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Police Seek Witness Against Patrolman

Thu., Jan. 8, 1998

Detectives are searching for a woman who accused a Spokane police officer of smoking crack cocaine and having sex on duty.

Police haven’t heard from Laice Leann Peterson, whose allegations led to patrolman Mark Meehan’s firing in September, since the week of Christmas, police spokesman Dick Cottam said Wednesday.

He would not say why detectives are searching for the 30-year-old woman, who is known to work as a prostitute to raise money for drugs.

Investigators said Wednesday she is not connected to the recent murders of four women thought to be the victims of a serial killer. A task force is looking into those homicides and 14 other unsolved murders since 1984. Peterson is the key witness in Meehan’s upcoming criminal trial, according to court documents.

Meehan, 31, is charged with one count of filling out a false police report and two counts of obstructing a public servant, all gross misdemeanors. The charges stem from his attempts to protect Peterson from arrest last spring, according to court records.

Detectives said he filed a false police report and lied to fellow officers while trying to shield Peterson from arrest.

They began investigating him after Peterson told them he smoked crack with her at least three times and had sex with her nearly 10 times during a yearlong relationship, according to court records.

Peterson also accused the four-year patrolman of carrying his crack pipe in the shirt pocket of his police uniform. She made the statements while detectives were interviewing her about an assault she was accused of committing.

Meehan has denied the charges and is scheduled to be tried before a District Court jury next week. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Deputy Prosecutor Kathryn Lee requested a warrant for Peterson’s arrest Monday.

“Efforts to find Ms. Peterson have not been successful, and her testimony is necessary to successfully try this matter,” Lee wrote in and affidavit supporting the warrant.

Detectives reported seeing Peterson in the company of some suspected prostitutes in mid-December.

Detective Ben Estes, who investigated the charges against Meehan, suspects Peterson may have changed her mind about testifying against the former officer. She may have fled to Yakima, he wrote in an affidavit.

“Ms. Peterson and the defendant had what might be described as a ‘close relationship,’ and she may be regretting the impulses that led her to tell us about this situation initially,” Estes wrote.

Anyone with information about Peterson’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Check at 456-2233.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


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