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Kidnap, robbery trial begins

Wed., Dec. 13, 2006

Attorneys gave opening statements Tuesday in the trial of a Spokane man charged with kidnapping and robbing his neighbor earlier this year.

Donald T. Phillips, 33, faces trial for first-degree kidnapping and second-degree robbery in connection with an April 2 incident.

Phillips had been living with a woman in a duplex at 1811 E. Nebraska Ave. when he knocked on the neighbor’s door. Marc E. Postlewait answered the door and later told police that Phillips demanded both money and a ride downtown.

“Mr. Postlewait will testify that Mr. Phillips threatened his life if he did not comply,” Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Deborah King said in court.

Assistant Public Defender Stephen Heintz told the jury the entire situation was misconstrued by the victim.

The evidence “will show that Mr. Phillips has been wrongfully accused of crimes that were not committed,” Heintz said.

He indicated that Phillips’ actions that night were simply a “friend asking a friend for a loan” and “a friend asking a friend for a ride downtown.”

However, Postlewait told Spokane police Detective Don Giese that Phillips threatened to kill him, hurt his family and claimed he had connections to the mafia, according to court records.

Commissioner’s sign taken by Stark

Spokane City Councilman Brad Stark admitted Tuesday that it was he who took the vinyl sign from County Commissioner Mark Richard’s car.

The sign is one of two that Richard placed on his car with his name and contact information on them. Both, he said, cost him $100.

Referencing a story line from the movie, “Amelie,” Stark took pictures of the sign in front of different locations and e-mailed them to Richard without identifying himself. Stark said he plans to present the sign to Richard on Thursday at a Spokane Transit Authority board meeting along with gifts from most of the sites where he photographed the sign.

Stark, who confessed to Richard in a voice mail Tuesday, said he took the sign as a prank and meant no harm to Richard.

“It was more of a friendly jest,” Stark said.

Richard said he began to get concerned about the e-mails after he received one on Thursday of the sign outside his home at night. The commissioner was out of town when he got the message, but his family was home.

“It was at that point that it crossed the line,” Richard said. “Any father would have the same reaction.”

Richard said he sent a message to the sender threatening to file a police report unless he got his sign back soon. Stark said the picture was taken at 4:30 p.m.

After getting the call from Stark, Richard said he would wait to sit down and talk with Stark before making judgment.

“I’m trying to be a statesman about it and don’t want to get into a political and public exchange,” Richard said.

Man found Sunday was shot in head

A man who was found dead Sunday in a Hillyard home had been shot in the head, according to court documents.

A search warrant affidavit says Douglas A. Penfield, 38, had been living in Bobbie Jo Nelson’s home at 5923 N. Regal St., and Nelson got her mother to report Penfield’s death.

Nelson reportedly told police that she had no romantic relationship with Penfield, who moved into a basement room last summer. Her 16-year-old son had a separate room in the basement, she said.

Police stated in their search warrant affidavit that Nelson told them she left home sometime before 3 p.m. Saturday and found Penfield lying on the living room couch with a coat over his head when she returned Sunday afternoon. She said she thought at first that Penfield was asleep but discovered he had been shot when she tried to awaken him, according to police.

Nelson said she thought Penfield had been alone because her son stayed with his grandmother while she spent Saturday night with her ex-husband, with whom she was “trying to work things out,” police stated.

Police found four shell casings and three bullets in the house. Two bullets – the lead projectiles from shell casings – were lodged in a couch and a wall behind the couch. Court records don’t say where the third bullet was found, nor do they account for the fourth shell casing.

The gun from which the bullets were fired was not found in the home.

Court records show Penfield had more than 40 convictions, including assault and drug dealing.

Man back in jail on abuse charge

A Spokane man who had been free on bail was returned to jail this week to await trial on a charge of breaking a 3-month-old baby’s leg on Sept. 27.

It was not immediately clear why a judge issued the $25,000 warrant that brought Scott A. DeCarlo, 24, of 2317 E. Dalke Ave., back to jail Monday. He was first arrested in October, a few days after he was charged with one count of second-degree child assault.

Although a hospital birth announcement listed DeCarlo and Amber Donges as parents when Devin Anthony DeCarlo was born June 24, charging documents say five family members had heard Scott DeCarlo yelling at Donges that the infant was a “bastard child” and not his.

DeCarlo reportedly told police he didn’t use that phrase but that the child is not his.

Regardless, police say Donges told them DeCarlo was the primary caregiver for Devin and Donges’ other child while she worked. Police said she told them Devin had been fussy for a couple of days when DeCarlo called her to say the baby’s left leg was swollen.

X-rays showed the infant’s left thigh was broken, and his right shin bone had been broken one to four weeks earlier. A doctor told police the location of the shin bone break suggested the infant may have been shaken.

Charging documents say DeCarlo admitted to police that he was “very agitated” while changing Devin’s diaper and used too much force when he lifted the baby’s legs to his abdomen. DeCarlo said Devin immediately stopped crying and “gasped,” police reported.

Police said DeCarlo told them he knew he had “crossed the line” when Devin looked at him as though to ask, “What are you doing to me?”

Couple convicted of perjury

A U.S. District Court jury in Spokane has convicted a husband and wife from Cashmere, Wash., of perjury charges.

The convictions of Frederic and Vera Yurisich late Friday stemmed from sworn statements the couple made during depositions taken in a $2 million personal injury lawsuit they filed in 2003 against the federal government.

Frederic Yurisich gave “knowingly false statements” concerning injuries he claimed to have sustained in a car accident involving a U.S. Forest Service employee, said Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Jill Bolton.

Vera Yurisich committed perjury in a separate deposition by supporting her husband”s testimony concerning the extent of his injuries.

“The functioning of our entire judicial system relies on the bedrock principle that people must speak the truth,” said U.S. Attorney James A. McDevitt. “Civil litigants should fully understand that when they are sworn to tell the truth, it means just that – the truth.”

U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle, who presided over the jury trial, allowed the Yurisiches to remain free until sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

Street work likely to cause delays

Drivers can expect delays today at the intersections of Division Street and North River Drive and Ruby Street and North River Drive.

Flaggers will be controlling traffic at the intersections from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. as crews work on overhead Comcast lines.

One lane of Ruby will also be closed at North River Drive.


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