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In brief: Coe seeks new commitment trial venue

Rapist Kevin Coe does not think he can get a fair civil commitment trial in Spokane County. He wants to be tried elsewhere or have jurors brought in from outside the county, according to a motion filed Thursday by Coe’s attorneys.

Coe, dubbed the South Hill rapist by news media after a wave of sexual assaults in Spokane starting in the 1970s, was convicted of one count of rape Oct. 23, 1980, and served a maximum sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary. He was denied parole twice.

The trial, scheduled to begin Sept. 15 in Spokane County Superior Court, is intended to determine whether Coe is a violent sexual predator likely to rape again.

In his motion seeking a change of venue, Coe argues that extensive news coverage of him will deny him a fair trial. “… I do not believe a trial in Spokane heard by Spokane jurors will be free of the taint and bias of pre-trial publicity,” he said in the motion.

The motion was filed Thursday shortly before the courthouse closed for the holiday weekend. It was obtained by KHQ, which posted the document on its Web site. Coe was scheduled to be released in September 2006, but the Washington attorney general’s office moved to have him declared a sexually violent predator.


Woman gets 30 months for embezzlment

A former office manager for a Pullman dentist has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for embezzling $437,000 from her employer over 12 years.

Debora Jo Ailor, 47, of Pullman was sentenced this week by U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud.

Ailor had worked as the office manager for Dr. Delbert Rohn, a Pullman dentist, since the 1980s.

Ailor prepared about 50 checks each month to be drawn on Rohn’s checking account to pay operating expenses and payroll for his practice and to pay his personal expenses, according to a plea agreement.

On essentially a monthly basis, from February 1992 through July 2004, Ailor prepared an additional check that she used to pay bills for a credit card her family used to charge personal expenses – clothes, restaurant meals, entertainment and regional travel, U.S. Attorney Jim McDevitt said in a news release.

Her employer was unaware that one of the checks his office manager presented to him in the monthly stack represented payment for her family’s personal expenses, McDevitt said. She concealed the embezzlement from Rohn and an accountant who prepared his taxes by allocating the funds to expense accounts such as office supplies, dental supplies and the owner’s salary, McDevitt said.

The judge also ordered Ailor to serve three years of supervised release when she gets out of prison and make restitution to Rohn in the amount of $445,113.


State sued in woman’s rape, murder

Washington state is being sued over a rape and murder by Michael John Braae, 48, a former country singer known as “Cowboy Mike,” while he was on parole.

In a case seeking unspecified damages, survivors of Lori Jones, 44, of Lacey, accused the state Corrections Department of disregarding a judge’s order to tighten supervision of Braae a year before she was killed.

“This is a case where there were red flags all over the place that he was a bad actor,” said Bryan Gregory Smith, of Yakima, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit. “He was placed on the lowest level of supervision. This guy needed geographical range restrictions, field visits and drug testing.”

In a hearing in October 2000 in Thurston County Superior Court, Braae was found to be out of compliance with his probation stemming from a jail escape in 1997.

Judge Christine A. Pomeroy ordered that he be placed on community supervision, but the state agency instead placed him on LFO, which stands for legal, financial obligations only, a status that requires a person on probation to pay fines but does not require home visits by probation officers, Smith wrote.

The Corrections Department issued a statement Thursday saying the agency’s lawyers “will work with opposing counsel as this case progresses.”


30,000 Atlantic salmon escape fish farm

The escape of 30,000 Atlantic salmon, one of the largest from a British Columbia fish farm in recent years, is under investigation by the provincial Environment Ministry, a spokeswoman said.

The breakout from a net pen at Marine Harvest Canada’s fish farm about 125 miles northwest of Vancouver, was large enough for the case to be assigned to provincial conservation officers, ministry officials said.

Clare Backman, director of environmental compliance at the Marine Harvest office in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, said the company is cooperating with the investigation.

“We, too, want to know the cause, and then they will determine whether or not there are grounds to go forward with charges,” Backman said.

Company workers found that an anchor securing the net pen slipped into deeper water Tuesday, pulling a corner of the pen far enough below the surface for the fish to swim away.

A seiner hired by the company recaptured fewer than 400 of the fish, which were mature and weighed about 9 pounds each, Backman said. “The value of the (lost) fish to the company is just under half a million bucks,” he said.

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