ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: trials

Gibson’s bravado as robber didn’t help

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.

Accused killer gives riveting testimony

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.

Report details Gibson’s criminal history

When a man now charged in the 1992 shooting death of a Spokane Valley businessman left prison in the last few years, his brother attended a community meeting defending him. 

Patrick Kevin Gibson's neighbors had been notified of his status as a level 3 sex offender, and Michael Gibson was trying to explain his past crimes and justify his presence in the community.

Michael Gibson told sheriff's detectives he specifically asked his brother if he'd ever killed someone “and Patrick said he had not,” according to a police report.

“Patrick did tell Michael that he was the mastermind of everything he had done and had always acted alone,” the report says. Michael told detectives that his brother liked to flash his money around and may have been attracted to the excitement of robberies.

Patrick Gibson, 60, (pictured) has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. His trial was temporarily halted Monday because of the last-minute discovery by prosecutors that “America's Most Wanted” host John Walsh and an actor had handled the killer's hat after it was left at the scene.

Detectives say Michael was emotional in May 2011 when he learned his brother had been arrested for the nearly 20-year-old homicide.

“His first response was that he would never see Patrick again and that he had placed his own reputation on the line to help Patrick,” according to the report.

Michael said he went to bat for Patrick with concerned neighbors and said he told him if he messed up again, he'd be the first to turn him in, police wrote. Gibson has spent most of adult life in prison.

In August 1978, he fired shots at a Utah highway patrolmen who tried to  stop him for a traffic violation as he drove with his wife and her two children.

In November, he and another inmate escaped from jail, stole a car and traveled to Nevada, where he and an accomplice robbed and raped two convenience store clerks. Gibson was arrested three days later near Vancouver B.C.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in May 1979 but paroled in March 1992, about seven months before Cole was murdered.

Police say Gibson worked at a phone company in Stanwood, Wash., as a voice and data man but traveled frequently without his probation officer's permission. He's believed to have committed robberies in Oregon that same year.

The robberies are similar to gunpoint attacks at a clothing store in Coeur d'Alene and Cole's murder, both which occurred on Nov. 7, 1992.

While prosecutors believe Gibson himself got away with murder for nearly 20 years, Gibson  says he's partly responsible for helping convict a major drug lord who nearly got away with the murder of five people in Iowa in 1993, including two girls, ages 6 and 10.

The situation led Gibson to become a member of the federal government's witness protection program and resulted in death sentences for Dustin Lee Honken, 44, (pictured in 2005 by the Associated Press) and Honken's girlfriend, Angela Johnson, 48, though Johnson's sentence was overturned on appeal because of ineffective counsel.

Gibson told Spokane County sheriff's Detective Michael Drapaeu he shared a prison cell with Honken when Honken bragged about killing government witnesses and executing a family that included children.

“I decided to do the right thing,” Gibson told Drapaeu, according to court records. “I just tried to make amends for my past wrongs.”

It's unclear how exactly Gibson assisted in the case, but media reports say authorities placed an experienced jailhouse informant, Robert McNees, in a cell with Johnson who was able to obtain a map of of the grave sites.

A jury recommended Honken be sentenced to death after a lengthy trial in Sioux City, Iowa, in 2004. News reports at the time say the bodies of his five victims, which included two girls, ages 6 and 10, were found in late 2000 after Johnson drew a map and gave it a jailhouse informant.

Honken, who Iowa news reports say introduced methamphetamine to the state in the early 1990s, already was serving a 27-year sentence for drug trafficking when the bodies were discovered. Gibson was serving a 12-year sentence for bank robbery.

Gibson told Drapeau he would need to be isolated at the jail because he is a protected witness. Drapeau said he informed the jail of that, according to court documents.

Judge in DNA case: ‘I got it wrong’

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.”

Trial continues in YWCA ex-director’s lawsuit

Monica Walters, the former longtime Spokane YWCA executive director who’s suing the organization, is expected to continue testifying at a bench trial today in Superior Court.

The trial began last week before Judge Jerome Leveque.

Walters, who was director for 13 years, left the YWCA in February 2009. She filed a lawsuit in April 2009, alleging breach of contract, disability discrimination and privacy invasion.

Deborah Booth, president of the YWCA board at the time, released a statement in February saying Walters resigned for medical reasons:

“Everybody loves Monica, but it’s time for her to get out of the hectic crossfire of all this and get some time for herself.”

Booth retracted the statement a couple days later, saying  “my suggestion that Ms. Walters resigned for medical reasons was not accurate.” Oops!

A lawsuit by Walters’ attorney, Paul J. Burns, says the board breached Walters’ contract by interfering with her ability to manage day-to-day operations, including making hiring and firing decisions, causing “severe, medically diagnosable stress, mental anguish and emotional distress,” the lawsuit states.

Walters said that the medical condition was a disability and that the YWCA failed to accommodate it. The decision to discharge her “constitutes unlawful disability discrimination,” according to the lawsuit.

Walters’ invasion of privacy allegation stems from the YWCA’s disclosure to the media that Walters had resigned. Walters is seeking damages for economic loss, mental anguish and emotional distress.

Walters’ testimony began Thursday; no testimony was heard Friday.

New hate-crime trial for 2 CdA brothers






Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said Thursday that he will re-try two Coeur d’Alene brothers on malicious harassment charges stemming from a racial incident last summer.

Frank J. Tankovich, 46, and William M. Tankovich, 49, will be tried on charges of conspiracy to commit malicious harassment and malicious harassment, related to an incident that occurred in August. The brothers are accused of making racially motivated threats toward Kenneth Requena, who is Puerto Rican.

The brothers were tried earlier this month in Coeur d’Alene, along with a third brother, Ira G. Tankovich, 48, in the first hate-crime case to go to trial in North Idaho in recent years.

Read Alison Boggs’ story here.

Ira, Frank and William are pictured above from left to right.

Misdemeanor conviction in hate-crime trial

Jurors convicted a North Idaho man of conspiracy to commit disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor, in the first hate-crime case to go to trial in Coeur d’Alene in recent years.

The jury hung on two counts against the man’s brothers.

Ira G. Tankovich, 48, (left) was charged with conspiracy to commit malicious harassment, while his brothers, William M. Tankovich, 49, and Frank J. Tankovich, 46, faced that charge as well as the charge of malicious harassment.

The charges stemmed from an August incident with a Coeur d’Alene man, Kenneth Requena. Ira Tankovich will be released on his own recognizance, having already served six months in jail — the equivalent to the maximum penalty on the misdemeanor conviction.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs’ story here.

Read past coverage here.

Jury expected to get hate-crime case today






Closing arguments are expected today in the trial of three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene men man because of his ethnicity.

The prosecution and defense rested Thursday in the trial of Ira G. Tankovich, 48, Frank J. Tankovich, 46, and William M. Tankovich, 49 (left to right). The brothers are charged with malicious harassment after an encounter with Kenneth Requena, who is Puerto Rican, in August.

The judge presiding over the trial said Thursday if he were ruling on the case instead of the jury, he wouldn’t convict.

Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster made the comment outside the presence of the jury while denying a defense motion to dismiss the case against three brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic man in August.

Read Alison Boggs’ story here.

Hate-crime defense targets alleged victim

Defense attorneys in the Coeur d’Alene hate crime trial of three brothers lost an attempt Wednesday to challenge the alleged victim’s credibility by introducing his criminal record, which includes felony convictions for illegally transporting guns.

At one point, defense attorney Brad Chapman asked the alleged victim, Kenneth Requena, if he was in the federal witness protection program, but the prosecution quickly objected and 1st District Judge John Luster threw the question out.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs’ story here.

Tankovich erases the smile just in time

By Thomas Clouse

The hate crime trial in Coeur d’Alene taught one of the defendants to check his gear before he draws a practical joke.

Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen used an erasable board to have a witness draw how the Tankovichs’ pickup, which had a swastika and “born to kill” written in the dirt, parked in front of the home of Kenneth Requena in Coeur d’Alene.

During a trial break, Frank Tankovich (right) drew a smiley face on the board. But to Tankovich’s chagrin, he didn’t realize it was a permanent marker until he tried to erase the face before Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster returned to the courtroom.

At one point, Tankovich improvised by scribbling over the black permanent marker with the blue erasable marker. But Luster’s break lasted long enough for Tankovich to finally rub the board clean.

Read Clouse’s complete coverage of the trial’s opening day here.

Hate-crime trial begins in CdA, again

Opening statements are expected today in the trial of three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene man because of his ethnicity.

Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) were indicted by a grand jury last under Idaho’s hate crime law.

The men were to stand trial last month, but Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster declared a mistrial after the jury heard a recording of a 911 made by a next-door neighbor, who called the incident “a racist thing.” (Read the story here.)

Selection of a new jury concluded Monday.

Ira Tankovich, who has a star with the word “Aryan” tattooed on his left calf and a star with the word “pride” tattooed on his right calf, was arrested Aug. 16 after Requena and his wife told police he’d been approached by Tankovich and his brothers in a truck decorated with swastikas and the words “born to kill.”

The men left after Requena got a gun from his wife, then returned about 20 minutes later with a gun and a pit bull, yelling racial slurs, according to court documents Requena told police he asked his wife to bring him a gun from inside the home when the men first pulled up because “he knew he was about to get a beat down,” according to a police report.

Frank and William Tankovich were arrested after a grand jury indicted them in November. William Tankovich posted $100,000 bail but was jailed in December after a judge ruled he’d fraudulently posted a property bond. He’s since been released on bond.

Their lawyers have characterized the Aug. 16 incident at the home of Kenneth H. Requena as a misunderstanding blown out of proportion after Aryan literature was distributed in Coeur d’Alene.

The brothers say they simply asked to buy electrical equipment from the man and were stunned when he pulled a gun on them.

Mistrial declared in CdA hate-crime case



A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the trial of three Coeur d’Alene brothers accused of racially harassing a Hispanic family in August.

Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster declared the mistrial after Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen played a recording of a 911 call made by witness Julie Oliver, a next-door neighbor. Oliver could be heard telling the dispatcher she believed the incident she saw from her kitchen window was “a racist thing,” and that her neighbor, Kenneth Requena, was being threatened.

A new trial for Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) has been scheduled for April 12.

Read the rest of Alison Bogg’s story here

Previous coverage: CdA men deny hate crime allegations

Hate-crime trial to begin in Coeur d’Alene


Three brothers accused of harassing a Coeur d’Alene man because of his ethnicity will stand trial this week in Kootenai County District Court.

Opening statements are expected today in the trial of Ira Gino Tankovich, 47, Frank James Tankovich, 46, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 49, (left to right) who were indicted by a grand jury last under Idaho’s hate crime law.

The men’s lawyers have characterized the Aug. 16 incident at the home of Kenneth H. Requena as a misunderstanding blown out of proportion after Aryan literature was distributed in Coeur d’Alene. The brothers say they simply asked to buy electrical equipment from the man and were stunned when he pulled a gun on them.

Ira Tankovich, who has a star with the word “Aryan” tattooed on his left calf and a star with the word “pride” tattooed on his right calf, was arrested the day of the incident after Requena and his wife told police he’d been approached by Tankovich and his brothers in a truck decorated with swastikas and the words “born to kill.”

The men left after Requena got a gun from his wife, then returned about 20 minutes later with a gun and a pit bull, yelling racial slurs, according to court documents Requena told police he asked his wife to bring him a gun from inside the home when the men first pulled up because “he knew he was about to get a beat down,” according to a police report.

Frank and William Tankovich were arrested after a grand jury indicted them in November. William Tankovich posted $100,000 bail but was jailed in December after a judge ruled he’d fraudulently posted a property bond. He’s since been released on bond.

William Tankovich faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Prosecutors amended charges against Ira and Frank Tankovich to declare them habitual offenders, which increases their potential penalty to five years to life in prison.

Read more about the case in this story from December: CdA men deny hate crime allegations

‘Caffeine psychosis’ defendant to stand trial

(AP) A Moscow man whose lawyer blamed caffeine-induced psychosis for alleged hit-and-run crashes at Washington State University in December has been released from a hospital and will face trial.

Dan Noble, 31, (left) has been declared fit to stand trial by doctors at Eastern State Hospital, said Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy.

He is charged with two felony counts of vehicular assault, two felony counts of hit and run and misdemeanor resisting arrest after being arrested in December.

Drivers on the highway between Moscow and Pullman reported Noble’s car driving erratically in the westbound lanes Monday morning, according to previously published reports.

Noble then turned onto Stadium Way, the main street through the WSU campus, where he allegedly struck students Hogun Hahm, 23, of Pullman, and Neil Waldbjorn, 19, of Malaga, Wash., in crosswalks about a block apart, according to the Associated Press. Both pedestrians suffered a broken leg and other injuries.

Noble then reportedly stopped and exited the vehicle at the intersection of Stadium Way and Grimes Way, about 175 yards from the second victim.

When WSU police approached him, Noble became “argumentative, incoherent, and resistive,” documents said. Officers used a Taser to subdue him.

Noble’s arraignment is set for April 9, court records show.

Noble’s attorney, Mark Moorer, has previously said his client was suffering from caffeine-induced psychosis brought on by too much coffee and energy drinks.

Past coverage: Lawyer: Blame it on the caffeine

Witness in next month’s murder trial jailed

A key witness in an upcoming murder trial is in jail after investigators say she broke contact with them.

Colleen Sue Janson, 49, was booked just after midnight Friday on a $100,000 material witness warrant out of Spokane County Superior Court, and a misdemeanor warrant for third-degree driving while license suspended.

Crime Stoppers had offered a reward for information leading to her capture on Thursday.

Janson is expected to testify next month at the trial of Terry L. Conner, a 53-year-old Spokane man accused of stabbing another man to death in an apartment at 2614 E. Third Ave on Dec. 7, 2008.

Aaron D. Lyon, 30, also is charged with the murder of Timothy G. Eby, 50. His trial is set for April. Both men are jailed on $1 million bonds.

Police think the men stabbed Eby to death in a drug-related robbery that netted $7.25, according to court documents.

Janson had been staying with Lyon and Conner at the Bel Air motel, 1303 E. Sprague, at the time of the crime.

Investigators think she may have broken contact with them “because of an ongoing drug and alcohol problem,” according to a news release.

Court documents show Janson is not believed to have been present when Eby was killed, but she told police she had heard Lyon and Conner planning the murder, and that Conner bragged about having killed other people.

Janson told police she’d asked Lyon and Conner where they were going before the murder, and “Conner said they were going to rob the drug dealer who burned Lyon for $40,” according to court documents.

Janson fell asleep and was awakened when the men returned and Conner was yelling at Lyon, saying Eby should have had $2,000, according to court documents.

When Janson asked what was wrong, Conner “grabbed her by the sweatshirt and said that he just ‘stabbed the (expletive deleted) 15 times for $7.25, what do you think of that you dumb (expletive deleted)’?”

Read a previous story: Slaying may have been over $7.25

A child molester with a method

A jury will decide next week whether Ronald Reo Timm will ever get out of state custody. But the question remains: How does someone molest 24 children in Spokane over a period of two decades and essentially remain out of public view?

The answer, according to prosecutors and Timm’s own admission, is that he sought his prey in broken homes and bought their silence with toys and candy.

“I would have children spend the night … and set them up for victimization,” Timm said in an interview taped for court proceedings. “How can I put this? Kids like adults unconditionally. What I’m trying to say is they were not as likely to say no.”

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Ranch trial could go to jury Tuesday

Closing arguments are expected tomorrow in the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch sex abuse trial.

The lengthy trial is the first of more than a dozen cases that could go to trial in Spokane County Superior Court.

On Thursday, the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner (pictured above) said that he would sometimes get angry during his 52-year career at Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, but that he “never, never” sexually abused the boys in his care.

“I was a parent, and I did things that parents do,” said Morning Star’s former director, adding that included losing his temper at times.

Read Kevin Graman’s story: Former ranch director denies abuse allegations

Full coverage here.

Jury convicts man in gas station kidnapping

A Spokane jury convicted a 33-year-old man Friday of kidnapping and robbing a woman after she bought him gas.

Jason P. Shepard forced 20-year-old Brittany C. Fields into her car just before 1 a.m. May 6 at the Albertson’s station at 6616 N. Nevada, then drove her to a residential area and stole her cell phone and debit card.

Fields had used the card to buy Shepard $10 in gas after he said he needed to drive to a hospital to see his sick baby.

Shepard, who is in Spokane County Jail, will be sentenced Feb. 16 for first-degree kidnapping, second-degree robbery and second-degree theft.

The jury of seven men and five women also convicted him of victimizing a Good Samaritan, which increases his prison time.

His accomplice, Crystal L. Fuller, 26, was sentenced to 13 months in prison in October after pleading guilty to second-degree kidnapping and second-degree robbery.

Read past coverage here.

Victim testifies in kidnapping trial

A kidnapping and robbery suspect accused of victimizing a Good Samaritan will soon have his fate decided by a Spokane jury.

Jason P. Shepard, 33, is accused of conning a 20-year-old Spokane woman into thinking he needed gas to see his sick baby, then forcing her into her car and stealing her debit card and cell phone. Shepard was arrested shortly after the May incident.

Now a jury of 12 will decide whether to convict Shepard on charges of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree robbery and second-degree theft in a trial that began today in Spokane County Superior Court.

The prosecution’s star witness, Brittany C. Fields, testified this morning.

Fields was gassing up her car at the Albertson’s station at 6616 N. Nevada about 12:50 a.m. May 6 when Shepard asked for $5 to gas up his car, according to a report by Spokane police Detective Mark Burbridge.

Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.

Crips gangster on trial in Spokane

A Spokane man police say has ties to the Rollin 60s Crips gang is on trial this week for an early-morning shooting outside a downtown night club more than a year ago.

Anthony D. Singh, 21, has been in jail since July 30, 2008, four days after a bullet struck Alex Tauala in his right shoe in a parking lot near Sprague and Stevens.

Police say Singh fired that bullet, which did not injure Tauala.

Now a jury will decide whether to convict Singh (pictured right in his MySpace photo) on charges of second-degree assault, drive-by shooting, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, witness intimidation and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

His brother, 25-year-old Jamal Singh, pleaded guilty to riot last year and was given a year probation and credit for 24 days served in jail.

Police reports say the brothers were with two women, Jennifer Jacobs and Ashley Breesnee, when they were confronted by Tauula in the parking lot across the street from Jimmy’z bar.

They were then driven to a home at 1653 E. Ostrander in Breesnee’s Monte Carlo, where Jamal Singh retrieved a gun and put in the car’s trunk. They returned to the parking lot, where the Singhs got out of the car and confronted Tauala with the gun.

Anthony Singh is accused of taking Jacobs’ cell phone to prevent her from calling police. His ties to the violent Crips street gang is a factor in the prosecution’s case, which appears to paint the shooting as a gang war in the making.

According to a search warrant filed last week in Spokane County Superior Court, Jamal Singh called Breesnee a day after the shooting and said he didn’t believe the police were investigating.

“Jamal also told Breesnee that he beleive that ‘things were heating up and they wanted to be ready,’” the search warrant said.

“In the context of gang culture, respect is the center of the universe. A gang member acts either to gain or preserve respect or to tear down the respect garnered by a foe. Respect in gang culture is synonymous with fear and intimidation in mainstream culture as recognized by most American citizens,” Spokane police Detective Jeff Barrington wrote in the search warrnt, filed Dec. 8.

The warrant seeks access to Singh’s private MySpace page after his sister testified in court that they communicated through the wbe site prior to his arrest.

One witness in the case is cab driver Todd Hughes, who heard the gun shot and followed the Monte Carlo has it sped away. (In what appears to be an unrelated case, Hughes was assaulted at gunpoint last month in Spokane Valley.)

The trial will resume Tuesday morning before Judge Kathleen O’Connor. Larry Haskell is the prosecutor.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Sirens & Gavels.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here