What’s news in the Northwest today:
SEATTLE — Seattle City Light is trying to determine what caused a dog to be electrocuted while being walked in the city’s Queen Anne neighborhood. Lisa McKibbin was walking her dog, Sammy, on Thanksgiving Day when the 68-pound dog apparently stepped on a metal plate next to a street lamp. She says her dog started yelping in pain, then started convulsing and collapsed. The German shorthair pointer died a short time later. City Light spokeswoman Suzanne Hartman says power was immediately cut to the light post. Crews believe something is wrong with the light’s circuitry, such as a bad grounding wire, but the exact cause has not been determined.
State Supreme Court upholds Idaho man’s sentencing
SANDPOINT — Justices on the state’s highest court have upheld the sentencing of a northern Idaho man who pleaded guilty to the molestation of a 6-year-old boy. A district court judge first sentenced 50-year-old Walter Eugene Moore in 2003 to serve at least 15 years in prison for lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor. The Idaho Court of Appeals granted Moore a new sentencing in 2008. First District Judge John Patrick Luster then ordered Moore to serve 13 years to life in prison. Moore appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, arguing, among other things, that his sentence was excessively harsh. Justices rejected that claim, in a seven-page opinion earlier this month.
Police: Islamic center fire caused by liquid
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Investigators say suspected arson at a Corvallis Islamic center appears to have been started by someone who broke a window and tossed a container of flammable liquid inside. The Sunday fire destroyed part of the center where Mohamed Osman Mohamud — the 19-year-old man accused of plotting a mass killing in Portland — occasionally worshipped. Corvallis police Capt. Jonathan Sassaman told The Associated Press the window to the center’s office was not broken enough for someone to enter. Sassaman says evidence — including the entire window — has been shipped to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va. Mohamud has pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in an alleged plot to set off a car bomb last Friday in downtown Portland.
Woman gets 2 days in jail for reckless driving
COEUR d’ALENE — A 65-year-old Dalton Gardens woman with a history of driving infractions has been sentenced to two days in jail after being convicted of reckless driving. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports Mary Ellen Tappen was sentenced Monday by Magistrate Judge Barry E. Watson. He told Tappen he would have suspended her driver’s license, but only the state had the jurisdiction to do so. Tappen was convicted of reckless driving for weaving in and out of her lane, nearly hitting a group of four bicyclists in March. Three years ago, Tappen pleaded guilty to two inattentive driving charges, one in which she sideswiped a truck and another for rear-ending a truck and trailer on Interstate 90 two days later. Watson said past tickets hadn’t changed Tappen’s driving habits, and he hoped the jail time would get the message across.
Grant will fix up Oregon covered bridge
VIDA, Ore. — Lane County, Oregon, officials have received a $2 million federal transportation grant to fix up one of the state’s best-known covered bridges. The Register-Guard reports that the Goodpasture covered bridge near Vida has been limited to vehicles of under 15 tons since engineers discovered broken and deteriorated sections in its timber trusses and substructure. The grant will pay to fix those problems, allowing normal traffic of up to 40 tons. The 165-foot bridge was built in 1938 across the McKenzie River. With its architectural detail it’s one of the most photographed of Oregon’s 50 covered bridges. Officials say repairs could begin by 2012 and be completed within a year.
Region’s blood supply at critically low level, official warns
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Clark County’s hospitals need blood, and soon. After a cold and icy Thanksgiving week, where people either stayed indoors or headed out of town, the Puget Sound Blood Center fell to a critically low level of blood supply. The supply is so low that an official at Vancouver’s blood bank hasn’t seen such a shortage in five years. The blood bank on Vancouver Mall Drive received less than half the number of units of blood it normally receives in a given week, said Jeff Carrick, area manager for the Southwest Washington branch of the Puget Sound Blood Center. Carrick called the shortage “nerve-racking,” where officials at blood banks throughout Western Washington have reported having less than a two-day supply of blood donations, specifically with the O, A and B blood groups, or the less common blood types. A four-day supply is considered optimal, Carrick said.
DNA tests delaying investigation into shooting death of deputy’s son
VANCOUVER – Investigators are awaiting the return of DNA tests to complete their inquiry into the circumstances that permitted the 3-year-old son of a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy to shoot and kill himself. Ryan Owens shot himself with his father’s personal firearm at about 10 p.m. Sept. 14 while both his parents were at home. His father, Detective Ed Owens, has been with the sheriff’s office since 2004. Battle Ground Police Lt. Roy Butler is leading a joint investigation into the boy’s death. Butler has declined to go into specifics regarding the investigation, saying only that outstanding DNA tests present a barrier to completing the investigation. He doesn’t know when the test results will be returned. Sheriff Garry Lucas said immediately after Ryan Owens’ death that all signs pointed to it being accidental.
Oregon man guilty of double murder in drug deaths
PORTLAND, Ore. — A former drug dealer has been convicted of aggravated murder in the deaths of two other Oregon dealers at their suburban Portland townhouse. The Oregonian reports that 37-year-old James Tooley now faces a potential death penalty when the jury reconvenes to decide his sentence. A Multnomah County jury convicted Tooley Monday of killing Melinda Beth Kotkins and Anthony Patrick Cooper, who were both in their 20s when they were each shot in the head. Their bodies were found days later at their Gresham home, and a dog trapped in the house ate parts of their remains.
$2 million warrant issued, Twin Falls man skipped trial
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A 49-year-old Twin Falls man failed to show up for his trial on sexual abuse charges and authorities have issued a $2 million arrest warrant. The Times-News reports Valentin Calvillo failed to appear at his Nov. 16 trial on eight counts of lewd conduct with a minor under 16 and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor under 16. Prosecutors allege Calvillo had inappropriate contact with a 10-year-old girl on multiple occasions earlier this year. A grand jury indicted Calvillo in June. Calvillo is described as 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 195 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information about Calvillo’s whereabouts is asked to call the Twin Falls County sheriff’s office at 208-735-1911.
Mail truck fire damages mail, destroys 2 parcels
BILLINGS, Mont. — A U.S. Postal Service truck caught fire in Billings, damaging hundreds of pieces of mail and destroying two parcels. Big Sky District marketing manager Sally Tuomi tells The Billings Gazette that most of the fire-damaged mail was advertising and bulk business mail and most is salvageable. Tuomi says the cause of Monday’s fire is believed to be an overheated engine and a motor fuel leak. Mail carrier Jesse Slevira says his mail truck stopped and started smoking while he was on his route Monday afternoon. He called to report his mechanical problems and was delivering mail when someone yelled that his truck was on fire. He says he grabbed his mail bag and then he and a resident shoveled snow on the truck to try to put out the fire. Firefighters extinguished the flames.
Washington finds some inaccurate price scanners
OLYMPIA — Washington state’s Department of Agriculture says it’s found that some retail store price scanners aren’t accurate. But the agency says it appears shoppers are slightly more likely to be undercharged than overcharged. The department’s Weights and Measures inspectors checked nearly 14,000 items at 148 stores across the state in October and November. They found the scanners were accurate more than 97 percent of the time. But the survey shows consumers are overcharged about 1 percent of the time and undercharged about 1.4 percent of the time. Consumers also came out ahead on prices. The average overcharge was $1.96, while the undercharges averaged $3.11.
Idaho university faculty ditch no-confidence vote on Vailas
POCATELLO, Idaho — Faculty leaders at Idaho State University are ditching a no-confidence vote they had scheduled for next Monday on school President Arthur Vailas. The university’s Faculty Senate agreed earlier this month to vote on Vailas and charged the administrator with failure of leadership, saying he made budget decisions in secrecy and took credit for their achievements. But the faculty panel voted Monday to cancel the no-confidence vote and enter into mediation with Vailas. Faculty leaders agreed to postpone the Dec. 6 vote on Vailas last week, after state Board of Education vice president Ken Edmunds waded into the fray and talked to both sides. While some faculty leaders have expressed concerns the panel was pressured into backing off, Faculty Senate Chair Phil Cole has rejected those notions.
Billings businesswoman charged in cocaine case
BILLINGS — A Billings businesswoman who testified against a cocaine dealer in a federal court case has been charged with attempting to maintain drug-related premises. The Billings Gazette reports federal prosecutors are charging Dru Cederberg with making a “substantial step” to maintain her former house as a place to use cocaine from Aug. 1 until Sept. 11, 2008. Cederberg is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Carolyn Ostby on Jan. 4. Cederberg testified against cocaine trafficker Domingo Baez, saying she bought drugs from him for about four years. Baez is serving a 15-year sentence.
Yakima man pleads guilty in mother-in-law’s death
YAKIMA, Wash. — A Yakima man has pleaded guilty to shooting his mother-in-law to death. The Yakima Herald-Republic says 48-year-old Vicente Diaz pleaded guilty in Yakima County Superior Court on Monday to second-degree murder in the July 15, 2008, killing of Maria Moya. Police allege that Diaz was upset because his marriage to Moya’s daughter was ending. A sentencing date has not yet been set.