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Matthew T. Shope told police everything. He led them to the victim’s body, described her murder in detail and, ultimately, gave detectives a solid case against her killer.
But it’s what Shope did - and didn’t do - before his arrest that earned him more than a decade in prison under a sentence imposed Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court.
“He was not the instigator of the incident,” said Deputy Prosecutor John Love. “However, he did not attempt to stop the incident.”
Shope pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2008, strangulation death of 28-year-old Jennifer L. Siria and was sentenced to 134 months in prison.
His accomplice, Michael A. Quinones, 29, was sentenced to 25 years in prison March 25 after pleading guilty to first-degree murder.
“I should have done something,” Shope said today through tears. “I was a coward in the situation and didn’t take action to stop it and I feel terrible for the family.”
Siria’s mother, Patricia, said Shope is an example of “what every parent fears for their child, that their bad choices will take them to a place they’ll never be able to overcome.”
“Why didn’t he run out and pound on doors and call for help?” she said. “I hope he wishes now that he had.”
Quinones and Shope gave Siria $20 to let them stay in her apartment at 537 E. Hawthorne Road but demanded the money back when they decided the leave, which led to Siria’s murder.
Shope feared he would be Quinones’s next victim, defense lawyer Mark Hannibal said. Shope helped Quinones clean the apartment, later telling police “it’s amazing how well you can clean when you’re threatened with your life,” Hannibal said.
A Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy picked Shope and Quinones up near the scene and released Quinones not knowing of the murder. But Shope refused to get out of the car and told the deputy he had an arrest warrant. Not finding one, the deputy drove Shope to Daybreak rehab, where the boy told employees “he had been involved in something that could send him to prison for a long time,” according to court documents.
Had it not been for Shope, “the killer would have gotten away with his crime,” Hannibal said. Hannibal asked Moreno to impose an exceptional low sentence of 114 months (the high-end sentence for first-degree manslaughter), but the judge declined.
“I just simply can’t justify it based on the loss of a life in this case,” she said. “I know that you feel badly. I know you are very remorseful for what you did and didn’t do….(but) the devastation that you caused with your codefendant cannot be ignored.”
Two Spokane residents charged in the ice-pick slaying of a pregnant woman near Tonasket last year face life in prison if convicted by an Okanogan County jury this month.
Tansy Fae-Arwen Mathis, 30 (right), and David Eugene Richards, 34 (left), are accused of killing 25-year-old Michelle L. Kitterman and her unborn baby in an attack authorities say was motivated by an affair Kitterman was having with the husband of Lacey K. Hirst-Pavek, 33, of Tonasket.
Richards and Mathis are charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence if convicted. Kitterman was 11 weeks pregnant when she was found dead on March 1 along a driveway adjacent to Stalder Road, near Tonasket.
Investigators say Hirst-Pavek offered $500 for the killing, then rented a car that detectives said was used in the attack. Hirst-Pavek (right) is awaiting trial on charges of first-degree murder for Kitterman’s slaying and first-degree manslaughter for the death Kitterman’s unborn child.
A key witness against Mathis and Richards is 39-year-old Brent L. “Hollywood” Phillips, of Spokane, who pleaded guilty to Kitterman’s murder March 29.
A plea deal calls for him to get 26 years in prison when he’s sentenced May 11, said Okanogan County Prosecutor Karl Sloan.
Other witnesses include Spokane police investigators who assisted Okanogan County in the investigation because “several of the people (Okanagan investigators) needed to speak with were in Spokane,” Sloan said.
Phillips (left) and Richards lived in Spokane at the time of the murder.
Mathis, formerly of Tonasket, is believed to have met with Hirst-Pavek several times before reaching an agreement to “take care of” Kitterman for $500 and persuading Richards and Phillips to get involved, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said in previously published reports.
Richards is believed to have provided the ice pick, Rogers said.
Lawyer Steve Graham, who’s defending Mathis, said the murder was the “sole work” of Phillips.
A Spokane man who murdered a 7-month-old girl, then assaulted her older brother, faces 12 to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.
Jereme J. Bassett, 24, has been in Spokane County Jail since March 20, 2008, the day his now ex-girlfriend brought her daughter, Nevaeh Alana Miller, to Sacred Heart Medical Center with head trauma so severe doctors said recovery was hopeless.
Bassett recently pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and third-degree assault of a child and will be sentenced May 3.
“I wish he would have burned in Hell instead, but it sounds like this is the best deal we’re going to get,” said Nevaeh’s grandmother, Deborah Parks. “It’ll never replace what he took from us.”
The assault conviction stems from Bassett choking Nevaeh’s 8-year-old half-brother and slamming him into a bed after the children’s mother, Jennifer Wilcox, rushed Nevaeh to the hospital. The boy had commented to Bassett that Nevaeh “was brain dead,” according to court documents.
Bassett was unemployed and regularly watched Nevaeh and the boy while Wilcox worked.
Wilcox returned the day of Bassett’s arrest to find her baby unresponsive in the room she and Bassett shared at the West Wynn Motel on Sunset Boulevard.
Bassett had called her earlier to say Nevaeh had fallen and hit her head but seemed OK. He told police he tried to revive the child, then smoked marijuana with two friends who were visiting.
Nevaeh was pronounced dead on March 22, 2008. Her organs were donated to three babies. Parks said she stays in contact with the parents of the baby who received Nevaeh’s heart.
“That’s made a big difference,” she said.
Bassett has past convictions for possession of a controlled substance, residential burglary, and attempted first-degree theft. His criminal history calls for a standard sentencing range of 144 to 244 months.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese approved Bassett’s plea deal on Thursday, the same day Spokane police announced the arrest of 18-year-old Tyler L. Jamison on accusations that he assaulted his 2-month-old daughter, SkyeLynn.
A jury will soon decide whether a career burglar murdered an elderly Spokane Valley man in 2008.
David K. Brewczynski, 44, is accused of killing 80-year-old Kenneth Cross in a botched burglary at Cross’ Boone Avenue home on Sept. 20, 2008.
A week after the murder, police found Cross’ identification and other personal items in a storage unit Brewczynski rented in southeast Spokane County.
Forensic experts say a bloody shoe print in Cross’ house could match a shoe found in Brewczynski’s home, Deputy Prosecutor Steve Garvin said in his opening statement Wednesday.
Garvin said evidence shows Brewczynski is the killer. But public defender Derek Reid pointed to conflicting statements made by Cross’ housekeeper, Teresa M. Nelson, in an effort to persuade jurors “the government hasn’t done their job.”
Investigators who interviewed Nelson the day of the murder “described her as nervous, fidgety,” Reid said. “At one point, without an explanation, she says ‘I didn’t kill him. I didn’t have anything to do with it,’ ” Reid said.
Read the rest of my story here.
Jury selection is expected to begin this week in the trial of a career burglar accused of killing an 80-year-old Spokane Valley man.
David K. Brewczynski, 44, is charged with first-degree murder and 23 other counts related to four residential burglaries committed around the time Kenneth Cross was found beaten and shot to death in his Boone Avenue home on Sept. 20, 2008. Cross had lived at the home since 1968.
Expected to testify is Cross’s housekeeper, Teresa M. Nelson. Nelson pleaded guilty to first-degree theft in February 2009 for stealing a ring from Cross’s girlfriend’s home. Nelson first told police she met Brewczynski through a dating phone line but has since denied knowing him.
The trial in Spokane County Superior Court is scheduled to last eight days. Judge Annette Plese is presiding.
Brewczynski was arrested in 1997 in what detectives described as a community policing dragnet. (The picture up top is from that arrest.) He was suspected in more than three dozen burglaries. He served seven years in prison but was arrested for burglary just months after his release. (Read the story from 2004 here.)
William G. Mordick, 64, was arrested in Spokane on Feb. 11, 2008, and has been in custody in Orange County, Calif., since. He’s charged with first-degree murder for the death of his wife, Katherine Mordick, who was found dead with her throat slashed in the couple’s Anaheim Hills home on Jan. 22, 1983.
A jury couldn’t reach a verdict after his first trial last fall, according to the Orange County Register. Prosecutors argued Mordick killed his wife “in order to keep custody of his daughters, ages 2 and 4 at the time, and to avoid paying the $650 monthly child support payments,” according to an article you can read here.
Mordick’s second trial is scheduled to begin April 14, but an assistant to defense lawyer Jack Earley said today that it will be postponed to allow more time to prepare.
Mordick owned and operated Photography by Gregory in Spokane beginning in the early 1990s.
(Joel Mills/The Lewiston Tribune)
Sarah Parks’ family badly wants to know how she died.
With that in mind, they are supporting a plea agreement that will send her husband Silas Parks to prison for a maximum of 40 years, Latah County Prosecutor William Thompson Jr. said.
“I think at this point, in addition to wanting to be assured that an appropriate punishment is handed down, they also want to know exactly what happened,” Thompson said.
Silas Parks pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of first-degree arson in connection with the death last year of his pregnant wife, Sarah Parks, a third-grade teacher at Moscow Charter School.
Silas Parks, 26, of Kendrick, Idaho, was initially charged with two counts of first-degree murder and the arson count.
But a plea deal negotiated with the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office reduced the murder charges. It also stipulated that as part of a presentence investigation, Silas Parks will describe in detail how he killed Sarah Parks and then set fire to their Moscow duplex.
Read the rest of the Lewiston Tribune story here.
Michael A. Quinones, 29, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2008, strangulation death of 28-year-old Jennifer L. Siria.
“This was not a planned thing,” Quinones said. “Frankly, I don’t remember half of it. I’m not a brutal savage. This just got out of hand that night. I’m sorry it occurred.”
Another defendant, 19-year-old Matthew T. Shope, is expected to be sentenced for the murder soon.
Read Tom Clouse’s story here.
A man accused of strangling a woman to death over $20 is set to plead guilty and be sentenced today in Spokane County Superior Court.
Michael A. Quinones, 29, is charged with first-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2008, death of Jennifer Lee Siria, 28. Quinones and a teen were panhandling in north Spokane when Siria let them stay at her apartment at 537 E. Hawthorne Road.
Quinones was arrested at a Montana homeless shelter on Oct. 10. His alleged accomplice, Matthew T. Shope, now 19, was already in jail on a first-degree murder charge. His trial is set for April 12.
A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy picked up Shope and Quinones while they were walking in the area of Siria’s apartment at 537 E. Hawthorne Ave. about 3 a.m. Oct. 6, 2008,shortly after authorities believe they killed Siria. The deputy drove the two to Garland Avenue and Division Street, as Quinones had requested, and let Quinones go.
But Shope refused to exit the car and said he’d run away from Daybreak, a teen drug rehabilitation center, and had a warrant in Kootenai County. After dispatchers failed to find an arrest warrant, Palmer drove the boy to Daybreak, where Shope told a caseworker he’d told Palmer about the warrant because Quinones had threatened to kill him and he feared him, according to court records.
As Shope began to wash his bloody clothes, he told his caseworker “he had been involved in something that could send him to prison for a long time,” according to court documents. “Matthew stated that he did not do the act he was talking about but that he did nothing to stop it and had been going through the victim’s belongings when the act was committed.”
Quinones’ sentencing is set for 2:30 p.m. before Judge Maryann Moreno.
By MATT GOURAS (AP)
HELENA, Mont. — A hitchhiker originally sentenced to be executed for the 1951 killing of a Montana man who picked him up during a blizzard has been found running a wedding chapel under an assumed name in Arizona 38 years after he skipped out on parole.
Frank Dryman was found after the victim’s grandson hired an investigator who tracked the fugitive to his Arizona City notary and chapel business, where he was known as Victor Houston.
Now 78, Dryman is awaiting extradition proceedings today, a day after his arrest by the Pinal County sheriff’s office.
Dryman initially received a hanging sentence after a quick trial in 1955. His case became the focus of a battle over the death penalty and frontier justice, and he received a new sentence of life in prison with the help of the Montana Supreme Court.
In 1969, after just 15 years in prison, he was paroled. The Montana Department of Corrections said that today, the soonest a person convicted of murder could gain parole is 30 years. Dryman disappeared three years later. No Montana offender had been missing longer. “He just went into thin air in 1972,” said Clem Pellett, the victim’s grandson. “I don’t think that my grandfather’s death was well represented; it just got lost in all the ideologic conversation of the time.”
Pellett, a surgeon in Bellevue, Wash., pursued the case after first learning details last year while digging through old newspaper clippings in storage. He said the issue was never discussed in the family. Pellett said he was driven by a sense of curiosity, and does not feel like he needs any revenge since he never knew his grandfather Clarence, and knew little about the murder.
Newspaper clippings from the time say that Clarence Pellett stopped to pick up Frank Dryman in 1951 during a spring blizzard near Shelby, a small town in northern Montana. Pellett, who ran a small cafe, was shot seven times in the back as he tried to run away, according to the accounts.
The private investigator hired by the grandson used scores of documents the family dug up from old parole records, the Montana Historical Society and Internet searches to trace Dryman to the Cactus Rose Wedding Chapel. Pellett told Montana corrections officials of the discovery. Officials said Dryman acknowledged his identity to officers.
A call to the wedding chapel Wednesday was not answered.
The Montana Department of Corrections said that Dryman will be sent back to the state prison. He will face a parole revocation hearing within the next few months — and possible resumption of his life in prison sentence.
Pellett said he has learned his family has a long, coincidental history with Dryman. Records show that Pellett’s great aunt once testified in support of Dryman when the then 16-year-old was accused of robbing a liquor store.
“She came to his defense so that he was not labeled as a delinquent,” Pellett said.
Pellett, who only decided to hire a private investigator on a whim during a dinner party conversation, said he is not driven to see Dryman punished.
“The legal system will handle it,” the grandson said. “Whatever they decide is fine with me. I mean he is 78 years old.”
But Pellet, 56, said would like to finish writing the family history of the long trial.
“I want to see if he wants to talk to me,” Pellett said. “I just want to get information. There are holes in the story he could really add to.”
Another man has been arrested in connection with an unsolved gang-related shooting in January.
Justin A. Battle, 29, is accused of possessing the stolen Ruger mini rifle police think was used to kill 38-year-old John S. Williams in an alley behind 5405 N. Crestline on Jan. 17. He was arrested after detectives searched his apartment at 1839 E. Marshall Ave. last week on suspicion that he was selling marijuana.
Police found crack cocaine and marijuana, along with a bullet and a firearm part that belonged to the mini rifle, which was stolen in a burglary in Chattaroy on Jan. 4, according to court documents. Battle is accused of helping a defendant in that burglary sell the mini rifle.
Battle, who was convicted of second-degree burglary in 1998, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court March 18 on charges of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and trafficking in stolen property. He’s out on $10,000 bond.
Three other men, Eric Burton, Jr., Antonio Cook, Jr., and Elexander R. Burgess have already been charged with possessing the mini rifle, which police found in a car rented by Burton. Burton and other reputed gang members were attending a birthday party at the Crestline apartment complex when Williams was killed.
Williams’ mother, Cindy Williams, said she believes the killer was after her grandson, John Williams’ 21-year-old son.
Two men and a juvenile have been charged with the murder of a 17-year-old in Grant County this month.
Luis A. Mejia Nunez, 20 (right); Martin Ochoa Ramos, 41 (left); and a 15-year-old boy are accused of a drive-by shooting that killed Carlos D. Leyva on March 7.
Leyva and two friends were walking in the 1700 block of Road T.5 SW, between the small towns of Mattawa and Beverly, when men inside a passing car flashed hand signs.
The car drove by again, and someone inside fired shots. One killed Leyva, another injured one of his friends in the ankle.
Nunez, of Mattawa, and the 15-year-old, also from Mattawa, were arrested Wednesday. Ramos, of Sunnyside, was arrested Thursday on a felony warrant for being an accomplice to first-degree murder.
The man who shot his wife’s ex-husband before killing himself had been sued for a shooting incident in 2005.
Chad L. Moore, 35, (left) was serving as his own lawyer in a lawsuit filed by 70-year-old Orville Robert Boyd, who accused him of negligence and recklessness in a March 20, 2005, incident near Athol.
Moore and a friend, Ryan W. Beamer, were shooting Glock pistols on a private road about one mile north of Chilco Road when Boyd approached on an ATV with a gunshot to his right chest.
Moore called 911, and Beamer ran up the road to meet medics. Moore told a Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputy he’d been target shooting there since he was a small child, according to a report. The shooting was ruled accidental, and Moore was never charged with a crime. The police report listed his employer as a Coeur d’Alene lumber company. He told police he’s worked there for 15 years.
Boyd sued Moore and Beamer in 2007. Moore began serving as his own lawyer in September “due to lack of funds,” according to a letter he wrote in the Kootenai County District Court file.
A five-day jury trial is scheduled for August.
Moore was found dead last week after an overnight manhunt. Before he killed himself, Moore shot and killed Ryan William Taylor, 28, the ex-husband of his pregnant wife.
Taylor had confronted Moore at his Hayden apartment March 9 after hearing from his ex that Moore hit her.
When Ryan William Taylor showed up at a Hayden apartment Tuesday afternoon, he was there to confront the husband of his ex-wife – a man he believed had been abusing her.
But Taylor, 28, (pictured above with his daughters) never left the property alive. The man he confronted fired four rounds at Taylor, family members say, one striking him in the back of the head.
A search team from Kootenai and Spokane counties found the suspected gunman, Chad Lee Moore, (right) dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound Wednesday morning east of Hayden Lake.
After an overnight manhunt, searchers found Moore’s pickup truck, which had been burned, before spotting his body on a logging road about one mile north of Triangle 7 Road and Hayden Creek Road.
Moore, 35, had a handgun and a military-style rifle with several ammo clips, said Maj. Dan Mattos of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.
“One conclusion drawn is that perhaps he was lying in wait for police, but we’ll never know because he took his own life,” Mattos said. Investigators believe he set fire to the truck (right) before walking down the road and shooting himself.
Moore’s wife, Amber Kern, previously was married to Taylor. Nine months pregnant with Moore’s baby, Kern was taken to a hospital Wednesday but was not expected to give birth immediately, said Taylor’s mother, Barbara Taylor.
Mattos said Moore and Ryan Taylor had ongoing problems.
Barbara Taylor said Kern had called her Tuesday and said Moore had hit her after asking if she’d been talking to Ryan Taylor on the phone.
Taylor was out on a birthday shopping trip with his girlfriend and daughter, Jordan, who turns 12 Friday.
The three stopped by Moore and Kern’s apartment at 10102 N. Government Way, where Taylor found Moore armed with a loaded handgun, Barbara Taylor said.
Read the rest of my story here.
Witnesses to Spokane’s only homicide this year share a common theme, police say: All were there, but all say they know nothing about the early morning shooting that left a man dead in an alley.
Six weeks after John S. “Q” Williams, 38, was killed outside a birthday celebration attended by Atlantic Drive Crips gang members, four men have been charged with drug or gun crimes connected to the shooting, but police haven’t identified the killer.
“This is not a simple investigation,” said Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.
Those arrested include Eric Burton Jr., (right) and Antonio E. Cook, Jr. (left).
A similar gang-related homicide in 2007 ended in an unusual plea deal that gave the alleged shooter credit for about a year served in the county jail and a conviction for manslaughter after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict. (Read about here.)
Details in newly filed court documents reveal similar problems for investigators trying to solve the city’s latest gang-related homicide: uncooperative witnesses who have criminal backgrounds, gang loyalties, a disdain for police and a fear of retaliation.
Read the rest of my story here.
Past coverage: Police find gun used in slaying
A Grant County teenager was killed Sunday in a drive-by shooting that also injured another boy in the ankle.
Carlos D. Leyva, 17, of Beverly, was shot to death about 6:18 p.m. on a road about 5 miles north of Mattawa. Investigators haven’t identified his killer but say the shooting appears to be connected to a gold or tan Nissan-type vehicle.
An unknown number of people inside that vehicle argued with Leyva and two other boys before the shooting in the 1700 block of Road T.5 SW, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
The three boys were walking between Mattawa and Beverly when the shooting occurred.
The second victim was treated and released at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake. The third boy was not injured.
Neither witness is cooperating with investigators, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators aren’t sure if the shooting is part of the increase in gang violence the county has seen over the last few years, said Undersheriff John Turley.
Read about a recent homicide in Grant County, a triple murder in December: Man told police he killed for revenge
A key witness in an upcoming murder trial is in jail after investigators say she broke contact with them.
Colleen Sue Janson, 49, was booked just after midnight Friday on a $100,000 material witness warrant out of Spokane County Superior Court, and a misdemeanor warrant for third-degree driving while license suspended.
Crime Stoppers had offered a reward for information leading to her capture on Thursday.
Janson is expected to testify next month at the trial of Terry L. Conner, a 53-year-old Spokane man accused of stabbing another man to death in an apartment at 2614 E. Third Ave on Dec. 7, 2008.
Aaron D. Lyon, 30, also is charged with the murder of Timothy G. Eby, 50. His trial is set for April. Both men are jailed on $1 million bonds.
Police think the men stabbed Eby to death in a drug-related robbery that netted $7.25, according to court documents.
Janson had been staying with Lyon and Conner at the Bel Air motel, 1303 E. Sprague, at the time of the crime.
Investigators think she may have broken contact with them “because of an ongoing drug and alcohol problem,” according to a news release.
Court documents show Janson is not believed to have been present when Eby was killed, but she told police she had heard Lyon and Conner planning the murder, and that Conner bragged about having killed other people.
Janson told police she’d asked Lyon and Conner where they were going before the murder, and “Conner said they were going to rob the drug dealer who burned Lyon for $40,” according to court documents.
Janson fell asleep and was awakened when the men returned and Conner was yelling at Lyon, saying Eby should have had $2,000, according to court documents.
When Janson asked what was wrong, Conner “grabbed her by the sweatshirt and said that he just ‘stabbed the (expletive deleted) 15 times for $7.25, what do you think of that you dumb (expletive deleted)’?”
Read a previous story: Slaying may have been over $7.25
An elderly woman beaten to death her in home. Her apartment ransacked and several silver coins missing, but few clues left behind to identify her killer.
The 1984 murder of 87-year-old Ruby M. Miller stumped Spokane police detectives and frightened neighbors near her East Riverside home, where she known as “The Cat Lady” - a woman who had little but felt safe.
Now, more than 25 years later, detectives have identified a 74-year-old woman they consider a “person of interest” in Miller’s murder.
Spokane retiree Neomi Jensen has been questioned but not charged, said police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.
“We want to make sure the case is rock solid, but at this point our biggest lead in the case in Jensen,” DeRuwe said. But, she said, “we don’t feel she’s a threat to the community.”
Read the rest of my story here, with links to past coverage.
A man who rejected a plea deal last month in connection with a fatal stabbing changed his mind and will spend the next year in prison after pleading guilty today.
Christopher R. Harper, 28, had been charged with second-degree murder following the March 3 stabbing death of 19-year-old Michael “Mickey” Lyng. However, prosecutors agreed with assistant public defender Al Rossi to allow Harper to plead guilty to two felony charges of riot.
Superior Court Judge Annette Plese approved the deal this morning and accepted Harper’s plea. As a result, Harper was sentenced to 24 months in jail, but that time will be cut in half because Harper will be credited for having already spent about a year in jail awaiting trial.
Rossi said he believed he could have won Christopher Harper’s acquittal. But if he didn’t, Harper would have faced a much longer prison sentence.
Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story by clicking the link below.
A Deer Park man accused of murdering a witness in an assault case against him will avoid the death penalty because of prosecutors mismanaged the case, a judge ruled today.
Spokane County prosecutors failed to disclose for months pertinent statements from suspect Christopher H. Devlin’s alleged accomplice that raise questions about where the slaying occurred.
Although a legal technicality, the statements from co-defendant Carl A. Hoskins that the victim, 52-year-old Daniel D. Heily of Chattaroy, was killed in Stevens County instead of Spokane County are critical to the question of proper jurisdiction.
Devlin’s defense lawyers weren’t told of the discrepancy until months after he requested to move his case to Stevens County.
Meanwhile, the county spent tens of thousands of dollars on defense lawyers qualified for death penalty cases, and a legal debate raged over the proper county to hold the expensive trial.
Hoskin’s statements about the location of the murder could have been used to support Devlin’s change-of-venue request, lawyers Mark Vovos, of Spokane, and Roger Hunko, of Yakima, argued.
Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque agreed, ruling this morning that the mismanagement by prosecutors was inadvertent but affected Devlin’s right to a fair trial. Devlin’s trial is set for July 19.
Prosecutors are expecting to to take longer because Vovos, a longtime trial lawyer, is involved.
“Normally, I would say 1 to 2(weeks),” said Larry Steinmetz. “With Mr. Vovos, I would say 3 to 4.”
Read the rest of my story: No death penalty in Deer Park case
Read a declaration from John Rodgers, director of the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office, here.
Past coverage: County balks at case transfer
Burton Jr., is charged
with illegal weapons possession after police determined a semiautomatic rifle
used to kill John S. Williams, III on Jan. 17 belonged to
Police found Williams, 38, dead in
an alley outside an apartment building at 5405 N. Crestline about 3:40 a.m.,
He volunteered to be taken to the police station for questioning, where he told police he’d driven a rented 2008 Nissan Altima to the party. Police found the gun used to kill Williams in the back of that Altima.
About 40 people had gathered at
One man told police he’d heard two or three gunshots “and then heard someone saying ‘What did I do? What did I do?,’” according to a search warrant.
A defense lawyer listed in court
This year’s shooting victim, Williams, was at the birthday party on Crestline with his 21-year-old son, police said.
Williams was enrolled at the Spokane Community College
“It’s hard right now,” he said. “There’s no work out there.”
A man arrested in a fatal stabbing last year turned down a plea deal today that would have sent him to prison for two years on riot charges.
Instead, Christopher Harper, 28, will go to trial on one count of second-degree murder for the March 3, 2009, stabbing death of Michael ” Mickey” Lyng, 19. He was scheduled to be sentenced today but backed out, said his public defender, Al Rossi.
Trial is set for late February. Harper is the last of three defendants facing charges for Lyng’s death.
His younger brother, Joseph T. Harper, 25, was sentenced to 75 months in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter in December. Robert T. Waters, 28, was sentenced to 65 months on Wednesday after pleading to the same charge.
“Each person who was arrested was in a little bit of a different circumstance,” Rossi said.
Joseph Harper stabbed Lyng in the upper back, but the fatal stab wound came from a larger knife wielded by one of his co-defendants, Harper’s public defender, Dick Sanger, said last month.
Chris Harper’s wife, Amie C. Schott, 20, is accused of driving the Harper brothers from the scene of the crime. She’s scheduled to go to trial next month on three counts of first-degree rendering criminal assistance.
Schott married Christopher Harper after he was in jail and unsuccessfully asked a judge in July to lift a no-contact order between them.
Lyng was at Joseph Harper’s home, 1008 W. Spofford Ave., when he stepped into a fight between Harper and another man over allegations that Harper had hit the man’s girlfriend.
Shortly after the fight, Lyng was at an apartment at 916 W. Augusta Ave. when he had a threatening telephone conversation with one of the defendants.
The three men showed up outside the apartment, and a brawl ensued before Lyng was stabbed.
Detectives recovered two knives – one from under the Maple Street Bridge – believed to be used in the killing.
A Spokane man who killed his estranged wife, then impersonated her on MySpace to try duping family members into thinking she was still alive, will spend 18 years in prison, a judge ruled today.
Uriah J. Brosnan, 34, (pictured above, courtesy KHQ) pleaded guilty to the Jan. 28, 2009, beating death of Becky Brosnan, 32, in December in a plea deal that called for him to serve 220 months, the most possible for second-degree murder.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen imposed that sentence today after about two hours of testimony from family, including Uriah Brosnan’s current girlfriend.
“This was a vicious murder that went on for some period of time,” said Eitzen. “220 months is all the law allows me to impose, and I apologize for that because I don’t think it’s long enough.”
The Brosnans were married for about 10 years and had two children before a contentious divorce sparked the ongoing custody dispute that court documents say led to Becky Brosnan’s murder.
Detectives found her body Feb. 9 in a debris pile behind a roofing company where Uriah Brosnan worked.
Police have seized guns and drugs as part of their probe into the city’s first homicide this year, a suspected gang-related shooting early Sunday in a north Spokane alley.
Multiple shots were fired after fighting partygoers spilled from an apartment at 5403 N. Crestline St. into the muddy alley. The gunfire killed a 38-year-old man, whom friends and neighbors identified as John Williams.
Neighbors said it sounded like fireworks as at least 15 bullets riddled garages and fences.
“I sprang out of bed when I realized it was gunshots. It freaked me out, so I made sure my doors were locked,” said Aimee Kowell, who lives with her three school-age boys across the alley.
Read the rest of John Stucke’s story here.
A judge will decide Friday if accused murderer Cole Strandberg is competent to stand trial for the crossbow killing of a 22-year-old Spokane woman two years ago.
During a two-day hearing this week in Spokane County Superior Court, prosecutors argued Strandberg was faking signs of a mental condition.
Doctors from Eastern State Hospital said if he ever was afflicted with anything it was because of his methamphetamine use. (Strandberg's shown left in a December 2007 family photo, but he's lost a lot of weight in jail.)
His defense lawyer, Chris Bugbee, says those doctors ignored key details about Strandberg in order to fit their preconceived opinions. He argues that Strandberg is mentally incompetent to stand trial and needs treatment.
Doctors from Sacred Heart Medical Center have for years diagnosed Strandberg as a paranoid schizophrenic.
Strandberg's mother, Barbara Strandberg, testified on Tuesday that his problems seemed to begin when he reached puberty. “His interests were bizarre and different,” she said.
“Talking to him would be impossible.”
Her testimony echoed much of what she said about a week after her son's arrest in 2008. (Read the story here.)
Strandberg is charged with first-degree aggravated murder for the brutal slaying of 22-year-old Jennifer M. Bergeron on Jan. 7, 2008. (Read past coverage here )
He faces additional charges of second-degree assault, third-degree assault and harassment for four alleged incidents with jailers, his former attorney and a psychologist.
Judge Tari Eitzen is expected to rule on Strandberg's mental competency Friday afternoon.
Uriah J. Brosnan, 33, pleaded guilty to the Jan. 28 beating death of Becky Brosnan, 32, last week. The plea deal calls for him to serve 220 months, the high end of the standard sentence for second-degree murder, said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Love.
“I’m just glad we don’t have to put the kids through a trial,” said Tina Crone, Becky Brosnan’s stepmother. Crone is caring for the Brosnans’ children, ages 6 and 11. “It’s the easy way out for him, but what else is new?”
Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.
A Mead man accused of killing his wife in front of their 11-year-old son has been charged with second-degree murder.
Sheriff’s detectives recommended charging Jeffery N. Canino, 46, with first-degree murder for the Dec. 2 stabbing death of Michelle Canino at their Mead home, but prosecutors felt evidence only supported the lesser charge.
The difference in charges means prosecutors won’t be trying to prove that Canino planned to kill Michelle Canino but that he did intend to kill her when he stabbed her.
“It didn’t appear that this was any kind of huge thought out plan; it was something he thought to do that morning,” said Deputy Prosecutor John Love.
Canino appeared in Spokane County Superior Court via video today, where his bail was set at $1.5 million, a reduction from the $2.5 million imposed at his first court appearance Dec. 7.
The second-degree murder charge includes domestic violence and weapons enhancements which Love said can put Canino behind bars just as long as a first-degree murder charge can, 20 years to life.
A Spokane man badly beaten in an alley late last month died this week and two teenage suspects have been charged with his murder.
Police say a print on the face of Kent S. Moses, 60, matched a shoe worn by Nicholas A. Parrish, who is charged with first-degree murder. His alleged accomplice, Justin A. Summa, is charged with second-degree murder.
Both boys turned 17 in October.
Parrish is in Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center on $150,000 bond after appearing in court today; Summa is out on $100,000 bond.
An apparent barroom altercation turned deadly early Saturday morning in Coeur d’Alene. Timothy I. Williams, who went by the name Timothy Wolfe, of Worley, Idaho, was shot in the head about 2:15 a.m. Saturday as he and a group friends were walking near Third Street and Indiana in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Wolfe, 21, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, was taken to Kootenai Medical Center, where he later was declared clinically dead. Juan C. Aldana Villanueva, 22, of Post Falls, was arrested later Saturday on charges of first-degree murder. “The whole Coeur d’Alene Tribe is mourning (Wolfe’s) loss,” said Chairman Chief Allan. “He was a great young man. He had a lot of potential. A great smile, a great personality. He was loved by everybody”/SR. More here.
Good morning, Netizens…
As we creep forth from our repose in the beginning of yet another week, I cannot help but be mindful of the number of innocents that were killed last week in a flurry of murders across our country. The shootings came during a particularly violent three days across the U.S., with shootings that left 14 dead in Binghamton, N.Y., and six dead in Washington state, where a father shot five of his children, ages 7 to 16, using a rifle, and later, himself. It also follows just two weeks after four police officers were fatally shot in Oakland, Calif., in the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001. Last month, a North Carolina man shot and killed eight people before police shot him and ended the rampage, and a 28-year-old man killed 10 people, including his mother and four other relatives, across two rural Alabama counties before killing himself. When will the rampage end?
In this picture, Tina Nguyen, second from left, prays with relatives of shooting victims Lan Ho and Long Huynh outside the American Civic Association in Binghamton, N.Y. where Jiverly Wong killed 13 people in a shooting rampage at the immigrant community center on Friday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (April 05, 2009)
On one hand, I mourn the death of so many innocent people whose only sin, it seems, is that they were all trying to improve their plight in life through education, attempting to learn the English language so they could better integrate into American society. Mayhem and murder seems to be lurching around our country looking for their next victims, and one has to wonder when, where or how it can be stopped.
In another story, here: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/apr/05/robbery-suspect-surrenders-in-yakima/ a man held up a convenience store with a gun while his 9 year-old daughter stood by his side. When he pulled the gun on the store clerk, did he ever once consider whether the clerk might pull his gun, thus beginning a deadly gunfight? Did he ask his daughter her opinion? He narrowly averted another tragedy, and I wonder if his daughter, now reunited with her mother, knows how to pray.
Some sociologists suggest the mayhem and murder will not stop until the economy improves, and perhaps that is true, for social unrest often does follow the path of financial hardships. This, of course, does little to sway the eternal question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.
However, the underlying message inherent in this picture is the young people themselves, who are praying. In an age when and where our offspring have lost sight of their relationships to God, where they seemingly have lost their ability to feel humility, when the only times they appear in the news media is shortly after they face arrests or indictment, it is refreshing to see them in a gentler light.
That seems like a good way to start the new week, hopefully free of more murder and mayhem as we approach the Easter Holiday.