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Spokane police chief receives another complaint

Sept. 2, 2014 3:05 p.m. - Updated: 3:54 p.m.

On the heels of last week's complaint against Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub for misrepresentation, Brian Breen, a retired police officer and frequent commenter on Spokesman-Review stories, has filed a complaint against the chief for providing “false information to members of the City Council … during a budget presentation.”

At issue is the number of domestic violence calls Spokane police get a year. At a budget meeting last month, Straub said the department gets an average of 8,000 calls per year, as we reported. Spokane's Journal of Business reported a similar number in an article, which read, “Straub says for the past five years, SPD has responded to about 8,000 domestic violence calls per year.”

Breen's issue with these statements is that they are far higher than what the police department has reported to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. Over the past five years, those annual numbers range from 2,988 domestic violence reports to 3,823 a year.

“There are two things that become blatantly obvious when reviewing the data SPD has submitted to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) in 2009 through 2013, either the statements made by Mr. Straub to those in attendance at a very important budget meeting were false, or the Spokane Police Department has not been following State Law,” Breen wrote in his complaint.

Complaints against the police chief submitted to the Police Ombudsman are forwarded to the mayor and city administrator.

Read an excerpt below:

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First Stevens Co. pot shop opens its doors

Aug. 29, 2014 2:10 p.m. - Updated: 2:53 p.m.

The first retail marijuana store in Stevens County has opened its doors for business, though employees say they're suffering from the same lack of product that has plagued other stores in the region.

Savage THC in Clayton, Washington, opened last week and is keeping regular hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, said store employee Cameron Duncan on Friday. The store is the first of six potential pot shops in the county, registered with the Liquor Control Board, to receive a license and open for business.

Duncan said the store is currently carrying strains from Farmer J's, a grower in Spokane Valley that has done business with Spokane's first recreational marijuana store, Spokane Green Leaf.

“We're working on a couple more local strains,” Duncan said. “Down the road, we should be carrying some different stuff.”

The store sells loose marijuana, rolled joints, pipes and other smoking paraphernalia, Duncan said. Prices remain at levels higher than the store would like because of supply issues, Duncan said, but the store hopes costs to consumers will fall as the market stabilizes.

The other five potential pot shops in Stevens County are listed below. They are all located in Colville, and applications are pending with the Liquor Control Board, according to public records.

CARDIAC SOLUTIONS NORTHWEST 415285 176 PONDEROSA RD   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142003
COLVILLE SMOKES 414681 672 S MAIN ST   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142506
HERBAL E SCENTS 414902 545 C HWY 395 S   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 99114
SECRET HERB SHOP 413995 272 N LINCOLN ST   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142340
SUPER EXPRESSIONS 415989 1040 N HWY   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142032

 

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WSU professor, Spokane Police featured in CNN segment on crisis intervention research

Aug. 28, 2014 10:55 a.m. - Updated: 10:55 a.m.

A Washington State University professor of criminal justice and the Spokane Police Department have been featured on CNN for their collaboration on research into the physical and emotional responses of law enforcement in crisis situations.

As part of its “AC360” program hosted by Anderson Cooper, reporter Gary Tuchman visited a police confrontations lab run by students at WSU Spokane. Volunteers, including members of the Spokane Police Department, are placed in a virtual reality situation involving dramatizations of real-life confrontations, and their heart rate, brain waves and other vital signs are monitored as they make decisions about use of force.

You can watch the segment in its entirety below:



Professor Bryan Vila says the experiments are designed to determine the effect of training on decisions to use force in real-time.

“We still don't know if there's a connection between the training we give police officers and their performance in a combat situation,” Vila says in the clip.

The CNN report was filed as part of its coverage into the shooting death of an unarmed teenager in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Spokane police highlight their involvement in the project as part of their ongoing efforts to train officers in crisis intervention, part of a settlement reached with the department in the wake of the death of Otto Zehm at the hands of former Spokane police officer Karl Thompson in 2006. Police have also turned to the classroom to practice and evaluate their techniques of crisis de-escalation.

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Death row inmate Woods receives another look at case

Aug. 26, 2014 12:08 p.m. - Updated: Aug. 28, 8:10 a.m.

A man sentenced to death for his role in the brutal slaying of two women in a Spokane Valley trailer in 1996 has won another look at his case from a federal appeals court, though at least one judge said it's unlikely that review will change his fate.

Dwayne Anthony Woods is being held at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla following his 1997 conviction on two counts of first-degree aggravated murder in the bludgeoning deaths of Telisha Shaver and Jade Moore, along with raping Moore. A jury, made up of nine women and three men, sentenced Woods to death after two days of deliberations.

During the penalty phase of the trial, Woods told his attorneys not to offer evidence of mitigating circumstances that could have prevented him from receiving a capital sentence. After prosecutors made their case, Woods told the jury he did not object to his own execution, according to court documents.

“So I ask that each of you go back and return a vote to impose the death penalty,” Woods said in court, according to transcripts. “Thank you.”

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

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Ex-Center for Justice spokesman files complaint against police chief

Aug. 25, 2014 4:49 p.m. - Updated: Aug. 26, 9:25 a.m.

Tim Connor, a longtime independent law enforcement watchdog and former spokesman for the Center for Justice, filed a complaint with the police ombudsman today against Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub for misrepresentation.

According to Connor's complaint, the chief said at a public City Council meeting in March that the Center for Justice was working with the police department in developing procedures and policies for the use of body cameras on officers. Connor, who left the Center in late 2013, said this is not true.

“Because the Chief either knew, or should have known, that these statements were untrue he either misrepresented the facts or was negligent in his misrepresentations,” Connor wrote in the complaint.

Rick Eichstaedt, the Center's chief executive director, said earlier today the Center is not involved in the complaint, even if he agreed that his group wasn't involved in development of body camera policies when Straub said they were. The police department will begin a pilot implementation of the cameras next week.

Read an excerpt from the complaint below:

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40 in Spokane protest Ferguson police shooting

Aug. 23, 2014 8:11 p.m. - Updated: 8:23 p.m.

Spokane resident Sarah Peterson isn’t generally an activist.

But as she grew more concerned about the events Ferguson, Missouri, she decided to take action.

She organized a rally, took to Facebook and spread word to her church, Spokane Friends Church, and to the Spokane Peace and Justice Action League.

The result was a drive-time rally with about 40 people Friday evening at Monroe Street and Riverside Avenue, across from the Spokane Club.

“I hope that the people Ferguson, Missouri, see that we see what’s going on there and that we want to stand in solidarity with them,” said Peterson, who held a sign that said “Makes me wanna holler.”


  

 

 

 

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Appellate court upholds murder conviction amid DNA concerns

Aug. 21, 2014 2:46 p.m. - Updated: 3:13 p.m.

A trio of appellate court judges have upheld the 2012 murder conviction of Julio J. Davila in the beating death of John G. “Jack” Allen Jr. during an apparent robbery in 2007, despite concerns about the incompetence of a DNA technician handling the case.

Jeramie R. Davis was convicted and spent nearly seven years in prison for his alleged role in the porn shop robbery. But investigators asked for a second look at DNA evidence found at the crime scene, a pornography shop on East Sprague Avenue. Traces of Davila's DNA on the murder weapon, a baseball bat, lead to his arrest, conviction and sentencing in a subsequent trial. Davis was set free shortly after the conviction, as prosecutors could not prove he ever swung the murder weapon.

Davila appealed his conviction, saying prosecutors did not turn over evidence of incompetence on the part of Washington State Patrol crime lab technician Denise Olson. The now-fired lab worker was described as a “loose cannon whose work cannot be trusted,” according to an internal WSP review of her work released through a public records request. During a court hearing evaluating Olson's work and how it might have affected the case, a coworker detailed an incident in which Olson looked for semen stains on clothing when the suspect was a woman.

Attorneys for Davila argued his conviction should be overturned because prosecutors knew about Olson's shoddy work at the time of trial, but didn't reveal her record to the defense team, which could have used it to question the believability of the state's evidence. The U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Brady v. Maryland (1963) requires prosecutors to turn over all evidence that might be used to impeach their witnesses to defense attorneys.

In the opinion delivered by the court, Third Division Appellate Judge Robert Lawrence-Berrey wrote prosecutors erred when they did not turn over the WSP reports, but such evidence likely wouldn't have led to a different trial outcome for Davila. He cited extensive testimony at trial that indicated how the DNA evidence was collected, and that there was no reason to suspect Olson contaminated evidence in this particular case, despite her history of incompetence.

“While evidence of Ms. Olson's incompetence could have been used for impeachment purposes, it was not material to the accuracy of Ms. Olson's work in this case,” Lawrence-Berrey wrote.

Davila is serving what remains of his 16-and-a-half year sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Davis pleaded guilty to a second-degree robbery charge, was given credit for time served and released.

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Cheney couple faces animal cruelty charges

Aug. 18, 2014 8:59 p.m. - Updated: 9:07 p.m.

Prosecutors have filed animal cruelty charges against the Cheney couple who owned multiple animals, including horses and a llama, seized during a search of their property last month.

Terri Marlin, 51, and Thomas Marlin, 53, face multiple animal cruelty criminal counts following an investigation into the conditions at their property at 23239 S. Cross Road in July. Authorities were initially alerted to the couple, who have an extensive history of animal abuse complaints, after several emaciated horses appeared at the Cheney Rodeo Grounds during a wildfire evacuation.

Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services seized two horses, a llama, eight dogs and six cats from the residence. The Marlins face seventeen criminal counts apiece, including first-degree animal cruelty, second-degree animal cruelty and confining an animal in an unsafe manner, according to a news release from SCRAPS. First-degree animal cruelty is a felony, while the other charges are misdemeanors.

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`Breaking Bad’ spinoff `Better Call Saul’ to debut in February

Aug. 11, 2014 11:41 a.m. - Updated: 11:43 a.m.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — AMC-TV says that “Breaking Bad” spinoff, “Better Call Saul,” will debut in February.

The network recently released a clip of sleazy attorney Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, arguing about the importance of always having a lawyer. After the clip the word “February” is shown.

Previously, AMC said “Better Call Saul” would premiere in November 2014.

The series will follow Goodman as he defends drug lords, petty criminals and those allegedly injured in minor traffic accidents.

In “Breaking Bad,” Odenkirk played the lawyer of meth lord Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston.

The New Mexico Film Office said in May that “Better Call Saul” would be filmed in Albuquerque.

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Trial for teens accused of killing WWII vet pushed again

Aug. 4, 2014 12:17 p.m. - Updated: 12:31 p.m.

Teenagers Kenan Adams-Kinard and Demetruis Glenn are now scheduled to go before a jury in November for their alleged roles in the August 2013 slaying of 88-year-old World War II veteran Delbert Belton.

Judge Annette Plese delayed the court date in a ruling handed down last month. The teens, now both 17, face murder and robbery charges after their fingerprints were discovered on Belton's car, where he was found severely beaten in the parking lot of an ice rink Aug. 21. Plese signed an order indicating review of investigative materials and negotiations between defense attorneys and prosecutors were ongoing in the case, which made national headlines late last summer.

Adams-Kinard and Glenn have been in custody since their separate arrests a few days after Belton's death. Glenn turned himself in to authorities after surveillance video surfaced of the two teens entering nearby businesses around the time of the alleged beating. Adams-Kinard was apprehended in a basement apartment a few days later, where authorities found a letter they tied to the teen that alleged the beating took place after Belton stiffed Adams-Kinard on a drug deal.

Friends and family of Belton have vehemently denied he dealt drugs.

The order Plese signed calls for the teens to be tried as adults in a juvenile courtroom. It is the third delay in the case. Prior to Plese's order, the jury trial was scheduled to begin today.

 

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