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Plea hinges on murder trial testimony

A 20-year-old woman originally charged with a death penalty eligible crime for the brutal murder of a Spokane man faces 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 years in prison if she follows a plea agreement approved today.

Breeanna C. Sims (pictured left) is to testify at the trial of accused killer Taylor J. Wolf (pictured right), which is scheduled to begin Aug. 20.

Sims, who was involved in a home-invasion robbery with her mother in 2009, pleaded guilty today to first-degree kidnapping with a firearm. Her plea agreement is sealed and hinges on her future testimony.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza today approved the plea deal negotiated by Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla and Deputy Public Defender Tom Trageser. Sims backed out of a potential plea in May.

Sims' brother, Justice E.D. Sims (pictured left), was sentenced in March to about 33 years in prison for first-degree murder and kidnapping.

The three are accused of the brutal torture slaying of Nicholas J. Thoreson (pictured right), who was found dead in the trunk of his burning Thunderbird on Forker Road April 13, 2011.

Detectives say Wolf 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 Sept. 4.

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 jailhouse phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

All three suspects were charged with aggravated first-degree murder. The charge is eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors said from the beginning they would not be seeking that.

Justice Sims is serving his sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Breeanna Sims will stay at the Spokane County Jail without bail. Her sentencing has not yet been scheduled as prosecutors await Wolf's trial.

Thoreson's family and friends attended Sims plea hearing today, including his girlfriend and toddler son.

Past coverage:

Dec. 6: Murder suspect's love letters seized

May 20, 2011: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3, 2011: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21, 2011: New details released in Forker Road homicide

Murder suspect chooses trial over deal

A woman charged in connection with the 2011 killing of Nicholas J. Thoreson appeared in court but chose not to accept a plea agreement.

 Breeanna C. Sims, 20, faces the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, rendering criminal assistance, arson and the taking of a motor vehicle.

Sims appeared Wednesday before Superior Court Sam Cozza but the hearing did not proceed.

“It appears we don't have a meeting of the minds,” Deputy Prosecutor Kyle Treece said. “If we have a plea agreement at some point, we will notify the court.”

Reached after the hearing, defense attorney Tim Trageser said “we're going to trial,” which is currently set for June 18.

Sims was charged with her younger brother, Justice E.D. Sims, 19, who previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. Also charged are Taylor J. Wolf and Britney Bjork. Their cases also are pending.

Detectives believe the Simses and Wolf beat Thoreson in a garage at the Knotty Pines apartment complex, 13615 E. Trent Ave., in Spokane Valley before shooting him to death. 

Thoreson's charred remains were found in the back of his 1987 Ford Thunderbird near Forker and Bigelow Gulch roads April 13, 2011. Detectives arrested the Simses two days later.P

ast 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


  

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

Murder suspect’s jail love letters seized

A murder suspect's jailhouse courtship of a young Spokane woman may be helping detectives bolster their case against him.

Detectives recently obtained a letter Taylor J. Wolf, 20, (right) mailed to Alannah Dobberstein after learning Dobberstein was questioning Wolf about his involvement in the murder of 22-year-old Nicholas J. Thoreson.

 Dobberstein wrote Wolf a letter last month indicating the two “are involved in a romantic-type relationship with a desire on the part of both that it become a long-term relationship,” according to the search warrant. Wolf told Dobberstein about his role in the murder, but Dobberstein recently obtained other information and “has concerns that he has not been entirely truthful with her about the extent of his involvement.”

Dobberstein told Wolf that if he “really loves her and wants to be with her for the rest of their lives as he has said, he needs to tell her everything,” according to the warrant. “She goes on to promise that if he were to write it in a letter, nobody would know but her.”

Detectives obtained that letter and Wolf's response on Thursday. They have not revealed the contents of Wolf's response but emphasized in the search warrant that Wolf “has shown a propensity to talk freely about his involvement in this murder with others.”

Detectives say Wolf made incriminating statements to Britney Bjork just after his arrest in April, leading them to investigate her for rendering criminal assistance and arson.

Wolf is charged with his ex-girlfriend, Breeanna C. Sims, 20; and her brother, Justice E.D. Sims, 19; with aggravated first-degree murder, among other charges, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

The suspects are accused of torturing and shooting Thoreson (left) before stuffing his body in the trunk of Ford Thunderbird and setting it on fire on Forker Road.

New charges in Forker Road homicide

The girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel sergeant-at-arms Ricky Warren Jenks has been charged with three felonies for her alleged role in the murder of a 22-year-old man whose body was found in the back of his burning car in April.

Britney Bjork, 30, is accused of helping burn Nicholas J. Thoreson's car and driving murder suspects Taylor J. Wolf, 20; Justice E.D Sims, 19; and Breeanna C. Sims, 20; from the scene at Forker Road near Bigelow Gulch. Thoreson is pictured left; Wolf is pictured lower right.

In addition to first-degree rendering criminal assistance and second-degree arson, Bjork is charged with conspiracy to commit perjury in the first-degree for allegedly helping Wolf craft false statements.

She pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court and was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial. She declined comment today after Jenks was sentenced in U.S. District Court to two years in prison.

Wolf had been staying at Jenks and Bjork’s home at the Knotty Pines Cottages, 13615 E. Trent Ave., since before Jenks’ arrest on federal gun charges in March, according to court documents.

Detectives Bjork sent Wolf a text message early April 13 that said to tell a friend “that everything is fine that you got lost and stranded. you thought you were around bigalow but really you were by otis orchards. clear the fact that you were anywhere near that area!”

Wolf talked to Bjork over the phone from jail after his arrest. Detectives listened to the calls and say Bjork told him, “You've been with me…this whole…time,” to which Wolf responded, “I know, I never left your side.”

But detectives say Wolf also told Bjork on April 22 he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, citing recorded phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

Wolf and the Simses are charged with aggravated first-degree murder, among other charges, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison because prosecuters are not seeking the death penalty.

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, is set to go to trial in Superior Court.

Past coverage:

May 20: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

Two teenage siblings pleaded not guilty to aggravated first-degree murder charges Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court. 

Video conference at the jail isn't working, so Breeanna C. Sims, 19, and Justice E.D. Sims, 18, appeared in person before Judge Michel Price, wearing light blue jail jumpsuits and shackles.

Breeanna Sims appeared to smile or smirk during the hearing. She sat apart from her brother, and the two had no contact during the afternoon hearing.

Friends and family of murder victim Nicholas J. Thoreson, including the mother of his 1-year-old son, attended the arraignments, which came one day after defendant Taylor J. Wolf, 20, pleaded not guilty to aggravated first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree arson, and taking a motor vehicle without the owner's permission.

The Simses face the same charges, though Breeanna Sims also is charged with rendering criminal assistance for allegedly trying to remove guns from a field near where Thoreson's body was found in the back of his burning Thunderbird on April 13.

The Simses and Wolf remain in the Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond. The Simses are pictured in court, courtesy of KHQ.

Past coverage:

May 19: Suspect spoke of murder in jail call

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21: Homicide victim may have been tortured

April 14: Man in burned car was shot in head; suspect jailed

Suspect spoke of murder in jail calls

After Spokane County sheriff’s detectives took a man into custody on suspicion of murder last month, a man who witnessed the arrest expressed his surprise to a childhood friend. 

“Justice told her that he couldn’t believe that Taylor was being arrested for something he had done,” according to a probable cause affidavit prosecutors filed to support aggravated murder charges against Taylor J. Wolf, 20, (right) Breeanna C. Sims, 19, and Justice E.D. Sims, 18 (left).

But detectives believe all three share culpability, and Wolf has reportedly described his involvement in phone calls to friends from the Spokane County Jail. 

Wolf told Britney Bjork, girlfriend of jailed Hells Angels Sergeant at Arms Ricky Jenks, he was going to shoot Nicholas J. Thoreson, 22, but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, citing recorded phone conversations from the Spokane County Jail. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Wolf's public defender, Thomas Krzyminski, unsuccessfully asked Judge Michael Price to reduce Wolf's $1 million bond at his arraignment Wednesday. Friends and family of Thoreson (pictured) attended.

 Krzyminski emphasized that he understands the serious allegations but said Wolf's mother, Jami Wolf, has offered to let her son stay with her, and reminded Price that Wolf is innocent until proven guilty. 

 Krzyminski said a $1 million bond “is certainly something Mr. Wolf and his family have no chance to post.”

Deputy Prosecutor Kyle Treece said that was the intention.

“I'm certain that I don't need to remind you of the serious, heinous nature of the probable cause affidavit in this case,” Treece told Price.”Mr. Wolf is alleged to have committed acts of torture, assault - eventually murder. The facts of this case are rather egregious.”  Wolf already was on probation for felony resideintial burlgary when he was arrested April 13.

Price said he had serious concerns about community safety and Wolf showing up for court and kept bond at $1 million.

Past coverage:

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21: Homicide victim may have been tortured

April 14: Man in burned car was shot in head; suspect jailed

3 suspects charged w/ aggravated murder

Three suspects in the homicide of Nicholas J. Thoreson, whose body was found in the trunk of his burning Thunderbird last month, face life in prison without the possibility of parole under charges filed this week.

Taylor James Wolf, 20; Justice Edward Dean Sims, 18; and Breeanna Catherine Sims, 19; have been charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which is punishable only by the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said Thursday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Thoreson is pictured.

Past coverage:

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21: New details released on Forker Road homicide

April 14: Homicide victim was shot in the head; suspect jailed

Murder victim remembered in obituary

A 22-year-old man found shot in the head in the trunk of his burning Thunderbird was remembered in an obituary Sunday as a caring, fun-loving man who loved country western music, movies and “wearing his trademark bling.”

Nicholas J. “Nick” Thoreson enjoyed spending time with his girlfriend, Ivory Hendry , and their 1-year-old son, Thomas.

His greatest joy was caring for the boy, the obituary said. Thoreson “lived life to the fullest,” and enjoyed, “above all else, spending time with his family.”

“Nick left this earth too early for us to understand, but God always has a purpose and therefore we all must believe that Nick is still among us fulfilling his,” the obituary reads.
 
Thoreson attended Greenacres elementary and junior high as well as Central Valley High School. He spent two years in  job corps, where he met Hendry. Friends say Thoreson also met one of his accused killers, Taylor J. Wolf, in job corps.
 
Thoreson's memorial is next Saturday. 
 
“Thank you for being part of our lives Nick - you will continue to live in our hearts and never be forgotten,” his family wrote.
 
Wolf, 20, who has ties to the Hells Angels, and sibling murder suspects Breeanna Sims, 19, and Justice Sims, 18, are charged in Spokane County District Court. 
 
Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said today that he expects to file charges in Superior Court this week.
 
Asked if the suspects could be charged with aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty or life in prison with no parole, Driscoll said “perhaps.”
 
“We'll formally file charges in the next day or so, and you'll know then,” he said.
 
Court documents say Thoreson was assaulted for hours and stabbed several times before he was fatally shot in the head. His body was found in the Thunderbird near Forker and Bigelow Gulch roads April 13.
 
A motive is unclear. Breeanna Sims told a friend that her brother believed Thoreson had held her against her will, but Justice Sims told another person that Thoreson had told on his sister, which led to the murder.
 
Past coverage:
 
 

Murder victim may have been tortured

A 19-year-old woman accused of helping murder a Cheney man told a friend she was with the victim the day of the murder and watched as her brother and another man beat him for hours. 

Breeanna C. Sims (left) said her brother, Justice E. Sims, 18, (right) believed Nicholas J. Thoreson, 22, had held her against her will, which led to an hours-long assault with a machete that ended with Thoreson dying of a gunshot to the head.

His charred body was found in the trunk of his burning 1987 Ford Thunderbird at Forker and Bigelow Gulch roads about 12:30 a.m. on April 13. A burned gasoline can was nearby.

  The Simses also told a friend that Thoreson was a “snitch” who had told on Breeanna Sims and that Justice Sims stabbed him several times before shooting in the head at an apartment occupied by Taylor J. Wolf, 20 (right). 

The details were included in probable cause affidavits unsealed Thursday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

April 14: Man in burned car was shot in head; suspect jailed

The Simses and Wolf are pictured in court, courtesy KHQ.

$1 mil. bond for sibling murder suspects

Two teenage siblings arrested in the gunshot slaying of a Spokane man remain jailed on $1 million bond after appearing in court Monday.

 Breeanna C. Sims, 19 (left), and Justice E. Sims (right), 18, face charges of first-degree murder, second-degree arson, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree rendering criminal assistance for the death of 22-year-old Nicholas J. Thoreson, who was found shot to death April 13 in the burning trunk of his 1987 Ford Thunderbird at Forker and Bigelow Gulch roads.

  Taylor J. Wolf, 20, who was arrested 22 hours after Thoreson's body was found, is jailed on a second-degree murder charge but expected to soon face the same charges as the Sims, authorities say.

The Simses and Wolf are pictured in court, courtesy KHQ.

Breeanna Sims was arrested Friday afgter they followed her to Forker and Bigelow Gluch, where she was looking for evidence. A sheriff's dog led detectives to a .38 caliber pistol and a sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun. The pistol is believed to have been used to kill Thoreson.

Justice Sims was arrested after leaving his apartment in north Spokane, where detectives had set up surveillance. He flashed a hand sign at supporters before being led out of District Court after his first appearance Monday.

No motive for the slaying has been released. Wolf has ties to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang and worked briefly at Fessco Fleet & Marine with the gang's enforcer, Ricky Jenks, who is jailed on federal guns charges. Investigators haven't said if Thoreson's murder is related to the Hells Angels.

Affidavits detailing the case remain sealed, though Spokane County sheriff's Sgt. Dave Reagan said there are no other suspects. A status conference for the case is set for April 21.

Thoreson was the father of an 11-month-old baby. Friends say he knew Wolf through a job corps program.

Thoreson's mother, girlfriend and other friends attended Monday's hearing but declined comment.

April 14: Man in burned car was shot in the head; suspect jailed
  

Burned body in car ID’d; suspect arrested

A 20-year-old Spokane man with a juvenile criminal record and a February conviction for domestic violence has been arrested in connection with a burned body discovered in the trunk of a car.

 Taylor James Wolf, 20, is accused in the gunshot slaying of Nicholas James Thoreson, 22, who authorities say died of a gunshot wound to the head before his body was burned in the trunk of a Ford Thunderbird.

Wolf was arrested on a second-degree murder charge as he tried to leave his apartment at 13615 E. Trent Ave. in a taxi late Wednesday.

He appeared in Spokane County District Court on Thursday. Judge Donna Wilson sealed a probable cause affidavit supporting his arrest at the request of police and prosecutors, who cited an ongoing investigation.

Friends and other sources say Wolf has ties to the outlaw motorcycle gang the Hells Angels.

Read the rest of my story here.