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Tim Moses resigns as police spokesman

Spokane police Officer Tim Moses has resigned as a public information officer at the advice of his lawyer.

 Moses, who told jurors at Karl Thompson's trial that the FBI intimidated him into giving false incriminating testimony to a grand jury, has been "under a lot of fire" lately, said lawyer Chris Bugbee.

"I'd like to see him keep his head down," Bugbee said. "There's a lot going on right now and I don't think that he needs to be the one that's making official statements for either the police department or the Guild right now."

 Moses, well known by media for his jovial attitude and sense of humor, will remain one of two Guild vice presidents, Bugbee said. He will continue to work as a patrol officer.

"I think he's a great officer," Bugbee said.

Bugbee said he suggested the resignation to Moses on Tuesday after he was quoted in a Spokesman-Review story about Mayor Mary Verner requesting the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the police department.

"I think he realizes the public at this point is looking closely at all of the officers that were involved so he'd like to stand back a little bit and let somebody else take that responsibility," Bugbee said. "The public has strong opinions about him."

Bugbee said Moses is not the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The forewoman of the jury that convicted Thompson told The Spokesman-Review this week that Moses' testimony was pivotal in convincing them the case was a vast police cover-up. Bugbee talked with Moses about resigning as PIO before the article was published.

Moses was given a letter of immunity before testifying at Thompson's trial. He said he gave false statements to the grand jury regarding Thompson saying he hit Otto Zehm in the head and neck with a police baton - which would constitute unlawful lethal force - because the FBI intimidated him.

Thompson's lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, told jurors that the FBI had Moses wrapped around an axle. Bugbee said Moses never meant to mislead anyone.

"I know Tim just got himself in a corner, and he's getting some public criticism over it," Bugbee said.

Moses has long criticized media coverage of the Thompson case, but Bugbee said today that his resignation for a position dedicated to dealing with the media is not fueled by anger.

"He and I discussed it and he was leaning toward continuing to do it, but I pointed out that maybe, out of respect for some of these strong perceptions in the public right now, maybe it would be the best thing to give it up for a while," Bugbee said. "And that really was a driving reason."

"I think he appreciates that the public does have strong feelings, and maybe now he's just become a little too well known in reference to these recent events and it's time to step back," Bugbee continued.

Past coverage:

Nov. 2: Bugbee: Tim Moses didn't cover anything up

Bugbee: Moses didn’t cover anything up

After a press conference in the U.S. Courthouse in Spokane, Otto Zehm's family members, Dale Zehm, center, with his wife, Sandy, thank U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby, far left, following the jury's conviction of Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson. (SRPhoto/Colin Mulvany)

 Attorney Chris Bugbee, who represents Spokane police Officer Tim Moses, said his reaction to the jury's conviction of Karl Thompson today was "the same reaction as everybody."

"It's shocking to see a police officer who we trust to protect us being convicted of this crime, regardless of how you see the case," Bugbee said. "I'm sad for the community but I'm glad it has been resolved one way or the other."

 Moses, who was granted immunity for his testimony during Thompson's trial, told jurors he was manipulated by the FBI into wrongly telling a grand jury that Thompson had said he'd hit Otto Zehm in the neck, head and upper torso with a police baton. Medics included that information in a report and said Moses told them it came from Thompson.

"I don't think Tim attempted to lie or mislead or participate in a coverup," Bugbee said today.

Bugbee said when Moses watched video of himself at the Zip Trip that night with investigators before his grand jury testimony, "he kind of was misled and said 'well it must have been me if you guys say it was me,'" Bugbee said. "He shouldn't have. he kind of set aside his own thinking and allowed his trust in the FBI to take over."

Bugbee said he doesn't know if the jury's verdict says anything about their view of Moses's credibility.

"I think the video alone was the powerful piece of evidence the government had," Bugbee said. "I can understand the conviction seeing the video."

He said jurors often don't consider witness testimony if there's an issue with credibility.

"They'll just disregard the testimony if there's other evidence they can decide the case on," Bugbee said.

U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby said at a press conference today that he couldn't confirm or deny if an investigation is ongoing. Though prosecutors said in trial that the Spokane Police Department "whitewashed" the Zehm investigation, Ormsby said Thompson's conviction does not reflect on other officers.

Bugbee said this afternoon that he doesn't expect Moses to face charges. He said prosecutors seemed to understand what had happened when they granted Moses immunity.

He said Moses, as a patrol officer, has little experience with interrogations and reacted as many people do afterward.

 "They feel like they were given a sense of trust that didn't exist and they were taken advantage of" Bugbee said. "Tim felt like he was taken advantage of, and in some sense, he probably was because that's the nature of an interrogation in a felony investigation."

"I think Tim Moses was doing everything he could to be honest and truthful, and I really think he felt like he was getting taken advantage of."

Bugbee said little is known about the government's ongoing obstruction of justice investigation, other than a target letter sent to Officer Sandy McIntyre, who was the first officer to review the surveillance video and see that Zehm never lunged at Thompson as police first alleged.

"I hope they're careful in who they decide to prusue in keeping in midn taht the community also has an interest t in putting this behind us," Bugbee said. "The jury certainly believes that Mr. Zehm's rights were violated, and i hope that the community's satisfied with the conviction of Officer Thompson."

Morbid question leads to legal oddity

Questions about whether an accused killer had sex with his victim before or after she was dead has led to the suspect's lawyer being named a witness in the case.

A judge ruled Monday that defense attorney Chris Bugbee will continue to represent accused crossbow killer Cole K. Strandberg (pictured in February).

Bugbee has a different recollection of what his client said during a mental health exam regarding when he had sex with the victim than the doctors, putting the defense lawyer in the unusual position of having to present Strandberg’s legal defense as well as present testimony as a sworn witness.

Because of that potential conflict, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mark Cipolla asked Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen to remove Bugbee as Strandberg’s attorney. The judge rejected it.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Insanity defense explored in ‘08 murder

The aggravated murder trial of accused crossbow killer Cole K. Strandberg will proceed in January following a hearing to allow his defense attorney to present a case that his client should be acquitted because he is insane. 

Defense attorney Chris Bugbee asked Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen Tuesday for what amounts to a mini-trial on Jan. 5 to present evidence about his client’s mental state at the time of the killing. Strandberg has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Eitzen reluctantly agreed, but said the January trial date is “written in concrete.”

Strandberg, who was featured earlier this year in a Discovery Channel episode of “Behind Bars,” is charged with sexually assaulting and using a crossbow to kill 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron on Jan. 7, 2008.

Crenshaw declines to speak at sentencing

In the end, after 2 1/2 years and a two-week trial, the killer had nothing to say.

“No thank you, your honor,” said Justin Crenshaw when Judge Tari Eitzen asked him if he had anything to say for the murders of Sarah Clark and Tanner Pehl. “I don’t want to take away anything from the families. My attorney covered it, and I’ll leave it at that.”

Eitzen pressed the 22-year-old, reminding him it was his only opportunity to speak.

“That’s correct. I understand that your honor,” said Crenshaw, dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit and sporting newly buzzed hair and scruffy facial hair. “Thank you.”

Crenshaw sat stoically through more than three hours of emotional testimony from Clark and Pehl’s loved ones.

He watched witnesses but typically sat with his chin resting on a closed fist, appearing uninterested. 

At least five jurors attended the sentencing; the group of 12 took four hours to convict Crenshaw of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder July 27.

Eitzen sentenced the recovering heroin addict from Las Vegas to two consecutive life terms this afternoon, the only punishment available other than the death penalty, which prosecutors already ruled out. 

Eitzen said she felt the grief in this case “more acutely than I have before, ever.”

“To look at the mothers, and to see the pain on Ms. Pehl and Mrs. Clark’s faces for all these weeks, it was an extraordinary experience in my life,” the judge said.

“I can’t make it any better,” she said. I can’t give you closure. There isn’t any. There won’t be any.”

Etizen said that anyone who sat through the trial “won’t forget.”

“That’s all I have to tell you, that nobody will forget,” she said.

Eitzen said her sympathy extends to Crenshaw.

“Because I think, Mr Crenshaw, you’re just, you’re a damaged person that you could find yourself in these circumstances,” Eitzen said. “I don’t know how someone could be that hurt and damaged. You’re so young. And I think it’s a terrible, terrible tragedy for anyone to sit in a courtroom…with someone your age and to look at the destruction and havoc that’s been caused by your behavior.”

She said she sentenced Crenshaw to lief terms because the law requires and “because it’s the right thing to do.”

“I think you are a dangerous person,” Etizen told Crenshaw. “I don’t say that with animosity or hatred.”

Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said the murder case was the most brutal he’d seen.

“I’d look at the pictures, I’d have to go for long walks just because it was horrible,” Driscoll said.

Chris Bugbee: I’ll retire as prosecutor

When defense attorney Chris Bugbee (right) addressed a room full of Republicans in June, he told them that he not only intends to defeat incumbent Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker (left), Bugbee said he intends to retire from the office. 

The bold prediction not only illustrates Bugbee’s quick emergence as a front-runner but how contentious the primary contest has become. 

The five-way race also features Republican David Stevens (right), Democrat Frank Malone (bottom right), unaffiliated candidate Jim Reierson (bottom left) and Tucker, a Republican, who has repeatedly said that his opponents don’t understand what it takes to manage 140 employees and points to his experience as the reason he is the best choice.

All of the candidates are experienced lawyers.

 “I am the only one with law enforcement experience. I have more management experience than all the others and more time in the prosecutor’s office,” Tucker said. “It gives me a better base to make decisions.”

 But Bugbee, who up until 2002 worked under Tucker, deadpanned: “What good is experience if you are not actually doing the job?”

 Bugbee, 43, has raised twice as much money as his closest rival – Tucker – and has racked up the most influential law enforcement endorsements, landing the Spokane Police Guild, the Spokane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Fraternal Order of Police, which is made up of retired law enforcement.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouses’s story here.

Read more about the candidates here.

Crenshaw: You can call 911 after I leave

When admitted killer Justin Crenshaw stabbed a friend in 2004, he did so after his friend refused to drive him to buy methamphetamine from a man named Spike. 

Crenshaw, who served 18 months for the attack, stabbed the teen in the upper shoulder as he tried to walk away, then handed the friend a towel to control the bleeding.

After the victim pleaded for Crenshaw to leave him alone, the killer grabbed his car keys and said, “You can call 911 after I leave,” according to court testimony.

Psychiatrist Dr. Jerry Larsen testified about that incident Wednesday as one of just two witnesses for Crenshaw’s defense.

The 22-year-old is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for the stabbing deaths of Tanner E. Pehl, 20; and Sarah A. Clark, 18; on Feb. 28, 2008.

The charges carry life in prison without parole; defense lawyer Chris Bugbee will ask juror to convict him of a lesser charge like manslaughter.

The defense hinges on the argument that Crenshaw, who started using drugs and alcohol at age or 12 or 13, suffers from a disorder known as pathological intoxication, or alcohol idiosyncratic intoxication.

Along with a childhood friend who spoke of a strange incident with Crenshaw as a teen, Larsen spoke of another incident at a casino where Crenshaw was beating his own head with a rock and then put a knife to his throat and threatened to kill himself while claiming that his girlfriend had broken up with him.

A friend later told authorities that Crenshaw was mistaken – that the girlfriend had not ended the relationship.

Read Thomas Clouse’s story on the defense case, which ended Wednesday, here. 

An expert for the prosecution is expected to testify today to refute Larsen’s testimony. Closing arguments are expected Monday, then the jury gets the case.

Past coverage:

July 20: Crenshaw defense could begin this week

July 13: Jurors see swords used in double slaying

July 12: Killer: Trust no one, broken hearts, knives

July 12: Crenshaw double-murder trial begins today

Knezovich’s ‘support’ falls in gray area

A testament to the popularity of Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich may be the level to which candidates for Spokane County prosecutor are seeking his support.

The situation came to a head last week when incumbent Steve Tucker announced during a debate that he had the support of Knezovich (pictured).

Asked to clarify that support, Tucker made it clear that the sheriff has not endorsed his candidacy.

But Tucker’s opponents – fellow Republicans Chris Bugbee and Dave Stevens, Democrat Frank Malone and unaffiliated candidate Jim Reierson – all said they believe the average voter may not know the difference between support and an official endorsement.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Crenshaw defense could begin this week

After earlier conceding his client’s guilt in a grisly double homicide, defense lawyer Chris Bugbee had no questions Monday for the lead detective in the case against 22-year-old Justin W. Crenshaw. 

Now in its second week, the trial has included testimony from Crenshaw’s aunt, Kate, and his sister, Nikki Vanvlyman, who said she’s drank with Crenshaw and observed no bizarre behavior, witnesses said. Crenshaw’s defense against two aggravated murder charges - and life in prison with no parole - for the Feb. 28, 2008, deaths of 20-year-old Tanner E. Pehl (bottom right) and 18-year-old Sarah A. Clark (below) hinges on his claim that he has a condition that causes him to act bizarre and violent after ingesting even a small amount of alcohol.

Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said he hopes to finish the state’s case by Wednesday.

Along with Detective Jim Dresback, Detective Doug Marske testified Monday about bloody clothing found inside a plastic container in Kate Crenshaw’s garage in April 2008. The blood-soaked jeans were still moist when Marske pulled them from the plastic bag.

As Driscoll emphasized in his opening statement, on the jeans was a belt that read “Trust No One” and was adorned with broken hearts, a gun, along with a heart with a dagger sticking through it.

Also Monday, Amanda Wynona, who was renting a room in Pehl’s basement at 512 E. Elm Road, testified that she had briefly met Crenshaw two nights before the killings. He had come over to drink with Clark, Pehl and a couple other people.

“I guess Justin was new in town and Tanner wanted to introduce him to people,” she said.

Crenshaw had moved to Spokane a couple weeks before from Las Vegas to reunite with Vanvlyman, who was close friends with Clark. Crenshaw talked to Wynona about Clark.

“He said that they started seeing each other but he wasn’t interested in her,” she said as she started to cry. Clark, a senior at Mead High School, was to graduate that spring.

Her family and friends fill the courtroom each day, along with Pehl’s. Crenshaw’s grandmother also is attending the trial.

July 13: Jurors see swords used in double slaying

July 12: Crenshaw double-murder trial begins today

Bugbee earns another endorsement

The Spokane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association has endorsed defense attorney Chris Bugbee for the race for Spokane County Prosecutor, according to a campaign news release.

Bugbee, who is currently defending double-homicide suspect Justin W. Crenshaw, said he was informed of the decision late Wednesday. It adds to his list of endorsements that includes the Spokane Police Guild, the Fraternal Order of Police, Local Lodge #20mand a split endorsement from the Republicans of Spokane County.

However, incumbent Steve Tucker earned the other half of the endorsement from the Republicans of Spokane County. But, Deputy Prosecutor David Stevens received the official Republican Party endorsement.

Tucker, Stevens, and Bugbee, all Republicans, face Democrat Frank Malone and Jim Reierson, who has no political affiliation, in the August 17 primary election. The two candidates with the most votes will advance to the general election.

Tucker, Bugbee get dual endorsement

Republican voters looking for a little help on the Spokane County prosecutor primary are going to have to do a bit more than just scan the endorsements the candidates list.

After a forum last Monday, the Republicans of Spokane County decided to make a dual endorsement of incumbent Steve Tucker and challenger Chris Bugbee.

This may be particularly UN-helpful because the Spokane County Republican Party has endorsed challenger Dave Stevens.

Confused? It’s necessary to remember that the Republicans of Spokane County is separate from the county Republican Party. The former is an organization of like-minded GOP types, while the latter is the official party structure.

While it is a bit unusual for the official party to endorse someone other than a party member who is the incumbent office holder, as the county GOP did in this race, Stevens is the party’s vice chair.

GOP group endorses both Bugbee, Tucker

The Republicans of Spokane County endorsed both incumbent Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker and challenger Chris Bugbee after an election forum this week.

That left out Republican challenger Dave Stevens, who earlier earned the endorsement of the Spokane County Republican Party.

Democrat Frank Malone and self-proclaimed “Law and Order” candidate Jim Reierson were not invited to the Monday forum sponsored by Republicans of Spokane County, which endorses candidates separate from the main party.

Tucker said he also received the endorsement of the Spokane Regional Labor Council, which includes several large unions.

Bugbee earlier received the endorsement of the Spokane Police Guild.

Separately, Tucker was elected Wednesday as the secretary of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. He said he’ll become president of that organization in two years if he is re-elected.

GOP prosecutor forum set for tonight

A forum for three of the five candidates seeking the Spokane County prosecutor’s spot is set for tonight..

The forum, sponsored by the Republicans of Spokane County, will be moderated by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who has not endorsed a candidate. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Quality Inn Valley Suites, 8923 E. Mission Ave., in Millwood, and will include incumbent Steve Tucker, Chris Bugbee and Dave Stevens, who all list themselves as Republicans.

Not invited are Democratic candidate Frank Malone and “Law and Order” candidate Jim Reierson, who works as a deputy prosecutor in Kootenai County.

Read a story on the debate here.

SPD Guild endorses Bugbee for prosecutor

The Spokane Police Guild has endorsed Chris Bugbee for Spokane County prosecutor. Guild President Ernie Wuthrich told Bugbee of the endorsement in a letter sent to his campaign headquarters.

“Through your many years of service to the Spokane community you have developed a reputation as someone who is willing to fight regardless of the consequences,” Wuthrich wrote. “Many of our members have worked with you in a professional capacity and believe you to be fair and trustworthy and the best candidate to serve in this very important position.”

Here’s how the union described the candidates:

  • Bugbee, a former Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor now criminal defense attorney in both Washington and Idaho, has handled all crimes as a prosecuting and defense attorney.
  • David Stevens has only handled property, drug crimes and misdemeanors.
  • Republican Incumbent Steve Tucker- historically has settled crimes at all levels and his tenure likely appears to be over based on an absence of support from law enforcement and his own party.
  • Democratic candidate Frank Malone has spent the overwhelming majority of his career handling misdemeanor level crimes.

Bugbee to run for Spokane Co. prosecutor

Steve Tucker has a new challenger in the race for Spokane County prosecutor.

Chris Bugbee, a 42-year-old Republican who worked six years as a deputy prosecutor, has announced his bid to unseat his former boss.

He joins fellow Republican David Stevens and Democrat Frank Malone in what is now a four-way race for the position.

“I think the office needs a real leader,” Bugbee said in reference to his former boss. “I don’t think Mr. Stevens is an appropriate candidate. I think he has demonstrated some questionable judgment. I fear that if he is going to be making those decisions as elected prosecutor, the consequences to the public will be even bigger.”

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

Stevens releases letter to Tucker

Spokane prosecutor fires election opponent

Democrat joins prosecutor race

Deputy prosecutor vying for boss’s job put on paid leave

Stevens will challenge Tucker for Spokane County prosecutor