May 19, 2011 in City
Man pleads not guilty to murder, kidnapping
Jail phone recordings show conversations
After his arrest on suspicion of murder last month, Taylor J. Wolf called the girlfriend of a ranking Hells Angels member, police say, and told her he and suspect Justice E.D. Sims were involved in the slaying.
Wolf told Britney Bjork he was going to shoot Nicholas J. Thoreson, 22, but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, citing recorded phone conversations from the Spokane County jail. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”
Wolf told Bjork, the girlfriend of Hells Angels Sergeant at Arms Ricky Jenks, that his lawyer told him that Thoreson was a confidential informant.
“So it wasn’t done for no reason, I guess,” he said.
Wolf asked how long of a prison sentence he might receive. Court documents don’t include Bjork’s answer, but on Wednesday, Wolf pleaded not guilty to charges that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.
It’s unclear whether the victim was a police informant, and while Wolf was known to associate with members of the Hells Angels, police have found no link between the biker gang and Thoreson’s torture slaying.
Wolf, 20, was arraigned in Superior Court on charges of aggravated first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.
Wolf also pleaded not guilty to first-degree kidnapping, theft of a motor vehicle and second-degree arson.
Justice Sims, 18, and his sister, Breeanna C. Sims, 19, are to be arraigned on the same charges – including aggravated murder – this afternoon.
Thoreson’s burned body was found in the back of his 1987 Ford Thunderbird near Forker and Bigelow Gulch roads April 13.
Wolf was arrested later that day as he was in a taxi with the Simses. Detectives didn’t develop probable cause to arrest them until April 15.
His lawyer, Thomas Krzyminski, asked Superior Court Judge Michael Price to lower Wolf’s $1 million bond, but Price declined.
Witness reports suggest Justice Sims may have fired the fatal shot, but detectives believe all three share culpability, said Spokane County sheriff’s Lt. Steve Barbieri. Witnesses told police that the suspects described brutally beating Thoreson for several hours in a padded garage at the Knotty Pines apartment complex, 13615 E. Trent Ave., in Spokane Valley.
Wolf was staying at an apartment rented to Jenks, who is in jail on federal weapons charges.
Thoreson was described in his obituary as a caring, fun-loving man whose greatest joy was caring for his 1-year-old son.
Detectives are unclear what motivated the brutal slaying, and the suspects aren’t talking, Barbieri said.
Breeanna Sims told a friend that 10 minutes before Thoreson died, she asked her brother to let him go but he replied, “No, we are doing this,” according to search warrants used to examine the suspects’ cellphones.