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Cops: Sex offender tried to rape hooker

A sex offender jailed in California has been charged with trying to rape a Spokane prostitute at knifepoint.

Robert James Barbee, 38, also faces a federal charge of failing to register as a sex offender after investigators say he moved to the area from California without notifying authorities.

He was arrested in Oct. 17 after a woman recognized him as the man who tried to rape her Sept. 25 after she agreed to perform oral sex for $40, according to the Spokane Police Department.

The woman told police was working the corner of East Sprague Avenue and North Magnolia Street when she went with the man to an abandoned house and was attacked. The woman said she fought off the attack and was assisted by patrons at the Rainbow Room, a topless bar.

Police caught up with Barbee Oct. 17 after the woman called 911 and said her attacker approached her friend that day while they were working as prostitutes near Sprague and North Crestline Street. Officers found Barbee near East Second Avenue and South Perry Street, and he told them he'd been attacked by a man who accused him of raping a woman, according to court documents.

Barbee was arrested on a warrant out of California for failing to follow parole conditions for a theft/embezzlement against the elderly conviction. He told police he'd been in Spokane for about five weeks and was staying at the House of Charity.

A federal complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane alleges he failed to register as a sex offender here. He's required to do so because of a 1994 conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct with a 13-year-old child. Barbee last registered as a transient in San Joaquin County, Calif.

Spokane police Detective Brian Hamond says Barbee denied any knowledge of the incident during a phone interview in prison in Elk Grove, Calif. on Dec. 19. Barbee also denied carrying a knife, according to documents prepared by Hamond.

Spokane County prosecutors charged Barbee Dec. 20 with attempted first-degree rape and second-degree assault. He has not yet arrived in Spokane to face charges.

Reward targets suspects in hotel murder

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of six men charged for their alleged roles in a fatal shooting involving two aspiring rappers at a Spokane hotel.

Pictured above, top to bottom, left to right, are Jermaine S. Bedford, 22; Kalen J. Bedford, 21; Rashad F. Toussiant, 25; Roderick D. Shanks, 21; Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27; and Tyrone J. Carell, 23.

All are wanted for second-degree assault except Fuentes, who is charged with first-degree assault.

The charges stem from a Nov. 27 fight at the Quality Inn, 110 E. Third Ave., that led to the shooting death of Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake. 

Aaron A. Maxwell, 23, Anthony L. Fuentes, 29, and Michael J. Charles, 34; already have been arrested. John A. “Lil Danger” Castro, 27, (pictured) was arrested just after the homicide and remains in jail on a second-degree murder charge. Castro faces life in prison if convicted under the state's three-strikes law because of his criminal history.

Police believe Castro shot Solis to death in a wild fight that began when the Spokane group tried to attend a party at the hotel hosted by the Moses Lake group, who were in town for a rap concert at Ichiban Sushi Lounge at which Solis performed.

The Spokane men were kicked out, and Jermaine Bedford insulted a female friend of the Moses Lake men, Jazman Quarles, and challenged her boyfriend to a fight, police say. A wild fight ensued, and Quarles and a friend hid in a room and called their friends to help her boyfriend, who was being assaulted in the hallway. They arrived, including Solis, and the fight continued, ending in the gunshot that killed Solis. Witnesses identified the gunman as Castro.

Hotel surveillance video does not show the shooting but does show the participants running to and from the confrontation, according to court documents prepared by Spokane police major crimes Detective Kip Hollenbeck.

Police believe the Moses Lake men only acted in self defense during the fight.

Fuentes, 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of West Shannon Avenue. His criminal history includes convictions for first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm and escape. He was jailed briefly last summer after news of his uncle’s murder outside a rap concert in Montana in June revealed to his probation officer that he’d left the state without permission.

Jermaine Bedford, 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of East Queen Avenue. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault and riot.

Kalen Bedford, 6-foot-4 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 1300 block of West Qualchan Drive. His criminal history includes a conviction for delivery of a controlled substance.

Carell, 5-foot-8 and 130 pounds, last gave an address in the 200 block of East Wedgewood Avenue. His criminal history includes conviction for second-degree assault. He was arrested in November after police investigating a 2007 homicide saw marijuana in his apartment.

Shanks, 6-foot-2 and 155 pounds, last gave an address in the 200 block of South Wall Street. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault and second-degree robbery.

Toussiant, 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, last gave an address in the 3000 block of North Lacey Street. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault, malicious harassment and bail jumping. A conviction for intimidating a public servant was dismissed upon appeal.

Anyone with information on the current location of any of the six men is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

9 men charged in rapper’s fatal shooting

Nine men have been charged for their alleged roles in a fatal shooting involving two aspiring rappers at a Spokane hotel.

Spokane police detectives are looking for six men on second-degree assault charges for a Nov. 27 fight that led to the shooting death of Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake.

(Pictured above, top to bottom, left to right) Jermaine S. Bedford, 22; Kalen J. Bedford, 21; Rashad F. Toussiant, 25; Roderick D. Shanks, 21; Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27; Tyrone J. Carell, 23; are wanted for second-degree assault.

Aaron A. Maxwell, 23, Anthony L. Fuentes, 29, and Michael J. Charles, 34; already have been arrested.

John A. “Lil Danger” Castro, 27, (pictured) was arrested just after the homicide and remains in jail on a second-degree murder charge.

Read the rest of my story here.

Man w/ ‘Sureno’ face tattoo is 3 striker

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A reputed Sureno gang member who Spokane police say stayed hidden in a couch after tear gas was pumped into his apartment faces life in prison if convicted under the state's three-strikes law. 

Bobby S. “Angel” Decaney, 35, (pictured) pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery. He already has two convictions for violent felonies.

Decaney and Maceo L. Williams, 27, are accused of holding 22-year-old Jennifer M. Taylor while another woman assaulted her and stole methamphetamine from her pocket on Dec. 1.

The female assailant choked Taylor unconscious with her own necklace and threatened to kill her, according to court documents. The incident led to a SWAT team standoff in north Spokane.

Police contacted Taylor at a hospital, where she told them she'd gotten a ride on the the South Hill from Decaney, whom she knew as “Angel” and described as having “Sureno” tattooed across his forehead. Williams, the unidentified female assailant and Michael J. Hall also were in the car, she told police.

She said Decaney stopped the car and the woman accused her of talking badly about her ex-boyfriend, who police say also is a Sureno gang member. Taylor told police lost consciousness while being strangled then awoke to the woman punching her and stealing five ounces of meth that was hidden in her bra.

Police tried to contact Decaney and Maceo at Decaney's apartment at 13110 N. Addison, but they refused to come out and the gang unit and SWAT team were called to assist. Police evacuated the area and, after a few hours, pumped tear gas into the apartment. Williams, Hall and Nicole Coffey emerged and said no one was left inside, documents say, but a Spokane police dog, Stryder, found Decaney hiding in a large zippered bag that was secreted inside a couch, according to court documents.

Williams also pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and robbery charges Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court. Both suspects are in the Spokane County Jail. Hall and Coffey were arrested after the standoff but have not been charged.

The police investigation into the assault is ongoing.

2 men charged w/ gunpoint robbery

Two men have been charged in a gunpoint home-invasion robbery last summer.  

Brian Lee “Rowdy” Riley, 26, and Jeffrey “Lucky” Salvage, 24, (pictured) are accused of entering a home at 8419 E. Bridgeport Aug. 17 and stealing $80 at gunpoint.

Riley had a sawed off Marlin .410 shotgun, witnesses told police.

Riley is charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.

Salvage also faces those charges, as well as felony charges for another alleged robbery that targeted two women in September.

Riley is not in jail. Salvage is in jail on $175,000 bond.

Noisy neighbor dispute ends in assault

A man upset about noisy upstairs neighbors in the South Perry Street area barged into their apartment and knocked one of them unconscious, prosecutors allege.

Joshua Gordon Swanson, 24, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court to first-degree burglary and second-degree assault.
 
His upstairs neighbors at 720 S. Laura St. called Spokane police Dec. 3 and said they were playing dice when they heard their downstairs neighbor pounding o his ceiling, which they said was normal. 
 
A few minutes later, they responded to a knock on the door expecting the arrival of a friend, but instead Swanson and another man who was armed with a machete barged in, according to court documents.
Swanson beat Alvin Commander unconscious until Commander's son, Nicholas Commander, hit him over the head with a frying pan, documents say.
 
Swanson then allegedly threw a glass object at Nicholas Commander's wife and baby and it shattered against the wall, police said.
 
Police say Swanson had a gash on his head consistent with being hit with a frying pan.  He “admitted to being angry about the noise always coming from (the apartment),” documents say.
 
Swanson remains in jail on $75,000 bond.

Murder suspect expected in court today

Spokane police search Riverfront Park on Tuesday. Romero Vivit's body was pulled from the river later that day. (Jennifer DeRuwe/Spokane Police Department)

A 21-year-old man arrested after his friend's body was pulled from the Spokane River with what police described as “visible injuries to his body” is expected to appear in court this afternoon. 

Yukio M. Rideb (pictured left) was booked into jail Tuesday at 4:42 p.m., hours after Romero J. Vivit III was pulled from the river in Riverfront Park.

Family members found bloody clothes belonging to Vivit Saturday after he was last seen about 3 a.m. following a visit to the Revolver Bar, 227 W. Riverside Ave., according to police.

 Rideb and Vivit (pictured right) attended North Central High School together.

It's unclear what led police to identify Rideb as a suspect in Vivit's death, but Vivit is believed to have been assaulted in the park early Saturday.

Park staff told police of cleaning up blood near the Louff Carrousel that day after hearing of the missing person case.

Rideb is on state Department of Corrections probation for a year after pleading guilty in September to third-degree assault and violation of a domestic violence no contact order. He was arrested in August and spent 26 days in jail. He was released after sentencing with credit for time served.

In June, Rideb was sentenced to 29 days in jail for two counts domestic violence malicious mischief, a misdemeanor.

Rideb is scheduled to be appear in Spokane County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. on a second-degree murder charge.

Spokane racist guilty of beating inmate

A Spokane white supremacist scheduled to be released from federal prison last month was convicted today in Oklahoma of assaulting another inmate.

Keegan Chance Van Tuyl, 29, likely will be sentenced at least four months from now for the charge of inflicting serious bodily harm against another inmate, a clerk for U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said today.

Friot convicted Van Tuyl after a brief bench trial today in Oklahoma City.

A grand jury indicted Van Tuyl Sept. 20 for the attack on another inmate at the federal transfer center in Oklahoma City on Dec. 1, 2010.

Van Tuyl punched the inmate several times then stomped his face several times after he fell to the floor, according to the indictment. The incident was captured on surveillance video.

In a letter to The Spokesman-Review, Van Tuyl said the inmate was a sex offender, writing “no good deed goes unpunished.” The victim's criminal convictions could not be independently confirmed.

Van Tuyl recently finished serving a sentencing in maximum security federal prison for violating his probation on a firearms conviction.

Online prison records list him as being released, but he actually was transferred to Oklahoma to face the assault charge.

A member of Van Tuyl's racist group, James D. Bacon, was involved in a similar assault while in custody in Spokane.

Suspect wanted in repo officer assault

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of a Spokane man accused of ramming a repossession officer's car in Spokane Valley last month.

 Cullen Joe Gibson-Snodgrass, 31, didn't show up for hearings in Spokane County Superiro Court for the assault case and for an early case involving a first-degree theft charge.

He was arrested in November after two repossession men with Phoenix Financial told police he rammed one of their cars with his Jeep while they were trying to contact him to repossess the vehicle.

Gibson-Snodgrass posted $17,500 bond on Nov. 23. A no-bail warrant was issued Dec. 6.

Gibson-Snodgrass, 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, last gave a home address in the 9000 block of East Sprague Avenue.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Fugitive since Feb. jailed on $50k bond

A woman who lives as a man and grows a beard as a symbol of her activism for human rights is back in jail after being wanted on a felony warrant since February.

Paula K. Reynolds-Eblacas, 45, alias Joseph Muhammad, was ordered to stay in jail on $50,000 bond after appearing before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price Tuesday on a third-degree assault charge.

The charge stems from an incident in July 2009 in which Reynolds-Eblacas allegedly assaulted a Spokane police officer who was trying to transport her to a hospital for a mental evaluation.

The officer “felt the pressure of Paula squeezing her fist and he thrust his hips away from her hand to break free,” according to a probable cause affidavit. “The defendant said, 'I was trying to grab your pant leg and your body got in the way.”

Reynolds-Eblacas' attorney withdrew earlier this month - the third attorney withdrawal since the case began - and she is representing herself. Price set a stay hearing for Dec. 30 to inquire about her competency to stand trial, though she already was ruled competent earlier this year.

Reynolds-Eblacas entered an Alford plea in 2006 to a charge of violating a protection order after a woman said she tried to end a friendship with her but was inundated with phone calls and others contacts.

Process servers walk in on assault

Two process servers arrived at a Colbert-area home Sunday to find the door kicked in and an assault in progress, police say.

Spokane County sheriff's deputies arrested Jeffrey Lee Cox, 25, and Brandon Justin Fitzgerald, 21, on first-degree burglary and fourth-degree assault charges.

A couple who went to the home at 803 E. Silver Pine Road to serve papers to the victim said he saw the men exit the home and leave in a white Ford Expedition.

The victim suffered injuries to his face, according to police.

Cox and Fitzgerald were released from jail on their own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court on Monday.

Mall robbery suspect arrested at Costco

Police say a man who stole a pair of shoes at knifepoint from the Northtown Mall on Wednesday had asked the store employee for help with his out-of-gas car just before the robbery.

 The employee helped the man pushed his Red Dodge Ram pickup into a parking spot, only to be threatened 30 minutes later after confronting him for stealing a pair of shoes from Champs Sports, police say.

Police identified Jason M. Giles, 33, (pictured) as a suspect on Thursday after he was arrested in a similar robbery at Costco, 7619 N. Division St.

A Costco employee confronted Giles about 4:45 p.m. after observing him hide merchandise in his coat and try to leave the store. Giles punched the employee and bit another employee before pulling a knife and trying to stab another, according to court documents prepared by police.

Giles was arrested on charges of first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and possession of methamphetamine. Detectives met with him at the jail and booked him on an additional robbery charge for the Champs Sports incident.

Giles appeared in Spokane County Superior Court via video from the jail, where he remains on $50,000 bond and a probation hold. He has a previous conviction for second-degree assault for a shooting in 2009.

Woman wanted for attempted murder

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for a teenager accused of attempted murder for a knife assault at a party.

Kiana M. Murphy, who turned 18 two days before the Oct. 30 incident, allegedly stabbed a teen boy twice in the stomach during an argument about gang affiliations, according to court documents.

Murphy chased the boy through the home at 1807 W. Spofford Ave. before he escaped through a bedroom window. When the boy returned, Murphy stabbed him twice in the stomach, police and prosecutors allege.

The victim required surgery but is recovering and identified Murphy as a suspect through her Facebook page. A witness told police Murphy said the victim was “going to…die” when he turned to the residence, documents say.

Murphy is charged with attempted first-degree murder, with first-degree assault as an alternate charge.

She was convicted last month of violating her juvenile probation after being convicted as an juvenile in connection with a wild fight involving a suspect's ex-boyfriend at 1735 W. Boone Ave. in March.

Murphy last gave an address in the 200 block of East Wedgewood Avenue. Anyone with information on her current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Tipsters don't have to give their name to collect a reward but should provide a code name or number.

Citizen stops cop’s suspected assailant

A citizen helped a Spokane police officer in a struggle with a wanted felon outside a grocery store recently.

Retiree Dennis Greer will be nominated for a chief's citizen award for helping Officer Nick Geren apprehend Timothy Alan Williams, 46, outside Fred Meyer at Freya Avenue and Thor Street last month, police said today. 

Williams (pictured left) pleaded not guilty to a second-degree assault charge today in Spokane County Superior Court for the fight, which left Geren with a dislocated thumb (pictured right). Geren is not working patrol but helped the Patrol Anti-Crime Team identify a suspect in the South Hill burglaries through burglary report analysis and other desk work, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department. 

Geren was in the area of 5th Avenue and Thor Nov. 20 about 9 p.m. when he recognized a car driven by Williams, whom he knew was wanted on felony warrants.

Geren tried to arrest Williams after he pulled into a parking spot at the store, but Williams struggled, according to court documents.

Greer said today that he had pulled into the lot with his wife when he saw the fight. He realized Geren (pictured left) was a police officer and got out to help, despite his wife's pleas to stay back. 

“I finally broke away from my wife and I went up and got on top of the guy and basically took his arm and brought it up a ways,” Greer said. “I was trying to figure out how to open (the handcuffs) up when the rest of the police got there and they took over.

“I was afraid that the guy was going to get away if I didn't intervene,” Greer continued.

Williams is a convicted felon who also faces a new felony charge of attempt to elude police for an alleged chase with a sheriff's deputy on Sept. 23.

He was wanted for violating his probation through the Department of Corrections for a second-degree robbery conviction.

4 arrested in SWAT standoff w/ gas, K-9

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Four people were arrested after police pumped tear gas and released a K-9 into a north side apartment this morning during a six-hour SWAT team standoff.

A Spokane police dog, Stryder, entered the apartment before police and fought with robbery suspect Bobby S. Decaney, 35, until officers took Decaney into custody. Also arrested were Maceo L. Williams, 27; Michael J. Hall, 25; and Nicole M. Coffey, 27.

Police were looking for Decaney and Williams on suspicion of robbery and assault for a mugging Thursday evening.

Officers had contacted a 22-year-old woman at Providence Sacred Heart Hospital about 8:45 p.m. and learned she’d been choked unconscious and robbed by three people in the 1300 block of Southeast Boulevard. She knocked on a nearby door and was helped by the homeowner.

Descriptions of the attackers and their vehicle led police to Decaney’s apartment at 13110 N. Addison, where Officer Cory Lyons located the suspect vehicle, which contained some of the victim’s property.

Lyons and Officers Ron Van Tassel, Chris Douville and Reserve Officer Gobble tried to contact Decaney and Maceo about 2:30 a.m., but they refused to come out and the gang unit and SWAT team were called to assist.

Neighboring apartments were evacuated. Police described apartment managers as “extremely helpful” and said they helped find shelter for misplaced tenants and provided a warm place for a police command center. The tear gas and dog were released about 9 a.m.

Hall and Coffey were arrested after refusing to surrender or cooperate with police.

Police are still investigating whether they were involved in the mugging, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Stabbing in West Central leads to arrest

A man was booked into jail after allegedly stabbing his roommate in West Central Spokane Monday.

Robert Aron Young, 30, was booked into Spokane County Jail Monday for first-degree assault, domestic violence.

The victim, Davis D. Botts, was taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center after the attack, which occurred about 9:31 p.m. at 2202 W. Gardner Avenue. The extent of his injuries is unknown, but a hospital employee said he was not listed as a patient there Tuesday night.

According to police, Botts and his mother, Angela M. Durazo, with whom Young had an intimate relationship, were watching a movie when Young came home and a verbal fight between Durazo and Young ensued.

Botts locked Young out, but Young regained entry through Botts’ bedroom window and reached over Durazo, who was apparently trying to intervene, to stab Botts once in the chest with a folding knife with a four-inch blade, police said.

Young fled the scene, but police stopped his vehicle at Mission Avenue and Astor Street and he was arrested despite claims of self defense.

3rd suspect arraigned in bat attack

A third suspect in a baseball bat attack at a northwest Spokane home was arraigned Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court.

Eric T. Borders, 40, pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary for his alleged involvement in an attack at 4907 N. Lincoln St. Nov. 13.

Police believe Borders and Michelle Lee Blair, 39, entered the home and Blair struck the victim with the butt end of the bat several times while demanding his debit card, according to court documents.

Police arrested suspect Andrew Emil Williamson, 38, outside the home after learning he had a Washington Department of Corrections warrant. They booked him on a first-degree robbery charge after finding him with items belonging to the victim, according to court documents.

The three suspects are in the Spokane County Jail.
  

Charge dropped against 1 Pirtle brother

A Spokane man once accused of a baseball bat attack last May has been cleared of wrongdoing after several people said he wasn't present during the assault.

Prosecutors moved to dismiss a second-degree assault charge against Andrew Lee Elias Pirtle, 21, after detectives interviewed witnesses and found evidence supporting his alibi, said his public defender, Kevin Griffin.

Pirtle “wasn't even there” when a young man was beaten in Cannon Hill Park, 800 W. 19th Ave., on May 14, Griffin said. A judge agreed to the prosecution's request earlier this month.

Pirtle's older brother, Jayce Leon Elton Pirtle Jr., 23, still is charged with second-degree assault for the attack. He faces life in prison if convicted because of Washington's three-strikes law. He posted bond Nov. 16 but was arrested again last week on a new federal indictment charging him with felon in possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of stolen firearms.

U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno on Monday ordered Jayce Pirtle to stay in jail without bail after hearing testimony from his mother, Debra Pirtle.

The Pirtles are the nephews of Blake Pirtle, who murdered two Burger King employees in Spokane Valley in 1992. His death sentence was overturned after a judge ruled law enforcement violated his civil rights during his arrest.

The Pirtles claim police unfairly target them because of that case.

Police: Man tried to light wife on fire

An unemployed Dalton Gardens man allegedly doused his wife with gasoline and tried to light her on fire during a dispute at their home last weekend.

 Daniel Joe Zehm, 52, of 6103 15th St., was taken into custody by Kootenai County sheriff's deputies following an altercation that began Saturday night and culminated with the alleged attempt to incinerate Sondra Zehm, 58.

According to sheriff's reports, the argument began when Daniel Zehm told his wife he thought a nurse at his mother's assisted living place was attractive.

Daniel Zehm allegedly pinned his wife on their bed and threatened to kill her, her dog and her family. He then drenched his wife with a bucket of gasoline when she had her back to him while making coffee the following morning.

Sondra Zehm, who deputies say still smelled of gasoline after a shower, said that her husband was flicking the red lighter she'd given him to light a fire in his shop as he moved toward her.

Zehm was arrested on an attempted murder charge, but it was dismissed today in Kootenai County District Court. He was released from jail on $200,000 for felony charges of burglary and aggravated battery.

Cops: Man rams repo men w/ Jeep

A Jeep repossession led to a man's arrest on felony assault charges after he rammed a repossession officer's car Thursday in Spokane Valley, according to police.

Cullen Joe Gibson-Snodgrass, 30, was driving a 1999 Jeep Wrangler when two repossession officers with Phoenix Financial, Kelly J. Brown and Jason E. Lyons, spotted him near East Sprague Avenue and North Bowdish Road, according to court documents prepared by police

Brown and Lyons were looking to repossess the Jeep and followed Gibson-Snodgrass for several blocks until he stopped the Jeep in the road, put it in reverse and rammed into Brown's car, documents say. Brown cut his index finger in the crash.

Gibson-Snodgrass appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Friday on two counts of first-degree assault. He's already awaiting trial on unrelated charges of first-degree theft, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and residential burglary. Prosecutors appear to have reconsidered the charges - he's due back in court this afternoon on two counts of second-degree assault/
  

Grand jury indicts Pirtle for stolen guns

A member of a Spokane family that claims police target them because of their relation to a notorious double murderer was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury - the same day he left jail on $25,000 bond in an assault case.

Jayce Leon Elton Pirtle Jr., 23, who already is facing life in prison under Washington's three-strikes law for an assault charge, now faces two federal felony charges for three guns and 175 rounds of ammunition found in his apartment at 1808 E. Pacific Ave. on July 8.

His probation officer found a .357 handgun after learning police were investigating Pirtle for a burglary, according to court documents. Spokane police obtained a search warrant and seized the handgun, along with two rifles.

Pirtle was arrested that day on a second-degree assault charge for an alleged baseball bat beating that left a man with a permanent lip disfigurement in May. His brother, Andrew Lee Elias Pirtle, also is charged.

He has not yet been arraigned on the federal charges of felon in possession of firearms and ammo and unlawful possession of stolen firearms and ammo. The charges carry up to 10 years in prison, or at least 15 years if Pirtle is found to be an armed career criminal.

The Pirtles are the nephews of Blake Pirtle, who killed two Burger King employees in Spokane Valley 1992. His death sentence was overturned after a judge ruled law enforcement violated his civil rights during his arrest.

The Pirtles claim police unfairly target them because of that case. Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe says the family has a “propensity for crime” that earns law enforcement attention.

Police seek info on downtown assault

Police are asking for help identifying two people sought for questioning about an assault in downtown Spokane last month.

A surveillance image released today shows the man and woman, who police describe as “persons of interest” in a fight between two men in the area of North Howard Street and West Riverside Avenue Oct. 18 at 10:20 p.m. The victim suffered significant injuries, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Baseball bat attack leads to 2 arrests

A baseball bat attack at a north Spokane home early Sunday led to the arrest of two people.

 The victim told Spokane police officers he was home at 4907 N. Lincoln St. when two people entered the home about 3:15 a.m.

A woman, later identified by police as Michelle Lee Blair, 39, struck him with the butt end of the bat several times while demanding his debit card, according to court documents. 

The victim ran outside the home to police lights and told officers people were trying to kill him.

Police arrested Andrew Emil Williamson, 38, (pictured) outside the home after learning he had a Washington Department of Corrections warrant. They booked him on a first-degree robbery charge after finding him with items belonging to the victim, according to court documents.

Blair was arrested Monday by the Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team in the area of East Fourth Avenue and South Stone Street. She remains in jail on charges of first-degree robbery and residential burglary, as well as unrelated drug charges. Williamson is in jail on a probation hold.

Mom accused of fracturing baby’s skull

A woman accused of fracturing her baby's skull at a Spokane bus station last summer is wanted on a felony warrant.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of Whitney A. Manges, 25, who a witness said was “swaying and staggering” when she picked her 7-month-old son after dropping him while trying to board a bus on Aug. 9.

The boy cried and appeared lethargic after the incident at the STA station in the 1300 block of East Sprague Avenue outside the Union Gospel Mission women's shelter. Police contacted Manges as she sat on a bench at the STA Plaza, where she said she was on Xanax and another drug she couldn't identify, according to court documents.

Police said the baby was filthy but in good physical health, but Manges was not capable of properly caring for him so he was taken by Child Protective Services. Police were called to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center two days later after the boy's foster parents noticed a lump on his head that an emergency room doctor said was a skull fracture.

Detectives seized Manges' medical records, and prosecutors charged her last months with assault of a child in the third-degree and reckless endangerment, both felonies. The last charge alleges she was intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance when the assault occurred.

A $15,000 warrant was issued for Manges' arrest on Nov. 7. Anyone with information on her location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Man gets 184 years after rejecting plea

A man sentenced to 184 1/2 years in prison for a shooting that injured one person declined a plea deal that would have given him 10 to 12 years in prison.

Gregory Sharkey, Jr., 27, had three attorneys over the course of nearly two years before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt convicted him of 10 counts of first-degree assault, said his public defender, Terence Ryan.

State law requires that sentences for violent felonies be served consecutively. The first count of first-degree assault carried a standard range of 24 to 29 years, including enhancements because he used a firearm and because a co-defendant used a firearm. The remaining nine counts each brought a standard range of about 17 to 20 years.

The result was an eye-opening sentence of 2,215 months - the low end of the standard range. Imposed by Sypolt late last month, Sharkey's sentence is an example of what can happen under strong gun sentencing laws enacted by the Washington state Legislature.

“We made him an offer of much less than that and he chose to go to trial,” said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla, who handled the case. “I don't have any direction at sentencing once somebody goes to trial.”

Sharkey chose to take his case to a bench trial instead of a jury trial, Ryan said.

“I told him it might be wiser to go in front of a jury,” Ryan said. “That's 12 people who have to make a decision, with a judge it's just one person.”

Sharkey declined an interview Monday at the Spokane County Jail, where is awaiting transport to prison after his sentencing late last month. Ryan said Sharkey didn't seem surprised by the sentence.

“He was surprised that the judge found him guilty, but he wasn't surprised at the length of the sentence,” Ryan said. “He knew all abut the sentencing, the possible worst-case scenario.”

Sharkey was arrested in December 2009 after a two-day crime spree in which shots were fired at a Spokane police officer and at a group of young people outside a home. Sharkey fired indiscriminately into the group while co-defendant Tony E. Dawson shot one person.

Later, after passing by the shooting scene, Dawson opened fire on a Spokane police patrol car; no one was injured.

Sharkey “supplied both guns,” Cipolla said last week.

“The legislature, which I agree with, is tough on people using multiple guns in violent crimes,” Cipolla continued. “Ten people could have ended up dead here.”

Dawson is serving about 21 years for the crimes. Margaret Shults, who was in the stolen SUV when Dawson fired shots, is serving 77 months.

Both did what Sharkey did not: accept a plea deal.

Sypolt's decision to convict him of 10 violent felonies left himself no choice at sentencing.

“It's apparently what the Legislature wanted when they passed what's called 'hard time for armed crime,'” Ryan said.

Sharkey's convictions have already been appealed.

Ryan filed a motion for arrest of judgment after the verdict, saying it was based on the testimony of Shults, who has a lengthy criminal history and omitted any mention of the defendants when first interviewed by detectives. The motion was denied.

Sharkey had a previous felony conviction for first-degree robbery. He was shot while committing that crime in February 2006.

Cipolla said he's “had a couple” of 100-plus-year sentences while a deputy prosecutor, including Anthony L. Wright, who's serving 134 years for a drive-by shooting that killed a 3-year-old girl in 2001. “Few and far between, but they're there.”

“That's the way it goes sometimes, I guess,” Cipolla said. “Not much I can say about it.”

Court OK’d release of now-wanted man

A robbery and kidnapping suspect released from jail on his own recognizance under the recommendation of prosecutors has a reward for tips on his capture after missing a court hearing.

Kenneth J. Kheel, 21, is wanted on a no-bail warrant after he didn't show up for a pre-trial hearing Oct. 16. Kheel Jarred T. Many, 22; and Codi R. Allen, 23; are accused robbing two men at gunpoint after the victims arranged to buy a ring from Many at 1124 W. Nora Ave. on June 17.

A Spokane police SWAT team search ion July that included tear gas was unsuccessful, and Kheel was arrested during a traffic stop days later.

Many and Allen remain in jail awaiting trial on robbery and kidnapping charges. According to court documents, Kheel told police he was hit in the head during the attack and was “in fact, trying to stop the robbery” by Many and Allen, according to court documents.

Prosecutors recommended Judge Michael Price allow Kheel to leave jail on his own recognizance in September, and Price agreed.

“The state believes that Mr. Kheel's case is all but resolved, and sees no reason to hold Mr. Kheel for these charges any longer,” according to an order filed Sept. 2.

Now Kheel, 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds, is a Crime Stoppers fugitive. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Kheel was released from prison in September 2010 after being sentenced in June 2009 to two years in prison with credit for 143 days served for second-degree assault. He had been arrested in January 2009 after then off-duty police Sgt. Brad Thoma suffered a minor stab wound during a confrontation with Kheel in downtown Spokane.

N. Idaho couple in girl’s death still jailed

Samantha Moore, of Coeur d’Alene, talks in March 2009 about the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Karina, pictured at far left. (SRPhoto/Kathly Plonka)

Post Falls police arrested a Post Falls couple in the January 2009 death of 2-year-old Karina Janay Moore, who was fatally injured while in the couple’s foster care.

Jeremy and Amber Clark were booked into Kootenai County Jail on Thursday on charges of injury to a child, conspiracy and perjury, according to a jail official.

The case has been sealed by a judge until the Clarks’ first court appearance, according to Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh.

Read the rest of Kevin Graman's story here.

Past coverage:

March 15, 2009: Karina's mother seeking justice

Police seek DNA in pot theft shooting

Police this week obtained a DNA sample, injury photos and x-rays of a second suspect in a medical marijuana robbery that ended with the homeowner firing several shots.

Detectives believe Joseph A. Gariepy, 41, (pictured) who was arrested on unrelated charges last week, was shot in the head when Raymond Paul Bates, 49, tried to steal marijuana plants from a home at 1023 E. Gordon Ave. on Oct. 3.

Bates was arrested Oct. 3 with a gunshot wound to his head; a tipster later told police she'd removed a bullet from Gariepy's head shortly after the shooting.

Police hope to compare Gariepy's DNA to blood stains found in a brown 1976 Ford Courier truck, which matches the description of the getaway truck, found near an alley in the 4500 block of North Division Street three days after the shooting.

Gariepy was named a Crime Stoppers fugitive Oct. 18, and police noted a wound on his right ear consistent with a bullet when he was arrested on Oct. 27.

The shooter, Darcee Kapfer, did not notify police about the shooing but said in an interview with detectives that she shot the would-be thief after he grabbed a piece of wood. Kapfer reportedly told police, “I'm pretty sure I hit him. I'm a pretty good shot.”

Kapfer, who was legally allowed to possess the plants because of a state authorization card, has not been arrested. Police say a small child in the home told them “I think my mom shot a guy in the back and they are going to Canada,” according to the affidavit.

Bates remains in jail on $10,000 bond for robbery and burglary charges.

Gariepy has not yet been charged in this case. He is a repeat offender suspect with a 26-year criminal history, according to Crime Stoppers.

Gunman hurls cash drawer at waitress

A gunman, apparently angered over the meager amount of money, hurled a cash drawer at a restaurant waitress Tuesday night in Spokane Valley.

The man entered Rancho Viejo, 14201 E. Sprague Ave., about 8:45 p.m. and waved a chromed or silver-colored pistol while demanding money.

The waitress told him she had to get keys to the cash drawer and walked part way into the kitchen, where she told the bus boy to call 911. The boy did so, and the 911 operator heard the gunman threatening the waitress, a cook and two women customers. The boy witnessed the robber tear the cash drawer out of the cabinet and throw it at the waitress after discovering it contained only coins.

The drawer hit the woman in her arms, which were crossed over her chest. The man also struck the cook int eh back of the head with the pistol, injuring him slightly.

The robber stole cash from a second drawer before running out the front door.

He's described as black, 30 years old, 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to call (509) 456-2233.

Man hits cop in groin with case of beer

A 32-year-old Nespelem man who threw a case of beer at a tribal police officer, striking him in the groin, was sentenced this week to about four years in prison.

James Edward Kensler was given 50 months in federal prison for assaulting a federal officer. He'll serve the term the same time as a 50-month sentence for assaulting his former girlfriend.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Colville Tribal Police received a report on Nov. 16 that Kensler had choked his girlfriend unconscious after acting like he was going to kiss her.

Then on Feb. 11, tribal officer W.E. Evans was driving south on state Route 155 when Kensler, carrying a case of beer, flagged him down and asked for a ride.

Evans told him he would have to “relinquish” the beer, but Kensler declined, according to a news release. He gave them a false name, and dispatched advised that that name actually had an active warrant. Evans went to arrest Kensler and was assaulted with the case of beer, authorities say.

Kensler fled but was later apprehended by Colville Tribal Police and officers from the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office. He pleaded guilty to the assaults in July and was sentenced Monday.