Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Castle Rock resident charged with hit and run related to I-5 motorcycle death

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
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David L. Huisenga appears in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Bail was set at $100,000 today for the driver who allegedly admitted to being involved in yesterday morning’s fatal motorcycle collision in Chehalis, but left the scene and then torched his truck.

David L. Huisenga, 44, was charged today with hit and run involving death and second-degree arson in Lewis County Superior Court.

Temporary defense attorney Rachael Tiller argued for a lower amount, telling the judge her client has a stable lifestyle, working as a union laborer the past decade, residing in Castle Rock for the last 17 years and Longview before that.

Her client’s significant other was present in the courtroom, she said.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said he was concerned about interference with the administration of justice, given the allegations.

Meagher said Huisenga’s history included two hit and run unattended accidents in 1998 as well as reckless driving from the same year.

Exactly what occurred on northbound Interstate 5 near Centralia around 5 o’clock yesterday morning remains unclear, except that the motorcycle went down and its rider was then run over by a semi truck, according to authorities.

Michael T. Fields, 57, of Chehalis, died at the scene.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer wrote in charging documents officers discovered a license plate at the scene belonging to Huisenga.

His pickup truck was found burning about 9:15 a.m., according to Meyer, east of Interstate 5 near exit 63, and although the vehicle was destroyed, a license plate matching the one left at the scene was located.

Tiller told Judge R.W. Buzzard this afternoon that Huisenga walked 20 plus miles to the Castle Rock Police Department to turn himself in. Meyer wrote in charging documents Huisenga reported to Castle Rock police his vehicle had been stolen, but then recanted during subsequent interviews.

He said he had been driving northbound in the right lane and saw a motorcycle approaching from the rear in the same lane, according to Meyer.

“According to the defendant, he attempted to go into the left lane to get out of the way of the approaching motorcycle, but collided with the motorcycle,” Meyer wrote. “The defendant was unclear as to how the collision occurred.”

Meyer wrote that Huisenga said he saw the motorcycle go down and as a rider himself, knew the rider did not survive, based on the speeds they had been traveling.

He allegedly admitted fleeing, then passing back by and seeing troopers at the scene, and then using matches to set the front seat of his truck on fire.

The state patrol has described Huisenga’s pickup as a red 2001 Chevrolet Silverado.

The offenses he is charged with are both class B felonies, with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and / or $20,000 fine.

Tiller said Huisenga qualified for a court appointed lawyer, and Don Blair was appointed.

Meager outside the courtroom said the charges filed today are based on the evidence prosecutors possessed today, but that the investigation being conducted by the state patrol is not yet finished.
•••

For background, read “Pickup that left scene of fatal motorcycle crash found burning near I-5” from Wednesday April 26, 2017, here

Pickup that left scene of fatal motorcycle crash found burning near I-5

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Updated at 10:01 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It was a Chehalis man who died in the motorcycle wreck yesterday morning on Interstate 5.

It’s unknown exactly what transpired between him and a pickup truck that caused the motorcycle to go down and slide to the shoulder ejecting the rider onto the roadway, but he was then run over by a semi truck, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Michael T. Fields, 57, of Chehalis, was dead at the scene when responders arrived, according to authorities.

The accident about 5 o’clock yesterday morning in the northbound lanes at milepost 80 just south of Centralia shut down the freeway for hours while detectives investigated.

A license plate found at the scene belonging to a pickup truck found burning not far from the freeway in south Lewis County led to the arrest of its owner for hit and run and arson, according to the Washington State Patrol.

It was a WSDOT worker who spotted heavy black smoke off Camus Road near the Gospodor monuments and firefighters dispatched at 8:50 a.m. found the truck fully engulfed in flames, according to authorities.

The owner of the red 2001 Chevrolet Silverado called to report it stolen yesterday afternoon, and after meeting with detectives was booked into the Lewis County Jail, Trooper Will Finn said this morning.

“It doesn’t sound like there was a reason he left the scene, he just panicked and didn’t know what to do,” Finn said. “If he’d have stuck around, it would have been just an unfortunate accident, but now he’s facing two felonies.”

“It’s just a sad story all the way around,” he said.

Field’s 2012 Harley Davidson FLTRU was impounded. The burned Chevrolet Silverado was impounded.

The driver of the 2018 Freightliner, a 64-year-old man from Phoenix, was uninjured, according to the state patrol.

Finn said detectives are still trying to figure out exactly the nature of the contact between the pickup and Field’s motorcycle.

“It may have been a lane change, they’re still investigating,” he said.
•••

For background, read “News brief: I-5 freeway fatality under investigation” from Tuesday April 25, 2017, here

Police awaiting autopsy for confirmation about body found inside parked Honda Accord

Monday, April 24th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Chehalis Police Department has an idea about how he died and feels “pretty positive” he is the missing 16-year-old Camas boy, but are awaiting word from the coroner in regards to the body discovered inside a car parked at the Twin City Town Center late Friday afternoon.

Department spokesperson Linda Bailey this morning called the death a tragedy.

Cole Burbank, 16, of Camas, was reported missing by his parents on April 13 and the Camas Police Department issued a missing person report to the public hoping to locate him and his black 2010 Honda Accord. An intense investigation to find him as quickly as possible began immediately, according to police.

Chehalis police responded about 5:30 p.m. on Friday to the shopping center on Northwest Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis, following a phone call from someone Bailey said she believed was a friend of the family who had located the vehicle.

“I do understand Camas sent a team up to assist with … to process the scene,” Bailey said.

It doesn’t appear police are looking for any suspect. Bailey said if police thought there was a danger element to the public, she would have already made such an announcement.

Officers have an idea of how he died, “but we aren’t going to say that until we get an autopsy report,” Bailey said.

An autopsy is being conducted today, she said.

The car was found in the parking lot east of the auto parts store and closer to Security State Bank. Bailey said she had not yet heard if detectives have determined how long the car was there.

Further information is expected to be released by the Lewis County Coroner’s Office, which has the responsibility to positively identify him and find the cause and manner of his death.
•••

For background read “Male found dead inside missing teen’s car in Chehalis” from Saturday April 22, 2017, here

Male found dead inside missing teen’s car in Chehalis

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
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The missing person flyer showing Cole Burbank and associated Honda Accord.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Authorities say a car associated with a 16-year-old Camas boy missing more than a week was found yesterday in a Chehalis shopping center parking lot, with a body inside.

Police responded about 5:30 p.m. yesterday to the Twin City Town Center on Northwest Louisiana Avenue.

“Upon arrival, officers discovered a deceased young adult male inside the vehicle,” Chehalis Police Department spokesperson Linda Bailey wrote in a brief message to news media late last night.

Cole Burbank, 16, of Camas, was last seen at Camas High School at about 7:45 am. on April 13 and was reported missing by his parents the same day, according to the Camas Police Department.

He left driving a black 2010 Honda Accord and was likely in the vicinity of Clark College where he attended Running Start classes, but never showed up there, according to police. Camas police issued a missing person report to the public the following day, noting “this type of behavior is not common for Cole and his family is very concerned for his welfare.”

The Chehalis Fire Department and AMR medics were called to the shopping center early yesterday evening, basically to confirm the occupant was dead and helped secure the scene.

Firefighter Braxton Traylor said the black Honda was parked east of an auto parts store and closer to Security State Bank, with no other vehicles parked immediately adjacent to it, but a person was visible through its windows.

“He had a real low profile in the vehicle,” Traylor said. “If you were just driving by, you may not have seen him.”

Bailey’s message stated an investigation is ongoing and information will be released as it becomes available. Nobody was available this morning from the Chehalis Police Department to answer questions.

Camas police stated in a press release the body was released to to the Lewis County Coroner’s Office for positive identification.

Camas police thanked the public for tips and search efforts, as well as assisting agencies they said included the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Citizens keep rounding up small dogs dumped east of Onalaska, as shelter fills up

Friday, April 21st, 2017
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Five of the rescued chihuahuas being held at the Lewis County Animal Shelter

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – They started getting brought in on Saturday, batches of chihuahuas found abandoned in East Lewis County.

The Lewis County Animal Shelter has been clipping, grooming and preparing for spaying and neutering of little dogs all week.

Yesterday afternoon the animals being temporarily housed at the facility on Centralia-Alpha Road huddled in small groups in five separate kennel areas.

Eighteen chihuahuas, all appearing to be pure bred, are or will be available for adoption.

“My gut feeling is they’re all from the same place,” Shelter Manager Amy Hanson said.

Three times so far, people have found some of the dogs and delivered them to the shelter, Hanson said yesterday afternoon.

Lindsey Dean lives in Cinebar but her daughter goes to school in Morton, so she drives that remote stretch along state Route 508 at least four times a day.

“It was Monday morning, I came around the corner and they were piled in the road,” Dean said. “They were hungry, I had a banana and they were eating dirt to get to the rest of the banana.”

They smelled terrible, their nails were long and they were afraid of people, she said.

On Tuesday after work, animal technician Robin Williams, drove out to the same area just over the Bear Canyon Bridge to see if she could locate any more. With help from Dean, Dean’s teenage son and her friend Missy Baier, they rounded up eight.

“If the first ones hadn’t gone out into the road, I don’t think anyone would have found them, cause they were back in the woods,” Williams said.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Dusty Breen says it’s a neglect issue that could be pursued criminally.

Lewis County Code Compliance Supervisor Bill Teitzel today said his office is seriously looking at the situation.

Teitzel said over the past six to eight months, the same type of dogs have been dumped in a similar fashion in similar locations, although never this many.

“They seem to coincide with things we’re doing at this office,” he said.

The county’s humane officer conducts inspections for people who want to apply for kennel permits, he said.

“My office doesn’t investigate crime, but if we find crime we will turn it over to the sheriff’s office,” Teitzel said.

Animals must be fixed before the shelter can release them to new homes. That requirement over the years has led to lower numbers of strays kept there.

At any given time, nowadays, they may have only two to three dogs available for adoption, according to Hanson.

This week almost 100 dogs are inhabiting the kennels and cages in the building.

On Monday, Lewis County seized dozens of dogs, mostly chihuahua-mix, from a man who lives on the 1600 block of Little Hanaford Road outside Centralia.

They undertook a similar action three years ago at the same place and the owner, Jimmie R. Jemison, was charged with a violation of state law related to dog breeding and standards of cleanliness, care and protection.

The case however was dismissed in December the following year because Jemison was found not competent to stand trial due to mental illness, according to documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court.

Soon after, the county filed for a declaratory judgement to “abate” the situation, as it believed he continued to breed dogs in the same poor conditions. The court signed a warrant of abatement earlier this month.

Hanson said when they went to the property Monday to impound Jemison’s dogs, the conditions were maybe even worse than before.

Some were living in the motor home with him and others were kept in outbuildings, she said.

They collected five litters of puppies, about two weeks old, she said, plus 47 dogs at least four months old and older.

Those animals are being cared for at the shelter, and will become available for adoption later.

Hanson said she doesn’t have any reason to think Jemison’s operation was related to the animals found off state Route 508.

Dean said she learned today, a man with a tree farm off state Route 508 found more chihuahuas but could only catch one.

“He said there were three more, maybe five miles down by a small bridge,” she said.

As many as four other chihuahuas have been discovered in the area and not turned into the shelter, she said.

She’ll keep going back to look for others, she said.

“Me and my friend Missy, we’re just heartbroken,” she said. “Because it’s obvious, they’re scared.”
•••

For background, read “Centralia man pleads not guilty to dog breeding violation” from Saturday May 31, 2014, here

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Six chihuahuas were picked up Monday morning off of state Route 508 near milepost 22. / Courtesy photo by Lindsey Dean

Second person accused in Salkum area indoor pot growing operation

Saturday, April 15th, 2017
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J. Natividad Acevedo, middle, faces a judge along with his lawyer and a Spanish-English translator.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The owner of a Salkum-area farmhouse that was found to have a marijuana grow inside after it caught fire on Christmas Eve Day has pleaded not guilty to manufacture of marijuana.

J. Natividad Acevedo was summonsed to appear in Lewis County Superior Court and did so on Wednesday afternoon, with his lawyer. He returned Thursday for his arraignment.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher recommended Acevedo be allowed to remain free pending trial on a $$5,000 unsecured bond. Judge Andrew Toynbee agreed.

Acevedo, 40, who has an Onalaska address listed in court documents, is represented by Centralia attorney Jakob McGhie.

Prosecutors wrote in charging documents that a Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputy got a search warrant for the property on the 200 block of Fuller Road and seized plants and growing equipment from the rear section of the house as well as inside a room on an attached carport.

Firefighters had passed along information about what they saw inside to the sheriff’s office.

Timothy A. Neal, 48, was contacted by the deputy and said he stayed there and tended the plants for his landlord, while the landlord was out of town, according to charging documents. Neal was arrested last week for the same charge and allowed an unsecured $10,000 bond.

Charging documents allege that Neal told the deputy Acevedo had more than one marijuana grow in the area and that Neal had helped set up some of them. He reportedly said Acevedo would sell one pound increments to people in California and in Lewis County.

When Lewis County prosecutors filed the charge against Acevedo on March 28, it included only the one count of manufacture of marijuana.

Acevedo’s trial was scheduled for the week of June 26 in Lewis County Superior Court.
•••

For background read “Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – CHARGES FILED RE: MARIJUANA PLANTS DISCOVERED AFTER HOUSE FIRE” from Thursday April 6, 2017, here

Mental evaluation awaits attempted car jacking suspect

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017
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Tommy W. Miller, Jr. is escorted out of the courtroom following a bail hearing in Lewis County Superior Court

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 23-year-old accused of throwing a hospital employee out of the driver’s seat of her car after she got off work in the early morning hours on Tuesday was charged today with two felonies in Lewis County Superior Court.

Tommy W. Miller, Jr. of Lacey was brought before a judge this afternoon but his temporary defense attorney said Miller wouldn’t talk to him.

When Judge Andrew Toynbee queried Miller directly, he responded with random words and gibberish, Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said.

Meagher said when Miller returns to court tomorrow, he will have an order prepared to get him evaluated at Western State Hospital.

“We don’t have any choice, it’s our only option,” Meagher told Miller’s family after the hearing.

He was charged today with first-degree attempted robbery and second-degree assault.

Prosecutors allege he approached the employee’s car in the parking lot at Providence Centralia Hospital and after trying to speak to her once, that when she turned her attention back to her phone, he opened her car door.

The victim, identified in court documents only by her initials A.T., told police he grabbed her with both hands by the front of her shirt and threw her onto the ground, ripping her brassiere in half, tearing her top and leaving her with scrapes on her hands and knees, Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wrote in court papers.

She ran into the emergency room to call 911 and realized she had her car keys in her hand, according to Halstead.

Centralia police and deputies responding to the approximately 3:37 a.m. call eventually spotted Miller walking on nearby on Cooks Hill Road. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

Halstead wrote the victim had looked back as she ran and saw the headlights to her vehicle had been turned on.

“It appears the subject attempted to steal A.T.’s vehicle but was unsuccessful when he discovered the keys were no longer in the vehicle,” Halstead wrote.

Meagher today asked the judge to hold Miller on $100,000 bail. Temporary defense attorney noted his client appeared to have no criminal history.

Judge Toynbee set bail at $50,000.

Defense attorney Shane O’Rourke was appointed to represent him. His next hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. tomorrow.
•••

For background, read “Woman pulled from her car in Providence Centralia Hospital parking lot, runs inside to call 911” from Tuesday April 11, 2017, here

Woman pulled from her car in Providence Centralia Hospital parking lot, runs inside to call 911

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 24-year-old Lacey man is in custody after an employee at Providence Centralia Hospital was the victim of an apparent attempted car jacking early this morning.

Police were called at 3:37 a.m. to the 1800 block of Cooks Hill Road where the victim described what had occurred in the hospital parking lot.

She told police a black male had approached her while she was warming up her vehicle, asked her if she worked there and then lingered after she told him no, according to the Centralia Police Department.

The woman called security staff but before they arrived, the man opened her door, forcibly grabbed her out of the vehicle and got inside, according to police.

“The victim, who sustained minor injuries and torn clothing from the force of the grab, managed to grab her keys and ran back to the hospital where she contacted security,” Centralia detective Sgt. Carl Buster stated in a press release.

Officers arrived to the area, summoned a K-9 and set up containment, according to Buster.

A deputy recalled contacting an individual matching that description earlier, off Interstate 5’s exit 77 in Chehalis, who had been carrying a hammer, Buster wrote.

The deputy spotted that same person walking nearby on Cooks Hill Road. He was contacted and the victim identified him as their suspect, according to Buster. His hammer was found nearby, Buster said.

Tommy W. Miller, Jr., 24 of Lacey, was taken into custody and arrested for first-degree robbery, according to police.

Upstairs stove is suspect in Chehalis house fire

Sunday, April 9th, 2017
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Arriving firefighters saw flames coming out second-story window.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – What ignited a house fire in Chehalis displacing eight residents is still unknown but a closer look at a stove on the second floor in an area converted into a kitchen is in order, according to authorities.

“I’m still working on the investigation, so I can’t really say for sure,” Fire Investigator Jay Birley said.

The fire broke out at mid-morning on Thursday on Southwest 14th Street just east of Wilson Avenue.

The two-story structure originally was a church. It’s owner operated it as a kind of halfway house, she called House of the Rising Son until the city raised zoning issues with her a few years ago.

Birley said interviews with the occupants indicate a woman had been upstairs to retrieve DVDs and glasses, went downstairs and when she went back upstairs she discovered the fire. She thought he saw something burning on the stove, Birley said.

She alerted another resident who attempted to put it out with a fire extinguisher but was unsuccessful, he said.

One man and one woman were taken to the hospital for smoke and breathing issues, according to responders.

Birley counted six bedrooms in the house and only found one smoke detector, which had been taken down and wasn’t working, he said.

Two of the occupants were small children.

The Red Cross was summoned to assist the residents. The house is still standing, but the city red tagged the building as uninhabitable.

Chehalis Fire Department Chief Ken Cardinale said the stove was situated in an area determined to be the fire’s origin. He said renovations for which no city permit had been obtained were discovered.

BIrley said if the home is insured, the insurance company will want to have the stove examined.
•••

For background, read “Eight people displaced by Chehalis house fire” from Thursday April 6, 2017, here

Meth: Conviction on lesser charge leads to jail time, possible deportation

Friday, April 7th, 2017
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Eduardo F. Morales Martinez, in green, signs sentencing documents in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – While there were three ounces of methamphetamine found under the seat of his car following a traffic stop at the McDonald’s parking lot in Chehalis, prosecutors found no evidence to corroborate he was intending to sell or distribute the drug.

So, a plea deal was made with 37-year-old Eduardo F. Morales Martinez.

Morales Martinez and his 38-year-old passenger were arrested last month and this week he was back before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court to be convicted of a lesser charge.

He was initially charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, but pleaded guilty to simple possession on Wednesday morning. He also pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal impersonation.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello told the judge the change was made because while it was a large amount of meth, the statute required him to show the defendant planned to deliver the drugs, and that information “wasn’t present.”

Morales Martinez also admitted to using a false name with law enforcement during the March 8 incident, showing them three Mexican identification cards.

Masiello told the judge he recommended Morales Martinez should be given 60 days in jail, something he called pretty standard for the type of situation.

Morales Martinez, who told the court he worked in construction and prior to that did oyster shucking, spoke through a Spanish-English interpreter. Court papers list a Shelton address for him.

Masiello had written in charging documents that Morales Martinez had prior convictions for delivery of a controlled substance and driving under the influence as well as multiple deportations and illegal entries.

Defense attorney David Arcuri told the judge he had gone over with his client in detail the potential immigration consequences of his plea, informing him it was highly likely federal authorities would process him for deportation when he finished serving his time.

Judge Andrew Toynbee accepted the guilty pleas and imposed the two-month sentence, giving credit for 29 days already served. He also ordered Morales Martinez to pay $4,200 in fines and fees. He called it a fair outcome, based on what he knew of the case.

The companion case for the passenger, Olympia-area resident Gloria N. Iniguez Gonzalez, 38, is still pending, according to Masiello. Her bail had been set at $10,000 and she is no longer in jail.

She had a 1-year-old son with her during the traffic stop on Median Street that Morales Martinez said was also his son.

Neither Arcuri nor Masiello knew where Morales Martinez might be deported to.

“South of the border, is all I know,” Masiello said. “I know they (ICE) know of this case, but exactly how they will be proceeding, I don’t know.”
•••

For background, read “Chehalis traffic stops yield large amounts of meth” from Friday March 10, 2017, here

Eight people displaced by Chehalis house fire

Thursday, April 6th, 2017
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A fire investigator begins looking into the cause of the fire at a Chehalis residence.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Six adults and two small children are without a home after a fire broke out this morning on Southwest 14th Street just east of Wilson Avenue in Chehalis.

Everyone was out of the two-story residence by the time Lewis County Fire District 6 Chief Tim Kinder arrived on the scene, but a man and a woman were taken to the hospital for breathing and/or smoke issues.

“When we pulled up, there was fire coming out the second story window,” Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Ted McCarty said.

Crews found flames on the upper floor and in the attic area, McCarty said.

“A lot of smoke damage throughout,” he said.

Genessa Glidden said she had just recently signed up with the owner Judy Chafin to be a caregiver there. Chafin was at the hospital and Glidden worked with authorities today to see about getting five cats out of the house.

The city red tagged the building as uninhabitable.

Members of the Red Cross and a Lewis County chaplain were at the scene assisting.

“We’re here to take care of them,” Malcolm Hanrahan of the Red Cross said. “They’ll have a place to stay tonight and something to eat.”

Kinder said 15 firefighters from four departments extinguished the fire. It was reported at 9:38 a.m. The cause is under investigation.

Chafin and the city had issues a few years back relating to zoning when she opened up her home to newly released prisoners and others who needed help getting back on their feet.

At the time, she called the home House of the Rising Son and she operated numerous halfway houses in the county.

In 2014, she was convicted for a prescription drug possession offense and given 30 days of house arrest for what a jury learned were a former housemate’s morphine pills left out in a common area which she scooped into her purse because she had her small grandchild living with her.

An anonymous complaint to the state Department of Labor and Industries around the same time took her to Lewis County Superior Court, with criminal prosecutors contending her performance of landlord-like services meant she wrongly collected disability benefits for a 2006 on-the-job injury. She was acquitted.

Chehalis Police Department Chief Glenn Schaffer today said an officer was called to the house recently and noticed a significant number of people residing there again.

Paperwork put together by the police department, the city’s community development section and the city attorney with notices of zoning and code violations are either ready to send or have already been mailed to Chafin, according to Schaffer.

“This zone should be for a single-family house,” the chief said.

Toledo child porn case leads to prison

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 26-year-old Toledo man arrested and charged late last year with possession of child porn was sentenced this morning to six years and five months in prison.

Chriss Grammount previously pleaded guilty as charged, to three counts of first-degree possession of depictions of minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of second-degree possession of depictions of minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

When he appeared before a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court, Grammount said he knew what he did was inappropriate and he was sorry.

“Once I get out, I want to get out and do what you guys ask me to do and keep myself on a straight path,” he told the judge.

Grammount, who previously worked at Wal-Mart, was arrested on Dec. 1, following an investigation by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office based on the receipt of information from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Prosecutors said he used his phone to download videos from Kik and transfer them to a publicly available Dropbox account in which his user name and associated email address were his own first and last names.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm and defense attorney Kevin Nelson recommended Grammount be given 77 months, the low end of the standard sentencing range.

Judge Andrew Toynbee agreed with their advice, based in part on what he called cognitive and educational issues described in the pre-sentencing report.

He also ordered him to pay $1,500 in fines and fees plus a $4,000 “minor depiction fee”.

Grammount was taken into custody at the end of the hearing. When he is released from prison, he will be on community custody for three years.

Prosecutors: Lack of consent leads to rape charge for Centralia man

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Bail was set at $25,000 for a 32-year-old Centralia man charged yesterday with third-degree rape in connection with an encounter with a 16-year-old girl late last month.

Stephen M. Douglas Jr. was arrested on Friday after he was questioned by detectives at his home.

The incident was reported to the Chehalis Police Department after the teen’s father took her to the hospital for an exam, following her disclosure what had happened, according to court documents.

The girl takes busses between Centralia and Chehalis for school and instead of going to school that day, she got off the bus with a guy she’d met prior, near a pot store where he made a purchase and then they took a walk up the road behind a gate, according to charging documents.

The 16-year-old said he put his coat on the ground and told her to  perform oral sex, then took off both their pants and had sex with her.

Under questioning, the girl said she may have said no, but didn’t remember. However, she described drawing her forearms together in front of her with her elbows out and also trying to close her legs during the incident, according to charging documents.

“…  (She) decided to close her eyes because she was afraid and didn’t want to look at him anymore,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm wrote.

By her description, the Chehalis police detective concluded the bus stop was near The Vintage along North National Avenue in Chehalis.

The detective tracked down Douglas by finding surveillance photos from Wal-Mart. He reportedly went there to get the girl new pants and dry socks because hers had gotten muddy.

When asked why she decided to stay with him instead of going to school, the teenager said he seemed like a nice person and she trusted him, Bohm wrote.

On Friday when detectives interviewed Douglas, he said after work that morning he went to Wal-Mart to cash his check, bought little bottles of vodka to drink at the bus stop, walked to the pot shop to buy some product and then took a bus home, according to Bohm.

Third-degree rape is a class C felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Its elements include the victim not consenting to sexual intercourse, and where the lack of consent was clearly expressed by words or conduct.

Deputy Prosecutor Bohm yesterday afternoon asked Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler to hold Douglas on $25,000 bail. The judge agreed.

Douglas’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.

Tenino-area murder suspects captured in Cowlitz County

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017
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Deputies at the scene of homicide investigation off state Route 507 yesterday. / Courtesy photo by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 23-year-old man and his 18-year-old girlfriend are in custody in connection with the death of his mother, found yesterday at her Tenino-area home.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office began looking for Roan Littlemoon and Sabrina Young Anderson after an approximately 4 p.m. call yesterday alerting them to a potential homicide at a rural residence on the 2800 block of 184th Avenue Southeast.

Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Rudloff said detectives got a call about 9 o’clock this morning informing them the pair were just then detained in Longview. The couple’s car had been located about 2 a.m. in the parking lot of a tavern in downtown Longview, he said.

The sheriff’s office reported last night they had probable cause to arrest Littlemoon and Anderson for second-degree murder.

When deputies went to the home south of Tenino yesterday afternoon, they found the victim 60-year-old Robin L. Tingle inside her residence, according to Rudloff. Her son Littlemoon lived there with her, he stated.

The house sits on a multi-acre ranch or tree farm-type property, just off state Route 507, south of Tenino and north of Bucoda, according to the sheriff’s office.

Last night’s press release indicated the information the sheriff’s office got yesterday suggested the homicide occurred sometime before noon.

The sheriff’s office hasn’t yet offered any information about the nature of Tingle’s death. Rudloff said they’re not putting that out yet.

Detectives were headed down to Longview to pick up the two suspect and bring them back to Thurston County, he said.

Tensions build between immigration enforcement, local law enforcement

Friday, March 31st, 2017
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Lewis County Jail Corrections Sgt. Ron Anderson shows how any ICE detainers the jail receives are placed loose in an inmate’s folder, so a phone call can be made when people are to be released.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Federal immigration authorities issued their first list last week to highlight jails that don’t cooperate with ICE detainers or requests for notification of release of aliens who are potentially removable from the country.

It’s possible it won’t be long before the Lewis County Jail lands on the list.

Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza says this isn’t a “sanctuary county” but, his jail doesn’t and won’t hold inmates for immigration officers to come and pick up based on a detainer.

When it’s time to be released, whether because they’ve posted bail or their sentence is served, inmates get set free.

“We will not keep you, unless you have a warrant,” said Snaza, a Republican who was elected to his position in 2014 with 77 percent of the vote in a two-way race.

The jail used to routinely honor the detainers, until a federal court case in 2014 in Oregon after which they changed their policies. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said the court decision concluded the ICE detainer is not a warrant, it’s more like a letter.

“We don’t have the authority to hold anyone just on a detainer,” Meyer said.

Meyer didn’t know how many jurisdictions in Washington have taken the same position, but said he didn’t think the county’s interpretation was out of the norm.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

The report issued March 20 is required by an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 25, according to DHS.

The agency stated it plans to publish a report weekly to inform the public of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdictions which choose not to cooperate, potentially endangering Americans.

Neither the press release or companion report acknowledge the legal position that Lewis and other counties have taken.

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,” Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan stated. “Our goal is to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners.”

The Lewis County Jail in Chehalis – the county seat – houses arrestees from sheriff’s deputies, from the Washington State Patrol and police from all the cities and towns within the county. It also holds those who are sentenced locally to less than one year.

On any given day, it’s population is roughly 200 inmates, give or take about 20.

Despite the sheriff’s stance, the jail isn’t entirely uncooperative.

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Corrections Officer Dave Rodkey, booking

Deputies enforce state laws and county codes, and don’t ask people about their citizenship or immigration status, according to Snaza.

However, when anyone is booked into the jail, one question is asked of all of them.

Where were you born?

If the answer is anything but inside the United States, corrections officers will notify ICE.

Jail staff don’t attempt to figure out anyone’s citizenship or immigration status, they leave that up to the immigration authorities.

Lewis County Jail Corrections Sgt. Ron Anderson said they fax information on foreign born individuals probably three or four times each month to the ICE field office in Seattle. And about once a month, ICE will fax back a detainer on someone.

The piece of paper goes into the inmate’s file and when it’s time for that person to get out, a corrections officer will phone ICE and let them know what time the individual is going to be released.

Anderson said maybe only once so far this year, an immigration officer has actually shown up and taken someone into their custody.

“It’s a lot different than it used to be,” he said.

Anderson, who has worked at the facility for 30 years, recalls the process before the 2014 change.

“If the agency said they couldn’t get down here till the next day, we would hold the person,” he said.

ICE used to come down and conduct sweeps, Anderson said.

DHS’s first report – called the Declined Detainer Outcome Report – contains a section which names the 10 “non-cooperative” jurisdictions which had the highest number of detainers issued to them during the seven-day period that began Jan. 28.

Two Pacific Northwest entities appear; Snohomish County with 12 detainers issued and Washington County in Oregon with seven.

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett issued a press release the same day, taking issue with the feds suggesting some choose not to cooperate.

“(It) does not accurately describe the difficulties or potential legal ramifications associated with honoring ICE detainer requests,” Garrett stated.

Sheriff Garrett went on to recount how in April 2014, a judge for the U.S. District Court of Oregon found Clackamas County violated Maria Miranda-Olivares’ constitutional rights, by holding her on an ICE detainer, ultimately costing taxpayers more than $100,000.

The ruling that detainer requests are unconstitutional led every county in Oregon to immediately stop honoring them, according to Garrett.

Like Sheriff Snaza and Prosecutor Meyer, Garrett said his county will honor any warrant or court order to detain a person.

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Lewis County Jail

Another section of the March 20 report includes a table presenting information about 206 declined detainers around the country during the seven-day period, naming the facility, the county and state, along with the country of citizenship and examples of criminal activity – charges or convictions – associated with each case.

ICE sends detainers if it possesses probable cause to believe that the alien is removable from the United States. The report notes however, the agency does not document in a systematically reportable manner, the immigration status of each target.

Another table in the report shows more than 100 jurisdictions throughout the country, of which ICE has become aware, which have policies that limit cooperation with ICE. The majority of them indicate they will not hold individuals solely on an ICE detainer, with several suggesting with various phrasing they will honor a warrant or court order.

Lewis County Undersheriff Wes Rethwill put it this way:

“We do have open lines of communications with all agencies,” he said. “But the whole detainer thing is a civil piece in the federal system, and we don’t act on civil stuff.”

Earlier this month, after news headlines abounded about presidential executive orders dealing with immigration and immigration bans, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office command team sent a memo to employees to affirm they were making no changes in how they operate.

“We will not go after people because of their status,” Snaza said. “That’s not our job.”

Prosecutor Meyer says the sheriff’s office is only authorized to enforce state law – and county ordinances – but not federal law.

Sheriff Snaza related that their primary mission is to keep the community and it’s people safe.

“In order to best accomplish this, we must build confidence so victims and witnesses to crimes come forward to report such criminal activity and/or seek assistance, as needed, without fear of becoming vulnerable to immigration repercussions,” his memo stated.

The memo reiterates that the sheriff’s office serves all people within Lewis County regardless of their immigrations status as well as noting that all people they come in contact with are entitled to the rights and protections of the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

The command team memo asks employees to be mindful of how their actions, statements and questions they can answer impact the public’s level of fear and trust in law enforcement.

These are tense times, Snaza said.

“When I hear of kids at school afraid of losing their mom or dad, that concerns me,” Snaza said.

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Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza

He said he was discouraged when he heard some ICE agents were hanging around courthouses to find people.

Snaza said he wishes everyone could work together to help “these folks” to ease their concerns and fears.

“I’m not going to go into a home and rip a family apart,” Snaza said. “It’s not my job and there’s no way I’ll do that.”

It’s a conversation that’s been had even around his own dinner table, Snaza said.

His father-in-law, a Marine who went to Vietnam, worked here for some 30 years on a green card before he decided to take steps to become a U.S. citizen, he said.

“Most people in the U.S. illegally want to make a better life for themselves,” Snaza said. “It’s a small percent that do the crime.”

ICE issued a press release yesterday announcing 84 foreign nationals were arrested during a recent three-day operation conducted in Washington, Alaska and Oregon.

They targeted at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives.

Sixty of them have criminal histories including prior convictions for sex crimes, drug offenses and domestic violence but the most common was driving under the influence, according to ICE.

Seven of them were women. They came from 12 countries, with the largest number (64) from Mexico.

The enforcement actions took place in 20 communities, and King County accounted for the largest number of arrestees at 19.

Among them, two people were picked up in Thurston County, three in Cowlitz County and one in Mason County.

Rose M. Richeson, public affairs officer for ICE for the Pacific Northwest, said she didn’t have a label for someone who arrived to this country with a visa and never left when they were supposed to.

“They’re not considered a priority, I don’t have a term for those people,” she said.

However, if they are picked up, they are dealt with on a case by case basis, she said.

Prosecutor Meyer today said the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys is working with ICE to see if there are ways local jurisdictions could honor a new form of detainer.

“I worry it may have a chilling effect on victims reporting crimes,” Meyer said. “Our laws have to mean something.”

Sheriff Snaza shared a memo he received today from the Washington State Sheriff’s Association taking exception to ICE’s label of some as uncooperative.

Every sheriff in the state complies with the federal court decision that precludes them from holding inmates on ICE detainer requests, Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson, president of the WSSA wrote.

“Sheriffs need to uphold what is legal and what is right and not bend to political pressure or convenience,” Nelson stated. “The public expects us to enforce the law while obeying the law.”

Nelson’s letter notes that after the 2014 court decision within the Ninth Federal Circuit, sheriffs reached out to ICE in order to find a workable solution.

“ICE’s position has been less than cooperative,” Nelson wrote. “Their current approach has the potential to undermine long standing relationships between federal and local agencies.”

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Lewis County Jail, Southwest Chehalis Avenue

Centralia murder case waiting for state crime lab results

Friday, March 31st, 2017
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Janet L. Anderson is shown her seat in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lawyers checked in with a judge yesterday to gauge progress towards the trial for a Centralia woman accused of fatally shooting her husband.

Janet L. Anderson, now 40, is charged with second-degree murder for the December death of 41-year-old Ty Anderson.

Her trial is scheduled for the week of May 8, but neither attorney expects it to take place that soon.

Centralia defense attorney Shane O’Rourke said a significant amount of discovery – materials prosecutors intend to use at trial – has been exchanged, but they are still awaiting the results of DNA testing from the state crime lab.

O’Rourke told the judge he will be asking to postpone the trial date, but doesn’t want to do it yet because he wants to make sure the crime lab keeps the case as a high priority.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said there are lots and lots of items to be tested.

Outside the courtroom, O’Rourke said among the blood to be tested, is his client’s.

“She sustained some injury as well, and was bleeding,” he said. “From our position, she was hurt during an altercation.”

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler agreed the parties should return to court in two weeks, and on that date they could address a new trial date.

Anderson remains held on $1 million bail.

She was arrested Dec. 17, after she turned herself in to police and told them she and her husband had been arguing at their home off of West Oakview Avenue and he grabbed his gun and pointed it at her. Her husband’s body was found in their bedroom with a bullet hole in the back of his neck and another in his lower back.
•••

For background, read “Centralia wife’s murder trial postponed” from Thursday January 19, 2017, here

Prosecutors: Meth-making discovered during domestic violence call in Centralia

Thursday, March 30th, 2017
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Justin G. Bonifield is led out of the courtroom following his bail hearing.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – He said the firearm accidentally discharged, but his girlfriend said that during an argument Justin G. Bonifield hit her in the face, struck her in the back of the head with a beer bottle causing her to see stars and threatened to kill her as she tried to get out of their Centralia house.

The 40-year-old woman told deputies she slid beneath the garage door after pushing the automatic door opener, and began to run toward a neighbor’s house for help when she heard a gunshot, so she dropped to the ground and crawled the rest of the way, according to court documents.

Bonifield, 47, wasn’t arrested until the following day, but by then, law enforcement was already in the process of uncovering a fully functional meth lab at the Joppish Road home, according to authorities.

The Centralia man was brought before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court facing six felony charges.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said the defendant has two prior felonies and asked that his bail be set at $200,000.

Temporary defense attorney Kevin Nelson noted his client has only had one warrant in the past and has a job as a fabricator in Olympia. Nelson requested $25,000 bail.

Judge Joely O’Rourke agreed with the prosecutor’s request.

The incidents took place on Monday night, and were investigated after the victim got her neighbor to call 911. She had a bloody lip, large lumps on the back of her head and a concussion, according to authorities. Bonifield had fled in a Ford Mustang.

The girlfriend told deputies Bonifield manufactures methamphetamines in one of the outbuildings on the property, something she’d watched him do on prior occasions, according to Halstead.

Deputies obtained a search warrant and located what was described as a lab, with chemicals known to be associated with the red phosphorous method of meth making, according to charging documents. They collected beakers, tubing, flasks, a condenser and crystal substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the documents.

They also found an empty Corona beer bottle on the floor of the home and a gun, the documents relate. Deputies found a trailer on the property that had been reported stolen within the county late last year as well, according to Halstead.

Charging documents make no mention of any bullet being retrieved.

The suspect was found in Thurston County on Tuesday and taken into custody.

“Bonifield admitted to having the firearm and acknowledged he was not to possess any firearm,” Halstead wrote in charging documents. “He also stated the firearm was accidentally discharged.”

He is charged with second-degree assault, felony harassment and manufacture of methamphetamine – an offense Halstead said he hasn’t seen in his nearly seven years in the prosecutor’s office.

Bonifield is also charged with second-degree possession of stolen property, second-degree unlawful possession firearm and possession of meth.

His prior convictions were from 1995 in Pierce County, for attempting to elude and a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

His arraignment was scheduled for today.

Centralia fast food burglar faces more charges

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
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Cole T. Moon returns to his seat to wait to be taken back down to the Lewis County Jail after bail hearing.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Just as he was finishing up serving jail time for his role in a burglary to the McDonald’s restaurant in Centralia, Cole T. Moon found himself charged with new felonies related to past alleged activities.

Moon, 24, recently pleaded guilty to the McDonald’s incident and was given just 45 days in jail because he was a first time offender.

The break-in was just one in a series of nine which took place during 2015 in cities between Portland and Lacey with similar methods – the thieves cut holes in the roofs of fast food restaurants and then cut holes in their safes and stole money, according to authorities. Three took place in Centralia.

An acquaintance of Moon’s pleaded guilty on Wednesday to five of the crimes and is facing a potential sentence of more than 12 years in prison.

As part of his plea agreement, 26-year-old Alexis Cardenas was required to provide a truthful statement about his activities and the names of all who helped him.

The new information, presented in charging documents, alleges there was an attempted burglary at the Centralia McDonald’s a few weeks before the known break-in on May 28, 2015. But they brought the wrong cutting tool and abandoned the venture, according to authorities.

Moon also is now implicated in the incident at Arby’s on April 14, 2015 as well as others in other counties, according to charging documents.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead charged Moon yesterday with one count of second-degree burglary, one count of attempted second-degree burglary, one count of first-degree malicious mischief and a count of attempted first-degree malicious mischief.

Moon had just completed serving his time the day before in the Lewis County Jail.

Temporary defense attorney Kevin Nelson said his client had a solid place to live and a job lined up as bail was discussed.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Joely O’Rourke agreed with Halstead’s request for bail of $100,000 for Moon.

Moon’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
•••

For background, read “Fast food roof top burglar convicted after plea deal” from Wednesday March 22, 2017, here