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In brief: Man says he owned homicide weapon

A Spokane man accused of killing a gang rival 2 1/2 years ago has admitted to unlawfully possessing the homicide weapon.

Edward Lee “TD” Thomas, 26, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, halting a scheduled trial.

Thomas faces up to 10 years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 11. The charge stems from a Ruger mini 30 rifle that was found in a Nissan Altima rental car near the body of John S. Williams, 38, who was shot to death on Jan. 17, 2010, outside a party at 5405 N. Crestline St.

The gun had Thomas’ fingerprints on it, police said. He was arrested in Los Angeles in September 2010 on a second-degree murder charge and is in Spokane County Jail awaiting trial.

Spokane County prosecutors dismissed the murder charge but are expected to refile when the federal gun charge is resolved.

No new sightings of barge off coast

SEATTLE – Officials tracking Japanese tsunami debris say there have been no more sightings of a barge-like object about 25 feet long reported July 18 off the Washington coast near Westport.

A Coast Guard cutter that went to the scene the next day spotted no debris. Cmdr. Eric Belleque in Seattle says it plans no more action unless the debris is considered a hazard to navigation or a pollution threat.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman Ben Sherman said Thursday there have been no new reports. He said NOAA believes the sighting was valid, but it won’t disclose who reported it.

Sherman said NOAA has asked for satellite imagery from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Another big piece of trainer arrives

SEATTLE – Another big piece of the Space Shuttle Trainer has arrived at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.

NASA’s special Super Guppy plane delivered the aft portion of the payload bay to the museum on Thursday morning.

Using Air Force moving equipment, the giant artifact was transferred from the plane to the museum’s space gallery. All together, the payload bay is 61 feet long, 19 feet wide and 23.5 feet high. It is being transported from Houston to Seattle in pieces.

The Museum of Flight won the opportunity to display the full-scale mock-up of a space shuttle, which has been used to train every NASA astronaut in the space shuttle era. The museum says visitors are welcome to visit the trainer as it is pieced back together. They will be able to walk through the whole artifact by October.

Mountain lion follows 4-year-old

MISSOULA – State wildlife officials are trying to capture and kill a mountain lion that stalked a 4-year-old child at the Harpers Lake fishing access site just north of the Clearwater junction.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Jay Kolbe said Thursday a woman who was camping at the lake reported the mountain lion was crouched and watching one of her children from a distance of about 20 feet Monday night. The woman said the lion wasn’t frightened away by yelling.

DNA match leads to assault arrest

MOSSYROCK, Wash. – A DNA match has led to the arrest of a Winlock, Wash., man in connection with the 2007 rape and sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl in a Mossyrock park.

The Chronicle in Centralia reports the case had been cold for more than four years.

Commander Steve Aust of the Lewis County Sheriff’s office said they found their suspect when the crime lab notified them that DNA evidence collected at the scene in 2007 matched the DNA of a recently convicted felon.

Reginald Juntunen has been booked into the Lewis County Jail on suspicion of first-degree rape of a child, first-degree child molestation, first-degree kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment and assault in the second degree.