Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Sentenced: Mossy man gets eight months for felonies, two years for misdemeanors

Friday, July 1st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 61-year-old Mossyrock man who returned to his home with an ax in violation of a no-contact order – because of a previous hours-long standoff there in which he fired several rounds including after deputies arrived – has been sentenced to two years in jail.

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James C. Long

James C. Long was first arrested on April 3 after scaring his girlfriend and her mother out of the home on the 100 block of Naylor Road. Law enforcement officers eventually deployed pepper spray into the residence and SWAT members entered and took him into custody.

Long lived there with his girlfriend.

Charges in that case, all misdemeanors, were handled in Lewis County District Court.

Less than three weeks later, within hours of Long being released from jail, he was arrested after allegedly breaking through the back door of the home, wielding an ax and a screwdriver.

His girlfriend had two friends staying over, one of which intercepted Long and ended up with small cuts and scrapes.

For that, Long was charged in Lewis County Superior Court with felony assault and felony burglary as well as a violation of a court order.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said today they made a deal in that case that gave Long eight months in jail. He made a so-called Alford plea on June 2 to  third-degree assault and residential burglary. He simply pleaded guilty to the court order violation.

The Alford plea means he believed if a jury heard the state’s evidence and believed it, they would find him guilty.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced in Lewis County Superior Court to eight months in jail. Halstead said the deal included that the sentence would run concurrently with whatever time he got in the District Court standoff case.

On Wednesday, in Lewis County District Court, the judge gave Long 364 days each for reckless endangerment and third-degree malicious mischief, with the time to run consecutively.

Long was given credit for 81 days already served. He is ordered to have no contact with his girlfriend for 10 years.

Until these cases, he had no criminal convictions.

Centralia man un-convicted of child sex crimes back in court

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Centralia man whose convictions for child sex abuse that put him in prison for 30 years were reversed, is back in the Lewis County Jail.

Lewis County prosecutors are preparing for a new trial for now 41-year-old Paulo Botello-Garcia.

Botello-Garcia was arrested early in 2012 after a 15-year-old girl’s mother found writings in the teen’s journal about incidents that had occurred in the past. He was convicted by a jury in Lewis County Superior Court of two counts of second-degree child molestation and two counts of second-degree rape of a child in early 2014.

The Washington State Court of Appeals found the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence and earlier this year remanded the case for a new trial.

It was a lengthy trial, said Joely O’Rourke who prosecuted the case.

O’Rourke has since left the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office and now serves as temporary defense attorney for individuals at their first court appearance. On Monday afternoon when Botello-Garcia was brought back before a judge, O’Rourke excused herself from the courtroom.

Botello-Garcia, who told Judge Richard Brosey he only spoke a little English, was accompanied at the defense table by only an interpreter.

Judge Brosey noted Botello-Garcia’s trial lawyer has died and asked if he needed a court appointed attorney. Botello-Garcia said he did and Centralia lawyer David Arcuri was assigned to represent him.

Since the case was tried before Judge James Lawler, the case will go back to him, Brosey said.

Court documents show the 2014 trial lasted at least six days. The offenses for which he was convicted occurred when the girl was 12 and 13 years old. They were members of the same household.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh argued the appeal. Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm will be handling the case now, Beigh said today.

Botello-Garcia is scheduled for his next court hearing tomorrow.

Thousands of dollars in unauthorized transactions attributed to Mossy city clerk

Monday, June 27th, 2016
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Doneia A. Santiago is represented by private defense attorney Don Blair in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Court documents in the case of the Mossyrock official arrested for theft from the city accounts indicate Clerk-Treasurer Doneia A. Santiago approached the mayor to tell him her husband inadvertently used the city credit card to make an approximately $3,600 payment to Central Mortgage.

Charging documents state Mayor Tom Meade questioned two ATM withdrawals during May for $100 and $200 by Santiago and then use of the city bank card to purchase fuel for her personal vehicle.

The total loss going back to January 2014 is $7,730.45, according to  prosecutors.

The mayor and the police chief met a week ago about the issue. Santiago has been placed on administrative leave.

She was arrested yesterday afternoon and booked into the Lewis County Jail. The 53-year-old Salkum woman was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree theft.

She was handcuffed and outfitted in green jail garb when she appeared before a judge. Santiago is represented by Centralia attorney Don Blair.

The afternoon hearing focused on how much bail she should be required to post to be released pending a trial.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm asked for $10,000, saying she was concerned Santiago and her husband might leave the country.

Blair told the judge his client is a lifelong Lewis County resident who’s lived at her current address at least nine years and had no intention of traveling anywhere. He indicated frustration with his attempts late last week to contact the police chief so she could turn herself in.

Judge Richard Brosey decided she could be released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

The community of some 750 people employs just a very small number of people at city hall. Santiago worked as the city clerk and city treasurer.

The most recent year for which documents were readily available shows the city took in revenues of approximately $762,000 in 2014. The mayor hasn’t yet responded to requests for comment.

The Morton Police Department, which handles law enforcement services for the small central Lewis County city, conducted the investigation.

First-degree theft involves amounts in excess of $5,000.

Charging documents include the following information and allegations:

Santiago told the mayor the accidental payment on May 19 to the mortgage company was done by her husband and she wanted to repay the city. Police Chief Roger Morningstar contacted Security State Bank and was told Santiago’s explanation was incorrect, as the transaction was of the type requiring account and routing numbers to be manually entered into a computer system.

Santiago later said she didn’t have the $3,657.24 to pay back.

She also said the ATM withdrawals were her way of reimbursing herself for purchases she had made for the city. The mayor said the transactions were not permitted.

Mayor Meade also had concerns about the city’s Shell credit card and Santiago told him there were only about $600 of charges over the previous three years.

The police chief requested a copy of a video from the Mossy Mini from June 15, showing Santiago using the city card to buy fuel for her own vehicle.

The police chief obtained statements from Shell and found $1,448.48 in unauthorized transactions between January 2014 and February 2015. They also showed $2,626.73 from June 2015 to June 2016.

Santiago’s arraignment is scheduled for the morning of July 7.
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For background, read “Mossyrock city official jailed for alleged theft” from Monday June 27, 2016, here

Mossyrock city official jailed for alleged theft

Monday, June 27th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Mossyrock’s city clerk was arrested yesterday afternoon for first-degree theft and misappropriation by a public official.

Doneia A. Santiago was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

The Morton Police Department, which handles law enforcement services for the small central Lewis County city, is investigating.

Morton Police Chief Roger Morningstar said this morning he couldn’t yet discuss the case, because it is ongoing.

He said he began looking into it as soon he was informed of an issue by Mossyrock Mayor Thomas Meade.

“Mayor Meade was very quick to get on board as soon as he was notified by the bank,” Morningstar said.

The community of some 750 people employs just three individuals full time at city hall, according to the most recent report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office. It operated on revenues of approximately $762,000 in 2014.

Santiago was listed as the clerk-treasurer in the report issued on Nov. 16 of last year. The 53-year-old resides in Salkum.

The accountability audit report on the city’s compliance and safeguarding of public resources stated that in most areas audited for the 2014 calendar year, the city was in compliance.

“However, we noted certain matters that we communicated to city management in a letter dated November 10, 2015, related to cost allocation,” the audit’s authors wrote. “We appreciate the city’s commitment to resolving those matters.”

Santiago is tentatively scheduled to appear this afternoon at 4 p.m. in Lewis County Superior Court.

Police: FBI case leads detectives to Toledo man who offered dog online for sex

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
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•••

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A retired firefighter who’s never even had a speeding ticket found himself visited by members of three law enforcement agencies at his Toledo area home after his alleged instant messages showed up amid an FBI investigation into a couple arrested for child sex crimes.

The Seattle Police Department today said investigators with its Internet Crimes Against Children task force discovered he had offered his dog up online for sexual encounters and had exchanges with the couple in which he said he liked to watch adults sexually abusing children, offered to set up an encounter with a young child, and later asked for, and received, a picture of the husband’s genitals.

In the chat, he allegedly asked many questions about the man’s daughter, according to court documents.

ICAC detectives obtained a search warrant for his Yahoo account and traced the email and messages back to the 58-year-old Toledo man.

Investigators soon discovered he had also posted elsewhere online, allegedly offering to provide his German shepherd to another person for a sexual encounter.

“He included a detailed description of his dog’s genitals, and bragged about previously coordinating a sexual encounter between a neighbor and his dog, which he said was witnessed by another young child,” a Seattle Police Department writer stated in SPD’s Blotter today.

A detective who examined his emails supplied one of them to local prosecutors which is said to be his response to a Craigslist advertisement titled, “Phone sex about your family member-I call you- m4m.”

Part of his alleged response: “Hey there, love taboo talk and chat, I have a fantasy about my niece who is a little girl … ”

At about 5:45 a.m. on Monday, detectives with ICAC were assisted by members of the Toledo Police Department and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office in “executing a search warrant” at the home on the 1800 block of state Route 505 in Toledo.

Wayde G. Rice was interviewed and his computer devices examined, according to court documents. An image of child pornography is described in the affidavit of probable cause filed in Lewis County Superior Court.

Rice was arrested, booked into the Lewis County Jail and charged with one count of first-degree possession of depictions of minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The offense has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

When Rice was brought before a judge on Tuesday afternoon, handcuffed and dressed in green jail garb, lawyers discussed what his bail should be.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Intern Amber Caulfield noted the defendant has no criminal convictions in his past.

Temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge her client is a longtime Lewis County resident, retired after some 30 years of fighting fires in California.

“He’s never even had a speeding ticket,” O’Rourke said.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey allowed Rice release on a $25,000 unsecured bond. The judge ordered him to stay off the Internet.

According to charging documents, Rice spoke to a detective after his Miranda warnings.

He said the conversation with the man the FBI was investigating was just fantasy, that he didn’t believe “Rick” was real.

“Wayde stated he only has fantasies and he would never act on them,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm wrote in charging documents.

He denied having any images of child sexual exploitation, but stated he had seen some when the Internet first came out, Bohm wrote.

The SPD Blotter author noted that detectives learned he had recently relinquished ownership of his dogs.

“They are now investigating whether any of the animals, including the German shepherd, were abused and are working to ensure they are well cared for,” the author wrote.

Rice, though O’Rourke, told the judge he plans to retain an attorney. His arraignment is scheduled for June 30.

Breaking news: Gunshot victim airlifted from Chehalis

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Updated at 8:57 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Responders were called overnight for a gunshot victim behind a business on the 600 block of West Main Street in Chehalis.

“Police were already on the scene, the male subject was with them behind the Dairy Bar,” Chehalis Firefighter Pennie McCarty said.

He was transported to the airport and airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, McCarty said.

Chehalis Police Department Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said he was briefed by an officer by phone about 3 o’clock this morning.

The man was conscious and talking and had a gunshot wound to his abdomen and stomach area, Kaut said. There was nobody else around and a shotgun was recovered, he said.

“It appears it was self inflicted by the person who called,” Kaut said. “At this point, I don’t know his condition.”

Kaut said he believed the 30-year-old Doty resident worked security for a fenced area nearby, and was staying in a camper there.

Police today will be trying to figure out what happened and why, Kaut said.

Lewis County Communications call log summary indicates police and fire were dispatched at 2:54 a.m.

This is a developing news story. Lewis County Sirens will follow up to try to learn the man’s condition. His name was not released.

Pe Ell mother faces charge of assault of her child

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
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•••

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – On the same day two weeks ago when Joseph W. Rogerson went before a judge charged with third-degree assault of a child, prosecutors sent off a summons for his wife and filed the same charge against her for an alleged incident from January.

Diana M. Rogerson, 38, appeared before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

The cases are unrelated but it’s the same alleged victim; her 7-year-old daughter.

Charging documents state Diana M. Rogerson’s ex-husband called law enforcement on Jan. 31 after his girlfriend discovered, while helping with a bath, a bruise on the child’s left buttock.

The girl’s older brother told the deputy his mom got angry with his sister because she refused to say prayers at dinnertime, took her in the bathroom and spanked her and then took her back in the bathroom and spanked her with a belt. Court documents indicate the incident occurred four to six days previous.

The bruise appeared to be darker on the ends and red in the center, the deputy noted.

The older brother said his mother commented she had broken a blood vessel in her hand from the spanking.

Charging documents go on to relate that Diana M. Rogerson told deputies she didn’t know how her daughter got the bruise, but said her hands hurt when she spanks her daughter.

She reportedly said her daughter had been disrespectful and fought to get away from being spanked, and that she retrieved a one-inch belt and folded it twice before spanking her.

The case has been assigned to Child Protective Services. The children are now living with their father in Toledo based on a temporary protection order secured on June 6.

The Rogersons live in Pe Ell.

Third-degree assault of a child is a class C felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

The allegation is bodily harm accompanied by substantial pain that extended for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering to a child younger than 13 years old.

Her husband Joseph W. Rogerson, 37, was charged on June 6 with third-degree assault of a child for allegedly punching his 7-year-old step-daughter in the arm when she got in between a physical dispute involving him and her mother.

The felony charge put at risk his deferred prosecution on last summer’s DUI, related to a head-on crash in Onalaska that left three teenagers dead. Law enforcement’s investigation found he was not to blame, as he was traveling in his own lane.

Diana M. Rogerson reportedly also told deputies she and her husband have been under a lot of stress as a result of the car accident.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey set her bail with a $10,000 unsecured bond and told her to return on June 30 for her arraignment.

Judge Brosey commented in court about the difference between the two cases.

“This one has the potential defense of reasonable parental discipline,” he said. “Whereas the other one does not.”

Outside the courtroom today, Diana M. Rogerson said the assault allegations against both she and her husband are coming from her ex-husband.
•••

For background, read “Driver from last summer’s deadly Onalaska wreck back in court” from Tuesday June 7, 2016, here

Mossyrock knife into neck case brings 26 months of prison

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
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Grace E. Barker consults with her lawyer Shane O’Rourke in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The judge went along with the plea agreement that gave a Mossyrock woman just over two years in prison for stabbing the father of her baby, instead as much as 15 years behind bars had she gone to trial and been convicted.

Grace E. Barker, 26, was accompanied by her defense attorney Shane O’Rourke yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court.

O’Rourke and Lewis County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher spoke of some of the reasons behind the deal.

O’Rourke said he had been working toward an argument of self defense, but it was imperfect and incomplete given an allegation of substance abuse and his client’s inability to recall. At one point they seriously considered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutors wrote in charging documents that Brian Slater was trying to get Barker to leave his Mossyrock home when she picked up what he has said was a 10-inch stiletto knife. He said he armed himself with a knife and when he threw his down thinking she had done the same, she stabbed him in the throat.

At the time of her arrest on April 6, Barker was homeless although Slater sometimes let her stay at his residence.

Meagher told the judge the victim has made a full recovery.

The original charge of first-degree assault was dropped to a charge of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.

Judge James Lawler yesterday afternoon said he would follow the attorneys’ recommendations. Barker chose not to make a statement on her own behalf.

“You are very lucky that this is what’s happening today,” Lawler told her. “You’re lucky Mr. Slater didn’t die, you’re lucky Mr. O’Rourke was able to work out this deal for you.”

The judge sentenced her to 26 months in prison and 18 months of supervision after her release. He also made a finding that would require she be evaluated for substance abuse and follow up with treatment.

Meagher said outside the courtroom his reading of the defense’s therapists findings were that Barker’s situation was chemically induced.

“She has a terrible meth addiction,” Meagher said.

Part of the reason behind the deal was because prosecutors took the victim’s wishes into account, he said.

“There’s a lot going on when we do these plea bargains,” Meagher said. “There may have been a self defense claim; probably not enough to get over the hurdle, but we don’t want to take that chance.”
•••

For background, read “Mossyrock argument: Two knives, one airlifted, other arrested” from Thursday April 7, 2016, here

Plea agreement ends Mossyrock stabbing case

Friday, June 17th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Instead of a trial next week for the 26-year-old woman being held after her boyfriend was stabbed in the neck at his Mossyrock home, Grace E. Barker will go before a judge to be sentenced.

Barker was arrested right after the April 6 incident and charged with first-degree assault. She pleaded guilty last week, as part of a plea agreement, to second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.

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Grace E. Barker

Her lawyer Shane O’Rourke yesterday said the standard range for the offense is 12 months to 14 months in prison, along with another year afterward because of the weapon enhancement. She faces 26 months of lockup, he said.

Prosecutors wrote in charging documents that Brian Slater was trying to get Barker to leave his residence when she picked up a knife, and he armed himself with a knife and when he threw his down thinking she had done the same, she stabbed him in the throat. Slater has said it was a 10-inch stiletto.

Her hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Monday in Lewis County Superior Court.

The settlement before trial follows another April knife crime that ended somewhat similarly.

Gregory L. Trujillo, 58, of Toledo, was charged with first-degree assault following an April 1 attack at the 300 block of Cedar Court in Winlock.

Trujillo’s trial began last week in Lewis County Superior Court, on a charge of first-degree assault, but on Tuesday, he entered into a plea agreement.

The victim in that case told police the two had previously been in an intimate relationship and Trujillo showed up, beat her up and pulled out what was described as a small-bladed knife, leaving her with a large, deep gash on her hand.

Trujillo pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and ordered to get evaluated for chemical dependency and domestic violence treatment.
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For background, read “Mossyrock argument: Two knives, one airlifted, other arrested” from Thursday April 7, 2016, here

Nineteen-year-old gets sentenced for Backpage.com related home invasion

Thursday, June 16th, 2016
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Natrone D. Bostick appears before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It took about 16 minutes today to decide on and hand down a 15-year sentence for one of three people involved in a violent robbery at a rural Chehalis home, that followed a visit by an “escort” contacted on Backpage.com.

Natrone D. Bostick, 19, of Lakewood, appeared with his lawyer Don Blair before Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler this afternoon.

Blair and Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello said they’d worked out the plea agreement with both of them recommending the same amount of prison time.

Bostick and his companion Samath L. Hem, 23, from Tacoma, were arrested back on May 3 following a shoplifting incident at Home Depot in Chehalis. Items found when their vehicle was searched linked them to an event that had taken place a few days earlier on the 900 block of Logan Hill Road outside Chehalis.

A 53-year-old rural Chehalis man reported he’d invited an escort to his home but was attacked, tied up and pistol whipped by two males who arrived with her. The victim said it occurred on April 29, but he didn’t report it until the next day. Once the victim was able to untie himself, he discovered valuables missing from his residence, including a large television and some checkbooks, according to prosecutors.

Bostick pleaded guilty last week to first-degree assault and first-degree kidnapping, as well as third-degree theft and possession of a controlled substance related to the Home Depot case. One count of first-degree robbery was dropped.

Masiello said it seemed to him both men had equal involvement in the crime, although Hem has been more cooperative with authorities.

The judge today heard from Bostick’s attorney that although it wasn’t an excuse, when he and his brother were children, his mother drove them from Florida to Washington, dropped them off at a DSHS location and Bostick has not seen his mother since, according to Masiello.

“I’m sympathetic to your situation,” Lawler told the defendant. “You’ve been dealt a lousy hand, I don’t argue that.”

The judge followed the agreed recommendation.

He imposed a 60-month sentence for the kidnapping and a 120-month term for the assault, to be served consecutively. He called it a steep price to pay and a hard lesson.

Hem’s case is proceeding, with attempts to “resolve” it without a trial, according to Masiello. He is being held in the Lewis County Jail and expected again in court next week.

Masiello said the female they believe was involved in the robbery was not the same woman who was arrested with the pair after the Home Depot incident. But law enforcement has figured out who she is, he said, adding he would say no more on the topic.
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For background, read “Backpage.com encounter results in violent home invasion in rural Chehalis” from Friday May 6, 2016, here

Centralia woman gets 12 years for break-in to prosecutor’s house and other crimes

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
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Janet L. Gleason looks back to supporters in the courtroom after the judge indicates disagreement with her lawyer’s recommendation.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Intentionally skipping her court hearing got Janet L. Gleason five extra years in prison.

Gleason, 43, pleaded guilty today to bail jumping and then officials got on with the business of her sentencing hearing that was supposed to take place last month.

The Centralia woman was already convicted of several felonies pursuant to a plea agreement. She admitted to participating in a burglary early last year at the home of Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer.

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Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer

Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain who handled the case  told the judge this morning in Lewis County Superior Court they’d had an agreement about how much time he would recommend if she cooperated by trying to retrieve the stolen valuables.

She previously brought a bag of jewelry to court, but none of it was from Meyer’s home, McClain said.

Prosecutors believe Gleason targeted Meyer in retaliation for him prosecuting her teenage son, because a Thurston County Jail inmate who said he was with her told them so.

Gleason apologized, but stuck with her story she gave a friend a ride, the break-in was his idea and she was unaware of whose house it was.

The convictions include residential burglary, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and second-degree malicious mischief as well as a separate possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.

McClain and Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello recommended she get 84 months for those offenses.

Defense attorney Michael Underwood asked Judge Richard Brosey to give her a prison drug offender sentencing alternative.

He said his client has a drug problem, a serious drug problem.

Elected Prosecutor Meyer spoke of being victimized, calling the crime an attack on his family and an attack on the entire system.

“I had never though the sanctity of my home would be violated simply because I was doing my job,” Meyer said.

Attorneys on both sides agreed Gleason owed restitution of $27,717.74.

Judge Brosey said he wasn’t inclined toward the defense suggestion, given the what he also believed to be the reason Meyer was targeted. He told those present in the courtroom he had the discretion to order her sentences to be served concurrently or consecutively.

Brosey imposed seven years for the burglary case and seven years for the drug case, and said they could be served at the same time as each other.

But then he imposed the maximum of five years for bail jumping and said it had to be served separate from the other crimes, putting her away for 12 years.
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For background, read “Role reversal: Lewis County prosecutor reflects on becoming a burglary victim” from Friday November 6, 2015, here

John Booth loses another attempt to undo life sentence for 2010 murders

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
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John A. Booth Jr. testifies at his motion hearing before Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Convicted triple murderer John A. Booth Jr.’s motion to vacate his judgement and sentence because of alleged eavesdropping by employees of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office before and during his trial has been denied.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey concluded that anything overheard was inadvertent and said he found no evidence it was passed along to prosecutors or used against him.

“The long and the short of it, Mr. Booth was not denied due process,” Brosey said yesterday afternoon.

Booth is serving a life sentence for the August 2010 slayings at the Onalaska-Salkum area home of 52-year-old David West Sr., from whom prosecutors contended Booth was seeking payment of a debt for a local drug dealer.

According to testimony and evidence from the eight-day trial in Lewis County Superior Court, when West brought out a shotgun to get Booth and his companion to leave, Booth shot West with a 9 mm handgun. Prosecutors said the shootings that followed were executions to eliminate witnesses. Booth continues to deny he was the shooter.

Losing their lives that day, along with West Sr., were 16-year-old David “D.J.” West Jr. and 50-year-old Tony Williams of Randle. West Sr.’s girlfriend, Denise Salts, was shot in the face but lived.

The former Onalaska man has already lost an appeal and a personal restraint petition. The motion Judge Brosey ruled on yesterday was based on court rule 7.8.

Brosey was the judge for the December 2011 trial in Lewis County Superior Court.

His finding came after three days of hearings and testimony from 27 individuals who took the witness stand. The first two days of hearings were held on May 2 and May 3. The final day was yesterday, for the witnesses who were unavailable earlier.

The complaint that occupied much of the proceedings was corrections officers standing outside the jail’s row of visiting rooms while Booth consulted with his attorneys and their investigators. Several testified conversations of others could be heard, including former inmates Robert J. Maddaus Jr., Robbie Russell, Centralia attorney Don Blair and corrections officers.

Vernon West Jr. was a transport officer during Booth’s trial.

He said initially they would have two officers stand outside the door while Booth met with his lawyer, and while he was never instructed to listen in, he could hear the conversations.

He said he didn’t repeat what he heard, but after hearing too much, moved farther down the hall during future visits.

“We never stood that close to the door again,” West said.

Another aspect of what Booth called “ear hustling” in the motion he typed from the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, was a corrections officer who admitted he heard a recorded phone conversations Booth had with his lawyer.

Now retired Corrections Officer Jack Haskins testified that his primary job for his last eight years was to listen to the recordings made of inmate phone calls. While calls with lawyers were not supposed to be recorded, as part of an automated system, he said he found himself listening once to Booth and his lawyer.

He said he stopped listening to it, looked up the phone number and verified it belonged to an attorney.

Aberdeen attorney Erik Kupka represented Booth, and for closing arguments yesterday afternoon, advised the court he was reading from material prepared by his client.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Brad Meagher argued for the state.

After Judge Brosey announced his conclusion, he was informed Booth would be appealing the decision.
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For background, read “Ear hustling”: Convicted murderer John Booth tells judge about problems at Lewis County Jail”, from Friday July 5, 2013, here

Chehalis home invasion suspect facing third strike case

Friday, June 10th, 2016
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Jesse L. Harkcom sits before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court for his bail hearing this afternoon.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Bail was set at $1 million today for one of three suspects in a Chehalis home invasion robbery.

Jesse L. Harkcom, 34, was arrested in Lacey on drug charges yesterday and transported to the Lewis County Jail to be charged for the March 26 incident.

Charges were filed today in Lewis County Superior Court and Harkcom was brought before a judge this afternoon.

If convicted as charged, it would be a third strike offense, meaning a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lewis County Intern Deputy Prosecutor Amber Caulfield advised the judge Harkcom has a 1998 conviction for first-degree burglary and a 2011 conviction for second-degree robbery, among his 11 felony convictions.

“At this time, the state would request $1 million,” Caulfield said.

Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke in citing reasons for her request of $25,000 bail, said her client has been a law abiding citizen for the past year and a half, has opened a cleaning service business and has a stable residence in Lacey.

“Given the circumstances, I think the state’s request is reasonable,” Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey said.

According to charging documents, it was just after 11:30 at night when police were called to the victim’s home on Southwest 10th Street just  just off Market Boulevard.

She was living in a shed behind a residence and packing to move out when three males kicked in her door and came inside. They were dressed in black and wearing gloves, she told police.

The first male yelled, “Where are the valuables”, the second male stood next to her bed holding a pistol and the third male stepped right back outside where he stood with his arms crossed, according to charging documents. She believed he also had a gun.

The woman, 40 years old, according to police, recognized the first male’s voice as Harkcom, someone she’d known since the previous month, charging documents relate.

She said Harkcom grabbed her Playstation 4, 20-inch monitor, a DVR, laptop computer and miscellaneous property.

Charging documents state she told them she was going to call police and the second male told her “she didn’t want to do that because he didn’t want to have to hurt her,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wrote in the documents.

The woman said she got a small scratch on her leg when Harkcom threw a four-foot long fluorescent light fixture which hit her.

She ran to the residence to tell her roommate what happened and he saw the three get into a dark colored truck and drive away, according to Halstead.

The victim was asked why Harkcom would do something like this and she said he and her boyfriend had traded watches and the watch Harkcom received turned out to be fake.

Charging documents also relate that when Harkcom was booked into the Lewis County Jail, a search turned up a small baggie in his waistband containing two pills and a black tar substance.

Harkcom is charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and possession of heroin.

Centralia lawyer David Arcuri was appointed to represent him. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.

Chehalis police said yesterday the other two suspects are still outstanding.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Chehalis home invasion suspect found, booked” from Thursday June 9, 2016, here

Cascadia 9.0: When the big one hits

Thursday, June 9th, 2016
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Community members discuss some of the nuts and bolts of how they might work together in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Think about a 6.1 magnitude earthquake shaking for 32 seconds.

“This 9.0 is expected to shake for five and half minutes,” Jill Kangas said.

Kangas and Steve Mansfield, of the Lewis County Department of Emergency Management yesterday brought more than 100 people together to contemplate how to respond to a catastrophic event that would affect the entire Pacific Northwest.

“This scenario is going to be so far beyond anything we have experienced or prepared for,” Mansfield said. “We don’t have a plan in place (for this).”

Mansfield pointed to a large map.

“What I want you to see here is, there’s not going to be a lot of movement on I-5,” he said. “People are not driving, but walking, if they’re still alive.”

The six-hour gathering in the upstairs meeting room of the Lewis County Veteran’s Museum in Chehalis was the local portion of Washington state’s Cascadia Rising earthquake and tsunami simulation exercise. It’s meant to test local, state, tribal and federal government as well as select private sector and non-governmental organizations’ ability to deal with such a situation.

The Cascadia subduction zone, lying mostly offshore, is an approximately 800-mile long fault, running from British Columbia to California. Stresses have been building there for more than 300 years and experts say we can be certain another great quake will shake the region.

Based on a show of hands, only one person in the room had experienced an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude or greater.

Chehalis Fire Department Chief Ken Cardinale told the group what his agency saw in October 1989 around California’s Bay Area. It measured between 6.9 and 7.2, he said.

There was $5 to $6 billion in damage, 63 people were killed and more than 3,000 injured, Cardinale said. The Bay Bridge went down. The aftershocks were 4.0 to 5.0 in magnitude, he said.

“We had 1,700 calls to 911 in the first hour,” he said. “Dispatch became just a call taking center; our department had to dispatch itself.”

Mutual aid from neighboring departments was nonexistant, he said, because they too were affected.

Cardinale offered the lesson for the day: “Everything you know about day to day operations will not be able to put into place in an event like this.”

Yesterday’s participants were seated at eight tables, each representing an area in the county imagined to be entirely cut off from other areas when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake strikes.

The scene: Buildings are in rubble, utilities are down, communications and transportation systems are critically impaired.

There is no Internet. People may or may not be able to use the text function on their cell phones.

Throughout the county, 1,200 people are dead, 2,460 individuals are seriously injured and 12,000 others are without shelter.

Each group was tasked with identifying its resources, building its team and developing action plans for the first 24-, 48- and 72-hour periods.

“What I kind of see is people going to their local fire stations,” Napavine resident and candidate for Lewis County commissioner Bob Bozarth said at the table for the Centralia area.

“They will, you’re right,” Riverside Fire Authority Chief Mike Kytta responded. “They’re going to go there and to doctors’ offices.”

“We don’t have a local search and rescue team, so we’re going to have to organize that,” Kytta said.

They pondered where to set up a command post.

The city of Centralia operates an emergency operations center at City Hall during disasters, such as flooding.

“Our building will probably be dust,” Centralia Police Department Cmdr. Pat Fitzgerald said. “The EOC will probably just pop up where the EOC pops up, that’s the reality.

It could be the hood of some random person’s car, he speculated.

At the Napavine table: “We’re going to check on our neighbors.”

At the Boistfort-Pe Ell-Curtis table: Boistfort and Pe Ell already have a supply of food and water for 100 people. “Water is paramount,” Justin Phelps, public works employee for the town of Pe Ell says.

At times, the various groups shared with the entire room.

From the Toledo-Winlock-Vader table: Mark Anders spoke about the strategy for finding people who need help.

“You’re going to go house to house, to the areas that are the easiest to get to first,” he said. “To help the most people the quickest.”

From the Salkum-Onalaska-Mossyrock table: The Mossyrock and Mayfield dams are built to withstand Morton area earthquakes and should be fine in this scenario, Tacoma Public Utilities employee Jayson Lelli said.

Nobody from TransAlta was present to speak to the strength and expectations of the Skookumchuck Dam.

Former Lewis County Commissioner Ron Averill spoke up.

“That’s an earthen dam,” he said. “If it breaks, Centralia will be under water to the Miracle Mile.”

From the Chehalis table, Chief Cardinale: “One of the options we thought about for sheltering people, is we’re fortunate to have RV sales places around here.” he said. “Even if buildings are standing, with aftershocks, people are going to be afraid to go back in.”

“We also had the idea of commandeering National Frozen Foods,” Cardinale said.

The imagined number of dead in Chehalis is 384.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod, on what to do with the bodies:

“In the first hours, it’s not an issue,” McLeod told the group. “Our main concern would begin at the eighth hour.”

There’s insects, then rodents, he said. “You’ll begin to see mountain lions, bears and pack of dogs,” he said.

“Our plan is, they get buried where they are found,” McLeod said.

Specifically, McLeod said, to bury 200 people, it will take 400 square feet of space and moving 1,300 cubic yards of dirt.

Rationing limited resources will become a reality. No help can be expected from the outside for days, attendees were told.

“Stores don’t carry more than one to two days worth of supplies for their community,” Mansfield said. “Ten years ago, that was different.”

When help from the outside is mobilized, it will head first to the affected areas with the densest populations, such as Seattle and Tacoma, he said.

“If you think the military is going to be here within the first 72 hours, you’re wrong,” he said.

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Chehalis Fire Chief Ken Cardinale speaks about their group’s ideas.