Posts tagged: Spokane County Superior Court
Were detectives just doing their job or did they go too far?
A Spokane attorney has accused detectives of misrepresenting facts surrounding a homicide investigation in order to obtain permission to search the belongings of the victim's daughter.
Recently unsealed court documents show Spokane police detectives seeking search warrants told a judge the daughter, Billie McKinney, 25, was an uncooperative witness who hindered the investigation into the May stabbing death of her mother, Sharlotte McGill.
She has since been cleared of any involvement.
Jeffry Finer, who is representing McKinney, released a statement Wednesday stating he would seek an explanation of the alleged misstatements from authorities, but did not specify what those misstatements were.
Authorities were looking into a possible connection between McKinney and 20-year-old Steven Lewis, who matches the physical description given by McGill just before she died. Lewis was dating the mother of troubled teenager Avondre Graham, 17, who now faces charges for McGill's murder and two separate assaults.
Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said detectives have a duty to look at anyone close to the investigation.
The story surrounding the recently released documents is sparking a lively discussion in the comment section.
Read more here.
A serial bank robber and protected federal witness has been sentenced to 41 years in prison for the 1992 murder of a Spokane Valley furniture store owner.
Patrick Kevin Gibson, 60, was convicted of first-degree murder of the Nov. 7, 1992, shooting death of Brian Cole, 48, at Cole's Furniture Store on East Sprague Avenue in July after a bench trial before Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.
Cole was killed during a botched robbery after the gunman said he was willing to hurt Cole's wife, who was in a scooter and witnessed the murder.
The crime went unsolved for 19 years before DNA from a fake beard left at the crime scene prompted detectives to arrest Gibson, who served 12 years in federal prison for a string of bank robberies that began in 1992.
He enrolled in the federal witness protection program after helping authorities convict his former cellmate of murdering a mother and her two children in Iowa in the early 1990s. That man, Dustin Honken, is now on federal death row.
Gibson also was convicted of robbing convenience stores and raping clerks in the late 1970s, about the same time he was shot in the face by a law enforcement official during a chase in Utah.
Gibson testified a partner in his bank robberies must have reused the beard, but Eitzen concluded he was the killer and had also robbed a children's store in Coeur d'Alene hours before the murder.
The trial began in May but was delayed when prosecutors learned “America’s Most Wanted” used the hat worn by the killer when re-enacting the murder in a 1993 episode. The trial resumed after authorities tested DNA samples from host John Walsh, a retired sheriff's detective and the actor who played the killer, Spokane County native Trevor St. John.
Eitzen sentenced Gibson on Friday to 493 months in prison. His lawyers have appealed his conviction.
The woman convicted of killing a Spokane man in December has been sentenced to 18 ½ years in prison.
Melinda R. Barrera, 32, was convicted last month of killing Robert A. Nelson following a bizarre altercation where Barrera was struck in the face with a cell phone and her boyfriend struck Nelson with a baseball bat.
The same jury acquitted 22-year-old David C. McLaughlin of killing or assaulting Nelson but found that Barrera was guilty of second-degree murder after she admitted firing the shot that killed Nelson.
Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen sentenced Barrera to a total of 224 months in prison with credit for 239 days already served in the Spokane County Jail.
McLaughlin was sentenced recently to a year in prison for felony drug possession.
A woman has been charged with felony animal cruelty after emaciated animals, including a duck, were seized from her property near Long Lake in April.
Sigrid Birgitta Winney, 63, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and is scheduled for trial on Oct. 22.
SCRAPS Animal Protection Officer Darlene Brumley responded to complain of five goats with no foot or water at Winney's property at 29116 W. Long Lake Road on April 9.
A confidential informant showed Brumley another property at 15857 N. Coyote Ridge Road where six goats were being kept without food and water, and two dogs were tethered to a tree. Officer Francisca Rapier spoke with Winney on April 11, and Winney said she felt terrible when she realized the terrible condition “of the goats and pregnant sheep,” according to court documents.
Winney said “she had not actually put her hands on the animals over the winter, as she had been feeding in the dark at night,” according to court documents. Officers also observed about 10 cats living in filth. Some of the animals had to be euthanized.
Winney is charged with first-degree animal cruelty, second-degree animal cruelty, confining animals in an unsafe manner and operating a dog kennel without a license.
A Spokane father has been convicted of severely abusing his infant daughter.
Tyler L. Jamison, 20, has been in the Spokane County Jail since April 2010, when his 2-month-old daughter, SkyeLynn suffered what Spokane police initially feared would be fatal injuries but has since been adopted through a foster family.
A jury convicted Jamison of first-degree assault after a trial before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno. The girl has been adopted.
Jamison is to be sentenced Sept. 28. He remains in jail without bail.
A college student has pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide for a 2010 crash that killed a Lewis and Clark High graduate and Eastern Washington University student.
Taylor D. Marean is to be sentenced Sept. 20 by Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque. He pleaded guilty before Leveque Thursday morning for the Feb. 14, 2010 crash that killed Jacoby N. Bryant, 19 (pictured).
Marean faces 31 to 41 months in prison under Washington's standard sentencing range guidline, said Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady. The sentence is for someone with no criminal history convicted under the drunken driving prong of the vehicular homicide statute.
Another driver, Brooke A. Reese, was sentenced last November to about a year in jail for vehicular homicide statute under the disregard for the safety of others prong.
Reese and Marean were racing when they crashed on on southbound Hatch Road near 54th Avenue.
Bryant was a passenger in Reese's 1999 Pontiac Grand Am (pictured). Marean was driving a 2005 BMW.
In the end, Patrick Kevin Gibson's bravado as a professional bank robbery didn't exactly contribute to his defense in the 1992 murder of a Spokane Valley furniture store owner.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Etizen said he appeared to be bragging about his exploits and gave more detail than necessary when he testified at his murder trial last week.
Gibson, 60, also didn't sway Etizen with his claims that the robbery at Cole's Furniture store that ended with the shooting death of Brian Cole was sloppy and likely done by someone other than the man who robbed a children's store in Coeur d'Alene three hours earlier.
Gibson suggested during testimony last week that the robbers were perhaps partners but initiated the heists separately - Eitzen rebuked that theory Thursday when she convicted him of Cole's murder and said the killer was the same man who robbed Teresa and Steve Brenner's store in Coeur d'Alene.
He also theorized that a man named Tim whom he'd hired to assist in bank robberies in Oregon and California in the early 1990s reused a disguise from one of the robberies to commit the Cole's Furniture Store robbery.
Gibson said Tim was one of two men secured a storage facility for him in the Portland area where he disguises and a police scanner to be used in the robberies. He also stored there a bank directory and a mailing list of all the police department sin the United States. He said he used the material to research potential small-town banks to rob. Gibson said he didn't know Tim's last name and Tim did not know his identity.
Gibson described the Cole robbery as “completely inept.”
“The store is supposed to be closed at 5 pm., so this was a spur of the moment crime,” Gibson said. “Both crimes, it's probably the only furniture store and kid's clothing sore that's ever been robbed in either town.”
Gibson described the “personnel” he hired out of Portland, Ore. to assist in the robberies.
“I used a total of eight males and four females for the operation, but only five of the males were involved in the bank robberies themselves. The other people were only involved in obtaining cars or acting as props so that I could stay in that town. Sometimes I had to stay right in the town. There was no way to get out.”
Gibson also described his involvement in the federal witness protection program, which occurred after he shared a federal prison cell with Iowa methamphetamine dealer Dustin Honken and told authorities that Honken had bragged about getting way with the murder of two confidential informants, a mother and her two young daughters. Honken is now on fedearl death row. Gibson said he became a protected witness in 1999.
“They do investigating for a year. Polygraph tests. It's very strenuous. You can't get into the witness protection program unless they verify you're telling the truth,” he said.
Gibson said he would tell the truth if he had killed Cole. He pointed to the fact that he's been diagnosed with stage 2 prostate cancer.
“I know I'm gong to die from cancer,” Gibson said. “I've almost always pled guilty to everything I have done. If I did this crime, I would give the Cole family some closure. I would admit to it and I would give them closure, because they need closure.”
On cross-examination, Gibson told Deputy Prosecutor Tony Hazel he “learned his lesson” about robbing small places after he robbed a Taco's John's in Portland and a gas station in Carterville, Nevada. (He and his partner also raped two clerks.) Gibson said he only targeted bank in towns with no law enforcement presence whatsoever. Coeur d'Alene had a police department so it “wouldn't qualify,” Gibson said.
Hazel pointed out that Gibson had been laid off just before Cole was murdered and was angry at society. He'd only started planning bank robberies and didn't successful rob one until December 1992. Before then, he'd only targeted small stores like gas stations.
Gibson said he wasn't proud of the robberies but he made about $840,000 in cash and more than $1 million in traveler's checks that he destroyed.
“The FBI said I was one of the most successful bank robbers going, sophisticated bank robbers operating at that time, but I regret it,” Gibson said.
After Eitzen convicted him Wednesday of first-degree murder, as the now convicted killer walked down the third floor hallways of the Spokane County Courthouse, a reporter asked him: “Patrick, did you do it?”
“No I did not,” Gibson replied. “Do I look 5-8?”
Cole's wife, Michele Cole, had described the killer as being about 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9. She said she recognized a scar on Gibson's face when she saw a picture of him in 2011. That scar is from being shot by a sheriff's deputy in Utah in 1998. The bullet went though Gibson's face.er it c
Gibson was arrested last year after his DNA was found on a piece of beard worn by Cole's killer.
His bench trial began in May but was delayed after prosecutors learned “America's Most Wanted” host John Walsh and a TV actor handled the killer's actual hat in a 1993 reenactment of the Cole murder.
Authorities obtained DNA samples from Walsh, actor Trevor St. John and tried sheriff's Detective Mark Henderson and compared it to the hat. Doing so helped forensic analysts determine that the chance of the DNA on the hat not belonging to Gibson was one in 10 million.
A 20-year-old woman originally charged with a death penalty eligible crime for the brutal murder of a Spokane man faces 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 years in prison if she follows a plea agreement approved today.
Breeanna C. Sims (pictured left) is to testify at the trial of accused killer Taylor J. Wolf (pictured right), which is scheduled to begin Aug. 20.
Sims, who was involved in a home-invasion robbery with her mother in 2009, pleaded guilty today to first-degree kidnapping with a firearm. Her plea agreement is sealed and hinges on her future testimony.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza today approved the plea deal negotiated by Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla and Deputy Public Defender Tom Trageser. Sims backed out of a potential plea in May.
Sims' brother, Justice E.D. Sims (pictured left), was sentenced in March to about 33 years in prison for first-degree murder and kidnapping.
Detectives say Wolf made incriminating statements to Britney Bjork, girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel Ricky Jenks, just after his arrest in April, leading them to charge her with conspiracy to commit perjury, rendering criminal assistance and arson. Bjork is scheduled to begin trial Sept. 4.
Detectives say Wolf told Bjork he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, which cite recorded jailhouse phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”
All three suspects were charged with aggravated first-degree murder. The charge is eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors said from the beginning they would not be seeking that.
Justice Sims is serving his sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Breeanna Sims will stay at the Spokane County Jail without bail. Her sentencing has not yet been scheduled as prosecutors await Wolf's trial.
Thoreson's family and friends attended Sims plea hearing today, including his girlfriend and toddler son.
A 23-year-old man who robbed a boy lured to Spokane through Facebook avoid a life prison sentence recently when a judge approved a plea deal.
David Michael Martinez was sentenced to 15 years in prison for first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and third-degree assault. He was arrested in June 2011 for first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery and faced life in prison without the possibility of parole under Washington's three-strikes law.
Martinez has previous convictions for attempted second-degree robbery and second-degree assault, which are strike offenses. He also has convictions for attempting to elude police.
His lawyer prepared a mitigation package, and prosecutors agreed to reduce the charges “given the difficult circumstances of defendant's childhood upbringing,” according to court documents.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza approved the 180-month sentence on Thursday, which is exceptionally high for the gun and assault convictions.
Martinez admitted to robbing a Post Falls boy who arranged to meet a girl through Facebook.
The victim said he agreed to meet the girl at Corbin Park with $75, but when he got in her Chevy Tahoe, two men later identified as Martinez and Brendan T. Dalla pointed handguns at him and demanded his money, according to court documents.
Dalla was sentenced in November to four years in prison for second-degree robbery. The girl was charged as an adult, but her charges later were moved to juvenile court.
Patrick Kevin Gibson made big money robbing banks. A dozen gunpoint heists in the 1990s netted him $850,000.
He was a professional robber who didn’t need to bother with a small-time holdup at a furniture store, claims the attorney representing him in a murder trial.
Gibson, 60, was arrested in Western Washington last year in connection with the 1992 killing of Spokane Valley furniture store owner Brian Cole. The arrest came under unusual circumstances: Gibson had stopped to complain to a police officer about a speeding motorcycle.
In what longtime Spokane County court officials described as riveting testimony, accused killer Patrick Kevin Gibson described Thursday his years as a big-time bank robber who earned about $850,000 before heading to federal prison.
Gibson's 12-year prison sentence led him to the federal witness protection program after he ratted out cellmate Dustin Honken, an Iowa methamphetamine dealer who bragged to Gibson about getting away with the murder of a mother and her two daughters. Honken is now on federal death row. His girlfriend, Angela Johnson, also was sentenced to death for the crimes but her sentence was overturned on appeal.
Gibson, arrested last year after DNA evidence on the killer's beard was linked to him, discussed Thursday taking polygraph tests to be part of a member of the secretive program. He denied murdering Spokane Valley furniture store owner Brian Cole on Nov. 7, 1992 - saying essentially that he was a professional robber who wouldn't mess with such a sloppy heist at a place with little cash. He suggested that a partner in his bank robberies might have committed the crime using a disguise from past bank heists.
Gibson said if he killed Cole, he would confess. But prosecutors pointed out that the bank robberies began after Cole's murder, and that Gibson also robbed convenience stores in Oregon. He also did so not just for the money but for the thrill, according to testimony.
Gibson, a level 3 sex offender, is charged with first-degree murder. He made the unusual decision to have his case heard by a judge instead of a jury. Superior Court Judge Tari Etizen is to hear closing arguments on Monday.
The trial began in late May but was delayed when prosecutors discovered at the last minute that America's Most Wanted host John Walsh and a TV actor handled the actual hat worn by the killer during a taping of the show in 1993.
Police obtained a sample of Walsh's DNA, as well as the actor and the detective who handled the hat, and submitted it to the state crime lab for testing.
A jury trial began this week for a young man accused of brutally assaulting his infant daughter.
Tyler L. Jamison, 20, has been in the Spokane County Jail since April 2010, when his 2-month-old daughter, SkyeLynn suffered what Spokane police initially feared would be fatal injuries but has since been adopted through a foster family.
Jamison is charged with first-degree assault. Police say he described weeks of horrible abuse that was sparked by the baby's crying.
He cut off her breathing until she turned pale “a couple times a day until his fingernails started leaving scratches and cuts on SkyeLynn’s skin,” according to court documents. He didn’t want anyone to notice what he was doing, so “he started cupping his hand over SkyeLynn’s nose and mouth when she would cry.”
Jamison also reportedly told police that he sometimes squeezed SkyeLynn and may have broken ribs. Medics said the girl’s ribs appeared to have been broken at different times.
Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno is presiding over the trial, which began Monday. Sharon Hedlund is prosecuting. Jeff Compton is defending Jamison.
Sentencing has not yet been set, but 25-year-old Grant T. McAdams faces somewhere between 17 and 22 years in prison after he was convicted of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery for the May 9, 2011, attack that nearly killed an Iraqi man who had come to the United States as a refugee after helping the U.S. military.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen said today that her misunderstanding of how DNA evidence was handled led her to initially make the wrong decision about whether it can be used in a murder suspect's trial.
Eitzen originally was going to prohibit prosecutors from mentioning the presence of DNA from “America's Most Wanted” host John Walsh (pictured right) and actor Trevor St. John unless defense lawyers opened the door for the testimony by questioning the DNA profile of the hat.
But she made that decision under the erroneous belief that the DNA sample from the hat that was tested in 2004 was taken before Walsh and St. John handled the hat. That wasn't the case.
She reversed her decision Thursday, prompting John Whaley, defense lawyer for suspect Patrick Kevin Gibson (pictured left), to file a motion asking her to reconsider, which she denied to do today.
Gibson is charged with first-degree murder for the Nov. 7,1992, shooting death of Valley furniture store owner Brian Cole.
Eitzen today delayed the rest of the trial until July 10 to allow for lawyers to prepare for the newly discovered DNA evidence from Walsh, St. John, and the detective who handled the case. Read much more here.
Eitzen spoke candidly today about her original lack of understanding.
“I just got it wrong,” she said.
“This isn't about retesting the hat,” she said. “It's about for the first time getting the DNA profiles of others who touched it. I did not understand that sequence the first time I rule on this issue.”
“Those profiles are in evidence and I'm going to be really curious what the experts say,” she continued.
She said Whaley's motion implied that she did understand and simply changed her mind.
“I appreciate Mr. Whaley's kindness in thinking I did understand what was going on that day. Because I did not,” she said.
“And that happens,” Eitzen continued. “And courts have to be able to say 'we mad mistake' and reverse themselves. Because it happens everyday. We reverse ourselves on evidentiary rulings every day.”
She said the issue does not warrant a mistrial.
“There has been no prosecutorial misconduct,” she said. “No ineffective assistance of counsel…I don't want to over speak, but these counsels are on the top end of prepared and diligent for criminal cases that I've tried.”
Investigators believe a sex offender on trial for the 1992 murder of a Spokane Valley furniture store owner robbed a children's apparel store at gunpoint three hours before the fatal shooting.
A judge has heard testimony from Steve and Teresa Benner, who owned the Kid's Fair clothing store in the Sunset Mall in Coeur d'Alene.
The store was robbed at gunpoint Nov. 7, 1992, about 5 p.m. The couple's two children, ages five and two, were present. The robber ordered employee Kathy Ward to handcuff Steve Benner, then handcuff herself to Benner. He stole their money and credit cards and left.
The Benners told police at the time that he was wearing a fake beard and a black baseball hat that said “Solid Gold.” That hat and a piece of the beard was found at the scene of the murder and robbery at Cole's Furniture Store in Spokane Valley, which occurred about 8 p.m. on Nov. 7, 1992.
Store owner Brian Cole was fatally shot when he tried to overpower the robber after the robber said he might harm Cole's wife, who uses a scooter.
Spokane County detectives submitted that beard for DNA testing in late 2010, and it matched a DNA sample from Patrick K. Gibson, who was arrested in May 2011. The Benners identified him from a photo montage as the man who robbed their store.
Gibson's bench trial resumes today before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.
Gibson's extensive criminal history includes convictions for rape and robbery in Multnomah County, Ore., in 1979, as well as kidnapping in Nevada in 1978. He was convicted of bank robbery in federal court in California in 1996 and served 12 years in prison.
A Spokane County jury on Tuesday saw graphic photographs and heard descriptions of the tire-iron attack last year against a man who came to the United States as a refugee from Iraq after helping the U.S. military
Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz told the jury how the gruesome beating took place. But, Steinmetz did not say why Grant T. McAdams, 25, is alleged to have committed attempted first-degree murder and first-degree robbery on May 9, 2011.
Spokane police released this photo of the March 29 crash.
A Deer Park man pleaded guilty today to a hit-and-run crash earlier this year that injured three people in Spokane.
Christopher L. Smith, 52, told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno that he blacked out when he approached the intersection of Mission Avenue and Greene Street on March 29. The crash took out a light pole and damaged three other cars. One of those drivers suffered a broken leg.
“I remember turning the wheel and I blacked out,” Smith said. “I don't know why I walked away. I think about that every day.”
But Smith came to his senses long enough to ask his ex-wife to tell police that he wasn't driving her car. He was arrested later that day at his Deer Park home.
Spokane County Prosecutors initially charged Smith with vehicular assault and three counts of failure to remain at the scene of an injury accident. As part of the plea bargain, two of the latter charges were dropped.
Moreno sentenced Smith, who had no prior felony convictions, to eight months in jail. She noted that if his story were true — that a blown front tire caused the crash — he likely would have faced a citation.
Trial began Tuesday for a career criminal sex offender linked to a 1992 Spokane homicide by DNA on a fake beard.
Patrick K. Gibson, 60, is charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Brian Cole, 48, of Nov. 7, 1992, during a robbery at Cole’s Traditions in Oak, a furniture store on East Sprague in Spokane Valley.
The case was featured on “America's Most Wanted” in 1993, but the investigation went cold until detectives in the last few years re-tested evidence and Gibson's DNA was found on the beard, which was left at the murder scene.
Gibson, a level 3 sex offender living in Stanwood, Wash., was arrested in May 2011.
Records show he was convicted of rape and robbery in Multnomah County, Ore., in 1979 after robbing a Portland restaurant, forcing a waitress into his car and raping her at a rest stop. He also was convicted in federal court in Nevada of kidnapping, aiding and abetting and conspiracy to kidnap. He also was convicted in Douglas County, Nev., of robbery after holding up a gas station in 1978, kidnapping a 17-year-old boy and a 19-year-old woman, then sexually assaulting the woman and leaving both tied up.
He served prison time, then was convicted in 1996 of bank robbery and aiding and abetting in federal court in the Eastern District of California. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
According to previously published reports, on the night of Cole's homicide in 1992, police allege Gibson entered the store about 8 p.m. and demanded money, then became angry when he was told they didn't have any cash.
Cole asked the armed assailant if he would harm a handicapped woman, referring to his wife, who used a scooter due to multiple sclerosis. The man replied he “just might,” the sheriff’s office said.
In an apparent attempt to protect his wife, Cole tried to overpower Gibson, authorities said, who fired three shots, hitting Cole in head and chest.
Gibson chose a bench trial instead of a jury trial, meaning Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen will hear the case against him and decide whether there's enough to convict. Testimony began Tuesday.
One of two brothers suspected in a series of Spokane County burglaries has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Donald G. Myhren, 30, pleaded guilty to residential burglary for a break-in last year and was sentenced this week to 108 months. He still faces additional robbery and burglary charges for break-ins at home this spring, along with his brother, Dustin J. Myhren, 26.
The men were out of jail awaiting trial for last year's case when detectives arrested them for the new burglaries in April. Investigators reviewing burglary reports noticed that the description of suspects in a series of Spokane County burglaries matched the brothers, and that a suspect vehicle was registered at their address.
They've both been jailed on $250,000 bond ever since and are scheduled to begin trial July 16 for the latest burglaries, some of which included the theft of sports cards.
Donald Myhren resolved last year's case Monday in Spokane County Superior Court; Dustin's still is pending.
Jodie Sinclair, whose home was burglarized by the brothers last year said she walked into her home to find one of the brothers running through her living room. The home was ransacked. Her husband chased after the man and his brother “and they in turned pulled a gun to get him to back off,” Sinclair said in an email.
The brothers are accused of again confronting a homeowner at a gunpoint just months ago.
Sinclair said she was disappointed in the sentence and said she hopes the pending robbery and burglary charges will put Myhren away for much longer.
“The material items he took that day can be replaced for the most part,” she said. “But what he stole from us is our sense of security and ability to feel comfortable in our own home.”
Appellate judges ordered a new trial today for Spokane man convicted in 2009 of being a sexually violent predator because the note he wrote, detailing his desire to rape, kidnap and dismember a woman, was never communicated to anyone and thus did not meet the required legal definition of a threat.
As part of the elements to qualify him as a sexually violent predator, the state must show that convicted rapist Shawn D. Botner committed an “overt act” toward committing another sex crime. Because of the decision Tuesday, Botner is expected to face another trial to determine whether he will remain in state custody indefinitely.