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In brief: Steele wants trial moved to Wyoming

Edgar Steele, the former Aryan Nations lawyer charged with plotting to kill his wife, wants his murder-for-hire trial moved to Cheyenne, Wyo.

A change of venue request filed by Steele’s lawyers, Robert McAllister and Gary Amendola, cites “negative pre-trial publicity” that will hinder finding an impartial jury in North Idaho.

The lawyers say ongoing news coverage, including the release of phone calls that are the basis for a witness-tampering charge against Steele, was assisted by the U.S. government or Spokane County Jail officials.

“There was no need for anyone to release evidence in a criminal case to the media other than to gain an unfair advantage,” according to the motion.

The phone calls were actually made from the Kootenai County Jail – not Spokane, where Steele has since been housed. The Spokesman-Review obtained the recordings after they were played in open court at Steele’s bail hearing in June and became part of the court record.

A judge has not yet ruled on the request.

Meghann M. Cuniff

Wallet, box of tuna lead to suspect

A box of Chicken of the Sea tuna and a lost wallet recently led to felony charges against a Spokane man suspected of robbing a medical marijuana patient at gunpoint.

Jesse Ryder Bender, 29, is in jail on $35,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court this week on two counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of first-degree robbery. He was arrested Monday after being released from jail Jan. 3 because prosecutors hadn’t yet filed charges.

Detectives identified Bender as a suspect through a wallet left at the scene of the Dec. 28 robbery in the 8000 block of East South Riverway Avenue in Spokane Valley. Fingerprints on a box of Chicken of the Sea tuna also were identified as belonging to Bender, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police say Bender asked a woman who answered the door at the home if she’d ordered Chicken of the Sea. He then forced his way in at gunpoint, tied up the woman and her son, and stole marijuana plants.

A second suspect hasn’t been indentified in court documents.

Detectives found Bender’s wallet in the grow room. He told them he may have lost his wallet on the bus.

Meghann M. Cuniff


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