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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: CDA man’s body found in Salmon River

From Staff Reports

The body of a Coeur d’Alene man who disappeared on a canoe trip near Riggins, Idaho, was found in the Salmon River on Wednesday night.

The Idaho County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that the body of Jason Gritten, 35, was located by family and friends searching the river.

A second Coeur d’Alene man on the same excursion, Patrick Lusk, 27, remains missing.

Gritten’s body was found about 9 miles from where he and Lusk were thought to have crossed the river in the French Creek area. Family members said the pair had planned to canoe across and hike to Burgdorf Hot Springs.

The men were reported missing May 17. That evening a citizen found their canoe upside down in the river about a half mile below French Creek. The sheriff’s office found the pair’s vehicle but suspended the search for the two men after several days. Family members and friends continued to look on their own.

Gritten’s body was taken to Blackmer’s Funeral Home in Grangeville.

Attorneys added for minor cases

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office will get two new attorneys to handle a program that will delay prosecution of low-level offenders who drive while their license is suspended.

Spokane County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to fund two new positions in the prosecutor’s office through the end of the year, totaling about $97,000. Those attorneys will examine third-degree driving with license suspended cases and identify offenders eligible for a prosecution diversion program that would put illegal drivers on a payment plan to regain their license, rather than in a courtroom.

The Prosecutor’s Office said in March such cases make up about 35 percent of their caseload, taking time from attorneys who could be pursuing more serious charges.

The program was recommended in the “Blueprint for Reform” criminal justice document and a similar program is already in place in the Spokane Municipal Court.

Man shot in hand outside nightclub

A man arrested in Spokane several years ago on suspicions of murder in Florida was shot after leaving a North Division Street nightclub early Monday, according to court records.

Spokane police have requested cellphone records and searched the SUV belonging to Demarcus R. Ledent. Ledent told police at Deaconess Hospital he was shot in the hand sometime after 1 a.m. following a dispute outside of Swaxx nightclub, 25 E. Lincoln Road, in North Spokane. He called an acquaintance, who took him to the hospital.

Ledent was arrested in Spokane in January 2012 after police in Pensacola, Florida, issued a warrant for his arrest on a second-degree murder charge. Ledent was extradited there, where the case was thrown out in February 2013 due to lack of evidence, according to court records. No arrests have been announced in the case, and a weapon was not found in the car.

Suspect arrested after home fire

A man was arrested this week on a charge of first-degree arson after he allegedly set a house on fire while trying to burn some items belonging to his estranged wife.

Dalen A. Smith, 25, is accused of setting fire to a home at 1003 W. Kiernan Ave. on May 15. The disabled homeowner, who had been letting Smith and his wife stay in her basement, had to be assisted to escape the home.

Smith’s wife, who has a different last name, told police that she and Smith had argued on May 15 before he dropped her off at work. She said he later told her that that he had been trying to burn some of her clothes with gasoline when he knocked over the gas can, according to court documents.

Police were called back Monday to the home on Kiernan after a domestic violence incident between Smith and his wife. She then told police about his statements and said she is trying to get a divorce, court documents say. By then, the Spokane Fire Department already had determined that the fire was arson.

Idaho Democrat leader to step down

Larry Kenck, chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, will step down for medical reasons at the end of this week, and party Vice Chair Jeanne Buell will become acting chair.

Kenck, a retired labor organizer from Post Falls, was re-elected in March to a second two-year term as state party chair. “Sadly, health issues have come up that I must deal with,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “The path we are on requires an active chairman that is not dealing with these issues.”

A new state chair will be selected at the party’s spring quarterly central committee meeting on June 13.

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