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In brief: Woman’s body found in vacant lot

FRIDAY, SEPT. 27, 2013

A woman’s body was found in a vacant lot in Spokane Valley this morning, and sheriff’s deputies are investigating the incident as a possible homicide.

A citizen reported the discovery around 8:22 a.m. Thursday near Fifth Avenue and Custer Road, Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

The field is just south of Interstate 90 and near a pedestrian bridge that goes over the freeway. The surrounding residential neighborhood is mostly single-story homes.

Authorities have not released any identifying information about the victim. The Spokane County medical examiner will determine a cause of death.

Bicyclist’s family sues city for death

The family of a Spokane bicyclist who died from injuries suffered in a collision is suing the city and driver of the van that killed him.

The family of Matthew Hardie claims the city was negligent in its maintenance of the intersection, according to a claim for damages filed in May. The family has asked for more than $1 million to cover medical expenses and other fees.

Hardie, who was 32 at the time of his death in 2010, was bicycling north on Lincoln Street when a van, driven by Todd Coron, pulled out from a stop sign at Fourth Avenue, according to the filing. Vehicles parked in a nearby parking lot and foliage on the west side of Lincoln makes it difficult for drivers to see oncoming traffic, according to the filing.

The suit quotes several witnesses to the collision saying they could not see Hardie bicycling down Lincoln due to plants and vehicles in the way.

This week, Judge Ellen Kalama Clark set a tentative hearing for January 17.

Critical lynx habitat change proposed

SEATTLE – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a revision in the critical habitat designation for Canada lynx, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The proposal would designate more than 41,000 square miles within the states of Idaho, Washington, Maine, Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming as critical habitat for the lynx.

The federal government is asking for public comment on aspects of the proposal, including whether areas where the lynx have recently moved into, including parts of New Hampshire and Vermont, should be added to the critical habitat.

The proposed revision comes after several snowmobiling groups launched unsuccessful legal challenges of the previously designated critical habitat.

As part of the proposal announced Wednesday, federal officials said they considering excluding more than 1,900 square miles of tribal lands within the states of Maine, Montana and Washington.

‘Fast-food bandit’ denied a retrial

Spokane’s “fast-food bandit,” who police say committed a string of fast-food restaurant robberies in 2001 and 2002 before he switched to robbing banks, won’t get a new trial.

Benjamin B. Brockie was convicted of two robberies, plus 15 kidnapping charges for forcing employees of the Inland Northwest Bank to crawl into a vault during the robbery, and was sentenced to 67 years in prison in 2003.

He challenged a judge’s instruction to the jury that said he could be convicted of robbery if he was armed with a deadly weapon or displayed what appeared to be a firearm. The formal documents charging him with the robbery said only that he was displaying what appeared to be a firearm.

That difference could be important in some cases, Justice Susan Owens wrote for the unanimous Washington Supreme Court, because there is a distinction in the law between the two descriptions. But in Brockie’s case it didn’t matter, because he denied he committed the robberies and never argued he wasn’t armed with a deadly weapon. He didn’t prove the jury was prejudiced by the instruction, Owens wrote.


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