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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Doug Clark: Knezovich spoke the plain truth

Not to belabor our ongoing coverage of the homicidal loon who took off while on a mental hospital- approved field trip to the fair, but I have one more thing to add. Kudos to Knezovich.

Friend helps officers locate escaped patient

Three days after he slipped away from a group of mental patients at the Spokane County fair, Phillip A. Paul was caught Sunday afternoon near Goldendale, Wash., after conning a friend into giving him a ride out of Spokane last week. The criminally insane killer whose disappearance attracted national attention was taken into custody about 4 p.m. without incident along a roadway. He was carrying a backpack with food, clothing and personal items. He also had a guitar and sleeping bag. A hand scythe protruded from the pack.

Feds unhappy with city attorney

Federal prosecutors have grown increasingly critical of what they describe as questionable behavior by the Spokane Police Department’s chief legal adviser, who reportedly used his position to provide “traditionally confidential” information to the officer under FBI investigation following the fatal confrontation with Otto Zehm. In documents filed recently in U.S. District Court, prosecutors describe a pattern of behavior by Assistant Spokane City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi that raises questions about whether the city actively sought to interfere with the federal investigation that led to a grand jury indictment of Officer Karl F. Thompson. Treppiedi disputes any suggestion that he has acted improperly.

Sheriff seeks jail site alternatives

The decision to expand Spokane County’s jail near downtown may be rescinded in the face of growing cost projections. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich on Wednesday asked county commissioners to rethink their 2008 vote to place a new jail next to the lockup that’s been in use since 1986. His reason: Estimates show building a multistory jail on the county campus would cost $265 million – $36 million more than a one-story version on vacant rural land.

Thompson supporters raise cash

Friends of Otto Zehm wore small blue buttons that read “Otto” in support of the mentally ill janitor, after he died in 2006 following a struggle with Spokane police. Now friends of Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. are rallying with $10 blue wristbands to raise money for Thompson’s “out-of- pocket” expenses as he awaits trial in federal court on charges of using unreasonable force against Zehm and lying to detectives who investigated the incident. Thompson has been transferred to desk duty and is still collecting his salary of about $73,000 a year, not including overtime. The city of Spokane and the federal government are paying his defense costs in the civil and criminal cases against him.

Spokane County tax extension passes with ease

Spokane County residents overwhelmingly agreed to continue contributing an extra penny on each $10 purchase to help pay for law enforcement. A ballot measure to extend a sales tax collected since 2004 was approved by about 61 percent of the votes tallied Tuesday night. While thousands of ballots were likely still in the mail and won’t be counted before next week, the approval margin was so large that county officials could claim victory.

Sales tax extension will go to voters

Facing a growing budget shortfall now estimated at $11.7 million, Spokane County commissioners Tuesday endorsed an extension of a small hike in the local sales tax for law enforcement and criminal justice programs. County voters will be asked in the Aug. 18 primary election to extend the one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax originally approved in 2004. Rather than the five-year life span voters approved then, they’ll be asked to extend it to 2020.

Spokane Valley Council makes plans to fill opening

It’s decided. In the event of two tie votes, the next Spokane Valley council member will be selected by a coin toss. Current council members spent time Tuesday night ironing out every detail of the council member selection process. They will vote on the procedure at the next council meeting.

County faces series of hurdles before fall vote on new jail

Spokane County faces a series of deadlines for decisions on a new jail. One is Aug. 11, which is the last day county commissioners can decide to put measures on the November ballot to ask voters to raise their property taxes for a bond issue worth hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new jail. They could also ask voters to raise their sales taxes by as much as two-tenths of a percent to pay for the jail’s operation.

No plans to activate emergency center, sheriff says

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said there are no immediate plans to activate the county’s Emergency Operation Center in response to swine flu, as has been done in Seattle.

No charges for arrested sergeant

After taking a second look at possible criminal charges against former Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Pete Bunch, city officials affirmed their decision Wednesday against charging him in connection with a confrontation he had with police officers on Feb. 6. City Attorney Howard Delaney reviewed the case after City Prosecutor Jim Bledsoe decided not to charge Bunch. Other law enforcement officials – including Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich – said they believed city officials had enough evidence to charge Bunch with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice.

Sheriff’s sergeant resigns, pending firing

Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick “Pete” Bunch resigned Thursday, two hours before Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich would have fired him following a string of questionable on- and off-duty behavior, including a recent confrontation with Spokane police. “I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the citizens for the actions of one of my deputies,” Knezovich said. “We will continue to work to make sure that we uphold the honor of the badge.”

Sheriff ponders discipline for sergeant

Mahalia Thompson starts shaking when she describes watching a prowler peek around a neighbor’s fence, enter her yard and approach her teenage daughter’s window. She called 911 twice the morning of Feb. 6 as the hooded, heavy-set man walked around her South Hill home, under her deck and into her driveway, where, Thompson says, he stared for several seconds at the license plate of a family vehicle.

ML council hears from sheriff

After well over a year of searching for a new chief of police, the Medical Lake City Council heard from Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich Tuesday to discuss what it would mean for the city to contract services through the Sheriff’s Office. Knezovich told the council that he wants to make sure the city’s needs would be met with any agreement. He said one of the benefits the city would receive would be two detectives staffed in the office. He would also work to strengthen the city’s current SCOPE program.

In brief: Knezovich will make Polar Plunge

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich will take the plunge – the Polar Plunge – on Feb. 28 for Special Olympics Washington. Knezovich is taking the risk of a cold or at least a lasting chill, all in the name of charity at Waterfront Park in Medical Lake. He has set a personal goal of raising $5,000 for Special Olympics. To help Sheriff Knezovich make his goal, visit sheriffozzieknezovich.

Sheriff calls for reform amid crisis

Reforming the criminal justice system is daunting enough with plenty of money. Yet local court, law enforcement and elected officials are pushing forward with their plans despite the worst budget crisis in decades. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has said he can’t manage the current system with the money he’s been given by the Spokane County Commission. But he’s a leading proponent of a consultant’s study that advises the county to spend more to change virtually everything about how the system handles offenders.

County jail commander retiring

Welds on a jail cell door were a reminder to Spokane County Jail Capt. Jerry Brady of the inmate who kicked it so hard, over and over, it finally fell off. The 66-year-old also recalls the bank robber who managed to escape the McNeil Island Corrections Center near Tacoma by swimming across the Puget Sound channel, but never found a way to slip out of Brady’s jail.