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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Man convicted of kidnap, beating

Long Hair Terry got a raw deal and Smurf just got lucky, a Spokane County jury seemed to say Friday in a trial that played like a bad gangster movie.

The Superior Court jury convicted Colt Allen “Coltis” O’Connell of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree assault for stringing up Terry L. “Long Hair” Couveau in a garage and beating him.

But the jury acquitted the 36-year-old Newport, Wash., resident of kidnapping Stephen J. “Smurf” Miller and of robbing Miller and Couveau.

O’Connell and an alleged accomplice, Brian D. Thew, 50, were accused of stripping Miller and Couveau of clothing, and of stealing cash and other items from Couveau.

According to court documents, the sordid tale began when O’Connell got wind that Miller had been trying to find a buyer for a 750 Tiger Triumph Special Edition motorcycle O’Connell believed Couveau had stolen from him.

Five men, including O’Connell, surrounded Couveau in the parking lot of a tavern on East Sprague on Nov. 9, 2003. Couveau said two of the men, armed with handguns, covered his face and bound his wrists with duct tape before driving him to an auto shop in north Spokane.

Couveau, 34, said he was stripped of his clothing and suspended by his hands. His shirt was cut off him with a large knife, he told police.

Then, Couveau said, his hair was cut and set on fire with a torch.A knife was run up his torso, to his neck, causing a superficial cut, and he was struck three times, Couveau said.

He said his captors questioned him about the stolen motorcycle. They took $200 from him along with his watch and jewelry, but returned his jeans and shoes and gave him a T-shirt, Couveau stated.

He said O’Connell and Thew drove him to the vicinity of a Chevron station at 3602 E. Sprague and released him. A clerk at the Chevron station called 911 when Couveau came in bleeding from the mouth and looking as though his ribs were broken.

Couveau fled the Chevron station before police could arrive. He said later that O’Connell had threatened to kill him and his family if he reported the beating.

Friends took Couveau to a hospital, where he was placed in intensive care with a lacerated spleen. He told hospital officials a transmission fell on him.

Police didn’t find out about the beating until later that evening, when Miller allegedly escaped a similar fate with help from Thew. Miller told police O’Connell called him a day earlier and gave him one day to cough up the motorcycle or have an execution bounty placed on his head.

Miller, 24, wrote a letter to his girlfriend, saying “Coltis” was responsible if he went missing or was found dead. The next day, he said, he was working on a car at the home of some friends when two of O’Connell’s associates, Robin and Garrett, told him he needed to go with them.

When Miller refused, O’Connell allegedly came to chat. Miller said O’Connell put a large, curve-bladed knife on a coffee table while they sat on a couch and talked.

Eventually, Miller said, O’Connell ordered him to get in a car with him and Thew. He said O’Connell hit him in the face and threatened to cut him from his throat to his groin.

Miller told police they drove to Mikki D’s tavern, near Maple and Indiana, so O’Connell could pick up “a brother.” Miller pleaded with Thew to let him go.

Thew agreed, saying, “I don’t want to see you go through the same stuff Terry did,” according to Miller. So, even though his shoes and socks allegedly had been taken, Miller ran to a nearby home and called 911.

Police quickly spotted Thew’s car and arrested him and O’Connell, who was a passenger.

Thew testified against O’Connell and faces trial, tentatively on March 28, on a first-degree robbery charge. Judge Neal Rielly is to sentence O’Connell on April 8.

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