What’s news in the Northwest today:
LEWISTON — Police say a teenager has been arrested after he snatched a 79-year-old woman’s purse as she was leaving a funeral in Lewiston. Lewiston Police Capt. Tom Greene says the Clarkston woman was walking out of a church on Wednesday at about noon when she was confronted by the 16-year-old boy on the sidewalk. The Lewiston Tribune reports the teen allegedly grabbed the woman’s purse and ran away. The woman was not hurt. Greene says a police officer saw the teen run into a residence, and authorities arrested the boy within minutes. Police say the teen faces charges of felony robbery. He has been booked into the Region II Juvenile Detention Center on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant.
Ruiz found guilty of 1987 Pasco killings
SPOKANE — Mistaken identity wasn’t really a question for the 12 jurors who decided Wednesday that Vicente Ruiz was the second shooter in Pasco’s bloodiest massacre. After reviewing each piece of evidence and their own notes from testimony from the seven-week trial, the Spokane County jury unanimously agreed the 46-year-old Ruiz killed five men and wounded a sixth in 1987. At least three jurors clearly were emotional, dabbing tears from their eyes while the guilty verdicts were read by Franklin County Chief Deputy Clerk Cherryl Jones. The conviction for five counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder means Ruiz will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of release. But Kennewick lawyer Kevin Holt — the only defense attorney in court Wednesday with Ruiz — maintains Ruiz is not a killer and vowed the decision will be reversed by the Washington Court of Appeals.
Suspect arrested in Clark County hatchet attack
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Clark County sheriff’s detectives have arrested one of two men suspected of attacking another man with a hatchet. The Columbian reports a team arrested 28-year-old Mathew M. Michaelson on Wednesday at Ariel in Cowlitz County. He’s facing charges of attempted murder and intimidating a witness. The victim in the Dec. 14 assault believes he was targeted by two masked men because he’s a witness in a criminal case against Michaelson. The victim is recovering from a concussion and cuts to the head. Detectives are still looking for the second suspect in the attack.
Man accused of cutting his grandmother’s throat
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — A Jan. 10 trial date has been set for a man accused of slashing his grandmother’s throat with a box cutter after stealing her jewelry. The Idaho Falls Post-Register reports Steven Rankin has been charged with attempted murder, burglary, robbery and aggravated assault in the Sept. 8 attack. Rankin’s grandmother testified in September that her grandson knocked her down and cut her throat after waking up to find him and Joshua Townsley in her house with nylon stockings covering their faces. The 25-year-old Rankin has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Townsley is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 27 after he pleaded guilty to burglary in October.
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival canceled
OTHELLO, Wash. — The 2011 Othello Sandhill Crane Festival has been canceled. Organizers told The Columbia Basin Herald there weren’t enough volunteers for the event, which usually has been held in March for the past 13 years. The festival celebrated the arrival of the migrating birds at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. Organizers are looking for volunteers to bring the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival back in 2012.
Boise broker sentenced for stealing clients’ money
BOISE — A former Boise mortgage broker has been sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution after she pleaded guilty to using at least $220,000 of her clients’ money for her personal use. The Idaho Statesman reports District Judge Patrick Owen handed down the sentence on Sheila Kilborn-Jones this week after the 40-year-old Kilborn-Jones pleaded guilty to grand theft in October. The Idaho Statesman reports Kilborn-Jones admitted she diverted the funds of 45 investors in 2008 for her own personal use. Owen ordered Kilborn-Jones to pay $1.2 million in restitution. She will be eligible for parole after four years in prison.
Aumsville tornado damage estimated at $1.1 million
SALEM, Ore. — Marion County estimates damage from the Dec. 14 tornado that struck Aumsville at $1.1 million. The county emergency manager, John Vanderzanden, told The Statesman Journal that includes residential and commercial property and public infrastructure. The figure could go up as agencies send in more damage reports, but Vanderzanden says he doubts the city will qualify for a state and federal disaster declaration. The threshold to qualify is at least $950,000 in damage to public infrastructure. The twister damaged 50 homes. No one was killed.
Oregon death row inmates see lengthy appeals
SALEM, Ore. — When Bruce and Joshua Turnidge are formally sentenced to death next month they will join 34 other men on Oregon’s death row. The Statesman Journal reports they will likely be sent to the maximum-security Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem to await a lengthy appeals process. The jury’s decision in the 2008 Woodburn bank bombing that killed two police officers will be automatically reviewed by the Oregon Supreme Court. The Department of Corrections says some inmates have been on death row for more than 15 years. The last execution in Oregon was the lethal injection of 57-year-old Harry Charles Moore in 1997.
Bainbridge Island police killing found justified
PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — The Kitsap County prosecutor says a Bainbridge Island police officer was justified in killing a man who threatened officers with an ax. Prosecutor Russ Hauge wrote Wednesday that Officer Jeff Benkert was justified in shooting Douglas Ostling last October. Ostling was holding an ax over another officer who had tripped and fallen on his back after trying to fire a Taser. The 43-year-old Ostling had a history of mental illness and had called 911 screaming questions. Responding officers found him holding the ax.
Jury finds Federal Way police negligent
SEATTLE — A King County Superior Court jury found the city of Federal Way negligent in the stabbing death of a woman who had a protection order against her boyfriend. The News Tribune of Tacoma reports the jury awarded $1.1 million Wednesday to the daughters of the 66-year-old woman, Baerbel Roznowski. She was killed in May 2008 three hours after a police officer delivered an anti-harassment protective order to the man, Chan Ok “Paul” Kim. The officer left even though he saw Roznowski in the same house. The lawyer for the daughters says the officer shouldn’t have left them together. The order barred Kim within 500 feet of the house. Now 71, Kim is serving a 20-year murder sentence.
Carlyle Group to buy owner of Missoula company
MISSOULA, Mont. — The Carlyle Group plans to buy the parent company of Missoula’s Mountain Water Co. The Missoulian reports that the private equity firm’s plans to purchase Park Water Co. of California were announced Wednesday. Mountain Water general manager and vice president Arvid “Butch” Hiller says the owner of Park Water is 84 years old and is trying to plan for the company’s future. Hiller says Mountain Water’s 45 employees shouldn’t be affected by the sale. Terms were not released, and the sale is subject to regulatory approval.
Man who shot ex-girlfriend, self pleads guilty
OLYMPIA, Wash. — A man who killed his ex-girlfriend with a shotgun and then shot himself in the face pleaded guilty on Tuesday to murder. The Olympian reports that 55-year-old Roy Franco is missing an eye and had trouble talking in court because part of his jaw was blasted away. He pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder, among other charges, that will send him to jail for up 34 years. Charging papers say that in Sept. 2009, Franco arrived at Kay Langford’s work with a sawed-off shotgun, chased her down and shot her in the head in front of horrified onlookers. He then shot himself. Langford’s boss, 78-year-old Carolyn Lattin, tried to wrestle away the shotgun from Franco, but was pushed away. In court on Tuesday, Lattin said she misses Langford.
Oregon couple sues doctor over botched vasectomy
EUGENE, Ore. —A Eugene couple has sued a local doctor and medical group for $650,000 for a botched vasectomy. The Eugene Register-Guard reports that Scott and Donnita Bassinger filed the suit this month, saying Dr. Stephen Schepergerdes and Oregon Medical Group should help with the expenses associated with Donnita Bassinger’s Cesarean delivery and with their son’s upbringing and college education. They allege that Schepergerdes failed to inform the couple that he encountered complications when performing Scott Bassinger’s vasectomy in 2007, despite allegedly noting in his records that Bassinger’s tubes were thin and difficult to dissect. The doctor and medical group did not respond to requests for comment
Man accused of bank robbery joke pleads not guilty
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A Rollins man accused of joking with bank employees that he was going to rob them has pleaded not guilty to criminal endangerment. The Daily Inter Lake reports Ross Tetachuk entered his plea Wednesday in Flathead County District Court. He is being held in the Flathead County Detention Center with bail set at $16,185. Prosecutors say the 48-year-old Tetachuk told employees of a Lakeside bank on Dec. 1, “I’m going to rob you, I have a gun.” He is accused of then reaching toward his waistband before declaring he was joking. The same bank was robbed less than on Nov. 10. Criminal endangerment is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.