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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.

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

Murder trial begins for Stark’s boyfriend

Shellye L. Stark is led into court on April 9, 2009. (SpokesmanReview archives)

A murder trial nearly five years in the making begins today in Spokane County Superior Court as jurors begin to hear the case of a California man accused of conspiring with his prostitute-turned-girlfriend to kill her husband in Spokane.

  Brian Leigh Moore, 45, (left) is accused of conspiring to murder Dale Robert Stark to access the man's assets, including a life insurance policy.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt. Moore is represented by Jeff Compton. Mark Cipolla and Larry Haskell are prosecuting.

Stark (pictured right) was shot to death on Dec. 9, 2007, by his estranged wife, Shellye Stark, in what Shellye told jurors was self defense for years of abuse, including forced prostitution.

Jurors convicted her of first-degree murder in March 2009 and she was sentenced to 51 years in prison, but her convictions were overturned because of problems with jury instructions. She's in the Spokane County Jail awaiting trial.

Prosecutors don't beleive Moore was even in the state when Dale Stark was killed, but they beleive he persuaded Shellye to commit the crime and are persuing not only a conspiracy charge against Moore but a first-degree murder charge as well.

Moore was working as a paralegal in Southern California when he met Stark, who advertised online as a traveling prostitute named Nikita Jennifer.

Moore has said his legal work focused on helping women escape prostitution and abusive relationships, but Spokane investigators believe he used that profession to manipulate women with low self-esteem and relationship problems for financial gain.

Stark shot her husband to death after her sister drove a gun down from Priest River, Idaho. Her sister crashed into a bull moose, so Stark's nephew retrieved the gun from the wreckage and gave it to Stark in the parking lot of the hospital where her sister was taken. It wasn't the last we heard from the bull moose - police say Moore, in an attempt to explain his frequent trips to Spokane after the murder, lied to his wife and told her he was working on a legal case for a driver in the area who had hit a bull moose.

A key prosecution witness is Moore and Stark’s former private investigator Ted Pulver, (pictured( who went to police with concerns about Moore. He described Moore as bragging about the plot and discussing Dale Stark’s life insurance policy in detail.

Dale Stark’s life insurance money went to his son with Shellye Stark, who then funneled money to Moore and his mother to pay her legal defense, according to the affidavit.

A 2007 yellow Pontiac Solstice convertible police say Moore and Stark bought with the money remains in police custody.

Also expected to testify is Moore's sister-in-law, who reportedly heard him discuss a big payout from the life insurance policy.

Another witness is Wendy Fox, a former secretary who Moore claims witnessed Dale Stark threaten him and Shellye Stark.

Also subpoenaed to testify was an attorney who worked with Moore, Michael Kendall. Kendall reportedly told police Moore admitted forging Kendall's signature on a Spokane Superior Court document regarding Dale Stark’s will and $400,000 life insurance policy. “Moore told Kendall that he did not reveal all of the details of his knowledge of Dale Stark’s murder because he didn’t want “Shellye Stark to look bad,'” according to court documents.

Spokane police Detective Kip Hollenbeck traveled to Orange County, Calif., in April 2009 to arrest Moore. He was found at a rental warehouse with unregistered guns and homemade silencers. The weapons netted him a 21-month federal prison sentence.

In a letter to the judge who sentenced him, 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.”

It’s the second time prosecutors have pursued murder charges against Moore. They withdrew the original charges in October 2009 after a judge ruled key evidence from Pulver couldn’t be used against Moore. Pulver is allowed to testify against Moore, but he can't discuss his investigation into Shellye.

Murder suspect now facing meth charges

A Spokane man already jailed on a murder charge now faces two drug-dealing charges.

David C. McLaughlin, 22, is accused of selling methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school on Sept. 23 and Sept. 27.

That was more than two months before McLaughlin and Melinda R. Barrera, 31, were arrested for the shooting death of Robert A. Nelson, 46, at 1328 W. Dean Ave.

McLaughlin said he hit Nelson with a bat because Nelson had thrown a phone at Barrera and hit her in the head, detectives say.

Barrera reportedly told detectives that she loaded the gun and “somehow my finger pulled the trigger. Nelson reported his own shooting to 911 and was found dead with a phone in his hand.

Spokane police drug detectives already were familiar with the apartment building - they'd watched a confidential informant go there to buy methamphetamine from McLaughlin on at least two occasions in September, according to court documents.

McLaughlin was said to be under federal investigation, but he has only been charged in Spokane County Superior Court. He already faces a June 18 trial for the murder.

Now he also has a June 25 trial for the drug charges. Barrera also is scheduled for trial June 18. Both suspects are in the Spokane County Jail.

2 cars seized; murder probe continues

Police today seized two cars near the scene of last week's homicide as part of an ongoing effort to find any possible evidence related to the case.

"At this point, we need anything and everything," said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department. "We're not receiving a lot of tips."

Police are canvassing the area of 1800 E. South Riverton today with fliers showing a car battery found where Sharlotte McGill, 55, (pictured) was fatally stabbed in an apparent attack as she walked her dog last Thursday.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information on the battery, which detectives believe may be associated with McGill's killer.

Officers found a car missing a battery while canvassing at an apartment complex right near the scene. That car is being processed for evidence, as is another car that was possibly prowled but not reported, DeRuwe said.

"We are literally going door to door and car to car," DeRuwe said.

Detectives have checked homeless shelters and have contacted recycling centers where car batteries can be sold for scrap, DeRuwe said.

McGill, 55, (pictured) was walking her dog on a trail along with the Spokane River when a stranger jumped from the bushes about 8 a.m. Thursday and repeatedly stabbed her.

Police say the car battery found nearby was stolen in the same area within a few days of the attack and may be associated with the killer.

McGill was able to describe her attacker before she died. Police say she described him as a black man, about 30 years old with a bad eye.

Anyone with information on the battery, or who may have information on the man or may have seen someone similar is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

DeRuwe urged anyone to call, even if they're not sure of what they saw or they think police already know about their information.

As police continue to search for McGill's killer, her daughter said last week that she feels "really sorry for whoever did this." “Because if they had a mother like I did … they wouldn’t have done this to anybody," said Billie McKinney, 24. Read more here.

2 homicide victims killed each other

A fight over an old car near a remote Pend Oreille County lake led to a rare double homicide in which investigators believe the victims killed each other.

No arrests are expected in the homicides of Richard “Richie” R. Hill, 18, and Steven Quinn Divine, 22, early Sunday because investigators believe each is responsible for the others death, officials said Monday.

“One of the victims had a knife, the other had a gun. And the results are they are both deceased,” said Thomas Metzger, Pend Oreille County coroner and prosecutor.

Read the rest of my story here.

‘48 Hours’ to feature Reynolds case

Ronald Reynolds, left, returns to his seat as his wife, Linda Reynolds, looks on and his son Jonathan Reynolds, right, steps up to speak during a news conference at an attorney's office Nov. 10, 2011, in Olympia. Jonathan and Ronald Reynolds say they did not kill Ronda Reynolds in 1998, disputing the conclusion of an inquest jury. They said the accusations against them have been wrecking their lives. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The TV show "48 Hours Mystery" on Saturday will feature the 1998 death of Cheney native Ronda Reynolds, who was found dead of a gunshot wound in her Toledo home.

The former state trooper's death was ruled a suicide, but her mother, Barb Thompson, (left) who lives near Spokane, never believed it. Last year, an inquest jury ruled it was a homcide, and her death certificate was changed.

That was after famed crime author Ann Rule released her book "In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother’s Unceasing Quest for the Truth."

Reynolds graduated from Cheney High School and Eastern Washington University before spending several years as a state trooper. She was considering transferring to a security position with a Spokane department store when she died.

For Reynolds, "Spokane was home," Rule told The Spokesman-Review in October 2010.

“If she’d just gotten away that night, she was planning to fly to Spokane early in the morning, she would still be alive,” Rule said.

Jurors in October named Reynolds' husband, Ronald Reynolds, and her stepson, Jonathan Reynolds, as suspects, but authorties say there is not enough evidence to charge them. They deny involvement and are interviwed by CBS correspondent Peter Van Sant in the "48 Hours" episode, which airs Saturday at 10 p.m. on CBS.

Man gets 31 years for wife’s murder

A Stevens County man who shot his wife to death was sentenced Tuesday to 31 years in prison.

Craig Raymond Cosby, 70, called 911 on Oct. 2, 2009, and said he'd shot his wife, Susan May Cosby, 53.

Susan Cosby (pictured) was found dead of gunshot wounds in the home in the 1200 block of Overlook Boulevard in Marcus, a small town along the Columbia River in northern Stevens County. Craig Cosby was arrested in the front yard and underwent mental evaluations before being declared competent to stand trial.

A jury convicted him of first-degree murder March 30, rejecting his claims of self defense.

Cosby said at his sentencing in Stevens County Superior Court that he did not plan or prepare to murder his wife, and that he did have remorse but hadn't shown it "due to the way he was raised," said Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

Rasmussen said neither drugs nor alcohol, which are common in violent crimes, were a factor. He said Judge Nielson imposed the maximum sentence of 380 months as recommended.

"Previously Judge (Allen) Nielson stated that from what he had heard, Susan was a caring compassionate person who was loved by many people," Rasmussen said in an email. "The fact that she had raised good children was a testimony to her character and nature. "

Past coverage:

Dec. 11: Murder trial delayed for months while judge, prosecutor squabble

Cops recover vest linked to triple murder

Preston Kahanu is pictured in this Feb. 28 photo with his girlfriend, Saundra Warrington, and their baby, Mason, at their home on North Howard Street. (SRPhoto/Colin Mulvany)

Spokane police today seized a bullet proof vest and video game console from the home of a Spokane man who was one of the last people to see triple homicide suspect Dustin W. Gilman alive.

No one was arrested today, but Detective Jeff Barrington said the investigation into the items, which were stolen from the home of triple murder victim Tracy Ader, 32, and her sons, as well as the location of other stolen property, is ongoing

Police located the vest and gaming machine in a home at 4108 N. Howard, where Gilman played video games with Preston Kahanu on Feb. 10, just hours after Gilman is believed to have strangled Ader and her sons, Damien, 10, and Kadin, 8.

Kahanu, 25, told The Spokesman-Review today that he found the vest in a duffel bag in his garage a few weeks ago. He brought into his house but didn't contact police because he says he was scared to talk to them about it. He suspects Gilman, 22, left in the garage and insists he never saw Gilman with it.

Kahanu said police obtained a search warrant for his home after tracking the Internet Protocol address being used by a PlayStation 3 stolen from the Ader home.

Kahanu said Gilman brought that console to his home when he stopped by to play Call of Duty. Kahanu said it was common to do that, and that Gilman said he would pick it up late. So when Gilman was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Feb. 13, Kahanu just figured he would keep it.

"I thought I'd scored a free PS3, but it ended up being stolen," Kahanu said.

Kahanu said police were looking for guns stolen from the Ader home, but they didn't find any at his house. He said Gilman showed him a .357 pistol but no other weapons.

Barrington declined to discuss details of the investigation but said it's ongoing and arrests are possible.

Past coverage:

Feb. 15: Gilman used victim's phone to contact her family

Feb. 14: Gilman called father before bodies were found

Feb. 11: Killer sought in Spokane triple homicide

Murderer with 60+ arrests back in jail

A Spokane man arrested more than 60 times since avoiding prison as a teenager for his role in a murder is back behind bars.

Nicholas Adam Limpert, now 26, is jailed on an unusually high bond of $250,000 for two counts of residential burglary after Spokane police arrested last week him and two other suspects last week for burglaries in the Indian Trail area of north Spokane.

 Limpert’s criminal history began at age 15 with the murder and robbery of a disabled janitor in northwest Spokane. The decision to allow him to be charged as a juvenile angered the victim’s family, who said they doubted he could be rehabilitated. After hearing news last year that he'd been arrested 67 more times, the judge who sentenced him as a juvenile said Limpert "probably should have been tried as an adult" for the murder.

Limpert was arrested for burglary in February 2011 for breaking into a garage to take back items he said were stolen from him when he was beaten, tied up and robbed at a motel earlier that week, according to court records.

Limpert's latest arrested occurred last Wednesday after Spokane police followed a silver Buick Riviera that had been seen in the area around the time of the burglaries.

Officers with the Patrol Anti-Crime Team watched Limpert and suspect Matthew R. Dobson, 24, approach several homes and quickly leave the area. One of the burglarized homes belongs to a clerk for a Spokane County Superior Court judge, according to court documents. They watched the men pick up Nicole Phillips, 29, then drive to the area of 1600 South Perry Street, where the suspects approached another home and left a short while later.

Officers followed the suspects to a home near 39th and Regal and watched the three unload suspect stolen property into a detached garage. The suspects were arrested at the scene.

Even if Limpert does post the $250,000 bond imposed at his first court appearance Thursday, he won't be able to leave jail. The Washington Department of Corrections has a no-bail hold on him for violating his probation for previous property crime convictions.

Limpert's demeanor seems to have changed since he was a boy. He was described as smirking and laughing (pictured left) during his sentencing for first-degree murder in 2001; Spokane police say he’s now well known for crying upon arrest.

Past coverage:

Nov. 30: Repeat offender's arrest reunites family
  

St. Maries woman admits killing uncle

A North Idaho woman who killed her uncle and burned his body has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Melisa R. Bates, 28, is to be sentenced May 18 for the murder of Robert D. Marek, 43, last May at his home eight miles south of St. Maries, where Bates had been staying.

Bates originally was charged with first-degree murder, but the charge was reduced as part of a plea deal approved Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

Bates shot Marek with a handgun before beating him with a metal rod, Benewah County Prosecutor Doug Payne said.

She underwent a psychological evaluation that declared her to fit to stand trial.

3rd man arrested in Rosalia murder

In this January 1997 photo, Marcus Schur, then eight-years-old, uses a wet-vac to suck up the remaining water in a family friend's kitchen after homes along Pine Creek in Rosalia flooded. Schur was murdered in Whitman County in December 2011. (SR archives)

A third suspect has been arrested in the December murder of a 23-year-old Rosalia man whose body recently was recovered from a Whitman County creek.

Lorin Travis Carlon, 35, is accused of helping murder suspects Frank Lazcano, 24, of Pine City, and Daniel Lazcano, 20, of Spokane, try to avoid arrest after the shooting death of Marcus Allen Schur, officials say.

Whitman County sheriff's deputies arrested Carlon Monday on a felony charge of first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

The Lazcano brothers were arrested Friday and remain jailed on murder charges.

Schur's body was pulled from the creek at the south end of Bonnie Lake March 25 after a fisherman spotted his body. An autopsy showed he was shot to death.

Schur had been missing since a dinner party on Dec. 27.

Host Nick Backman told The Spokesman-Review last week that Schur fled the rear door of a home in Malden when one man burst in and chased him out.

Backman said Schur's arms and legs were bound when his body was removed from the lack. He said the chase may have proceeded a home burglary.

Detectives still are investigating a motive, Whitman County Undersheriff Ron Rockness said today.

"Of course, the whole town of Rosalia assumes they know the motive," Rockness said.

Rockness said the suspects knew Schur since childhood.

Schur's mother, Grace Schur, said memorial service plans are not yet finalized. A donation fund to help with expenses has been set up at the Bank of Fairfield.

Schur's uncle, Gene Schur, of Spokane, said he was shocked to learn of his nephew's murder from a TV news station.

"It happens to other people, but when it actually hits home it makes you more aware of what's going on in the community," he said.

It's the first mruder arrest in Whitman County since 2005. A murder-suicide was reported there in 2010.

Man, 20, gets 15 years for ‘07 murder

A 20-year-old man arrested for a 2007 murder was sentenced recently to 15 years in prison.

Derrick Gregory Martin-Armstead (right) also was ordered to pay $6,651 restitution after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for the Nov. 12, 2007, shooting death of Daniel Burgess, 30.

Burgess was killed while in the living room of a home at 2413 N. Dakota Ave.

Martin-Armstead, his girlfriend, Jaleesa D. Anderson, 22; and her brother, Marc A. Anderson, 20 (left), each were charged with a single count of first-degree murder. Martin-Armstead's charge was reduced as part of a plea deal.

The Andersons, who are out of jail on bond, are scheduled to go to trial in June.

Martin-Armstead was arrested Oct. 24 after an informant told police he'd implicated himself in the murder during conversations at the jail in May and June 2008.

Torture dungeon trucker pleads guilty

By MICHAEL GRACZYK,Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas trucker who kept a torture dungeon in the cab of his long-haul rig has avoided the death penalty by accepting life prison sentences for murdering a hitchhiking couple two decades ago.

 Robert Ben Rhoades, who already is serving a life sentence for killing a 14-year-old girl in Illinois, pleaded guilty to two counts of capital murder when he appeared before a West Texas judge this week. He has no chance of parole.

Described by authorities as a sadistic killer, Rhoades was charged with the 1990 abductions and slayings of newlyweds Douglas Scott Zyskowski, 28, and Patricia Walsh, 24. Authorities said the couple left Seattle in November 1989, and were hitchhiking to Georgia to preach the Christian gospel when they accepted a ride from Rhoades near El Paso.

Zyskowski's body was found in January 1990 along Interstate 10 east of Ozona, about 320 miles east of El Paso. He'd been shot, and his body wasn't identified until 1992. The remains of his wife were found in October 1990 by deer hunters in central Utah, but they weren't identified until 13 years later by dental records.

Police believe Rhoades held the woman captive for about a week, systematically torturing and assaulting her before shooting her several times.

Rhoades was initially charged in Utah with her death, but he was later extradited to Texas where authorities said the kidnappings took place. Prosecutors in Ozona said they would seek the death penalty, but his trial was repeatedly delayed since 2009.

Under the plea agreement accepted Monday, the life prison sentences in Texas would keep him behind bars if he somehow gets out of prison in Illinois. The 66-year-old also agreed to waive any rights to appeals and parole. It's unclear whether he'll stay in a Texas prison or be returned to Illinois.

FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap in Houston said agents couldn't comment on the case because investigations involving Rhoades are continuing. District Attorney Laurie English was not available Thursday, and messages left with Rhoades' lawyers were not immediately returned.

Rhoades' Illinois conviction stems from the abduction and slaying of Regina Walters, a 14-year-old runaway from Pasadena, Texas. She disappeared in February 1990 with an 18-year-old boyfriend who told friends they planned to hitchhike to Mexico.

Her body was found months later at an abandoned farm near Greenville, Ill. Her companion has never been located.

By the time Walters' remains were found, Rhoades was in custody — after authorities discovered what was inside his truck.

A state trooper near Casa Grande, Ariz., stopped on I-10 to check on a tractor-trailer with blinking lights in April 1990. He discovered Rhoades inside the cab with a hysterical naked woman who had been chained and shackled to a wall.

She later told investigators that she'd been tortured and whipped, that Rhoades told her he was known as "Whips and Chains" and had been involved in such activity for years.

Houston police found another woman who'd managed to escape from Rhoades and told a similar story of torture. FBI agents called into the case searched his Houston apartment and found torture devices and photos of a teenage girl handcuffed and shackled and in various poses at a barn. The girl subsequently was identified as Walters, who had been strangled with bailing wire attached to a piece of lumber.

Rhoades was convicted and sentenced in Arizona on aggravated assault, sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment charges stemming from the woman being held in his truck, then was charged with the Illinois slaying. He pleaded guilty.

Duncan still getting competency hearing

Condemned serial killer Joseph E. Duncan is getting another day in court.

Duncan, on death row for the torture slaying of a North Idaho boy he abducted in 2005 after slaughtering most of the youngster’s family, will undergo a hearing to determine whether he was mentally competent when he decided to represent himself and waive his appeal rights.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 11: 9th Circuit orders Duncan back into court in Idaho

Full coverage of the Duncan case is available here.

Teen arraigned in veteran’s murder

An 18-year-old man accused of killing a retired principal who was trying to break up an underage party pleaded not guilty today to second-degree murder.

In a hearing before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese, Treven Lewis was given a pre-trial conference date of May 11 and a trial date of May 21, although the case is expected to take many more months to resolve.

Lewis was ordered to remain in jail on $500,000 bond. He's been in custody since March 12, two days after he's accused of punching Frank J. Motta as Motta tried to clear out an underage drinking party at his out-of-town neighbor's request.

Motta, a patients advocate at the Spokane veterans hospital, died later that week.

Read more about Lewis' background here.

Past coverage:

March 16: VA hospital grieving after beaten employee dies

Man gets 8-18 years for road rage death

A North Idaho man who fatally ran over a woman during a 2006 road rage incident was sentenced Monday to 18 years in prison.

 Jonathan Wade Ellington, 51, had been serving a 25-year sentence when the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his convictions last May because of problems with his first trial.

Under the sentence imposed Monday by Kootenai County Judge John Luster, Ellington will be eligible for parole after eight years and credited for time already spent in custody, according to the Associated Press.

A jury convicted Ellington Jan. 31 of second-degree murder for the death of Vonnette Larsen and two counts of aggravated battery for ramming her daughters’ vehicle.

The fatal encounter began when Ellington punched Larsen’s daughters’ car window and the women, and eventually their parents, gave chase at about 90 mph.

Vonnette Larsen's husband fired a .44 Magnum pistol at Ellington seconds before she was run over.

According to the Coeur d'Alene Press, Luster said “poor decisions” were made “across the board” by all the parties involved in the incident.

“I’ll never be able to make sense of the behaviors of that day,” Luster said.

He said the Larsens “clearly” share in the responsibility Vonnette Larsen’s death, even though they have denied so.

Lewis to remain in jail on $500k bond

An 18-year-old man accused of killing a retired principal who was trying to break up an underage party will remain jailed on $500,000 bond.

If Treven Lewis does post bond, he is required to check in with his attorney regularly, refrain from using alcohol and must have no contact with what Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell described as "a lengthy list of people."
 
Lewis' public defender, Kari Reardon, agreed to the conditions and did not ask Superior Court Judge Annette Plese to reduce the $500,000 bond at Lewis' court appearance this afternoon.
 
Lewis' family members attended his court appearance but declined to speak with reporters. Lewis' next court appearance is March 27 at 9 a.m.
 
Haskell noted that Lewis was supposed to stay away from alcohol as part of his conditions for leaving jail on a separate assault charge last summer.
 
Lewis was awaiting trial on that case when he was arrested for the beating of Frank J. Motta, 65, who died last Thursday after being attacked while trying to clear out his neighbor's teen son's drinking party the previous weekend.
 
Witnesses said Lewis pushed Motta to the ground and punched him once in the head after Motta nudged Lewis' girlfriend while telling her and others they needed to leave.
 
Motta, a Vietnam veteran and patient advocate at the Spokane veterans hospital, will be remembered Sunday in a memorial service open only to friends and family.

Lewis' criminal history began at a young age and includes an adult felony conviction and six juvenile misdemeanors.

Last July, he was arrested after a woman rding her bicycle near 1500 E. Upriver Drive told police she saw Lewis slap his girlfriend, then yell at her to get up when she fell to the ground. Lewis posted $1,000 bond, and prosecutors dismissed the misdemeanor assault charge because his girlfriend would not cooperate, accoridng to court documents.

Read more about Lewis' background here.

Past coverage:

March 16: VA hospital grieving after beaten employee dies

Lewis due in court today for murder

An 18-year-old man accused of killing a retired principal who was trying to break up an underage drinking party is to appear in court this afternoon on a murder charge. 

Treven Lewis is scheduled to appear before Judge Annette Plese today at 1:30 p.m.

Lewis will formally hear the new charge against him, will be assigned a court date and will have an opportunity to ask for his bail to be reduced.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla filed the charge on Monday after an autopsy by the Medical Examiner's Office concluded Frank J. Motta, 65, (pictured) died of contusions to the brain because of blunt head injuries. His manner of death was ruled homicide.

Lewis had been jailed on a first-degree assault charge since March 13. Lewis is accused of beating Motta and Motta tried to clear out a party thrown March 10 by a neighbor’s son in the 11800 block of North Bedivere Drive in north Spokane County.

Court records show his criminal activities began at a young age. Read much more here.

Past coverage:

March 16: VA hospital grieving after beaten employee dies

Teen gets 33+ years for torture slaying

A 19-year-old Spokane man was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison recently for his role in the murder and kidnapping of a 22-year-old man whose burned body was found in the back of a car last year.

Justice E. D. Sims, 19, (left) pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping Friday in connection to the slaying of Nicholas J. Thoreson, who was found dead in the trunk of his Thunderbird on Forker Road April 13.

  Detectives believe Sims, his sister Breeanna C. Sims, 20, and Taylor J. Wolf, 21, brutally beat Thoreson (right) in a garage at the Knotty Pines apartment complex, 13615 E. Trent Ave., in Spokane Valley. Sims then fatally shot Thoreson.

In addition to 400 months in prison, Sims was ordered to pay $5,268 restitution.

Wolf is scheduled to begin trial Aug. 20. Breeanna Sims is scheduled to begin trial April 2.

Detectives say Wolf (left) made incriminating statements to Britney Bjork, girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel Ricky Jenks, just after his arrest in April, leading them to charge her with conspiracy to commit perjury, rendering criminal assistance and arson. Bjork is scheduled to begin trial April 16 and is represented by Chris Bugbee.

Detectives say Wolf told Bjork he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, which cite recorded phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

Sims originally was charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty, and the charge was amended to first-degree murder as part of a plea deal.

Also charged in the case is the Simses' half-brother, who pleaded guilty in juvenile court to threatening a witness in the case. The teen is not being named because he was charged as a juvenile.

Emily K. Karlinsey, 19, who is accused of making threatening phone calls to a witness, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault in January and was credited for a day already spent in jail and given two years probation.

Past coverage:

Dec. 6: Murder suspect's love letters seized

May 20: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21: New details released in Forker Road homicide