July 14, 2011 in City

Pirtle brothers charged in attack

Baseball bat used in May 14 assault
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Crime Stoppers photo

Jayce Pirtle
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Two brothers from a notorious Spokane family are accused of a baseball bat attack in a park that left a man with a permanent lip disfigurement.

Jayce Leon Elton Pirtle Jr., 23, and Andrew Lee Elias Pirtle, 21, were charged this week with second-degree assault for the alleged beating in a South Hill park in May.

The charges are the latest for the nephews of Spokane murderer Blake Pirtle, who killed two Burger King employees in 1992. The Pirtles say police unfairly target them because of their relationship to Blake Pirtle, whose death sentence was converted to life in prison in 2003. The family vowed to leave Spokane in 2007, but police say they still are here.

Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, a Spokane Police Department spokeswoman, said the family has a “propensity for crime” that earns police attention.

“If they made a significant effort to clean up their act, then they wouldn’t be getting our attention,” DeRuwe said. “Historically, some member of the family is committing a crime so they’re receiving our attention.”

The men’s mother, Debra Pirtle, said she moved to Seattle for about a year but couldn’t afford rent and returned to Spokane.

Pirtle said her younger son, Dominick Pirtle, was assaulted by police officers who told her no one would believe her because of her background. Court records show Dominick Pirtle was arrested for third-degree assault against a law enforcement officer June 10 but has not yet been formally charged.

Jayce Pirtle was arrested Friday when law enforcement searched his apartment at 1808 E. Pacific Ave. His probation officer had found a .357 handgun in his apartment after learning that police were investigating Pirtle for a burglary. Spokane police obtained a search warrant and seized the handgun, along with two rifles. He’s been charged with three counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Pirtle already has two convictions for violent felonies that count against the three-strikes law, one for second-degree kidnapping and another for second-degree assault. He could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted on his latest assault charge. He’s currently in jail on $50,000 bond for the new charges as well as a warrant for violating his probation. He declined an interview at the Spokane County Jail.

Pirtle appeared in Superior Court Tuesday on the assault charge, which stems from an alleged attack on Luke A. Coulson in Cannon Hill Park, 800 W. 19th Ave., on May 14.

According to court documents, Coulson and his girlfriend were at the park with a group of friends when men approached with a baseball bat and began striking him in the face. Witnesses told police the attack was retaliation for a previous assault.

Witnesses also told police that Jayce Pirtle picked one victim up by his neck and threw him backward before striking another man and breaking his right wrist, according to court documents.

Several people identified the brothers through photo montages, police said.

Andrew Pirtle has been summoned to court for an arraignment on July 25 on the assault charge and is not in custody.


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