Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Eight people displaced by Chehalis house fire

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

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

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

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.


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.


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.


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.”


Lewis County Jail, Southwest Chehalis Avenue

Centralia murder case waiting for state crime lab results

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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

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

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

Fast food roof top burglar convicted after plea deal

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Alexis Cardenas pleads guilty this morning in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Alexis Cardenas cast his eyes downward as he offered guilty pleas today to a string of fast food restaurant break-ins that could bring him more than 12 years in prison.

The former Centralia College student was arrested in February in connection with incidents in the late spring of 2015 in which thousands of dollars were stolen during nighttime burglaries in Centralia, two of which the intruders entered by cutting holes in the roofs of the buildings.

The victim establishments include Arby’s, Wendy’s, McDonalds and local prosecutors combined the case with a February burglary of a Taco Bell in Thurston County and a break-in at a Franklin County Arby’s.

Three other individuals have been charged as well.

Cardenas, 26, was accompanied in Lewis County Superior Court this morning by defense attorney David Arcuri.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree burglary, five counts of first-degree malicious mischief and one count of attempted delivery of cocaine.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said he and Arcuri plan to recommend a sentence of 148 months in prison. Arcuri alluded to “other things” his client has agreed to do before his sentencing.

Cardenas’s now 20-year-old girlfriend Morelia V. Ayala Garcia, 19, also of Centralia, is charged for her alleged role in the McDonalds case where she used to work as a manager.

Also charged in the burglaries were Joaquin Armenta and Cole T. Moon. Moon pleaded guilty to the McDonald’s incident and was given just 45 days in jail because he was a first time offender, according to Halstead.

Cardenas is expected back in court on April 20 to schedule his sentencing hearing.

For background, read “Two arrested in Centralia rooftop burglary cases” from Friday February 10, 2017, here

Bail set at $250,000 for home invasion suspect

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Franklin G. Cole Jr. appears before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 32-year-old man with 21 felony convictions in his past is being held in the Lewis County Jail in connection with a Chehalis home invasion robbery from a year ago.

Franklin G. Cole Jr. was brought before a judge yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Temporary defense attorney Rachael Tiller said Cole has lived in Thurston County his entire life, but court documents show a Tacoma address for his residence.

According to court documents, a defendant charged last year in the case agreed in January to identify the other two involved in the incident in exchange for consideration from the state.

Charges were filed last month and arrest warrants issued for Cole and for Joshua A. Little. Little has already posted bail in his case.

According to charging documents, it was just after 11:30 at night on March 26, 2016 when police were called to the victim’s home on Southwest 10th Street just off Market Boulevard.

The 40-year-old woman 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 masks and wearing gloves, she told police. She said at least one of them was holding a handgun.

The victim said they took her Playstation 4, 20-inch monitor, a DVR, laptop computer and one of them threw a four-foot long fluorescent light fixture at her. She told police she thought she recognized the voice of one of them as someone who had traded watches with her boyfriend, and his watch turned out to be fake.

Jesse L. Harkcom, 34 at the time, was arrested and charged last June.

Cole’s bail is set at $250,000. His arraignment is Thursday.

For background, read “Chehalis home invasion suspect facing third strike case” from Friday June 10, 2016, here

Suspect asks officer if he’s a cop as two struggle over weapon

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Mark E. Grover is shown his seat in Lewis County Superior Court for a bail hearing.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Bail was set at $200,000 for the man who allegedly pointed what turned out to be a BB gun but looked like a 9mm pistol at a Centralia police officer who was chasing him on foot.

Mark E. Grover, 35, of Sequim, was charged in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday with second-degree assault and possession of methamphetamine.

Grover has no felony convictions in his past but has had misdemeanor driving offenses and has a pending case involving obstructing a law enforcement officer, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio told the judge.

DeFazio asked for the high bail, citing a threat to the community and a flight risk. He has three active warrants, DeFazio said.

Temporary defense attorney Rachael Tiller tried for a lesser amount and conveyed to the judge her client said he has broken ribs and something is “very wrong” with his back.

Grover told the judge the pain was making him nauseous.

Judge Joely O’Rourke told him to work that out with the jail.

According to charging documents and police, Grover wrestled with three officers for several minutes behind the Rite Aid store on Harrison Avenue in Centralia on Wednesday morning.

Centralia police were initially called about a suspicious person who seemed to be prowling vehicles in the Safeway parking lot and were then told a store manager confronted him and pulled him out of a vehicle, according to the documents.

The suspect ran, but saw one officer’s police car and changed directions, according to the documents.

Centralia police Sgt. Brian Warren spotted the suspect in the Rite Aid parking lot, exited his vehicle, identified himself as police and instructed the suspect to stop, according to authorities.

Grover ran, Warren chased him on foot.

Warren was outfitted in plain clothes and driving an unmarked car, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Warren continued to yell he was police and to stop and was three to five feet away from Grover, when Grover stopped, turned around and pointed what appeared to be a handgun at Warren, Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wrote in charging documents.

Rather then stop to pull his duty weapon, Warren continued forward and grabbed the gun with both hands, according to Halstead. Grover also had two hands on the gun and the two men struggled over it, he wrote.

Warren repeatedly told him to let go, but he refused, according to the documents.

“While struggling over the gun Grover asked Warren if he was a cop and Warren said he was and he needed to release the gun,”  Halstead wrote. “Grover stated numerous times, ‘you’re going to get shot.’ ”

Other arriving officers got the gun from Grover’s hands but spent the next several minutes trying to get Grover’s hands out from beneath his body as he lay on his stomach, according to Halstead.

Officers deployed the Taser numerous times, Halstead wrote.

When Grover was searched, officers found a substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine on his person, the documents state.

Grover was  taken by ambulance to be checked out before being booked, according to police.

When the gun was examined, it was found to be a loaded, operational BB gun but appeared identical to a 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun, according to court documents.

Grover’s charge of second-degree assault includes an enhancement that alleges he was armed with a deadly weapon other than a firearm.

He was assigned a court appointed lawyer. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.

For background, read “Centralia officer facing gun-wielding man goes hands-on” from Thursday March 16, 2017, here

Centralia officer facing gun-wielding man goes hands-on

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A suspect during a foot chase who turned and pointed a pistol at the officer behind him in Centralia yesterday is booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree assault.

The officer was close enough to reach out and push the gun away and grab the man’s hand then a struggle ensued for control of the weapon, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Centralia police Sgt. Tracy Murphy said it took three officers wresting with the subject almost four minutes before they were able to cuff him. It happened behind the Rite Aid store at Harrison Avenue and Johnson Road.

Once police recovered the gun to clear it, they realized it was a BB gun, Murphy said.

It looked like a Smith and Wesson semi-automatic, he said.

Mark E. Grover, 35, of Sequim, had several outstanding warrants and also was found to be in possession of methamphetamine, according to police.

It’s only by the grace of God Grover wasn’t shot for his actions, according to Murphy.

Had Sgt. Brian Warren been two steps farther behind the guy when the gun appeared, that would have changed everything, he said.

“A split second decision,” Murphy said. “Do I try to beat the guy to the draw or get the gun out of my face.”

The reason for the encounter was a 911 call just before 9:30 a.m. about a suspected car prowler in the parking lot of Safeway; police were told a person was trying car doors, according to Murphy. Witnesses advised 911 of where the suspect headed and Sgt. Warren was the first to arrive, tried to cut him off and then gave chase on foot, he said.

Numerous officers arrived quickly, according to Murphy.

The suspect was taken by ambulance to be checked out, because of the potential effects of the combination of being under the influence of drugs and a prolonged fight, Murphy said. Then he was booked into the jail.

Grover is very fortunate the situation worked out the way it did, Murphy said.

“In the end, we’re very grateful it happened that way,” he said. “He (Warren) is glad it went that way.”

Grover is tentatively scheduled to go before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Group of Green Hill inmates charged in adult court for brawl

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
2017.0314.fourghriot9343 ltr Juan D. Martinez-Sanchez, Angel Flores and Adrian Pimentel Jr.

Brian Mendoza-Laureano Zuniga, in red, faces a judge while his three companions, in orange, from Green Hill School await their turns.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Five student-inmates from Green Hill School are charged with prison riot for an allegedly gang-related melee that broke out in the dining hall of the state juvenile incarceration facility in Chehalis.

The incident that occurred on Aug. 11 was investigated by the Chehalis Police Department and the suspects subsequently charged in Lewis County Superior Court. Four of them were brought before a judge yesterday afternoon.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio said the fifth defendant has since been transferred into the custody of the state Department of Corrections and would be transported to a court hearing on Friday.

“We want all five of them to be arraigned at the same time,” DeFazio told the judge.

Charging documents in the case include statements from six different staff members involved in breaking up the fighting. The attackers were described as Surenos and their targets Nortenos.

One staff member recounted that as dinner was ending, he saw nearly all the Maple A and B Wing residents moving, running and one even climbing over a divider wall to get near or assault rival residents on the other side. One of the staff was reportedly kicked in the face as he tried to protect a resident, according to the documents.

Green Hill School off Southwest 11th Street provides services to as many as 185 male youth incarcerated in the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration for a wide range of felony offenses. They range in age from 15 to 20 years old. A signifiant portion of youth held at Green Hill will finish their sentences in an adult prison.

Yesterday, Brian Mendoza-Laureano Zuniga, now 19, was brought to court via the Lewis County Jail from the state Department of Corrections where he has transferred since the event in August.

Three of them were brought to court from Green Hill School and were to return there after the hearing until their next court date. They are: Angel Flores, 19; Adrian Pimentel Jr., 20; and Juan D. Martinez-Sanchez, 19.

Pimentel is additionally charged with custodial assault, a crime with a maximum penalty of five years.

Not present was Eduardo Humberto Moreneo who is expected Friday.

Charging documents do not make note of what offenses the defendants are currently serving time for. The documents don’t give information about the alleged victims, such as their ages and make no mention of any injuries.

Prison riot is described as two or more inmates together using force, violence or threats of such to disturb the good order of the institution, contrary to commands of officers. It has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Authorities reached out to the Chehalis Police Department the following day, requesting contact about a “major youth disturbance” the night before.

The arraignments are scheduled for March 23.

Chehalis traffic stops yield large amounts of meth

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Gloria N. Iniguez Gonzalez sits with a Spanish-English interpreter as her companion (center) waits at their hearing in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – For the second night in a row this week, Centralia police detective Chad Withrow pulled over a driver who failed to use their turn signal, and turned up a sizable amount of methamphetamine.

Like Tuesday when a pound and three quarters of meth was located in a vehicle pulled off Interstate 5 at the 13th Street exit in Chehalis, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rick VanWyck arrived with his drug sniffing K-9 on Wednesday night to the parking lot at McDonald’s on Median Street.

According to court documents, Withrow and a second detective saw a vehicle approach them in the hours of darkness with only one functioning headlight. They followed and soon, it made a turn without using the blinker and was stopped for the infractions, the documents relate.

A man and a woman with a 1-year-old boy were asked to exit the vehicle.

According to VanWyck, the dog “alerted” on the trunk area and a request to the occupants to search was turned down, so Withrow secured a so-called telephonic search warrant, according to charging papers.

Discovered under the seat where the woman had been sitting, were three clear plastic bags, each containing approximately one ounce of a crystal substance that field tested positive for meth, according to the documents. Six hundred thirty-three dollars were found in a pouch behind the driver’s seat.

Both were charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.

The driver, named as Eduardo F. Morales Martinez, 37, of Shelton, in court documents, was additionally charged with first-degree criminal impersonation.

“We don’t know who he is,” Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher told a judge yesterday afternoon. “He gave a couple different names that don’t check out in the state’s database.”

Meagher said he hoped to verify the man’s identity with fingerprints and asked for a no-bail hold.

Judge Joely O’Rourke set bail at $500,000, citing serious concerns about the identity issue.

Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello wrote that a more thorough check indicated Morales Martinez had prior convictions for delivery of a controlled substance and driving under the influence as well as multiple deportations and illegal entries.

Bail for the passenger, Gloria N. Iniguez Gonzalez, 38, of the Olympia area, was set at $10,000. Meagher and temporary defense attorney Rachael Tiller said she has no criminal history.

Her 16-year-old son and 19-year-old brother were on hand at the brief hearing yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Charging documents state that when the male driver was first contacted, he identified himself as Antonio Ortiz Hernandez and provided three Mexican ID cards that showed as such. One of them had a different birthdate than the other two, Masiello wrote in the affidavit regarding probable cause.

Upon further questioning and a look inside his wallet that turned up a bank card issued to Eduardo Morales, the driver said the card belonged to his son, according to the documents.

Masiello wrote that after the drugs were found and the two arrested, the driver said his true name was Eduardo Morales Martinez. His driver’s license was suspended.

The two were booked into the Lewis County Jail. Their arraignments are set for Thursday.

Hancel Zagal Alcaraz, 28, from Pasco, remains held in jail with bail set at $25,000, following his separate arrest on Tuesday night and a criminal charge filed on Wednesday in Lewis County Superior Court.

He was allegedly speeding, failing to signal lane changes and displaying no license plate or visible trip permit on northbound Interstate 5 when members of the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team pulled him over and asked him to move to the AM/PM at the 13th Street exit.

Charging documents in his case indicate Deputy VanWyck’s K-9 Axel detected controlled substances that led to a search of his vehicle.

His girlfriend handed over a brown tar substance wrapped in plastic along with two pieces of a crystal substance to detective Withrow, according to court documents.

Another detective found a coffee container that seemed heavier than it should be, reached into the coffee and located three large packages of a crystal substance, according to the documents. In total, they weighed 28.5 ounces and field tested positive as meth.

There is no indication the girlfriend was arrested.

Zagal Alcaraz allegedly told detectives the auto repair business he owns in Pasco is a front he uses to distribute controlled substances in Chehalis, Olympia, Tacoma and Everett.

He was charged the next day with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver. Zagal Alcaraz has no felony criminal history in the state.


For background, read “Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – JNET: PACKAGES OF CRYSTAL METH HIDDEN IN COFFEE CONTAINER from Wednesday March 8, 2017, here

Vader house claimed by fire

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Crews work to extinguish fire on E Street yesterday afternoon. / Courtesy photo by Derrick Paul

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An investigator is looking for the cause of a house fire that displaced a family of four in Vader yesterday afternoon.

Cowlitz-Lewis Fire District 20 Assistant Chief Ruth Crear said six other fire departments joined them at the home on the 800 block of E Street.

“It’s a total loss, the house and contents,” Crear said. “There’s nothing for them to salvage.”

The one and a half story residence was home to a couple, their grown son and their 16-year-old nephew, she said.

Crews were called at 3:16 p.m. after the teen got off a school bus and noticed fire in the back, and notified the two men who were inside, unaware anything was burning, according to Fire Investigator Derrick Paul.

Crear described the initial fire as outside a bedroom, but Paul’s understanding was the main part of the fire at first was in an adjacent shed and moved into the house.

A firefighter from Toledo was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with a leg or ankle injury, according to Paul. Nobody else was injured, Crear said.

The Red Cross was contacted to assist the family, who are staying with relatives in Vader, according to Crear.

Approximately two dozen firefighters battled the blaze, which re-ignited about 2 o’clock this morning.

“We were there eight hours the first time and two and a half hours the second time,” Crear said.

Alleged drugged driving brings homicide charge for Centralia woman

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Kimberly J. McPherson waits as her conditions of release documents are signed in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors have charged the driver in a fatal Christmas Eve wreck in rural Chehalis with vehicular homicide.

The passenger Thomas D. Lininger, 43, of Chehalis died at the scene of the single-car collision on state Route 508 near Forest-Napavine Road.

Four of his five children and other family members were present in the courtroom today when Kimberly J. McPherson appeared before a judge.

McPherson had been summonsed to Lewis County Superior Court. Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher requested McPherson be allowed to remain free pending trial, with a $25,000 unsecured bond.


Thomas Lininger and his children

He also asked the judge to prohibit McPherson from driving as a condition of her release.

Judge Joely O’Rourke asked if he had community safety concerns.

“I don’t want to hinder the taxpayers with medical bills or make it any more difficult with doctors,” Meagher said. “I am convinced if she doesn’t get behind the wheel of a car, everybody’s better off.”

Temporary defense attorney Rachael Tiller told the judge her client resides locally, has been evaluated at Eugenia Center and is actively involved in treatment. She also has surgery scheduled for tomorrow in Tacoma, Tiller said.

McPherson, 51, used crutches this afternoon and wore a slipper-type shoe on her left foot.

Prosecutors allege McPherson was under the influence of a drug or drugs the night of the accident.

Lininger’s sisters said the couple had just left a family dinner when it happened. Troopers and aid called about 8:40 p.m. on Dec. 24 found the two trapped inside the Honda Accord

“The investigation led the patrol to conclude the defendant drove straight off the road, through a grassy patch, striking a tree,” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer wrote in charging documents. “There was no indication of any attempt to break (sp) or swerve to avoid the collision.”

Lininger died at the scene from head trauma, according to Meyer.

A trooper contacted McPherson at the hospital and a breath sample provided indicated she was not under the influence of alcohol, but she admitted to using controlled substances earlier in the day, according to Meyer.

Both methamphetamine and heroin were allegedly found in the car, and some meth inside McPherson’s purse, Meyer wrote. She is also charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of heroin.

Charging documents state the results of a blood test reveal the presence of meth, opiates and morphine, though the opiate-morphine result may have been from drugs administered at the hospital, according to Meyer.

Centralia attorney Don Blair was appointed to represent her. She has a conviction for second-degree robbery and a controlled substance violation from 1996, according to Meagher.

Judge O’Rourke ordered standard conditions of release and added further restrictions.

McPherson may not go within 30 feet of any bar or tavern, may not get behind the wheel of any vehicle, even a bicycle, O’Rourke said.

“I’m also adding you may not be outside your residence past 10 o’clock in the evening,” O’Rourke said. “Do you understand that?”

Troopers reported McPherson is a Centralia resident, but prosecutors show a Tenino post office box as her mailing address.

Lininger’s two sisters said outside the courtroom they felt satisfied with what they heard and understood it’s a slow process, but would rather authorities take the time and get it right.

Their brother’s death would have been less difficult if it hadn’t have been preventable, they said.

Vehicular homicide has a maximum penalty of life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.  McPherson’s arraignment is scheduled for March 16.

For background, read “Christmas Eve crash claims a life, south of Chehalis” from Sunday December 25, 2016, here

Three separate rape cases dropped in Lewis County Superior Court

Friday, March 3rd, 2017


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A judge has dismissed a charge of second-degree rape of a child against a Chehalis man in a case in which a 13-year-old girl told police she was taken advantage of by three males at a Centralia party when she was so drunk she could not walk.

Geffrey A. Duncan, 22, was charged in September in Lewis County Superior Court in connection with the events reported in 2012. He pleaded not guilty.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm said she’s been unable to contact the alleged victim. The state’s motion to dismiss Duncan’s case without prejudice was granted yesterday, she said.

The allegations were investigated in May of 2012, and forensic evidence collected, but the girl only knew the first names of two of the individuals, according to court documents. An interview with a new witness led to two arrests last year.

Tyler M. McKee, 22, formerly of Chehalis, entered into a plea deal in November and was sentenced to 41 months in prison for two counts of second-degree child molestation.

Prosecutors alleged in charging documents that McKee’s DNA profile matched material collected from the girl’s pants. Duncan’s DNA was excluded from the sample found on the garment, according to prosecutors.

Dismissed without prejudice means the state can file the charge again later, Bohm said.

Two other sexual assault cases from late last year ended the same way in recent days in Lewis County Superior Court.

Bohm said the requests came about after further interviewing of the alleged victims and review of the files and deciding the cases could not go forward.

On Monday, a charge of second-degree rape was dismissed for Juvencio E. Ayala Rodriguez, a 23-year-old Centralia resident. He was charged in November following an investigation that began in April when a 16-year-old girl reported he forced himself on her a few nights earlier when she and a friend met two guys at Schaeffer Park.

Last week, on Thursday, a charge of second-degree rape was dismissed for 19-year-old Santiago L. Fernando of Chehalis. He too was charged in November following an investigation that began with a pregnant 17-year-old girl’s mother calling the Chehalis Police Department.

Appeals court reverses conviction in Vader child death

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Danny A. Wing at his sentencing hearing in Lewis County Superior Court in 2015.

Updated at 4:33 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The former Vader man incarcerated for his role in the abuse, neglect and death of a toddler he and his wife were caring for will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, an appeals court has ruled.

Danny A. Wing was given nearly 35 years when he was sentenced in Lewis County Superior Court in September 2015. He had pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and third-degree child assault for the death a year earlier of 3-year-old  Jasper Henderling-Warner.

His wife entered into a similar deal with prosecutors and received a similar sentence.


Jasper Henderling-Warner

A unanimous decision of a three-member panel of the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division II issued on Tuesday concluded Wing’s plea was premised on an incorrect offender score for the third degree assault of a child conviction, rendering the plea involuntary.

His offender score was improperly calculated at six rather than five, an error the state conceded, and therefore resulted in applying the wrong standard sentencing range, the appeals court wrote. An offender score is related to a person’s previous felony convictions.

For the assault, the range ought to have been 17 to 22 months instead of 22 to 29 months, according to the decision.

Wing was given 416 months for the manslaughter and the two sentences were ordered to be served concurrently. The state argued the error did not determine Wing’s ultimate sentence.

A plea agreement must be treated as “indivisible” and an error on one count means the entire agreement must be set aside, Justice P.J. Worswick wrote.

The family, from the Vancouver area, had  been living in the Vader house about two weeks when the Wings called 911 to say the toddler was unconscious and not breathing on on Oct. 5, 2014. Jasper’s 21-year-old mother had given the couple temporary custody while she was homeless and looked for work out of state.

The autopsy found abrasions, bruises, facial trauma and healing fractures and labeled the cause of death as chronic battered child syndrome. Jasper was suffering from skin infections that were found to be secondary to his cause of death.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt called it an incredible story of horror and suffering inflicted.

Wing, now 28, appealed his sentence based also on another issue, claiming prosecutors breached the plea agreement.

His appeal lawyer Lisa Elizabeth Tabbut argued the agreement permitted the state to argue for sentencing enhancements but not to file aggravating factors, but the appeals judges disagreed with the distinction.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh argued the appeal case for the state.

It’s not clear exactly what happens next.

“We don’t know, that’s the long and the short of it,” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said today.

Wing may petition the state Supreme Court to review the part of the appeal decision he lost, Meyer said. If he doesn’t or even if he does and fails, the case will be back in Lewis County Superior Court, he said.

“Then he gets to choose whether he wants to withdraw his guilty plea or not,” Meyer said. “He can opt to do that and if he does, we go to trial.”

Meyer suggested if Wing were to go to trial on one of the original charges, homicide by abuse with aggravators, and lost, the potential sentence could be lengthy.

Brenda A. Wing was sentenced in January of last year to 34 years and eight months for first-degree manslaughter, third-degree child assault, two counts of witness tampering and two counts of possession of a controlled substance.

She also has an appeal in the works.

For background, read “Vader man gets 34 years for toddler death” from Friday September 25, 2015, here