No foul play suspected in man’s death in pit

FRIDAY, NOV. 16, 2007

Foul play is not suspected in the death of a man found Wednesday in a hole on his Nine Mile Falls property.

Martin Goodridge, 50, was checking his sprinkler system in a 5- to 6-foot-deep hole when the dirt collapsed around him, said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan. Fire crews responded to 20002 N. Mathias about 8:30 p.m., but were unable to revive Goodridge.

A cause of death has not been determined, said Spokane County Medical Examiner Dr. Sally Aiken. But deaths in which someone is trapped in dirt or sand are common in farm country; there are one or two a year in the Inland Northwest, Aiken said.

– Jody Lawrence-Turner


Bank robber sent to prison for life

A “third strike” for convicted bank robber Keith W. Birch will send him to prison for life.

In a sentencing hearing Thursday, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza said the law requires a life sentence with no possibility of parole for the 2003 robbery of a Wells Fargo branch at a Safeway store on Northwest Boulevard. A jury found Birch guilty of first-degree robbery last week.

His other convictions include second-degree assault in 1988 and another robbery in California in 1985, according to Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz.

Cozza also fined Birch $500 to go to a crime victims’ fund and ordered $4,199 in restitution to Wells Fargo, payable at $24 a month.

Karen Dorn Steele

Coeur d’Alene

Rapist’s request denied for reduced sentence

A Kootenai County judge denied Wednesday a convicted rapist’s request that his sentence be reduced. Paul Earl Hawkins, who was sentenced in June to at least 100 years in prison for the 2003 rapes of three women, had argued that the sentence was too severe.

First District Judge John Luster, who meted out the original sentence, said Wednesday there was no new evidence to merit a change.

Hawkins originally faced 24 charges in the rapes of six women in Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene, Spirit Lake and Rathdrum, but had some charges dismissed as part of a plea deal.

He was arrested in 2006 after an anonymous tip.

– Amy Cannata

Reward offered for tips in academy burglary

Secret Witness is offering a reward for information leading to arrests in the Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy burglary last month.

The burglars stole about $17,000 worth of computer equipment, plus other school property, authorities said. The electronic equipment included 16 Toshiba Tecra laptop computers.

Police said the burglary occurred sometime between 3 p.m. Oct. 28 and 6:30 a.m. Oct. 29.

Anyone with information is asked to call (208) 667-2111 or (888) 667-2111. Tipsters do not have to give a name, but should leave a code name or number.

– Jody Lawrence-Turner


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