Security was tight Friday when Pend Oreille County methamphetamine cook Walter “Randy” Todd pleaded guilty to six criminal counts and was sentenced to 7-1/2 years in prison.
Todd was transferred to the Spokane County Jail earlier this week, about the time police raided a Spokane “meth house” in which his fugitive brother, Ryan “Todd” Todd is believed to have been involved.
There was no official explanation for the transfer or the extra security, but some insiders said authorities feared a possible attempt to help Todd escape. Two deputies hovered near Walter Todd and a third guarded the door of the Spokane County courtroom, where Todd admitted his guilt to a Pend Oreille County judge.
Several members of Todd’s family were present, but not Ryan Todd, who remains at large with a price on his head.
Ryan Todd, 24, escaped from the Pend Oreille County Jail on Oct. 30 by climbing over an exercise yard fence. He was last seen Jan. 29, when Pend Oreille County authorities raided a meth lab at Walter Todd’s rural home about six miles south of Newport.
Walter Todd, who turned 34 Thursday, was arrested along with co-defendant Jack K. Gannon, but Ryan Todd got away on a snowmobile police believe he stole in Spokane.
Gannon faces trial April 13. He is to be released from jail without bail next Thursday under an order signed Thursday by Pend Oreille County Superior Court Judge Larry Kristianson.
Deputies found a pot of meth brewing on a woodstove in the small trailer where Gannon was living on Walter Todd’s property. Between that trailer and Todd’s nearby fifth-wheel trailer, authorities found several loaded weapons, pipe bombs in various stages of construction and a container of glass shards - apparently for bomb shrapnel.
Todd insisted the bombs weren’t his, and during plea bargaining a charge of illegal possession of explosives was dropped. But a more serious charge from a prior incident, attempting to elude police officers in a 100-mph car chase, was substituted. Ironically, that opened the door for the judge to give him a longer sentence.
Court-appointed defense attorney Tim Trageser didn’t say who built the bombs found on Todd’s property. But Spokane police said they found other bomb-making supplies in the Spokane meth house associated with Ryan Todd.
Trageser said Walter Todd and other family members have been unfairly tainted by news reports about Ryan Todd.
Walter Todd could have gotten more than 20 years if he had been convicted in federal court of the drug offenses covered by Friday’s plea agreement. As part of the deal, U.S. Attorney James Connelly agreed not to pursue federal drug charges.
Also, Deputy Pend Oreille County Prosecutor Tony Koures agreed not to charge Todd in an incident last summer in which a man was beaten almost to death. And Koures agreed not to file any charges against Todd’s wife, Libbie, in connection with the meth lab.
She appeared in court with their 8-year-old son, Robert.
Trageser said two other young sons were killed in a February 1988 car accident that also claimed Todd’s mother, Patricia. An avalanche forced her car into the Clark Fork River, near Clark Fork, Idaho, and she and her grandsons drowned.
After that, Trageser said, Todd “went crazy” and began using drugs.
Trageser didn’t talk about a 1994 fourth-degree domestic violence conviction that was the basis for Todd’s conviction Friday on two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Libbie Todd was severely disfigured and nearly killed when Todd shot her in the face with a shotgun while they were arguing.
Using gestures and notes, she indicated from her hospital bed that her husband slapped her but didn’t shoot her on purpose. She said he had been kneeling next to the car she was in, and slipped when he got up. He claimed he had the weapon because he routinely carried it.
Other charges to which Todd pleaded guilty Friday were possession of more than 40 grams of marijuana, manufacturing methamphetamine, first-degree possession of stolen property and attempting to elude police.
In contrast to previous court appearances, Todd was polite and respectful through most of the plea hearing. He became angry, though, when Superior Court Judge Rebecca Baker sentenced him to 11 months more than Koures and Trageser recommended.
“I would never have pled guilty if I had known it wasn’t going to be the 6 years that was promised,” Todd said, “but I understand that you can do whatever the hell you want.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 Color)
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Charges Walter “Randy” Todd pleaded guilty Friday to charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of more than 40 grams of marijuana, manufacturing methamphetamine, first-degree possession of stolen property and attempting to elude police.
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