Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

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