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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mentally ill suspects to get special court

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Pocatello, Idaho Mentally ill crime suspects in Bannock County may soon have access to an alternative court system that replaces hospital confinement and jail time with professional help and self-rehabilitation.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare approved the county’s application for a so-called mental health court earlier this month. The new court will be capable of treating 10 to 25 participants initially.

To help fund the new program, an increase in fines for misdemeanors and felonies goes into effect July 1 in Bannock County.

Suspects in the mental health court must plead guilty to their crimes to participate. If they complete the program successfully, their charges will be dropped. Those who fail must serve their sentences.

The program will be run by a group called the Assertive Community Treatment team, which is boosting its staff to accommodate the increased workload created by the new court. ACT currently helps mentally ill people remain in the community by checking on them daily.

The mental health court will be overseen by 6th District Judge Ron Bush, who said the exact date of the court’s start is unclear. That will depend on how quickly funding for the project arrives, as well as other factors, including training for staff.

Transient pleads not guilty to woman’s murder

Seattle A 29-year-old transient from northern California has pleaded not guilty in the May 23 slaying of a mother of four in Bellevue.

Ignacio Rosas entered the plea to a first-degree murder charge Monday in King County Superior Court. He is being held in the King County Jail on $2 million bail.

According to court papers, Rosas killed Cassandra Oliphant, 33, a pregnant mother of four, as she walked along a trail near Bellevue Community College. Police found Rosas lying nude on top of Oliphant’s body.

Prosecutors say Rosas dragged Oliphant through blackberry bushes, sexually assaulted and then strangled her.

King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng has said Rosas could be sentenced to a maximum 26 years in prison if convicted.

Oliphant lived in an apartment complex just north of the college. Court papers said she left her apartment for a nearby Department of Social and Health Services office.

A man walking along the path alerted a security officer about a half-hour later, after hearing snapping branches and noticing a shirtless man in the bushes.

Investigators say Rosas drove to Seattle from King City, Calif., looking for work about four weeks before he was arrested. Rosas had been convicted of burglary in California and had been arrested for investigation of other crimes, but his criminal record showed no violent behavior, police said.

Officials said it was the first homicide in Bellevue since 1998.

Ex-airman gets life sentence for killing wife

Mountain Home, Idaho A former airman at Mountain Home Air Force Base who was convicted in January of killing his pregnant wife received a life sentence Tuesday in 4th District Court.

Albert Ciccone, 27, won’t be eligible for parole.

He was convicted of first-degree murder for driving his car into his wife, Kathleen Terry, on Oct. 16, 2003.

Ciccone and his wife allegedly fought near her mother’s home on Ditto Creek Road in Elmore County on the night of the killing, prosecutors said.

Following the altercation, police said Ciccone intentionally drove his car into his wife at about 50 mph while she was walking along the road. She died instantly.

Defense lawyers said it was an accident.

Ciccone was also convicted of second-degree murder in the death of the fetus. Judge Michael Wetherell sentenced Ciccone to 15 years in prison for that crime.

Tulalip Tribes plan hotel, convention center

Tulalip, Wash. The Tulalip Indian Tribes plan to break ground on a 13-story hotel and convention center this summer.

Tribe officials made the announcement on Monday. Budget plans should be completed this week and officials hope to begin construction in August.

The plan calls for a 380-room hotel that can be expanded and convention space for 2,000 people, Quil Ceda Village manager John McCoy said.

The hotel will sit on four or five acres between the Tulalip Casino and the recently opened Seattle Premium Outlets shopping center, and officials say construction should take about two years.

The plans continue a recent surge of development at Quil Ceda Village. In June 2003, the tribes opened a 227,000-square-foot, $78 million casino and last month the $58 million outlet mall opened.

Suspicious box contains cremated remains

Medford, Ore. All Interstate 5 traffic on the Oregon-California border stopped for 21/2 hours Monday while police investigated a suspicious box placed under the “Welcome to California” sign.

After an investigation by a bomb technician from the Oregon State Police, the box was found to contain apparent cremated remains.

“We can’t say for sure, but that’s what it looks like,” California Highway Patrol Sgt. Jerry Gillespie told the Mail Tribune of Medford.

Southbound traffic was closed at milepost 11 in Ashland at about 6:20 p.m., minutes after northbound traffic was halted near Hilt, according to the CHP. Hundreds of cars were left backed up in both directions.

Traffic was reopened shortly after 9 p.m., said Gillespie, who added that it is illegal to dispose of ashes in this fashion.