Week In Review A Look Back At The Top Stories From The Last Week

SUNDAY, AUG. 31, 1997


Grim testimony

Vivid descriptions of the horror and mayhem in a Moses Lake junior high classroom caused one juror to faint Monday as the triple-murder trial of 16-year-old Barry Loukaitis opened in Seattle.

Loukaitis, who is being tried as an adult, has confessed to opening fire on his Frontier Junior High School algebra class on February 2, 1996, when he was 14. Math teacher Leona Caires and students Manuel Vela and Arnold Fritz were killed. Natalie Hintz was critically wounded. Loukaitis has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Hintz, now 15, tearfully recounted the carnage on the first day of the trial, pointing out scars left by the rifle bullets.

“I was yelling from across the classroom, ‘I can’t feel my arm! I can’t feel my arm!’ and looking across the classroom and seeing the horrified faces of these people you know and grew up with your whole life. It was terrible.”

The graphic testimony by Hintz and Grant County prosecutor John Knodell caused one juror, a middle-aged man, to faint in his chair. That juror - and the alternate who replaced him, also bothered by the gruesome details - were excused from the panel Tuesday, leaving one alternate.

Defense attorneys Michele Shaw and Michael Frost, who are expected to open their case this week, made no effort to contest what Loukaitis did or even downplay the horror of it. Instead, they argue the only explanation for Loukaitis’ “bizarre” actions is insanity.

DiBartolo back in jail

Former Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom DiBartolo allegedly violated a court order by continuing a relationship with a girlfriend and was returned to jail Tuesday, where he awaits an Oct. 20 trial on charges he murdered his wife of 19 years.

Undercover detectives had been trailing DiBartolo, 42, for two months and say he had daily contact with Christine Ritchie, a potential prosecution witness. Police say DiBartolo shot his wife Patty last November in Lincoln Park, then shot himself in the side as part of a cover-up. DiBartolo says he and his wife were shot by robbers in the South Hill park.


Rites of man

Kennewick Man, that is.

The legal tangle surrounding the 9,300-year-old skeleton known as Kennewick Man grew a little thicker Wednesday when members of a pagan religious movement known as Asatru were granted permission to enter a climate-controlled vault and pray over the bones.

Members of the group, based on ancient Norse rites, have joined a lawsuit filed by scientists who say Kennewick Man’s remains are so ancient he may predate Native Americans and that the bones show caucasoid features.

They ask the Army Corps of Engineers to release Kennewick Man for further study. Five area Indian Tribes have insisted the skeleton be turned over to them for burial under a 1990 federal law ordering the return of native artifacts and remains.

Textbook perseverance

Saburo Ienaga, an 83-year-old professor, won a landmark ruling Friday in his 32-year court battle to force the Japanese government to allow schools to use textbooks that acknowledge atrocities committed by Japanese troops during World War II.

The court ruling goes to the heart of an issue that continues to ignite soul-searching and debate in Japan and fierce acrimony between Japan and other Asian countries.

Ienaga’s victory was only a partial one. The court, as expected, declared that the Education Ministry’s system of censoring textbooks is itself legal; it found that the ministry had abused the system by deleting references to well-documented atrocities.

The complex decision ran 100 pages, split the justices 3-2 and gave neither side an outright victory, but presiding justice Masao Ono quoted from a book by one of Japan’s most famous novelists, Ryotaro Shiba: “A country whose textbooks lie … will inevitably collapse.”


Fickle finger

Seattle Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson missed one start Monday and then learned in midweek that tendinitis in the middle finger of his pitching hand would cost him another in Friday in Colorado. The left-handed Johnson, who leads the majors with 264 strikeouts, was able to throw just six pitches during a practice Tuesday.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos

Tags: column

Click here to comment on this story »

Back to Spokesman Mobile