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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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2nd brother found guilty; 1st acquitted

Compiled from staff reports The Spokesman-Review

A teenage defendant pleaded guilty Thursday to a robbery for which a jury acquitted his older brother last week.

David Williams, 17, and his brother, 32-year-old Anthony James Williams, were charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree assault in a Feb. 1 attack on Richard M. LaFortune. David Williams allegedly kicked LaFortune and stomped on his head and chest after Anthony Williams knocked him down.

LaFortune had been walking along Second Avenue, near Broad Street, when he was attacked about 1:25 a.m. He told police the Williams brothers took $18 from him and tried to steal his coat and shoes before officers arrived.

Court-appointed defense attorney Dennis Dressler said David Williams confessed when police chased him down. Williams wanted to accept all blame because his older brother already had two “strikes” under a Washington law that requires life in prison for felons convicted of a third “most serious” offense, Dressler said.

Although Anthony Williams avoided a strike when he was acquitted of the robbery count, it did him no good. Williams struck out when the jury convicted him of second-degree assault.

Although he was 16 at the time of the crime, state law required that David Williams be prosecuted in adult court. Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins accepted the joint recommendation of Dressler and Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz, and sentenced Williams to a standard maximum nine months in jail.

Primary ballots in mail for Spokane County voters

For absentee voters in Spokane County, the primary ballot is in the mail – if they have something that needs to be decided in the primary.

Spokane County Elections Manager Paul Brandt said Thursday the county mailed more than 90,000 ballots this week for the Sept. 20 election. The ballots should arrive by Tuesday, he said, for voters who live in districts which have a primary.

Some districts, however, won’t have primaries, or primary ballots, because there are less than three candidates running for office in that district and no ballot measures. The northeast council district in the city of Spokane, for example, does not have a primary, although the other two council districts do.

Airway Heights, Cheney, Deer Park and Spokane Valley also have primary races, as do Fire Districts 3 and 8, East Valley and St. John school districts and the East Spokane Water District. Spangle voters have a fire protection levy on their ballot.

Voters in those cities or districts that do not receive their ballots by Wednesday should call the elections office at 477-2320 to get a replacement ballot.

Absentee ballots can be mailed back any time before the polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day, or dropped off at a poll site. They must be signed in the appropriate space on the back of the return envelope.

Spokane Public Schools have online chat Tuesday

The first online chat by Spokane Public Schools superintendent Brian Benzel will be held during the district’s first day of school at noon Tuesday. These chats are open to everyone and are scheduled on the first Tuesday of each month. Questions can be submitted to Benzel anytime before and during the chat.

The site can be found online at www.spokaneschools.org. Click on the “Interview with the Superintendent” link. Transcripts of old chat sessions can also be found at the link.

Weekend forecast worries Montana firefighters

A forecast for hot, dry weather over the Labor Day weekend is raising concern on the Montana fire front.

In many areas, stringent fire restrictions are being continued at least through the holiday and some backcountry areas have been closed to public use by fire activity.

On the Seepay 2 fire Thursday, officials estimated the 6,000-acre blaze was about 40 percent contained, with the fading cool, calm weather providing a boost for firefighters working along the southern edge of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Rick Janssen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes said containment was likely two weeks away.

Some 340 people were on the fire by Thursday, and Janssen said about 120 more were expected Friday.

A spot fire that erupted south of the main fire joined the main fire Thursday as air tankers dropped retardant to slow its spread.

No residences have been ordered evacuated and no buildings have been threatened in an area about 15 miles east of Plains and 15 miles west of Dixon, officials said.

Janssen said Montana 200 remained open but travelers were asked to keep to the posted speed limit of 35 mph because of heavy smoke, and a fire restriction for aircraft of five miles around the Seepay 2 fire remained in effect.

The relatively cool weather and an absence of wind Thursday helped firefighters as they dug more lines along the blaze and prepared to ignite some areas to reduce fire fuels, said information officer Wayne Johnson.

The fire broke out Sunday and is believed to have been caused by human activity, Johnson said.

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