Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Perplexing Centralia apartment arson case stalled

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016
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By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The apartment manager charged with setting a small fire at the Centralia complex where she lived and worked was expected in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon, but didn’t show up.

Kathrin L. Turner, 44, was charged with first-degree arson and summonsed to appear before a judge this afternoon.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh requested and was granted a $10,000 bench warrant for Turner’s arrest.

One of the tenants from the apartments on the 1100 block of Scammon Creek Road however did go to court for the expected hearing.

“I just don’t get it, I don’t know why she did this,” Shellie Hernandez said. “She was supposed to be our friend.”

Hernandez, 52, has lived in the building almost three years and has a caregiver to help her out. It was her apartment where the fire was set on the exterior wall the morning of Nov. 3, she said.

She wants Turner locked up.

“I fear for my life, I was there for the fire,” she said. “It was so scary.”

Turner is charged only with one count of arson, but the complex saw police and firefighters respond three times in a matter of days at the beginning of last month.

On the morning of Nov. 2, someone lit a paper towel on fire next to a building. A tenant put it out with a glass of water, according to police reports.

The next morning, the fire department was called when a fire broke out within a corridor of the same building, damaging an approximately 15 square foot area of exterior siding. Turner told responders she put it out with a fire extinguisher.

That weekend, Turner was found in the bathroom of a common area of the complex with severe lacerations to her wrists and throat. A box cutter was found after medics took her away, which a Centralia police officer surmised must have been beneath her on the floor.

Eventually police concluded it was a suicide attempt.

Police reports on the incidents state a cleaning wipes container which smelled of gasoline was found in a dumpster at the complex, and officers learned Turner was seen at a gas station getting fuel in a little red can early in the morning before the first fire, and she was seen taking a gas can from the trunk of her car and giving it to the  landscape crew after the second fire.

As police investigated, they learned from a regional manager of the apartments that oddities and discrepancies in the bookkeeping were found. Turner was behind in depositing rent payments and money was possibly missing, Julie Ryan told police, according to one of the reports. Ryan said Turner was trying to move people into apartments that were occupied and that empty units were listed as filled, according to one report.

“She said this wasn’t like Turner to be off on this many rents,” detective Sgt. Carl Buster wrote.

It was more than a week later when detectives were able to speak with Turner, still hospitalized.

At first, Turner had said she was attacked by a stranger.

Detective Panco wrote that after initially denying involvement, Turner confessed. She said it was because she was “so overwhelmed” and the fires were part of the reason she hurt herself, he wrote.

She gave Panco this reason for the fires: She allegedly said she was trying to evict Hernandez from her unit but she wouldn’t leave. She said she’d promised that apartment to someone else, according to charging documents.

“So Turner thought maybe Shellie would move if there was a fire because that would scare Shellie,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wrote.

Her husband Kenneth Turner was interviewed at the hospital while his wife was being treated, before she was transferred to  Tacoma General Hospital.

He told the officer she had been acting odd, talking about a strange black man with a black hat that she kept seeing and was making her nervous, for about the previous two weeks, according to one police report.

When asked if she had ever done anything like this before, he told the officer yes, a few years back when she was overstressed and “basically had a nervous breakdown.”

Kenneth Turner said the things stressing her currently were the arsons, the black man following her and that they were very behind on their bills, unable to pay surgery, hospital and utility bills, Officer Phil Weismiller wrote.

Other parts of the police reports note medical staff telling police of a history of an undiagnosed mental issue and newly discovered blood clots which could have decreased oxygen to her brain and explained bizarre behavior.

First-degree arson is a class A felony with a maximum penalty of life in prison.

After today’s court hearing, Deputy Prosecutor Beigh said she learned Turner was in the hospital, so she was planning to get the arrest warrant rescinded and send a summons for her to appear at a later date.
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For background, read “News brief: Apartment arsons blamed on employee” from Tuesday November 15, 2016, here

One dead in Packwood house fire

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016
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The Packwood Fire Department works this morning at a residential structure fire. / Courtesy photo by Derrick Paul

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A fire investigator is emphasizing the importance of working smoke detectors after a house fire this morning with a fatality in Packwood.

Smoke detectors save lives, Fire Investigator Derrick Paul wrote in all capital letters in a message today.

Paul was called out this morning to the single-family home on the 12900 block of U.S. Highway 12. The Packwood Fire Department responded to the approximately 5:20 a.m. call and found the residence fully engulfed in flames.

When Paul arrived, the blaze was knocked down for the most part, he said. The double-wide modular home is behind the Chevron gas station, he said.

“It’s a complete loss, there’s not a lot left,” he said.

One person was found dead inside, according to Paul.

The Lewis County Coroner’s Office was requested, and a sheriff’s detective joined the fire investigator to assist in processing the scene.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says the 57-year-old man who lives there could not be accounted for and while the identity of the deceased has not been established, they believe it is him.

The cause isn’t yet known, but Paul said he had a couple of leads he was following.

No smoke detectors were found at the home, according to Paul.
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For background, read “News brief: Packwood home catches fire” from Tuesday December 20, 2016, here

Centralia husband took a bullet to the base of the back of his neck, wife charged with murder

Monday, December 19th, 2016
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Janet L. Anderson, in red, is led out of the courtroom and back down to the Lewis County Jail after bail hearing.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Evidence so far suggests a 41-year-old Centralia man was shot once in his back and once at the base of his skull as long as 12 hours before his wife turned herself in to police and said they would find his body in the bedroom of their north Centralia home.

Ty W. Anderson was indeed located there, wrapped inside a tarp, according to authorities.

The residence off of West Oakview Avenue in the Hunter’s Walk neighborhood was then examined by detectives on Saturday but the scene investigation is ongoing, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

Janet L. Anderson, 39, was arrested after she spoke with police on Saturday morning and charged today with second-degree murder.

She reportedly told police that after two hours of fighting, she shot her husband because he grabbed his gun and was pointing it at her, according to charging documents.

She also said she cleaned him up, covered him up and wrapped him up so he wouldn’t be cold, Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wrote in court documents.

Evidence indicates she washed clothing and bedding and bathed herself as well as patched what looked to be a bullet exit hole through an exterior wall, before driving to the Centralia police station and calling 911 about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, according to Halstead.

Anderson was brought before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis where prosecutors asked she be held on $1 million bail.

She has no income of her own, doesn’t work and has no criminal history, the judge was told. Judge Richard Brosey gave her a court appointed lawyer.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh said she requested the high bail because Anderson might be a flight risk and also because of the interference with the administration of justice. It appears cleanup was done during the 12 hours between the alleged homicide and the reporting of it, she said.

Neither Centralia police nor the court documents offer any other explanation for the shooting.

Neighbors and police say the couple have two children who lived with them there, a teenage son who was at a sporting event on Saturday morning and a younger daughter who was with her grandparents. Centralia police detective John Panco on Saturday didn’t indicate he thought the kids had been home when it happened.

Next door neighbor Jim Murphy said he and his wife heard a “horrible bang pop” around 9 or 10 o’clock on Friday night; she thought it was a gunshot, he thought it was something different.

Charging documents state that police were advised about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, a woman was on the line with 911, saying she’d killed her husband, that she would be parked in front of the Centralia Police Department in a white mini van.

She spoke with a sergeant and told him, among other things, that her gun was on her night stand and her husband’s gun could be found under a towel because she was afraid her son might come home and see it.

Two officers who were given the keys to the home found nobody else inside, only Ty Anderson wrapped in a tarp in the bedroom, according to the documents.

When detectives conducted their investigation, they found what would be the wife’s firearm, a five-shot revolver with four spent shell casings and one live round inside the cylinder, Halstead wrote.

The other gun was on the floor, on the other side of the bed, partially wrapped in a towel, according to Halstead. The semi automatic, single-action pistol had a loaded magazine inserted and an empty chamber; the hammer was in the forward position not ready to fire, according to Halstead.

An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.

The initial examination of the body however showed at least two bullet entry wounds, according to charging documents, one in the lower back and the other at the base of the back of the neck. X-rays taken by the Lewis County Corner’s Office show what appear to be the two bullets lodged inside his body, according to charging documents.

The maximum penalty for second-degree murder is life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine plus restitution and assessments.

Centralia defense attorney Shane O’Rourke is going to be representing Anderson. Her arraignment is set for Thursday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.
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For background, read “Saturday December 17, 2016” from Centralia: Man dead, woman jailed for murder, here

Centralia: Man dead, woman jailed for murder

Saturday, December 17th, 2016
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Police assemble at the scene of a homicide in the Hunter’s Walk neighborhood today.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Police are investigating a homicide at a home in a north Centralia neighborhood and have detained a suspect.

Officers were notified about 8:30 a.m. today.

“The suspect contacted us at the police station, she called 911 and said she needed to talk with someone,” detective John Panco said.

Officers went to her residence off of West Oakview Avenue and confirmed a man inside was dead, according to Panco.

The woman was interviewed and taken to the Lewis County Jail, Panco said.

Early information from the Centralia Police Department indicated it was a death by gunshot, but detectives are still processing the crime scene this afternoon.

Panco didn’t reveal what the woman told investigators. He didn’t release any names this afternoon.

Across the street neighbor Will Fitzmorris said he woke up this morning to see yellow police tape across the front of the house, and a patrol car parked in front.

A man, a woman and two children moved in there in recent years, he said.

Next door neighbor Jim Murphy knows the family a little.

“She is the nicest person and they have swell kids,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he and his wife heard a noise while they were rearranging furniture around 9 or 10 o’clock last night. His wife asked him if it sounded like a gunshot, he said.

“I said no, it sounded like something, somebody slammed real hard,” he said.

The pale yellow modular home is in a neighborhood called Hunter’s Walk.

This afternoon, the Centralia Police Department’s crime scene van is parked on the narrow street. Detectives were inside collecting evidence and getting photographs, according to Panco.

“I can’t give you much information as far as how it happened, what happened,” Panco said.

He didn’t yet know what the woman would be booked for, but expected he would have more details to release before the end of the day.

The Lewis County Jail’s online roster indicates a Janet L. Anderson was booked around 11:45 a.m. today for second-degree murder.

Update: Panco acknowledged in a news release at about 11 p.m. that Anderson, 39 years old, was their suspect.

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Police tape is stretched across the front of Centralia home where police are investigating homicide.

Riverside Park Death: Coroner still working to find man’s relatives

Friday, December 16th, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Authorities are still trying to track down next-of-kin for the homeless man who died outdoors in freezing temperatures this week, but want in the meantime to share some information to allay fears of those who have family members living on the streets.

He was 57 years old and has been residing in the Centralia area for perhaps a year and half, Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said this morning. He has also spent time in Aberdeen, he said.

McLeod wants to find and notify his relatives of the death, before releasing the man’s name to the public.

“I’ve gotten calls from three families who have people on the streets,” McLeod said. “It causes a lot of stress for people who have family in that situation.”

Authorities initially revealed very little after he was found dead on Wednesday morning in Centralia’s Rotary Riverside Park off Harrison Avenue. An autopsy confirmed he died of hypothermia from the cold.

Centralia Police Department detective Corey Butcher said he was discovered at one of the covered picnic areas, with all of his belongings, sleeping bag, backpack, food and such.

It’s a sad thing, McLeod said.

“In 2016, in the U.S., one of the most developed countries in the world, that you can curl up and go to sleep and die,” McLeod said.

Temperatures were at 32 degrees in the Twin Cities for most of that night.

McLeod said the dead man’s information lists him as 6-feet tall and 215 pounds. A recent jail booking photo shows him with long black hair, somewhat balding in front and with graying facial hair, he said.

No missing person reports have been found for him, but a check with a nationwide law enforcement database shows he’s had contacts with police in several states, McLeod said.

Those places include, Illinois, Las Vegas, Arizona, Florida and southern California, according to McLeod.
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For background, read “News brief: Man without a home basically froze to death” from Thursday December 15, 2016, here

Centralia man booked after physical dispute over gambling proceeds

Friday, December 16th, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 39-year-old Centralia man arrested for allegedly beating up his girlfriend to get some of her casino winnings was ordered held on $100,000 bail yesterday.

James W. Lowther was brought before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court, charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree assault.

The incident came to the attention of police about 7 a.m. on Wednesday when they were called to the 1200 block of Windsor Avenue in Centralia where they found the woman, with a cut on her hand, a scrape on her chin and what looked to be blood on her nostrils.

She told the officer she got paid the day before, that evening they went to the Nisqually Red Wind Casino together and she gave Lowther some money to gamble with, according to court documents.

The court documents go on with the following allegations:

They left for home around 2 a.m. and once they got home, Lowther began to argue with her about wanting half of her winnings so he could fix his truck and buy some items.

Lowther had won about $1,300 and she had won about $8,600 playing slots.

They argued until about 6 a.m. when she needed to go to work. He took her car keys and would not give them back, unless she gave him money.

She said at one point she agreed to give him $2,000 if he would let her go to work and as she was about to dial 911, he tackled her to the floor and tried grabbing the money from her brassiere. She said he put her in a headlock until she could not breathe.

She told police she began screaming and then Lowther offered to drive her to work. Once in the car, they argued and he drove instead to an isolated area out Little Hanaford Road where he continued to demand money.

They returned to an area near the residence, he made her pull out her money, count it in front of him and hand it over.

He left. She called 911.

Police later on Wednesday found Lowther hiding in a house in Lewis County. He had $2,384 in his pocket.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler scheduled Lowther’s arraignment for next Thursday.

Onalaska resident loses horses, gets jail time

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An Onalaska woman convicted of animal cruelty in connection with horses seized from her this past spring was sentenced today to nine days in jail, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

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Tuesday April 5, 2016

Jennifer Jenkins appeared in Lewis County District Court in Chehalis this morning. She was convicted by a jury last month of one gross misdemeanor for each of the nine horses.

Judge R.W. Buzzard ordered her taken into custody immediately, Lewis County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said.

Back in April responders were called to Jenkins’ home on the 2500 block of state Route 508 because a small horse had fallen onto its side into a mud hole in her pen. It took more than two hours to get it out and up.

The state veterinarian noted deplorable living conditions and prosecutors filed charges –  violations of Lewis County code – related to inadequate shelter and food.

Jenkins is prohibited from owning any animals for two years and she forfeits all rights to the horses, Meagher said. They’ll now have to be adopted out, he said.

Jenkins who has said she is disabled from the effects of a traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury disputes the findings and has filed motions already in her case. Meagher expects she will appeal. She was represented by attorney David Brown.

Restitution for the animals’ care has not yet been determined, Meagher said.

In an unrelated animal cruelty case, prosecutors decided to drop charges against a Morton area man previously filed in Lewis County Superior Court and refile them in Lewis County District Court.

Richard D. Carlile, 29, was arrested when he went to pick up his dogs from the animal shelter on Sept. 30, thinking they’d they’d broken their chains and wandered away from the camp where he lived in the woods. The pitbulls had been found alone without food or water and in poor condition, according to prosecutors.

Meagher said prosecutors decided the better charges given the evidence are the same charges Jenkins was convicted of, gross misdemeanors.
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For background, read “Onalaska horse owner loses court case” from Tuesday November 1, 2016, here

Facebook post bolsters felony charge for illegal cougar hunting

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 30-year-old man accused of killing a cougar in the Tatoosh Wilderness area of Lewis County without a hunting license is scheduled to go before a judge next week.

Cody M. Young is charged with one count of first-degree unlawful hunting of big game.

The McClearly resident allegedly took down the cougar with a bow and arrow on Sept. 9, a Friday and then bought the required license at a Wal-Mart about 2 a.m. the next day.

Charging documents in the case state that he met with a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer in Montesano the Monday after to fill out the proper forms and show the animal to WDFW, but he claimed he shot it while out deer hunting on Sept. 10, a Saturday.

He was very proud of his catch, according to the officer.

Young has prior convictions for illegal hunting, and another officer’s recollection of that prompted some investigating, according to the court documents.

Officer Warren Becker checked Young’s Facebook page and saw a photo posted there at 8:05 p.m. Saturday of the big cat, in complete darkness with the aid of a flash, according to the documents. But there was a problem with that photo, he noticed.

Becker knew if the cougar had been killed prior to the post the same day, there ought to have been some ambient light, given the time of sunset, the documents relate.

WDFW officers confirmed the time of the license purchase and even viewed Wal-Mart’s surveillance footage for further confirmation, according to the documents.

A search warrant was served for Young’s phone and phone records, which showed the picture of the dead cougar was taken at 9:14 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, according to charging documents. Also found was a text message sent before Saturday, stating: “smoked a cougar.”

Lewis County prosecutors filed charges on Nov. 16 and summonsed Young to appear in Lewis County Superior Court last Wednesday.

Young told the judge he needed some time to find and hire a lawyer. He was allowed release on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

He was told to return for his arraignment the afternoon of Dec. 22. Young declined to comment on his case outside the courtroom.

The maximum criminal penalty he faces is five years in prison and / or a $10,000 fine. If convicted, WDFW would suspended his hunting privileges for two years and impose a $2,000 penalty.

The monetary penalty can be doubled if the violation is within five years of a prior gross misdemeanor or felony conviction under the same law.

Lewis County campaign sign shenanigans aggravate candidate, citizen

Monday, December 12th, 2016
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A deputy took pictures of the destruction for the case file. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Jo Coleman is a great grandmother whose Donald Trump yard signs were stolen so often from her Centralia property, she resorted to sticking fly paper on them.

She said she counted 27 times they disappeared from in front of her home on North Pearl Street.

“They came down almost as fast as I put them up,” Coleman said.

She finally smeared axel grease in strategic spots on the backside. The thefts stopped, she said.

Bob Bozarth was a first time candidate, running as an independent hoping to get elected as one of the three-member Board of Lewis County Commissioners.

The Napavine area small business owner campaigned on personal property rights, fiscal responsibility and preserving the way of life residents sought when settling the rural area.

More than 70 of the yard signs he distributed around the county were uprooted in the months before the November election, he said.

He sprung for large four-foot by eight-foot campaign signs, made with special corrugated paper, and planted into the ground with two steel posts. Each cost him $375.

He placed one of them on undeveloped land along state Route 6 at Scheuber Road in Chehalis, with the blessing of the property owner.

Twenty-six times someone trashed or tore down the big sign there, he said.

He made repairs with duct tape and wire ties as many times as he could, he said. Twice, he had to just entirely replace it.

Bozarth didn’t apply Coleman’s defense. He hired friends who are former Marines to catch the culprit.

“First of all, they’re expensive,” Bozarth said. “But it was almost a matter of principle.”

The rural Lewis County resident said he invested well over $2,500 in his signs, not even taking into account the time he spent repeatedly replacing or fixing them.

“Replacing yard signs took a big bite out of my time,” he said. “When I could have been out door belling, or doing positive things.”

Bozarth’s friends staked out the area on three nights, beginning in early October. According to the police report that would come later, they made note of two different vehicles that drove through the area very slowly.

On their final shift, after five hours of waiting, the two men from Lacey spotted a car pull over near Bozarth’s green and white sign, saw an individual get out of the driver’s side and then walk up and slash the sign. They tried to block the car in, but it got away.

One them pursued the car all the way up Interstate 5 until it exited in Olympia, and got a picture of its license plate.

When the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office gathered information after daylight, Nov. 7, they learned the 2016 Volkswagen Passat was registered to an Adna couple.

A deputy went to their home and spoke to 42-year-old Richard J. Bliss. According to the incident report, Bliss told the deputy he knew what he did was dumb, and asked if he could pay for sign and be done with it.

He said he only did it one time, as a favor for a person at his gym who had been telling him how much he disliked Bozarth and had been taking down the candidate’s signs, but was going to be gone hunting, according to the deputy’s narrative.

The deputy issued Bliss a citation for third-degree malicious mischief, a gross misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 364 days in jail.

Bozarth learned who was arrested and said he didn’t know Bliss and couldn’t think of why anyone would be so mad at him to cause him so much grief. He learned from the sheriff’s office Bliss is a firefighter at Lewis County District 6. A friend said he believed he was also a truck driver, he said.

Bozarth still feels like there are other people involved, he said. He wants to get answers. He went on to lose the Nov. 8 election.

“I’m going to tear this apart, one stick at a time, until hopefully I get to the bottom of the pile,” he said.

On Friday, Bliss showed up at Lewis County DIstrict Court with his lawyer. A plea of not guilty was entered and he was allowed to remain free on his own personal recognizance.

Bozarth was there to watch, accompanied by his friend Coleman who came along to support him.

He wanted to see the man who the deputy arrested.

“This guy, this is the very first time I’ve set eyes on him” Bozarth said afterward.

“Even if they didn’t like someone, they have no business taking their signs,” Coleman said. “I can’t stand Hillary, but I never took her signs.”

Bliss after the court hearing declined to comment, on the advice of his lawyer.

Centralia: Theft of wallet leads to robbery charge

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
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Miguel V. Martinez, in red, confers with temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 20-year-old Centralia resident was ordered held on $250,000 bail for a nighttime incident a week ago in which he allegedly took off with an acquaintance’s wallet containing $300.

The victim told police that just about the time he apprehended the 20-year-old in the parking lot of a bank, a white male who got out of a green Dodge Durango pepper sprayed him in the face and hit him at least once with a handgun.

Miguel V. Martinez, 20, was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree robbery and then also possession of meth and heroin based on what police turned up when he was arrested on Saturday at the Motel 6 in Centralia.

According to the victim, it all began when Martinez called him wanting a ride to Rochester and the two met up at the parking lot of Safeway on Harrison Avenue in Centralia about 11 p.m. on Nov. 28.

The victim told police they sat in the parking lot  talking for some period of time. Charging documents go on to give the victim’s account of events:

At some point, he went inside Safeway to get a drink and when he returned to his car, he set his wallet on the center console. At some point, Martinez allegedly grabbed the wallet, got out of the car and ran off.

The victim, Ryan Olson, grabbed some pepper spray, chased Martinez and tried unsuccessfully to spray him. Olson said he caught Martinez in the Columbia Bank parking lot and they were about to start walking back to the car when a Dodge Durango pulled up.

A white male gets out, approaches them and lifts the front of his shirt exposing what looks to be the handle of a handgun, and says, “Let him go, I have a gun.”

Olson refuses because Martinez still has his wallet and a struggle ensues between the three men.

The victim, Olson, said the unidentified white male hits him with the gun, takes his pepper spray and sprays him.

Martinez and the white male leave in the Durango, which is being driven by a female.

Centralia police responding to the approximately 2:15 a.m. call to Safeway’s gas station on Belmont Avenue find the victim in extreme discomfort and end up interviewing him at the hospital where he was transported for treatment.

Charging documents filed yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court indicate detectives are in the process of identifying the male and female who were involved.

When Martinez was brought before a jude yesterday afternoon, temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke attempted to get a lower amount for his bail.

“I’m very familiar with Mr. Martinez and his family who are in court today,” O’Rourke told the judge. “His family assures me they will keep him home and make sure he gets to court.”

Judge James Lawler went with Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio’s recommendation of $250,000 bail instead.

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

For background, read “Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – ARREST MADE IN PEPPER SPRAY ATTACK” from Monday December 5, 2016, here

Gunshot victim says Serrano Mosso owed him money

Sunday, December 4th, 2016
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David Serrano Mosso, in red, at first said he didn’t need a Spanish interpreter for court, but changed his mind.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – David Serrano Mosso, 20, of Centralia is facing a maximum penalty of life in prison if he is convicted as charged after his second time in four months being accused of seriously assaulting a person with a gun.

He was arrested this summer after a 37-year-old man said Serrano Mosso pistol whipped him inside his car in the parking lot at Providence Centralia Hospital.

Early last week, a 19-year-old Centralia man said it was Serrano Mosso who shot him in the leg outside an apartment complex on Ives Road. It was a grazing wound and the victim drove himself to the hospital.

Serrano Mosso was picked up by police on Wednesday night at a Motel 6 in Tumwater. He is charged with first-degree assault, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and drive by shooting. He went before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court on Thursday, who kept his bail at $1 million, the amount of his arrest warrant.

In both cases, the victims said Serrano Mosso owed them money. The 19-year-old opined to police that maybe he was angry because he’d been trying to collect $300 for work he’d done on a vehicle. The 37-year-old said he’d sold Serrano-Mosso some wheels, which Serrano Mosso denied to police.

Both victims, both Centralia residents, said they either hadn’t known Serrano Mosso very long, or didn’t know him very well.

Charging documents in the new case indicate police found one spent 9 mm casing and one live 9 mm round on the ground at the scene of last Tuesday afternoon’s incident.

The documents reveal Serrano Mosso’s girlfriend was driving, with their 11-month-old daughter in the backseat, when Serrano Mosso allegedly shot at the teen. She denied knowing why he shot at the victim, according to court documents.

Claudia Cruz told police once it happened, she began yelling at him for what he had done and after driving a couple hundred yards told him to get out of her vehicle, which he did, according to the documents.

The case was responded to and investigated by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office because it occurred just outside city limits. According to court documents, it was detectives with the Lewis County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team who tracked down Serrano Mosso in Tumwater.

Detectives followed a car to the motel, learned who had rented the room and subsequently found their suspect, a 24-year-old man, a woman and the woman’s 14-year-old daughter in the room, according to court documents.

Jorge L. Villagomez Barraza, 24, was charged also on Thursday, with first-degree rendering criminal assistance. Temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke said he is unemployed but is a life-long Tacoma resident. His bail was set at $50,000.

O’Rourke addressed the question of bail the same afternoon for Serrano Mosso.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead argued for bail to remain at $1 million, because authorities had reason to believe Serrano Mosso was attempting to flee to Mexico.

O’Rourke said he’d lived at the same Centralia address for the past three and a half years with his wife, her family and their child. Information in his case from this summer indicates he lived at an apartment on Russell Road and worked at Tacos El Ray, both in Centralia.

He had no felony criminal convictions previous to this summer’s case and was participating in Centralia Police Department’s 24/7 sobriety program, which relates to driving under the influence or similar offenses.

While the first case initially included a charge of first-degree assault as well as first-degree kidnapping, it didn’t end that way.

The 37-year-old victim was found beaten and bloody the night of July 28. Charging documents in that case describe the victim as meeting Serrano Mosso to get paid for some wheels, and Serrano Mosso plus another male getting into his car, with Serrano Mosso shoving a pistol into his ribs and telling him to drive out to a wooded area; when he pulled into the hospital parking lot instead, he said he was pistol whipped. His nose was broken.

Serrano Mosso was arrested and held on $500,000 bail, but by the end of September, his defense attorney Don Blair and prosecutors struck a deal.  Serrano Mosso made an Alford plea to second-degree assault, was sentenced to even less than the standard sentencing range and then was released from jail.

At the time, Prosecutor Halstead said the deal happened,  because of the “facts in the case.”

Last week, Halstead said it was more specifically, conflicting facts.

Serrano Mosso said there was no other male in the car that night and passed a lie detector test, Halstead said. The 37-year-old victim said there was. Halstead said he can’t very well put someone on a witness stand who’s not telling the truth.

Serrano Mosso’s arraignment for the current case is scheduled for Dec. 8.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Centralia shooting suspect found in Tumwater” from Thursday December 1, 2016, here

Chehalis woman admits stealing thousands from employer

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 24-year-old former employee of a liquor and wine store at the Twin City Town Center pleaded guilty to stealing more than $20,000 from her workplace and was sentenced to jail.

Amberly M. Morehead, from Chehalis, had never been convicted of a crime before.

“She knows she put herself in a poor position,” her lawyer David Brown told the judge. “She knows she stole and it was wrong.”

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm told the judge the standard sentence, because there was no criminal history, was zero to 90 days in jail. Bohm recommended Morehead be locked up for 45 days.

Brown asked if his client could serve her time on electronic home monitoring.

Judge James Lawler said no, during Wednesday’s hearing in Lewis County Superior Court.

Morehead was charged in September for the thefts that took place between last December and March. She told police she got behind on her bills, took money from work and intended to pay it back but kept getting further behind.

Morehead pleaded guilty as charged to first-degree theft. Lawler sentenced her to 30 days in jail.

Judge Lawler also ordered her to repay restitution of $24,457 to the Chehalis business’s insurance company, $500 to the business and $1,400 in other legal fees.

She was then taken into custody.
•••

For background, read “Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – FROM THE COURTHOUSE” from Tuesday September 20, 2016, here

Lewis County sheriff secures five-figure pay increase

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Board of Commissioners voted to give Sheriff Rob Snaza a raise of more than $18,000 a year.

The move comes after discussing the issue for as long as he’s been on the board, said BOCC Vice Chair Gary Stamper who was elected two years ago.

Snaza was also elected in November 2014.

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Sheriff Rob Snaza

The salaries of Lewis County’s elected officials are set in a process that involves a citizen panel. The panel establishes the pay for the three county commissioners. It makes recommendations about the wages for the other elected officials which the three-member board of county commissioners may adopt.

The process has been in place since 2001.

The last time the panel convened, in early 2014, they suggested raises of five percent for all the positions. Beginning in January of that year, and still today, the annual salary of $75,108 applies to the assessor, auditor, clerk, coroner and treasurer. Coroner Warren McLeod actually only made half that until he switched from half-time to full-time in 2015.

The panel’s recommendations gave the county commissioners a little more ($82,620), the sheriff even more ($90,644), and the prosecutor even more than that ($141,705).

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Commissioner Edna Fund

A resolution to increase the sheriff’s salary was approved unanimously on Monday by Commissioners Stamper, Edna Fund and Bill Schulte. It was one of eight items on the consent agenda, voted on as a bundle.

The stated reason in the resolution indicates the matter would be “depoliticized” if it were taken out of the hands of the salary commission. Instead, beginning Jan. 1, it states, the sheriff shall be paid a salary five percent greater than the undersheriff.

The resolution indicates other reasons for the change: because the sheriff currently earns less than his subordinate and because he earns less than sheriffs of comparable counties in the state.

Undersheriff Wes Rethwill is paid $101,280 a year, with his pay tied to the pay of other commissioned officers at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The deputies wages are set by a collective bargaining agreement – their union contract – with the undersheriff and other command staff’s salaries set at certain percentages higher.

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Commissioner Bill Schulte

On Jan. 1, Undersheriff Rethwill’s annual salary will rise to $103,812. So Sheriff Snaza’s annual salary of $90,644 will grow to $109,000.

Sheriff Snaza says he’s “just thinking of our office and thought it was the right thing to do.”

He put the resolution before the county commissioners in July, and it got tabled because Commissioner Schulte was out on leave, he said.

“This was two years in the making, because I’ve never asked for a raise before,” Snaza said.

Among the reasons for his proposal, he said, are he’s earning less than his undersheriff, less than some other sheriffs who don’t even run jail facilities and he feels the role of sheriff has changed.

“I just felt like the sheriff is just like the CEO of a company and should be paid at a higher rate,” Snaza said.

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Commissioner Gary Stamper

Snaza spoke of how different his job is from other elected Lewis County officials.

He’s in charge of a much larger organization with more than 100 employees, as well as volunteers and then a jail with an average population of 200 inmates.

“You’re responsible 24-7, 365 days a year,” he said. “If we have a flood, it’s not the auditor that gets up at 3 a.m.”

He said he’s not asking the commissioners to put more money into the sheriff’s office budget for his raise. The sheriff’s office will absorb it, he said.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office annual budget of about $14.2 million this year is expected to be about $14.5 million next year.

He said he has mixed feelings about it, feeling he deserves the raise, but thinks some people might not understand it.

“I know the concerns, people are going to say, ‘he’s an elected, he knew what he was getting into’,” he said.

And he pondered aloud, he wished it didn’t take place the same time as the county is considering cutting back on its support to the senior centers.

It’s something the former sheriff contended with, earning less than some of the people working below him as well. When Snaza was a sergeant, sometimes with overtime his paycheck would be bigger than Mansfield’s, he said.

“I used to always tease Steve Mansfield about it,” Snaza said.

Part of Snaza’s thinking includes how fiscally responsible he feels his office has been.

“I think it’s incumbent on every official to ask, what are we doing to save money, and to bring revenue into the county,” he said.

Last year, the sheriff’s office used $684,000 less than they were budgeted for, and turned that money back into the county general fund, he said.

They also bring in money, by renting out jail beds to other agencies.

In 2015, that amounted to a little over $1.5 million in revenue from the jail, he said. “This year, we’re looking at about $2.1 million,” he said.

The local salary commission’s role has not changed otherwise, by the recent resolution.

Its role remains to set the pay for the assessor, auditor, clerk, coroner, treasurer, commissioners and prosecutor.

When the group evaluated salaries in 2014, its philosophy was an elected official in Lewis County should be paid a comparable rate to an individual doing the same job in a similar county.

The only Lewis County elected officials whose pay is not dealt with by the salary commission are the judges in Lewis County District and Superior Courts. They’re fixed by a state commission on salaries.

And as of Monday, the sheriff’s pay is exempt from that group’s influence as well.

The long name for the citizen group is the Lewis County Independent Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials.

The salary commission only convenes when requested by the Lewis County Board of Commissioners, according to Lewis County Human Resource Director Archie Smith.
••••

2016 LEWIS COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIALS ANNUAL SALARIES

Assessor: Dianne Dorey: $75,108

Auditor: Larry E. Grove: $75,108

Clerk: Scott Tinney: $75,108

Coroner: Warren McLeod: $75,108

Treasurer: Arny Davis: $75,108

Commissioner: Bill Schulte: $82,620

Commissioner: Edna Fund: $82,620

Commissioner: Gary Stamper: $82,620

Sheriff: Rob Snaza: $90,644

Prosecutor: Jonathan Meyer: $141,705*
•••

* The Lewis County prosecutor’s pay is tied to the salary commission but also has state influence, and the state pays more than half of it, according to Lewis County Human Resource Director Archie Smith.

Former Centralia College basketball team member, cousin accused in burglary

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A judge set bail with $25,000 signature bonds for the suspects accused of breaking into a Centralia residence while a woman home alone there locked herself in her bedroom.

Reginald D. Ford, 22, and Isaiah M. Kelly, 20, a pair of cousins from Federal Way, are each charged with residential burglary.

Kelly was arrested shortly after the Saturday afternoon incident at the 900 block of West Pear Street.

The three Centralia College basketball team members who reside there, but weren’t home at the time, told police Kelly was on the team with them, until he was released at the start of the school year.

When Ford was brought before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court, temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge Ford was requesting a court appointed lawyer. He is unemployed, she said.

Charging documents relate the victim heard someone knock, then pound on the front door and then kick it open. She said she was scared because her boyfriend and their roommates were away and she locked herself into her bedroom.

She said she heard the sounds of someone going through things in the house, but didn’t hear any talking and was on the phone with dispatch when her bedroom door was kicked in.

She yelled, they left, according to court documents.

When police followed up, they learned numerous items were missing from the home including two Xboxes, several games and a Bluetooth speaker, according to the documents. A pair of Nike Air Jordans belonging to one of the residents were found near where police located Kelly.

Ford was booked into the Lewis County Jail on Monday. Arraignments for both suspects are scheduled for Dec. 8.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Victim startles burglars inside Centralia residence” from Sunday November 27, 2016, here

Rape case: Trial cut short in Lewis County Superior Court

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A judge declared a mistrial yesterday in a rape case in Lewis County Superior Court and it’s not clear if prosecutors will attempt to try again.

A 23-year-old Centralia man was charged late this summer for an incident reported in the spring of 2015 that allegedly occurred a year earlier at a rural Centralia home with a young woman with whom he had somewhat of an intimate relationship.

Jordan T. White was charged with second-degree rape, pleaded not guilty and proceeded to trial. He has been free on an unsecured bond.

Defense attorney Shane O’Rourke said they were most of the way through their first day yesterday, when the sheriff’s deputy sitting with the deputy prosecutor dropped his pen onto the table, at a particular point during a recording being played for the jury.

O’Rourke said he wondered if it was intentional or not and began watching the deputy, and saw him bow his head and put it into the palm of his hand, in a way a person could potentially perceive to mean, “I can’t believe what I’m hearing.”

Finally, when the deputy gestured to the alleged victim while she was on the stand testifying, O’Rourke made an objection and the jurors were sent out of the room.

“I wondered, is he encouraging her to cry, trying to console her,” he said. “Unfortunately, the jurors were watching.”

It’s common for the investigating law enforcement officer to sit at the prosecutor’s table during criminal trials. Officers of the court are not allowed to comment on the evidence during trial, even non-verbally.

O’Rourke asked Judge Nelson Hunt for a dismissal, for government misconduct, saying he believed the deputy’s actions tainted the jury.

Judge Hunt concluded the defendant had been prejudiced, citing intentional and problematic behavior, O’Rourke said. He declared a mistrial.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm declined to comment today if another trial would be held.

Bohm said the attorneys will go before a judge tomorrow, to set a new date for a trial, but she expects the defense will make a motion to dismiss the case entirely.

The case was investigated by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, beginning in April 2015. The alleged victim, 19 years old at the time, said she didn’t report it when it happened out of fear, embarrassment and uncertainty about what would happen, according to charging documents.

She told the deputy she and her friends were drinking Fireball, she was heavily intoxicated and realized the next morning she had been anally penetrated, according to the allegations. White told the deputy the two had a history of fooling around, with oral sex, and on the night in question, what they did was her idea, because she wanted to remain a virgin, the documents state.

A brief hearing is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Centralia shooting suspect remains at large

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
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David Serrano Mosso

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Law enforcement is looking for a 20-year-old Centralia resident, suspected to have shot an acquaintance yesterday at the northwest edge of Centralia.

Authorities say David Serrano Mosso was a passenger in a white sport utility vehicle that pulled up near an apartment complex at the 3100 block of Ives Road, off Harrison Avenue.

Serrano Mosso called out to the 19-year-old male victim, and when he approached, Serrano Mosso fired one round from a handgun, grazing the victim’s leg, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

Deputies dispatched at 2:42 p.m. learned the 19-year-old Centralia man drove himself to the hospital, Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said.

“The victim and the suspect are acquaintances and have only known each other for a few months,” Breen stated in a news release.

The vehicle and its driver were located last night, but Serrano Mosso remains at large, according to Breen.

The victim had done some automotive work in the past for Serrano Mosso, according to Breen.

Anyone having information on the whereabouts of Serrano Mosso is asked to contact the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at (360) 748-9286, or Lewis County Communications at (360) 740-1105.

A Centralia resident with the same name and also 20 years old was recently convicted in a case in which a 37-year-old Centralia man was beaten inside his car in the parking lot at Providence Centralia Hospital this summer. David Serrano Mosso was initially charged in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree assault but made an Alford plea to second-degree assault and was sentenced the end of September to time served.

He had no criminal convictions prior to that, according to prosecutors.

•••

For background, read “News brief: Centralia man shot by individual in vehicle, which then flees” from Tuesday November 29, 2016, here

Judge-elect O’Rourke secures her place in Lewis County history

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The final count in the only contested race for Lewis County Superior Court judge indicates overwhelming support for local lawyer Joely O’Rourke.

O’Rourke won 72 percent of the votes while her opponent gathered only 28 percent. The numbers are rounded to whole votes, though officially include two decimal places to the right of a single vote.

The Nov. 8 vote-by-mail general election in Lewis County is certified today. Turnout was almost 78 percent.

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Joely O’Rourke

While the Chehalis woman will be the first female superior court judge in county history, it’s not something she gave a lot of thought to during the campaign, she said.

“I really wanted to be elected solely on my qualifications,” O’Rourke said. “It’s definitely an honor, for sure.”

The graduate of the University of Washington and Gonzaga University Law School began her professional career as a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

In 2009, she started working as a deputy prosecutor in the criminal division at the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

For the past two years, O’Rourke has been in private practice, representing defendants at their first appearance on criminal charges in both Lewis County District Court and Lewis County Superior Court.

She will be sworn in and take the bench on Jan. 9. She will replace Judge Richard Brosey who is retiring after more than 18 years in the position.

Twenty-thousand-seven-hundred-seventy-one voters marked their ballots for O’Rourke, compared with 8,258 who supported rural Chehalis attorney Katherine Gulmert.

In a year that saw more than $51 million in candidate contributions across Washington state, O’Rourke’s campaign raised more than $26,000 and Gulmert’s raised none, according to figures available from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

Gulmert, a former deputy prosecutor who now has a private practice in Chehalis, posted an open letter to her supporters and the community on her campaign website shortly after election day. With less than half the votes counted at that point, Gulmert’s showing was just 30 percent.

She congratulated O’Rourke on her victory.

“It was a well-run and dignified campaign and I hope that she continues to serve Lewis County for many years to come,” Gulmert stated. “I expect that when I appear before her I will see what so many local attorneys and judges already know, that she is fair, unbiased and prepared in every area of the law.”

Adna resident Andrew Toynbee will also be sworn in in January, taking the seat of Judge Nelson Hunt who is retiring too. Toynbee is leaving the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office to return to Lewis County, where he spent 13 years in the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

He ran unopposed and earned 22,654 votes.

The third Lewis County Superior Court judge, James Lawler, was also unchallenged for another four-year term. Lawler was first elected in 2007. He got 23,662 votes.

Lewis County voters submitted 35,786 ballots in this presidential election year. Republican president-elect Donald Trump secured 21,992 votes (64 percent) while the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton got 9,654 (28 percent).

There are 46,094 registered voters in the county, with a population of  roughly 75,000.

The Lewis County Board of Commissioners saw two contested races, with incumbent Edna Fund beating challenger Dan Keahey, 53 percent to 47 percent. Both are Republicans.

Commissioner Bill Schulte is stepping down and will be replaced by Republican Bobby Jackson who won with 56 percent over Independent Bob Bozarth who took 44 percent of the votes.

Lewis County Fire District 3 in Mossyrock saw 63 percent support for its proposal to fund construction of a new fire station with as much as $1.4 million in bonds.

The Napavine-based Lewis County Fire District 5 failed to get at least 60 percent support for an emergency medical services levy. A majority of voters said yes (56 percent), but it wasn’t enough to pass.

See all the final results for Lewis County here
•••

For background, read:

• “A second Chehalis attorney hoping for outgoing Lewis County judge’s seat” from Tuesday July 26, 2016, here

• “Judge Brosey eyes retirement, Chehalis lawyer to seek election to the court” from Wednesday March 30, 2016, here

Onalaska horse owner loses court case

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A jury took less than a half hour today to find an Onalaska woman guilty of nine counts of  animal cruelty in connection with horses seized from her this past spring.

Jennifer Jenkins will be sentenced at a date yet to be scheduled, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

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Tuesday April 5, 2016

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said Jenkins testified on her own behalf during the two-day trial in Lewis County District Court, but the six-person jury didn’t “buy it.”

Back in April responders were called to Jenkins’ home on the 2500 block of state Route 508 because a small horse had fallen onto its side into a mud hole in her pen. Two and a half hours later it was finally lifted out, but the next day, Jenkins was arrested.

A Lewis County Sheriff’s Office report said the state veterinarian noted deplorable living conditions and said the animals were in serious need of medical attention.

Meagher said the issue was about inadequate shelter, food or water.

A veterinarian testified the horses had very low body condition scores, Meagher said. The hay they were being fed was not of good quality and while there was a barn on the property, it was filled with wood, he said.

Jenkins was represented by Centralia attorney David Brown.

Jenkins this afternoon said the proceedings were confusing and not what she expected.

“I thought we’d be able to put on my side of the evidence, but we didn’t,” she said.

The 45-year-old woman said she began showing horses when she was small and grew up with them.

She said she’d arranged for a friend to feed and take care of the animals while she and her son were away for four days, but when she got back, the field was muddy and animal feed had been stolen. She disputes the body condition scores.

“I was using portable shelters, but they’re always being torn down,” she said.

Jenkins said she is disabled from the effects of a traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.

“It is what is is,” she said. “I don’t know what it’s all about; it’s just confusing.”

The offenses are violations of Lewis County code and are gross misdemeanors with maximum penalties of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Meagher said Judge R.W. Buzzard ordered a pre-sentencing investigation to be conducted and will set a date for sentencing.
•••

For background, read “Onalaska horse owner pleads not guilty, vet notes ‘deplorable’ conditions” from Friday April 8, 2016, here

Pacific Crest Trail: Hiker from Ohio last seen near White Pass

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016
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Anyone who has seen Kris Fowler is asked to phone Yakima County Sheriff’s Office at 509-574-2535.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Searchers are on the ground looking for a Pacific Crest Trail hiker who hasn’t checked in or been heard from in almost three weeks, when he left a convenience store near White Pass.

Kris Fowler began his trek five and a half months ago in Mexico and is heading north to Snoqualmie Pass, according to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office. His trail name is “Sherpa”.

Search and Rescue Coordinator Sgt. Randy Briscoe said he’s got teams out on the trail today.

Yesterday he had help from citizens in Packwood who made the 26-mile hike from White Pass to Chinook Pass,” he said.

“Folks in Packwood are organizing another search from Snoqualmie to Chinook Pass, I’m told,” Briscoe said this morning.

Fowler, who is 34 years old according to his step mother, lives near her in the Dayton, Ohio area. He started his travels with a college friend but they agreed they may or may not stick together the entire way, Sally Guyton Fowler said.

“He and I had a deal we’d keep in touch,” Guyton Fowler said. “I talked to him the end of September and he texted a friend on Oct. 12.”

By the end of last week she and his father began to get worried, she said.

The family reached out to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office on Friday and a deputy checked the area and then learned Fowler had been at the Cracker Barrel store on U.S. Highway 12 near White Pass on Oct. 12, according to the sheriff’s office.

The minimart is on the east side of the county line, so they notified the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office of the information they had, as well as Pierce County.

Sgt. Briscoe said he was notified on Sunday of the possibly missing hiker.

Briscoe said he learned Fowler had been to the store on Oct. 10, asked for a ride into Packwood to get supplies and then returned to the store two days later. He was last seen walking out of the Cracker Barrel at 3 p.m. on Oct. 12, he said.

“He told the clerk he was going to proceed to Snoqualmie Pass,” Briscoe said.

Briscoe said he has aircraft ready to go, but yesterday and this morning, they were grounded because of the weather.

There’s been no activity on Fowler’s cell phone, he said.

Briscoe said the trail from White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass is 102 miles, he’s told. His step mother said he’d previously been moving 20 to 25 miles each day.

There was a terrible storm on Oct. 14, so Fowler could have decided to hunker down, Briscoe said.

“Maybe he’s not overdue, maybe he’s just trudging through and we’ll see him come out,” Briscoe said.

Meanwhile, sheriff’s office’s in Pierce and Kittitas counties have been notified and Briscoe is trying to get as many people and agencies along the route involved as he can.

Fowler is 6-foot 2-inches tall and 150 pounds, with blond hair and a modest beard.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Bruce Kimsey said this morning that one of his sergeants learned from the Cracker Barrel clerk that Fowler also made a comment about maybe going to Naches to get work at a winery.

“She felt he headed north though,” Kimsey said.

Guyton Fowler was getting on a plane today and plans to stay at the Packwood Inn.

“They want me there in support, in case he needs medical attention,” she said.

A Facebook page has been set up to share information about Fowler. It is called “Bring Kris Fowler/Sherpa Home