What’s news in the Northwest today:
ELLENSBURG, Wash. — It wasn’t quite fan mail, but it definitely wasn’t hate mail. Ellensburg Judge Thomas Haven recently received a letter from an inmate in the Kittitas County jail. No, the inmate didn’t say he was glad he had received a hefty jail sentence from Haven who serves on the Lower County District Court bench. But he did thank him for his years of service as a judge and for being fair and treating him with respect. As he prepares to retire this week after 20 years on the bench, Haven tells The Daily Record he found the letter particularly meaningful.
Patrolman resigns after qualifications questioned
BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana Highway Patrol sergeant has resigned after an investigation found he had lied about his background and training, in part to receive a promotion, the Billings Gazette reported Wednesday. Sgt. Steve H. Wisniewski was asked to resign on Dec. 15, two days before Col. Mike Tooley said he would make a decision on whether to fire him, according to documents the Gazette obtained from the Justice Department. Wisniewski, who was based in Livingston, was placed on paid leave on Nov. 10 while the patrol investigated the allegations. Letters from Tooley allege Wisniewski submitted false information to the patrol about his professional background and training.
Dudley listed as Oregon governor; deadline blamed
PORTLAND, Ore. — The list of new governors in the World Almanac and Book of Facts is wrong on one fact — the winner in Oregon was not Republican Chris Dudley. The Oregonian reports the respected almanac was under a tight deadline when it went to print the day after the Nov. 2 election, when Dudley was clinging to a slight lead. But last-minute results from Multnomah County, with the largest population in Oregon, gave Democrat John Kitzhaber the victory. Sarah Janssen, the World Almanac’s editor, said it was the first mistake found in the 2011 edition of the book, and she would personally correct the online version. But Janssen said there’s nothing she can do to fix the 1,008-page print version found in libraries, schools and on office desks around the world.
Trial begins for Oregon soldier in Afghan case
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — The court-martial case against one of a dozen Washington-based soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan begins Wednesday. Cpl. Emmitt Quintal, of Weston, Ore. is charged with drug use and with beating up another soldier who was a witness in a drug investigation. The News Tribune reports that the 22-year-old could be discharged from the Army, spend a year in prison and lose two-thirds pay if he’s found guilty. The trial is at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle.
Marion County dog shelter at maximum
SALEM, Ore. — A wave of stray dogs this week has overwhelmed the Marion County Dog Control and Shelter. Office manager Sonya Pulvers tells the Statesman Journal that fireworks on New Year’s Eve may have led to the increase in strays. The shelter took in 25 dogs on Monday and several more on Tuesday. Pulvers says the county holds the dogs for as many as five days before putting them up for adoption. Some may go to dog rescue programs but others are euthanized. Meanwhile, the Willamette Humane Society has not seen a similar upswing.
Prosecutors to drop some charges in hazing case
BLACKFOOT, Idaho — The Bingham County Attorney says he intends to drop some of the most serious charges filed against five former Blackfoot High School athletes accused of hazing classmates. Prosecutor Randy Smith says the decision to drop some of the felony charges was made after reviewing the case with a witness last week and Monday. In court today, Smith says he will seek to dismiss two of the four felony complaints of forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object against Nathan Walker and Logan Chidester, both 19. Smith will also seek to drop single complaints of the same charge against 19-year-old Tyson Katseanes and Anthony Clarke, a freshman on the Boise State University football team.
Lewis County coroner reclassifies 1998 death
VANCOUVER, Wash. — The new Lewis County coroner has reclassified the death of a former state trooper from suicide to undetermined. The Seattle Times reports that newly-elected coroner Warren McLeod submitted an affidavit Monday to change the death certificate of 33-year-old Ronda Reynolds. McLeod says he’ll review the entire case. Reynolds was found shot in the head in 1998 at her Toledo home. Her mother Barb Thompson believes the death was a homicide and filed a civil lawsuit seeking to overrule Coroner Terry Wilson. In 2009, a jury found Wilson erred in ruling the death a suicide. The coroner appealed the decision.
Man accused of kidnapping wife, stabbing mother
BOISE — Ada County officials have arrested a 24-year-old Meridian man on suspicion of assaulting and abducting his wife, driving to his mother’s house with his wife in the trunk and later stabbing his mother to death. Michael James Lee was arrested Tuesday night at his mother’s house in Eagle. He is scheduled to be arraigned in District Court Wednesday for first degree murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault and other charges. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Andrea Dearden says Lee brought his 4-month-old daughter to his mother’s house. Investigators say after visiting for about an hour, Lee allegedly argued with his mother and stabbed her. Meanwhile, his wife was able to escape the trunk using the emergency latch and ran to a nearby house to call for help. The infant was not injured.
Man charged in Issaquah crash involving rideshare van
SEATTLE — King County prosecutors have charged an Issaquah man they say was drunk when he crashed into a rideshare van in September. Charging papers say Douglas Burt Henderson was driving illegally in the carpool lane of Interstate 90 near Issaquah when he struck the back of a King County Metro Rideshare van. All seven people in the van were injured. The 27-year-old faces two counts of vehicular assault. The Seattle Times reports that the charges were filed three months after the Sept. 28 crash because prosecutors were waiting for medical reports.
Portland pedestrian killed in hit-run
PORTLAND — Portland police are searching for a female driver who struck and killed a 38-year-old pedestrian. Spokeswoman Lt. Kelli Sheffer says Rance Lee Lamb of southeast Portland was crossing the street in southeast Portland around midnight Tuesday. A vehicle struck him at a high rate of speed and left the scene. An autopsy is set for Wednesday at the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office.