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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: verdicts

Jury convicts father of severe abuse

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.

Past coverage:

April 12, 2010: Injured baby improving at Spokane hospital

April 8, 2010: Police: Baby brain dead after assault by father

Couple convicted, acquitted in murder

Three witnesses put the gun in her boyfriend’s hand either during or immediately after a Spokane man was shot last December following a bizarre altercation.

But Melinda R. Barrera, 32, admitted pulling the trigger and a jury convicted Thursday her of second-degree murder while acquitting her boyfriend of all charges.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

June 22: Trial starts for couple in shooting death

May 8: Murder suspect now facing meth charges

Dec. 10: Shooting suspect recalls chaos

Jury clears deputy of excessive force

A North Idaho jury has cleared a Bonner County Sheriff’s deputy against allegations that he used excessive force during a DUI arrest following a crash with injuries on the road to Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

 The jury on Friday determined that Deputy Clint Mattingley did not use excessive force during the DUI arrest of Joel W. Petty on March 8, 2008. Mattingley was successfully defended by attorney Peter Erbland of Spokane. Petty was represented by attorney Greg Devlin, also of Spokane.

 At issue was Mattingley’s handcuffing of Petty after the deputy responded to an injury accident. According to court records, Petty had an ordor of alcohol and failed a field sobriety test. Petty alleged Mattingley used excessive force and caused a rotator cuff injury when the deputy handcuffed him. But the jury did not agree.

$300k verdict in sheriff’s negligence case

A jury awarded an Airway Heights man $300,000 in federal court after he sued a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputy over a traffic stop that ended with the man being tackled to the pavement.

The jury found that Deputy Dale Moyer was negligent in calling in the wrong license plate number when he stopped a car in which John W. Jenkins was riding. The number Moyer called in came back as a stolen vehicle.

Jurors did not find that Moyer or Deputy Mark Speer used excessive force against Jenkins.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Jury convicts man of ‘07 fatal shooting

A jury on Monday found a man guilty of first-degree murder in connection with the 2007 slaying of a man in Hillyard.

As a result, Michael D. Coombes (pictured) faces about seven more years in prison than he would have under an earlier plea agreement, which he was allowed to withdraw because of a technical error.

 Coombes, who tattoed an image of the gun that he used to kill 53-year-old William “Red” Nichols on his leg, hung his head just after Superior Court Judge Annette Plese read the jury’s decision.

“I’m very pleased, very happy with the outcome,” said Nichols’ sister, Joselle Kuntz of Reardan. “Finally, we can move on.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 14: Trial begins in man's shooting death

Oct. 4: Witness tampering alleged before murder trial

What did Thompson jurors see on TV?

An investigator with the U.S. Attorney's Office contacted Northwest Cable News last week to find out what five jurors could have seen if they were exposed to coverage of the Karl Thompson-Otto Zehm trial during breakfast at their Yakima hotel.

The news channel says the tickers than ran the morning of Nov. 2 read: “A federal grand jury in Yakima will continue deliberations Wednesday in the trial of a Spokane police officer. Officer Karl Thompson is accused of using excessive force against a suspect who died. If convicted of violating civil rights and lying to investigators, Thompson could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison,” according to court documents filed today.

Thompson's lawyers cited the possible exposure to news coverage as a reason for a new trial. They haven't filed a motion for a new trial yet, but they've asked U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle to allow jurors to be questioned regarding the topic. A hearing on that request is set for tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. Get minute-by-minute updates from court here.

Today in court, Carl Oreskovich said the “cumulative” nature of testimony about Zehm's habits as a Zip Trip customer and the paycheck in his pocket could be another fact in the request for a new trial.

Meanwhile, Thompson is to be released from the Bonner County Jail, where he spent the weekend. Read more here.

Jury awards police detective $722k

A jury on Friday awarded more than $700,000 to a Spokane police detective they say was wrongly fired and retaliated against by Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

The amount includes $250,000 in punitive damages against Kirkpatrick, who quickly left Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor’s courtroom with Assistant City Attorney Ellen O’Hara after the verdict was read. Both declined comment.

Read the rest of my story here.

Attorney Bob Dunn gave a closing argument Thrusday so critical of Kirkpatrick that her attorney aplogized to her. Read more here.

Chism filed $10M claim as suit proceeds

A suspended Spokane firefighter’s wrongful arrest lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol over a botched child pornography investigation is headed to trial after an appellate court ruling Wednesday.

A three-person panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says false statements made by WSP investigators amounted to intentional and reckless conduct that infringed on Spokane fire Lt. Todd Chism’s civil rights. The two WSP employees named in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, Detective Rachel Gardner and Sgt. John Sager, shouldn’t be granted immunity because of their actions, the court ruled.

The ruling was issued the same day $10 million claim was filed against against the state of Washington alleging WSP Troopers Greg Birkeland and Greg Riddell used excessive force when they arrested Chism in a separate incident in April 2010.

Read the rest of my story here.

Jury acquits Chism in WSP assault case

COLVILLE – Embattled Spokane firefighter Todd Chism won his latest legal battle with the Washington State Patrol on Thursday when a jury cleared him of all charges stemming from a violent 2010 confrontation that injured him and two Washington State Patrol troopers.

 A Stevens County jury exonerated the suspended Chism of four felony counts and a misdemeanor resisting arrest, stemming from an early-morning melee outside his Nine Mile Falls home on April 6, 2010.

But the jury not only found him not guilty, they ordered the state to pay for his attorneys’ fees.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

May 19, 2010: New prosectuor named in Chism case

April 23, 2010: Chism threatened to kill troopers, WSP said

April 9, 2010: Firefighter Tasered in DUI arrest

Tribe member guilty of manslaughter

A federal jury in Spokane convicted a 22-year-old Colville tribal member of involuntary manslaughter Friday.

Rudy M. Garcia was acquitted of first-degree murder and other lesser included offenses following a two-week trial in U.S. District Court, said Tom Rice, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Garcia faces a maximum of eight years in prison. His sentencing is set for Oct. 27.

Garcia turned himself into tribal police in December 2010, about a month after tribal member David E. McCraigie, 22, was shot to death at 810 Sixth St. in Omak.

The men argued at a party before Garcia retrieved the rifle from his Jeep about 2 a.m. Nov. 5, 2009, according to court documents. Garcia claimed self defense.

Ex-CdA developer guilty in murder plot

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal jury has unanimously convicted a former Coeur d'Alene-area developer of crafting a murder-for-hire scheme to kill a prosecutor and key witnesses in a North Idaho drug case.

Kelly J. Polatis was found guilty Wednesday of 14 combined counts of witness tampering and using interstate commerce in the commission of a murder-for-hire. The jury acquitted Polatis of three charges. Defense attorney Lawrence Leigh says he'll appeal.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups will sentence Polatis on Sept. 30. He faces more than 130 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Polatis attempted to hire an undercover FBI agent posing as a hit man to kill five people who spoke to authorities about his involvement in a marijuana growing operation in Coeur d'Alene. Polatis was acquitted of the drug charges in 2010 and arrested on the murder-for-hire charges the same day.

May 24: Trial set in U.S. attorney murder plot case

May 13, 2010: Couple in pot case murder plot sentenced

April 21, 2010: FBI: Murder plot uncovered in marijuana case

Biker cites gender disorder at sentencing

A Sandpoint biker awaiting trial on charges of recruiting criminal gang members was drawn to crime because of a rare gender disorder that causes him to be self conscious about his masculinity, his lawyer says.

Dale Michael Champine, 42, (right) suffers from epilepsy, bi-polar disorder, depression and an extra sex chromosome from hypogonadism and Klinefelter's Syndrome, which causes him to develop female phsyical attributes “and associated psychological challenges,” according to documents prepared by Missoula lawyer Johnna Baffa, who represented him on a federal conspiracy charge.

 Champine was sentenced in Missoula last Thursday to five years of probation and six months of home arrest for a federal conspiracy charge involving the transportation of a motorcycle across state lines. Baffa cited his disorder as a reason to keep him out of a federal prison, where she said he faced significant risk because of his abnormal physical characteristics.

“…Even when treated, he continues to display the physical symptoms of hypogonadism which place him at a significant risk of harm if incarcerated,” Baffa wrote.

Champine was born with the syndrome but not diagnosed until his late 30s. Even as he began establishing a masculine identity, Champine's “physical development betrayed him,” Baffa wrote. He found acceptance in the Hermanos motorcycle gang.

 “As his mother points out in her letter, it may have been that he sought acceptance by this group not only for camaraderies, but as a way to be perceived as more masculine, all while struggling with a medical condition that forced his body to develop a more femine appearance,” Baffa wrote.

“In his constant search for acceptance by himself and others, Mr. Champine has 'acted out' in ways that have often resulted in criminal conduct. As his mother acknowledges, he is constantly seeking to be viewed and accepted as a more masculine person, leading him to act in ways that he perceives as 'masculine' or 'tough,'” Baffa continued. “Unfortunately, such behavior had landed him in the midst of the crminal justice system.”

Champine is scheduled to stand trial next month in Bonner County District Court on a felony charge of recruiting criminal gang members. He and other Hermanos members were arrested last fall as part of a long-term investigation by the Bonner County Sheriff's Office. The Hermanos group is a chapter of the international Bandidos outlaw biker gang.

Also charged is Hermanos member Steven Jay Beal (left), who is awaiting sentencing in U.S. District Court in Montana for the stolen motorcycle case.

Hermanos associate Paul Leslie Spencer, 57, (right) was convicted last week of conspiracy in relation to the stolen bike. Bonner County detectives bought the stolen bike's motor form Spencer last August. Beal told them it was stolen and suggested burying the cases with identification numbers on his property, according to court documents.

Spencer faces up to five years in prison. The men, who were indicted in January, are to pay a combined restitution of $6,695 to cover the cost of the stolen motorcycle.

Jury convicts Edgar Steele on all counts

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Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson is pictured after the verdict. In back, from left to right, are two unidentified officials, Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan, FBI Special Agent Mike Sotka and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Haws. Above that photo is a slideshow of photos showing Edgar Steele through the years. 

BOISE – A North Idaho lawyer accused of plotting to kill his wife failed to persuade a federal jury that he was the victim of a government conspiracy to silence him.

The U.S. District Court jury of 11 women and one man Thursday convicted Edgar Steele of hiring handyman-turned-FBI-informant Larry Fairfax to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele, and mother-in-law.

Cyndi Steele, pictured with her attorney, Wesley Hoyt. vowed to appeal the verdict. She believes her husband was targeted because of his defense of unpopular clients.

Read the rest of my story here.

A previous version of the story with more than 20 reader comments is available here.

A no-contact order between the Steeles has been lifted, and they are free to visit in jail whenever visiting hours permit.

A background piece on Steele is available here.

Steele was convicted of the following felonies:
1. Use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission for murder (for directing Larry Fairfax to drive to Oregon to kill his wife.) Punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
2. Aiding and abetting use of explosive material to commit a federal felony (for a pipe bomb Fairfax strapped to Edgar Steele's car at Steele's direction so authorities would think his wife's killer also targeted him.) Punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
3. Aiding and abetting possession of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence (for the pipe bomb on Cyndi Steele's SUV.) Punishable by a minimum 30 years in prison.
4. Tampering with a victim (for a phone call he made to Cyndi Steele after his arrest). Punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Man, woman guilty in ‘09 fatal stabbing

The families on three sides of a stabbing death of a Spokane man sobbed Friday as a jury returned guilty verdicts against the man and woman who fought the man they killed in 2009.

The jury found Matthew M. Nedeau and Maggie M. Tyler, both 26, guilty of second-degree murder in connection to the July 6, 2009, slaying of 24-year-old Vitaly Shevchuk. Tyler is pictured.

“I am really, really sorry for their mothers,” said Lyudmila Shevchuk, the mother of the victim. “They are not the enemy. From all my heart, I pray for them every night for strength. But their children are still alive.”

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

April 20: Man, woman on trial for fatal '09 stabbing

Guilty verdict in 1st Craigslist killing trial

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Jurors have convicted the first Craigslist killing defendant to go on trial of first-degree murder in the death of a Tacoma-area man gunned down in his home after advertising a diamond ring for sale.

Pierce County Superior Court jurors deliberated only a few hours Tuesday before convicting 23-year-old Kiyoshi Higashi (right) in the death last April of 43-year-old Jim Sanders. Higashi was also convicted of first-degree burglary and two counts each of second-degree assault and first-degree robbery.

The News Tribune says Higashi could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Higashi is the first of four defendants to go to trial. He took the witness stand in combative testimony Monday and admitted taking part in the robbery, but denied shooting Sanders.

Sanders' brother, Derek, and widow, Charlene Sanders, are pictured above hugging supporters after the verdict.

Past coverage:

May 5: Craigslist murder suspects arrested in California

Man shot by police acquitted of assault

A Spokane Valley man was cleared Thursday of charges that he assaulted the sheriff’s deputies who shot him in 2009, leaving him paralyzed below the chest.

David J. Glidden, 28, broke into tears as the Spokane County Superior Court jury read the verdict of “not guilty” on two counts of third-degree assault on law enforcement officers, neither of whom were injured.

“The cops overreacted. They shot me so many times. I was worried that no one would listen to me,” Glidden said after the decision.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 9, 2009: Man shot by police: 'It will be on the news'

Nov. 4, 2009: Man shot by police had pellet gun

Bizarre jury verdict leads to mistrial

Wails from a victim’s daughter filled the courtroom just after the judge read what was presented as a unanimous acquittal. But seconds later, a juror said she didn’t agree with the verdict. Then five more said the same thing.  

The bizarre series of events, which several longtime Spokane County court officials said they’d never before seen, led to a mistrial Thursday in the vehicular homicide and assault trial of a Spokane stockbroker who broadsided a motorcycle in June 2009, killing the passenger, Lorri Keller, (right) and paralyzing the driver, her husband, Gary Keller.

A new trial for Jon A. Strine, 43, (above) is expected to begin in March.

The Keller family declined comment. Strine and his lawyer, premier private defense attorney Carl Oreskovich, also declined comment.

Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady said she was “so surprised by what happened.”

But, she said, “This was a very tough case…Sometimes people just can’t agree.” 

The 12 jurors left without speaking to media.

“I know this has been extremely difficult for everyone,” Judge Tari Etizen (left) said in court.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 21: Husband recounts fatal crash

June 25, 2009: Driver sued over deadly wreck

June 4, 2009: School district on crash victim: 'Everybody just loved her'

Jury rejects man’s excessive force claim

A jury Wednesday exonerated a Spokane County Sheriff’s detective who has been the subject of several excessive force complaints.

 The jury found unanimously for Spokane County in a case that began with a traffic stop on Jan. 22, 2006 by Jeff Welton, who was a deputy at the time.

Daniel B. Strange, 41, filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the county alleging that Welton used excessive force. 

“Obviously, we believe they made the right decision,” said attorney Heather Yakely, who represented Spokane County.

But Mary Schultz, representing Strange, said she was frustrated that she was not allowed to present more evidence to the jury.

Read Thomas Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 4: Civil trial begins over deputy's use of Taser

Jury convicts woman in cop-car crash

A jury today convicted a Spokane woman of three counts of vehicular assault for a crash that injured three police detectives last summer.

Tonia S. Vansant, 38, faces 33 to 43 months in prison when she’s sentenced Jan. 6, said Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady.

Vansant has been in jail since July 16, when she ran a red light at Division Street and Sharp Avenue at nearly 40 mph and t-boned an unmarked patrol car driven by Detective Mark Burbridge of the Spokane Police Department’s major crimes unit. 

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 9: Trial begins in crash that hurt detectives

July 17: Spokane police detectives injured in crash

Mixed verdict in Lakewood shooting trial

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A jury in Tacoma returned mixed verdicts today against four people accused of helping Maurice Clemmons after he gunned down four Lakewood police officers in a coffeeshop last year. 

Two of the defendants — Clemmons’ aunt Letrecia Nelson and his cousin Eddie Davis — were found guilty of rendering criminal assistance and gun charges. Another, Doug Davis, was convicted of gun charges for handling a weapon taken from one of the slain officers, but not of helping Clemmons. 

Clemmons’ half-brother, Rickey Hinton (right), was acquitted of all charges, and Judge Stephanie Arend signed an order authorizing his immediate release from jail. Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar and Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist are pictured at left reacting to the verdict.

Pierce County prosecutors alleged that the four provided medical aid, transportation and other help to Clemmons as he tried to evade a massive manhunt.

Clemmons was killed by a lone Seattle patrolman two days after he shot Lakewood officers Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, on Nov. 29, 2009. (The victims are pictured above from left to right.)

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

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