Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Police investigating teen girl's death


Authorities are investigating the death of a 16-year-old girl found inside her apartment in the 200 block of Alaskan Way South, Seattle police reported Tuesday.

There were no signs of struggle or foul play but the King County Medical Examiner's Office has yet to determine how the girl died.

On Monday, the girl's father called police about 11:15 a.m. to the apartment, where the girl lived with her mother. The father had been unable to reach his daughter and went to check on her. He found her unconscious on a bedroom floor, police spokeswoman Renee Witt said.

Medics pronounced her dead at the scene, Witt said.

Homicide detectives were called to investigate, which is required any time there is a death involving someone under the age of 18, Witt said.

Prosecutors appeal Ressam sentence


The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle appealed Tuesday the 22-year sentence imposed on convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam.

An alert customs officer in Port Angeles thwarted Ressam's plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium holiday rush in 1999 when she stopped him as he drove off the Victoria ferry with a trunk full of explosives.

An appeals court sent the case back to U.S. District Judge John Coughenour for resentencing because of his failure at Ressam's original sentencing in 2005 to clearly enumerate how he had calculated Ressam's sentence under federal guidelines. Coughenour rejected a request from prosecutors at a Dec. 3 hearing that Ressam be sentenced to life in prison because he has stopped cooperating with investigators, instead re-imposing a 22-year sentence.

At the time, prosecutors said they intended to appeal.

Friday, December 26, 2008

DNA leads to charges in years old Yakima County rape cases

An unknown rape suspect has been charged in connection with two attacks that happened more than seven years ago — based only on DNA.

By Mark Morey

Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA — An unknown rape suspect has been charged in connection with two attacks that happened more than seven years ago — based only on DNA.

The charges are the first time such a case has been filed in Yakima County, said deputy prosecutor Patti Powers, who handles many of the county's sex-crime cases.

The move stops the clock on the statute of limitations, which would expire 10 years from the incidents.

If the suspect is arrested in connection with another crime that requires the collection of DNA — such as rape or another violent offense — then Yakima County's charges could be pursued.

As DNA technology has improved, police around the country have reviewed older cases in hopes of making a match.

Yakima police Capt. Greg Copeland said detectives have examined most or all of the pending cases in which they believe DNA could be useful.

The analysis was performed at a state crime labs. The Washington State Patrol, which operates the labs, does not track how many DNA-only rape charges have been filed, but several similar cases have been filed in other counties.

The two sexual assaults mentioned in the charges — which were filed last week — are a rare example of stranger rape in the Yakima area, Copeland said. Most rape cases involve family members or acquaintances.

The first case was reported on July 27, 2000. A woman who was then 38 years old said she was walking from a downtown nightclub around midnight when the attacker walked up behind her near Fifth Avenue and D Street. He grabbed her and said he would walk her home, then led her toward some bushes, where he raped her, according to the police report.

The second case was reported on Feb. 26, 2001.

A woman, who was then 54 years old, reported she was looking for the family's pet in the 500 block of North Second Street when the suspect walked up from behind her. He overpowered and sexually assaulted her, according to the police report.

The victims were only able to provide a vague description of the suspect.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Driver arrested after striking pedestrian on SR 202

P-I Staff

A Bellevue man was arrested late Sunday after his vehicle struck a pedestrian walking along State Route 202 in Fall City, the Washington State Patrol reported.

The 53-year-old driver was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of vehicular assault. The pedestrian, Matthew R. Mahaffey, 34, of Snoqualmie, was taken to Harborview Medical Center, the State Patrol reported.

The collision was reported just before 7:30 p.m. The 1991 Honda Civic was heading west when it struck Mahaffey. Investigators think the driver was under the influence, the State Patrol reported.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Man found shot in Snohomish


A 49-year-old Snohomish man was found wounded Friday morning from a gunshot to the head, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies responded to a 911 call from the victim's brother about 9:17 a.m. The brother said he went to the man's home on the 6100 block of 171st Avenue Southeast after he had not heard from him for several days.

The brother told deputies that he found the man on his bedroom floor with a single wound to his head. A gun and gun-cleaning rod were found near the victim, and there was no indication of foul play, the sheriff's office said. The man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jury set to decide fate of deputy charged in civil rights case


Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Wednesday whether a King County sheriff's deputy violated a woman's civil rights by allegedly striking her several times while she was handcuffed.

Brian Bonnar, 42, is charged in U.S. District Court with depriving Irene Damon of her civil rights by using excessive force against her. On Oct. 22, 2005, Damon, a known crack addict, led police on a high-speed chase through Burien and White Center and then, after she stopped, fought with deputies trying to arrest her. Damon had rammed two patrol cars.

One of her passengers, Alvin Wafer, was wanted on a warrant for selling crack.

"Everyone, including those who commit crimes, have rights under the Constitution that should be protected," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Harris said during his closing argument Tuesday.

Bonnar is accused of kneeing Damon in the head at least twice and slamming her head against a patrol car after she'd been handcuffed for resisting arrest. Four deputies testified during the weeklong trial that they saw Bonnar strike Damon, although with variations in their accounts. Many of the witnesses had also struggled with Damon on the ground.

Bonnar, whose trial began last Tuesday before Judge Thomas Zilly, also is charged with making false declarations to a grand jury about his conduct. The case marks the first time in at least a decade that a law enforcement officer has been charged under the civil rights statute.

Defense attorney David Allen urged jurors in his closing argument to see things from Bonnar's view -- to see that he had to make split-second decisions while tangled with a belligerent suspect who might be armed.

More important, Allen said, were photos of Damon's face after the episode. The photos, displayed in court, showed her face absent of bruises, serious swelling or bleeding, raising doubts about the accusations leveled by other deputies, he said.

Bonnar had two years on the job and less experience than other officers, he said.

"It's remarkable in my mind that Deputy Bonnar is on trial after what Ms. Damon and Mr. Wafer have done, after the mischief they have caused," Allen said.

Harris reminded jurors that evidence of "physical pain, no matter how temporary" is enough to convict a police officer under the civil-rights statute.

Bonnar was suspended for 20 days after an internal investigation, something the jury did not hear. His superiors found that his actions were out of control and recommended that he be fired.

But Sheriff Sue Rahr opted for suspension after conferring with department legal advisers, who thought Bonnar would win an appeal.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feds: Drug smuggling attempt busted at Birch Point

Federal officials say two Canadians were arrested on a beach in northwest Washington as they were allegedly preparing to smuggle about 260 pounds of cocaine into Canada on a personal watercraft.

Federal officials say two Canadians were arrested on a beach in northwest Washington as they were allegedly preparing to smuggle about 260 pounds of cocaine into Canada on a personal watercraft.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Lorie Dankers, says 48-year-old Dhymitruy Bouryiotis and 36-year-old Montgomery Read Hill, both from the Vancouver, British Columbia, area, were arrested for investigation of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

An agency news release says that at about 1:30 a.m. Friday, federal border agents observed a person, later identified as Bouryiotis, moving heavy objects from a home to the shoreline at Birch Point, southwest of Blaine and a short distance south of the Canadian border.

About 2:30 a.m., a personal watercraft approached the beach and the operator, identified as Hill, met up with Bouryiotis on the beach, where they were arrested.

Agents found five bags on the beach filled with packages of suspected cocaine.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Client assaults public defender


LYNNWOOD, Wash. – He is always on the "other side of the fence" – arguing for leniency for the alleged bad guys.

But this time, a local public defender reportedly fell prey himself to a client's fist.

He didn't see it coming, but there is visual testimony that this unsuspecting lawyer was caught off-guard.

"I have a broken nose, I have the black eyes, and it's kind of bleeding over to the other side," said Jim Feldman. "It doesn't feel great. I'm wondering how I didn't see it coming."

"I leaned down to get to the file. The next thing I experienced was a punch," he continued. "Then he hit me again. I felt the second punch."

Outside attorney Jim Feldman's office door, associate attorney Joseph Jordan responded to the fracas.

"I heard a scuffle and a punch," he said. "I was trying to get into the room, he was trying to get out of the room and he pushed me aside."

The suspect allegedly tried to flee the office, but then other workers attacked him right outside the door.

"I just chased him out to the parking lot and I guess I tackled him in the parking lot," said Jordan.

Tuesday's brouhaha erupted from a seemingly minor complaint. David Linden allegedly visited the office of his former attorney demanding a consultation on an old DUI case.

"He was obviously getting more agitated, his voice was rising somewhat," said Feldman. "I said, just sit down and be calm, I don't want to have to call the police."

Feldman says the suspect hit him twice – the first time on the cheekbone.

Now, this public defender finds himself in a unique position.

"I'm always on the other side of the fence, arguing for leniency for the defendant, and now the level of violence impacted me directly," he said.

Police arrested the suspect for second-degree assault. Feldman is still considering how lenient he now feels.

Attorney Jim Feldman has worked as a public defender for nearly 35 years, and although he's been verbally attacked, he says he's never faced physical violence before.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Police arrest two in home invasion robbery


Snohomish County sheriff's detectives have arrested two men suspected in a home invasion robbery during which the victim was tied up for several hours.

The robbery happened on Dec. 4 sometime between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at a home in the 9000 block of 163rd Avenue SW.

Investigators said the two men overpowered a woman who was home alone at the time and tied her up. They then stole a pickup truck and some guns.

On Monday, Tacoma police stopped a car for a traffic violation and found the passenger, a 40-year-old man, with a bag that had some of the items stolen in the robbery. That man was booked into the Pierce County Jail.

On Tuesday, Snohomish County deputies arrested a 31-year-old Arlington man, also during a traffic stop, and booked him into the Snohomish County Jail. Both are expected to face charges connected with the home invasion robbery, including robbery, kidnapping and burglary.

The sheriff's office said the men likely cased the neighborhood prior to the robbery and selected the victim's home after deciding there would be valuables inside. Detectives have recovered some of the stolen items.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Port of Seattle executives resign in fraud scanda


SEATTLE – Two Port of Seattle executives have resigned in the wake of the Port fraud scandal and more employees could be punished.

“Both employees submitted their resignation after being confronted with this information and I have accepted their resignation,” said Port CEO Tay Yoshitani.

A disciplinary report was released Tuesday morning. Most of the fraud findings involve the third runway at Sea-Tac Airport and a cozy relationship between several Port executives and contractors which resulted in things like altered invoices and no competition in some of the bidding.

Yoshitani identified the executives who resigned as Larry McFadden, General Manager of Port Construction Services and John Rothney, Project Manager for the third runway.

No further resignations or firings have been announced, but more discipline is expected.

The Port’s chief engineer will receive a three week suspension without pay due to his knowledge of a memo in his possession that identified the misrepresentation of some documents that went to the elected Port commission.

Three senior managers have received one week suspension without pay for failing to mention the contingent nature of these contract adjustments that lowered the value of a bid.

A letter of reprimand has been placed in the files of the deputy CEO, the Sea-Tac Airport director and the general counsel because of their positions of authority.

Through all of it, the lead investigator, former U.S. Attorney Mike McKay, says they found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by individuals.

Though they have no totals, the auditors say millions were wasted. They say one contractor known as TTI made profits on the third runway that were double and even triple the normal amount.

Yoshitani says a lot of people were obligated to blow the whistle on what was happening and didn’t do so.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Marijuana grow operation found


RENTON, Wash. - King County Sheriff's detectives in Renton have discovered what they call a significant marijuana grow operation.

At least several hundred plants were discovered in a home where children live.

Puget Sound Energy crews checked the meters at the Renton home for signs that someone might have diverted the electricity in an effort to hide a major marijuana grow.

It’s not surprising to those who live nearby.

“We know the places to watch out for and it's not surprising that there's a problem down the street,” said Steve Colbeth.

The Sheriff's Department was called after a Child Protective Services worker arrived to do a welfare check.

At some point, someone reporting smelling a strong scent of marijuana. Detectives say soon afterward, they discovered the operation.

Authorities obtained a warrant and expected to be in the house all night, clearing out the marijuana.

It was not immediately known if any arrests were made.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Two teens arrested in Federal Way shooting


Federal Way police have arrested two teens in connection with a shooting that left two other teens injured Thursday.

The shooting happened just past 2:30 p.m. Thursday near Alderdale Park in the 2700 block of SW 340th Place, police said.

Officers found the two victims, ages 17 and 19, inside a parked Dodge Magnum. The older teen, a Kent resident, was taken to Harborview Medical Center with what police described as life-threatening injuries. He was last listed in critical condition. The second teen, of Federal Way, was also taken to the hospital. He is expected to survive his injuries.

Police believe the two victims were involved in some sort of drug transaction with the two teens accused in the shooting.

The teens arrested in the matter, ages 15 and 17, have since been booked into the King County Juvenile Detention Center for investigation of first-degree assault.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The following cases of note were decided recently in Washington's high courts:

By: Dena Alo-Colbeck

Supreme Court:

State v. Warren: The Court held that comments by the prosecutor that suggested that the defendant did not enjoy the benefit of reasonable doubt constituted prosecutorial misconduct, in that the comments were improper and prejudicial to the defendant. The Court also found improper comments by the same prosecutor in a related trial with the same defendant that presumed facts not in evidence and commented on the role of defense counsel. However, the Court found that the curative instructions given by the trial court eliminated any prejudice that may otherwise have been caused by these comments. The Court further held that an order barring contact between the defendant and his wife for life was not an abuse of discretion despite the fact that the order was with a class of person different from the crime victim, because in this case the defendant has a history of domestic violence against his wife, and his wife's testimony in the trial had been instrumental in convicting the defendant, so that protecting the wife was in fact directly related to the crimes in this case. A copy of the decision may be viewed online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/793565.opn.pdf

Division One Court of Appeals:

State v. Hall: The Court ruled that the defendant's double jeopardy protection was not violated when he was convicted of multiple courts of tampering with witnesses, as the unit of prosecution for the crime of witness tampering is "any one instance of attempting to induce a witness or a person to do any of the actions set forth in RCW 9A.72.120." A copy of the decision may be viewed online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/60538-1.pub.doc.pdf

State v. Chang: The Court held that a warrantless search of the defendant's car properly came under the protective search exception to the warrant requirement when officers had information that there was a gun in the defendant's car and the defendant was only a couple of strides from the vehicle when he was detained. The Court further held that there was sufficient evidence to support a conviction for possession of stolen property (access devices) based upon checks that were in the defendant's possession, despite the exception in the law for paper instruments, because the State charged the defendant with possession of stolen property based on the account numbers on the checks, which defendant had used to illegally obtain money from the victims' accounts. A copy of the decision may be viewed online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/60743-0.pub.doc.pdf

Division Two Court of Appeals:

Aberdeen v. Regan: The Court held that a revocation of probation based on a condition that the defendant have no criminal law violations does not require a finding of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, simply evidence "sufficient to reasonably satisfy the court that the defendant violated a condition of probation." A copy of the decision may be viewed online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/36715-7.08.doc.pdf

Division Three Court of Appeals:

State v. Beito: The Court held that the defendant was seized when, as a passenger in a vehicle, the officer stood outside his door, blocking his exit, told him he was not free to leave, and continued to stand outside his door while conducting a warrant check over the radio. At the time, the Court found that the officers had no reasonable articulable suspicion that the defendant had committed or was about to commit a crime or that he was a threat to anyone's safety, the seizure was in violation of his right to privacy, and all evidence obtained as a result of the search, including evidence of warrants out for the defendant's arrest found during the warrant check conducted while the officer stood outside the defendant's door must be suppressed, and the case dismissed. A copy of the decision may be viewed online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/263797.opn.doc.pdf

State v. Grogan: The Court held properly admissible statements child hearsay statements, ruling that the trial court properly found the child competent, and the statements met both the statutory requirements and the Ryan reliability factors. The court further found that the defendant's statements to the police were admissible when the defendant had voluntarily surrendered himself for an interview and polygraph, was told he was free to leave at any time, and was allowed to leave when he first asked to do so. A copy of the decision may be viewed online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/265111.opn.doc.pdf

Friday, November 21, 2008

Judge accused of being rude, undignified


SEATTLE – At a hearing at the King County Courthouse Wednesday, members of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct listened to testimony against King County Judge Judy Eiler.

In 2005, Eiler was found guilty by the commission of being rude and undignified on the bench and sent to get more training. Now she's facing the same allegations again.

In an unusual role reversal, a parade of witnesses who once testified before Eiler came to testify about her Wednesday.

"I just felt she was very rude, very curt," Tammy Mazanti said." Very mean."

Eiler has been a King County District Court judge since 1992, primarily overseeing cases in civil and traffic court.

Members of the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Wednesday listened to audio tapes of Eiler on the bench. In addition, numerous witnesses and defendants from Eiler's past court proceedings described behavior they found rude, sarcastic and intimidating.

"I stood there and she was getting the papers ready and I was smiling because I was trying to be pleasant," Kris Mazanti said. "And she asked me do I think this is funny, and I said no, and she said well wipe that smirk off your face and I was stunned."

Several lawyers who've worked on cases before Eiler also testified they believe her behavior taints the judicial system.

Eiler's attorney said her client has a difficult job hearing 10 to 20 cases a day and pointed out that it's not a judge's job to be warm and fuzzy.

"It's a tough job," Anne Bremner said. "And when you take little snapshots of little parts of cases and what somebody felt when they lost and they have to come into court on it, I think that's inappropriate."

Given that she's been found guilty of rude and inappropriate behavior before, the commission could remove Eiler from the bench.

Testimony could continue through Friday. The commission will likely have a decision by early December.

Troopers checking for seatbelt offenders at night


SEATTLE – Beware! If you're driving at night and you're not buckled up, state troopers will track you down.

For the next three weeks, 60 police agencies across the state are conducting extra seatbelt crackdowns at nighttime.

The Washington State Patrol says there's a very good reason they are targeting seatbelt offenders at night.

The goal is to catch seatbelt offenders at nighttime because they tend to be different from drivers caught during the day.

"The people who chose not to wear their seatbelt at night tend to be involved in other criminal activity," said Sgt. Harlan Jackson, Washington State Patrol. "So we might not be just pulling over someone for a seatbelt, that might lead to someone driving under the influence."

From 2001 to 2007, Washington State saw more than 3,200 vehicle crash deaths – about 1,500 during the day, and 1,600 at night.

It may seem almost equal but the death rate at night is four times as high when you factor in how many people are on the road.

Studies show wearing your seatbelts can reduce that risk by 70 percent.

Washington State has one of the highest compliance rates in the country, but they estimate about 4 percent of drivers or passengers aren't wearing their seatbelt and that comes out to almost 240,000 lives that could be saved.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Local fish vendor charged with two felonies


A Bellevue-based fish vendor accused of mislabeling thousands of pounds of fish as halibut caught in the United States and Russia, and then selling the fish for profit to consumers, was charged with two felony counts in documents filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle Monday.

Kevin D. Steele, president and owner of Mallard Cove Resources, was charged with the false labeling and sale of fish -- a violation of the Lacey Act -- and the introduction of misbranded foods.

Documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office allege that over a three-year period beginning in 2003, Steele sold thousands of pounds of fish labeled as halibut -- a prized and expensive fish -- that was actually a species imported from China known as Greenland turbot, also referred to as Greenland halibut.

Steele, the documents said, repackaged the turbot and labeled it as halibut caught in the U.S. or Russia, before selling the fish at prices for the more expensive product.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Felon sentenced in Wash. to more than 7 years

A 33-year-old street gang member from Tacoma with a lengthy criminal history has been sentenced in U.S. District to seven years and two months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
TACOMA, Wash. —

A 33-year-old street gang member from Tacoma with a lengthy criminal history has been sentenced in U.S. District to seven years and two months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Jermaine Laron Gore was sentenced Friday by Judge Ronald B. Leighton, who told him that he would get "no more second chances."

Gore was on probation from a state conviction at the time of his arrest with a weapon July 4, 2006, after reports of a man waving a gun outside a home in Tacoma. Police found a loaded Rossi .357 caliber revolver in Gore's car.

Gore was prohibited from possessing a firearm because of his previous felony convictions that included assault in the third degree in 1993, drug possession in 1994, three counts of conspiracy to delivery a controlled substance in 2000, conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance in 2002 and unlawful possession of cocaine in 2003. All those convictions were in Pierce County.

Gore was prosecuted by the U.S. government as part of its Project Safe Neighborhoods program.

Criminal Case Law Update

The following cases of note were decided recently in Washington's high courts:

Supreme Court:

State v. Cayenne: The Court upheld a sentencing condition prohibiting a Native American tribal member convicted of off-reservation illegal fisihing using a gillnet from owning a gillnet for the next eight months. The Court disagreed with the Court of Appeals, which had partially reversed the sentence, holding that the sentencing court had no authority to restrict a tribal members rights while on the reservation. The Court pointed out that the defendant had appeared before the trial court and subject to its full sentencing authority, including crime-related prohibitions, and the trial court had authority to impose appropriate sentencing conditions that would follow the individual defendant. Limiting that authority to off-reservations activities, the Court reasoned, "would create the unwanted result of permitting tribal lands to be havens for criminals avoiding justice after violating state laws." A copy of the decision may be viewed online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/804991.opn.pdf

State v. Gossage: The Court held that Mr. Gossage was entitled to a certificate of discharge from his sentence, despite the fact that he had not paid the full amount of restitution ordered, because all legal financial obligations (LFOs) expired ten years from the date of release from confinement under the plain language of RCW 9.94A.760(4). A copy of the decision may be viewed online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/803102.opn.pdf

Division One Court of Appeals:

State v. Webb: The Court held that the State failed to prove that Mr. Webb was physically proximate to the passenger compartment of his vheicle at the time he was arrested for DUI, and therefore the items seized in the search incident to arrest of that area must be suppressed. In this case, Mr. Webb stopped his vehicle in the right hand lane of traffic, was been removed from his car and directed to the sidewalk by the officer who stopped him, and then placed under arrest by a second officer after an interview and field tests. After Mr. Webb was secured in the second officer's patrol car, he gave the officers permission to move his vehicle off the street, which they did, parking it in a bank parking lot some 40-50 feet away. The officers then searched the car, including the use of a canine search, without a warrant and "incident to arrest" and located cocaine and drug paraphernalia. After a lengthy examination of the search incident to arrest exception to the warrant requirement, the court overturned the search, holding that "Washington law requires more than temporal and physical proximity between the arrest and the search. It also requires physical proximity between the suspect and the vehicle at the time of arrest." A copy of the decision may be viewed online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/60732-4.cor.doc.pdf

Division Three Court of Appeals:

State v. Williams: The Court found improper the imposition of a firearm enhancement rather than a deadly weapons enhancement to the defendant's sentence where the jury found that the defendant was armed with a deadly weapon rather than a firearm. The Court noted that the Supreme Court has held that sentencing to a firearm enhancement as opposed to a deadly weapons enhancement can never be harmless error. The Court held that the trial court was without authority to impose a firearm enhancement and remanded for resentencing. A copy of the decision may be found online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/231241.opn.doc.pdf

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Man sentenced to 25 years for cold case murder


A man who admitted to a 1980 murder in Des Moines was sentenced in King County Superior Court Thursday to nearly 25 years in prison.

James Maynard Blair, 54, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree murder in the slaying of Kirk Parker. Investigators used DNA evidence to link Blair to the crime, charging him in August.

Blair is already in prison serving time for a 2006 assault conviction.

In 1980, Des Moines police officers discovered Parker beaten and strangled to death in his mobile home after going there on a welfare check. But the initial investigation stalled when police could not locate any suspects in the killing.

Then, in January 2006, Des Moines Police Sgt. David Mohr reopened the case and sent items believed to have DNA evidence from the killer to the state crime lab. According to investigators, lab technicians found Blair's genetic signature on several items from Parker's home.

According to court records, Blair told investigators that he had been hitchhiking in the area during the February night that Parker was killed. He said Parker picked him up and took him to his mobile home, where Blair killed him in a drunken altercation.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Police arming Newcastle residents with radar guns

KING5.com Staff

NEWCASTLE, Wash. – Residents in Newcastle who complain that drivers are speeding through their neighborhoods will now have proof.

Newcastle police are arming residents with radar guns. The guns will record the speed and license plate numbers of drivers.

Officers will send out warning letters to speeding drivers. While those warnings will not carry a fine, police say the program will help them determine whether they need additional patrols in those neighborhoods.

Newcastle police say their first volunteer caught over 70 speeders in three days.

McNeil Island prison searched for phones


MCNEILL ISLAND -- The attempted suicide of a McNeil Island inmate in September highlighted a new high-tech threat for the state Department of Corrections: contraband cell phones.

Over the weekend, the entire prison was on lockdown while officers searched it stem to stern for illicit phones and other contraband. Such prisonwide searches are rare and expensive because of the manpower involved.

Information developed in the suicide case led to the Oct. 31 arrest of a McNeil corrections officer on suspicion of smuggling-in at least one cell phone, a Washington State Patrol spokesman said. The News Tribune is not naming her because prosecutors have not filed any charges in the case.

Cell phones are dangerous behind bars because they allow inmates to have unmonitored contact with the outside world, including with drug and gang ties, prison officials say. Unlike calls made through prison phones, they can't be recorded or screened.

The morning of his Sept. 18 suicide attempt, Leon Toney and another inmate were linked to a cell phone that had been smuggled into the prison, records show. It's also clear from the department's review of the incident that family members found out Toney was hurt not from prison officials, but from someone on the inside. They said the call came from another inmate using a cell phone and that they knew of several others inside.

The phone in the Toney case was the third found at McNeil in the past two years, officials said. No statewide figures were available, but DOC spokesman Chad Lewis said a survey of state prison administrators found they had seized only a couple phones each.

"The number we've seen aren't that high," Lewis said. "But this is different than most other types of contraband. You can only pass a cigarette around so many times. You can pass a cell phone around countless times."

A special team of 44 officers from three other prisons was brought to McNeil on Saturday to conduct the two-day search, which went cell-to-cell and inmate-to-inmate through the 1,280-inmate prison.

The inmates were strip-searched and officers crawled beneath beds and desks, peered into light fixtures, and made sure TVs and radios hadn't been pried open so that contraband could be hidden inside. The two-man teams spent roughly 20 minutes per cell.

"It's a serious thing to inconvenience a whole facility like this," said Jocelyn "J" Hofe, who heads up the Department of Corrections' emergency operations statewide. "It's a disruption for the staff, visitors and inmates."

Most facilities see such large-scale searches only every few years. But, officials noted, they only augment the daily cell searches the facilities already do.

Bringing in the specialized team from outside prisons adds fresh eyes, said DOC administrator Earl Wright, who supervises several prisons, including McNeil. It also provides training opportunities for the specialized officers and McNeil staff.

Hofe said some contraband may have been flushed or destroyed when it became clear that a sweep was happening. "But it still gets it out of the prison," she noted.

As of Sunday afternoon, officers turned up several homemade tattoo guns and a small amount of drugs. A syringe was found inside a jigsaw puzzle box in a common area. Also seized was a fist-sized pouch of tobacco that had been hidden inside an inmate's radio. Investigators estimated it was worth $200 to $300 on the prison black market.

No cell phones were found, however.

"This is a whole new game for us," McNeil Superintendent Ron Van Boening said in a recent interview. "They (cell phones) are getting smaller and smaller."

The inmates know officials are looking for the phones and are going to great lengths to hide them, he said. It's tough, officials admit, because some of the phones are small enough to be, in prison parlance, "keistered."

The state Department of Corrections is weighing administrative and legislative approaches to increasing the penalties for being caught with a cell phone, said Lewis, the DOC spokesman. The department is also training its drug-sniffing dogs to find them, though budget cuts have reduced the number of dogs across the state from eight to two.

Cell phones aren't just a problem in Washington. Last month, a state senator in Texas received a cell phone call from a death row inmate. The caller told the senator he knew that he had two daughters and gave their ages, address and other personal details he had gleaned from the Internet, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Officials found the phone had been used to make more than 2,800 calls in the previous month alone.

While prison officials stress the dangers cell phones pose behind bars, prisoner rights advocates say there's another reason they're coveted -- they allow inmates to keep in touch with family.

Maintaining community and family ties is important for an inmate's success upon release, corrections officials say. But at the same time, inmates and their families pay far more to talk to each other than the general public does.

Despite a rate cut in 2006, Washington's rates remain among the highest in the country, according to the advocacy group Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, or CURE. In surveying rates nationwide, the group ranked Washington ninth-highest out of 46 states where data were available.

The rates, which can be as much as 22 times higher than the five cents per minute many South Sound residents pay for long distance, amount to a tax on some of the poorest members of society, said Kay Perry, coordinator for CURE's Campaign to Promote Equitable Telephone Charges.

"A lot of states spend millions of dollars trying to help inmates transition out of prison and build a social network when they get out," she said. "But the current telephone systems tear families apart. The family members pay for it -- you're punishing them only because they love somebody."

While most types of inmate calls in Washington are now billed at a flat rate -- either $3.15 or $3.50, depending on how it's paid for -- out-of-state calls cost $4.95 plus 89 cents per minute, or $22.75 for a 20-minute call. The average wage for state inmates is about $1.15 per hour.

About 60 percent of what state inmates and their families spend on phone calls goes to programs that have nothing to do with phone service.

From September 2007 to September 2008, inmates at Washington's 17 prisons and their families paid for $8.7 million in phone calls, according to records obtained by The News Tribune. Under a contract with Chicago-based FSH Communications, $5.1 million of that is given right back to the DOC.

Most of that money goes into an Offender Betterment Fund, which pays for items like school supplies for inmates' children, books and staff for prison law libraries, and cable TV service. A quarter of it goes toward a state fund for crime victims and witnesses.

Perry says she understands the argument that the $5 million commission that returns to the DOC is $5 million that taxpayers don't have to spend. But to her, it's unfair to shift that burden to inmates and their families.

"It's all of our responsibility," she said. "When society makes the decision to incarcerate somebody, we have the responsibility to rehabilitate them. All citizens should have to pay for rehabilitation programs that help these people turn their lives around. Otherwise you're taxing some very poor folk."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Police shot co-owner of home, not burglar


EVERETT -- The owner of an Everett house where a 31-year-old man was shot and killed by police early Saturday says the man was a co-owner of the house and lived there.

"It's devastating. He didn't deserve to die," Bear Whalen told The Everett Herald.

Whalen described the slain man as his friend who was a good person who cared about his community and was a volunteer.

"He never even got a ticket. He respected the law," Whalen told the newspaper.

Three Everett police officers responding to a report of a burglary shot and killed Whalen's roommate at the home. Investigators found a shotgun next to the man's body, officials reported Sunday.

Snohomish County sheriff's spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said someone in the neighborhood called police just before 2 a.m. Saturday to report that someone was breaking windows and kicking in the door of a nearby house.

Hover said three officers arrived and said they were confronted by a man with a gun, standing in the doorway of the home.
Officers said they repeatedly ordered the man to drop his weapon but he refused. The three officers fired multiple shots at the man. Hover said he died at the scene.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office had not released the slain man's name.

The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, while a team of detectives from throughout the county investigates.

The officers were a 24-year-old woman who has been with the Everett Police Department for 2 1/2 years, a 33-year-old man who has been with the department for 2 years and a 29-year-old man who has been with the department for 1 1/2 years, Hover said.

Whalen, 28, said he went with the man who was slain with some friends to a bar Friday night.

Whalen said his roommate went home about 1 a.m., while he said he spent the night at a friend's house.

Gunnar Nelson, 26, a neighbor, told The Herald: "I just wish my friend was back. I don't know how long it's going to take to get over this."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Everett police shoot, kill alleged armed burglar


Everett police officers shot and killed a suspected burglar early Saturday who was allegedly armed with a gun at the time.

The fatal shooting happened around 1:45 a.m. in the 2400 block of 23rd Street in north Everett, the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office reported.

The investigation into the shooting is being handled by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, a coalition of several county law enforcement agencies that handles large criminal investigations and sensitive cases such as officer involved shootings.

According to police, officers were called to a home on 23rd Street after neighbors reported a man breaking windows at the house and breaking down the front door.

Six officers responded to the call. Three officers approached the house where they were confronted by a man who was allegedly armed with a firearm. Investigators have not determined what kind of firearm the man had.

According to the sheriff's office, the three officers ordered the man to put down his weapon, but he did not follow their directions.
The three officers then fired several shots at the man, killing him.

None of the officers were hurt, the sheriff's office reported.

Investigators have not identified the slain man, saying only that he appeared to be in his 30s. There was no one in the house at the time of the shooting and police do not know who owns it or who lives there.

All three officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid leave, common practice among most law enforcement agencies when an officer is involved in a shooting.

The officers include a 24-year-old woman with the department for just over two years, a 33-year-old male officer with the department for two years, and a 29-year-old male officer with 18 months on the job.

Investigators plan to search the residence where the shooting happened. They have not determined how many shots were fired nor whether the alleged burglar fired any shots.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jurors acquit Seattle man of 2nd-degree murder

A Snohomish County jury has ruled that a former college student who fatally shot an 18-year-old Kirkland, Wash., man at a Halloween party in 2007 did not commit a crime.

A Snohomish County jury has ruled that a former college student who fatally shot an 18-year-old Kirkland, Wash., man at a Halloween party in 2007 did not commit a crime.

But the jurors Monday also made clear they didn't believe the death of Chris Chandler was justified as an act of self defense.

The jury acquitted 23-year-old Bryce Dawson Fortier of Seattle of second-degree murder. It also rejected prosecutors' arguments that Chandler's killing may be manslaughter.

Chandler was shot once in the chest during an apparent struggle with Fortier at a Halloween party in 2007 in the Mill Creek, Wash., area. Fortier testified he shot Chandler out of fear for his life.

Fortier is a former a student at Central Washington University.


Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com

Friday, October 24, 2008

Spokane officer facing assault charge

A prosecutor says he'll file a fourth-degree assault charge against a Spokane police officer accused of kicking a handcuffed man in the face.


A prosecutor says he'll file a fourth-degree assault charge against a Spokane police officer accused of kicking a handcuffed man in the face.

The Pend Oreille (PAHN'-doh-RAY') County deputy prosecutor appointed to the case, Michael Carbone, told the Spokesman-Review on Thursday he would file the charge in Spokane Municipal Court.

Officer Rob Boothe is accused of kicking 22-year-old John P. Luna on Sept. 5 after a stolen car and foot chase.

Boothe is on paid leave. Luna is jailed for investigation of car theft, hit-and-run, eluding police and assault.


Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesmanreview.co

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Man pleads guilty in Tacoma in drug case

A man who hid in Mexico for 15 years to dodge drug charges has pleaded guilty in federal court in Tacoma.
TACOMA, Wash. —

A man who hid in Mexico for 15 years to dodge drug charges has pleaded guilty in federal court in Tacoma.

Fifty-eight-year-old Frank Falco pleaded guilty Thursday to money laundering in a drug-smuggling conspiracy that imported 50,000 kilos of hashish into the United States in 1992.

The conspiracy involved having a boat meet another boat carrying the drugs off the Washington coast, and then ferrying the drugs back to shore. The drugs were then distributed to Oregon, California, and New York by rental trucks.

Falco fled to Mexico and hid until he turned himself in at the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico, last March.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine when he is sentenced next Jan. 9.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pot farm causes heavy damage in national parks


MOUNT VERNON -- In mid-August, more than 50 law enforcement officers raided the first marijuana grow site ever discovered on national park land in the state of Washington.

Officers uprooted more than 16,000 marijuana plants in the course of a day -- then shipped them off in dump trucks to be destroyed.

Left behind were the scars of cultivation and tampering with nature, along with months of trash and chemicals used to grow the drug. Cleaning it all up will take a lot of time and money.

The growers escaped and ran free, but without the fruits of their estimated $48 million drug operation. Investigators believe a high-powered Mexican drug organization -- using low-end growers -- is responsible for the grow site in the North Cascades National Park Complex, east of Skagit County near Ross Lake, as well as similar sites in other national parks around the country.

In the past decade, illegal marijuana sites have been discovered and destroyed in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore.

For some, the most tragic part of the crime is the scars left behind on the recreational park land after the plants were yanked.

"It's just wild," said Mignonne Bivin on a recent trip to the North Cascades grow site. Bivin is the plant ecologist for the park complex and is responsible for the plan to help restore the land.

"Where did it all go?" she said, looking at bare areas clear cut of Douglas fir to make way for thousands of marijuana plants.

The plants grew in terraced rows in five plots. Three of the plots were about 100 feet by 100 feet. The other two were about half that size.

When the plants were pulled, the mountain was left pocked with foot-wide craters on terraces built by the growers. On five different sites on the mountainside, tall trees still stood, their lower branches stripped away to allow sunlight to reach the crop, and their upper branches kept intact for cover.

The trees that were cut down lay around the perimeters of the sites, stacked up in heaps to keep wildlife out.

"It has disturbed the ecosystem, and I think that's our primary concern," said Kevork Arackellian, a park ranger who helped with the initial raid.

Other tree trunks were cut to build shelters, which were suspended in other trees. A red pepper hung from one of the shelters, and remnants of eggs, onions and limes sat uneaten.
Empty cans of tomato sauce, tortilla wrappers and water bottles were scattered among the different sites.

Investigators believe six growers lived there and tended to the sites for months.

Arackellian said new garbage has appeared since the raid, making him believe that the growers returned.

Bob Mierendorf, who visited the site with Bivin recently, said a flattened patch of ground, used as a sleeping area, hinted to him that people had lived in the area for at least two growing seasons if not more.

"I'm most amazed at the amount of effort and the sheer labor it took to do this," Mierendorf said.

Near one shelter was a clear bathroom area. A nook in the dirt held a white bar of soap, and below it, a 3-foot-wide hole in the ground. A red Folgers coffee can collected water nearby.

Black piping, which collected stream water to irrigate the plants with sprinklers, was strewn along the mountainside along with rat traps and poison.

Full restoration of the five sites will take hundreds of hours of labor. The trash strewn throughout the wilderness area needs to be removed, the shelters dismantled and the fences taken down.

Not much can be done for the damage caused by the unknown amount of chemicals used by the growers, Bivin said, especially without funding.

She's hoping to find volunteers to help with the many hours of work needed. Getting to the area is one problem. The well-hidden site is located near Ross Lake and a steep hike off of the East Bank hiking trail.

"We're hoping that next spring or early summer, we'll be able to get enough people in there to bring back the area to its natural state," Arackellian said.

Park employees will also monitor for invasive species.

"National parks are special places for all Americans places were we bring our family and children to enjoy nature's wonders and learn about their heritage," said National Park Service Director Mary Bomar in an August news release. "Marijuana farms like the one recently destroyed in North Cascades National Park are a blight on our national parks."

In early September, investigators pulled another 6,752 marijuana plants from public land in eastern Skagit County in a similar grow operation. This time, it was on Department of Natural Resources land. The large-scale marijuana grow was the second big operation busted in the area within a month, and the second-biggest operation in the county in the past 25 years, said Skagit County sheriff's office Chief Criminal Deputy Will Reichardt.

"It's one more piece of evidence that the Hispanic drug-trafficking organizations that are so prevalent in Eastern Washington are coming over to this side," Reichardt said. "We're hoping that it's not a trend, but it looks like it's turning into one."


Information from: Skagit Valley Herald, http://www.skagitvalleyherald.com

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Armored truck robber uses Craigslist to make getaway

KING5.com Staff

MONROE, Wash. – In a move that could be right out of a Hollywood movie, a brazen crook apparently used a Craigslist ad to hire a dozen unsuspecting decoys to help him make his getaway following a robbery outside a bank on Tuesday. He then made his escape in an inner tube on the Skykomish River.

The robbery happened about 11 a.m. on an armored truck guard at a Bank of America branch.

"He was wearing a dust mask, a particle mask. At first I thought it might be a surgical mask. I still didn't think anything was wrong, just unusual. Then I noticed he had a pump sprayer," said Mitch Ruth, who had looked out his office window and noticed the man walking into the bank.

The robber sprayed the guard with pepper spray, grabbed a bag of money the guard was carrying and ran about 100 yards to the creek that runs into the Skykomish River, shedding clothes as he ran.

But apparently, the robber had planned ahead. In case anyone was hot on his trail, he had at least a dozen unsuspecting decoys waiting nearby, which he recruited on Craigslist.

"I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour," said Mike, who saw a Craigslist ad last week looking for workers for a road maintenance project in Monroe.

He said he inquired and was e-mailed back with instructions to meet near the Bank of America in Monroe at 11 a.m. Tuesday. He also was told to wear certain work clothing.

"Yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask… and, if possible, a blue shirt," he said.

Mike showed up along with about a dozen other men dressed like him, but there was no contractor and no road work to be done. He thought they had been stood up until he heard about the bank robbery and the suspect who wore the same attire.

From there, the cook made his watery escape in a creek that dumps out into the Skykomish River. One witness said the robber swam away, but another said he used an inner tube to get away.

"We did get an inner tube that was about 200 yards from the place where he entered the water and took that for evidence," said Debbie Willis, Monroe Police.

Investigators believe accomplices could have picked the robber up at a nearby boat launch or park.

Police say they now have the Craigslist information and they are trying to piece it all together to find the suspect.

The suspect is described as a white man in his 20s, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-10, wearing a dark blue shirt, jean shorts and a mask.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Drug smuggling suspect pleads guilty to lesser charges


TACOMA -- One of three brothers accused of running a southwest Washington methamphetamine ring has pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Ulises "Mono" Barragan-Mendoza of Lacey pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and to being an alien in possession of a firearm. Charges of conspiracy to distribute meth and to engage in money laundering were dropped.

Investigators believe Barragan and his two brothers from Arteaga, Mexico, led a group that brought large amounts of meth into the country from Mexico.

In raids in April from the Olympic Peninsula to the Longview-Kelso area, 22 people were arrested and authorities seized cars, $100,000 in cash, 41 guns and 20 pounds of meth.

One brother of Barragan also was arrested. The other is believed to be in Mexico.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blog post about shooting rampage leads to charges


BLAINE, Wash. – Jeffrey Gargaro says he was just expressing his opinion when he posted a blog on a newspaper Web site following this month’s Skagit County shooting rampage that left six people dead including a sheriff’s deputy.

Now, prosecutors have charged him with felony harassment because they say he threatened to shoot up a mall.

The day after the rampage, Gargaro logged onto the Bellingham Herald Web site and went to the community blog section where readers started sounding off on what caused it all.

"Blame single parents, drugs, schooling, maybe mental illness without looking at the facts. I thought that was wrong,” said Gargaro.

Frustrated, he decided to write this post:

"Also to all of you who blame drugs ... shut up as well. You know what, I am going to go shoot up Sunset Square today ... just for the hell of it. No drugs, no mental illness ... you can blame today’s episode on video games and George Bush's example of 'pay back' to society.

"Maybe I could have worded it differently,” said Gargaro. “but I'm not sorry for what I wrote because my intent wasn't harm. It wasn't a threat. It was to get people to think outside of the box and have an open and public debate.

The question is did anyone think he was coming to Sunset Square to do the shooting? Prosecutors say the police did and called it malicious harassment.

Gargaro’s attorney says it was taken out of context and now it’s an issue of free speech.

"This was a computer news media blog. There's no rules, and if you read these blogs, you'll see people make derogatory comments. These blogs are obviously notoriously bombastic,” said attorney Jeffrey Lustick.

Now, the married father of two young girls faces a felony charge. The irony is that now readers are sounding off about Gargaro’s arrest and many of them are voicing support.

"There are a lot of nice things that people said. My family and I read their messages and we appreciate it,” said Gargaro.

The Whatcom County prosecutor says it doesn’t matter if Gargaro meant to harm anyone and that what he wrote was perceived an imminent threat.

Trial is set for November.

Child actor setup costs Whidbey woman


Enamored with such shows as "Gossip Girl, 16-year-old Alexa wanted to be an actress, so her mother, Maria Best, sent her to a group home for budding child actors in Los Angeles last year.

Best, of Whidbey Island, paid more than $2,000 a month for rent, child care, acting lessons and audition scheduling.

But instead of breaking into the industry, Alexa became one of nine victims allegedly bilked by the home's manager, Bernadette Carter.

This week, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office announced it had charged Carter, 42, with 13 misdemeanor counts, which included scamming children and their families and running an unlicensed group home.

Prosecutors said Carter's clients ranged from 7 to 17 years old. Investigators believe five to 15 children lived in her San Fernando Valley home at any given time, with three adults supervising. "Bernadette really destroyed these kids, as far as their confidence level," Best said Friday. She said she borrowed money to pay Carter and lost $10,000.

In the four months that her daughter lived there, she went on only two auditions, but spent a lot of time cleaning Carter's cat box and hearing threats of being evicted, Best said.

Many parents met Carter at child-acting conventions, according to a report in the Los Angeles Daily News.

"(Parents) are thinking, 'Gosh, I got some big entertainment mogul that's gonna bring me to L.A. and make my kid a star,' " Anne Henry, co-founder of the nonprofit BizParentz Foundation, told the newspaper. The foundation warns against agencies that want money upfront.

Prosecutors say Carter violated a California law that bars agencies from collecting a commission before an artist gets work and from selling classes and other products to clients. The law is intended to protect artists, especially children, from predatory service providers.

P-I reporter Vanessa Ho contributed to this report.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Budget cuts turn some felonies into misdemeanors


SEATTLE – The impact of King County’s budget cuts is already being felt by the people who put criminals behind bars as the county prosecutor is being forced to cut dozens of jobs, which means handing off more cases to lower courts.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of criminal cases are now winding up in Seattle Municipal Court because of the cutbacks. Some cases that the legislature defines as felonies will now be prosecuted as misdemeanors.

Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr is concerned about the change.

"My concern is that my constituents are going to be put at risk because the budget problems the county has and that's scary to me,”
said Carr.

But King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg says he has no choice. His budget is being cut $5 million in 2009, which means 41 deputy prosecutors must go. As a result property crimes under $1,000 and identity thefts will go to municipal courts for prosecution, where sentences carry time in county jail but no prison time.

"If someone stole a thousand dollars from me, I think I'd want more than a couple days in the county jail from them,” said Carr.

Ironically, Seattle’s been making big headway on property crimes which reached their lowest level in ten years in 2007. Prosecuting these cases as misdemeanors will put offenders back on the street much faster.

That’s not good news in neighborhoods where property crimes are already high.

"If they're gonna take something of mine, they should be punished for it. I mean you work hard for your money,” said Laura, a concerned citizen.

"I think they should be prosecuted just like if they were robbing a store, major business or whatever,” said Melinda Anderson, another concerned resident.

Police search for clues in deadly Seattle shooting


SEATTLE – Police broughts in a search dog Thursday to search for clues after a man was shot and killed in north Seattle on Wednesday night.

Seattle Police say officers responded to a shots fired call in the 9700 block of 5th Avenue NE at about 7:30 p.m. They arrived to find a man in his 20s dead in the apartment building garage.

A 19-year-old resident of the apartments was arrested and his rifle recovered.

Neighbors say there have been several car prowls and thefts in the area, although police won't confirm what led to the shooting.
The apartment manager wouldn't comment, but a resident said car prowls are common.

"Maybe a week ago the manager called me about 10 o'clock at night and said don't leave anything in your car, make sure it's locked up, we've had problems," said Art Christensen.

Christensen said he was surprised that his neighbor was arrested for murder.

"He's a good young kid," he said.

The suspect is to appear in court on Friday.

The name of the victim has not been released.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Forest Service officer, suspect dead after shootings


SEQUIM -- A U.S. Forest Service officer was shot and killed on the Olympic Peninsula Saturday afternoon while on duty after reporting a suspicious van, and the suspected gunman was killed hours later.

Troopers say Kristine Fairbanks, a 15-year veteran of the Forest Service, was working on Forest Road 2880, off Palo Alto Road, near Sequim when she radioed the State Patrol at about 2:40 p.m. to report a suspicious van and to ask for information.

When the State Patrol radioed back, they received no response. Troopers were immediately dispatched to the scene, located about five miles inside the Olympic National Forest.

When troopers arrived, they found Fairbanks dead from a gunshot wound. The van was nowhere in sight. Sheriff's deputies say Fairbanks had a police dog with her at the time of the shooting, and the dog was found unharmed in Fairbanks' vehicle.

Investigators found the van empty later in the evening, and the suspected gunman was shot to death about 9:30 p.m., State Patrol spokeswoman Krista D. Hedstrom said.

The suspect was identified as 36-year-old Shawn Matthew Roe.

Medical pot patient convicted of growing marijuana

Despite having a doctor's authorization for medical marijuana under state law, a Kitsap County man has been convicted of growing pot.


Despite having a doctor's authorization for medical marijuana under state law, a Kitsap County man has been convicted of growing pot.

Superior Court Judge Anna M. Laurie ruled Friday that Robert Dalton's use of marijuana for chronic lower back pain didn't meet the conditions of the state law legalizing the medical use of the drug because he failed to show his pain was "unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications," such as opiate-based painkillers.

Dalton's lawyers were angered by the ruling and said the judge had no business second-guessing the doctor who recommended Dalton try marijuana.

"If Judge Laurie wants to be a doctor, she should go to medical school," Hiatt told the Kitsap Sun. "No patient in this state is safe if she's right."

Detectives with the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team served a search warrant on Dalton's property in August 2007. In court documents, they said they found 88 plants, which they said was well beyond the 60-day supply allowed by law - even though the state Health Department has not defined what constitutes a 60-day supply.

Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Cami Lewis called the decision "the correct result." During closing arguments, deputy prosecutor Coreen Schnepf had argued that opiate medications were relieving Dalton's pain, and that he needed to have pain unrelieved by other medicines to use cannabis.

Hiatt argued that the opiates made Dalton sick and were not effective at quelling his pain.

Dalton faces zero to six months in jail for the felony conviction. His lawyers will ask the judge at an Oct. 17 hearing to suspend any sentence pending their appeal.

With the conviction, Robert Dalton's medical marijuana card is nullified, he said following the verdict. He said he doesn't want to use opiates for pain control because they're addictive.

"I don't want to be a drug addict," he said. "That's why I chose medical marijuana."


Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Serial armed robber roaming south King County


FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – A one man crime spree has hit more than a dozen convenience stores in south King County and has gotten away with thousands of dollars in cash.

The armed robber usually strikes between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. He’s hit 13 stores in three weeks in Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent and Renton.

He’s been caught at least twice on surveillance video.

"He said 'I have gun, give me the money,'" said Kevin Nam. He was working behind the counter at a smoke shop when the robber struck.
"I said 'I have camera inside and outside. I know you. You are my customer.'"

Witnesses describe the robber as a white man, about 20-to-30-years-old, about 6 feet tall with short blond hair. In some cases the robber wears sunglasses but he also disguises himself with a mask and actually shows a weapon. He has a large tattoo on his left arm and drives an older, light blue sedan. He also appears to wear the same white sneakers with blue stripes.

No one has been hurt yet, but police fear his brazen robberies could get violent. If you know him, police want to hear from you.