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Gun Thief Gets 125 Years, Killer Less

A Stevens County judge sentenced a convicted gun thief Tuesday to 125 years in prison – a term that’s about 100 years longer than the prison terms given to three others for a murder committed using one of the stolen guns. Superior Court Judge Pat Monasmith sentenced Christopher G. Nichols, 27, to 125 years in prison, despite the fact that he had no role in the 2011 killing of Colville resident Gordon Feist. Nichols wept, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said. Rasmussen defended the sentence, saying the burglary was “the root of this violent and senseless killing of Mr. Feist, who was acting as a good Samaritan when he was killed.” Spurning a deal before trial that would have reduced his sentence by about 100 years, Nichols and his defense attorney, Bevan Maxey, took the case to trial, where a jury found Nichols guilty of 21 charges, including gun theft, trafficking in stolen property and being a felon in possession of firearms/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Was the sentence for the gun thief appropriate?

TSA settles lawsuit from prosecutor

The Transportation Security Administration has paid Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen $225,000 for medical bills resulting from a fall in 2008 during an airport screening.

Rasmussen, who walked with a cane following childhood polio, filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in 2010 following an incident on April 4, 2008, at the Spokane International Airport. As he was being screened, Rasmussen alleged that he was told to sit but didn’t know a chair had been pulled away. As a result he fell, causing back and hip injuries.

Rasmussen said government attorneys disputed the hip injuries but agreed the fall caused back injuries, which in turn required surgery. Since the fall, Rasmussen often now relies on wheelchair for mobility, he said.

The case went to mediation and an agreement was reached in May, but order for negotiated dismissal wasn’t entered until this week.
  

Boss assaults man who flipped him off

A propane company supervisor recently was convicted of misdemeanor assault for attacking an employee who flipped him off last summer.

A jury convicted John Wilkinson, a supervisor for Ferrellgas, of fourth-degree assault last week after a one-day trial Stevens County, said Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

Wilkinson was in the back lot at the Ferrellgas office on Aug. 26 when an employee “made a vulgar sign to him with his middle finger” and Wilkinson got out of his truck and confronted him, Rasmussen said in his weekly column.

The men argued, and the employee ended up with bruises on his neck that he said were caused by Wilkinson shoving him up against a wall and choking him. The fight was related to an incident two days earlier, Rasmussen said.

The jury deliberated about 45 minutes before convicting Wilkinson, who was represented by Peter Jones. Lech Radzimski prosecuted the case.

Past employees are expected to speak at Wilkinson’s sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 5.

Rasmussen wrote about the trial in his weekly column. Read the entire column by clicking the link below.

Stevens Co. prosecutor suing U.S. gov

Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen is suing the federal government, alleging he was injured during security screening at the Spokane International Airport more than two years ago.

Rasmussen, who walks with canes, said he fell on the floor and injured his back and tailbone when Transportation Security Administration officials moved his canes and chair without telling him.

Rasmussen “fell violently to the floor” when he tried to sit down after screening, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by Spokane lawyers Michael Wolfe and Paul Mack.

Rasmussen filed a claim with the Transportation Security Administration in March regarding the April 4, 2008, incident, but the agency denied the claim “due to the passage of time,” according to the complaint.

“I’m increasingly handicapped as a result of this,” Rasmussen said on Thursday. “I eventually had surgery on my back because of this.”

The complaint seeks unspecified damages.

Real voter fraud is bad, but it’s rare

Mention “voter fraud” and the politically righteous thunder how it won’t be tolerated. How nothing is more important than protecting the ballot. How only the lowest of the low – usually connected with the opposing party – would stoop to such a thing.

So when elections officials fingered a Stevens County man for voting twice in 2008, the system swung into action. A sheriff’s detective interviewed Alan Christensen about the fact that his signature appeared to be on documents for two ballots, one in Washington and one in Oregon.

Christensen didn’t remember voting twice. But unfortunately for the recent Marine Corps retiree who left the service in 2008 after his second tour in Iraq, he couldn’t definitively say he didn’t.
He was charged with “making a false declaration as a voter”, a class C felony.

Christensen’s story isn’t pne of Chicago-style ballot box stuffing, but an example of how efforts to make it easier to register and vote can contribute to confusion and possibly bad balloting…

Donations to prosecutor’s charity probed

What do David Miller, John C. Cooney, Dallas Cooney; Christian Phelps, Ronnie Rae, Frank Cikutovich, Paul Mack, Frank Bartoletta, John Clark, Rob Cossey, Tony Hazel, Jared Cordts and Larry Steinmetz have in common, other than law degrees?

All apparently donated to a Guatemalan orphanage supported by Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

Two Stevens County judges have asked the state bar association to investigate, saying they are concerned about Rasmussen’s practice of encouraging defense attorneys to contribute to the fund.

They submitted a copy of a February 2009 telephone message from Miller that says: “He had a good month. Does your charity need anything?” Miller said this week that he was “really offended” by the complaint.

Read John Craig’s story here.

Child-molesting school counselor: I’m guilty

By Thomas Clouse

COLVILLE — A longtime psychologist for the Colville School District who also volunteered with police to help investigate child abuse pleaded guilty today to molesting one of his students and attempting to molest another.

Craig L. Figley, 59, of Colville, could be sent to prison for the rest of his life, though prosecutors will recommend he be ordered to serve about 13 years behind bars when he is sentenced on May 10.

“We have concerns about other victims,” Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said. “We very much hope these were the (only) two.”

In addition to the first-degree child molestation charges, Figley pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Images of young boys were found on his school computer and his home computer contained images of young boys engaged in sex.

The mother of the one of the victims said she wants justice for her child.

“This man has been in the school system for 30 years. You don’t wake up one day and decide you are a pervert,” the mother said. “That’s my concern is that there are other victims.”

Read the rest of Clouse’s story here.