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Police still awaiting DNA in McGill murder

Police continue to investigate the stabbing death of a woman who was walking her dog near the Spokane River May 3 and say they have leads coming in frequently.

 "They are all being followed up on by a detective," according to an email from Major Craig Meidl of the Spokane Police Department on Friday. "We are as engaged in this investigation as we have been since day one."

Meidl said they still are awaiting results from DNA tests at the Washington State Crime Lab. He said he doesn't know why that DNA is taking longer than John Walsh's DNA sample took to process for the Patrick Gibson murder trial, but wrote that "one would also likely have to take into account current staffing levels at the DNA testing facility, backlog of current cases, types of tests to be completed, number of tests to be completed on same DNA, number of samples total to be tested.  This would just be an educated guess, as WSP has ultimate control over their schedule and how they prioritize."

Meidl said police are intentionally not detailing all aspects of the investigation.

"We are mindful that suspects frequently watch and read the news. It would be imprudent to reveal aspects of this investigation that could potentially jeopardize the successful capture of the person involved in this," Meidl wrote.

Sharlotte McGill, 55, died of stab wounds after she was attacked in the 1800 block of East South Riverton Avenue.

She was able to describe her attacker before she died: a black man in his 30s with a bad eye. No other details were given.

Past coverage:

May 9: Police seek public's help, but fear racial profiling

May 5: Homicide victim's daughter speaks out

May 4: Attacker fatally stabs woman

Killer in hotel trashing left prison in ‘11

A convicted killer accused of trashing a Spokane Valley motel while celebrating he and his wife's anniversary was released from prison just 15 months ago.

Danial Caleb Peters, 38, murdered Melissa Mae Wageman, 40, on  Dec. 22, 1995, after smoking crack cocaine. He told police he didn't member beating the woman to death with 4-foot pipe but awoke to find her bloody body nearby.

The circumstances are similar to what Peters' public defender, Mike Elston, said apparently happened Tuesday night at the Pheasant Hill Inn, 12415 E. Mission Ave., in Spokane Valley.

Peters "claims a drug-educed paranoid episode" led to him destroying the room he and his wife, Danielle Lea Wozniak, 27, returned to celebrate their one-year anniversary, Elston said Thursday at Peters' appearance in Spokane County Superior Court.

Wozniak told police Peters destroyed the room after they used methamphetamine.

"I want everybody to know that I'm very sorry for the drug use that I did," Wozniak said in court Thursday.

Peters told police "that he felt people were after him" and broke a water sprinkler in an attempt to get help, according to court documents.

He said Wozniak destroyed other items like a mirrors, lamps, air conditioner and phone, but Wozniak said it was Peters. Police responded about 6 a.m. and say the duo caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the hotel, which had recently been renovated.

Water damage from the sprinklers means only 28 of the hotel’s 104 rooms usable. Peters and Wozniak were booked into jail on a felony charge of first-degree malicious mischief. They married in March, Wozniak said.

Wozniak's criminal history includes a single misdemeanor conviction two years ago. Judge Annette Plese ordered her to stay in jail unless she posts $2,500 bond.

Plese set Peters' bond at $5,000 and told him she had "really serious concerns about your criminal history."

Peters said he has a "very good job" at a construction company that was set up through a church.
The couple was staying with Peters' mother, according to court testimony, but she told court officials they are no longer allowed there.

Peters was sentenced to 17 years in prison in February 1996, but his conviction and scores of others were overturned in 2004 because the Washington Supreme Court ruled the second-degree murder law was defective. He was re-sentenced in 2005.

Wageman met up with Peters while celebrating her 40th birthday at the Happy Time Tavern, 3506 N. Division St. She was killed at a nearby home where Peters had been staying with his his older gay lover after smoking marijuana and crack cocaine. Peters then used his lover's truck to take Wageman’s body to a friend’s house in Stevens County. Upon arrival, the friend handed Peters a phone so he could turn himself in.

Peters didn't deny killing Wageman but said he didn't remember doing so. Wageman was a single mother who was raising a son who, at the time, was an honor student and musician at Shadle Park High School.

Peters finished his sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla in January 2011 and still is completing his two-year probation term, according to the Washington Department of Corrections.
  

Nationwide manhunt for NY surgeon

Law enforcement officers search the at home of Dr. Timothy Jorden in Hamburg, N.Y., Thursday. Jorden is sought in connection with the hospital shooting death of his ex-girlfriend at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, N.Y. on Wednesday.

Update from the AP: A body found in thick brush Friday morning is believed to be that of a special forces soldier-turned-trauma surgeon who was the subject of a nationwide manhunt after the killing of his ex-girlfriend at a hospital, police said.

CAROLYN THOMPSON,Associated Press
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Surgeon Timothy Jorden saved the lives of patients with gunshot wounds, lived in a big home by Lake Erie and owned four vehicles. He was a product of a working-class neighborhood who became an Army officer before coming home to earn his medical degree.

Now the healer is linked to a killing.

Police across the country were on the lookout Thursday for the 49-year-old trauma surgeon in connection with the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend in a building at the Buffalo hospital complex where they both worked. Police say the former Army weapons expert may be armed and should be considered dangerous.

"He was an excellent surgeon. He saved so many lives. For him to take one is unreal," said a stunned June DuPree, a neighbor of Jorden's in an exclusive cluster of homes on a lakefront bluff.

But she and others also said the affable and accomplished doctor seemed different lately — thinner, not quite as friendly and less meticulous about appearances. Friends of the victim, meanwhile, offered glimpses of a much darker side.

"I saw him at the beginning of the season and noticed how much weight he had lost," DuPree said. "He said, 'Yeah, I lost a little bit.' But it was more than a little bit. It was a lot. He wasn't too friendly that time I saw him. He just didn't want to talk."

The search for Jorden began Wednesday morning when 33-year-old Jacqueline Wisniewski was found shot to death in a stairwell on the campus of the Erie County Medical Center. Police say she was shot four times.

Heather Shipley, a friend of Wisniewski, told WIVB-TV that Wisniewski feared Jorden and that he wouldn't let go after she left him because she believed he was having affairs with other women.

She said Wisniewski told her the doctor had put a GPS tracking device in her car and once held her captive in her home for a day and a half, wielding a knife.

"She told me if anything happened to her, that it was him," Shipley told the station.

Jorden had been involved in two domestic incidents in neighboring Cheektowaga in 2003, police Capt. James Speyer said. He said he couldn't release details but that the incidents did not involve Wisniewski.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda on Thursday called Jorden "a person of interest" in the administrative assistant's death and said a nationwide alert had been issued advising police agencies that he was wanted for questioning. Officers combed through the grounds outside his home and for a second day, an Erie County Sheriff's helicopter circled overhead.

At one point, police dogs were seen near a ravine and neighbor Tom Wrzosek told The Associated Press he'd reported hearing a single shot around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, which he initially dismissed.

"Then my girlfriend mentioned if he committed suicide, someone would have heard it," he said. "That kind of rang a bell."

Derenda said all of Jorden's vehicles were accounted for and investigators were certain he had not crossed the nearby border into Canada.

"He's out there somewhere," he said.

The search comes after a lifetime of achievement for the divorced father of a grown son.

Jorden had been profiled in The Buffalo News as a homegrown success story in 1996 and was among those honored with Buffalo's Black Achievers in Industry award in 2002. As a surgeon at the city's main trauma hospital, he worked long hours and was always ready to respond to a hospital emergency when his cellphone rang.

In his Lakeview neighborhood south of Buffalo, Jorden was described as a friendly neighbor with a busy schedule. Neighbors said he clearly spent a lot of money to keep the grounds of his white, gabled home by the lake manicured and lush.

Things changed dramatically this spring.

Jorden's bushes became overgrown, his grass grew knee-high and a kitchen remodeling job was halted. Jorden, a big man, had lost dozens of pounds. Neighbors thought he was sick.

"He had a lot of money invested in his house and the landscaping. And when I came back from Florida in May, it was really neglected. I was just shocked," said Wrzosek, the neighbor.

"We presumed he was sick, that maybe he had some sort of major ailment," Wrzosek said.

"He was sick," he said. "But not in the way we thought he was sick."

Jorden joined the National Guard in high school, went into the Army after graduation and served with the Army's Special Forces, first as a weapons expert, then as a medic, according to the News.

"Everybody's been made aware of his training and background," Derenda said, "so when individual officers approach him, they'll take proper precautions."

Jorden later attended the University at Buffalo's medical school and did residencies at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., and the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Derenda declined to speculate on whether he may have returned to those areas.

___

Associated Press Writer Michael Hill in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.

Mobster’s girlfriend may appeal sentence

By DENISE LAVOIE,AP Legal Affairs Writer
BOSTON (AP) — The day after the longtime girlfriend of mobster James "Whitey" Bulger was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping him while he was on the run, her lawyer filed a notice in court saying she may appeal.

The one-paragraph document filed in federal court Wednesday says Catherine Greig (pictured) claims her right to appeal to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Though the notice mentions an appeal of the conviction, attorney Kevin Reddington said she is not planning to. The notice can be withdrawn if she decides not to appeal her sentence.

Greig, 61, pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy. She admitted she helped Bulger while he was a fugitive, using false identities, accompanying him to medical appointments and picking up his prescriptions.

Reddington said that Greig was in love with Bulger when she fled Boston with him in 1995 and that she did not believe he was capable of the murders he is accused of committing.

Greig's twin sister wrote in a pre-sentencing letter to the judge that Greig deserved leniency because she "never possessed an evil bone in her body" and wasn't involved in any crimes attributed to Bulger.

Margaret McCusker's letter to U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock said Bulger was charismatic and had "a certain power over people" but added, "I cannot speak to exactly why she left with him."

McCusker wrote that her sister grew up in a family affected by their father's alcoholism and always "had a sense of duty to care for people.

"She has touched many with her kind acts, and her love for animals is unsurpassed," McCusker wrote in the letter, unsealed Wednesday.

She said she did not know whether her sister was alive during the time she was gone with Bulger, who's in his 80s.

Bulger and Greig were apprehended in June 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif. They posed as married retirees from Chicago and had a stash of more than $800,000 in cash and 30 weapons in their apartment when they were captured.

On Tuesday, the judge sentenced Greig to eight years in prison, below the 10-year sentence recommended by prosecutors but well above the 27-month sentence recommended by her attorney.

Bulger, the former leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang and an FBI informant, has pleaded not guilty to charges of participating in 19 murders. He awaits trial.

Under federal rules of appellate procedure, a defendant must file a notice of appeal within 14 days after sentencing. If Greig didn't file the notice, she would be barred from ever considering an appeal, so the notice is a safeguard.

Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, said it is Greig's right to appeal.

Past coverage:

June 29: Case continues against 'Whitey' Bulger

June 24: Boston mob boss hid in plain sight

Report details Gibson’s criminal history

When a man now charged in the 1992 shooting death of a Spokane Valley businessman left prison in the last few years, his brother attended a community meeting defending him. 

Patrick Kevin Gibson's neighbors had been notified of his status as a level 3 sex offender, and Michael Gibson was trying to explain his past crimes and justify his presence in the community.

Michael Gibson told sheriff's detectives he specifically asked his brother if he'd ever killed someone "and Patrick said he had not," according to a police report.

"Patrick did tell Michael that he was the mastermind of everything he had done and had always acted alone," the report says. Michael told detectives that his brother liked to flash his money around and may have been attracted to the excitement of robberies.

Patrick Gibson, 60, (pictured) has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. His trial was temporarily halted Monday because of the last-minute discovery by prosecutors that "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh and an actor had handled the killer's hat after it was left at the scene.

Detectives say Michael was emotional in May 2011 when he learned his brother had been arrested for the nearly 20-year-old homicide.

"His first response was that he would never see Patrick again and that he had placed his own reputation on the line to help Patrick," according to the report.

Michael said he went to bat for Patrick with concerned neighbors and said he told him if he messed up again, he'd be the first to turn him in, police wrote. Gibson has spent most of adult life in prison.

In August 1978, he fired shots at a Utah highway patrolmen who tried to  stop him for a traffic violation as he drove with his wife and her two children.

In November, he and another inmate escaped from jail, stole a car and traveled to Nevada, where he and an accomplice robbed and raped two convenience store clerks. Gibson was arrested three days later near Vancouver B.C.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in May 1979 but paroled in March 1992, about seven months before Cole was murdered.

Police say Gibson worked at a phone company in Stanwood, Wash., as a voice and data man but traveled frequently without his probation officer's permission. He's believed to have committed robberies in Oregon that same year.

The robberies are similar to gunpoint attacks at a clothing store in Coeur d'Alene and Cole's murder, both which occurred on Nov. 7, 1992.

While prosecutors believe Gibson himself got away with murder for nearly 20 years, Gibson  says he's partly responsible for helping convict a major drug lord who nearly got away with the murder of five people in Iowa in 1993, including two girls, ages 6 and 10.

The situation led Gibson to become a member of the federal government's witness protection program and resulted in death sentences for Dustin Lee Honken, 44, (pictured in 2005 by the Associated Press) and Honken's girlfriend, Angela Johnson, 48, though Johnson's sentence was overturned on appeal because of ineffective counsel.

Gibson told Spokane County sheriff's Detective Michael Drapaeu he shared a prison cell with Honken when Honken bragged about killing government witnesses and executing a family that included children.

"I decided to do the right thing," Gibson told Drapaeu, according to court records. "I just tried to make amends for my past wrongs."

It's unclear how exactly Gibson assisted in the case, but media reports say authorities placed an experienced jailhouse informant, Robert McNees, in a cell with Johnson who was able to obtain a map of of the grave sites.

A jury recommended Honken be sentenced to death after a lengthy trial in Sioux City, Iowa, in 2004. News reports at the time say the bodies of his five victims, which included two girls, ages 6 and 10, were found in late 2000 after Johnson drew a map and gave it a jailhouse informant.

Honken, who Iowa news reports say introduced methamphetamine to the state in the early 1990s, already was serving a 27-year sentence for drug trafficking when the bodies were discovered. Gibson was serving a 12-year sentence for bank robbery.

Gibson told Drapeau he would need to be isolated at the jail because he is a protected witness. Drapeau said he informed the jail of that, according to court documents.

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."

Tipster claims reward in Cowell murder

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — A man who wrote a letter pointing to Christopher Scott Wilson as the suspect in a Wenatchee slaying is claiming a reward of up to $38,000.

Theo A. Keyes wrote a letter to police telling them that Wilson (pictured) had once begun choking another girl. That led officers to take a DNA sample that linked him to the death of Mackenzie Cowell, a beauty school classmate.

The body of the 17-year-old was found along the Columbia River in February 2010 near Crescent Bar. She had been struck in the head, strangled and stabbed to death.

Wilson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a plea deal and was sentenced May 23 to 14 years in prison.

The Wenatchee World reports (http://is.gd/xgnVFc ) the 32-year-old Keyes has already received a $2,000 reward from Cowell's mother.

CdA robbery linked to Spokane cold case

Investigators believe a sex offender on trial for the 1992 murder of a Spokane Valley furniture store owner robbed a children's apparel store at gunpoint three hours before the fatal shooting.

A judge has heard testimony from Steve and Teresa Benner, who owned the Kid's Fair clothing store in the Sunset Mall in Coeur d'Alene.

The store was robbed at gunpoint Nov. 7, 1992, about 5 p.m. The couple's two children, ages five and two, were present. The robber ordered employee Kathy Ward to handcuff Steve Benner, then handcuff herself to Benner. He stole their money and credit cards and left.

The Benners told police at the time that he was wearing a fake beard and a black baseball hat that said "Solid Gold." That hat and a piece of the beard was found at the scene of the murder and robbery at Cole's Furniture Store in Spokane Valley, which occurred about 8 p.m. on Nov. 7, 1992.

Store owner Brian Cole was fatally shot when he tried to overpower the robber after the robber said he might harm Cole's wife, who uses a scooter.

Spokane County detectives submitted that beard for DNA testing in late 2010, and it matched a DNA sample from Patrick K. Gibson, who was arrested in May 2011. The Benners identified him from a photo montage as the man who robbed their store.

Gibson's bench trial resumes today before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

Gibson's extensive criminal history includes convictions for rape and robbery in Multnomah County, Ore., in 1979, as well as kidnapping in Nevada in 1978. He was convicted of bank robbery in federal court in California in 1996 and served 12 years in prison.

Media spar w/ Idaho over executions

BOISE - As Idaho’s news media spar with the state in federal court over limits on access to executions, the case has turned a spotlight onto Idaho’s long and consistent history of media witnesses attending its state executions to serve as the eyes and ears of the public. In fact, media witnesses have been present for all but one Idaho execution since 1901, and published detailed accounts of them.

“The body swung not to the right and left, the rope made not a single twist, but facing the sun in the eastern sky, like one standing erect, all that was mortal of Ed Rice was there before his fellows, while the tide of life fast ebbed away,” the Idaho Daily Statesman reported in 1901, recounting the first state execution held at Idaho’s state prison.

Read the rest of Betsy Z. Russell's story here.

Md. man says he ate heart of victim

By KASEY JONES,Associated Press
BALTIMORE (AP) — A 21-year-old college student accused of killing a housemate told police he ate the victim's heart and part of his brain after he died.

 Alexander Kinyua hid the head and hands of the dead man in his family's basement laundry room in a suburb of Baltimore, according to the Harford County Sheriff's Office. Kinyua, a student at Morgan State University, was charged earlier in May in another attack in which the victim was brutally beaten but survived.

Kinyua, a Kenya native, is charged with first-degree murder and other charges in the death of 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie. He was ordered held on no bail.

His public defender did not return a call seeking comment, and a voicemail left at Kinyua's home was not returned.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Monica Worrell said the chief medical examiner had not yet officially identified the body parts, but that authorities believe they are those of Kodie, who was reported missing May 25. His cellphone and wallet were left in the home and police were initially told he had gone for a run.

On Tuesday, Kinyua's father, Antony Kinyua, called detectives and reported that another son, Jarrod, found what he thought were human remains in the house where they all lived in Joppatowne.

Jarrod found two metal tins, which held a human head and two human hands. Police say Jarrod confronted his brother, who said the remains were animals.

According to charging documents, Jarrod and his father went to the basement, where Jarrod "observed that the items he observed were gone and Alex Kinyua was cleaning the container he observed them in."

Detectives obtained a search warrant and found the head and hands in the house. Police say Alexander Kinyua admitted to killing Kodie by cutting him up with a knife and eating his heart and part of his brain.

Authorities say Kinyua told detectives the rest of the body could be found in a trash container at the Town Baptist Church in Harford County where they discovered remains.

The attack comes in the same week as a man in Miami chewed away another man's face along a busy highway and wouldn't stop until an officer shot him to death. Witnesses say 31-year-old Rudy Eugene growled at the officer and continued to chew away. The victim, identified as 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, a homeless man who lived under the causeway, was in critical condition and will be permanently disfigured.

On May 19, Kinyua beat a man with a baseball bat on Morgan's campus, fracturing his skull and making him lose sight in one eye, according to Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

Kinyua was arrested May 20 and released on $220,000 bail.

Morgan officials say Kinyua studied electrical engineering and was also in the ROTC.

According to court records, the victim, Kodie, a native of Ghana, was convicted in November 2008 in Baltimore County of sex offense and assault in September 2007 and harassment, stalking and telephone misuse for making repeated calls in 2007 and 2008 to a woman. He was sentenced to at least a year and a half in jail.

Man gets 6 months in horrific dog cruelty

A Post Falls man who beat his dog with a hammer as his neighbor watched in horror has been sentenced to six months in jail.

 Calvin Franklin Palmer, 53, who served 33 years in prison in Arizona for murder, apologized at his sentencing Friday and said the death of his Akita-pit bull even "traumatized him," according to court records.

"I was the only one who treated her nicely," Palmer said.

He told police he killed the dog after she attacked a cat and he feared she would attack him.

"I'm sorry that someone saw me do that," he said in court Friday, according to a transcript. Palmer was booked into the Kootenai County Jail that day to begin his sentence.

Palmer's neighbors in the 300 block of North Columbia Street in Post Falls called police Dec. 10 and reported the horrific attack.

Tammi Nichols, 40, said her 18-year-old daughter, Carmen Murphy, told her she'd seen Palmer beating the dog with the hammer.

Nichols said she told Palmer "You just traumatized my child," but Palmer "looked at her with a blank look on his face, then swung the hammer at the dog four more times, striking it in the head," according to court documents.

Post Falls police arrived to find the dog dead in a trash can, badly beaten with its throat slit.

Palmer initially lied to police and said he didn't own a dog, according to court documents. When they asked him about dog food at the home, he said he fed it to his cats because he can't afford cat food.

Palmer has been out of prison for about three years after being convicted of robbery and murder in Arizona, according to court records. He works at the Sweetgrass Cafe in Worley, Idaho, according to testimony at his sentencing.

His public defender, Megan Marshall, called for him to serve no jail time for the animal cruelty conviction, saying he'll lose his trailer if he can't work. She said his murder conviction "is following him for the rest of his life," according to court records.

Judge Penny Friedlander instead sentenced him to 180 days in jail but allowed for work release. Friedlander said it was "stunning to the court how anyone could do an act like that to an animal."

Murder suspect’s mental state questioned

A man who told detectives he murdered another methamphetamine addict in a fight over cigarettes will undergo a mental health examination. 

Acquaintances of suspect Shane Caleb Smith, 38, told investigators he is known as “Psycho Shane” and sometimes speaks of imaginary people and vivid hallucinations.

He also often accused people at gunpoint of things they did not do, witnesses told police.

Smith, who is pictured just after his arrest courtesy KHQ-TV, is accused of shooting Warren Scott Flinn on May 12.

Flinn, 44, died at a hospital May 16. 

Smith told detectives he and Flinn (right) had been out “scrapping” for metal near the railroad tracks on Lake Road when they began to argue over cigarettes.

Smith was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court. He was not given a trial date; rather, he was ordered to appear in court July 27 for an update on whether he's competent to stand trial.

Trial begins in ‘92 cold case murder

Trial began Tuesday for a career criminal sex offender linked to a 1992 Spokane homicide by DNA on a fake beard.

 Patrick K. Gibson, 60, is charged with first-degree murder for 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.

The case was featured on "America's Most Wanted" in 1993, but the investigation went cold until detectives in the last few years re-tested evidence and Gibson's DNA was found on the beard, which was left at the murder scene.

Gibson, a level 3 sex offender living in Stanwood, Wash., was arrested in May 2011.

Records show he was convicted of rape and robbery in Multnomah County, Ore., in 1979 after robbing a Portland restaurant, forcing a waitress into his car and raping her at a rest stop. He also was convicted in federal court in Nevada of kidnapping, aiding and abetting and conspiracy to kidnap. He also was convicted in Douglas County, Nev., of robbery after holding up a gas station in 1978, kidnapping a 17-year-old boy and a 19-year-old woman, then sexually assaulting the woman and leaving both tied up.

He served prison time, then was convicted in 1996 of bank robbery and aiding and abetting in federal court in the Eastern District of California. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

According to previously published reports, on the night of Cole's homicide in 1992, police allege Gibson entered the store about 8 p.m. and demanded money, then became angry when he was told they didn't have any cash.

Cole asked the armed assailant if he would harm a handicapped woman, referring to his wife, who used a scooter due to multiple sclerosis. The man replied he “just might,” the sheriff’s office said.
In an apparent attempt to protect his wife, Cole tried to overpower Gibson, authorities said, who fired three shots, hitting Cole in head and chest.

Gibson chose a bench trial instead of a jury trial, meaning Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen will hear the case against him and decide whether there's enough to convict. Testimony began Tuesday.
  

Beauty school killer gets 14+ years

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — A Wenatchee man accused of killing a beauty school classmate pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in a plea deal Wednesday and was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison.

Jury selection had been under way for the trial of Christopher Scott Wilson, 31, who was charged with first-degree murder in the February 2010 death of 17-year-old Mackenzie Cowell.

Wilson also pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, as well as second-degree assault on another woman, under the plea deal.

Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges sentenced Wilson to 171 months.

Bridges noted the toll the case took on the entire community in Wenatchee, an agricultural city that boasts itself as the "Apple Capital of the World." Police investigated the killing for seven months, interviewing more than 800 people, before arresting Wilson for Cowell's murder.

It's almost impossible to find the words for the family of the victim, the family of the defendant or the community, Bridges said.

"It's just too bad for all of us, but I wanted you to know we're all kind of in this together," he said. "So, Mr. Wilson is going to prison."

Wilson showed no emotion during the hearing. Before the trial began, he had rejected a 10-year plea offer.

Reid Cowell, the victim's father, recalled a young, vibrant girl who trusted Wilson and allowed him to lure her to her death.

Cowell was a high school senior and dance team member who also studied at the Academy of Hair Design on weekday afternoons. On the afternoon of Feb. 9, 2010, she told classmates she would only be gone 15 minutes, and surveillance video later showed her walking to her car and driving away.

Police found her abandoned vehicle 5 miles away on a rural road. Four days later, Cowell's body was found on the edge of the Columbia River, some 20 miles south of Wenatchee.

She had been struck in the head, strangled and stabbed to death.

During the investigation, three people reported seeing a person closely matching Wilson's description walking down the road near where Cowell's car had been abandoned. DNA found on duct tape near Cowell's body was linked to Wilson and her DNA was linked to blood found in his apartment.

According to court documents, several people also contacted police with concerns about Wilson after Cowell disappeared. One person wrote a letter to police claiming Wilson was obsessed with dead bodies and serial killers. Another said Wilson told her he liked to "cut people up" when he was working at area funeral homes.

However, a judge barred prosecutors from introducing that work history — or mentioning his tattoo of fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter — at trial, and ruled that the defense may introduce evidence of other suspects.

Prosecutor Gary Riesen said the loss of a 17-year-old girl isn't something one can put a value on in the criminal justice system.

"It's a case where the result of today's hearing probably won't be satisfactory to anyone," he said in court, "but I think it does bring some closure."

Murder suspect known as ‘Psycho Shane’

Acquaintances of a man arrested for the shooting death of another suspected methamphetamine user told detectives he was dangerously unstable and often accused people at gunpoint of things they did not do.

A witness in the investigation of Warren Scott Flinn’s homicide said suspect Shane Caleb Smith, 38, is known as “Psycho Shane” and sometimes speaks of imaginary people and vivid hallucinations, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Smith is pictued in 2004. He now has long, scraggly hair that extends past his shoulders.

Suspect arrested in Valley homicide

Detective Michael Drapeau and investigators with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office remove evidence from a house at 6704 E. Third Ave. in Spokane Valley Tuesday. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

A suspect was arrested today in Spokane Valley for the May 12 shooting death of a 44-year-old man.

Shane Caleb Smith, 38, is accused of murdering Warren Scott Flinn, who was found badly injured May 13.

Flinn (pictured) died May 16 at a local hospital of what the medical examiner’s office ruled were gunshots to his head.

Read the rest of my story here.

Update: Detectives believe Smith shot Flinn in a fight over cigarettes. Read more here.

11 of 12 jurors wanted to convict Moore

Shellye Stark testifies in Spokane County Superior Court on March 12, 2009. (SRarchives)

One juror.

 That's what stood between Brian Leigh Moore and felony convictions for first-degree murder and conspiracy to first-degree murder.

Eleven jurors wanted to convict Moore (pictured left) on both charges, but one juror refused.

A mistrial was declared Monday.

Prosecutors plan to retry Moore, possibly in August or September, for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale Robert Stark (pictured right), who was killed in his home at 1620 S. Maple St., by his estranged wife, Shellye Stark.

 Shellye Stark claimed self-defense and years of domestic abuse but was convicted by a jury, though that conviction was thrown out because of technical errors and she now faces a new trial.

Moore, who turned 46 on May 8, already is a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty to weapons charges in federal court in California related to unregistered guns and homemade silencers found at his warehouse in Anaheim when Spokane police arrested him there in April 2009. Jurors at this trial did not know about those convictions, nor did they know the outcome of Stark's 2009 trial.

Moore traveled to Spokane just before Shellye Stark's trial and met with this reporter at Neato Burrito. He discussed what he said was a history of abuse by Dale Stark against Shellye Stark and said he continued to face questions about the homicide. He alleged misconduct by the police department and said they were grasping at straws. "They've got nothing," he said in March 2009.

But 12 jurors had little trouble convicting Stark (pictured above and left) of first-degree murder.  She was sentenced to 51 years in prison but is back in the Spokane County Jail awaiting her new trial.

Eleven jurors wanted to convict Moore of the same thing. That's after hearing from Moore himself, who admitted to spending some of Dale Stark's money after his death but said he was just trying to help the woman he loved pay her legal bills.

Moore is married, though separated, with one son. In a letter to the federal judge who sentenced him on the weapons charges, Moore said the effects of his arrest and imprisonment have been “to say the least, dramatic.”

“I have lost everything, from my good name, to the respect of my son,” Moore wrote. “I can not begin to express my shame.”

A key witness for the prosecution was Ted Pulver, a private investigator hired by Stark and Moore. He told jurors Moore essentially admitted to helping orchestrate the serving of the restraining order so that Dale Stark would grow angry and Shellye could say she shot him in self defense. (The defense had a witness tell jurors that Pulver does not have a good reputation for telling the truth.)

In his closing argument, Moore's lawyer, Jeff Compton, pointed to what he said was a discrepancy in Pulver's testimony. Pulver told jurors Moore claimed to have had Shellye's son and nephew briefed on the plan, but Compton said the two entered the picture at the last minute after Shellye's sister was badly injured in a car crash with a bull moose while driving to Spokane from Priest River.

“Unless the moose was in on this, unless Brian Moore can control wildlife, what he has claimed to have said by Ted Pulver makes no sense," Compton said. If Moore did plan where “the boys” were to be positioned, shouldn't the son and nephew be charged, too? “How about the moose? Should this be the state of Washington versus Bullwinkle J. Moose?” Compton said.

The moose is a timeless aspect of this case that really does just appear out of nowhere.

In Shellye's 2009 trial, the jury foreman said the moose was viewed as divine intervention that failed. After Moore was arrested, it was revealed in court documents that he'd told his wife he was traveling to the Spokane area because he was working on a case involving a woman who had crashed into a moose. (Moore's wife did not learn of the homicide until June 2008.)

Police say Moore tried to escort women he was having sex with for money to pay for Shellye's defense. A woman he had sex with just after learning of Dale Stark's homicide told police Moore mailed her husband a graphic letter and provocative photos of her after she refused to take money out of her equity line of credit on her home in order to help Shellye.

A yellow Pontiac Solstice convertible bought with Dale Stark's life insurance money remains in Spokane police custody. It was seized in California when Moore was arrested.

Past coverage:

Aug. 6, 2010: Theft charged dropped against Stark's father

New details in Kala Williams homicide

A 20-year-old woman found dead of what police say was significant trauma told a confidant days before she disappeared that she was worried and concerned for her safety.

 Kala Williams got to know Erin Newberry through the Catalyst Project, an organization that helps homeless youth.

Newberry, the group's creative director, said she last saw Williams March 18 as she prepared to try to reconcile with her boyfriend.

The couple were living together in the West Central Neighborhood, but Williams had left after an argument and had been living on the street for the last three days before Newberry saw her in March, Newberry said today. Williams said she was headed back to her boyfriend's house "to make amends, because she didn't want to be out on the street."

"She was a little bit scared," Newberry said. "She was worried about her future."

Williams was reported missing April 2, and her family told police she was using drugs and they were worried about her. Her body was found May 13 in an undeveloped forested area near West 14th Avenue and South Lindeke Street in Spokane.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet released her cause of death, but a search warrant filed today said her body had "obvious significant trauma."

That search warrant was used to examine a Kyocera-brand, Cricket-service cellphone that Williams' 35-year-old boyfriend told police she used. The man said he didn't know where she'd gotten the phone and that he believed it ran out of pre-paid minutes "shortly before she disappeared," police wrote.

Spokane police Detective Chet Gilmore obtained the phone from the man the day after Williams' body was discovered. Family members also identified it as her phone.

Gilmore hopes the phone's internal memory will reveal phone numbers, call logs and possibly text messages that could assist him in finding Williams' killer. Williams' ex-boyfriend has not been named a suspect. Court records show he has a criminal record, but only for drugs and driving convictions, not violent crimes.

Meanwhile, Newberry is grateful for the positive interactions she shared with Williams. She met Williams last October at a retreat for homeless girls. Kala underwent a makeover and posed for glamour shots that Newberry plans to give to her family.

Newberry said she feels as though she "got to know the real Kala, the Kala not clouded by darkness."

"Often times behavior and habits are not true reflections of where the person's at in their spirit, and I really think that was the case for Kala," Newberry said.

In an interview Friday with KHQ, Williams' father cried as he recalled happier times such as playing softball and running Bloomsday together.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Crime Check (509) 455-2233.

Bonner Co. killer faces new gun charge

A Bonner County man who served 10 years in prison for the shooting death of his girlfriend in 1999 could be headed to federal prison under a recent indictment.

George John Bondurant is accused of possessing a a Remington 20-gauge shotgun on May 8, according to a grand jury indictment returned this week in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

He faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years' probation if convicted.

Bondurant is prohibited from possessing firearms because of a felony conviction for involuntary manslaughter in 1999.

Bondurant was 21 when he was accused of shooting to death his girlfriend, Kathryn Oliver, at their home on Shingle Mill Road, northeast of Sandpoint, in February 1999.

Boundurant told investigators Oliver committed suicide. A 911 call played at his sentencing included him begging the emergency workers to hurry to the house as he held the dying Oliver in his arms. But Oliver's family described domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. Read the story from his sentencing in October 1999 here.

Bondurant served 10 years in prison, including credit for time served in jail. He was released from the Twin Falls Community Work Center on Feb. 27, 2009, according to the Idaho Department of Corrections.

A grand jury indicted him on the new charge Tuesday.

Man gets 17 years for 1986 murder

A life of crime likely ended Friday as a Spokane judge sentenced a man to 17 years in prison for the beating, rape and slaying of a 62-year-old woman on Christmas Eve 1986 that was solved only through advances in technology.

Gary L. Trimble, 63, gave the family of Dorothy E. Burdette nothing to explain why he attacked the 62-year-old woman, rolled her in a blanket and left her to the December elements under the Interstate 90 overpass near High Bridge Park.

“The DNA caught me,” Trimble said in a soft, almost inaudible voice. “I don’t remember the crime. I’ve seen the results.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Public records portray Trimble as a longtime felon and alcoholic who spent several years in Washington prisons and has a misdemeanor warrant in Spokane County for allegedly stealing his daughter’s car in 2005. Trimble has misdemeanor warrants in at least two other counties for drunken driving and trespassing. Read much mroe about him here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 4, 2011: Suspect in '86 murder headed back to Spokane

Oct. 25, 2010: Montana man arrested in 1986 death of Spokane woman

Duncan wants to appeal death penalty

BOISE - Notorious multiple murderer Joseph Duncan was back in a Boise courtroom on Friday morning, as lawyers and a federal judge wrangled over setting a date for a new hearing into whether Duncan was mentally competent when he waived appeals of his triple death sentence for torturing and murdering a 9-year-old North Idaho boy.

Duncan, brought to Boise from federal Death Row in Terre Haute, Ind., his hair close-cropped and graying and wearing a baggy white T-shirt, left all the talking to his attorneys on Friday morning. But in December of 2010, he submitted a hand-written, two-page letter to the court saying he now wants to appeal after all.

Read the rest of Betsy Z. Russell's story here.

Duncan due in court in Boise tomorrow

Condemned child killer Joseph Duncan will be in court in Boise today - two days after the seven-year anniversary of his murderous rampage just east of Coeur d'Alene at Wolf Lodge Bay.

Duncan (pictured in April 2011) was to be transported from federal death row in Terre Haute, Ind., to Boise this week. He's to appear before U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge at the courthouse in Boise Friday morning.

The hearing is to consider a motion to appoint San Francisco attorney Michael N. Burt to represent Duncan during his competency hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. Burt specializes in mental health and competency issues, according to the motion.

Duncan represented himself during his death penalty trial in Boise in 2008, though a team of top anti-death penalty attorneys, including high-profile attorney Judy Clarke, stood by to assist. They filed this motion on his behalf.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last July that Duncan should have been given another competency test before being allowed to to act as his own attorney and waive his right to appeal. This move means he'll undergo another one. If he passes, his death penalty stands. If he doesn't, prosecutors may have to retry him. But he's passed competency tests before.

A jury sentenced Duncan to death for the kidnapping, torture and murder of 9-year-old Dylan Groene.

Duncan was sentenced to life in prison for the May 16, 2005, hammer murders of the boy's mother, Brenda Groene, her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, and 13-year-old Slade Groene. Dylan's sister, Shasta, then 8-years-old, also was kidnapped by Duncan, but was rescued at a Coeur d'Alene Denny's on July 2, 2005, where Duncan was arrested.

By that time, Dylan already was dead. Duncan, a fugitive convicted sex offender, shot and killed him in front of Shasta at a remote Montana campground after filming himself torturing the boy.

The case shook the Inland Northwest and prompted bumper stickers that read "Kill Duncan."

Read a blog from Duncan's death penalty trial here.

Past coverage:

July 15, 2005: Duncan a charmer, exploiter
  

Moore defense gives closing argument

Brian Moore's lawyer Jeff Compton thanked jurors for their service and said when the trial ends, they'll go on with their lives.

But, Compton said, "what happens here with Brian Moore stays with him for the rest of his life."

Compton disputed testimony from private investigator Ted Pulver, who told jurors Tuesday that Moore said he had planned where "the boys (Shellye's son and nephew) would be positioned when Dale Stark arrived home.

Compton reminded jurors that they were only there because Shellye's sister had hit a bull moose when driving from Priest River to Spokane to give Shellye a gun. The nephew and son were enlisted to get the gun and help Shellye serve the restraining order instead of her sister. It was a last-minute move that Moore had nothing to do with, Compton said.

"Bottom line is Ted Pulver messed up," Compton said. "Unless the moose was in on this, unless Brian Moore can control wildlife, what he has claimed to have said by Ted Pulver makes no sense."

(The jury foreman in Shellye's first trial said the jurors viewed the moose as divine intervention that failed.)

Compton reminded jurors of Shellye's claim of self defense.

"Before you even look at Brian Moore, you have to look at the claim of self defense," Compton said. "There is no burden for us to prove to you that self defense was necessary."

He reminded jurors of Christopher Stark's testimony that his father had a bad temper and would get very angry and throw things. He emphasized the seriousness of a teen boy being so afraid of his own father.

"No matter how you feel about Shellye Stark's actions," Compton said. This isn't about her. It's about Moore.
Compton said testimony from probate attorney Mel Champagne showed the life insurance wouldn't pay out if Dale was killed.

"Without that, there really is no major motive," Compton said. "This really is a ridiculous sort of plan, because they've set up a plan where the person who need to inherit does the killing. It's absolutely ludicrous, because Shellye Stark couldn't get it (the payout.)"

He said prosecutors seem to think Moore and Shellye were smart enough to plot a ruder but dumb enough to forget to secure the payout.

"It's simply ludicrous to suggest you would miss something so important," Compton said.

Compton also said the idea that Chris Stark's trust fund is a "sham fund" is ridiculous. It was just an 18-year-old kid blowing money.

He said the idea that they plotted the murder to get Dale's assets if ridiculous because Shellye had equal ownership of their assets.

He pointed to the 911 recording of Shellye absolutely hysterical after the shooting as proof it wasn't planned.

"If that's acting, Ms. Stark missed her calling in life," Compton said. "That's beyond Meryl Streep good."
He reminded jurors that there's no proof Moore gained any money through this. No proof of big transactions to his bank accounts, etc.

"There's some big cash withdrawals, that's a fact, but there's no evidence it went to Brian Moore," Compton said.

"The state has twisted this into some plot that never existed," he said. Compton said that, under the state's reasoning, Shellye's entire family should be charged with murder. If Moore said he planned where "the boys" were to be positioned, shouldn't the son and nephew be charged, too?

"How about the moose? Should this be the state of Washington versus Bullwinkle J. Moose?" Compton said.

Compton said jurors can find a conspiracy if they try, but "you can read evil into anything you want."

"In the end, Brian Moore was simply anxious to help the woman he loved," Compton said. "We ask you to send this man home. We ask you to find him not guilty of both counts."

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla is giving a brief rebuttal now. He pointed to Compton's statement that the plan couldn't have exisited because it was so poorly thought out.

"People do riciulous things all the time," Cipolla said. "If they didn't I wouldn't have a job." He said Chris Stark never reported physical abuse by his father, and that Shellye even said in divorce filings that she wasn't afraid, she just wanted to be left alone.

"When did the idea of a restraining order come up? Right there," Cipolla said, pointing to Moore.

"Mr. Moore was not in love with Ms. Stark," Cipolla said. "He was a greedy man."

Cipolla pointed to evidence that Shellye had contacted lawyers like Julie Twyford prior to the shooting. Compton said she was looking for family law attorneys. Cipolla said she already was looking for defense attorneys because she planned to kill her husband as instructed by Brian Moore.

Cipolla reminded jurors that Pulver said Moore - Shellye's pimp - needed money so he could retire.

The jury of nine women and three men will begin deliberating today but is expected to continue Thursday at 9 a.m.

Moore prosecutor gives closing argument

Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell told jurors they've heard evidence of pre-meditated murder of Dale Stark as they hared testimony in the trial of Brian Moore.

"You've also heard evidence of twisted love and manipulation," Haskell said.

He said the actions of Moore and Shellye Stark "took this man right there" as jurors saw a photo of a smiling Dale Stark "and turned him into that man right there" as a photo of Stark's bullet riddled body appeared on a TV screen in front of the jury.

"The reason we're here is because Dale Stark was shot to death. The question before you is 'What is Mr. Moore's liability for that?"

Haskell detailed instructions about the charges - first-degree murder and conspiracy to first-degree murder.

He said jurors don't need proof of an actual written agreement to find evidence of conspiracy.

"You can look at conduct of individuals involved in determine whether or not" it appears they acted in accordance with an agreement," Haskell said.

He pointed to defense lawyer Jeff Compton's statement that this case is an example of law enforcement's imagination running wild, and about Moore's testimony that he was just trying to help Shellye. He also reminded jurors that Shellye traveled to Spokane to obtain a restraining order on her own.

"This is a woman that is so utterly terrified of Dale Stark, according to Brian Moore, that she comes up here on her own to do this herself," Haskell said.

Haskell reminded jurors that Moore told Shellye to get a gun with hollow point bullets. He also questioned Moore's testimony that he never took Shellye to a shooting range in California.

Haskell said Shellye serving the restraining order was key to Moore's plan.

"It gets her in the house. It gets a reason to be there and it gets a reason to kick Dale Stark out of his house," Haskell said. He pointed to testimony from private investigator Ted Pulver, who described to jurors Tuesday Moore's admission of the murder plot.

"This plan as designed to put Dale Stark in the most disadvantageous position he could be in," Haskell said.

Haskell questioned why Shellye asked her 300 pound, 6-foot-2 nephew Dale Johnson to leave before she served the order if she was so deathly afraid of Dale Stark.

Haskell said Dale Stark never had a chance to attack Shellye.

"He came home and he was executed, just per the plan," Haskell said.

Haskell reminded jurors that Moore said he learned of Dale's life insurance policy on the news after the murder, even though Moore wrote a document that mentioned the life insurance well before that. He questioned Moore's honesty on the stand today, reminding jurors that though Moore told them exact dates of threatening phone calls from Dale, he couldn't remember those dates in earlier interviews with police.

Haskell read an email from Dale to Moore in which Dale apologizes, makes no threats and says he'll leave them alone to live their lives.

Haskell also reminded jurors of testimony from probate attorney Mel Champagne that didn't refute the motive for the case as defense lawyers said. Champagne said the trust fund created for Chris Stark was one of the most unique he'd seen.

"In six months, that money was gone," Haskell said. But not before Moore got a new car.

"The state would submit that that trust had everything to do with Brian Moore and Shellye Stark's interest, and very little to do with Christopher Stark's interest," Haskell said.

Haskell reminded them of checks forged from Dale Stark by Christopher Stark, which were cashed by Shellye's father, Curtis Johnson.

He pointed to a letter Moore wrote to Shellye's sister, Donna Haggerty, form jail. Haggerty told jurors she couldn't read it aloud because it would make her sick. Jurors will have that letter during deliberations. He also reminded them that Moore had a credit card belonging to Dale Stark when police arrested him in California.

In conclusion, Haskell reminded jurors tha Moore claimed to be upset by the homicide but then had sex with a secretary on his office couch - the same couch detectives sat on to interview him.

"And when informed of this by Detective Hollenbeck, he laughed and said 'yeah, you're probably sitting in my DNA right now," Haskell told jurors.

Court is on a brief break before Jeff Compton gives his closing argument.

Moore testimony ends; defense rests

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla didn't hold out when he began cross examination of Brian Moore.

His first question touched on what authorities say is a pattern of deceitfulness and sordid behavior by Moore.
Cipolla pointed to Moore's statement that he was very upset when he learned of Shellye's involvement in the homicide.

"Isn't it true on the date of this homicide you were sleeping with another woman?" Cipolla asked.

Moore said that was true.

"So at that time, your love for Ms. Stark wasn't as great as it was today?" Cipolla asked.

Moore said he wouldn't characterize it that way.

Moore also admitted to lying about his education in a sworn document. He said he took the document very seriously "Obviously by your signature and misstatement," Cipolla replied sarcastically.

Cipolla went through emails from Dale Stark and had Moore admit they didn't contain threats to kill.

Cipolla asked Moore why he was accessing Dale's accounts. Moore said Shellye gave him power of attorney.
Cipolla disputed Moore's responses several times as being dishonest, then stopped, saying it would "be fruitless."

On re-cross, Cipolla asked if it would be prudent to provide emails with death threats in the retaining order, and Moore said that it would.

The defense rested. The prosecution recalled Detective Kip Hollenbeck as a rebuttal witness. Cipolla asked Hollenbeck if his reports were accurate, and Hollenbeck said that they were. He said Moore said he never heard direct death threats.

Court is on a break until 1:30 p.m. Jurors will then hear instructions and closing arguments.

Moore denies involvement in Stark killing

Brian Moore told jurors today that he never plotted with Shellye Stark to kill her husband and never planned to stage the shooting to look like self defense.

He said he had no idea Shellye serving her husband with a restraining order would end in a shooting.

"If I had I never would have let her come up here," Moore said.

He said he was shocked to learn of the shooting from Shellye's nephew, Dale Johnson.

"I was hysterical," Moore said. Moore said he learned on the Internet that Stark had been arrested for first-degree murder. "Honestly I was so hysterical I was a little vague on all of this."

Moore said he took the initiative to find a lawyer for Shellye and help her with her legal case. He said he was concerned about getting Shellye out of jail and used his money to help post bail.

Moore said they were looking at at least $80,000 right off the bat. He spent $15,000 initially, then probably that amount again. He said he didn't get extra money from Shellye's son's trust fund, and said the Pontiac Solstice bought with the money was a present from Shellye's son.

Moore said he still plans to marry Shellye Stark.

"My name was put on the car simply because we were going to get married," he said.

Moore, 46, of Orange, Calif., is separated with a 19-year-old son.

 Moore's testimony comes on what could be the last day of his first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder charges for the 2009 shooting death of Shellye Stark's husband, Dale Robert Stark.

Court is on a brief break right now. Then prosecutors will cross examine Moore.

Prior to Moore taking the stand, defense lawyer Jeff Compton called Ted Ponticelli of Post Falls to refute incriminating testimony given Tuesday by private investigator Ted Pulver, who had been hired by Stark and Moore but went to police and said he had concerns about Moore.

Ponticelli said Pulver had a "bad" reputation for truthfulness. Judge Greg Sypolt had limited Pontieclli's testimony to exclude statements about private investigators in Kootenai County not trusting Pulver and the Idaho Department of Corrections not being willing to work with him.

Compton also played the recording of Stark's phone call to 911 the night she shot Dale Stark on Dec. 7, 2009.

Stark is hysterical and difficult to understand as she screams and wails as a dispatcher assures her police are on their way to 1620 S. Maple St.. (Read a past story on the tape here.)

Moore, who described himself as a paralegal and small business owner, told jurors he met Shellye through a website designed to help prostitutes and clients meet each other "and do it in a safe manner."

Moore met Shellye in person when they both arrived to help a mutual friend.

"I was impressed," Moore said. "I mean, she's not a beauty queen. She's not a model…she's a human. When she smiled the room would light up. She had a great personality and she was a great human. I fell in love with her."

Moore said they began to spend time together socially. He denied ever seeing her "professionally" and said he learned she was an escort in September 2007. He also learned she was married.

"I basically told her she needed to file for divorce," Moore said. Why? "She told me she didn't want to be married any longer to this man," Moore said.

So Shellye went to Alaska to meet with Dale and try to settle things. Moore said the agreement they came up with was very unfair to Shellye.

"I was shocked. I was absolutely stunned by the paperwork," Moore said. "…It was something that clearly came about form what I presumed to be duress or stress or some sort of coercion."

Moore said Shellye was expected to pay spousal support, but she had quit working as a prostitute and had no money while Dale was working regularly and making good money.

Moore told jurors he encouraged Shellye to tell her family about her work as a prostitute so Dale couldn't hold it over her anymore. "She had been so abused for so long," Moore told jurors of Stark.

Moore said he's never traveled to Spokane prior to the shooting of Dale Stark, nor had he been to the Maple Street home. He said he never took Shellye to a shoot range or anything of that nature. He told jurors Dale called and threatened to kill them, "so I sent Shellye up here to get a restraining order."

"He was trying to be subtle but he wasn't being subtle," Moore said. "…It's a very subtle form of manipulation."

Moore said he suggested Shellye use the Sheriff's Office to serve the restraining order, but Shellye said she didn't know when Dale was going to be home. Moore said she didn't take her advice because she thought her sister would suffice as protection.

Compton asked Moore if he communicated with Stark via a "throwaway phone" after the murder because a private investigator told him police were monitoring his phone calls. He said he didn't use it prior to the shooting. He said he didn't provide her with a gun and only learned of the shooting afterward from her nephew.

Body is that of missing Spokane woman

A body found Sunday is that of a 20-year-old Spokane woman reported missing April 2.

 Police are investigating Kala Williams’ death as a homicide but declined to release further details Tuesday, citing the ongoing investigation.

Williams’ family told police she had recently been using drugs.

“They were concerned for her safety because of her lifestyle,” said Spokane police Capt. Dave Richards.

Read the rest of my story here.

Murder investigation ‘ongoing, dynamic’

Spokane police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe briefed reporters today on the search for Sharlotte McGill's killer.

"It's really very, very fluid and so there's not an hour-by-hour update that I can provide," said DeRuwe, police spokeswoman. "I just have to trust that the community will trust me when saying we're doing our very best. It's the top priority for us."

DeRuwe reminded people to be aware of their surroundings and trust their instincts.

"I hate to think that people aren't comfortable to go walk on the trails, but I understand why they are," DeRuwe said.

Police continue to compile names of people who could possibly be suspects based on the McGill's description of her killer.

"This is really an ongoing, dynamic investigation," DeRuwe said. "So while names come in, names go out. people are excluded. people are included. You have patrol officers contacting people; detectives talking to people."

"As soon as I have information, I will push it out," she said.

McGill was fatally stabbed to death one week ago today as she walked her dog along the Spokane River in the 1800 block of East South Riverton.

She was able to describe her attacker before she died: a black man in his 30s with a bad eye. No other details were given.

Police said Wednesday that they believe a tip from the community will help them find the killer, but they're urging against racial profiling.

Past coverage:

May 5: Homicide victim's daughter speaks out

May 4: Attacker fatally stabs woman

Police continue homicide investigation

Police believe a tip from a community member will help them find the man who killed a woman along the Spokane River last week, but they’re urging people to use common sense and avoid racial profiling.

“Based on the description we do have from the victim herself … clearly this was a black male,” said Spokane police Major Craig Meidl. “We do have to look at the specific demographics given to us by the victim, but that does not by any means indicate everyone within those demographics is a criminal.”

Meidl briefed reporters on the status of the murder investigation Wednesday, nearly one week after Sharlotte McGill, 55, was fatally stabbed while walking her dog along the Spokane River in the 1800 block of East South Riverton. Police believe the attack was random.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

May 5: Homicide victim's daughter speaks out

May 4: Attacker fatally stabs woman

Testimony begins in Brian Moore case

Prosecutors say the case against Brian Moore will include evidence of not just premeditated murder, greed and financial gain.

"You're gong to hear about twisted love and manipulation."," Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell told jurors during his opening statement this morning.

Haskell told the jury of 10 women and 4 men -  two are alternates - that they'll hear how Moore planned the December 2007 murder of Dale Robert Stark with Stark's estranged wife, Shellye L. Stark in order to access his assets, which included a $400,000 life insurance policy.

"You're going to see evidence and hear evidence that Brian Moore conspired with others to eliminate Dale Stark," Haskell said.

Haskell described the restraining order Stark obtained and the gun she arranged to get from her sister.

"You're going to hear evidence that this gun was in her hands at the request and demand of Brian Moore," Haskell said.

Haskell said Moore planned a way for the restraining order to be served that was "designed to anger Dale Stark and put Shellye in a manufactured self defense position, and this type of defense was researched by Brian Moore."

Dale had a firearm in the kitchen, but it was removed at the request of Moore, Haskell said.

Haskell described Moore researching Dale's bank accounts and assets.

Haskell said Moore set up a "sham trust fund" for Christopher Stark and used the money to by things like a new Pontiac Solstice, which was seized in California when police arrested Moore.

But defense lawyer Jeff Compton said prosecutors are letting their imaginations run wild.

"People are blessed with imaginations, and that's a good thing. But when your imagination runs away from you, if it's not constrained by the facts, it can be kind of a destructive thing," Compton told jurors. "Authorities have not looked at the facts and compared them to their imaginations. They put a worst possible spin on everything that Brian Moore has said and done."

Compton said Moore loves Shellye Stark.

"Everything he did for her was to help her because of the situation she was in with her marriage…what took place on Dec. 8, 2007, was not preplanned but was something that came about because of Shellye Stark's fear of her estranged husband."

Compton told jurors Moore first communicated with Shellye in an online chat room involving prostitution and escorts.

He met her in person in 2007 through another woman he knew in California.

"Brian was immediately impressed with Shellye Stark," Compton said. "She was intelligent. She was funny. She was personable."

Moore was helping Shellye draft a more equitable divorce plan. He was shocked when he learned of the murder and devoted himself to helping Shellye, Compton said. That involved looking at any available financial assets that might help pay for her legal defense, Compton said.

Compton told jurors to pay close attention to the testimony of Mel Champagne, an attorney involved in the probate of Dale Stark's will. Champagne told The Spokesman-Review in 2008 that case "has just mushroomed..It's really fun from a practitioner's point of view, because it's very unusual."

Compton said Champagne's testimony at trial will refute "the existence of the motive."

"You have simple actions by Brian Moore that have been twisted to try to fit a conspiracy theory," Compton said. "There was never any plot on behalf of Brian Moore and Shellye Stark to kill Dale Stark, and Brian Moore certainly didn't assist her in that."

Testifying today were Spokane police officers Mario Juarez and Gene Baldwin, as well as Sgt. Brent Austin, who responded to 1620 S. Maple St. the night Dale Stark was shot to death. The Starks' son, Christopher, also testified.

Christopher Stark said he wanted to stay with his father until his father developed a romantic relationship with a cleaning woman and told Chris she would be moving in.

"There was nothing really I wanted to say to him other than I didn't agree with it," Chris said.

Chris said his father had been trying to get Shellye back. He said his father never hit him and said he never saw him strike Shellye.

"I don't remember ever seeing it," Chris said.

But Chris did say he feared his father.

"He was a rather angry man," Chris said. "When my father got angry, it seemed like the whole world was crashing down." Chris said Dale would yell, flail his arms and throw things. He said he and Shellye would spent hours cleaning up the home after Dale left in a fit of rage.

Chris also described the night of the shooting and the events leading up to it, including his father's reaction to the restraining order. His testimony mirrors testimony given during his mother's trial in 2009. But it includes new information on the trust fund that was established for him after his father's death. Prosecutors are trying to show jurors that Chris got very little of that money, and that Moore used most of it for himself.

Chris told jurors that he went in on a business plan with Moore involving medical marijuana.

Read coverage of that here.

Aug. 6, 2010: Theft charged ddropped against Stark's father

March 22, 2009: Stark jury foreman speaks out

March 4, 2009: Stark jailed for violating release conditions