In brief: Woman’s body found in Spokane River
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office dive team worked in the dark Friday evening to remove the body of a woman discovered in the Spokane River.
Deputies used a homeowner’s yard to access the steep riverbank near the intersection of Empire Way and Butler Road on the edge of the Millwood city limits.
The body was reported by people in a boat associated with the Gonzaga University women’s crew team, said Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Mark Gregory. Deputies treated the area as a crime scene because little was known about how the person died, Gregory said.
The medical examiner will release the identity of the person and the cause of death after an autopsy next week.
Lawmaker taking oath at church
Newly appointed state Rep. Leonard Christian will take his oath of office Sunday during the morning service at New Life Church in the Spokane Valley.
Christian, a Republican, was appointed by Spokane County commissioners this week to fill the seat left open by the retirement of Larry Crouse. The 2014 legislative session starts at noon Monday, and Christian said he wanted to be sworn in where relatives, friends and constituents could attend. He said he also wanted to make a statement on his view of the separation of church and state, which he believes does not mean God should be absent from public schools and government.
“Some people are saying you can’t have the two together,” Christian said. “I believe they go together more than some people let on.”
He’ll take the oath from Spokane District Judge Richard Leland during the 10:45 a.m. service at the church at 10920 E. Sprague Ave.
$500,000 bond set for assault suspect
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Gregory Sypolt set a bond of $500,000 Friday for Jahvory N. Kinard on charges of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery related to a shooting in a Wendy’s parking lot.
A woman who had been shot in the chest was dropped off at the Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center emergency room on Jan. 3. She told police that she had met a man she knew as “JV” to buy drugs, according to court documents. He robbed her of $900 instead and shot her when she fought back, the woman said.
Police identified and tracked down 19-year-old Kinard using cellphone records. The woman was able to identify Kinard in a photo lineup, court documents say.
Sypolt also set a bond of $100,000 on a previous charge of second-degree assault. That case is currently set for trial in February, and one of Kinard’s release conditions was that he would not be arrested on any new charges. The charge was filed in 2012 after Kinard allegedly pointed a gun at a cab driver.
Former Mountie gets drug sentence
SEATTLE – A former investigator with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been sentenced to eight years in prison for helping to lead a marijuana- and cocaine-smuggling ring linked to the Hells Angels.
Prosecutors said 46-year-old Rapinder Singh Sidhu recruited a border guard on the Canadian side across from Lynden, Wash., to allow motor homes and minivans packed with cocaine to enter that country. He also choreographed the movement of lower-level drug mules who brought marijuana south and cocaine north for several years before authorities broke up the conspiracy in 2008.
Sidhu, who left the RCMP in 2003, was one of 56 people indicted. The investigation netted 1,700 pounds of cocaine and $3.5 million. Ringleader Robert Shannon is serving a 20-year prison term.
Sidhu was extradited to the U.S. last March and pleaded guilty in October. Before his sentencing in U.S. District Court on Friday, the U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle said he used his police knowledge to become an “underworld law enforcement adviser.”
State flu fatalities up to 11 for season
OLYMPIA – With its latest update Friday, the Washington Health Department says there have been 11 flu deaths in the state this season.
Spokesman Marqise Allen said the number is not unusual, but the department urges everyone over the age of 6 months to have a vaccination. The swine flu has been the most common strain, and the current vaccine available covers the H1N1 virus.
Five of the deaths have been in King County, which can be expected as the population center of the state.
Allen said the state Health Department tracks only laboratory confirmed deaths so “official” numbers are just an indication of the overall flu situation.
There were 54 official flu deaths in the state last season, 18 the season before.
Group to sue EPA over air quality
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – An environmental group has given formal notice it intends to sue the federal government over the failure to enforce laws on particulate pollution in Washington, Alaska, Iowa and Puerto Rico.
The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday gave required notice that it will sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to develop air quality plans that would reduce dangerous fine soot from coal-fired power plants and other sources.
The group claims the EPA failed to develop air quality plans for the states and Puerto Rico more than seven years after air quality standards were set.
In Alaska, residential wood burning in Fairbanks has contributed to an ongoing failure to meet standards for particulate.
The center in November sued the EPA for failing to adopt standards to limit particulate in five other states.
Inmate stabbed during prison fight
MONROE, Wash. – A Washington Corrections Department spokeswoman said a state reformatory inmate in Monroe stabbed another inmate multiple times with a homemade weapon during a fight Friday in the stairwell of a living unit.
Spokeswoman Norah West said the injuries are not life-threatening. The injured inmate, who was not identified, was sent to a hospital for treatment after the attack Friday afternoon.
West said 21-year-old Brian Rivas was taken to a maximum security unit, where he will remain while Monroe police investigate. Rivas is serving a 17-year sentence for first-degree assault with a deadly weapon in Pierce County.
The spokeswoman said staffers quickly separated the two inmates.
Inmate movement has been restricted at the reformatory unit of the Monroe Correctional Complex.
Stem cell treatment brings suspension
PORTLAND – The Oregon Medical Board has issued a rare emergency suspension of a Eugene physician’s license after the doctor conducted experimental stem cell treatments on patients.
The board considers Dr. Kenneth Welker’s medical practice an immediate danger to the public.
Welker can appeal the suspension issued Thursday. He did not return calls from the Associated Press on Friday.
According to his online biography, Welker is a trained surgeon who quit his practice to pursue alternative medicine in 2007.
The suspension order says that in May 2013, Welker injected processed stem cells into the spine of a 62-year-old woman, and was confused when she began to sweat and feel tingling in her extremities.
Medical board director Kathleen Haley said the treatments are far outside the standard of care for doctors.
Lawmaker wants more gun checks
EUGENE, Ore. – An Oregon state senator says he’s bringing back a provision to require background checks on all private gun sales and transfers, except between extended family members.
Current Oregon law requires background checks for sales of guns by federally licensed dealers and at gun shows, but not for person-to-person or online sales.
The Eugene Register-Guard reported that an almost identical provision that was part of a larger package of gun legislation died last year without a vote in the Senate, and it could face an uphill battle this year.
Democratic Sen. Floyd Prozanski said he’s gotten assurances that if he can get the bill out of his Judiciary Committee, the bill will get a vote on the Senate floor.