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Man gets 184 years after rejecting plea

A man sentenced to 184 1/2 years in prison for a shooting that injured one person declined a plea deal that would have given him 10 to 12 years in prison.

Gregory Sharkey, Jr., 27, had three attorneys over the course of nearly two years before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt convicted him of 10 counts of first-degree assault, said his public defender, Terence Ryan.

State law requires that sentences for violent felonies be served consecutively. The first count of first-degree assault carried a standard range of 24 to 29 years, including enhancements because he used a firearm and because a co-defendant used a firearm. The remaining nine counts each brought a standard range of about 17 to 20 years.

The result was an eye-opening sentence of 2,215 months - the low end of the standard range. Imposed by Sypolt late last month, Sharkey's sentence is an example of what can happen under strong gun sentencing laws enacted by the Washington state Legislature.

"We made him an offer of much less than that and he chose to go to trial," said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla, who handled the case. "I don't have any direction at sentencing once somebody goes to trial."

Sharkey chose to take his case to a bench trial instead of a jury trial, Ryan said.

"I told him it might be wiser to go in front of a jury," Ryan said. "That's 12 people who have to make a decision, with a judge it's just one person."

Sharkey declined an interview Monday at the Spokane County Jail, where is awaiting transport to prison after his sentencing late last month. Ryan said Sharkey didn't seem surprised by the sentence.

"He was surprised that the judge found him guilty, but he wasn't surprised at the length of the sentence," Ryan said. "He knew all abut the sentencing, the possible worst-case scenario."

Sharkey was arrested in December 2009 after a two-day crime spree in which shots were fired at a Spokane police officer and at a group of young people outside a home. Sharkey fired indiscriminately into the group while co-defendant Tony E. Dawson shot one person.

Later, after passing by the shooting scene, Dawson opened fire on a Spokane police patrol car; no one was injured.

Sharkey "supplied both guns," Cipolla said last week.

"The legislature, which I agree with, is tough on people using multiple guns in violent crimes," Cipolla continued. "Ten people could have ended up dead here."

Dawson is serving about 21 years for the crimes. Margaret Shults, who was in the stolen SUV when Dawson fired shots, is serving 77 months.

Both did what Sharkey did not: accept a plea deal.

Sypolt's decision to convict him of 10 violent felonies left himself no choice at sentencing.

"It's apparently what the Legislature wanted when they passed what's called 'hard time for armed crime,'" Ryan said.

Sharkey's convictions have already been appealed.

Ryan filed a motion for arrest of judgment after the verdict, saying it was based on the testimony of Shults, who has a lengthy criminal history and omitted any mention of the defendants when first interviewed by detectives. The motion was denied.

Sharkey had a previous felony conviction for first-degree robbery. He was shot while committing that crime in February 2006.

Cipolla said he's "had a couple" of 100-plus-year sentences while a deputy prosecutor, including Anthony L. Wright, who's serving 134 years for a drive-by shooting that killed a 3-year-old girl in 2001. "Few and far between, but they're there."

"That's the way it goes sometimes, I guess," Cipolla said. "Not much I can say about it."

Police seek DNA in pot theft shooting

Police this week obtained a DNA sample, injury photos and x-rays of a second suspect in a medical marijuana robbery that ended with the homeowner firing several shots.

Detectives believe Joseph A. Gariepy, 41, (pictured) who was arrested on unrelated charges last week, was shot in the head when Raymond Paul Bates, 49, tried to steal marijuana plants from a home at 1023 E. Gordon Ave. on Oct. 3.

Bates was arrested Oct. 3 with a gunshot wound to his head; a tipster later told police she'd removed a bullet from Gariepy's head shortly after the shooting.

Police hope to compare Gariepy's DNA to blood stains found in a brown 1976 Ford Courier truck, which matches the description of the getaway truck, found near an alley in the 4500 block of North Division Street three days after the shooting.

Gariepy was named a Crime Stoppers fugitive Oct. 18, and police noted a wound on his right ear consistent with a bullet when he was arrested on Oct. 27.

The shooter, Darcee Kapfer, did not notify police about the shooing but said in an interview with detectives that she shot the would-be thief after he grabbed a piece of wood. Kapfer reportedly told police, "I'm pretty sure I hit him. I'm a pretty good shot."

Kapfer, who was legally allowed to possess the plants because of a state authorization card, has not been arrested. Police say a small child in the home told them "I think my mom shot a guy in the back and they are going to Canada," according to the affidavit.

Bates remains in jail on $10,000 bond for robbery and burglary charges.

Gariepy has not yet been charged in this case. He is a repeat offender suspect with a 26-year criminal history, according to Crime Stoppers.

3 suspects appear on murder charges

Three young people arrested for the 2007 shooting death of a 30-year-old Spokane man appear in Superior Court Tuesday on first-degree murder charges.

Derrick Gregory Martin-Armstead, 20; (left) Jaleesa D. Anderson, 22; and Marc A. Anderson, 20, (right) remain in Spokane County Jail after appearing before Judge Harold Clarke. 

Martin-Armstead was arrested last week after an informant told police he'd implicated himself in the murder of Daniel J. Burgess during conversations at the jail in May and June 2008. Burgess was shot to death on Nov. 12, 2007 while in the living room of a home at 2413 N. Dakota Ave. 

He already has felony convictions for a marijuana robbery that occurred two weeks before Burgess’ death. In that case, Martin-Armstead shot a juvenile in the buttocks with a .22 revolver. Burgess was shot in the chest with a .22 caliber bullet, according to court documents,

After Martin-Armstead was arrested Oct. 24, police say he said things that were inconsistent with what he told detectives in 2008. He said he'd previously lied to police but still insisted that another man was responsible for the shooting, according to court documents.

He said he told people he and Anderson did the shooting "only to get some static," or respect, documents say.

Martin-Armstead's lawyer, Kevin Griffin, said he plans to request a substantial reduction in his client's $1 million bond based on the facts of the case. Jaleesa Anderson's bond is $100,000. Marc Anderson's $250,000.

Man, 20, arrested for 2007 homicide

A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a 2007 homicide.

 Derrick Gregory Martin-Armstead remains in the Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond after appearing in court on Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge for the Nov. 12, 2007, shooting death of Daniel J. Burgess, 30.

An informant told detectives this month that Martin-Armstead had talked about his involvement in the case while in custody at the Spokane County Jail.

Read the rest of my story here.

Jury: Husband, stepson killed Reynolds

CHEHALIS, Wash. — The 1998 shooting death of a Washington state trooper was a homicide and the woman’s husband and stepson were responsible, an inquest jury concluded today.

The verdict drew gasps in a small Chehalis courtroom. It also ended a long campaign by Ronda Reynold’s mother, Barb Thompson, of Spokane, to prove her daughter’s death was not a suicide, as it was initially ruled.

Jurors did not specify why they suspected Ronda Reynolds’ husband, Ronald Reynolds, and her stepson, Jonathan Reynolds. The jury’s rulings were unanimous.

Read the rest of the story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 4: Ruling changes in ex-trooper's death

Oct. 15, 2010: State trooper's death focus of Ann Rule book

Wife’s spot saves man from cop gunfire

A Spokane Valley man who pointed a starter pistol at officers last week was not shot because his wife was in the line of fire, police announced today.

William Thomas Laroque, 28, said "Well, hello officers" and began calmly walking toward Sgts. Don Manning and Matt Smith when they arrived at his home in the 5300 block of East 8th Avenue after 3:10 a.m. on Thursday, according to a news release from the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Officer Jeremy Howe had been there about three hours earlier after Laroque's wife reported to 911 that he slapped her during an argument. No arrests were made because Howe didn't find evidence of the assault, and Laroque had already fled the home. Laroque's wife called 911 again when he returned and refused to leave, police said.

Laroque was about 30 feet away from police when "he pulled what appeared to be a pistol from his pants and aimed it in a two-handed stance at Sgt. Smith," according to the release.

Police drew their guns but realized Laroque's wife was behind him and in the line of fire. Laroque continued aiming the gun at Smith but dropped it several seconds after the sergeants began ordered him to do so. He also tossed a knife in the driveway and got on the ground, where he was handcuffed.

The wife repeatedly told police the gun was fake and also thanked them for not shooting her husband, police said. Laroque was arrested on a domestic violence charge and is in custody at Geiger Corrections Center on $3,500 bond.

Cops: Vengeful beau fired shot in motel

A man accused of hiding in his ex-girlfriend's motel room and threatening her and her new boyfriend with a handgun appeared in court Wednesday on burglary and assault charges.

Matthew A. Raney, 24, was arrested Tuesday, two days after police say he attacked his ex-girlfriend, Sara Anderson, and her boyfriend, identified both as George Howard and John Howard in court documents, in a room at the Trade Winds Motel, 907 W. Third Ave.

Police swarmed the building Sunday about 9:19 p.m. amid reports of an armed suspect hiding somewhere in the motel. Officers did not find the gunman, but Anderson identified him as Raney, who she said lived with her at the motel until thee or four days ago.

She said she arrived home that night to find a note left by Raney, who then came out of the bathroom with a handgun and pushed her to the ground before hitting Howard in the head with the pistol.The two wrestled and a shot was fired, but no one was injured. A motel worker and another renter said he saw Raney exit the room holding the pistol.

A tip to Crime Check placed Raney back at the motel on Tuesday about 4:15 p.m. and indicated he may be ready to turn himself in. Raney was arrested without incident.

Raney told police he was high on heroin and upset about breaking up with Anderson, who he said was his wife of more than two years. He said he was high on heroin the night of the shooting and wanted to leave a note for his wife. But he was concerned her new boyfriend would see it first so he waited in the bathroom with the gun, according to court documents. Raney remains in jail on $50,000 bond.

Man dead in suicide/attempted murder

A Spokane woman was wounded Monday in a shooting by her ex-boyfriend, who then fatally shot himself, police said.

The man’s body was found slumped in a yard outside a home converted into apartments in the 3100 block of East Fifth Avenue, according to the Spokane Police Department. A gun was found nearby, neighbors said. Both the victim and gunman are in their mid 20s, police said. The two recently ended a relationship.

Read the rest of my story here.

Gunman wanted in downtown shooting

Police are looking for a suspect in a shooting Sunday night in downtown Spokane.

Matthew A. Raney, whose age was not released by police, is accused of firing shots at 907 W. 3rd Ave.

Police locked down the four-story Trade Winds Motel about 9:10 p.m. Officers couldn't find a victim and had conflicting reports of where the suspect was. They found his room empty but blood on a bed, then learned a victim had located police in an office in the building and said there was a second victim, whom police found in a nearby room.

The victims said the suspect was hiding in their apartment and "and came at them with a gun," according to a news release.

A fight over the gun ensued, and a shot was fired. The victim suffered a cut to his head but the second female victim was uninjured.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
  

Report: Murder suspect declined meds

A triple-murder suspect from Montana who was arrested in Spokane Valley will be returned to the Big Sky state as soon as possible to face federal charges, a fedearl judge ruled today.

Sheldon Bernard Chase, 22, faces a mandatory term of life in prison if convicted of murdering his 80-year-old grandmother, Gloria Sarah Goes Ahead Cummins; his cousin, 21-year-old Levon Driftwood; and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Rueben Jefferson.

Authorities say Chase has a history of mental illness and was not taking his medications when he used a rifle to kill the three victims Tuesday, southwest of Lodge Grass on Montana's Crow Reservation, then drove to the Spokane area. Two small children witnessed the killings, authorities say.

He was arrested Wednesday about 4 p.m. during a traffic stop near the Spokane Valley Mall.

Chase appeared before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno this afternoon in a hearing that was delayed an hour because Chase "felt faint," court officials said.

Clad in a yellow Spokane County Jail jumper, Chase remained seated during the hearing instead of standing before Imbrogno as is typical. Chase waived all future hearings in Spokane and is to be transported back to Montana shortly.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a 3-year-old, one of two child witnesses, told investigators that Chase and Jefferson were fighting when Chase shot the three victims.

A neighbor who reported the shooting said she saw Chase driving from the home about 12:10 p.m., then went to the home and saw two of the victims.

Chase's mother in North Dakota told FBI agents that Chase took a commemorative gun with him when he left her home on Monday. Investigators found a text message on Driftwood's phone about 20 minutes before Chase was spotted leaving the home Tuesday that indicated he had arrived, according to the affidavit.

Mont. murder suspect arrested in Valley

Law enforcement officers remove a shooting victim's body from a home about nine miles south west of Lodge Grass Tuesday near Montana's Crow Reservation. (AP Photo/The Billings Gazette, James Woodcock)

A 22-year-old man accused of killing three people in Montana was arrested Wednesday near the Spokane Valley Mall.

Sheldon Bernard Chase was taken into custody without incident during a traffic stop about 4 p.m., said Frank Harrill, agent in charge of the Spokane office of the FBI.

“We do not believe there are any other subjects at large,” Harrill said.

Chase is suspected of using a rifle Tuesday to kill his 80-year-old grandmother, Gloria Sarah Goes Ahead Cummins; his cousin, 21-year-old Levon Driftwood; and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Rueben Jefferson.

Read the rest of the story here.

Police identify pot thief shot by woman

Spokane police have identified a man who was shot Monday by a woman while trying to steal medical marijuana plants as Raymond P. Bates, 49.

Bates was scheduled to appear in Superior Court today on a first-degree robbery charge.

Bates was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to the back of his head before being booked into jail.

Police found him near North Crestline Street and East Empire Avenue after a woman who knows him called police to say he'd been shot while trying to steal marijuana plants.

According to police, Bates had fled the home at 1023 E. Gordon Ave. with at least one marijuana plant after being shot by the female homeowner, identified in court documents as Darcee Kapfer. Kapher lives at the home with Jason Kirby.

Kapfer said she armed herself with a 8-foot piece of wood, but the thief grabbed it and struck Kirby, so she retrieved a .38 caliber revolver from her home and fired it at him five times, according to court documents.

A man who reportedly drove Bates from the robbery has not been located, nor has the truck they were driving.

Kapfer, who did not call police after firing the shots, has a medical marijuana authorization, police said. Police found 11 plants in her yard, which is under the legal limit.

Tips sought on prosecutor’s ‘01 slaying

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder walks into the Thomas C. Wales Conference Room at the U.S. Federal Courthouse on Wednesday in Seattle. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder sought help from the public on Wednesday in renewed efforts by federal authorities to find the killer of an assistant U.S. attorney who was fatally shot through a window in his Seattle home.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Wales is believed to be the only federal prosecutor to die in the line of duty, although authorities have not established a motive in the 2001 slaying.

"We will never give up our search for the truth," said Holder, who came to Seattle to reassure friends and family of his former colleague that the investigation remained active, even after 10 years.

He emphasized that new information was coming in on a regular basis. But law enforcement officials believe witnesses who hold the key to solving the crime possibly are too afraid to come forward.

Wales was 49 when he was killed on the night of Oct. 11, 2001, as he sat at his computer in the home in the Queen Anne neighborhood. The shots went through a window from his backyard.

The longtime federal prosecutor mostly handled white-collar crimes and had been active in a gun-control group.

His son, Tom Wales, told The Associated Press that anniversaries, like this 10th one, are for the public. They remember their dad every day, especially at happy times such as his sister's wedding earlier this month, he said.

"We're patient," he said, a reference to the time that has passed since his father's death. "We know this kind of complicated investigation can take a very long time indeed."

"Things have been progressing every year," added Amy Wales, his sister.

In a video created for the case and in their comments to the media, both children said Wales was respected in his community and at his job, but he was primarily a great father.

Amy Wales urged witnesses to be brave and make an effort for justice, just as her father did during his career.

Tom Wales compared his father to the character Jimmy Stewart played in "It's a Wonderful Life," and talked about the ways he affected other people's lives, from planting trees on the top of Queen Anne hill to climbing mountains with his children.

For a time, police and FBI focused on an airline pilot who was bitter over being prosecuted by Wales in a case involving the sale of helicopter parts. His home in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue was searched three times, but he was not charged.

A Bellevue gun dealer also was arrested as a material witness in the case because he had purchased parts for a handgun like the one used to kill Wales. A unique gun barrel had been used in the shooting.

The gun dealer was convicted in 2007, but the conviction was overturned in 2009.

Wales' killing remained a top priority of the FBI, said Gregory Fowler, the head of the bureau's office in Portland. The Justice Department has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to a conviction of the shooter.

"We know there are people out there who haven't come forward," Fowler said. "Even the smallest clue may help."

2 at large after fatal shooting in Quincy

Police have identified three persons of interested in the shooting death of a man in Quincy, Wash., on Friday.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Gerardo Miguel Valenzuela Navarro, 18, (right) or Erwin Vazquez, 20, (left) is asked to call their local law enforcement agency or the Quincy Police Department at (509) 787-2222. 

Also identified as a person of interest is Eddie Alvarez Hernandez, 21, (right) who is in custody on a Washington Department of Corrections hold.

Police believe the three may be connected to the shooting death Ramiro Muñoz, Jr.

2 more charged in Stevens Co. homicide

Two additional suspects have been charged with murder in the shooting death of a Stevens County man in July.

Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin, 27, (pictured) and Collette Marie Pierce, 25, appeared Thursday in Stevens County Superior Court on first-degree murder charges for the death of Gordon Feist, 63, during what investigators believe was a botched robbery attempt. They also are charged with second-degree murder as an alternate.

They are to be arraigned Tuesday, said Deputy Prosecutor Lech Radzimski.

The accused triggerman, Eric Lee Booth, 26, has been in jail on a murder charge since July 20.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Gunfire ‘just because’ leads to arrest

A young father arrested on a drug charge last month was arrested again Friday after allegedly firing a gun in Spokane Valley.

No one was injured by the gunshot, which Benjamin Marcus Crocker-Beck, 21, told deputies he'd fired "just because," according to a probable cause affidavit.

Deputies were called to the 100 block of South Tschirley Road about 7:45 p.m. Friday after a man heard a gunshot and saw Crocker-Beck walking in the area.

Deputies found Crocker-Beck with a loaded 9mm Ruger handgun in his front waistband. The gun's serial number was filed off.

Crocker-Beck has previous felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing firearms.

Crocker-Beck's arrest on gun charges came just one day after prosecutors filed a drug charge against him related to a search in August in which people were found smoking Oxycodone in the presence of Crocker-Beck’s 1-month-old child, accoridng to police.
  

Man killed in Moses Lake shooting

MOSES LAKE, Wash. (AP) — The Grant County sheriff's office says deputies who responded to a report of a disturbance Wednesday night found a man on the ground in the Larson Housing area near Moses Lake with a gunshot wound to the chest.

He died on the way to a hospital.

Detectives are interviewing a person involved in this shooting, but they aren't calling the person a suspect.

UI officials met w/ Benoit before slaying

University of Idaho officials met with Kathryn “Katy” Benoit on the day she was killed and cautioned her to remain vigilant and keep in contact with the Moscow Police Department, according to the university.

In a news release, UI President M. Duane Nellis also announced that he has directed university attorneys to seek court approval for the release of personnel information from former professor Ernesto Bustamante, who shot Benoit 11 times on Monday outside her Moscow apartment.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 26: Vigil honors slain UI student

Aug. 24: Family: Slain student had complained about suspect

Victim’s friends ID’d professor to 911

Hundreds of students, staff and friends gathered in Friendship Square in downtown Moscow Idaho to honor slain U/I grad student Katy Benoit on Thursday. (SR photo/Christopher Anderson)

By JESSIE L. BONNER,Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — In the immediate aftermath of a brutal killing on their back porch, the roommates of a slain Idaho graduate student told a 911 operator that they could think of only one person who could have fired the fatal shots — a university professor whom their friend had recently dated.

Meghan Walker-Smith and Emma Gregory were heard on the 911 recording released Thursday telling a dispatcher that Katy Benoit (left) had been involved with a University of Idaho professor named Ernesto Bustamante, (right) who police say alternately referred to himself as a "psychopathic killer" and "the beast."

Benoit's roommates told the dispatcher Bustamante had just been asked to leave the school. The operator asked the two, who could both be heard speaking on the call, whether Bustamante's departure was because of Benoit, one roommate replied, "Yeah."

"He just got asked to leave the university," she said. "That's why I'm assuming this would happen."

Read the rest of the story on the 911 call by clicking the link below.

Friends of Benoit held a candlelight vigil in her honor Thursday night in Moscow. Read the story here.

Middle-finger salute leads to gunfire

A father and son were arrested Wednesday after a neighborhood dispute that began with a middle finger led to a pistol being fired into the ground.

Stephan R. Day, 53 is accused of firing the pistol while his son, Stephan D. Day, 18, is accused of trying to hide his father's guns before police arrived. Police say the incident began about 9:15 p.m. when the elder Day "extended his middle finger" at a neighbor and his friends, according to a news release by Spokane Valley police Sgt. Dave Reagan.

The neighbor said Day has a history of harassment. He and his friends were leaving when Day again flipped them off, so they "decided to return and respond in kind," Reagan said. Day retrieved a .44-caliber pistol from his home and fired it into the ground at the men's feet, who retreated and called 911. No one was injured.

Police arrived to find the victims hiding behind a car and saw a man later identified as Day, Jr., drop a gun over the fence at the home. Police ordered him to drop the weapon and located three rifles on the ground, as well as two guns along the fence line. Day, Jr., was arrested for possession of a pistol by a minor and evidence tampering.

His father, who has felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing firearms, was arrested for five counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and single counts of harassment – threats to kill and reckless endangerment.

Police seized the pistol as well as a .330-magnum rifle, a 7mm rifle, a .45-caliber muzzle-loader rifle and a final rifle of unknown caliber. The Days are due in Superior Court today.

Family: Murder victim filed UI complaint

A Moscow police officer uses a video camera in a room rented by Ernesto Bustamante at the University Inn-Best Western in Moscow, Idaho, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Geoff Crimmins)

BOISE — A college professor who alternately referred to himself as a “psychopathic killer” and “the beast” committed suicide after killing a graduate student he had recently dated, police said in newly revealed court documents.

Meanwhile, Katy Benoit’s family said  Wednesday that the psychology student had become increasingly alarmed about Ernesto A. Bustamante’s behavior and had taken steps to get away from the man who police say eventually killed her.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

3-strikes trial skipper gets life in prison

A Spokane man arrested for a shooting after skipping the last part of his robbery and assault trial was sentenced this week to life in prison under Washington's three-strikes law.

A jury convicted Larry A. Powell, 54, of second-degree assault and first-degree robbery in July for an incident at Kmart after he skipped the last part of the trial.

Crime Stopeprs was offering a reward for his capture when he was identified as a suspect in a July 30 Spokane Valley burglary in which shots were fired at a neighbor who tried to stop the thieves.

Powell is described by Crime Stoppers described as an armed career criminal with a 36-year arrest history that includes convictions for second-degree theft, first-degree theft, third-degree theft, second-degree burglary and second-degree theft.

He's in custody at the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

More charges in Colville murder probe

A 26-year-old man has been charged with stealing the firearm that was then used to kill a Stevens County man and retired U.S. Navy SEAL in what investigators believe was a botched burglary.

 Christopher George Nichols (left) remains in the Stevens County Jail on $500,000 bond after pleading not guilty last week to nine counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, nine counts of theft of a firearm, and single counts of residential burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and trafficking in stolen property in the first degree. 

Detectives believe Nichols, a convicted felon, burglarized the home of Robert Hannigan, 3294-H Bradeen Road, on June 28, with Eric Lee Booth, 26, (right) who is accused of shooting Gordon Feist to death on July 17.

Feist served three tours in Vietnam as a U.S Navy Seal and it was considered in character for him to confront prowlers outside his upscale home south of Colville, according to a police report. Booth had worked at the home before; detectives believe he told Feist he'd run out of gas when he was confronted, and that Feist trusted him and let his guard down.

The 63-year-old retiree was shot to death as he gave Booth a ride on his utility vehicle to his supposedly out-of-gas car, detectives believe, leading the vehicle to crash into a power pole. Booth was arrested three days later after a Washington Department of Corrections officer noticed cuts on his face consistent with the crash while talking to Booth's brother. It took four officers to restrain Booth and place his in handcuffs, according to a police report. He'd told his family he'd been injured in a motorcycle crash. When his mother learned he was a suspect in Feist's death, she approached him and yelled "Eric what the **** are you doing? Gordon is a family friend," according to the report.

Booth told deputies he burglarized Hannigan's home with Nichols, and deputies located two stolen rings through the Spokane pawn shop database. Nichols denied pawning the items, but a receipt at Pawn 1 in North Spokane was signed by him, according to police.

 According to a previous report, Booth told detectives that 27-year-old Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin (left) and 26-year-old Collette M. Pierce were with him during the botched burglary at Feist's home.

Fellman-Shimmin remains in custody at the Ferry County Jail on a hold from the state Department of Corrections.

Pierce pleaded guilty to the drug charge last week and was sentenced to 90 days at the Stevens County Jail. Booth faces $750,000 bail for murder, burglary and gun charges. The investigation into Feist's death is ongoing.

Past coverage:

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Trial skipper arrested after shooting

A Spokane man wanted by Crime Stoppers after skipping the last part of his robbery and assault trial case was arrested recently after shots were fired at a neighbor trying to stop a burglary.

Larry A. Powell, 54, is now awaiting sentencing and arraignment for separate assault and robbery cases after he was arrested last week, accused of stealing property from a home in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue in Spokane Valley, then shooting at a neighbor who tried to stop him.

The neighbor and his wife saw two men at the home on July 30 about 8:25 p.m. and confronted them, then contacted the homeowner who said no one should be at the home, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office

The neighbor followed the men as they left in a white mini-van before the car turned around and someone began firing at him with a handgun, missing him but disabling his vehicle, according to a search warrant filed Monday. The man was able to record the license plate number, which was a registered to a woman who said she'd left the car with Powell when she moved to Michigan two years ago.

The neighbor identified Powell from a photo montage.

The alleged shooting occurred just days after a Spokane County jury convicted Powell of assault and robbery for an incident at Kmart last fall.

Powell didn't show up for the last days of the trial, but court proceeded without him. Crime Stoppers last week had offered a reward for tips that led to his capture.

Powell was booked into jail Thursday.

Murder suspect may plead insanity

COLVILLE – The suspect charged with killing a Colville-area man last month is exploring the option of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, a prospect that bothers the dead man’s common-law wife.

 “I find that really unsatisfying,” Denise Ridley said Tuesday after the scheduled arraignment of accused killer Eric L. Booth (pictured) was postponed for a mental evaluation. “He knew what he was doing. He just ruined my life.”

Booth is charged with first-degree murder, burglary and possessing a stolen firearm in connection to the July 17 killing of 63-year-old Gordon R. Feist, Ridley’s partner of 13 years.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Gunfire in west Spokane leads to arrest

An argument between two men erupted in gunfire early Saturday in west Spokane, leading to the arrest of a man on assault and gun charges.

The victim told police he was arguing with John J. Felch, 19, about 2:30 a.m. in the intersection of West Boone Avenue and North Lindeke Street when Felch returned about a half hour alter and fired several rounds from a gun.

The victim, identified only as Patterson in court documents, called police about seven hours later to turn himself in on an unrelated warrant and to report the shooting. Two other witnesses told also police that Felch fired several shots, and a man who lives in the 2600 block of West Boone reported hearing gunshots and finding 9 mm shell casings near a street curb.

Police searched Felch's bedroom at 1922 W. Broadway Ave., where they found a 20 gauge shotgun. The 9 mm handgun used in the shooting was not located.

Felch was booked into jail on charges of first-degree assault and first-degree felon in possession of a firearm; police said he as a previous conviction for first-degree robbery, but court records show the charge was actually attempted first-degree robbery, which was ajudicated in juvenile court and is not considered a felony conviction. A previous version of this post also said witnesses described Felch as a gang member, but Felch isn't actually a gang member.

Tribe member guilty of manslaughter

A federal jury in Spokane convicted a 22-year-old Colville tribal member of involuntary manslaughter Friday.

Rudy M. Garcia was acquitted of first-degree murder and other lesser included offenses following a two-week trial in U.S. District Court, said Tom Rice, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Garcia faces a maximum of eight years in prison. His sentencing is set for Oct. 27.

Garcia turned himself into tribal police in December 2010, about a month after tribal member David E. McCraigie, 22, was shot to death at 810 Sixth St. in Omak.

The men argued at a party before Garcia retrieved the rifle from his Jeep about 2 a.m. Nov. 5, 2009, according to court documents. Garcia claimed self defense.

Cops think botched theft led to murder

When a gunman shot and killed a 63-year-old retiree in a quiet Colville-area neighborhood, detectives say he left behind a crucial piece of evidence: The suspected murder weapon.

A handgun located near Gordon R. Feist, who was found in the wreckage of his utility terrain vehicle Sunday with two bullet holes in his head, helped police identify Eric Lee Booth, 26, (pictured) as a suspect in Feist’s murder, Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen said today.

Booth, who was arrested Wednesday, appeared in Stevens County Superior Court today on charges of second-degree murder and possession of a stolen firearm. He remains in jail on $750,000 bail.

Investigators believe Booth was trying to burglarize Feist’s upscale rural home south of Colville when he encountered Feist and told him he needed help because his car had run out of gas.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Stevens Co. slaying baffles neighbors

A 63-year-old retiree is dead after a weekend attack outside his upscale home near Colville, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Gordon R. Feist was shot twice late Sunday on Smart Way, a private cul-de-sac about four miles south of Colville, as he rode a small utility vehicle. He was taken off life support Monday at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

A neighbor reported a car crash to Stevens County officials about 11:20 p.m. after witnessing Feist crash into a utility pole as he rode a small vehicle that another neighbor described as a Kubota-style golf cart. Medics arrived to find Feist bleeding from two gunshot wounds, said Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen.

Sheriff’s officials say they have no suspects or motive in the slaying but say they don’t believe it was accidental.

Read the rest of my story here.

Fair-weather murder witness charged

A man who backed out of an agreement to testify at a fellow gang member's murder trial has been charged with two felonies for his alleged involvement in the slaying.

Antonio E. Cook, 29, appeared in Superior Court Monday on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

He's accused of conspiring with accused killer Edward Lee "T.D." Thomas to commit the assault that led to the death of John S. Williams, and of helping hide Thomas when he was sought on a first-degree murder charge. DNA found on the rifle used to kill Williams matched Thomas' DNA, according to court documents.

Cook has confessed to providing the weapon to Thomas and has said that Thomas was angry with a gang member who had "disrespected him," according to court documents.

Thomas was driven from the murder scene by Cedric E. "Dirty" Burton, who is in prison for rendering criminal assistance. Police say Thomas went to Cook's house after the shooting and stayed there until the next day.

Police wanted Cook charged with second-degree murder under the state's accomplice law, but prosecutors instead opted for the assault charge.

It's the third felony case filed against Cook since June, after it became clear he would not be testifying against Thomas, who's to stand trial Aug. 22.

Cook already is due to serve 22 months after pleading guilty in May to unrelated third-degree assault and witness tampering charges. He's already awaiting sentencing after a jury convicted him last week of first-degree burglary, fourth-degree assault and witness tampering for an unrelated domestic violence case.