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Nightmare neighbors evicted

Don Bain can keep an eye on his detached shop (reflected in sliding door) from his back porch in Spokane Valley, Wash.,  where he says squatters have moved into the shop and refuse to leave.  4/15/09  DAN PELLE The Spokesman-Review (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

An elderly Spokane Valley couple’s battle to have a woman evicted from their backyard garage is apparently over.

An eviction order was signed by a judge last week and sheriff’s deputies posted a notice on the door of the garage Wednesday, ordering Susan Pierce off the premises at the North McCabe Road home. Pierce and several others had been living intermittently in the garage despite the efforts of Don and Peggy Bain, both 81, to have her removed.

“Everything’s fine now,” Don Bain said Wednesday. “She can’t step foot on the property any more. There’s a big old red tag on the door warning her.”

The Bains had been trying for about a month to have Pierce and the others thrown out, but the Spokane Valley Police Department refused to remove her because she had established residence by receiving mail at the garage – which has been modified as a living quarters. Pierce had initially lived there with Peggy Bain’s son, Skippy Ray Davis, who was arrested and ordered into prison for failing to pay fines associated with drug convictions at the first of April.

Police said their policy in such cases is to require a formal eviction notice, rather than having officers make decisions to throw people out on the spot. The Bains began eviction proceedings, but in the meantime, police twice allowed Pierce and others back into the garage when the Bains tried to lock them out, including allowing Pierce to break a window to get back in.

The department relied upon its standard practice for handling landlord-tenant disputes. The Bains’ attorney, Pete Schweda, said he believed this was a case of trespassing or burglary, since there had never been any lease or other formal rental arrangement.

The department drew a lot of criticism for its decision, and the initial Spokesman-Review story on the situation spread far and wide on the Web. Don Bain said he’s heard from people all around the country who were outraged by the case.

“I had a hundred calls,” he said. “It just went crazy.”

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