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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Meghann M. Cuniff

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Stark witness says abuse led to killing

When Shellye L. Stark gunned down her husband in an early-morning confrontation, she was reacting to a marriage so rife with abuse that she suffered from a clinical disorder called battered women’s syndrome, the disorder’s leading researcher said Thursday.
News >  Spokane

Murder defendant Stark recounts alleged abuse

It started in Hollywood. Months into her relationship with her future husband, Shellye L. Stark felt so pressured by him that she agreed to stand on a corner in the celebrity-studded area of California and accept money for sex.

News >  Idaho

Driver in critical condition after collision with snow plow

A Post Falls driver remains in critical condition after hitting a snow plow head on while rounding a curve on Highway 95 Sunday near Tensed. Diana Houston, 43, is in the intensive care unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane after her 1990 two-door Plymouth Laser struck an Idaho Transportation Department snow plow driven by David L. Duncan, 51, of Worley, about 4:15 p.m. at milepost 381, according to Idaho State Police. Houston’s passenger, Gary L. Waters, 51, is in stable condition at Kootenai Medical Center. Duncan was uninjured. Houston and Waters own Ancient Answers, which specializes in custom jewelry, minerals, crystals and natural healing seminars. The business moved from Wallace to Post Falls in November.
News >  Spokane

Boy lied about robbery, police say

An 11-year-old boy lied about being robbed on his way to school last week, police said Tuesday. The Sheridan Elementary School student told police a man in his late teens tried to stab him as he took out his wallet near a convenience store at Second Avenue and Thor Street March 5 about 8:45 a.m. The boy claimed the teen punched him in the head, scratched him on the hand with a knife and took his wallet and keys. Police detectives announced Tuesday that the boy made up the story, according to a news release, but spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe said no other details were available.
News >  Spokane

Police say robber posed as DEA agent

A man impersonating a Drug Enforcement Administration agent robbed two people trying to complete a cell phone sale advertised on Craigslist before being arrested by Spokane police Thursday night.
News >  Spokane

Prosecutor says Stark killing was carefully planned

Shellye L. Stark didn’t just kill her husband – she planned the murder meticulously, prepared the crime scene and ordered her son and nephew out of the home before gunning down Dale Robert Stark in a late-night ambush, the prosecution argued Wednesday.
News >  Spokane

Spokane police search for stabbing suspect

A stabbing sent one man to a Spokane hospital Tuesday night and left police searching for the culprit. Police were called to North Monroe Street and West Augusta Avenue about 8:30 p.m., where a man was transported to the hospital in unknown condition, said Officer Matt Rose. No suspect has been identified, and the major crimes unit is investigating. Police think the stabbing occurred outside, Rose said. “There’s several witnesses and people involved that the investigators are talking to,” he said.
News >  Spokane

Stark back in jail after contact with witness

A woman accused of killing her husband whose first-degree murder trial is expected to start this week is back in jail. Shellye L. Stark, 47, was jailed early Monday evening after she was spotted with her fiancé, Brian Moore, who’s listed as a state witness, during a break in jury questioning. Stark is prohibited from having contact with state witnesses, so Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen issued a bench warrant that revoked her $250,000 bond Monday upon the request of the prosecution. She won’t be allowed to post another, court papers show. She’s already paid the nonrefundable 10 percent of the bond twice – first a month after the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of her husband, Dale Robert Stark, then in June after her GPS tracking device showed she’d left the area, also a violation of her release conditions. Stark is claiming self defense, and a national domestic violence expert is expected to testify for the defense that years of marital abuse prompted an overreaction when her husband threatened her. Prosecutor Mark Cipolla and defense lawyers Russell Bradshaw and Bryan Whitaker declined comment Tuesday, but court minutes show the defense acknowledged the contact but pleaded with Eitzen to allow Stark to stay free. “We are just days away from this judgment for her,” Bradshaw told the court. “… Her testimony is going to be a heck of an emotional day, and I still need to be able to sit down and just be with her on that.” He asked Eitzen for an exception allowing Stark to see Moore, as has been granted for other state witnesses such as her nephew, sisters, mother and son, but Eitzen ordered Stark to stay off the jail phone and have no unauthorized contact with state witnesses, including Moore. “Apparently she has had quite a bit of time with this gentleman in violation of a court order,” Eitzen said, according to court minutes. Moore, of Orange County, Calif., is described as “under investigation in California and Washington for numerous crimes” in the motion from the prosecution asking for the warrant. In a 3-page statement blasting the investigation issued last week, Moore said he’s still facing questions for his role in the shooting. Moore has said he met Stark through an online message board devoted to prostitution while Stark was working under the name Nikita Jennifer. According to Monday’s court minutes, Cipolla watched Stark kiss Moore and get in his yellow sports car Monday afternoon, and that Moore then told Spokane police Detective Kip Hollenbeck that he’d been staying with Stark at her Spokane apartment. In a statement Tuesday, Moore blasted the decision and compared Hollenbeck to Dale Stark, whom the defense have said in court was a compulsive gambler who flew into a rage at the slight disturbance and was threatening to kill Moore and Shellye Stark. “Hollenbeck is the new and much more evil Dale Stark and has continued the abuse in his place,” Moore wrote. Hollenbeck declined comment. Shellye Stark told police she was at Dale Stark’s home in December 2007 with her nephew to serve a restraining order when he came home from a business trip about 1:45 a.m. and threatened her. Prosecutors filed a conspiracy to murder charge against Stark last week that says she conspired with her sister, Karen Jacquetta, and mother, Dennise Johnson, to obtain the gun used to kill her husband. Police reports say Jacquetta was en route to Spokane from Priest River with the gun the day before the killing when she hit a moose, but her son retrieved the gun from the wreckage and gave it to his aunt in the Deaconess Medical Center parking lot. The jury pool under questioning is the second called. Last week, Eitzen issued a continuance because the defense told prospective jurors the case didn’t involve the death penalty. Bradshaw and Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell drafted an additional question for the new jurors Tuesday that asks about preconceptions of punishment in an attempt to gage whether they knew of last week’s decision. The new jury could be seated today, and opening arguments are still expected this week.
News >  Idaho

Rogers teacher cited for indecent exposure

A high school math teacher cited for indecent exposure in Post Falls two weeks ago continued teaching before Spokane Public Schools learned of the incident through a police news release Tuesday afternoon. Daniel James Rhoades, 31, was cited for the misdemeanor Feb. 19 after a woman called 911 Feb. 7 and said a man had exposed his genitals to her as she sat in her parked car in the parking lot of Super One Foods at 805 E. Polston Ave. about 11 p.m. Police traced the license plate of the suspect’s blue Dodge Dakota to Rhoades, who was issued a citation after he admitted the crime, said Post Falls police Capt. Scot Haug. “He had confessed to the investigator that he’d done this on several other occasions, but this was the first time he’d been caught,” Haug said. Rhoades, a Post Falls resident who’s taught at Rogers High School in north Spokane since fall 2006, was put on paid leave Tuesday afternoon, said schools spokeswoman Terren Roloff. Rhoades had worked as a substitute teacher since February 2006 before being hired at Rogers, where he taught mostly freshmen and sophomores, Roloff said. He also coached the 8th grade wrestling team at Shaw Middle School.

Memorial service honors Spokane’s first woman tow truck driver

Thursday was not the day to call for a tow truck in the Inland Northwest. Drivers from across Washington and North Idaho gathered in Spokane to honor an icon in their industry, ending Elizabeth A. “Betsy” Merrill’s memorial service with a funeral procession of nearly 70 tow trucks.
News >  Idaho

CdA businessman faces federal cocaine charges

A prominent Coeur d'Alene insurance agent and school booster charged with possessing cocaine this month is part of a larger criminal conspiracy investigation involving at least a half a kilogram of the drug and dating back more than a year.

Teen pleads guilty in bomb threat at CdA Casino

A North Idaho teenager pleaded guilty this week in connection with a bomb threat that cleared the busy Coeur d'Alene Casino last summer. Sinead Shrae Ambro, 18, of Plummer, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for a federal charge of maliciously conveying false information. She was indicted in October for making a false 911 call shortly before midnight on July 15 that said five bombs had been placed in the casino and would explode within minutes. The threat evacuted the casino for more than three hours as bomb-sniffing dogs scoured the building. Investigators traced the call to a pay phone outside a market in Ambro's hometown. Ambro entered the plea Wednesday and will be sentenced May 11 in Coeur d'Alene by U.S District Judge Edward Lodge.

SCC accident kills running coach

The death of a heralded running coach and Spokane Community College instructor in a bizarre bowling alley accident left the school and Northwest track community devastated Thursday.

Spokane man wanted in stabbing

A Spokane man is accused of stabbing a friend in the neck and chest during a fight over a car, and Spokane police are asking for help finding him. Terry Cleaver, 45, is wanted on a first-degree assault charge after his friend drove himself to Holy Family Hospital Tuesday evening with stab wounds. The victim, whose name has not been released, was in stable condition this morning at Deaconess Medical Center, police said. Others may be involved in the incident, and police are asking anyone with information to call Crime Check (509) 463-2233.

Car strikes pregnant woman; husband jailed

A fight over income tax returns ended in an Athol man backing his car into his pregnant wife today, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department. Jerry Booker, 25, was jailed on an aggravated battery charge after deputies say he knocked his estranged wife, Kimberly Booker, 24, who is eight months pregnant, to the ground with his car in the parking lot of Wells Fargo bank, 204 W. Hayden Avenue in Hayden. The couple had been arguing about taxes when Jerry Booker tried to drive away and Kimberly Booker stood behind his car and tried to call police, a news release said. Jerry Booker's past criminal charges include accessory to a felony, two probation violations, grand theft and three counts of forgery, according to the sheriff's department.