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In brief: Police say car thieves caught by owner

Thu., March 17, 2011

A Spokane Valley man held two suspected car thieves at gunpoint Tuesday night after catching them breaking into his pickup, police said Wednesday.

Paul M. Pittman, 31, and Charles D. Rogers, 35, were arrested in the 18800 block of East Fourth Avenue after a woman called 911 about 11:15 p.m. and said her boyfriend had caught them inside his pickup.

Police said Rogers and Pittman arrived on the scene in a truck stolen from a car lot earlier in the day.

The man who caught them told police he awoke to the sound of a car door closing “and armed himself to investigate,” according to a news release. He found Rogers and Pittman in his truck and “saw that the steering column around the ignition had been pried open and damaged,” the news release said.

Police found shaved car keys on Rogers after his arrest. Both men were booked into jail on charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, attempted theft of a motor vehicle, possession of motor vehicle theft tools, third-degree malicious mischief and second-degree trespass.

Agencies for homeless get grants

Several North Idaho organizations received a share of $2.56 million in federal funding to provide permanent and transitional housing for homeless people.

St. Vincent de Paul in Coeur d’Alene received $325,807 for three programs that provide housing for homeless families and individuals.

Other agencies receiving funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care grants include: the Bonner County Homeless Task Force ($192,345); Sojourner’s Alliance in Moscow ($184,665); New Bridges Community Church in Lewiston ($44,208); and YWCA in Lewiston ($57,308).

The grants are distributed by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association.

Not guilty plea in guard’s strangling

EVERETT – A convicted rapist charged with strangling a prison guard at the Monroe Correctional Complex has pleaded not guilty to a charge that could bring the death penalty.

The Seattle Times reports that Byron Scherf’s lawyer entered the plea on his behalf in Snohomish County Superior Court on Wednesday, one day after Prosecutor Mark Roe announced he would seek Scherf’s execution if he’s convicted.

The 52-year-old is accused of killing Officer Jayme Biendl on Jan. 29 inside the prison chapel. According to court documents, Scherf has told police that he deserves to die for killing Biendl.

A trial date was set for May 6.

Fired ‘Redneck’ bus driver files suit

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – An Oregon school bus driver fired after he refused to remove a Confederate battle flag from his pickup truck filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday to get back his job.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Medford against First Student Inc., the school bus contractor that fired Ken Webber earlier this month.

The lawsuit claims Webber’s First Amendment right to free speech and 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law were violated, and he demands he be reinstated with back pay and attorney fees. It also claims Webber’s Oregon constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection were violated.

Webber has said that the flag – emblazoned with the word “Redneck” – is an expression of his cultural identity, also reflected in a tattoo on his arm, and is in no way a statement of racism or political beliefs.

He was fired earlier this month.

The superintendent of the Phoenix-Talent School District had demanded the flag be removed from the bus yard on school property because it violated a policy about displaying symbols that could be offensive to minorities.


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