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Melted and lit candles mix on the curb at the Ader family memorial at Heroy Avenue and Whitehouse Street Sunday. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)
A mother and her two sons killed in a triple homicide last week will be remembered Sunday.
The public is invited to attend the memorial service for Tracy Ader, 32, and her sons Damien, 10, and Kadin, 8, who police say were strangled in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St. Friday by Dustin William Gilman, 22.
Gilman, who had been staying with the family for several months, was found dead Monday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.
Ader's stepfather, Steve Ponsness, said today that the public has been overwhelming supportive. They're holding the service at Turning Point Open Bible church, 11911 N. Division St., at 3 p.m. to make sure everyone can attend.
“The public has just been awesome, so how could I deny the public from being there?” Ponsness said. “That'd be just stupid.”
Ponsness' brother, Dave, will host the service.
“God has given me the strength to be able to basically deal with everything and not break down emotionally,” Ponsness said. “Until yesterday.”
Ader and her sons were found dead in the basement of the home Friday. The boys’ bodies were located near marijuana plants in the basement.
Ponsness said Tracy's husband, Nick, is authorized to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes because of ailments like gouty arthritis.
Tracy was visiting him in the hospital Thursday and Friday, where he was being treated for pancreatitis, when she returned home Friday to check on the boys, who weren't in school that morning.
The police investigation into the triple homicide is ongoing.
Ponsess said he's still struggling to understand why thishappened, though he realizes he may never know.
“It's almost like he had a split personality, because there's no way in this world I would have ever suspected him of doing something like this, because those kids loved him,” Ponsness said of Gilman.
He said Damien and Kadin fought like brothers do, but “I was watching them mature to the point where I could just see them growing up into a great little young men,” Ponsness said. “To have them ripped away like that is just something that's really hard to swallow.”
A fund to help cover funeral expenses for the Aders is available at Numerica Credit Union.
Triple murder suspect Dustin William Gilman used his victim’s cellphone to text message her husband after he killed her, according to new court documents.
Nick Ader, who was in the hospital with pancreatitis, told police he received two text messages from his wife’s phone at 9:49 a.m. and 9:51 a.m. Friday saying she was taking one of their sons to the hospital because of a fever.
(AP) EVERETT — Lawyers spent more than two hours arguing whether a woman charged with murder should be allowed to eat Cocoa Puffs and other snacks while in the county jail, the Everett Herald reported Tuesday.
And they're not done. Another hearing is scheduled for March, when a judge is expected to decide if jail staff must allow the woman access to the Snohomish County Jail's commissary, the paper said.
Attorneys for Holly Grigsby and David “Joey” Pedersen have filed motions complaining about jail conditions and that their clients are not allowed to use the jail store to supplement their meals. A hearing on the complaint went on for more than two hours Monday.
The pair are accused of killing Pedersen's father, David “Red” Pedersen, and his wife, DeeDee, of Everett, last September. Police believe the pair also killed two other people — an Oregon teenager and a disabled California man — in October before their capture in northern California.
Staff at the Snohomish County Jail said that inmates like Grigsby and Pedersen are denied commissary rights since they are maximum-security prisoners and because sugary snacks can be used to make jailhouse alcohol. Grigsby wanted to buy Cocoa Puffs and coffee.
Grigsby defense lawyer, Pete Mazzone, said it violates his client's constitutional rights to deny her access to the commissary based on the nature of the charges against her.
The Herald said Grigsby has received several violations since she's been incarcerated, including trying to brew alcohol in her cell.
Grigsby and Pedersen are white supremacists who reportedly claimed they wanted to “kill more Jews.”
A sex offender suspected of killing a Spokane woman who was working as a prostitute last August has been charged with murder.
Derrick Ross Vargas, 25, is to appear in Superior Court today on a first-degree murder charge for the brutal slaying of Evon M. Moore, 48, whose body was found in an alley near North Ralph Street and East Riverside Avenue Aug. 13.
Vargas was released from federal prison on Aug. 2 after serving about four years for having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl when he was 19.
He's been in the Spokane County Jail since Sept. 23 after a Washington State Patrol trooper contacted him during a traffic stop and a woman jumped out of his truck and said she'd been raped.
Police say the woman was working as a prostitute on East Sprague Avenue when she met Vargas.
Police realized Vargas' truck matched a truck seen on the surveillance video near where Moore's body was found.
Detectives found a pair of shoes with blood on them in Vargas' East Trent Avenue apartment that matched the shoe tread pattern found near Moore's body. They also found a purse believed to belong to Moore, who was a student at Spokane Community College.
Tracy Ader and her sons, 10-year-old Damien and 8-year-old Kadin, are shown in this undated family photo.
A man suspected of murdering a woman and her two sons told his father he’d shot someone before police even knew there was a crime scene Friday.
Spokane police were notified by 911 about 6:38 p.m. that Larry Gilman was talking to his son, Dustin Gilman, on the phone and that his son had confessed to shooting someone and said he was lost in the woods.
Larry Gilman told police that his son told him he’d been “partying all night on the South Hill” when he woke up with a gun and a dead person next to him, according to information released Tuesday.
The body of Dustin Gilman is placed in the medical examiner’s van after it was discovered on property along the Little Spokane River on Monday. (Colin Mulvany/SRphoto)
A tracked cell phone signal led police Monday to the body of the suspected killer they’d been hunting ever since a mother and her two children were found dead Friday in their North Spokane home.
A police dog found 22-year-old Dustin William Gilman’s body in on a forested hillside near the Wandermere area, just north of Spokane city limits, about 10 a.m.
Gilman’s father and others had speculated earlier that he’d shot himself after fleeing the murder scene but Spokane police did not disclose how the suspect died or whether firearms were found near the body.
Gilman is the only suspect in the murders of Tracy Ann Ader, 32, and her sons, 8-year-old Kadin, and 10-year-old Damien, who were found dead in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St.
A Bonner County man on Monday was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 19-year man who was reported missing in September and found recently buried in a shallow grave, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Austin Blake Thrasher, 19, (left) is accused of killing Michael Wyatt Smith, (right) the sheriff’s office said.
Thrasher’s wife, Jennifer Dunnagan Thrasher, 22, (bottom left) and Christopher Garlin, 19, (bottom right) each face a charge of accessory to murder.
Smith was reported missing Sept. 15 from a residence on the Hope Peninsula and was last seen walking on Penninsula Road in Hope on Sept. 13, the office reported.
Detectives received a tip early last month that a 19-year-old was picked up near Hope “on the pretense of attending a party,” the news release said.
Detectives were told that the teen was instead driven to a woods, shot twice and moved to an unknown location and buried.
Detectives found Smith’s body in a shallow grave on private property off of Wellington Road, north of Hope, the news release said.
The defendants already were in the Bonner County Jail when they became suspects in Smith’s murder.
Last month they were arrested in connection with the burglary of Pawn Now in Ponderay.
Three Bonner County residents have been charged with the murder of Michael Wyatt Smith, 19, (below) who was last seen walking along Peninsula Road in Hope, Idaho, at 11 p.m. Sept. 13, according to the Bonner County Sheriff's Office. Austin Thrasher, 19, (upper left) Thrasher's wife, Jennifer, 22, (middle) and Christopher Garlin, 19, (upper right) of the Cocalalla and Hope areas were arrested after several vehicles and firearms were seized by the authorities. The sheriff's department was tipped off to the possible murder of Smith on Jan. 6. His body has since been found in a shallow grave off Wellington Road in the Rapid Lightening area. Next of kin were notified in California last week. Allegedly the three suspects picked Smith up under the pretense of attending a party. Later, he was reportedly taken into a treed area near Cocalalla and shot twice. His body was transported for burial. Thrasher has been charged with first-degree murder; his wife and Garlin with accessory to murder. More here.
A 2007 Nissan Pathfinder is towed Sunday after being taken from the Aders’ home and left parked near Monroe Street and Wellesley Avenue. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)
Police continue to search for a man suspected of killing two young boys and their mother Friday in Spokane.
Dustin William Gilman, 22, (pictured) is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees him or has information on where he may be should call 911.
Gilman has been wanted since Friday, when the bodies of Tracy Ader, 32, and her 8- and 10-year-old boys were found in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St. Police believe he may be heavily armed with weapons stolen from the home, including a bullet-proof vest.
Police believe Gilman murdered the three while Ader's husband, Nick Ader, was in the hospital.
Gilman has been staying with the Aders for the last few months. Tracy Ader's mother and stepfather said he spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them at their Spokane Valley and was great with the boys.
Ader and her sons are pictured left in a photo provided by her family.
Ader worked at Pitney Bowes, a business service company, with Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34, who was found shot to death in her north Spokane home on New Year’s Day. No one has been arrested in that case, but sheriff’s detectives say they have a person of interest.
“Tracy was having a hard time dealing with that because (Schmidt) was a direct coworker of hers,” said Steve Ponsness, Ader's stepfather.
Ponsnesskept a gun at his side Saturday as police searched for Gilman, who is believed to have stolen Ader's 2007 Nissan Pathfinder.
A citizen spotted the Pathfinder near West Wellesley Avenue and North Monroe Street Sunday and notified police, who are searching it for evidence.
Gilman is a convicted felon who was sentenced to nine months in jail in 2009 after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree trafficking in stolen property. He has an extensive juvenile criminal history, including convictions in Kootenai County in 2005 for stolen property and car theft. Court records show he was arrested for assault when he was 10.
A Deer Park man accused of strangling his ex-wife and posing her dead body had her death certificate displayed in his home when detectives arrested him this week, detectives say.
Clay Duane Starbuck, 47, is charged with aggravated first-degree murder and sexually violating human remains in the death of Chanin Denice Starbuck, 42. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. The only other punishment if convicted of aggravated first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Starbuck, a former Alaska oil worker with no criminal history, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Friday afternoon via video from the jail after prosecutors formally charged him Thursday. He remains in jail on $1 million bond.
MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A father who was upset after a Tennessee couple deleted his adult daughter as a friend on Facebook has been charged in the shooting deaths of the couple, authorities said Wednesday.The victims had complained to police that Marvin's Potter's daughter was harassing them after they deleted her as a friend on the social networking site, Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said Wednesday.
Potter, 60, (pictured left) has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder last week's slayings of Billy Payne Jr. and his girlfriend, Billie Jean Hayworth. The couple was shot to death in their Mountain City home in the far northeast corner of the state. Their 8-month-old baby was found unharmed in Hayworth's arms.
“It's a senseless thing,” the sheriff said.Authorities have been involved other cases where Potter's daughter, Jenelle Potter, believed she had been slighted by someone.
Marvin Potter's friend, Jamie Curd, has also been charged in the killings. Curd, 38, (pictured right) had romantic feelings for Jenelle Potter, 30, the sheriff said.
Potter and Curd were arraigned Wednesday. Potter asked for time to hire an attorney while Curd was assigned a public defender who did not immediately return a phone message.
Assistant District Attorney General Matthew Roark said Curd's initial bond was raised to $1.5 million while Roark agreed to put off a bond hearing for Potter until next week, when he is expected to have an attorney. Potter remains jailed on his initial $200,000 bond.
The victims lived with Billy Payne Sr., who was the last person to see them alive. He told detectives he saw Hayworth get up to feed the baby before he left for work at about 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 31.
The slayings were discovered about five hours later when a former neighbor stopped by to pick up mail the family would save for him.
The younger Payne was found in his bedroom, and Hayworth was found in the baby's room.
A decision Tuesday by appellate judges most likely ended all legal recourse for a man convicted of killing his 19-year-old employee in a brutal slaying that will forever haunt a Ferry County man who witnessed it and barely escaped with his own life.
The Division III Court of Appeals denied an argument by Cory J. Monaghan, 38, of Maple Valley, Wash., that he was not guilty by reason of insanity of first-degree murder for killing Jeremy Karavias and first-degree arson for setting fire to his uncle’s Malo, Wash., home in 2008.
“He killed and butchered that kid,” Ron Wessel said of his nephew, Monaghan. Karavias “was just an innocent kid. I think about it every day.”
A Deer Park mother of five found strangled to death in her home was positioned in a way to humiliate her and make detectives believe she had been sexually assaulted, according to information released Tuesday.
Clay Duane Starbuck, 47, is accused of murdering his ex-wife, Chanin Denice Starbuck, 42, after luring her from her home with their children, then breaking in and hiding until she returned, detectives wrote in a warrant that was used to search the suspect’s home at 1625 E. 2nd St. Monday night. Investigators seized dozens of items, including cameras, documents, computers and a cell phone.
Starbuck, a former oil worker in Alaska with no criminal history, was arrested Monday morning during a traffic stop in Deer Park. He remains in jail on $1 million bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon on charges of aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. He’s prohibited from contacting his children, who are witnesses in the case. Spokane County sheriff’s officials say the children are staying with a close family friend.
The ex-husband of a woman found strangled in her Deer Park home has been arrested for murder.
Clay Duane Starbuck was booked into jail Monday for the murder of Chanin Denice Starbuck, 42, who was found dead in her home at 509 N. Reiper St. Dec. 3. Deputies arrested him without incident during a traffic stop this morning in Deer Park.
The Starbucks, who have five children between the ages of 10 and 21, were in the midst of a contentious divorce when Chanin was killed.
A man targeted by Crime Stoppers for failing to register as a sex offender committed the same crime three years ago while haunted by the brutal jailhouse murder of his son.
William R. Rentz, 58, was convicted of third-degree child molestation in Cowlitz County in 1994.
He was living in an abandoned van at a gas station in the winter of 2008-2009 and walked to the police station to register as a sex offender each week. He left for Idaho without notifying authorities when his brother learned he was living in the unheated van, according to court documents.
Rentz never registered in Idaho, which led to his criminal conviction in 2010.
Rentz is the father of Christopher Lee Rentz, a 21-year-old gas theft suspect who was brutally murdered by cellmates Michael Lee West and Brandon West Martin in the Spokane County Jail in 2004.
The county settled a lawsuit over Rentz's death for $180,000, and Martin and West were convicted of murder. West is now accused of brutally assaulting two other inmates at the Airway Heights Corrections Center.
Rentz considered his son to be his best friend and has not recovered from his murder, according to a memorandum his public defender, Kari Reardon, filed before his sentencing in 2010 for failing to register as a sex ofender.
Rentz was in jail, too, when he was son was killed, Reardon wrote. Jailers put him on suicide watch after informing him of the murder.
“Unfortunately for William, part of him died with Chris,” according to a letter from his brother, Terry Rentz that was included with the memo.
Terry Rentz described how he searched for his brother at various convenience stores when he learned of his condition. He said his brother was physically unable to register, and when he was, “he could not face the fact hat he would need to contact the sheriff in the same building in which his son was murdered.”
William Rentz, who was credited for 417 days served in jail at his sentencing in 2010, suffers from mild dementia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic injury caused when he was buried in concrete, according to the memo.
A no-bail warrant for his arrest was issued Jan. 25 for failing to register as a sex offender, a felony. Crime Stoppers last week offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.
Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.
Spokane police are recommending murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping charges against a sex offender suspected of killing a Spokane woman who was working as a prostitute last August.
Major crimes detectives have submitted the charging request for Derrick Ross Vargas, 24, (right) to the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office, police said today.
Vargas, who has long been a suspect, is accused of raping and murdering Evon M. Moore, 48, whose body was found in an alley near North Ralph Street and East Riverside Avenue Aug. 13. Police said the condition Moore's body showed she was obviously the victim of a “brutal murder.”
The suspected shooter charged with the July 17 killing of a 63-year-old Colville man has been found competent to stand trial.
Eric L. Booth, 26, is expected to appear in court next Tuesday to schedule a trial, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said this week. But based on preliminary discussions, a trial may not be necessary, Rasmussen said.
Booth is charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Gordon Feist in what detectives believe was a botched robbery. Also charged are 27-year-old Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin and 25-year-old Collette Marie Pierce.
Booth and his attorney, Paul Wasson, have been working with law enforcement, Rasmussen said.
A jury today convicted a North Idaho man of second-degree murder for fatally running over a woman during a 2006 road rage incident with her husband and two daughters.
Jonathan Wade Ellington, 51, has already served six years in prison for the Jan. 1, 2006, incident but was released last year after the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his convictions because of problems with his first trial.
Judge John Luster today allowed him to stay out of jail until his new sentencing, which is scheduled for March 26.
Deputy Prosecutor Luke Malek, who is running for the Idaho state Legislature, congratulated his office in a Facebook post: “8 months after a scathing, dicta-filled opinion, professionalism and justice prevail. Congratulations to Art Verharen and Barry McHugh for courage in the face of populist ridicule.”
Jurors today continue to deliberate the fate of of a North Idaho man charged with murder for running over a woman during a road rage encounter with her husband and daughters six years ago.
The jury of 12 Kootenai County residents asked 1st District Judge John Luster the difference between 'deliberate' and 'intentional' in a question submitted just before noon today.
Luster provided them with an additional instruction defining intentional as 'if done on purpose' and 'deliberate' as 'done on reflection.'
“It's understandable that the jury is struggling with that distinction between those two terms,” Luster said.
The language could be crucial to the verdict as jurors decide whether to convict or acquire Jonathan Wade Ellington, 51, (pictured) of second-degree murder for the Jan. 1, 2006, death of Vonnette Larsen.
Jurors also have alternative charges of manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter.
Prosecutors Barry McHugh and Art Verharen told the judge they believe today's additional instruction places an unfair burden on them to prove premeditation, which is only required for first-degree murder.
“I don't believe this instruction places any greater burden on the state,” he said.
Court officials ordered lunch for the jury, which is in it's third day of deliberations. They began Friday afternoon after closing arguments.
Prosecutors say Ellington chose to turn his Bronco into the wrong lane and accelerate toward Larsen instead of staying in his lane and driving away from the scene at Scarcello Road, north of Coeur d’Alene.
But Ellington’s lawyers say he was fleeing gunfire from Vonnette Larsen’s husband, Joel Larsen, when the Bronco ran her over.
It's Ellington's second trial. He was serving a 25-year sentence for seocnd-dgree murdre when the Idaho Supreme Court reversed his convction and ruled an Idaho State Police corporal lied on the witness stand.
A Spokane man has been convicted of second-degree murder for a fatal stabbing in Plummer, Idaho, last year.
Jody Allen Miller, 40, (left) entered an Alford plea this morning in Benewah County District Court for the April 17 murder of Antowyn D. “Tony” Swiney, 37, (right) the St. Maries Gazette Record reports.
He faces 25 years in prison when he's sentenced April 13. The plea means he does not admit guilty but acknowledges there was enough evidence to convict him.
Miller stabbed Swiney to death at Swiney's girlfiend's home in Plummer after Swiney left a Spokane bar to avoid a confrontation.
Irael Kennedy (right) pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in October and is to be sentenced next month.
Stephen Milton and Kennedy's mother, Kelly A. Miller, pleaded guilty to felony criminal accessory charges in August.
William F. Hanel's burned body was found inside this home on Oct. 12, 2010, after firefighers responded to a blaze there. (SRPhoto/Jonathan Brunt)
A man accused of helping a killer torch his victim's home in 2010 is wanted by police.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that lead to the arrest of Eric Andersen, 46, whose last known home address was in Grant County.
Detectives believe Andersen helped Ryan D. Corkery, 28, burn William Frazier Hanel's home at 12036 S. Player Drive on Oct. 12, 2010.
Corkery strangled Hanel, 56, to death with an electrical cord a couple days earlier and enlisted the help of Andersen and Mark A. Hoffman, 24, to cover the crime, prosecutors say.
Andersen was arrested a week after Hanel's body was found in the burning home, but prosecutors moved to dismiss the charges about two months later.
Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy said today that he filed charges again on Jan. 18 after a new witness became available. He declined to comment further.
Corkery, who claimed Hanel molested a relative, was sentenced in December to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Hoffman was sentenced in January 2011 to six months in jail for first-degree rendering criminal assistance and residential burglary.
Andersen is wanted on a $40,000 warrant charging him with first-degree arson, residential burglary and first-degree rendering criminal assistance. His last known address is in the 100 block of N.W. Quincy Place in Soap Lake.
Anyone with information on Andersen's current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.
Detectives have expanded the criminal investigation into the fatal shooting of a north Spokane mother to include two civil lawsuits naming the victim.
Each lawsuit involves separate scuba diving accidents; one left a man dead and another allegedly left a woman with brain damage.
Although no arrests have been made in the homicide case, Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Mike Drapeau said he is waiting on evidence to come back from the state crime lab and that investigators have focused on an individual who had been romantically involved with 34-year-old Kimberly R. Schmidt.
Jonathan Wade Ellington and his girlfriend leave Kootenai County District Court during a break in the opening day of his trial Thursday. (SRPhoto/Meghann Cuniff) Ellington is pictured below in 2006.
Prosecutors say he used his vehicle as a weapon against two sisters and their mother in an angry road encounter fueled by his own rage.
But Jonathan Wade Ellington’s lawyers told jurors at the opening day of his murder trial Thursday that the North Idaho man was simply trying to get away from gunfire when he ran over and killed Vonnette Larsen on Jan. 1, 2006.
“It’s a tragedy, but it’s not a crime,” said John Adams, head of the Kootenai County Public Defender’s Office.
Two of 24 suspects named Thursday in a long-term gun and drug investigation by the Spokane Violent Crimes Gang Task Force already are in jail on murder charges.
Edward L. “TD” Thomas, 26, (left) already faces life in prison under Washington's three-strikes law if convicted of second-degree murder.
He's been in custody since September 2010 for the Jan. 17, 2010 shooting death of John S. Williams, 38, outside a birthday party for a reputed gang member at 5405 N. Crestline St.
He’s also accused of trying to kill Williams’ son during the shooting, which police believe resulted from lingering tensions between Thomas and a rival gang member who has a child with the mother of Thomas’ child.
Thomas' murder trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 27 in Spokane County Superior Court.
It's unclear what charges he faces in the federal investigation - no indictment naming him has been unsealed.
David C. McLaughlin, 21, (right) is charged with second-degree murder along with his girlfriend, Melinda R. Barrera, 31, for the Dec. 7 shooting death of Robert A. Nelson, 46
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.
Prosecutors said McLaughlin and Barrera were under separate federal investigation when arguing against their bail being reduced last month in Superior Court.
Judge Michael Price said the alleged crime - murder - did not fit the lack of criminal history for either suspect and reduced Barrera’s bond to $350,000 and McLaughlin’s to $300,000, from $500,000.
It's unclear what charges McLaughlin faces in the federal investigation - no indictment naming him has been unsealed.
Also named as a suspect in the federal probe is Tyrone J. Carell, 23, (left) who is in jail on assault charges related to the Nov. 27 shooting death of Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, at the Quality Inn. John A. “Lil Danger” Castro, 27, is charged with Solis's murder.
Again, it's unclear what federal charges Carell faces - no indictment naming him has been unsealed.
A judge this morning refused to dismiss murder charges against a North Idaho man because of a last-minute evidence issue in his 2006 road-rage case, clearing the way for a second trial.
Jonathan Wade Ellington (pictured) was imprisoned for four years on a murder conviction that was overturned because the Idaho Supreme Court ruled a state trooper lied at the first trial in 2006.
Opening statements in his second trial are expected Thursday morning. A jury is being selected today in Judge John Luster's courtroom at the Kootenai County Courthouse in Coeur d'Alene.
Ellington has been free since early November on a $50,000 property-backed bond after returning to Kootenai County from a prison near Boise.
Ellington is accused of running over Vonnette Lee Larsen, 41, in 2006 during a fit of road rage north of Coeur d’Alene. Larsen and her husband were pursuing Ellington after their daughters told them he’d punched their windshield, and at one point before the fatal crash Joel Larsen fired a rifle at Ellington.
When Ellington was sentenced in December 2006, his girlfriend, Ann Thomas, vowed to appeal. “Eventually, it’ll get to a real court,” Thomas said. Ellington called the case against him “mind-boggling.” “I don’t understand this – I never will,” he said. Read that story here.
The case is being prosecuted by Barry McHugh and Art Verharen. Ellington is represented by John Adams and Ann Taylor.
I'll be covering the trial. Look for updates here and on my Twitter page throughout the opening day.
More past coverage:
A man wanted for murder in Florida was arrested in Spokane today.
Federal agents found Demarcus R. Ledent, 31, in the 8000 block of North Hill N Dale Street, just north of East Magnesium Road off North Division Street.
A warrant for Ledent's arrest was issued Jan. 4 in Pensacola, Fla., for the July 2007 homicide of Barry Shipp, 48.
The Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force learned Ledent had fled Florida and was living in Spokane, according to a news release.
According to a 2007 video from WKRG TV in Pensacola, which is posted above, Shipp, who was married with children, was shot to death at a family-owned barber shop.
Forensic genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick poses with her laptop showing two composite sketches of a suspect in the 1991 killing of a Washington teenager, in Huntington Beach, Calif., Wednesday. The analysis on a DNA profile from the suspect shows that he is distantly related to three passengers who arrived in what is now Plymouth, Mass., on the Mayflower in 1620. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — William S. Fuller followed the news with interest this week when detectives announced a strange new lead in the search for a man who killed his friend's daughter two decades ago.
Relying on a new DNA analysis, the detectives said the unknown suspect is a distant relative of Edward and Samuel Fuller, who crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620 — and that he might even share their last name.
It was an awkward coincidence, the present-day Fuller told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The 68-year-old worked for many years with the father and grandfather of Sarah Yarborough, a 16-year-old girl who was raped and strangled in the Seattle suburb of Federal Way in 1991. His daughter was one of Yarborough's best friends, and he spearheaded the effort to build a memorial for her. Fuller said he doesn't know if he's related to the Pilgrims, but he is certain that no one in his family could be the culprit.
“Is it something we're worried about? No, not at all,” Fuller said. “Because they know how close we were to the Yarboroughs, some people have asked about it jokingly, but they know it's not a good question.”
The King County Sheriff's Office, long stymied by the case, announced this week that it had sent the suspect's DNA profile to forensic genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick, who runs Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Identifinders International. Fitzpatrick noticed that the killer's DNA strongly correlated with DNA profiles published as part of a genealogical study of the Fuller family.
Specifically, she said, the killer is a descendant of Robert Fuller, who arrived in Salem, Mass., in 1630. Fuller was not himself on the Mayflower, but he was related to three passengers: Edward Fuller, as well as Edward Fuller's brother, Samuel, and 12-year-old son.
Fitzpatrick's analysis followed the Y chromosome — the male line of the family — and therefore, there's a good chance the killer's last name is or was Fuller, she said.
Detectives searched through their tip database following Fitzpatrick's finding, but no one named Fuller has ever been fingered as a potential suspect in Yarborough's death, King County sheriff's detective Jim Allen said.
Today, there are tens of millions of people descended from the 102 passengers and about 25 crewmembers who arrived on the Mayflower, according to the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Nine presidents have been related to those original Pilgrims.
Yarborough was last seen alive on a Saturday morning in December 1991, when she left home to take part in a dance team competition. Her body was found later that morning.
There were plenty of people at the high school that day. In addition to those arriving for the dance competition, there were some school-related activities and people out running or walking their dogs, Allen said. About six people saw the suspect — including two kids, a jogger, a man who helped create a sketch of the suspect, and a girl on the drill team.
They described him as being in his 20s, white, 6 feet tall or just under, with shoulder-length blond hair, a trench coat and dark pants. One saw the suspect interacting with her, and some saw him leaving the brushy area where her body was found.
In the months after the slaying, more than 3,000 tips poured in, students began packing pepper spray, and parents marshaled in the hallways outside of classes to reassure their children they were safe.
Allen said he is interested in speaking with William Fuller, who still lives in Federal Way, a south Seattle suburb, and who was 48 at the time of the killing.
Fuller, a longtime coworker and friend of Yarborough's father and grandfather at Weyerhaeuser Corp., told the AP he has five daughters and no sons, and he himself was an only child, so he has no nephews that could have matched the description. His family has been able to trace their lineage no farther than a great-grandfather in Idaho, he said.
Fuller said that when Yarborough was killed, he was only about one-third of a mile away, running on the track at the junior high school.
“I remember that back then I was running — I ran 20 to 25 miles per week,” Fuller said. “Periodically I'd run at the high school track, but during the time she was killed I was running at the junior high. What if I had decided to go run at the high school? Knowing I was so close when it happened really bothered me for a long time. But you can't beat yourself up like that.”
If he had been at the high school track, he said, “certainly if she had screamed or yelled I would have heard it. But the Lord works — well, that wasn't where I was supposed to be.”
After the killing, Fuller said he joined other parents in roaming the hallways of the school during and between classes, as a way to reassure their children that they were safe. Weyerhaeuser gave him time off to raise money to build a memorial on the school's campus, and he commissioned an artist to sculpt a bench accompanied by a pile of books, a pair of ballet slippers and a necktie — the last because the week before she died, Yarborough won an ugly necktie contest.
The idea for the memorial came about “simply from talking to the parents and saying we ought to do something,” Fuller said.
When the news about the apparent Mayflower link came out, Fuller spoke with his daughter Elizabeth, who was one of Yarborough's best friends and who now lives in Kentucky.
“It's encouraging, but she has mixed emotions,” Fuller said. “It's emotional when you bring it up. We've been hoping and praying for a break in the case.”
Murder charges have been dropped against a Spokane man arrested for the homicide of a 62-year-old Stevens County woman.
Robert Cody Wirtz, 30, was released from jail on Tuesday, about a month after statements by his 4-year-old son led detectives to identify him as a suspect in the death of Narleen B. Campton, who was beaten to death in her home in Northport, Wash., near the Canadian border, in late November.
A man who pleaded guilty to murder before his conviction was overturned because of a procedural error repeatedly denied involvement in the crime Wednesday as he was sentenced to 39 years in prison.
“I admit I am a criminal, but a murderer I am not,” said Michael Duke Coombes, 34.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese cited his lack of remorse when agreeing to the maximum sentence recommended by deputy prosecutors Steve Garvin and Kyle Treece. The 476-month sentence includes a 60-month firearm enhancement.
“How can you have remorse for something you didn't do?” asked Coombes, who had previously been sentenced to 27 years. “I can't show remorse because I wasn't there.”
Plese also cited Coombes' criminal history, and the fact that he illegally possessed a firearm when he was arrested for the Aug. 31, 2007, shooting death of William “Red” Nichols, 53, in Hillyard.
Coombes, who tattooed an image of the gun that he used to kill Nichols on his leg, previously pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, but his sentencing documents erroneously did not indicate he would be eligible for time off for good behavior during his first 20 years.
Appellate judges allowed him to withdraw his guilty plea and Coombes decided to take the case to trial. A jury convicted him of first-degree murder Dec. 19. He also was convicted of witness tampering for asking another inmate at the Spokane County Jail to contact a witness.
Garvin said at trial that Coombes said he shot Nichols in the head because he threatened his nephew.
Coombes' mother told Plese Wednesday that she believes her son is innocent. Nichols' niece read a statement on behalf of her mother that condemned Coombes and said the family does not forgive him.
Coombes was represented by public defender Jeff Compton.
The parents of a woman found dead of a gunshot wound in her home on New Year's Day are thanking the community for the outpouring show of support.
“There was so much evil when I walked into that house. The outpouring from her friends has really helped ease that,” said Toni Schmidt, mother of homicide victim Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34 (pictured).
More than 500 people attended Schmidt's memorial service on Sunday, with many standing in the hallways because they were not able to get in the room. Attendees included seven women who met Schmidt at a camp on Orcas Island when she was 19. They hadn't seen her in years, but made the drove from the Western Washington to pay their respects.
Toni Schmidt and Randall Schmidt were not able to greet everyone at the service, and they said Tuesday night that they want to make sure everyone knows how much they appreciate the support.
The Schmidts declined to discuss the details of the investigation into their daughter's death but said they feel the case will be solved.
They hinted at possible domestic violence issues with Schmidt, which they said were surprising at first because “she was an extremely strong and intelligent person,” Toni Schmidt said.
Schmidt was born in Spokane and graduated from Shadle Park High School and Eastern Washington University. She loved the ocean and was planning to scuba dive in Manila, Philippines when she went there for a two-week business trip for next month. She leaves behind a 12-year-old daughter.
Toni Schmidt called police after finding her daughter on Jan. 1 in her home on East Regina Avenue.
Sheriff's investigators arrived to find Schmidt dead in her bed with a gunshot wound to the right side of her head, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. A lamp had been knocked over, and detectives noted blood smeared on the wall at the head of the bed that indicated Schmidt's body had been moved.
They also found a small cloth, drawstring bag to Schmidt's left that had the front portion of the barrel of a gun visible, according to court documents. They seized the .25 semi-automatic handgun,, as well as .25 shell casing located on her bed, along with a fleece blanket with a bullet hole in it.
Detectives also seized three guns from a gun safe downstairs, and three from a laundry room cabinet, as well as ammunition. They also found a cell phone with its battery removed in a black purse on the kitchen table, according to the search warrant.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.