October 14, 2008 in City

Detective’s ex-wife testifies she felt manipulated by system

Staff writer

The former wife of Spokane police detective Jay Mehring testified Monday that after his arrest on a domestic harassment charge she confronted police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick at a public gathering.

Lisa Mehring, who was finalizing a bitter divorce when Jay Mehring was arrested in March 2007, testified that she didn’t want him arrested or his job threatened. She said she didn’t believe her husband posed a physical threat to her or their two young sons, despite heated verbal exchanges between the couple.

Last April, Lisa Mehring was working at a breast cancer survivors booth at the Spokane Women’s Show in the Convention Center, where the police chief was a speaker. With hundreds of people in the audience, Mehring said, she sat in the front row with her sons and approached the chief after she left the dais.

“I wanted her to see my face and my boys … and see how their lives were being destroyed by her political agenda,” Mehring testified. She didn’t describe the chief’s reaction, and Kirkpatrick apparently won’t be called as a witness.

The jury could get the felony case by late this week.

Mehring told a jury the criminal investigation grew beyond her influence after her divorce attorney and two police officers, Sgts. Dave Overhoff and Troy Teigen, notified Police Department commanders of alleged threats by her husband to “burn down” the family home.

“Everybody was trying to convince me I was a victim of domestic violence,” she said under cross-examination by defense attorney Chris Bugbee.

“I felt I was being manipulated by the system,” she said.

Mehring said her attorney, Shannon Deonier, had arranged to have two domestic violence detectives present for a March 28, 2007, meeting in the lawyer’s office. Mehring said she thought she would be talking about financial details of the divorce and the possibility of seeking a restraining order if necessary.

“I didn’t want to talk to the police,” Mehring testified. She said she told the detectives her husband had threatened to “burn everything and destroy me.”

Before that meeting ended, Mehring said, she signed legal papers for a restraining order against her husband, including an affidavit stating she had talked with police Maj. Bruce Roberts about the matter – something she now says never happened. She said she didn’t read the papers she signed.

“She constantly told me I should get a restraining order against him,” she said of her divorce attorney. “I didn’t realize the impact of doing that order until later.”

“Everybody was telling me I was a victim of domestic violence and Jay was going to carry out the threats,” she said. “It scared me.”

Bugbee asked, “Did you have any fear that he might kill you … might kill your children?”

“No, never,” the witness responded.

Mehring said she fired Deonier in May 2007.

Mehring said she was notified by sheriff’s Detective Chris Thompson after her husband was arrested March 30, 2007, in the police chief’s office.

She immediately called the jail in an attempt to arrange bond before contacting family friends and the police department’s psychologist, Dr. Deanette Palmer, who had counseled the couple for a decade.

“I told them this was a huge mistake, and Jay was no threat,” Mehring testified.

She also attempted to contact the prosecutor’s office “multiple times” and left messages for Deputy Prosecutor Mark Lindsey and that office’s victim-witness advocate in an attempt to get the criminal case derailed.

No one from the prosecutor’s office ever contacted her, she said.

Lisa Mehring’s testimony was followed by that of Palmer. “She did not believe Jay would do anything to hurt her or the boys,” Palmer testified.

Four days after Mehring’s arrest and release from jail, the counselor said she met privately with the veteran detective and saw nothing to suggest he was homicidal or suicidal.

“If I thought Jay was homicidal, I would have reported it,” Palmer said.

Bill Morlin can be reached at (509) 459-5444 or billm@spokesman.com.

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