What’s news in the Northwest today:
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Former Idaho gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell has been charged with poaching an elk in eastern Idaho. Bonneville County Prosecutor Bruce Pickett says the Idaho Falls man was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor possession of game that was unlawfully taken. Idaho Fish and Game said Rammell was in illegal possession of an elk on Dec. 8. When an officer asked Rammell for his hunting permit, he produced one for a different zone that expired in October. Rammell said previously he thought the tag enabled him to hunt in any area he chose to. Rammell ran in the Republican primary for Governor this year and two years ago as an Independent for the U.S. Senate. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 23.
Juror dismissed a Spokane aggravated murder trial
SPOKANE — One of the jurors has been dismissed at the aggravated murder trial in Spokane of a man accused of killing five people at a Pasco auto body shop 23 years ago. The Tri-City Herald reports the juror was excused Tuesday because he was making a cell phone call in a hallway and may have seen the defendant in the custody of guards. The court has taken care not to show Vicente Ruiz in custody to avoid the implication of guilt. Two alternates remain on the jury. The trial of the 46-year-old was moved to Spokane from Franklin County after two mistrials. Prosecutors are wrapping up their case and the defense may start calling witnesses on Friday.
Man shot by Seattle police expected to survive
SEATTLE — A man shot by police in downtown Seattle is expected to survive. Harborview Medical Center says the 29-year-old is in serious condition in the intensive care unit Wednesday with a chest wound. Police said he initially appeared to have a life-threatening wound after the Tuesday night shooting at a bus stop. Officers had responded to a report of a man with a gun. Police say he tried to walk away and ignored orders to stop. One officer had taken out a Taser when he saw the man reach into his front waistband and grab what appeared to be a metallic object. So the officer dropped his stun gun, drew his weapon and fired. Police found a handgun in the suspect’s waistband.
Attorney: Convicted teen killer got bum rap
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — An attorney for a woman convicted of killing her parents in 2003 says his client was unfairly convicted due to police investigators who failed to consider other suspects and a previous defense attorney who was unprepared. Hailey attorney Christopher Simms made the argument Tuesday in 5th District Court during a hearing to determine whether Sarah Johnson should get a new trial. Prosecutors say Johnson was 16 when she killed her parents, Alan and Diane Johnson, in central Idaho after fighting with them over her 19-year-old boyfriend, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was living in the region. Johnson, 23, is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole following her 2005 conviction of two counts of first-degree murder. The hearing is scheduled to go through Friday.
Fired Grays Harbor employee files $610,000 claim
MONTESANO, Wash. — The former deputy director of the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds has filed a $610,000 claim against the county. Paula Jones says there was a conspiracy to destroy her career in order to have her and her female co-director replaced by two men. The Aberdeen Daily World reports county commissioners referred the claim Monday to the prosecutor’s risk management committee. County officials said Jones was terminated in December 2008 for economic and performance reasons. Jones’ lawyer, Chris Crew of McCleary, says the claim will likely lead to a sex discrimination lawsuit.
Astoria, Oregon leaders target derelict buildings
ASTORIA, Ore. — Astoria is trying to clean up its derelict and dilapidated buildings. The Astoria City Council is considering a derelict building code that would penalize homeowners and commercial building owners for nuisance properties until the problem is solved. At Monday night’s City Council meeting, planners presented a final draft of a code that will be reviewed in January. City planners say the current dangerous building code takes care of buildings that are a threat to life and safety. But they say the city needs to address the problems of buildings that need maintenance, including the extra cost for the police and fire department to monitor them.
Vehicular homicide charged in Lynnwood death
EVERETT, Wash. — Snohomish County prosecutors say an Everett man was drunk in August when he drove his pickup truck off Highway 99 and crushed a woman outside a Lynnwood pub. Forty-two-year-old William D. Reardon was charged Tuesday with vehicular homicide in the death of 31-year-old Anita Sharma of Mill Creek. The Daily Herald reports Reardon told police he must have fallen asleep. Several other people were able to jump out of the way as his truck ran up on the sidewalk, clipping parked cars and a light pole.
Man pleads not guilty in pedestrian fatal
MISSOULA, Mont. — A 50-year-old Lolo man has pleaded not guilty to negligent vehicular homicide while under the influence in the death of a Washington state man who was struck by a car while walking on the sidewalk. KECI-TV reports Brian Holm entered his plea in District Court via video from the Missoula County jail. He is charged in the Nov. 9 death of 24-year-old Brian Beaver of Aberdeen, Wash., as he and two others walked along a sidewalk in Missoula. Court documents say Holm was taking a narcotic pain reliever and an antidepressant and had a cup of whiskey and Coke in his car. Holm broke his neck and 10 ribs when his vehicle struck a light pole. His public defender asked that Holm’s bail be reduced from $250,000 to $50,000. The judge continued the bail hearing.
JBLM soldier faces hearing in Afghan probe
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — One of a dozen Washington-based soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan is facing a preliminary hearing. Sgt. Darren Jones of Pomona, Calif., is accused of conspiracy to assault and assaulting a fellow soldier, along with trying to impede an investigation. He’s accused of joining others in his unit in beating up Pfc. Justin Stoner, who told authorities about drug use in the unit. Wednesday’s Article 32 hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle will help determine whether Jones’ case proceeds to a court-martial. Five other soldiers in the unit are charged with murdering three Afghan civilians during patrols in Kandahar Province this year.
Oil company, foes poised to argue big loads case
BOISE — An attorney for ConocoPhillips says state officials did everything right in the process of issuing permits allowing the company to ship four oversized loads along a scenic river corridor in northern Idaho. ConocoPhillips attorney Erik Stidham also said the plan approved by the Idaho Department of Transportation to haul the loads along U.S. Highway 12 has been victimized by a clever misinformation campaign. Stidham, along with attorneys for the state and opponents of the shipments, are making a case for and against the permits Wednesday before an administrative hearing judge. An attorney for the opponents claims the state violated its own regulations when it signed off on the company’s plan to ship the four, huge loads from Lewiston to its refinery in Billings, Mont.
Kennewick Carousel Foundation says it is frustrated
KENNEWICK – The Kennewick City Council is nearing its last go-round on what to do with a 1910 Charles Carmel carousel worth nearly $1 million. Ken Johanning of the Kennewick Carousel Foundation told the council Tuesday night that without a strong show of community support to complete restoration of the rare 44-horse carousel and build a facility to house it, the valuable “community treasure” may have to be put out to the proverbial pasture. Tuesday was the carousel foundation’s day to report on progress toward raising money to build a $1.3 million facility and complete the restoration that began more than three years ago. Johanning persuaded city officials and the council to front hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy the 90-year-old carousel from a woman in New Mexico in 2003. Since then, the city has increased its investment in the carousel project to more than $860,000 and has little to show for it other than restored wood carved horses and newly created Husky and Cougar mascots that will join the equestrian parade if and when the entourage is reassembled.
Idaho wind farm may be built, despite planning denial
BLACKFOOT, Idaho — A proposed wind farm in southeastern Idaho may be built, after all, despite being denied by a planning and zoning panel last month. The Bingham County Commission overruled the initial decision on Tuesday and approved Blue Ribbon Energy’s plan to install 27 wind turbines near the Goshen townsite. In November, the Bingham County Planning and Zoning Commission had turned down the application, on grounds the turbines would have been too close to homes. There’s still about a month for foes of the project to appeal this latest decision, so it’s not assured if it will actually advance. Arron Jepson, an owner of Blue Ribbon Energy, was elated over the turn of events. Blue Ribbon had already scaled back its proposal from 50 turbines to just 27, to address community concerns.
Bannock County sheriff shoots self in hand
POCATELLO, Idaho — Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen can still joke around, even after shooting himself in the hand earlier this week. “I can say I shot the sheriff,” he told KIFI-TV. Nielsen says he shot himself Monday while admiring a gun he received as an early Christmas present from his cousin. He says he had his hand on top of the barrel and was trying to put the hammer back down when his thumb slipped. The bullet went through the fleshy part of his hand near his little finger. He says his pride is fractured, but his hand is fine.