Local news

In brief: Court hears surgeon in boys ranch trial

A Spokane plastic and reconstructive surgeon rebutted earlier testimony of abuse at Morning Star Boys’ Ranch as proceedings continued Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court.

Dr. Alfonso Oliva testified that it is unlikely the scar on witness Stephanie Miller’s chest was caused by a cigarette burn. Miller, a transsexual, was a resident at Morning Star in the late 1970s. She testified Jan. 19 that a counselor whose name she cannot remember burned her with his cigarette when she refused his demands for oral sex and that she bears the scar. Miller had been called to testify by attorneys for Kenneth Putnam to support his allegations of sexual and physical abuse at the group home for troubled boys by its director, the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner.

Just before court adjourned Wednesday afternoon, the defense called Weitensteiner as a witness. His testimony and that of Putnam will be heard as the trial resumes today.

Kevin Graman

Man arrested in rape, strangulation in 1998

OMAK, Wash. – Twelve years after 51-year-old Sandy Bauer was raped and strangled to death in her Omak home, police have arrested an Omak man based on a cold case review and new DNA evidence.

Kelly E. Small, 47, was booked Tuesday into Okanogan County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree burglary. Small was also arrested on suspicion of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree rape and first-degree burglary in the rape of a 75-year-old Omak woman four years ago.

Wenatchee World

Slain officers lauded; crime bills advance

OLYMPIA – The Legislature passed resolutions Wednesday honoring six law enforcement officers killed in Western Washington last year, and the House of Representatives gave overwhelming support to bills spawned by those slayings.

The House approved changes in the state’s bail laws that require more scrutiny of suspects, as well as tougher penalties for relatives who help a criminal fugitive, and higher payments to police and firefighters permanently disabled while on duty.

They also approved a bill – directed at an escape from an Eastern State Hospital field trip to the Spokane County fair – requiring notification of an escape to state and local law enforcement, other government agencies, relatives, the victim of the crime, and any witnesses who testified against a patient who has been judged criminally insane or incompetent to stand trial.

Jim Camden

Air, military museum receives gifts of land

A long-planned Armed Forces and Aerospace Museum in Spokane is one step closer to reality after an unnamed donor paid for three acres on the West Plains and a group of property owners donated another three acres.

Tobby Hatley, spokesman for the museum project, said acquiring the land is “a huge step,” because many potential donors want the facility to have a place to build before committing funds.

The museum has raised $1.2 million through public funds and private donations and needs to raise about another $3 million in the next year, Hatley said. If that happens, construction could start in the next 12 to 18 months, he said.

The donated land, adjacent to Interstate 90, was given by Tim Welsh, Al Payne, Bruce Morelan, Jack Gillingham, Kevin Edwards, Pete Thompson and Dick Edwards, a news release said.

Organizers started working on the museum in 1996, after the military closed Fairchild Air Force Base’s Heritage Museum.

Addy Hatch

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