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Man who killed cellmate returns to jail

One of the state's most notorious prisoners has returned to the Spokane County Jail.

Michael L. West arrived in Spokane from the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla on Tuesday to face strangulation charges for an alleged attack on his cellmates at Airway Heights Corrections Center. 

West, 34, is to appear in Superior Court via video feed from the jail this afternoon. He's being housed alone in maximum security, said jail Lt. Aaron Anderton.

"We haven't had any problems with him yet, but we just want to make that we don't have any more," Anderton said. "We know that we'll be fine as long as we followed these protocols."

Anderton said West will be in handcuffs and likely leg shackles for court while accompanied by several guards. He'll be handcuffed when he's out of his cell for showers or visits and is not allowed to have contact with other inmates.

Anderton said the security procedures outlined for West are "almost identical" to security for accused killer Cole Strandberg.

West, convicted of brutally killing his cellmate at the Spokane County Jail in 2004, had been in minimum security at Airway Heights for just two weeks before prison staff say he gouged out a cellmate Chad E. Bolstad's left eye and severely injured his right way. Another cellmate, Gary L. Welch, suffered minor injuries.

Bolstad, 25, is scheduled to be released in 2015 for assault and robbery convictions stemming from a 2007 beer robbery that involved a stabbing. Welch is serving time for forgery, theft and drug convictions in Douglas and Chelan counties and is to be released in August. West was not scheduled to be released until 2048.

Past coverage:

Oct. 13: Killer suspected of 2nd attack on cellmate

Sept. 19, 2007: County to pay $180,000 in inmate's murder

July 27, 2005: Man gets 46 years for rape, jail killing

Oct. 15, 2004: Homicide witness say he tried to warn jailers

Oct. 14, 2004: Man strangled in jail feared for his life

Bystander saves cop from shooting man

A domestic violence suspect accused of trapping a Spokane police officer in a choke hold Sunday remains in jail after appearing in Superior Court Tuesday on assault charges.

Andrew P. Perry, 27, allegedly attacked Officer Chris Bode after Bode responded about 2 a.m. to a report of a man who had pushed a woman down a flight of stairs at 411 E. Wabash. Perry lives there with his girlfriend, and the couple have three children, according a probably cause affidavit.

Bode said Perry ran from him but slipped and fell on ice, then arose in a "fighting stance," according to the affidavit. Bode also fell on the ice and Perry jumped on him, police said.

"Fearing Defendant would render him unconscious and use his firearms against him, Officer Bode was about to use deadly force on Defendant, when a bystander came to Officer Bode's aid," police said.

Perry remains in jail on $ 25,000 bond for charges of second-degree assault and fourth-degree assault.

Man gets 2+ years for breaking boy’s leg

A Post Falls man will spend at least two years in prison for breaking the leg of his fiancée’s child, according to the Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office.

Michael Robert Edinger, 27, was charged after he and his fiancée, Rebecca L. Mullin, took Mullin’s 2-year-old son to Kootenai Medical Center Sept. 24 with a broken leg.

District Judge Lansing Haynes this week sentenced Edinger to 10 years in prison with elgibility for parole after two years.

Mullin’s son was in Edinger’s care at the time he was injured. Edinger initially said the boy injured himself while they were playing, but nurses said the injury – a spiral fracture of the left femur – is extremely rare and likely caused by abuse.

Edinger, who police said “sat emotionless” during an interview, eventually told authorities he “snapped” while changing the boy Sept. 23 and “grabbed the boy’s leg, twisted it, and slammed it to the floor,” police said.

The boy also had several other broken bones that appeared to be weeks old, nurses said.

“The long sentence imposed by Judge Haynes is justified by the nature of this crime, especially taking into consideration that a defenseless child was seriously injured,” Kootenai County Prosectuor Barry McHugh said in a news release. “Mr. Edinger’s lack of remorse for his conduct is troubling.”

Fuel theft sparks slush-filled police chase

A man suspected of stealing fuel from a Spokane gas station led police from two cities on a lengthy chase on slushy roads Wednesday before ramming a patrol car, officials said.

Police spotted Jacob S. Beck, 33, driving eastbound on Trent Avenue in a 1988 Mercury Cougar after reports of a driver stealing $54 in fuel from a station at 3030 E. Euclid Ave. about 3:40 p.m. Witnesses said Beck drove his car at a customer who tried to stop him, causing a gash on the man’s hand, which led to a robbery charge.

Beck ran a red light at Fancher and Broadway and turned eastbound at Sprague at speeds of 50 mph in the 35 mph zone, police say, then allegedly rammed a patrol car driven by Spokane Valley police Officer Hal Whapeles, causing minor damage.

Police called off the chase because of heavy traffic and dangerous road conditions but soon found the Cougar abandoned at Appleway Chevrolet near Sprague and Dishman Road after 911 received several reports of the car driving recklessly.

Officers found Beck in a vacant lot near Sprague and Vista and booked him into jail on robbery, assault and eluding police charges.

Beck is on probation in Washington and has a non-extraditable burglary warrant out of California. He was a Crime Stoppers fugitive last summer when he was wanted by the Department of Corrections for escape from community custody.

He has previous convictions for vehicle theft, drug possession, burglary, theft, driving while suspended, forgery, making false statements, unlawful possession of firearms, possession of stolen property and probation violations, according to Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information about Wednesday's incident is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

2 arrested for child abuse in Stevens Co.

Two caretakers have arrested and charged with assaulting a child in their home in Marcus, Wash., north of Kettle Falls.

Brian D. Lembcke, 34, and Rebecca L. Pelissier, 37, were arrested on charges of third-degree assault of a child and booked into Stevens County Jail Thursday. They allegedly assaulted an 11-year-old girl they had been caring for. It is unclear what their relationship is to the child.

Stevens County sheriff's deputies were called to a report the girl had been assaulted on Wednesday.

They obtained a search warrant on the home to recover items used in the alleged assault. Itwas unclear what the items were or if any were recovered.

The case has been turned over to the Stevens County prosecutor's office. Third-degree assault of a child is a class C felony in Washington.

Arrests made in love triangle stabbing

A man accused of stabbing his lover's estranged husband last week has been arrested for assault.

Spokane police initially said Dumont P. Whitt, 35, may have stabbed Robert D. McQueen in self defense after McQueen confronted him and McQueen's wife, Alicia McQueen, in a home at 2415 E. 1st about 2 a.m. on Dec. 28. But Whitt stabbed McQueen too many times for the case to be considered self defense, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.
 
The McQueens used to live at the home but Robert McQueen, 35, moved out in late November, according to court documents. He was hospitalized with critical injuries from several stab wounds but has since improved and was booked into jail for trespassing on Wednesday, police said today. 
 
Alicia McQueen told police that Robert McQueen broke into a bedroom window and attacked her before fighting with Whitt, according to a search warrant. 
 
Robert McQueen left after yelling "you stabbed me," police said. Alicia McQueen told police she keeps a steak knife by her bed for protection.
 
Whitt appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today on one count of first-degree assault.

Sex offender suspected in new assault

A Spokane man on probation for sexually assaulting a woman in a church basement last year is back in jail on a new assault charge. 

Michael J. Bosch, 48, (pictured) appeared in Superior Court this week, accused of trying to sexually assault a man at a home on North Crestline Street on Dec. 29.

Bosch was to pay the man $10 to have a beer and $200 to "spend the entire night with him," but the man became uncomfortable when Bosch began smoking crack cocaine, according to court documents. Bosch allegedly attacked the man as he tried to leave. The man hit him with a hammer to escape.

Bosch told police he was going to pay the man for sex but wasn't sure if he was a male or female.

"The defendant said he gave the person $10 to pull up her shirt in the main floor bathroom," police wrote. "The person pulled up her shirt and had two bras on."

But Bosch said he didn't see breasts and asked for his $10 back when the person refused to pull down his pants, which led to the alleged victim punching him, Bosch told police.

Bosch remains jailed on unlawful imprisonment and second-degree assault charges.

He's a sex offender with a previous conviction for indecent liberties for an incident at Mending Fences Ministry last February.

Bosch was convicted in July and credited for 186 days served in jail and given 12 months of probation. He isn't allowed to leave jail now because he allegedly violated probation.

Man wanted for skipping robbery trial

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help capture a robbery suspect who didn't show up for his trial.

Brandon N. Maddox, 24, is charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree assault for allegedly robbing someone at gunpoint on May 31, 2009.

He was to go to trial on Dec. 6, but he didn't show up and a warrant for his arrest was issued that day. Crime Stoppers announced the reward offer last week.

Maddox was arrested last March after police said he robbed a man of prescription drugs outside the Rosauers on Five Mile Prairie, but prosecutors moved to dismiss the charged Dec. 6 or unknown reasons.

Maddox, 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 3000 block of East Columbia in Spokane.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

‘One-man crime wave’ headed to prison

A 30-time felon described by police as a "one-man crime wave" is headed to a Washington prison for a short-lived crime spree in Spokane last spring.

Ricky Wayne Everett, 33, was sentenced to 43 months in prison this month for theft of a motor vehicle. Sentences for unlawful issuance of a bank check, fourth-degree assault, attempting to elude police and forgery will be served concurrently.

Everett, who was wanted for passing bad checks in Maryland, was arrested in May for buying a car from a Chattaroy couple with a fraudulent $13,900 check.

That was just a couple months after he left federal prison after serving time for impersonating a U.S. marshal in Oregon. He moved to Spokane in April after meeting a teenager over the Internet and quickly caught the attention of law enforcement, who said he carries a Taser and has told citizens he's a police officer.

Everett held a local business license private investigation firm called Ricky’s PI Service, which he apparently used to help perpetuate scams. He also has a history of responding to accident scenes as a police officer or as a paramedic.

Federal prosecutors in Oregon have called his mental state, "a puzzle, to say the least."

Past coverage:

May 20: 'One-man crime wave' with 30 felonies hit Spokane

Hammer attack victim improving in CdA

A woman seriously injured in a hammer attack that killed another woman is improving at a Coeur d'Alene hospital.

Lorraine Y. Wallis, 58, has been upgraded to fair condition, Kootenai Medical Center employees said Wednesday. 

Wallis was in critical condition after being beaten with a hammer at a mobile home in Bayview on Sunday. Patricia A. Heath, 43, died from head injuries suffered in the attack.

Their neighbor, Larry W. Cragun, 31, remains in Kootenai County Jail on $1 million bail on charges of murder, burglary and aggravated battery. H

Heath's husband, Michael L. Heath, did not require medical attention. Jedidah M. Heath, 21, was treated and released the day of the attack.

The attack at 34552 N. Limekiln Road in Bayview followed weeks of problems between the Heaths and Cragun, including bizarre claims by the suspect that authorities say were unfounded.

Cragun reportedly visited three Bayview businesses after the attack and said he'd killed four poeple with a hammer.

Customers at JD's Resort also told authorities that Cragun had said he needed to call 911 because he'd killed three or four people. He didn't complete the phone call. Instead, he grabbed a customer's beer "drank it, and left a dollar on the bar," according to a police report.

Past coverage: Dec. 20: 1 dead, 3 injured in Bayview hammer attack

3-strikes trial leads to perjury charge

A Spokane man has been charged with perjury for testimony given at a trial 18 months ago. 

Antonine G. Marshall, 26, (pictured) is accused of lying during a trial in April 2009 in which Dwight L. “Hard” Russ was convicted and sent to prison for life under the state’s three-strikes law.

Marshall initially told police he arrived at the home with two men he couldn’t identify, and that he didn’t go inside the home, according to an affidavit by Spokane police Detective Lonnie Tofsrud.

But at trial, Marshall testified that he was allowed inside the home and possessed a firearm but never pointed it at anybody. He said Russ, a convicted felon prohibited from possessing firearms, never touched the gun, but several other witnesses testified to the contrary, police say.

Russ was convicted of first-degree burglary and second-degree assault and is serving a life sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary. Marshall, who had no previous felony convictions, already had pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree assault in May 2008 and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest him on the new perjury charge, which Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla filed on Nov. 9.

Marshall, 5-foot-8 and 220 pounds, is a transient. Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Assault suspect avoids officer gunfire

A state probation officer nearly shot a Spokane woman last week after she tried running him over in an SUV to avoid arrest, according to police.

 Judith M. Freese, 53, faces a first-degree assault charge for a confrontation with Department of Corrections Officer James Hathaway that Hathaway said made him fear for his life.

Hathaway said he and DOC Officer Anita Jones were about to arrest Freese on a probation violation for a drug conviction Dec. 15 when she fled the DOC office at 1717 W. Broadway and started her Ford Explorer.

She ignored commands to stop the SUV and instead accelerated toward Hathaway, who fell back and tried to draw his firearm when he regained his balance, police said.

Hathaway said he didn’t shoot Freese because Jones was in his crossfire, according to a police report.

The driver’s side mirror of Freese’s SUV struck Hathaway as she sped away, according to police. Police found the SUV the next day at Freese’s brother’s home.

She was booked into jail Friday night and remains in jail on $75,000 bond and a probation hold after appearing Monday in Superior Court.

Neighbor dispute ends in deadly attack

A North Idaho woman died Monday after she and three others were bludgeoned with a hammer in what authorities describe as an ongoing neighbor dispute that took a violent twist.

A suspect, Larry W. Cragun, 31, was arrested after employees at several Bayview businesses said he walked in after the attack and said he’d “just killed four people with a hammer,” according to police reports.

Cragun, who residents say has a history of odd behavior, remains in Kootenai County Jail on $1 million bail, charged with murder in the beating death of Patricia A. Heath, 43. Three others survived the attack, though one remains in critical condition.

The attack at Heath’s mobile home at 34552 N. Limekiln Road in Bayview followed weeks of problems between her family and Cragun, including bizarre claims by the suspect that authorities say were unfounded.

Read my full story here.

Boss assaults man who flipped him off

A propane company supervisor recently was convicted of misdemeanor assault for attacking an employee who flipped him off last summer.

A jury convicted John Wilkinson, a supervisor for Ferrellgas, of fourth-degree assault last week after a one-day trial Stevens County, said Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

Wilkinson was in the back lot at the Ferrellgas office on Aug. 26 when an employee “made a vulgar sign to him with his middle finger” and Wilkinson got out of his truck and confronted him, Rasmussen said in his weekly column.

The men argued, and the employee ended up with bruises on his neck that he said were caused by Wilkinson shoving him up against a wall and choking him. The fight was related to an incident two days earlier, Rasmussen said.

The jury deliberated about 45 minutes before convicting Wilkinson, who was represented by Peter Jones. Lech Radzimski prosecuted the case.

Past employees are expected to speak at Wilkinson’s sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 5.

Rasmussen wrote about the trial in his weekly column. Read the entire column by clicking the link below.

Bayview hammer attack investigated

Four people reportedly were hospitalized this afternoon apparently after being attacked in their Bayview, Idaho trailer home by a hammer-wielding neighbor.

Details were sketchy and the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department did not return calls Sunday seeking information, but residents said authorities at the scene of the attack indicated four people were injured, some with head wounds, and rushed to area hospitals. No condition reports were available. The attack occurred at a mobile home along Limekiln Road, said Herb Huseland, who lives nearby.

Husseland said the suspect, who is his next door neighbor, reportedly called the sheriff’s office from a local restaurant to turn himself in. Recently, the suspect had “tacked up a letter to the community accusing the government of invading his mind,” Huseland said in a posting on his community blog, Bay Views, about the attack.

Huseland is a freelance writer who contributes to The Spokesman-Review’s soon-to-be-discontinued Handle Extra section covering neighborhood news in North Idaho.

Gregoire blocks release of cop shooter

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Chris Gregoire has blocked the release of an Iowa man convicted of nearly killing a Richland police officer 28 years ago, her office announced Friday.

The governor signed the order Thursday night canceling the parole release of Jerry Dean Lain (pictured in 1982 and in 2010). He had been scheduled for release Monday by order of Washington’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.

 ”It is rare for a governor to exercise this power,” Gregoire said in a statement. “But I reviewed the case and concluded there is an unacceptable level of risk to public safety here that called for me to act.”

The governor has the authority to overrule the board, but it’s not known when it was last used.

“We don’t think it’s been used in at least 30 years, if ever,” said Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren. 

Former Richland officer Mike Fitzpatrick had asked Gregoire to intervene. Fitzpatrick was stabbed seven times and shot in the face and abdomen in 1982 after he approached Lain, he was seen prowling cars.

Lain was convicted of assault and has been in prison ever since.

If he had been released, he was to go to Iowa, where he was wanted on violating parole for a stabbing in a bar fight. 

Rowlanda Cawthon, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections, said that Lain would have been released to a “work release center/halfway house” in Sioux City. 

In her order, Gregoire noted that Lain has had more than 20 infractions while in prison, including threatening staff.

While he hadn’t been cited for any problems since 2004, Gregoire wrote that she was concerned by a 2009 risk evaluation that found Lain was placed in a group “at a high risk of recidivism for both general and violent crimes in the range of medium to high risk.”

“I am particularly concerned that the potential for violence would be escalated in any future contact with law enforcement officers that could lead to revocation of his parole release,” she said.

Gregoire wrote that while Lain, 53, has made “creditable gains” during his time in prison, including educational courses, anger management classes and vocational experience, “I conclude that his rehabilitation is not complete and he is not a fit subject for release from prison.”

Cops: Fugitive rams patrol car, escapes

A drug and stolen property suspect already sought by Crime Stoppers rammed a sheriff’s patrol car Tuesday while successfully eluding a deputy, authorities said.

Michael S. Wheeler, 36, sped away from Deputy Jeff Shover in a white Chevrolet pickup after Shover spotted him pulling out of a driveway in the 4900 block of East Deer Park-Milan Road and tried to pull him over, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Shover recognized Wheeler as being wanted on several arrest warrants. Wheeler sped away westbound on Eloika Lake Road from Milan-Elk Road, then rammed Shover’s patrol car at 5:07 p.m.

Shover was not injured, but his patrol car was “rendered inoperable,” according to the sheriff’s office. The car’s PIT bumper was torn off, the push bars were pushed back through the radiator, the oil pan was punctured and there was significant body damage, a news release said.

Wheeler was last seen northbound on Valley Road at high speed. His truck’s damaged tailgate hanging down and items were falling from the bed of the truck.

Wheeler faces a new assault charge for the alleged incident as well as previous charges of first-degree possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance and second-degree trafficking in stolen property.

Crime Stoppers has been offering a reward for tips that lead to his capture since October.

Wheeler, 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, last gave 35616 N. Highway 395 in Deer Park as his address. Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Man, 20, accused of breaking boy’s arm

A 20-year-old Spokane man is in jail on charges that he broke a young boy’s left arm.

Andrew J. Long told Spokane police that the boy, who is less than a year old, fell off a couch at 4925 E. Commerce Ave. on Saturday, but doctors said the injury was too severe.

Long was caring for the boy while his parents were out for the evening. He said he fell asleep with the boy on the coach and awoke to him crying. The boy underwent surgery to repair his arm.

Long remains in jail on $75,000 bond after appearing in court on a second-degree assault charge.

Risky fugitive? Not quite, lawyer says

A Spokane woman wanted on a robbery charge was named a dangerous fugitive by Crime Stoppers a week after her public defender filed paperwork objecting to her arrest warrant.

 Monica R. “Boo” Sanders, 33, pleaded not guilty to first-degree robbery Thursday and had her warrant recalled, said her lawyer, Tracy Scott Collins.

Collins said the public has no reason to fear Sanders.

“She doesn’t have any history - just this one case - and it involved somebody that she knew,” Collins said.

Sanders is a single mother with no previous criminal convictions, though Crime Stoppers said she has a 19-year arrest record. Sanders was charged Nov. 17 for an incident in September in which an $18,000 piece of jewelry worn during the filming of a rap music video led to a robbery and assault that included the theft of the victim’s pants.

Several others are charged in the case.

“She is probably one of the ones who was least involved in the whole thing,” Collins said.

Sanders’ trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 28.

Idaho man sentenced in trooper assault

(AP) — A northcentral Idaho man has been sentenced to just six months behind bars — the maximum — for an assault on a state trooper that resulted in the trooper shooting another man who was attacking him.

Ricardo Daniel Rodriguez was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene in a case that could have landed him in jail for much longer if the attack hadn’t happened on a reservation.

The Lewiston Tribune reports Rodriguez was charged only with a misdemeanor because he was arrested on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, which is governed by federal law. Officer assault charges apply only to federal officers, and there was no felony statute in federal court that applied to his case.

Had the offense occurred outside reservation borders, Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said Rodriguez would have faced felony charges and a more severe prison sentence. She recommended the six-month maximum sentence.

“Given the serious nature of the offense, that it was important the community see that the maximum sentence was appropriate,” Whelan said.

Authorities say 39-year-old Rodriguez and 50-year-old Randall Vernon Ellenwood got out of their car and beat Trooper Jeffory Talbott during a traffic stop for drunken driving in May 2009.

According to official reports, Ellenwood and Rodriguez were “seriously physically battering” Talbott when the officer fired his weapon, hitting Ellenwood, who died at the scene.

In court, Rodriguez acknowledged putting Talbott in a wrestling hold, but said he should have been found not guilty on grounds the trooper had no jurisdiction on Nez Perce tribal land.

Idaho authorities can arrest American Indians on highways where they cross reservation land without violating a tribe’s sovereignty, according to a 2009 Idaho Court of Appeals opinion.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mikel Williams told Rodriguez during the sentencing hearing that the issue was not one of tribal sovereignty.

The judge also ordered Rodriguez to pay about $4,000 in restitution for Talbott’s medical bills. Talbott spent several months off the job recovering from injuries from the beating. He was cleared of wrongdoing this year by the U.S. attorney’s office.

Rodriguez’s attorney, Bryan P. Whitaker of Spokane, could not be reached on Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Deputy breaks hand in fight w/ inmate

A Spokane County Jail deputy recently fractured his hand during a scuffle with an inmate.

Deputy John Madsen said property crime suspect Casey A. Beck, 21, hit him “for no apparent reason,” according to court documents.

Madsen then hit Beck in the head and fractured his own right hand, documents allege.

Beck appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today on one count of custodial assault. He was in jail on burglary charges when Madsen reported the attack Nov. 24.

Madsen was treated at Provence Sacred Heart Medical Center for a fracture near his pinky and ring fingers. Beck declined to talk about the fight with investigators, documents say.

Store clerk’s refusal stops armed robber

A Spokane store clerk recently deterred a knife-wielding robber by simply refusing to give him anything.

The suspect, Jonas J. Henry, is in jail on assault and attempted robbery charges after a clerk at Qwik Stop, 3021 E. Wellesley Ave., said Henry threatened him with a pocket knife about 2:10 a.m. Friday and said “give me a pack of smokes or I’ll show you the gangsta (stuff),” according to court documents.

But Henry, 30, ran away empty handed when the clerk refused.

A Spokane police detective followed footsteps and spotted Henry, who fled into an apartment at 2907 E. Wabash Ave., where he was arrested.

Henry remains in Spokane County Jail on $10,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court on Wednesday.

Jury acquits felon in deputy assault case

A jury recently cleared a Spokane man of an assault allegation stemming from an altercation with a Spokane police officer last fall. 

Tvar L. Jackson, 30, acknowledged he was “acting like a jerk,” said his public defender, Kevin Griffin.

“But police are trained to deal with people who are in stressful situation and who are argumentative,” Griffin said.

Jackson was driving eastbound on East Francis Avenue near North Nevada Street on Sept. 5, 2009, when Deputy Chuck Sciortino stopped him and said a brake light was not working. Jackson yelled profanities and Sciortino and said, “Cops ain’t got nothing better to do then harass a black man,” according to court documents. Backup units arrived, and a sheriff’s helicopter was overhead.

Sciortino said Jackson headbutted him, but jurors took less than an hour to reject that claim and acquit Jackson, a former Crime Stoppers fugitive described by police as a repeat offender and gang suspect.

“There definitely wasn’t enough evidence,” said juror Seth Barnes, 21. “It wouldn’t make sense that he would headbutt the officer and then not proceed to try to run away.”

The helicopter’s thermal imaging video was obstructed by a tree during the altercation, Barnes said. No pictures were available of Sciortino after the alleged headbutt to his face, and he spoke of no serious injuries.

“We deliberated maybe 20 minutes,” Barnes said. Jackson was acquitted last week.

Griffin said the case seemed like a “fishing expedition” by police against Jackson, a sex offender with a long criminal history.

“A lot of third-degree assault charges seem like they’re a bit overcharged,” Griffin said. “But officers have a tough job and we appreciate that.”

Jackson has five previous convictions for third-degree assault and one for second-degree assault.

Video shows Zip Trip bear spray assault

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Spokane police are looking for a man who assaulted a Zip Trip store clerk with bear spray early Sunday morning.  

Surveillance video shows a masked man in a hooded, brown and tannish plaid jacket spray the cashier in the face at 2:47 a.m. Police say he entered and attacked after another man entered the store at 1523 W. 10th Ave. and asked for cigarettes.That man is pictured at the end of the video wearing a striped hooded sweatshirt and red hat.

The men both ran from the store after the clerk was assaulted. The man in the striped hooded sweatshirt is described as 5-foot-6 with a medium building, brown hair mustache and beard. The assailant is about 5-foot-10 with a white mask and plaid jacket, police said.

Anyone with information on the men is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

FBI probing assault at Idaho prison

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The surveillance video from the overhead cameras shows Hanni Elabed being beaten by a fellow inmate in an Idaho prison, managing to bang on a prison guard station window, pleading for help. Behind the glass, correctional officers look on, but no one intervenes when Elabed is knocked unconscious.

No one steps into the cellblock when the attacker sits down to rest, and no one stops him when he resumes the beating.

Videos of the attack obtained by The Associated Press show officers watching the beating for several minutes. The footage is a key piece of evidence for critics who claim the privately run Idaho Correctional Center uses inmate-on-inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on their cellmates or risk being moved to extremely violent units.

On Tuesday, hours after the AP published the video, the top federal prosecutor in Idaho told the AP that the FBI has been investigating whether guards violated the civil rights of inmates at the prison, which is run by the Corrections Corporation of America.

The investigation concerns the prison’s rate of violence and covers multiple assaults between inmates, including the attack on Elabed, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said. (Elabed is pictured above in July)

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company is cooperating with federal agents, as it has with other law enforcement overseeing the prisons.

Lawsuits from inmates contend the company denies prisoners medical treatment as a way of covering up the assaults. They have dubbed the Idaho lockup “gladiator school” because it is so violent.

The AP initially sought a copy of the videos shot on Jan. 18 from state court, but Idaho 4th District Judge Patrick Owen denied that request. The AP had already obtained a copy and decided to publish the videos after a person familiar with the case verified their authenticity.

The videos show at least three guards watching as Elabed was stomped on a dozen times. At no time during the recorded sequence did anyone try to pull away James Haver, a short, slight man.

About two minutes after Haver stopped the beating of his own accord, the metal cellblock door was unlocked. Haver was handcuffed and Elabed was examined for signs of life. He bled inside his skull and would spend three days in a coma.

CCA, the nation’s largest private prison company, said it was “highly disappointed and deeply concerned” over AP’s decision to release the videos.

“Public release of the video poses an unnecessary security risk to our staff, the inmates entrusted to our care, and ultimately to the public,” the prison company said in a statement.

Read the rest of the story by AP writer Rebecca Boone by clicking the link below.

Crime Stoppers targets repeat offenders

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“Three hots and a cot await these fugitives during the cold snap,” writes Sgt. Dave Reagan of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Crime Stoppers if offering a reward for tips that help arrest any of the suspects. All are classified as repeat offenders in Spokane County and are charged with escape from community custody.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Inmate fighting locks down state prison

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) — Two more units at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla have been locked down because of a fight.

The disturbance escalated to include more than 20 inmates Monday. The prison said in a statement that three officers reported injuries and are being evaluated. No inmates suffered serious injuries.

The cause of the fight is being investigated.

Two other units remain under lockdown following a fight last week that involved nearly 50 inmates. One of those units is expected to return to normal operations on Tuesday.

Robber’s getaway rig? A lawnmower

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) — Police in South Carolina say a man attempted a slow getaway by lawnmower after robbing a convenience store.

Aiken County sheriff’s deputies told The Aiken Standard the man left the store on a riding lawnmower Thursday morning but didn’t get far before he was arrested.

Capt. Troy Elwell says Ricky New has been charged with assault and battery, first degree and armed robbery.

Investigators say the suspect beat a store clerk with a stick during the robbery. New was being held at the Aiken County jail. It wasn’t yet known if he has an attorney.

Man guilty of assaulting Idaho trooper

A northern Idaho man has been convicted by a federal grand jury in Coeur d’Alene of assaulting a state trooper during an attempted traffic stop last year that resulted in one death.

Ricardo Daniel Rodriguez faces up to six months in prison at a Dec. 6 sentencing hearing.

Authorities say 39-year-old Rodriguez and 50-year-old Randall Vernon Ellenwood got out of their car and confronted Trooper Jeffory Talbott during an attempted traffic stop for drunken driving in May 2009.

Police say Ellenwood and Rodriguez were “seriously physically battering” Talbott when the officer fired his weapon at the unarmed men. Ellenwood died at the scene.

The FBI investigated the shooting because the chase began on the Nez Perce Reservation and Ellenwood and Rodriguez are tribal members. Talbott was cleared to return to work.

Stabbing suspect has violent history

A Spokane man accused of stabbing two people on Saturday has a violent criminal history that includes an animal cruelty conviction for running over a man’s dog as a teenager.

Charles Price Dimit, 24, remains in jail after appearing in Superior Court Monday on first-degree assault and first-degree robbery charges.

He’s accused of attacking his girlfriend, Ashley Patten, with a knife and stealing her purse at their home at 1012 S. Maple St., then stabbing Gabriel Dillon, 32, in the stomach. Only Dillon required hospitalization.

Spokane police arrested Dimit Monday about 12:10 a.m. at his grandmother’s home at 1069 S. Wall St., according to a probable cause affidavit.

Dimit has previous convictions third-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment. He pleaded guilty to first-degree animal cruelty after a jury deadlocked at trial.