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Region in brief: Teenager faces prison term of 10 years in assault

A teenage boy faces about 10 years in prison for burning a homeless man in a dispute over stolen beer money.

John C. Palmer, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court, more than seven months after Peter H. Krueger walked into a downtown hospital with second-degree burns on his face and hands.

Palmer had been charged with first-degree attempted murder but pleaded to the assault charge after investigators determined he’d set a blanket on fire and thrown it on Krueger instead of burning Krueger directly as first suspected.

Krueger was sleeping near Sprague Avenue and Sheridan Street, east of downtown, when he awoke on fire May 4.

Palmer told police he was angry at Krueger for taking his money instead of buying him alcohol.

Palmer faces 117 months in prison when he’s sentenced Jan. 14, said Deputy Prosecutor Tony Hazel.

Canadian gets 30-year sentence for drug charges

A Canadian man connected to a drug bust that led to a man’s suicide in the Spokane County Jail will spend 30 years in prison.

Clayton Roueche, 34, received the maximum sentence from U.S. District Judge Robert Lansik in Seattle on Wednesday for drug conspiracy and money laundering charges in connection with a drug ring that moved marijuana and cocaine through Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Court documents link Roueche to Joseph P. Curry, a Canadian man named as a suspect in a federal drug bust that included arrests in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

A defendant in that bust, Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown, 24, killed himself in jail Feb. 27 after being arrested in the Colville National Forest with a helicopter filled with marijuana he was to exchange to two men for cocaine.

Level 3 sex offender moves to Cheney

A Level 3 sex offender has moved to Cheney, and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office wants the public to be aware.

Marcus A. McElrath, 47, registered an address in the 10000 block of Aspen Meadows Lane, officials said.

McElrath was convicted of second-degree assault with sexual motivation of a woman in 2003 in Walla Walla County.

He is not wanted by law enforcement but is under Washington state Department of Corrections supervision, officials said.

Law enforcement officials consider Level 3 sex offenders likely to reoffend.

Plea nets probation in home invasion

A convicted felon will be released on probation in a plea deal approved Tuesday for a 5-year-old home invasion robbery.

DeAndre S. Gaither, 30, served about five years in prison on a federal cocaine conviction that came about six months after he and four others were accused of an armed home invasion on East Fairview Avenue on Oct. 6, 2004.

Gaither recently completed his prison sentence and was transferred to the Spokane County Jail to face seven counts of first-degree robbery and one count of first-degree burglary.

He pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree robbery Tuesday, and Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla dropped the remaining charges in a deal approved by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke.

Four others convicted in the home invasion robbery of four adults and three children are serving sentences of up to three years each.


Top stories in Spokane

Freeman students march in unity to honor memory of slain classmate Sam Strahan

UPDATED: 9:38 p.m.

Drenched in sunshine and a sharp spring wind, more than 70 students marched Friday out of Freeman High School behind a “Freeman Strong” banner to the same football field where they sheltered in fear last September following the shooting that killed 15-year-old Sam Strahan and injured three girls.