What’s news in the Northwest today:
SEATTLE — The 20-year-old who gained a popular following as the “Barefoot Bandit” pleaded not guilty to all charges today in federal court. Colton Harris-Moore is accused of a two-year cross-country burglary spree in stolen cars, boats and planes — some of the crimes allegedly committed while he was barefoot. His lawyer, John Henry Browne, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts previously said in court they hoped to have a plea deal reached by the end of last month that would provide the framework for resolving state and federal charges. Browne doesn’t dispute the allegations against his client. He has long maintained that Harris-Moore has no interest in profiting from the crimes but would be interested in selling his story if it meant his victims could be repaid. The federal charges stem from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early 2010, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands. He then stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took a plane from a hangar in North Idaho, where authorities found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel, prosecutors say. He then made his way to Oregon in a stolen boat, then hopscotched his way across the United States, frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports, until he made it to Indiana, where he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas. He was captured by Bahamian police at gunpoint in a stolen boat. In all, Harris-Moore is suspected of more than 70 crimes across nine states.
Stinky Seattle ‘corpse flower’ draws crowd
SEATTLE — The University of Washington Biology Department says the corpse flower that reached the peak of its smelly bloom early today will die in a few days. Graduate student Kelsey Byers worked through the night in the botanical garden greenhouse, collecting samples of the pungent odor. The UW says scientists hope to identify the chemicals that cause the stench and compare them to the smell of an actual corpse. The flower attracts pollinating insects by smelling like rotting meat. The research could lead to a better understanding of pollination. The rare flower that blooms about every five years attracted hundreds of people to the greenhouse on the Seattle campus Wednesday to experience its smell.
Vandals sully war memorial with spray paint
POST FALLS — Veterans in Post Falls are reeling after vandals wielding spray paint cans targeted an M60 tank and personnel carrier on display at the American Legion Post. Legion Commander John Dunlap says the vandalism was discovered Wednesday. The vandals painted “War Pig” in big white letters across the personnel carrier, covered a white American star with paint and sprayed graffiti across other memorials. Dunlap told The Coeur d’Alene Press it hurts to see the memorial treated with such disrespect. He says the legion will likely have to pay the costs of repainting the memorials. The Legion has displayed the Vietnam-era tank for 14 years and the personnel carrier for about three years. Police say they are investigating and seeking information from the public that could lead to arrests.
Washington management plan for wolves under review
ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Cattlemen and hunting groups contend a proposed plan for managing and restoring gray wolves in Washington state allows for too many wolves. A 17-member citizen advisory group has been meeting for nearly five years about how best to recover wolves in their historic territory while reducing and managing wolf-livestock conflicts. Jack Field of the Washington Cattlemen Association says the number of wolves overall should be capped. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife released a revised plan last month. It calls for a minimum of 15 breeding pairs to delist the animals from endangered species protections. Meanwhile, conservation groups disagree with a provision that allows landowners to kill wolves caught in the act of killing domestic dogs. The state estimates there are about 25 wolves in Washington.
Stevens County wild dog pack ‘killing for fun’
DEER PARK, Wash. — A pack of wild dogs has killed about 100 animals in southern Stevens County in the past three months, most recently a 350-pound llama at a Deer Park ranch. Stevens County sheriff’s Deputy Keith Cochran is warning residents to protect their animals and families because the dogs appear to be cruel and bloodthirsty and killing for fun. “I think they’re capable of anything at this point,” Cochran told KXLY-TV. He has been trying to stop the pack since the end of March, and there have been 15 separate attacks that have killed about 100 animals in that time, Cochran said. Dogs killed a number of goats last week and the llama on Tuesday night. Deer Park resident Temma Davis said neighbors are worried about kids getting off school buses or riding their bikes. “They’re bloodthirsty,” Davis said of the dogs. “It’s like ‘Cujo,”’ the Stephen King book and movie about a killer dog, she said. Davis can point to houses all around her where animals have been killed by the wild dogs. All the attacks have happened at night, but people are starting to see the dogs in the early morning. The sheriff’s office is encouraging people to do what they need to do to protect their families and animals
Gov. Kitzhaber signs Oregon bottle deposit system revamp
SALEM, Ore. — Gov. John Kitzhaber has signed a bill revamping Oregon’s bottle deposit system. The bill signed today will make the deposit system apply to just about any glass, metal or plastic beverage container — effective by 2018. The existing law requires a deposit for plastic water and soda bottles but not for nearly identical iced tea bottles. The measure also increases the current nickel deposit to a dime if redemption falls below 80 percent for two consecutive years. It’s currently just below that level. And the new law expands an experiment with centralized redemption centers that allow people to redeem bottles in specialized locations instead of at the local grocery store. Kitzhaber says the bill will decrease litter and improve recycling.
Seattle zoo elephant artificially inseminated
SEATTLE — The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle says one of its Asian elephants was artificially inseminated Wednesday to help preserve the species. It will be about four months before the zoo knows whether Chai is pregnant. She would deliver a calf in 22 months. The 32-year-old was the mother of Hansa, who was born at the zoo in 2000 and died six years later of elephant herpes virus. The elephant curator at the zoo, Bruce Upchurch, says the 15-minute insemination procedure was conducted in a medical chute where the zoo’s three elephants get routine care. He says Chai enjoys the personal attention from keepers and buckets of favorite treats such as cantaloupe and carrots to pass the time. The semen came from a 13-year-old bull elephant at Albuquerque Biological Park Zoo.
Group to ask Supreme Court to block Oregon execution
SALEM, Ore. — Opponents of the death penalty say they will file a motion asking the Oregon Supreme Court to block an execution scheduled for August. Attorney Jeffrey Ellis with the Oregon Capital Resource Center said today that he will file the motion next week. At a news conference at the state Capitol, Ellis said he will ask the state’s highest court to return the case to Marion County Circuit Court in Salem. Inmate Gary Haugen is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection August 18 after telling a Marion County judge he wants to waive his appeals. Ellis argues the judge improperly allowed Haugen to dismiss his attorneys after they presented evidence questioning Haugen’s competency to do so. Haugen was twice convicted of brutal murders.
Club founder blames ex-attorney for his legal woes
BILLINGS, Mont. — The founder of Montana’s exclusive Yellowstone Club says he was betrayed by his ex-attorney in a civil fraud case that resulted in a $40 million judgment against him. Resort developer Tim Blixseth also claims former attorney Stephen Brown participated in a plot to blame the resort’s 2008 bankruptcy on Blixseth. Blixseth filed a federal lawsuit in Missoula Wednesday seeking at least $375 million in damages against Brown and others Blixseth says conspired against him. Brown disputed the allegations today. Defendants also include current club owner Sam Byrne of CrossHarbor Capital Partners and several attorneys from the bankruptcy case. Blixseth made hundreds of millions of dollars off the private ski resort before giving it up in his 2008 divorce. Within months, the club was bankrupt, buried under $400 million in debt.
Sea-Tac Airport replacing 42 of 79 escalators
SEATAC, Wash. — Forty-two of the 79 escalators at Sea-Tac Airport are being replaced in $55 million project starting in July. The Port of Seattle says the new escalators will have drive systems that improve energy efficiency by 20 percent. In addition, two new escalators are being added at the South Satellite. The port says the work will be phased over two years to reduce passenger disruption at Sea-Tac.
Arrest made in Napavine shooting
CHEHALIS, Wash. — The Lewis County sheriff’s office says detectives arrested a suspect Wednesday night in the shooting that wounded a woman Monday in Napavine. A tip led detectives to a house in Lacey where they arrested 22-year-old Javier Jimenez Villalavazo for investigation of assault. The 24-year-old Centralia woman who was shot was released Tuesday from Providence Centralia Hospital.
Oregon businessman sues Chris Dudley over island estate
PORTLAND, Ore. — The owner of an estate on an island in Oswego Lake has sued former Republican candidate for governor and professional basketball player Chris Dudley over the terms of a loan. The Oregonian reports that Jerry Stubblefield, the 70-year-old founder of Avia athletic footwear, claims that Dudley tried to change the terms of a $3.75 million loan to collect an extra $1 million. The loan went toward helping Stubblefield save his 13,500-square-foot home from foreclosure. Before the lawsuit, Stubblefield supported Dudley in his run for governor, donating $1,000 to the 2010 campaign and allowing Dudley to hold a $10,000-per-couple campaign fundraiser on the island property. Dudley’s attorney was not available for comment today.
Oregon cat recovering after bubonic plague diagnosis
PORTLAND — A cat in Prineville has been diagnosed with bubonic plague, the fourth case reported in Oregon among people and animals since January of last year. Christine Stone of the Oregon Health Authority says the cat has been treated with antibiotics and is recovering. Stone says two people were diagnosed with the bubonic plague last year, and one dog. All survived. The bacteria that cause the disease are spread to humans from flea bites. Stone says untreated cases can be fatal, but early treatment with antibiotics cures the infection.