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Wolf suspected in attack on teen in Minnesota campground

PREDATORS — A 16-year-old boy fought off a canine believed to be a wolf during an attack in northern Minnesota Saturday. If confirmed as a wolf, it could be the first reported physical attack by a wolf on a human in the lower 48 states.

Noah Graham of Solway was camping on Lake Winnibigoshish with friends last weekend, and was talking with his girlfriend just before the animal came out of nowhere and chomped the back of his head, according to the Associated Press.

Federal trappers on Monday trapped and killed a wolf they say could be the canine involved in the attack.  That wolf had a jaw deformity that could have prompted rare bold behavior around humans, officials said.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say it could be the first documented serious-injury wolf attack on a human in Minnesota.

NEWS: The DNR announced today that it is premature to say with 100 percent confidence that the wolf is the one that inflicted the bites. That won’t be known – or may never be known - until DNA testing is complete.
 
However, on Wednesday the Minnesota Department of Health laboratory confirmed the wolf that had been trapped and killed Monday at the campground tested negative for rabies, although the boy already had been treated for the potentional of getting the disease.

The youth’s shirt (a potential source of wolf saliva DNA) and wolf muscle tissue have been sent to a laboratory at the University of California – Davis for forensic analysis. The analysis expected to take several weeks. The DNR will release the results when they are available.
 
Only two cases of fatal wolf attacks have been documented in North America, one in Alaska and the other in Canada, according to the DNR and a review of scientific literature.
 
Read on for more details on the attack from an AP report:

Shoddy DNA work delays sentencing

A Spokane County judge on Wednesday postponed the sentencing of a man convicted almost exclusively on DNA evidence after defense attorneys learned that tests identifying their client as the killer had been done by a crime lab technician who later was fired.

The technician’s work was so deficient that a co-worker described it as a “nightmare,” and an internal report said it could “not be trusted.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 27: Convicted killer to get new trial

Convicted killer will get new trial

A judge on Thursday granted the request for a new trial of a man convicted four years ago of the 2007 beating death of an adult bookstore owner in Spokane following the conviction two weeks ago of another man for the same crime.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Gibson’s bravado as robber didn’t help

In the end, Patrick Kevin Gibson's bravado as a professional bank robbery didn't exactly contribute to his defense in the 1992 murder of a Spokane Valley furniture store owner.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Etizen said he appeared to be bragging about his exploits and gave more detail than necessary when he testified at his murder trial last week. 

Gibson, 60, also didn't sway Etizen with his claims that the robbery at Cole's Furniture store that ended with the shooting death of Brian Cole was sloppy and likely done by someone other than the man who robbed a children's store in Coeur d'Alene three hours earlier.

Gibson suggested during testimony last week that the robbers were perhaps partners but initiated the heists separately - Eitzen rebuked that theory Thursday when she convicted him of Cole's murder and said the killer was the same man who robbed Teresa and Steve Brenner's store in Coeur d'Alene.

He also theorized that a man named Tim whom he'd hired to assist in bank robberies in Oregon and California in the early 1990s reused a disguise from one of the robberies to commit the Cole's Furniture Store robbery.

Gibson said Tim was one of two men secured a storage facility for him in the Portland area where he disguises and a police scanner to be used in the robberies. He also stored there a bank directory and a mailing list of all the police department sin the United States. He said he used the material to research potential small-town banks to rob. Gibson said he didn't know Tim's last name and Tim did not know his identity.

Gibson described the Cole robbery as “completely inept.”

“The store is supposed to be closed at 5 pm., so this was a spur of the moment crime,” Gibson said. “Both crimes, it's probably the only furniture store and kid's clothing sore that's ever been robbed in either town.”
Gibson described the “personnel” he hired out of Portland, Ore. to assist in the robberies.

“I used a total of eight males and four females for the operation, but only five of the males were involved in the bank robberies themselves. The other people were only involved in obtaining cars or acting as props so that I could stay in that town. Sometimes I had to stay right in the town. There was no way to get out.”

Gibson also described his involvement in the federal witness protection program, which occurred after he shared a federal prison cell with Iowa methamphetamine dealer Dustin Honken and told authorities that Honken had bragged about getting way with the murder of two confidential informants, a mother and her two young daughters. Honken is now on fedearl death row. Gibson said he became a protected witness in 1999.

“They do investigating for a year. Polygraph tests. It's very strenuous. You can't get into the witness protection program unless they verify you're telling the truth,” he said.

Gibson said he would tell the truth if he had killed Cole. He pointed to the fact that he's been diagnosed with stage 2 prostate cancer.

“I know I'm gong to die from cancer,” Gibson said. “I've almost always pled guilty to everything I have done. If I did this crime, I would give the Cole family some closure. I would admit to it and I would give them closure, because they need closure.”

On cross-examination, Gibson told Deputy Prosecutor Tony Hazel he “learned his lesson” about robbing small places after he robbed a Taco's John's in Portland and a gas station in Carterville, Nevada. (He and his partner also raped two clerks.) Gibson said he only targeted bank in towns with no law enforcement presence whatsoever. Coeur d'Alene had a police department so it “wouldn't qualify,” Gibson said.

Hazel pointed out that Gibson had been laid off just before Cole was murdered and was angry at society. He'd only started planning bank robberies and didn't successful rob one until December 1992. Before then, he'd only targeted small stores like gas stations.

Gibson said he wasn't proud of the robberies but he made about $840,000 in cash and more than $1 million in traveler's checks that he destroyed.

“The FBI said I was one of the most successful bank robbers going, sophisticated bank robbers operating at that time, but I regret it,” Gibson said.

After Eitzen convicted him Wednesday of first-degree murder, as the now convicted killer walked down the third floor hallways of the Spokane County Courthouse, a reporter asked him: “Patrick, did you do it?”

“No I did not,” Gibson replied. “Do I look 5-8?”

Cole's wife, Michele Cole, had described the killer as being about 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9. She said she recognized a scar on Gibson's face when she saw a picture of him in 2011. That scar is from being shot by a sheriff's deputy in Utah in 1998. The bullet went though Gibson's face.er it c

Gibson was arrested last year after his DNA was found on a piece of beard worn by Cole's killer.

His bench trial began in May but was delayed after prosecutors learned “America's Most Wanted” host John Walsh and a TV actor handled the killer's actual hat in a 1993 reenactment of the Cole murder

Authorities obtained DNA samples from Walsh, actor Trevor St. John and tried sheriff's Detective Mark Henderson and compared it to the hat. Doing so helped forensic analysts determine that the chance of the DNA on the hat not belonging to Gibson was one in 10 million.

Accused killer gives riveting testimony

In what longtime Spokane County court officials described as riveting testimony, accused killer Patrick Kevin Gibson described Thursday his years as a big-time bank robber who earned about $850,000 before heading to federal prison.

Gibson's 12-year prison sentence led him to the federal witness protection program after he ratted out cellmate Dustin Honken, an Iowa methamphetamine dealer who bragged to Gibson about getting away with the murder of a mother and her two daughters. Honken is now on federal death row. His girlfriend, Angela Johnson, also was sentenced to death for the crimes but her sentence was overturned on appeal.

Gibson, arrested last year after DNA evidence on the killer's beard was linked to him, discussed Thursday taking polygraph tests to be part of a member of the secretive program. He denied murdering Spokane Valley furniture store owner Brian Cole on Nov. 7, 1992 - saying essentially that he was a professional robber who wouldn't mess with such a sloppy heist at a place with little cash. He suggested that a partner in his bank robberies might have committed the crime using a disguise from past bank heists.

Gibson said if he killed Cole, he would confess. But prosecutors pointed out that the bank robberies began after Cole's murder, and that Gibson also robbed convenience stores in Oregon. He also did so not just for the money but for the thrill, according to testimony.

Gibson, a level 3 sex offender, is charged with first-degree murder. He made the unusual decision to have his case heard by a judge instead of a jury. Superior Court Judge Tari Etizen is to hear closing arguments on Monday.

The trial began in late May but was delayed when prosecutors discovered at the last minute that America's Most Wanted host John Walsh and a TV actor handled the actual hat worn by the killer during a taping of the show in 1993.

Police obtained a sample of Walsh's DNA, as well as the actor and the detective who handled the hat, and submitted it to the state crime lab for testing.

Wrong man may be jailed for murder

The lead investigator in the 2007 beating death of an adult bookstore owner in Spokane now is questioning whether the wrong man was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Spokane Police Detective Tim Madsen, in new court documents, acknowledges that 41-year-old Jeramie R. Davis may have been telling the truth when he claimed that 74-year-old John G. “Jack” Allen already was dead on the floor when he arrived at the adult bookstore and made a series of return trips throughout the night to burglarize it.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 11: Trial opens for second suspect in same murder

March 11: DNA evidence in 2007 murder points to new man

Aug. 5: New suspect charged in porn shop owner's murder

July 28: Convicted killer hopes for freedom

July 26: DNA reveals new suspect in 2007 slaying

Alleged robber is 4-foot-8, 85 pounds

A suspect has been arrested in a June 6 armed home-invasion robbery in northeast Spokane.

Brettly E. Sanderson, who turned 16 last week, was charged as an adult with seven counts of first-degree robbery, but the charges were refiled in juvenile court when prosecutors realized he was 15 at the time of the crime.

The victims at the home in the 2900 block of North Hogan Street say they recognized Sanderson when he and two other men, one of whom had a sawed-off shotgun, forced their way into the apartment demanding drugs and money, according to court documents.

One of the victims was struck in the head with the butt of the shotgun, police say. Seven people were in the apartment at the time; stolen items included a 1997 Honda Civic, $50, two laptops, a PlayStation 3 and stereo speakers. Police found the Civic stripped of its tires and wheels near West Gordon Avenue and West Glass Avenue later that night.

Sanderson is 4-foot-8 and weighs 85 pounds, according to court documents.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla filed charges against Sanderson on Monday. Spokane police searched his home in the 2600 block of East Sinto Avenue about 3 a.m. Thursday. The SWAT team was presence, but the occupants responded to a knock and no force was used to enter the home.

DNA identifies suspect in 2011 robbery

DNA on a hat and gloves dropped by a man who robbed a Spokane Valley tavern owner last year has led authorities to identify a suspect.

 Isaiah P. Wandler, 32, is charged with first-degree robbery for a Feb. 13, 2011, attack outside Poppy's Tavern, 415 S. Dishman-Mica Road.

He's accused of robbing owner Donna O'Donnell of her purse and punching her in the face and knocking her to the pavement. The robber also stole her shopping bags, but police found them ditched outside a nearby trailer with the purse. Officers also found his red and gray jacket, black baseball hat and black gloves, which they believe he discarded when he saw them converge on the area.

While the move may have prevented the robber's arrest that day, police submitted the hat and gloves to the state crime lab for DNA testing.

The crime lab notified Spokane County Sheriff's Detective Mike Ricketts of a match to Wandler earlier this year.

He was already in jail in Kootenai County, Idaho, for violating his probation on a burglary case. Records show he failed to show up for a hearing about a month before he's accused of robbing O'Donnell. He was arrested in Idaho last June for the probation violation.

Now Wandler's in the Spokane County Jail on $100,000 after appearing in court Monday on the new robbery charge and a no-bond Department of Corrections warrant for a probation violation.

Judge in DNA case: ‘I got it wrong’

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen said today that her misunderstanding of how DNA evidence was handled led her to initially make the wrong decision about whether it can be used in a murder suspect's trial.

  Eitzen originally was going to prohibit prosecutors from mentioning the presence of DNA from “America's Most Wanted” host John Walsh (pictured right) and actor Trevor St. John unless defense lawyers opened the door for the testimony by questioning the DNA profile of the hat.

But she made that decision under the erroneous belief that the DNA sample from the hat that was tested in 2004 was taken before Walsh and St. John handled the hat. That wasn't the case.

She reversed her decision Thursday, prompting John Whaley, defense lawyer for suspect Patrick Kevin Gibson (pictured left), to file a motion asking her to reconsider, which she denied to do today.

Gibson is charged with first-degree murder for the Nov. 7,1992, shooting death of Valley furniture store owner Brian Cole.

Eitzen today delayed the rest of the trial until July 10 to allow for lawyers to prepare for the newly discovered DNA evidence from Walsh, St. John, and the detective who handled the case. Read much more here.

Eitzen spoke candidly today about her original lack of understanding.

“I just got it wrong,” she said.

“This isn't about retesting the hat,” she said. “It's about for the first time getting the DNA profiles of others who touched it. I did not understand that sequence the first time I rule on this issue.”

“Those profiles are in evidence and I'm going to be really curious what the experts say,” she continued.

She said Whaley's motion implied that she did understand and simply changed her mind.

“I appreciate Mr. Whaley's kindness in thinking I did understand what was going on that day. Because I did not,” she said.

“And that happens,” Eitzen continued. “And courts have to be able to say 'we mad mistake' and reverse themselves. Because it happens everyday. We reverse ourselves on evidentiary rulings every day.”

She said the issue does not warrant a mistrial.

“There has been no prosecutorial misconduct,” she said. “No ineffective assistance of counsel…I don't want to over speak, but these counsels are on the top end of prepared and diligent for criminal cases that I've tried.”

DNA evidence tangles ‘07 murder case

Jerry Allen and his family are facing the rekindled pain of losing their uncle, John G. “Jack” Allen Jr., who was killed in 2007 at the age of 74. Jerry Allen did odd jobs for his uncle, who helped raise him. (SR/Colin Mulvany)

Water cascades from the roof in heavy droplets inside the abandoned brick-and-glass building on Sprague Avenue where an adult bookstore owner was bludgeoned to death nearly five years ago.

 Just as the building crumbles, cracks also have begun forming in the case against the admitted thief who was sent to prison for the brutal murder of 74-year-old John G. “Jack” Allen Jr.

DNA evidence on the murder weapon has implicated a new suspect in the 2007 slaying, which prosecutors successfully argued in 2008 was the work of just one man: Jeramie R. Davis, 41 (pictured).

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 5: New suspect charged in porn shop owner's murder

July 28: Convicted killer hopes for freedom

July 26: DNA reveals new suspect in 2007 slaying

Cigar leads to arrest in July burglary

A cigar left at a burglary scene last summer led detectives on Wednesday to arrest a 21-year-old man as a suspect.

DNA on the cigar that was sent to the state crime lab matched DNA that Trevor Codi Frantz provided when he was convicted of a felony first-degree theft in April 2010, according to court documents.

Detectives seized the cigar while investigating a burglary in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue in Spokane Valley July 30. They believe the burglars used the cigar to try to light the home on fire.

A career criminal now serving life in prison, Larry A. Powell, fired shots at a neighbor who tried to stop the burglary. Powell was arrested shortly after the shooting. He already was wanted for not showing up for the end of his trial for a different robbery case.

Frantz was booked into jail Wednesday about 1 p.m. on charges of attempted first-degree arson and first-degree burglary.

Man gets 9+ years for New Year’s rape

A Spokane man who raped a girl in a park on New Year's Day 2010 will spend at least nine years in prison under a sentence imposed recently in Superior Court.

Louis Victor Kuster, 23, was sentenced to at least 114 months for second-degree rape. Because he's a sex offender, Kuster must undergo evaluations before he's allowed to be released. That means he could stay behind bars indefinitely.

Kuster was arrested in January 2011 after DNA he submitted for a property crime conviction linked him to the rape at Patrick Byrne Park, 125 E. Walton Ave. His victim was a 16-year-girl. Kuster told jurors at his three-day trial in November that the oral sex was consensual, but they convicted him.

Kuster underwent sex offender treatment as a teenager after he was accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching four girls while a middle school student in Stevens County.

Judge Kathleen O'Connor sentenced Kuster on Tuesday. He's at the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Jury convicts Spokane man of rape

A Spokane County jury has convicted a man linked to a rape after his DNA was collected for a property crime conviction.

Louis Victor Kuster, 23, is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of second-degree rape Thursday after a three-day trial in Superior Court.

Kuster has been in jail since his arrest in January, more than a year after he raped a 16-year-old at Patrick Byrne Park, 125 E. Walton Ave. Police circulated a sketch of the attacker in the weeks after the Jan. 1, 2010 attack.

Kuster told jurors the oral sex was consensual.

Juror Jeff Bruno, a 48-year-old small business owner, said Kuster's gave a conflicting statement to police at the time of his arrest that he'd never met the girl. That showed he couldn't be trusted, Bruno said.

“If I walked through a park and happened to have sex with a woman I'm going to remember that for a long time. That's not something I would casually just forget,” Bruno said.

Bruno said jurors were split when they began deliberations - seven guilty and five not guilty. Deliberations lasted about five or six hours, Bruno said.

Bruno said Kuster and the victim testified. He said Kuster became angry on the stand and described him as a “monster.” The girl had a diffficult time testifying, he said. She “was just terrified of this guy on the stand,” Bruno said. “She wouldn't even look at him.”

Bruno learned after the verdict that Kuster underwent sex offender treatment as a teenager after he was accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching four girls while a middle school student in Stevens County.

Bruno said jurors were told only of Kuster's conviction for second-degree possession of stolen property, which led to his DNA being collected in August 2010.

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.

DNA on shorts link man to store burglary

A Spokane man linked to a burglary by a pair of shorts left near the scene has pleaded guilty to theft.

 Samuel Sidney Allman IV, 23, will be sentenced Jan. 10 in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene after pleading guilty Tuesday to theft from an Indian tribal organization.

Allman broke into the Benewah Market on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation in Plummer, Idaho, on Aug. 22 and stole $1,740 from registers.

Store alarms alerted Coeur d'Alene Tribal police officers, who found a pair of shorts in an alley next to the market. DNA on the shorts was determined to belong to Allman through FBI forensic analysis. Store surveillance video showed Allman wearing the shorts as he broke into the store and stole cash, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office

The Benewah Market is owned by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.

Allman faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of probation. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence within the guideline, which is likely much less than five years.

The plea deal also calls for a felony burglary and car theft case in Spokane County filed in July to be dismissed after Allman pleads guilty and pays $3,950 in restitution.

New suspect in ‘07 murder arraigned

From a visitation room at the Spokane County Jail, Jeramie R. Davis talks last week about the recent break in his case. (SR/Colin Mulvany)

A Spokane man recently arrested for a 2007 slaying that authorities previously considered solved pleaded innocent Thursday to murder charges.

 The homicide case against Julio J. Davila comes as Jeramie R. Davis, an admitted thief convicted on largely circumstantial evidence in the beating death, remains jailed awaiting the outcome of an investigation that police have said could exonerate him of the murder.

DNA found on the baseball bat used to kill Sprague Avenue adult bookstore owner John Gordon Allen Jr., 74, in 2007 was recently identified as Davila’s, creating a legal conundrum in which authorities say it’s possible the wrong man was given a 45-year prison term for a murder he didn’t commit.

But because a Spokane County Superior Court jury convicted Davis – despite his insistence that he did not kill Allen – and a state appeals court upheld the verdict, authorities are trying to figure out how to proceed.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 28: Convicted killer hopes for freedom

July 26: DNA reveals new suspect in 2007 slaying

DNA reveals new suspect in ‘07 murder

Authorities in Spokane are questioning whether the wrong man was sent to prison for the murder of a porn-shop owner in 2007. A recent DNA match in the case has identified a new suspect. 

Jeramie R. Davis, 37, (left) was recently transferred to the Spokane County Jail the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, where he was serving a 40-year sentence for the fatal baseball bat beating and robbery of 74-year-old John Gordon Allen Jr., owner of Best Buy Adult Bookstore on East Sprague Avenue. 

 In March, DNA found on the baseball bat during the initial investigation came back as a match to Julio J. Davila, 45, (right) after Davila’s DNA was collected for an unrelated felony conviction.

In an interview with police June 27, Davila denied knowing Allen or Davis and said he didn’t know why his DNA would be on the bat.

But on July 5, Spokane police detectives talked to an informant who reported seeing more than a dozen new and sealed pornographic videos that Davila traded with people for drugs around the time of the murder.

Read the rest of the story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 14, 2008: Man guilty in store owner's death

Feb. 6, 2008: Trial begins in adult bookstore murder

June 21, 2007: Sister says suspect in shop killing innocent

Experts detail problems with Knox case

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO,Associated Press
PERUGIA, Italy (AP) — The investigators who collected the genetic evidence used to convict Seattle student Amanda Knox of murder in Italy made a series of glaring errors, including using a dirty glove and not wearing caps, two independent forensic experts said Monday.

 The experts had been appointed by an Italian appeals court to review the DNA evidence used in Knox's trial, including some found on a kitchen knife believed to be the murder weapon and some found on the clasp of the victim's bra.

That evidence played a crucial role in securing the convictions of Knox (right) and her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito (left) in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a Briton who shared an apartment with Knox while they were both exchange students in the city of Perugia.

 Knox, 24, and Sollecito, 27, have denied wrongdoing and have appealed. The evidence review was granted at the request of their defense teams.

In the first trial, prosecutors maintained that Knox's DNA was found on the handle of the kitchen knife and Kercher's DNA was found on the blade. They say Sollecito's DNA was found on the clasp of Kercher's bra.

But the independent experts told the appeals court that the collection of evidence fell below international standards and may have resulted in contamination. They used slides to refer to international protocols for the collection and sampling of evidence, including one from the U.S. Department of Justice and others from various U.S. states.

One of the two experts, Stefano Conti, (pictured) cited several cases of forensic police entering the crime scene or coming into contacts with objects there not wearing protective equipment such as masks or hair caps. He said that while evidence should be wrapped in paper or kept in a paper bags, police often used plastic bags, heightening the risk of contamination.

“There are various circumstances do not adhere to protocols and procedures,” the forensic expert told the court.

In footage and framegrabs shown to the court, two police officers collected the bra clasp, and the glove worn by one of the two appeared to be dirty on two fingers. Conti noted the bra clasp was collected 46 days after the Nov. 1, 2007 fatal stabbing of the 21-year-old Kercher.

“Over those 46 days several objects were moved, and in at the same time several people will have come in and out,” he noted, again stressing the risk of contamination.

The other expert, Carla Vecchiotti, (pictured) explained to the court that the genetic profile on the knife's blade that was attributed to Kercher is dubious and cannot be attributed with certainty. She said the original testing did not follow recommendations of the international scientific community for dealing with DNA testing.

Vecchiotti said the review concurred with the original testing in saying that the genetic profile on the knife's black plastic handle could be attributed to Knox. The knife was found at Sollecito's apartment.

The independent experts, both from La Sapienza University in Rome, will be questioned and cross-examined in the next hearing, scheduled for Saturday. That will be the last hearing before the summer break.

The full review, a 145-document obtained by The Associated Press, was filed to the Perugia court last month.

Survivor of brutal Seattle attack testifies

Woman who survived brutal Seattle attack testifies
By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Awakening in the middle of the night to find a half-naked man looming over her bed with a knife, the woman had one goal: to keep completely still, to do nothing that would risk angering him or causing him to use the knife on her or her partner.

It didn't work, she testified. During a horrific two-hour attack, the man repeatedly raped and cut them, killing her partner, Teresa Butz, who collapsed and died in the street in front of their South Seattle home, naked and covered in blood, as stunned neighbors tried to help.

The 38-year-old woman who survived the attack two years ago took the witness stand in King County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon and described her ordeal publicly for the first time in the trial of the man charged in the attack, Isaiah Kalebu, 25.

Kalebu, who has been barred from the trial because of prior outbursts, was not in the courtroom during her testimony. Defense attorneys have said they plan to argue he did not commit the crimes.

“It was like, you want to be so still,” she said. “I just didn't want to aggravate him, or do something that would make things worse for Teresa.”

She said she believed her attacker was “a rapist who would leave.” When senior deputy prosecutor James Konat asked her why, she answered that it was because he kept saying he would.

Kalebu, who has a history of mental illness but is not presenting a mental-health defense, is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary in what's been described as a random attack on Butz and her partner at their home the night of July 18, 2009. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty; he would face life in prison without release if convicted.

Kalebu is accused of entering the home through an open window — it was a hot night, and Butz, a native of St. Louis, was philosophically opposed to using air conditioning in Seattle. The city doesn't get hot enough, her partner testified.

The Associated Press is not identifying her because she is a victim of sexual assault.

Her testimony ranged from terrifying details of the attack — how the man, pacing slowly through the bedroom, knife in hand, closed the three windows one-by-one — and cheerful, sometimes emotional recollections of the time she shared with Butz, their first kiss and the way Butz fit perfectly into a $70 wedding dress she was going to wear at their upcoming commitment ceremony.

“She kind of had a fire and a spunk to her that I was really drawn to,” she said.

The woman flashed broad smiles and laughed often as she described their lives together. They met because Butz was a commercial real-estate manager who oversaw the floor on which the woman worked, but Butz initially wouldn't return her calls. She talked of their last day together, which they spent going to a weight-loss class, drinking beer on a tour of South Seattle microbreweries, going to her wedding dress fitting, and grilling steaks at home.

They had been planning to spend the night in the suburb of Marysville that night for a friend's birthday party, but were exhausted from their busy day and stayed home instead.

Butz's family didn't approve of their wedding plans, but the woman said Butz was excited that evening because she had just spoken on the phone with her mother, who had indicated she might attend the ceremony. Several of Butz's relatives were in the courtroom.

“They may not have agreed with our choice, but I knew there was no question they loved Teresa, and I knew there was no question they loved me,” she said.

She choked up as she spoke of their plans to have children together.

Though she had described the rapes by the end of court Friday, she had not yet testified about the stabbings. She was to resume testifying Thursday morning.

Prosecutors say the attack finally ended when Butz — just 5-foot-2 — kicked Kalebu off a bed and used a small table to break a window, through which she left. Kalebu ran out of the house, and Butz's partner left too, naked and covered in so much blood that she had trouble opening the front door of the home, authorities said.

Before Butz died from a stab wound to her heart, she reportedly told a neighbor: “He told us if we did what he asked us to do, he wouldn't hurt us. He lied, he lied.”

Kalebu was arrested after he was identified using DNA evidence and surveillance video from an earlier unsolved burglary at the city hall in the suburb of Auburn. The attack kept the neighborhood on edge until Kalebu's arrest six days later.

Man barred from own trial in rape case

In this May 12 photo, accused rapist and murderer Isaiah Kalebu, lower center, is taken in a wheeled restraint chair through a hallway at the King County Courthouse following a court hearing in Seattle. Judge Michael C. Hayden has taken the unusual step of tentatively barring Kalebu from attending his own trial when opening statements began in King County Superior Court on Monday because of outbursts during pre-trial hearings. Instead, Kalebu will be able to watch the proceedings via closed-circuit television from a nearby courtroom.

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — The trial of a man accused of horrifically raping and stabbing a lesbian couple began without him Monday, after a judge barred him for repeatedly interrupting pretrial hearings with profane outbursts.

Isaiah Kalebu, 25, was chained in a restraint chair in a room on a different floor of the courthouse after King County Superior Court Judge Michael Hayden took the unusual step of barring him.

Kalebu sat in a heavy suicide-protection smock and a neck brace and he watched the proceedings by closed-circuit television. An apparent attempt on his own life landed him at a Seattle hospital on the eve of the trial, but a prosecutor called it a “suicide gesture” rather than a serious attempt.

Defendants have a right to be present at all stages of their trial, but can forfeit that through disruptive behavior.

Kalebu is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary in the random attack on Teresa Butz and her partner at their home in Seattle's South Park neighborhood.

The judge has said he will reconsider allowing Kalebu in the courtroom if he promises to behave. Defense attorneys said that Kalebu asked Monday to attend opening statements, but jail staff declined to relay that request to them or to the court — a development one of his lawyers, Michael Schwartz, described as troubling.

A jail spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

Even if Kalebu attends the trial, he could be forced to wear an electroshock sleeve, which could be activated by a deputy if he tries to attack anyone in the courtroom.

Hayden told jurors before opening statements that whether Kalebu is present has no bearing on his guilt or innocence.

Kalebu was arrested after he was identified using DNA evidence and surveillance video from an earlier unsolved burglary at the city hall in the suburb of Auburn. The two-hour-long attack on Butz and her partner kept their neighborhood on edge for days until Kalebu's capture.

Butz was credited with helping her partner escape when she kicked the attacker off a bed and threw a metal table into a window through which she climbed. She collapsed and died in the street as stunned neighbors tried to help. She was naked and covered in blood from having her throat cut and heart stabbed.

Senior deputy prosecutor Brian McDonald told the jurors that much of the testimony and evidence in the case would be difficult to hear and see.

“But what I suggest won't be difficult is determining that the crimes occurred, and the defendant is the person who committed them,” he added.

The couple, who was planning their commitment ceremony, was asleep when they found Kalebu standing over them with a large chef's knife, telling them, “Shut up, I won't hurt you,” McDonald said. Kalebu came in through an open window, he said.

Kalebu raped the women repeatedly as he held the knife to their necks, McDonald said. When he started to slash their throats, Butz — just 5-foot-2 — kicked the 6-foot-tall suspect off the bed and created a diversion that allowed her partner to escape and seek help, authorities said.

Her partner was covered in so much blood that she had trouble opening the front door to escape, the prosecutor said. Before Butz died, she told a neighbor: “He told us if we did what he asked us to do, he wouldn't hurt us. He lied, he lied.”

The first witness to testify was neighbor Jennifer Lutz, who had just finished feeding her 17-day-old baby when she heard the sound of glass breaking and saw Butz fall from a first-story window.

Butz's partner survived the attack and is expected to testify.

Despite a history of mental illness, Kalebu is not pursuing a mental-health defense; several experts determined him to be faking or exaggerating his symptoms. Instead, his lawyers say they will argue that he didn't commit the crime.

His pretrial antics have included swearing at the judge and lawyers involved in the case, knocking over chairs and gesturing obscenely at photographers.

The defense lawyers did not make an opening statement, saying they reserved the right to give one later.

Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty if Kalebu is convicted, due to his history of mental illness. Instead, he would face life in prison without release.

DNA identifies suspect in ‘09 robbery

DNA found on a sweatshirt has helped police identify a suspect in a two-year-old bank robbery.

A Spokane County sheriff's detective obtained a new DNA sample from Rodney R. Phillips, 48, on Wednesday to verify a match noted by the Washington State Patrol crime lab last month.

Phillips is in prison in Walla Walla for robberies in Western Washington. He was arrested July 4, 2009.
 
Banner Bank at 1521 N. Argonne Road in Spokane Valley was robbed June 18, 2009, by a man wearing a 2002 Lady Royals sweatshirt and Spokane Riverhawks hat. Both items were discarded near East Sinto Avenue and North Sargent Road the next day.
 
Surveillance photos show Phillips' preferred outfit in robberies in  Snohomish and King counties was a hooded sweatshirt, hat and sunglasses, according to a search warrant used to obtain Phillips' DNA sample.
 
Police are awaiting the results of the new DNA test before sending the case to prosecutors.

Charges sought in inmate’s drug death

Detectives are seeking a manslaughter charge against a former Spokane County Jail inmate they believe provided prescription drugs used in another inmate's suicide.

Ronald F. Edwards, 41, could be charged with delivery of a legend drug and second-degree manslaughter under a charging recommendation sent  to Spokane County prosecutors.

Detectives believe Edwards provided the prescription antidepressant amitriptyline to Christopher H. Devlin, a convicted killer who died of an overdose on Sept. 20, five days after being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Edwards was one of two jail inmates prescribed the drug.

Investigators believe Edwards gave his daily dose to Devlin after hiding the pills in his mouth so jail employees would believe he'd ingested them.

DNA on a pill hidden in Devlin's mattress matched a DNA sample taken from Edwards at state prison in Forks, Wash., May 6, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office announced today.

Edwards is serving 25 months for third-degree assault. Detectives say Edwards frequently spent time with Devlin when the two were out of their cells.

Devlin was convicted last August of the May 2008 shooting death of 52-year-old Daniel Heily, who was to testify against Devlin in an assault case.

Suspect in ‘92 murder pleads not guilty

A sex offender and convicted felon linked to a 1992 murder by DNA on a fake beard pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge Tuesday.

Patrick K. Gibson, 59, appeared via video before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price, who set a trial date of July 18 but acknowledged the case would likely be postponed.

Gibson was charged earlier this month after Spokane County sheriff’s detectives re-tested some evidence from the cold case and it came back as a DNA match to Gibson, a registered sex offender living in Stanwood, Wash.

He’s accused in the shooting death of Brian Cole, 48, of Nov. 7, 1992, during a robbery at Cole’s Traditions in Oak, a furniture store on East Sprague in Spokane Valley.

Past coverage:

May 4: Suspect arrested in '92 murder of furniture store owner

Overdose traced back to inmate’s pills

A convicted killer who committed suicide at the Spokane County Jail did so using pills prescribed to another inmate. 

Now detectives are investigating whether the pill provider could be at least partly responsible for the suicide of Christopher H. Devlin, who was found dead in his jail cell Sept. 20, five days after being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

An autopsy determined Devlin, 58, died of an overdose of amitriptyline, an antidepressant prescribed to only two jail inmates.

Detectives are awaiting test results comparing inmate Ronald F. Edwards' (pictured) DNA to the DNA found on a pill hidden in Devlin’s mattress.

Read the rest of my story here.

Suspect in ‘92 murder returns to Spokane

A longtime felon and convicted armed robber is back in Spokane on a first-degree murder charge for the 1992 shooting death of a furniture store owner.

 Patrick K. Gibson, who will be 59 in a week, did not contest the $1 million bond request from prosecutors today in Spokane County Superior Court, which Judge Michael Price granted.

Gibson was booked into Spokane County Jail Tuesday at 3:24 p.m. after he was arrested May 4 at his home in Stanwood, Wash., where he was registered as a level 3 sex offender.

Gibson has convictions in Oregon, Nevada and California for kidnapping, rape, robbery and bank robbery.

DNA from a fake beard worn during the Nov. 7, 1992., robbery and shooting at Cole’s Traditions in Oak connected him to the crime.

Prosecutors have sealed the probable cause affidavit that supports a first-degree murder charge against Gibson. Gibson is to be arraigned May 24.

Past coverage:

May 4: Suspect arrested in '92 murder of furniture store owner

Arrest made in ‘92 Spokane Valley murder

After nearly two decades, Spokane County sheriff’s detectives solved a case that had long gone cold: the shooting death of a Spokane Valley business owner that shocked the community.

 Patrick Kevin Gibson, 58, was arrested for first-degree murder about 6:50 a.m. Wednesday in Stanwood, Wash. in connection with the slaying of Brian Cole, then 48, who owned Cole’s Traditions in Oak, a furniture store on East Sprague Avenue.

DNA linked Gibson to the Nov. 7, 1992, shooting; he will be transported to Spokane sometime in the next week, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Detectives worked the case extensively,” Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said of the slaying, which was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in January 1993. “Still, no suspect was developed.”

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach's story here.

Spokane man sentenced for ‘99 rape

A Spokane man was sentenced essentially to time served today for a sexual assault in 1999 that remained unsolved until DNA caught up to him.

Originally charged with second-degree rape, prosecutors agreed to allow Robert C. Graham, who also was convicted in 2000 of third-degree rape in a different case, to plead guilty to second-degree assault with sexual motivation.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno sentenced Graham, 31, to 17 months in prison, but with credit for time served he faces little prison time.

Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald said the victim was first elated to know her attacker had been caught. But processing the case brought back horrific memories that she no longer wanted to face. Thus, the victim asked that no trial take place.

Although he’s already a registered sex offender, he must register for 15 years under the latest conviction.

Graham apologized, saying he had no recollection of the event because of his alcohol abuse.

“I never meant to hurt anybody,” he said.
  

State patrol: DNA solving more crimes

DNA testing in Washington is identifying more criminals than ever before.

The Washington State Patrol crime lab reported 379 hits last year using a DNA index system and DNA samples from crime suspects and convicted felons. In 2009, 257 hits were recorded.

Officials attribute the increase to a new program that tests evidence from property crimes, as well as technological improvement. Investigators have gleaned more than 1,500 leads from DNA since the state implemented the system more than 10 years ago, according to a WSP news release. (Forensic scientist Anna Wilson is pictured above examining DNA evidence.)

The news release cited a Spokane grocery store robber arrested after DNA he submitted for a drug conviction was matched to DNA found on a fake wig he wore during the June 2009 crime (pictured).

Donald R. Wright pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery last May.

Other perhaps more notable examples include the recent arrest of Gary Trimble, who's accused of murdering Dorothy Burdette in 1986.

DNA obtained after a 2007 conviction in Montana matched DNA found on the Burdette's bra and on a blanket in which her body was wrapped. Trimble was extradited from Montana in January.

And just last month, 23-year-old Louis Kuster of Spokane was arrested for a year-old rape after DNA submitted for a property crime conviction matched DNA left on the victim.

“This is about arresting and convicting the guilty, and clearing the innocent,” WSP Chief John R. Batiste said in a prepared statement. “DNA is the most reliable way we’ve ever had for telling if someone was present at a crime scene.”

The DNA lab, located in Seattle, receives about 1,400 samples from convicted felons each month. The database contains more than 194,000 DNA profiles.

Samples are regularly compared to DNA evidence from more than 3,500 crimes statewide and to the national DNA database.

More than half of last year's hits were linked for burglaries, and about 39 percent were for violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery or assault.

Nearly 80 percent of the 379 hits were from people convicted of non-violent crimes like burglary or drug possession, which WSP says “shows the value of capturing DNA from those convicted of less severe, mostly non-violent crimes.”

  

Rape suspect underwent sex therapy

A 23-year-old Spokane man accused of a year-old rape underwent sex offender treatment as a teenager.

Louis Victor Kuster underwent treatment  after he was accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching four girls while a middle school student in Stevens County. He pleaded guilty to four counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation in 2002 and served two years probation.

After his arrest, detectives said in court documents that Kuster, then 14, “never appeared flustered, embarrassed or remorseful,” during interviews. “He did not seem to care about getting in trouble.”

His foster mother told police he needed counseling.

Kuster was arrested last week after DNA linked him to the rape of a 16-year-old girl on Jan. 1, 2010, police said.

Read my story here.
  

Suspect arrested in Spokane rape from ‘99

A suspect was arrested this week in a rape that's been unsolved for more than 10 years.

Robert C. Graham Jr., 30, appeared in Superior Court today via video from the jail, where he's been since his arrest on Tuesday.

He's accused of raping a woman on Sept. 6, 1999, as she walked to work on Market Street near Green Street about 4:10 a.m. The woman described her attacker as a young man she'd never seen before with “straight brown hair and pointy nose,” according to court documents.

Last fall, the Washington State Crime Lab matched DNA evidence from the crime with Graham's DNA, which had only recently been obtained, said Spokane police Detective Harlen Harden.

Harden, the detective first assigned to the case in 1999, described the victim as “relieved” by the suspect's arrest.

“It's been pretty hard on her,” Harden said.

Graham, a level 1 sex offender, was convicted of third-degree rape involving a 15-year-old victim in 2000.

He’s lived in the Deer Park and Colfax area all his life and has been employed at a construction company for about a year, his public defender said. “Mr. Graham has worked very hard to turn his life around,” she said. “The merits of this are to be determined at a later date.”

Graham's bond was set today at $25,000 for one count of second-degree rape.