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NW today: Cops don’t buy drunk driver’s excuse

Tue., May 3, 2011, 8:36 a.m.

What’s news in the Northwest today:

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon State Police say they clocked a “visibly intoxicated” driver at 111 mph on Interstate 205 and weren’t impressed with her statement that she was driving a passenger to a hospital. Trooper Justin Lane said he not only clocked the 1997 Pontiac Firebird speeding but saw it make several unsafe lane changes as well as nearly rear-ending another car before he was able to stop it Sunday evening. Lane says the female driver said her passenger was having breathing problems and she was headed for Providence Hospital. The trooper noted the driver had not only passed Providence but several other hospitals. The passenger reported no medical problems. Lane says 53-year-old Florence Rea of Oregon City was booked into the Clackamas County Jail for investigation of DUI and reckless driving. She was released Monday.

Police say murdered woman was strangled

LEWISTON, Idaho — A Lewiston woman killed inside her home early Sunday is believed to have died by strangulation. Beth M. Irby-Thomas, 28, was found under blankets on the floor inside her residence early Sunday morning at 310 Eighth Ave. Her ex-husband, former Nez Perce County sheriff’s deputy Joseph A. Thomas Jr., is being held without bond on a first-degree murder charge related to Irby-Thomas’ death. The couple’s two young sons, who Lewiston Police Capt. Roger Lanier said were sleeping in another room of the home during the incident, have been placed in the custody of family members. Police reports contained within the court file allege Irby-Thomas was found with a black belt wrapped around her neck, while a criminal complaint alleges Thomas committed an act of premeditation by strangulation and/or asphyxiation.

Muslim event in Portland canceled due to threats

PORTLAND — Muslims who had planned to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden in downtown Portland Monday night canceled the event due to threats. The Islamic Society of Greater Portland says bin Laden’s death was a relief to the community because he did not represent their non-violent beliefs. Spokeswoman Saba Ahmed told KGW that it canceled the gathering in Pioneer Courthouse Square after receiving hateful, extremist emails. She says it might be more appropriate to have a peaceful healing gathering at the Square on Sept. 11.

Former Bremerton cop accused of illegal gun sales

BREMERTON, Wash. — The lawyer for a former Bremerton police officer accused of illegally selling guns says it’s a regulatory issue that could have been handled without accusing him of a crime. Roy Alloway was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged Friday in federal court in Tacoma with unlawfully dealing in firearms at gun shows. Attorney Bob Goldsmith says Alloway never thought he was breaking the law and it’s largely a paperwork problem. The Kitsap Sun reports Alloway was a longtime narcotics detective who retired in May of last year. His home was raided in November by federal agents. The U.S. attorney’s office says illegal sales at gun shows put weapons in the wrong hands and block attempts to trace guns.

Body found in Snake River not identified yet

LEWISTON — Officials in Asotin County, Washington say a body pulled from the Snake River on Sunday hasn’t been officially identified yet but could belong to a missing grandmother from Kamiah, Idaho. The Lewiston Tribune reports that Asotin County Sheriff Ken Bancroft says the body could be that of Lavina Hietala, a 72-year-old woman missing since April 1. Bancroft says that detectives examining the remains found dental identifiers and hair that could confirm whether it is indeed Hietala. The Idaho State Police is handling the investigation, and official identification is waiting on the results from lab testing. Fishermen found the body on the river’s edge Sunday afternoon and called 911.

Prosecutors seek new judge in animal cruelty case

BILLINGS, Mont. — The Yellowstone County attorney’s office wants another judge to hear the animal cruelty case against James Leachman, after his son filed a lawsuit against Justice of the Peace Pedro Hernandez. The Billings Gazette reports County Attorney Scott Twito filed a motion Friday asking Hernandez to recuse himself from Leachman case to avoid any appearance of impropriety. A hearing is set for May 11. James Leachman is charged with eight counts of animal cruelty for failing to properly feed and care for more than 800 horses on a ranch east of Billings. Late last month, Leachman’s son, Seth, filed a civil lawsuit against Hernandez over the judge’s order to remove about 65 horses from land leased by James Leachman. Seth Leachman’s lawsuit says the horses are his and Hernandez has no jurisdiction over him.

Illegal immigrant sentenced for fatal crash

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — An illegal immigrant convicted of killing a California family in a drunken driving crash in southwestern Idaho has been sentenced to at least eight years in prison. Eusebio Jacobo Pineda was sentenced Monday to 32 years in prison, with the possibility of parole after eight. He pleaded guilty to four counts of vehicular manslaughter for traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of Interstate 84 near Glenns Ferry when his pickup struck a car last August. The collision killed 48-year-old Amado Herrera of El Monte, Calif., his 45-year-old wife Luz, 18-year-old daughter Ivette and 10-year-old son Anthony. Court records say Pineda’s blood-alcohol level was 0.284, more than three times the legal limit. Fourth District Judge Richard Greenwood says Pineda will be deported when he completes his sentence.

GOP leaders meet Wednesday to mull redistricting

BOISE — Republican leaders meet Wednesday to discuss their picks for the panel that will draw Idaho’s legislative districts for the next decade. House Speaker Lawerence Denney of Midvale plans to meet with Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill and state GOP chairman Norm Semanko in Boise to discuss their selections for the six-member redistricting commission. Democrats have already made their choices: Allen Andersen of Pocatello, Julie Kane of Lapwai and George Moses of Boise. Now, Denney, Hill and Semanko, who each get to choose one representative, must decide before the commission starts statewide hearings in June. Denney says he’s not certain how quickly the Republican leaders will announce selections. Fast-growing suburban areas near Boise are likely to gain political clout while rural Idaho will lose power, based on 2010 census numbers.

Bird nest on fireplace vent starts Yakima fire

YAKIMA, Wash. — A bird nest on a gas fireplace vent caused a fire at a cancer care center in Yakima. About 30 people were evacuated Monday at the North Star Lodge as firefighters prevented the fire from spreading. Damage is estimated at about $18,000. KNDO reports another nest was found on another fireplace vent, so Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Caruso ordered all gas appliances in the building shut down until all the vents are inspected and screened.

Florida man gets prison for illegal 2008 hunt

BOISE — A Florida man has been ordered to spend 18 months in a federal prison for guiding a deer hunt in southeastern Idaho without a license and illegally shipping deer meat across state lines. Jeffrey Dickman was sentenced last week after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for his role in selling and providing unlicensed outfitting services to a group of Nevada hunters in 2008. Dickman, of Islamorada, Fla., admitted to guiding a hunt in which a client bagged a mule deer and helping the hunter ship the meat and antlers back to Nevada. His role in shipping the meat triggered the federal Lacey Act, which makes it a crime for a person to knowingly transport game killed illegally. He also faces a $1,200 fine and 60 hours of community service.

Flags at half-staff for Marine from White Swan

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire has ordered that flags at all Washington state agency building be lowered to half-staff today in memory of a Marine from White Swan who was killed in Afghanistan. Twenty-two-year-old Lance Cpl. Joe Jackson was killed April 24 by an improvised bomb. He was serving with Alpha Company, First Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports services are planned today at White Swan High School and burial Wednesday at Yakima’s Tahoma Cemetery.

Southwest Washington couple plead guilty in gas theft

CATHLAMET, Wash. — A southwest Washington couple have pleaded guilty to charging more than $5,800 in personal fuel to a Cathlamet Fire Department gas card. Wahkiakum County Prosecutor Dan Bigelow says a former volunteer firefighter, 53-year-old Karl Moody of Cathlamet, pleaded guilty Monday to felony second-degree theft. Bigelow says Moody has lung cancer and is requesting electronic home confinement rather than a possible 35-day jail term. He’ll be sentenced May 23. The Daily News of Longview says 54-year-old Lisa Moody pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of third-degree theft. According to court papers, she’ll avoid jail time if she pays $6,000 in restitution and completes 115 hours of community service.

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