What’s news in the Northwest today:
NEW YORK — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration is suing a tobacco company in Washington state. He’s accusing it of illegally selling and distributing untaxed cigarettes in New York. The suit was filed today in federal court in Brooklyn. It alleges that King Mountain Tobacco Company made numerous shipments of unstamped cigarettes to New York state. The suit says that’s a violation of three federal statutes. King Mountain had no immediate comment. The company is Indian-owned and is located on the Yakama reservation.
Possible drug motive in 1987 Pasco slayings
SPOKANE — The girlfriend of one of the five men shot to death in 1987 at a Pasco auto body shop says the men modified cars to hide cocaine for transport. Cecilia Rivera testified Monday in Spokane at the aggravated murder trial of Vicente Ruiz. The Tri-City Herald reports she identified him as one of two men who came to a house 23 years ago, looking for the owners of the body shop. She was 14 at the time and said she heard what sounded like fireworks when the men were shot. Lawyers for the 46-year-old Ruiz say he is innocent and it’s a case of mistaken identity. This is his third murder trial. The case was moved to Spokane after two mistrials in Franklin County.
Car crashes into Lacey home, killing sleeping teen
Updated at 9:55 a.m.: LACEY, Wash. — Police have arrested a passenger from a car that sped through an intersection and crashed into a mobile home in Lacey, killing a 16-year-old boy who was sleeping inside. Lt. Phil Comstock says the man was located at a Thurston County residence. Police are still looking for the driver who also ran away from the crash scene about 12:30 a.m. today. They know who he is. Comstock says excessive speed is the likely cause of the crash. The SUV ended up inside the boy’s bedroom. He died at the scene. The boy’s parents were in the home at the time and not physically injured. Comstock says they are traumatized. A neighbor told KOMO Radio that power was out at the time of the crash and streetlights were dark.
SEC suspends trades of Alternate Energy securities
BOISE — The Securities and Exchange Commission has temporarily suspended trading of securities of Alternative Energy Holdings, Inc., an Idaho company that wants to build a nuclear reactor. The federal securities regulator took the steps in part due to questions it has “about the accuracy and adequacy of publicly disseminated information concerning…the stock sales of certain AEHI officers.” The SEC also has questions about the status and viability of the company’s funding, as well as its executive compensation. The small Eagle, Idaho company has been trying to win approval to build a nuclear reactor at several locations in southern and western Idaho, including Payette County.
District in hazing case had anti-bullying policies
BLACKFOOT, Idaho — A school district in eastern Idaho says policies to crack down on bullying were already in place when, police say, a group of student athletes engaged in hazing activities. Blackfoot School District Superintendent Scott Crane says two anti-harassment policies were crafted in 2006, three years before police say five students were involved in the hazing incidents. The district released a copy of the anti-harassment policies Monday. Four former high school students, including a teen who was on Boise State University’s football team this season, face various misdemeanors and felony counts of forcible sexual penetration using a foreign object. The 19-year-olds are scheduled to appear in Idaho’s 7th District Court on Dec. 23. Authorities say a fifth former athlete at Blackfoot High School is still a juvenile and also faces charges.
Southern Oregon woman charged with menacing for rifle shot
MEDFORD, Ore. — A vocal opponent of the removal of Gold Ray Dam from the Rogue River last summer has been charged with menacing after she allegedly fired a rifle shot over the heads of four workers drilling wells. The Mail Tribune reports that 53-year-old Angela Schock, also known as Angela Murphy, confronted the well drillers Monday on part of her 5-acre property near the former dam site east of Gold Hill. The property includes two wells that serve four nearby homes, with easements allowing well repair or drilling. But the wells, each less than 30 feet deep, went dry after the decommissioned dam’s removal. Jackson County sheriff’s deputies said Schock fired a single shot from a .22-caliber rifle. She claims she fired in the opposite direction from the workers.
Portland to pay $338,000 to settle crash case
PORTLAND, Ore. — The city of Portland is prepared to pay $338,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by an 80-year-old woman who was struck by a police car while walking across a street. The Oregonian reports the woman, Alganesh Negasi, was hit in November 2003 by Officer Ty Garrison who briefly took his eyes off the road to check his mobile data terminal. She suffered multiple broken bones and now must use a walker. The settlement goes to the city council Wednesday for approval. City risk management supervisors are asking the police bureau to ensure that officers are trained to avoid distractions by in-car computers.
Salem man arrested twice in 90 minutes
SALEM, Ore. — A Salem man was arrested twice in 90 minutes with stolen DVDs. Police say 47-year-old Brian L. Jackman was first arrested Sunday afternoon at a Goodwill store where security guards stopped him with $47 dollars worth of DVDs, CDs and computer parts. Police cited him for theft and let him go with a no-trespass notice. They let him keep two knives he had in his possession. A short time later police were called to a Safeway store where security guards caught him leaving with $20 worth of DVDs. Police say he attempted to stab one of the guards in the leg with a knife during a scuffle. The guard suffered a minor cut. Jackman was booked into the Marion County Jail on robbery, theft and assault charges.
Nez Perce County Commission outlaws synthetic pot
LEWISTON – An ordinance banning synthetic forms of marijuana from Nez Perce County was approved by the three county commissioners Monday. Commonly called Spice, K2 and a variety of other names, the drug contains chemicals that have had serious side effects when consumed, according to official sources. The county ordinance sets a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. It is available in Asotin County, which has no restrictions against its use or sale, Commissioner Michael Grow said at an earlier meeting. The Idaho Board of Pharmacy has declared it unlawful to use, possess, buy or sell the product — which is marketed as incense, but contains a synthetic substance that when smoked gives the smoker a euphoric-like feeling similar to that of marijuana. That rule remains in effect only until the Idaho Legislature decides whether or not to take action.
Police warn of sick Astoria raccoons
ASTORIA, Ore. — Police here are warning residents about a growing number of sick raccoons. Officers tell KPTV that a serious distemper outbreak has forced officials to kill at least two sick raccoons in the past two weeks. Domestic pets can catch distemper if raccoons are using shared food or water dishes left outside. Wildlife officials say pet owners should make sure their pets are vaccinated against distemper, should avoid feeding pets outside and should never approach raccoons.
Oregon man gets 3 years for laser that hit officer
PORTLAND, Ore. — A 24-year-old man has been given a three-year sentence for shining a green laser pointer across a suburban Portland apartment parking lot toward a Washington County deputy sheriff. Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey says the laser caused retinal scarring in Deputy Glenn Howard’s left eye. Antom Strom pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault. Public defender Jesse Merrithew says his client purchased the inexpensive green laser pointer online and didn’t know the potential harm it could cause.
Glacier National Park records busiest year
KALISPELL, Mont. — Glacier National Park’s Centennial year has become its busiest. Even though November’s visitor count was down 14 percent compared to the same time last year, the 13,000 visitors last month were enough to push this year’s total visitation past the 1983 record year. The Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell reports that in the first 11 months of this year, 2,216,019 people entered Glacier. That’s nearly 10 percent more than the number of visitors during the same period last year and exceeds the 1983 record of 2,203,847 visitors.
Jurors consider death penalty in Oregon bank bombing case
SALEM, Ore. — Jurors are considering whether to impose the death penalty on a man convicted in a fatal Oregon bank bomb blast. A Marion County Circuit Court jury began deliberating Bruce Turnidge’s fate after prosecutors and defense lawyers wound up closing arguments Monday in the penalty phase of his trial. Deputy District Attorney Katie Suver said that unless confined to death row, Turnidge could spread his anti-government beliefs to other inmates, who might later carry out plots of their own. Defense lawyer John Storkel highlighted testimony from Turnidge’s wife Janet, who described him as a hardworking man who is a stabilizing force in his granddaughter’s life. Turnidge and his son, Joshua, were convicted of aggravated murder in a December 2008 bombing at a Woodburn bank that killed two police officers. The jury will consider the older man’s sentence first.
Montana proposes to move some sage grouse to Alberta
BILLINGS, Mont. — Montana officials are proposing to relocate up to 40 sage grouse to Alberta, to reverse a decades-long decline suffered by the birds in the Canadian province. An environmental study on the relocation is due today. Mark Sullivan with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says the birds will be shipped in April if the proposal is approved. Sage grouse are classified as endangered in Canada. In Alberta their numbers have declined by about 80 percent in recent decades.