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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Stevens County Prosecutor's Office

TSA settles lawsuit from prosecutor

The Transportation Security Administration has paid Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen $225,000 for medical bills resulting from a fall in 2008 during an airport screening.

Rasmussen, who walked with a cane following childhood polio, filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in 2010 following an incident on April 4, 2008, at the Spokane International Airport. As he was being screened, Rasmussen alleged that he was told to sit but didn’t know a chair had been pulled away. As a result he fell, causing back and hip injuries.

Rasmussen said government attorneys disputed the hip injuries but agreed the fall caused back injuries, which in turn required surgery. Since the fall, Rasmussen often now relies on wheelchair for mobility, he said.

The case went to mediation and an agreement was reached in May, but order for negotiated dismissal wasn’t entered until this week.
  

2 men get 25+ years in Colville murder

Two men will spend at least 25 years in prison for killing a 63-year-old homeowner last July near Colville.

  Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin, 27, (left) pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and Eric L. Booth, 26, (right) pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Wednesday in connection to the killing of Gordon Feist during a botched robbery attempt, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 26: Two more charged in Stevens County homcide

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Stevens Co. murder suspect fit for trial

The suspected shooter charged with the July 17 killing of a 63-year-old Colville man has been found competent to stand trial.

  Eric L. Booth, 26, is expected to appear in court next Tuesday to schedule a trial, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said this week. But based on preliminary discussions, a trial may not be necessary, Rasmussen said.

Booth is charged with first-degree murder  for the shooting death of Gordon Feist in what detectives believe was a botched robbery. Also charged are 27-year-old Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin and 25-year-old Collette Marie Pierce.

Booth and his attorney, Paul Wasson, have been working with law enforcement, Rasmussen said.

Past coverage:

Sept. 26: Two more charged in Stevens County homcide

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Boss assaults man who flipped him off

A propane company supervisor recently was convicted of misdemeanor assault for attacking an employee who flipped him off last summer.

A jury convicted John Wilkinson, a supervisor for Ferrellgas, of fourth-degree assault last week after a one-day trial Stevens County, said Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

Wilkinson was in the back lot at the Ferrellgas office on Aug. 26 when an employee “made a vulgar sign to him with his middle finger” and Wilkinson got out of his truck and confronted him, Rasmussen said in his weekly column.

The men argued, and the employee ended up with bruises on his neck that he said were caused by Wilkinson shoving him up against a wall and choking him. The fight was related to an incident two days earlier, Rasmussen said.

The jury deliberated about 45 minutes before convicting Wilkinson, who was represented by Peter Jones. Lech Radzimski prosecuted the case.

Past employees are expected to speak at Wilkinson’s sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 5.

Rasmussen wrote about the trial in his weekly column. Read the entire column by clicking the link below.

Donations to prosecutor’s charity probed

What do David Miller, John C. Cooney, Dallas Cooney; Christian Phelps, Ronnie Rae, Frank Cikutovich, Paul Mack, Frank Bartoletta, John Clark, Rob Cossey, Tony Hazel, Jared Cordts and Larry Steinmetz have in common, other than law degrees?

All apparently donated to a Guatemalan orphanage supported by Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

Two Stevens County judges have asked the state bar association to investigate, saying they are concerned about Rasmussen’s practice of encouraging defense attorneys to contribute to the fund.

They submitted a copy of a February 2009 telephone message from Miller that says: “He had a good month. Does your charity need anything?” Miller said this week that he was “really offended” by the complaint.

Read John Craig’s story here.

Man in wife’s murder is competent for trial

A Stevens County man accused of killing his wife has been declared competent to stand trial after undergoing mental evaluations at Eastern State Hospital.

Craig R. Cosby pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder last week. Trial is set for August.

Cosby was 68 when called 911 on Oct. 3 and said he killed his wife.

He was arrested in the front yard of his home in the 1200 block of Overlook Boulevard in Marcus, a small town along the Columbia River in northern Stevens County.

Susan May Cosby, 53, was found dead of gunshot wounds in the home, and her husband was soon ordered to under mental evaluations.

In his weekly column to media, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said “a large number of items of physical evidence” still are being examined at the sate crime lab.

Past coverage: Oct. 20: Man held in wife’s murder taken to Eastern

Rasmussen may testify for Chism defense

Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen is out of the Todd Chism case after Chism’s lawyer said he intends to call him as a witness.

Judge Al Nielson appointed Ferry County Prosecutor Mike Sandona today to prosecute Chism on felony charges related to a brawl with Washington State Patrol troopers April 6. Chism pleaded not guilty today to the charges in Stevens County Superior Court.

Chism’s lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, expects Rasmussen to testify about his prior prosecution of a hit-and-run suspect in 2004, who is one of the arresting WSP troopers in the Chism case. WSP is the same agency that arrested Chism two years ago on child pornography charges that were later dropped.

Chism, a lieutenant, was placed on unpaid layoff status from the Spokane Fire Department last week pending the resolution of the charges. He had been on paid leave since April 8. Chism earned $93,535 per year. His trial is set for Aug. 2.

Past coverage:

April 23: Chism threatened to kill troopers, WSP said

April 9: Firefighter Tasered in DUI arrest

WSP: Chism threatened to kill troopers

A Spokane firefighter exonerated in a child pornography investigation two years ago threatened to beat a state trooper “to death” in a confrontation that led to felony charges Friday in Stevens County Superior Court, prosecutors allege.

New court documents show two Washington State Patrol troopers told investigators that Lt. Todd Chism’s anger during the April 6 arrest began after one told Chism he seemed familiar, then erupted into a profanity-laced tirade following a brawl in which he was stunned with a Taser several times. One trooper broke his thumb; another severely injured a hand.

Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen filed the documents Friday when he charged Chism with two felony counts of third-degree assault and two misdemeanors: resisting arrest and being in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Chism, a Spokane Fire Department veteran, has been on paid leave since April 8.

“There were some aspects of this decision that were very unusual,” Rasmussen said. “Certainly the history of Mr. Chism and the things that had happened between him and the state patrol warranted careful examination of the material.”

Chism’s lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, said his client’s version of what happened “is substantially different from the summary we see from the state patrol.”

He emphasized that the charging document “indicates Mr. Chism was cooperative until a second trooper arrived and made reference that he knew who Mr. Chism was.”

Read the rest of my story here

Past coverage: April 9: Firefighter Tasered in DUI arrest

Juror’s cell-phone surfing prompts mistrial

A juror caused a mistrial in a recent Stevens County drug case after he used a cell phone to look up legal information.

Betty Torres will be retried after a judge granted her lawyer’s mistrial motion last week because a juror accessed the Internet from his phone in the jury room to “answer some question about the charge,” according to the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office.

Torres is accused of helping exchange heroin for pills manufactured to look like OxyContin pills.

The trial began Monday. Jurors were preparing to deliberate Tuesday afternoon when the court learned of the juror’s Internet use, Rasmussen said.

“All the effort by the parties and the court and the jury was wasted, as well as the 30 or so persons who had been summoned and from which the jury was chosen,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen wrote about this in his weekly column. Read the column by clicking the link below.

Jury convicts gunman in neighbor dispute

A Stevens County man faces about 7 years in prison for a neighbor dispute that erupted in gunfire last May.

A jury recently convicted John Lewis Eberly, Jr., of assault and burglary after he fired a shot through his neighbor’s front door, then broke into the house and brawled with the woman. The woman suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

The May 15, 2009, incident stemmed from a dispute over a gate that had been installed on a nearby road.

Eberly confronted the victim outside her home, then fired his handgun through her door after she went inside and locked it. The victim ran to a nearby home to call police. She later discovered her phone line had been cut.

The jury convicted Eberly of second-degree assault and burglary but couldn’t reach a verdict on an attempted murder charge after deliberating for about 18 hours, according to Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

Eberly faces 84 to 94 months in prison with credit for about a year served in jail.

Rasmussen wrote about this case in his weekly column. He also mentioned it in a previous column while opining about neighbor disputes.

In one dispute, Rasmussen said, “As I reviewed the numerous reports of officer contacts with the parties, I was amazed at the trouble that can develop between folks who both say that they just want to be left alone.”

Read the columns by clicking the link below.

Child-molesting school counselor: I’m guilty

By Thomas Clouse

COLVILLE — A longtime psychologist for the Colville School District who also volunteered with police to help investigate child abuse pleaded guilty today to molesting one of his students and attempting to molest another.

Craig L. Figley, 59, of Colville, could be sent to prison for the rest of his life, though prosecutors will recommend he be ordered to serve about 13 years behind bars when he is sentenced on May 10.

“We have concerns about other victims,” Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said. “We very much hope these were the (only) two.”

In addition to the first-degree child molestation charges, Figley pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Images of young boys were found on his school computer and his home computer contained images of young boys engaged in sex.

The mother of the one of the victims said she wants justice for her child.

“This man has been in the school system for 30 years. You don’t wake up one day and decide you are a pervert,” the mother said. “That’s my concern is that there are other victims.”

Read the rest of Clouse’s story here.

Release nears for Stevens Co. foster mother

Carole DeLeon, the foster mother blamed for starving Tyler DeLeon to death, gets out of prison Wednesday after serving about half of the sentence she received in a 2007 plea agreement.

DeLeon, 55, has lost all parental rights of the other adopted and foster children who were in her care.

And she did not contest a motion brought by attorneys to make sure she receives no part of a settlement with the state concerning its failure to protect Tyler.

But the legal fight over who failed Tyler is far from over.

“I truly don’t believe she could spend enough time. But no time frame from a judge or jury could ever bring Tyler back,” said Jerry Taylor, who recently retired from the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office and who led the DeLeon investigation. “I believe we did the best we could about getting her stopped.”

DeLeon and her attorney, Carl Oreskovich, are pictured above at her sentencing in July 2007.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Read past coverage here.

Last dogs rescued at rural ‘killing yard’

Neighbors saw the carnage firsthand.

Older dogs ganged up on younger dogs. Dogs mauled each other regularly, sometimes leading to death.

This scene, detailed over three days of testimony in a Stevens County courtroom, led to a Deer Park woman’s recent conviction on four charges that sent her to jail for more than a year.

On Thursday, as Pam Deskins served her sixth day in the Stevens County Jail, animal control officers traveled to her Wallbridge Road property to capture the last of dozens of dogs that roamed a 3-acre pen described in court as “a killing yard,” said Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

“Pam Deskins didn’t beat or whip or starve these animals, but she kept them in such a way that they could really hurt each other,” Rasmussen said. “And they did.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Buyer turned burglar gets 10 years

A Stevens County man who posed as a home buyer, then burglarized the house as the seller vacationed with his family, will spend 10 years in prison.

Aaron Leigh, 32, was sentenced last week in Stevens County Superior Court to 80 months for residential burglary, to be served concurrently with sentences for several counts second-degree of possession of stolen property.

He got an additional 45 months after the Department of Correction revoked his participation in the drug offender sentencing alternative program on a prior offense, according to the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office

The case began in August after a homeowner showed him around a house that was for sale and mentioned he family was going camping Aug. 22 and 23. When the family returned, they found the home ransacked. Investigators found items stolen from the home in Leigh’s car.

Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen wrote about the case in his weekly column.

Click the link below to read the rest of the column.

The Devlin is in the details

The death penalty case against Christopher H. Devlin has turned into a legal mess in which prosecutors from two counties are squabbling over who should pay for the costly trial.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque has twice ruled on where the case should be held. First in 2008, Leveque ordered the case to remain in Spokane County after Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz argued that the May 2008 killing of a 52-year-old disabled Chattaroy man was planned and carried out and the victim’s body was found in Spokane County, where the body also was found.

But testimony from a co-defendant, who has been given a promise of lesser charges in exchange for his testimony, indicates that the killing actually took place in Stevens County. Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review. (Read a previous story on the case here.)

The case is the only death penalty case in the Spokane. Devlin’s co defendant, Carl Hoskins, also faced a first-degree murder charge but was released from jail on his own recognizance on Aug. 31 under a court order.

If he continues cooperating, Hoskins will face charges of second-degree assault, first-degree rending criminal assistance and be sentenced to 27 months in prison with 18 to 36 months probation, according to court documents.

Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen opined about this case in his weekly column.

Read what he had to say by clicking the link below.

Man held in wife’s murder taken to Eastern

A Stevens County man accused of killing his wife is undergoing mental evaluations at Eastern State Hospital.

Craig R. Cosby, 68, called 911 Oct. 3 after killing his wife and was arrested in the front yard of his home in the 1200 block of Overlook Boulevard in Marcus, a small town along the Columbia River in northern Stevens County.

Susan May Cosby, 53, was found dead of gunshot wounds in the home, and her husband was held on $500,000 after his first court appearance. He was to be arraigned on a first-degree murder charge last week in Stevens County Superior Court, but the hearing was continued after his lawyer requested he be evaluated for competency, which will take weeks.

Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen wrote about this in a weekly column he sends to media.

Click the link below to read the entire column.

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