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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Nespelem man gets 22-year federal prison sentence for multicounty kidnapping, assault crime spree

Aug. 9, 2022 Updated Tue., Aug. 9, 2022 at 9:03 p.m.

The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse is seen from the north in this May 2019 photo.  (JESSE TINSLEY)
The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse is seen from the north in this May 2019 photo. (JESSE TINSLEY)

A 35-year-old Nespelem, Washington, man already convicted of at least one violent felony will spend more than two decades in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges connected with a multicounty crime spree on June 1, 2020.

John Edward McGinnis was sentenced to 22 years in federal custody Tuesday morning for crimes that included holding four people, including his mother and nephews, at gunpoint, and erratically firing the gun before leading Spokane police on a chase that ended in Liberty Park.

McGinnis had begun the spree in a Nespelem trailer by firing at an air conditioner, which eventually exploded and set the trailer on fire, according to court records.

Victims reported McGinnis was in the trailer that evening, acting erratically. He then threatened them, his mother and nephews, ages 9 and 13, with the gun before firing it . He then ordered them to into a truck to drive from Nespelem to his trailer, which he set on fire, according to court records. McGinnis continued to fire the gun out the window as they drove, investigators said.

The woman persuaded McGinnis to allow the children to use the bathroom. They escaped from him at Coulee Medical Center, but he drove off, after which he abducted another minor from her home. His defense attorney said it was the home of his drug dealer. The 17-year-old told police she believed McGinnis’ loud knock at her back door was her boyfriend, the alleged drug dealer.

McGinnis abducted the teenager and drove her in the direction of Spokane, according to court records. At one point, he stopped the truck, put the gun in his mouth and asked the kidnap victim to pull the trigger, but she refused.

He later pulled off the road again and demanded she touch him sexually. When she refused, he brandished his gun and repeated the demand and she kissed him, according to court records.

McGinnis stopped at a gas station just after 1:40 a.m. and threatened to shoot the teenager if she did not return after paying for gas. The teenager told the clerk to contact police and locked herself in the bathroom. McGinnis again sped off, eventually being chased by police to Liberty Park, where his vehicle was disabled and he was arrested.

McGinnis, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon, arson, felon in possession of a firearm and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violation, all against federal law because it occurred on reservation land.

Federal prosecutors had requested a 25-year sentence, noting that McGinnis had previously been sentenced to 10 years in prison on another assault charge. He was released from custody in April 2020, just a few weeks before the spree, after facing allegations he was not following court orders on release on the previous charge, according to court records.

“The facts of this case are shocking: Mr. McGinnis assaulted several minor victims, kidnapped them at gunpoint, sexually assaulted one of the minor victims, set fire to a trailer, and led police on a car chase that endangered even more lives,” U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref said in a statement. “The emotional trauma to each of these victims is real and will continue far longer than the twenty-two year sentence imposed today.”

Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell and Police Chief Craig Meidl also praised the coordination of law enforcement and the victims for coming forward in apprehending McGinnis.

McGinnis had requested a 20-year sentence, citing a “horrific childhood” that included sexual abuse and mental illness that requires medication. McGinnis was not taking his medication when the crime spree occurred, he said. An aunt wrote U.S. District Court Senior Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson that she believed if he’d been treated at a halfway house, the crimes would not have been committed.

Peterson handed down the 22-year sentence, which includes two years for violation of his previous conditions of release.

McGinnis was listed in custody of the Spokane County Jail on Tuesday afternoon.

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