prosecutor Randy McGruther reported.

McGruther, chief assistant state attorney for a five-county Florida judicial circuit, conducted a $5,000 study in May at the request of county commissioners and criminal justice consultant David Bennett.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

Past coverage:

March 24: Deadlines bedevil prosecutor’s office

Chris Bugbee: I’ll retire as prosecutor

When defense attorney Chris Bugbee (right) addressed a room full of Republicans in June, he told them that he not only intends to defeat incumbent Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker (left), Bugbee said he intends to retire from the office. 

The bold prediction not only illustrates Bugbee’s quick emergence as a front-runner but how contentious the primary contest has become. 

The five-way race also features Republican David Stevens (right), Democrat Frank Malone (bottom right), unaffiliated candidate Jim Reierson (bottom left) and Tucker, a Republican, who has repeatedly said that his opponents don’t understand what it takes to manage 140 employees and points to his experience as the reason he is the best choice.

All of the candidates are experienced lawyers.

 “I am the only one with law enforcement experience. I have more management experience than all the others and more time in the prosecutor’s office,” Tucker said. “It gives me a better base to make decisions.”

 But Bugbee, who up until 2002 worked under Tucker, deadpanned: “What good is experience if you are not actually doing the job?”

 Bugbee, 43, has raised twice as much money as his closest rival – Tucker – and has racked up the most influential law enforcement endorsements, landing the Spokane Police Guild, the Spokane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Fraternal Order of Police, which is made up of retired law enforcement.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouses’s story here.

Read more about the candidates here.

Knezovich’s ‘support’ falls in gray area

A testament to the popularity of Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich may be the level to which candidates for Spokane County prosecutor are seeking his support.

The situation came to a head last week when incumbent Steve Tucker announced during a debate that he had the support of Knezovich (pictured).

Asked to clarify that support, Tucker made it clear that the sheriff has not endorsed his candidacy.

But Tucker’s opponents – fellow Republicans Chris Bugbee and Dave Stevens, Democrat Frank Malone and unaffiliated candidate Jim Reierson – all said they believe the average voter may not know the difference between support and an official endorsement.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

GOP group endorses both Bugbee, Tucker

The Republicans of Spokane County endorsed both incumbent Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker and challenger Chris Bugbee after an election forum this week.

That left out Republican challenger Dave Stevens, who earlier earned the endorsement of the Spokane County Republican Party.

Democrat Frank Malone and self-proclaimed “Law and Order” candidate Jim Reierson were not invited to the Monday forum sponsored by Republicans of Spokane County, which endorses candidates separate from the main party.

Tucker said he also received the endorsement of the Spokane Regional Labor Council, which includes several large unions.

Bugbee earlier received the endorsement of the Spokane Police Guild.

Separately, Tucker was elected Wednesday as the secretary of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. He said he’ll become president of that organization in two years if he is re-elected.

GOP prosecutor forum set for tonight

A forum for three of the five candidates seeking the Spokane County prosecutor’s spot is set for tonight..

The forum, sponsored by the Republicans of Spokane County, will be moderated by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who has not endorsed a candidate. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Quality Inn Valley Suites, 8923 E. Mission Ave., in Millwood, and will include incumbent Steve Tucker, Chris Bugbee and Dave Stevens, who all list themselves as Republicans.

Not invited are Democratic candidate Frank Malone and “Law and Order” candidate Jim Reierson, who works as a deputy prosecutor in Kootenai County.

Read a story on the debate here.

SPD Guild endorses Bugbee for prosecutor

The Spokane Police Guild has endorsed Chris Bugbee for Spokane County prosecutor. Guild President Ernie Wuthrich told Bugbee of the endorsement in a letter sent to his campaign headquarters.

“Through your many years of service to the Spokane community you have developed a reputation as someone who is willing to fight regardless of the consequences,” Wuthrich wrote. “Many of our members have worked with you in a professional capacity and believe you to be fair and trustworthy and the best candidate to serve in this very important position.”

Here’s how the union described the candidates:

  • Bugbee, a former Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor now criminal defense attorney in both Washington and Idaho, has handled all crimes as a prosecuting and defense attorney.
  • David Stevens has only handled property, drug crimes and misdemeanors.
  • Republican Incumbent Steve Tucker- historically has settled crimes at all levels and his tenure likely appears to be over based on an absence of support from law enforcement and his own party.
  • Democratic candidate Frank Malone has spent the overwhelming majority of his career handling misdemeanor level crimes.

N. Idaho prosecutor joins Spokane Co. race

A Kootenai County deputy prosecutor joined the race for Spokane County’s top prosecutor today.

Jim Reierson, who lives in Spokane, said he prefers “The Law and Order Party,” Jim Camden reports at Spin Control.

Reierson, 59, ran for the job four years ago as a Democrat, and ran twice for Spokane County District judge, which is a nonpartisan position.

He wrote letters to the editor in April and in February blasting Prosecutor Steve Tucker. Check them out here.

Reierson joins David Stevens, Chris Bugbee and Frank Malone as Tucker’s challengers.

Charges in deadly crash on hold for school

Prosecutors are waiting until the end of the school year to file vehicular homicide charges against two teens involved in a crash that killed a 19-year-old Spokane woman, Spokane County Sheriff’s Detective Dave Thornburg said today.

Thornburg sent an investigation recommending the charges against Brooke A. Reese and Taylor D. Marean, both 18, on April 5. The teens were said to be racing when their cars collided on southbound Hatch Road near 54th Avenue early Feb. 14, killing Jacoby N. Bryant, 19 (left).

Marean is a student at the University of Washington, and prosecutors are allowing him to finish the term before he’s arraigned on the felony charge, Thornburg said.

Bryant, a 2009 graduate of Lewis and Clark High and a student at Eastern Washington University, was a passenger in Reese’s 1999 Pontiac Grand Am when it collided with Marean’s 2005 BMW, then struck a tree, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Reese reportedly admitted to drinking four shots of Vodka at a party before the deadly crash, according to a search warrant. She faces a possible drug possession charge after detectives found meth in her purse in the Grand Am. Thornburg’s recommendation also includes two counts of minor in possession/consumption of alcohol against Reese and Marean.

Past coverage:

April 5: Charges recommended in crash that killed teen

Bugbee to run for Spokane Co. prosecutor

Steve Tucker has a new challenger in the race for Spokane County prosecutor.

Chris Bugbee, a 42-year-old Republican who worked six years as a deputy prosecutor, has announced his bid to unseat his former boss.

He joins fellow Republican David Stevens and Democrat Frank Malone in what is now a four-way race for the position.

“I think the office needs a real leader,” Bugbee said in reference to his former boss. “I don’t think Mr. Stevens is an appropriate candidate. I think he has demonstrated some questionable judgment. I fear that if he is going to be making those decisions as elected prosecutor, the consequences to the public will be even bigger.”

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

Stevens releases letter to Tucker

Spokane prosecutor fires election opponent

Democrat joins prosecutor race

Deputy prosecutor vying for boss’s job put on paid leave

Stevens will challenge Tucker for Spokane County prosecutor

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