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

Murder suspect accused of trying to smuggle bag from outside through cell window 12-stories up

A photo of the Spokane County Courthouse and County Jail taken in 2019.   (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A 22-year-old man accused of murder was charged this week with damaging a Spokane County Jail cell window to allow a coffee bag with a “powdery substance” inside to be hoisted about 12 stories into his cell.

Gavin M. McGregor faces one count of first-degree malicious mischief, according to court documents.

McGregor, 19-year-old Hagen F. Charbonneau, 18-year-old Leland J. Westerland and 21-year-old Sapphire B. Jespersen face murder, assault and robbery charges stemming from a “drug deal gone wrong” that left 17-year-old Tyler Rowell dead and two others injured last year in an East Central Spokane shooting.

A correctional officer at the jail was returning to the facility Monday from an unrelated prisoner transport and noticed a male wearing a black hoodie and a black backpack standing on the east side of the jail, according to documents. The officer saw a bag being hoisted upward and into a cell window. The male standing outside then fled.

A correctional sergeant at the jail was notified of the incident and responded to the cell where correctional staff removed McGregor, the sole occupant, documents say. The sergeant pressed on the glass window to ensure it was secure and the glass fell to the ground, which was about 12 stories, he wrote in documents.

Two bent bolts and a black plastic comb were at the base of the window, court records say.

The sergeant reviewed camera footage and jail phone calls. He saw a string dangling in front of the camera on the east side of the building.

He listened to a phone call from McGregor’s phone records and heard a conversation in relation to the incident, he wrote. The sergeant reported McGregor was on the phone with the person at ground level talking about items being put in the bag.

A deputy located a small Keefe Coffee bag in a pile of trash near McGregor’s cell door. The bag “possibly” contained a powdery substance, the deputy wrote.

The bag also contained a long, thin string and a wet paper towel. The contents of the bag had a “very prominent earthy and alcoholic odor,” the deputy said in documents.

The deputy tested the contents of the bag for fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine, but did not determine the substance. He seized the bag as evidence for further drug testing.

Cpl. Mark Gregory, spokesman at the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, said the sheriff’s office is investigating, and additional charges are possible.

McGregor made his first appearance for the malicious mischief charge Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court and is scheduled for an arraignment June 25.

McGregor, Charbonneau and Westerland remain in jail on $1 million-plus bonds and are set for trial in August for the murder case. Jespersen posted bond and is also set for an August trial.