Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

One dead from boating accident on Chehalis River

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Updated at 6:28 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – One of a pair of fisherman who went into the river after their boat began taking on water this afternoon died despite efforts to save him.

It happened on the Chehalis River about 10 miles west west of Chehalis, near Dryad.

“Two guys, friends, were fishing in a little 12-foot aluminum boat and they hit some rapids,” Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

The men jumped into the water when their boat began to sink, according to Brown.

“The one who was wearing a life jacket survived; the one who wasn’t did not,” she said.

The survivor was able to find his friend, drag him to shore and performed CPR for 20 to 30 minutes, according to Brown.

When that didn’t work, he swam back across the river and found a bicyclist riding along a trail to use a cell phone to call 911 for help, she said.

It happened about 11:40 a.m., according to Brown.

Deputies and aid were called at 12:36 a.m. to the area near the 400 block of River Road, according to Brown.

Members of Lewis County Fire Districts 6, 11 and 16 responded, but there was no resuscitating the man, Firefighter Kyle DePriest said.

The men’s ages and hometowns are not yet available. The survivor was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital to be treated for hypothermia, according to Lewis County Fire District 6.
•••

CORRECTION: This has been updated to correctly reflect that the sheriff’s office and aid were dispatched at the same time; and that the survivor said the initial incident took place at 11:40 a.m.

Prosecutor: Pinotti caught with heroin this summer, and again recently

Friday, January 9th, 2015
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Phillip A. Pinotti, 22, of Adna, is locked up again, now on drug charges.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The arrest on drug charges last night of 22-year-old Phillip A. Pinotti stem from a “reliable and credible source” who purchased heroin from Pinotti on an unspecified recent day while police secretly observed and also from an incident police recently told prosecutors about that occurred back in August, according to court documents.

Pinotti was free on bail, but prepared to plead guilty next week for the events of Dec. 16 when he fled as he was being arrested on a misdemeanor warrant, and was shot at by a Centralia Municipal Court security officer.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt this afternoon ordered the Adna resident held on $75,000 bail on each of the two new separate cases.

He was charged today for the August incident with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

According to charging documents, Centralia police had him and another man under surveillance as they went to Longview to purchase heroin, and subsequently impounded the vehicle and found heroin, smoking devices and a digital scale. The documents make no mention of either man getting arrested.

The documents do note law enforcement declined to allow Pinotti to work for them in consideration of potential charges.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer told Judge Hunt police sent the case to his office on Dec. 28.

Pinotti was also charged with possession of heroin and delivery of heroin, for an alleged deal that took place on an unspecified date while Pinotti was under police surveillance. The documents state only that it occurred sometime between Dec. 20 and Jan. 8.

Yesterday, he was stopped and arrested in his parent’s car and reportedly confessed he had just bought some heroin in Centralia, delivered it to a friend and pinched off a chunk for himself, charging documents state.

A brief summary of the arrest from Centralia Police Department Sgt. Jim Shannon indicates the arrest was associated with the 1500 block of South Gold Street in Centralia.

In the car, police also found a digital scale, two heroin injection kits and a police scanner, with the capability of listening to Centralia police, according to the court documents.

Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke this afternoon asked for $25,000 total in bail, noting the young man lives with his parents and has only one misdemeanor on his record, from 2009.

In asking for high bail, Prosecutor Meyer noted one issue came before the escape attempt but the other came afterward.

“After being released on bail, he continued to commit crimes,” Meyer said. “In fact, was found with heroin in his possession; I would say there are significant drug abuse issues.”

Pinotti is scheduled for arraignment next Thursday.
•••

For background, read “Charge of assault that prompted officer to shoot, dropped for Adna resident” from Thursday January 8, 2015, here

News brief: Pinotti arrested for alleged drug dealing

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Updated at 12:44 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police arrested Phillip A. Pinotti last night for possession and delivery of heroin.

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Phillip A. Pinotti,file photo

A brief summary from Sgt. Jim Shannon indicates the arrest was associated with the 1500 block of South Gold Street in Centralia, and followed a multi-agency investigation.

Pinotti yesterday saw his felony assault charge dropped by prosecutors following the investigation into the events of last month when was fired upon as he tried to escape arrest on a misdemeanor warrant. Pinotti was initially charged with first-degree assault after Centralia Municipal Court Security Officer Steve Howard said he fired one shot because Pinotti tried to hit him with his car.

The bullet missed the 22-year-old Adna resident, but shattered the driver’s side window and was found on the passenger seat of his Subaru.

Yesterday, the Lewis County prosecutor said  Pinotti wasn’t trying run down Howard; but also cleared Howard of wrongdoing in the shooting.

Pinotti is tentatively scheduled to go before a Lewis County Superior Court judge at 4 p.m. today.

Charge of assault that prompted officer to shoot, dropped for Adna resident

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County prosecutor has found Phillip A. Pinotti wasn’t trying run down a court security officer with his car last month, but also that it wasn’t criminal for the officer to fire his gun at Pinotti who was attempting to escape arrest on a misdemeanor warrant.

It was Dec. 16 when 22-year-old Pinotti was being handcuffed at the end of a hearing in Centralia Municipal Court, that he slipped away from the court security officer and ran to the next block where his car was parked.

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Phillip A. Pinotti,file photo

Pinotti’s Subaru either lurched forward or it didn’t, before he put it in reverse, drove backwards at a high rate of speed, and fled the area.

Centralia Court Security Officer Steve Howard fired one shot breaking the driver’s side window, saying he was was in fear for his safety, that the car was being used as a weapon. Pinotti survived, he wasn’t hit with the bullet, only sprayed with fragments of glass.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer who evaluated all the law enforcement reports on the events of that day indicated it’s not clear if the car lurched forward or not.

“That’s a good question,” Meyer said this morning. “Pinotti says it didn’t, Howard says it did.”

“I’m not saying either one is wrong, it’s perception.”

Prosecutors this morning dropped a first-degree assault charge against Pinotti; they reduced it to obstructing.

“We reached the conclusion yesterday there was no intent on the part of Mr. Pinotti to injure the officer,” Meyer said. “The intent was to escape.”

The Adna resident who is free on bail is scheduled to go before a judge again next week and plead guilty to obstructing, third-degree escape and tampering with evidence.

Lawyers on the two sides agree on how much time they will recommend he should be locked up, Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said.

Meyer also concluded yesterday that Howard’s use of lethal force was legal under the laws of the state of Washington and that no charges would be filed against him.

The discharge of Howard’s weapon was investigated by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

It has been customary for officer-involved shootings in Lewis County to be investigated by a multi-county shooting review team, that includes members of the sheriff’s office. And customary for the county prosecutor to review the findings and issue a decision.

Meyer said he found Howard’s actions were covered by the statute, 9A.16.040, which addresses justifiable uses of deadly force by a peace officer.

Officer Howard has a limited commission and handles courtroom security for the city. The retired California Highway Patrol officer had been working for the city for just short of four months when the incident occurred. He was placed on administrative leave pending the results of the shooting investigation.

Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg announced this morning that now that Meyer is finished with his part, an internal use of force review board will be convened.

A review panel consisting of command personnel from the Centralia Police Department and outside law enforcement will provide their findings and recommendations to the chief of police, who will decide of Howard’s actions were consistent with department policies.

“I am pleased that the first part of this investigation has been completed and await the findings and recommendations of the review panel,” Chief Berg stated in his news release.

Howard could be back on the job before the panel’s work is done, according to Berg. He can return once certain once administrative requirements have been met, according to Berg.

Separately, Meagher said the charges would be reduced for Pinotti’s four friends, accused of helping him get away and hide from police. Because Pinotti’s charge is not a felony, their charges become non-felony, he said.

While previous officer-involved shootings have been investigated by a multi-jurisdictional team, the sheriff’s office was the only agency involved in this instance, according to Meyer. The same investigation provided the information for evaluation of charges for both Pinotti and for Howard.

Meyer said he was given a presentation on Friday of what detectives found, and then yesterday he issued a letter to Police Chief Berg regarding Howard.

The 16-page memo includes summaries from eight individuals who were interviewed, plus Berg, Howard and Pinotti. Meyer said a lot of people didn’t see the entire event.

Much of the document consists of Meyer’s legal analysis and ends with his conclusion.

“This office’s role is not to determine if this chain of events could have or should have been avoided,” Meyer wrote. “Nor is it to determine how another law enforcement officer would have reacted in the same scenario.

“Rather, the role of this office is to determine if, under the law, Officer Howard should be charged with a crime.

Meyer looked over RCW 9A16.040 and concluded no charges would be filed against Howard, given that RCW 9A16.040(3) applied.

Part three reads: “A public officer or peace officer shall not be held criminally liable for using deadly force without malice and with a good faith belief that such act is justifiable pursuant to this section.”

In closing, the prosecutor noted he was not authorizing the release of any evidence in the matter, as it may be used in Pinotti’s case.

In his facts, Meyer adds to information already released. He writes that after Pinotti got into his car, he locked the door. He adds that Officer Howard gave repeated commands to Pinotti to stop and surrender.

He adds that Pinotti and other witnesses indicate Howard struck the driver’s side window with his drawn firearm, but Howard does not remember doing that.

Pinotti stated he simply put the vehicle in reverse and backed down Maple Street. Howard told detectives the car lurched toward him.

“What is not clear is how far forward the vehicle is believed to have traveled,” Meyer wrote.

Chief Berg previously said there were just two cars parked outside The Chronicle. One was Pinotti’s, and in front of that, was a vehicle belonging to Centralia attorney J.P. Enbody, according to Meyer.

Enbody was allowed to drive away before the sheriff’s detectives arrived on the scene, but detectives were able to look at photos that had been taken, according to Meyer.

The witnesses interviewed included four Chronicle employees three friends of Pinotti, who are accused of subsequently helping him hide, plus Sarah Gee who had given a ride to court that morning to one of the three.

Only Officer Howard spoke of the car lurching forward. He described it as “jerked forward.”

“Officer Howard said ‘as soon as I hear the car start my mind kinda shifted gears. I go if he starts the car and starts driving I’m going to get hit by the car. I pulled my weapon. I’m pulling my weapon and I’m yelling at him, don’t f****** do it,” Meyer wrote.

Meyer’s memo doesn’t indicate anywhere how far from the car Howard was, only that Howard had taken a position on the “driver’s side front.”

Pinotti’s statement describes Pinotti as telling detectives he sees Officer Howard, “the bailiff, security guard, whatever, is coming around the front of the hood and I see him raise his firearm at me, and states don’t do it, or I’ll f****** shoot you.”

Pinotti said he froze, then his flight instincts took over; saying he just threw it in gear in reverse and hit the gas as hard as he could.

Pinotti thought Howard had swung his gun twice into his window breaking it; he didn’t hear a gunshot and didn’t know the gun was fired until he spoke with others later, according to Meyer.

Chief Berg’s news release issued today takes the position that Officer Howard fired one shot at the vehicle “as it lurched towards him.”

Read Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer’s analysis of Officer Howard’s shooting here
•••

For background, read “Bail set at $50,000 for Adna man arrested after getaway from court officer” from Friday December 19, 2014, here

Chehalis: The water before the flood

Monday, January 5th, 2015
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The 2001 Honda Civic is parked in between the two houses n south Chehalis.  / Courtesy photo

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The flood warning for the Chehalis River around the Twin Cities is for tonight and tomorrow, but one household woke up bright and early this morning to find their cars nearly submerged in their driveway.

It was raining hard Sunday at bedtime, and had rained all day, Chehalis resident Gretchen Reyna said.

“I got up at 6 (o’clock), looked out the window and thought, ‘oh my gosh’,” Reyna said. “Yeah, it was up to the windows.”

The Pontiac she and her husband share, her 16-year-old son’s Honda Civic and her older son’s Honda were all practically under water, she said. A neighbor found their car in a similar situation, she said.

The family lives on Southwest Pacific Avenue, in the area behind Jack-in-the-Box and the Best Western Motel, off the 13th Street freeway exit. Parking lots of some of the businesses along Interstate Avenue were flooded as well, she said.

Fortunately, none of the water came into their home, a rental they just moved into a week ago. The driveway is lower than the house, she said.

“We talked to our landlady today, she said she’s been talking to the city for a long time about the storm drains,” Reyna said. “She’s livid. She’s already filed a claim.”

She was told it might have been a plugged culvert, or something similar, Reyna said.

The 39-year-old social worker who works in Olympia, said their landlady rented them a car today, so they could get to work. The family had only liability insurance on their vehicles, so it won’t be as simple as replacing them, she said.

“Obviously they’re ruined,” she said. “We’re going to try to dry them out, to see if we can salvage anything.”

The National Weather Service yesterday issued a flood watch for rivers in Western Washington, including in Lewis County, such as the upper Cowlitz River, the Newaukum River and the Chehalis River.

The alert was upgraded to a warning today. Numerous roads and streets were closed today with water over them, especially downtown Centralia.

This evening, at the Chehalis Fire Department, the crew was waiting, prepared for whatever the rising river might bring. But they’d had no weather related calls.

Some streets in Chehalis were closed, the usual ones such as Southwest Chehalis Avenue, and Kresky Avenue, Firefighter Derrick Paul said.

Firefighter Steve Emrich, whose own home is along the Chehalis River, said so far, their shift and the river have been “pretty benign.”

The weather service’s statement issued at 9:30 p.m. tonight, predicts the Chehalis River at Centralia will rise above flood stage about 9 o’clock in the morning. Emrich knows it will hit Chehalis some time before that.

The river is expected to crest near 65 feet about an hour later and then fall back below flood stage in the late morning. The peak has been revised downward by two feet since this morning’s forecast.

The results should be shallow flooding of farm lands and some roads; the roads include Airport Road, Florida Avenue in Chehalis and Military Road in Centralia, according to the weather service.

The upper Cowlitz River at Randle and Packwood appears to have crested well below flood stage.

The Newaukum River through Onalaska, Napavine and Chehalis crested this afternoon at just over 13 feet, about a half foot below its 1996 record. At least two homes on Rosebrook Road got water inside.

The Skookumchuck River at Bucoda is cresting in the “moderate” flood stage; and is forecast to crest in Centralia around 4 a.m. just below what’s considered a minor flood stage.

Monitor the changing conditions for yourself, using links always available on the right-hand sidebar of this news site under “Other useful web links. Direct from the National Weather Service.

• “Weather alerts, forecasts“: Click on the map to find your current and forecast temperature and other weather information, as well as alerts for hazardous weather conditions.

• “River levels“: Graphs show you what level your river has been at, where it’s at right now and where it is projected to be.

• Also, quickly and easily get information directly from others in the community by viewing or joining Lewis County Sirens on Facebook.

•••

For more, read “Water, water everywhere, but little damage in Centralia so far” from Monday January 5, 2015, here

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The Reyna’s Pontiac and Honda sit in their driveway.

 

Water, water everywhere, but little damage in Centralia so far

Monday, January 5th, 2015
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Lynette Brooks snapped this photo of Centralia College Boulevard just before noon today.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Despite the flooded streets in Centralia, the fire department has answered only aid calls today, except for helping with one evacuation this morning.

“We assisted some folks, who had trouble getting out of their home, because of the high water,” Riverside Fire Authority Capt. Scott Weinert said. “We drove in and helped them out, and a couple of animals, I believe.”

That was on the 600 block of North Gold Street around 8 a.m.

China Creek which runs through town overflowed its banks in numerous places, and has been the primary problem today, according to the city of Centralia. Many flooded streets were closed.

The water level seemed to be going down near the Pearl Street Fire station, Weinert said this afternoon.

“And it’s not raining now, so that’s a good sign,” Weinert said.

At Centralia City Hall, water came up through the floor, through cracks in the concrete, earlier today, according to city emergency center spokesperson detective Patty Finch.

“It’s all cleaned up, no damage, just wet carpet,” Finch said this afternoon.

The flood warning on the Skookumchuck River has been lifted, and the river is going down, Finch said.

Finch said she’s heard of some businesses downtown that got water inside, including perhaps Bethel Church she thought. Mostly in between Tower Avenue and Pearl Street, and Hanson and Magnolia streets, she said.

The Red Cross notified Finch they were called by someone who had water in their home, a basement apartment off Magnolia Street, she said.

The city’s Emergency Operations Center  is closing down at 5 p.m. and there are no current plans to reopen it, Finch said.

Finch offers this message: Citizens within the city of Centralia can call and report any water damage to homes and businesses to the city’s Community Development Department tomorrow by calling (360) 330-7662.

Paperwork for water damage can be completed over the telephone; if this incident is later determined to be a eligible for benefits, Finch states.

The Skookumchuck and the Chehalis Rivers meet up in Centralia.

A flood warning remains in effect for the Chehalis River at Centralia through tomorrow evening, according to the National Weather Service. Minor flooding is predicted for Chehalis and on downstream to Grays Harbor.

At Centralia, the river is expected to crest near 67 feet about 1 a.m. and fall below flood stage about 4 a.m., the weather service states.

“At 65 feet, the Chehalis River in Lewis County will cause shallow flooding of farm lands and some roads,” the forecasters note. “Roads include Airport Road, Florida Avenue in Chehalis and Military Road in Centralia.”

Monitor the changing conditions for yourself, using links always available on the right-hand sidebar of this news site under “Other useful web links. Direct from the National Weather Service.

• “River levels“: Graphs show you what level your river has been at, where it’s at right now and where it is projected to be.

• “Weather alerts, forecasts“: Click on the map to find your current and forecast temperature and other weather information, as well as alerts for hazardous weather conditions.

• Also, quickly and easily get information directly from others in the community by viewing or joining Lewis County Sirens on Facebook.

•••

For more, read, “Centralia officials warn motorists about standing water” from Monday January 5, 2015, here

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Water across North Pearl Street begins to recede about noon. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

Record-breaking flooding possible on Newaukum River

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Updated at 1:40 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Remember early January in 2009, when the water from flooded swamplands next to Interstate 5 near 13th Street in Chehalis spilled onto the freeway, shutting down the normally busy north-south corridor?

Anyone in the Newaukum River Valley remember the winter before, the morning of Dec. 3, 2007?

How about February 8, 1996?

Weather forecasters say snow, changing to rain late tonight in the mountains, means flooding is possible tomorrow, for some of Western Washington.

While the flood watch notes the upper Cowlitz River in Lewis County is among those at greatest risk, the prediction service’s current graph shows flooding of the Newaukum River could surpass each of those three events, by an inch or two.

The National Weather Service urges the public to stay tuned to its website for further updates.

The heavy rainfall would also lead to a moderate risk of landslides, according to the weather service.

In January 2009, the combination of water on Interstate 5 and mudslides on U.S. Highway 12 stranded large numbers of long haul truckers in places such as Mary’s Corner and near Spiffy’s restaurant south of Chehalis.

A flood watch is in place from late tonight through late tomorrow night, meaning flooding is not imminent or occurring, but people should be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued.

Information published by the weather service at 4:20 a.m. today suggests the storm’s total precipitation will probably be 3 inches to 7 inches in the Cascade and Olympic mountains.

If the forecast is correct, moderate flooding could occur on the Cowlitz River at Randle; minor flooding could occur on the Chehalis River at Centralia; and minor to moderate flooding could occur on the Skookumchuck River.

The forecasters do say an episode of widespread major flooding is unlikely. Rivers would probably crest late tomorrow and tomorrow night, they note.

The Newaukum River’s headwaters begin outside of Onalaska and the waterway winds through northern Napavine to just west of Interstate 5 where it parallels the freeway heading north to meet in Chehalis with the Chehalis River.

Dig out your rubber boots.

The current prediction is the Newaukum River could begin to spill over its banks around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning and crest around 3 p.m. at 13.67 feet.

The record was on Feb. 8, 1996 at 13.54 feet.

On Jan. 7, 2009, the river reached 13.49 feet and on Dec. 3, 2007, it crested at 13.45 feet.

Monitor the changing conditions for yourself, using links always available on the right-hand sidebar under “Other useful web links. Direct from the National Weather Service.

• “River levels“: Graphs show you what level your river has been at, where it’s at right now and where it is projected to be.

• “Weather alerts, forecasts“: Click on the map to find your current and forecast temperature and other weather information, as well as alerts for hazardous weather conditions.

•••

Note: Any neighbors around the Newaukum River Valley care to share wisdom from those previous floods?

How bad was it where you live? What did you do to get ready, or during, that worked well for you? What might you do different this time, next time?

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Newaukum River graph at 2 p.m. today. / From the National Weather Service

Transitions at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The 38th sheriff of Lewis County was sworn in yesterday, although his term won’t begin until after the clock strikes midnight tonight.

Sheriff-elect Rob Snaza was among eight elected county officials who took part in the ceremony in the Historic Courthouse in Chehalis, administered by Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey.

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Sheriff-elect Rob Snaza

His twin brother, Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza was among those observing from the filled benches.

Also attending was the new undersheriff, Capt. Wes Rethwill, who retires from the Washington State Patrol today.

The sheriff-elect has known him some 20 years. Thurston Sheriff Snaza said he used to work for Rethwill, when Rethwill headed up a countywide drug task force.

Sheriff-elect Snaza has also said he’s chosen Deputy Bruce Kimsey, to serve as his chief criminal deputy. Current Chief Criminal Deputy Gene Seiber will be doing something else in the office, Snaza has said.

Snaza, a Napavine area Republican, has said among his priorities are rooting out career criminals, continuing to run a no-frills jail and partnering with schools.

During some 20 years with the sheriff’s office, the now 49-year-old longtime sergeant has been SWAT leader and also supervisor of the  Lewis County Regional Crime Task Force.

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Sheriff Steve Mansfield

He announced his candidacy in the spring of last year, and not long afterward, was made spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, for a few months. Less than a month after he swept the August primary election, he was promoted to undersheriff.

Outgoing Sheriff Steve Mansfield was in the audience as well, and said he’d already cleaned out his office. He indicated he felt his successor was well-prepared to fill the new role.

Mansfield said he figured “they’d” probably come and get his car today, or maybe he’d drive it in, he said.

After two-plus terms as sheriff, the Winlock resident will soon step into a familiar role.

The three-member board of county commissioners yesterday selected Mansfield to manage the Department of Emergency Management.

The responsibility for the function has been with the sheriff’s office for more than a decade, and now is being handed back over to the commissioners.

Angry motorist takes baseball bat to Centralia driver’s face, truck

Monday, December 29th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 22-year-old man is recovering after a road rage incident in which he and his vehicle were both attacked by a baseball bat-wielding motorist near Centralia.

It happened about 6:15 p.m. on Saturday along the 100 block of Joppish Road, northwest of town and deputies are looking for the assailant who was driving a green compact car, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspect’s name may be Matt, detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said this morning.

The victim said he was headed west on Galvin Road when he tried to pass the green car, which at first blocked him from passing, Breen said. The victim finally did go around the car, but then it followed him and finally the victim stopped to explain he only wanted to pass, Breen said.

“I’m assuming he probably didn’t want it to follow him to his girlfriend’s house,” Breen said.

The green car’s driver got out and approached the victim’s truck, and used the bat to break its rear window and then struck the 22-year-old Centralia man in the face with it, Breen said. The 22-year-old ended up with a broken eye socket, according to the sheriff’s office.

Breen said the only description deputies got of the attacker was a white male, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a flat-billed baseball hat.

However, the victim heard a female inside the green car yelling, “Matt, stop,” Breen said.

He thought there might be others in the car, but wasn’t sure, Breen said.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information about the incident or the identity of the suspect to call them, or call Crime Stoppers of Lewis County. “Matt” is wanted for second-degree assault.

The 22-year-old drove himself to his girlfriend’s home nearby and she took him to Providence Centralia Hospital, where he was treated and has been released, Breen said.

Mineral resident sentenced to three years for baby’s injuries

Monday, December 22nd, 2014
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Llacye Faye Link, right, and her friend wipe away tears as the court hearing comes to a close.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler gave 23-year-old Kyle J. Davison three years in prison for the events more than a year ago involving his former girlfriend’s 4-month-old baby girl, a child who is severely brain damaged.

Davison made a so-called Alford plea last month to third-degree assault of a child, in the case that was at first charged straightforwardly as a “shaken baby” case.

The two lawyers agree he acted negligently when the little girl began choking while in his care, but doctors offered conflicting medical opinions, Judge Lawler told the courtroom on Friday afternoon.

“It’s that uncertainty that led to the charges being changed to assault third,” Lawler said. “There’s just no definitive answer.”

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Kyle J. Davison

Davison and the baby’s mother, Llacye Faye Link, told police he was watching her when she began choking and stopped breathing and he tried to revive the infant – by patting her back, and then he got scared and shook her – before carrying her to a neighboring apartment to get help.

It happened in Morton in October of last year. Davison is from Mineral.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead recommended to the judge that Davison be sentenced to five years, the longest amount possible, given the conviction. Defense attorney Sam Groberg asked he be sentenced to time served, which is already more a year.

Azlynne Faye Link, now 18 months old, has been home since August with her mother in Morton.

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Azlynne Faye Link

“I think the important thing the court needs to know is the injuries are lifelong,” Halstead said. “The prognosis is not good.”

The baby’s paternal grandmother spoke to the court, saying her granddaughter couldn’t speak for herself.

“She will have a lifetime of misery,” Ruth Crear told the judge. “Please do not let this go unpunished.”

Llacye Faye Link addressed the court as well, asking Lawler to release Davison.

Groberg told the judge his medical expert found after examining all the child’s medical records that before the incident, some of the hallmarks of shaken baby syndrome were present.

“What’s important is Mr. Davison didn’t do an act to harm the child, he was trying to help the child,” Groberg said. “And maybe he didn’t do it right.”

As part of the plea deal, the two sides stipulated the baby was more seriously injured than what would normally accompany a third-degree assault.

Groberg read a lengthy statement from his client, that paralleled what the defendant told police.

“I love Azlynne and Llacye with all my heart and would do nothing to hurt either of them,” Groberg read. “If I could change what happened, trust me, I would.”

Lawler signed an order prohibiting Davison from any contact with the child for five years.

“As Mr. Groberg argues, there’s no evidence of anger, there’s no evidence of malice here,” Lawler said. “Those are the reasons I’m not going to the top of the range.”
•••

For background, read “Morton “shaken baby” case resolved with plea deal” from Sunday November 23, 2014, here

Bail set at $50,000 for Adna man arrested after getaway from court officer

Friday, December 19th, 2014
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Phillip A. Pinotti sits at the defendant’s table during his bail hearing in Lewis County Superior Court.

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Twenty-two-year-old Phillip A. Pinotti was brought before a Lewis County Superior Court judge yesterday, facing three serious charges following his flight from a misdemeanor warrant arrest – and a gunshot – earlier this week in Centralia.

The left side of the Adna resident’s face was speckled with red marks, presumably from the shattered glass of his car window when a court security officer fired at him outside the Chronicle building, on West Maple Street.

A bullet was found on the front passenger seat of his blue Subaru; there was a cut in the fabric of the headliner inside the car, similar to a bullet entry point, according to court papers.

Pinotti was charged yesterday with first-degree assault, third-degree escape and tampering with evidence. He allegedly tried to run down the court security officer with his car following a short foot pursuit out of court, that ensued as he was being taken into custody, and then had friends hide his car in his own garage.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer asked a judge yesterday afternoon to hold Pinotti in jail pending trial on $200,000 bail.

Meyer noted the defendant has shown the steps he’s willing to take to avoid coming to court.

Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge she understood he would have some concerns, but that Pinotti has lived in Lewis County since he was 14 years old and has “absolutely no felony history”.

Judge Richard Brosey set bail at $50,000.

Pinotti had gone to Centralia Municipal Court on Tuesday morning on a charge of driving under the influence. While there, the judge discovered he had a warrant from Chehalis Municipal Court and ordered him taken into custody. That’s when he bolted and managed to evade police for almost 24 hours.

According to charging documents, when he was located yesterday morning at a friend’s home on Bishop Road in Chehalis, he exited the room with his hands visible, and provided Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Dan Riordan a handwritten note indicating he was sorry for the incident.

He reportedly admitted to running from the officer saying he wanted to avoid going into custody because he wanted to see his girlfriend.

Charging documents offer details about how he got away and about how he allegedly attempted to assault the court security officer using his vehicle as a weapon.

According to the allegations:

After Pinotti broke free and fled the building, Centralia Municipal Court Officer Steve Howard gave chase, across Pearl Street, west to the next block.

Pinotti’s Subaru was parked on the south side of Maple Street, next to the sidewalk outside the Chronicle, behind another car.

“As Pinotti got into his car, and the officer took position near the front driver side of the vehicle. The officer had his weapon drawn and gave Pinotti direct orders to stop. The defendant entered the vehicle.

“According to the officer, the vehicle lunged forward, and, at that time, the officer discharged his firearm.”

Pinotti placed his car in reverse, drove backwards at a high rate of speed, and fled the area.

Four of Pinotti’s friends also went before a judge yesterday afternoon, accused of helping him hide.

Eighteen-year-old Miguel V. Martinez and 22-year-old Kayla Burleson rode together with Pinotti that morning to go to court, as they all had hearings, but Burleson was sick, so she and Martinez were outside and may have witnessed the escape, according to court papers. Prosecutors indicate they met up with him in the area and then took the car, drove it to Pinotti’s in Adna and parked it in his garage.

The two, who live in Centralia, were each charged today with first-degree rendering criminal assistance and tampering with evidence.

Prosecutor Meyer asked Judge Brosey to hold Burleson on $50,000 bail, but he set it at $10,000.

“Now that I see what’s actually charged, I think that’s appropriate,” Brosey said.

Martinez’s bail was set at $50,000, the same as his bail in an ongoing case of his, because he failed to show up to a drug treatment facility in Vancouver, as ordered.

Burleson reportedly told police that when she found Pinotti, he was slumped over in the driver’s side of his car holding a towel to his face. Martinez said that was at the “penny candy” store. She told deputies he grabbed a backpack and another bag, saying he didn’t want to leave his drugs in the car, court papers state.

Detective Riordan was given information by an un-named person or persons who said Pinotti was picked up from Martinez’s home in Centralia and driven to the LaBree Road area outside Chehalis, hiding under a blanket on the floorboard of the vehicle, according to the documents.

It was just before 9 a.m. on Wednesday when Riordan knocked on the door at the 1600 block of Bishop Road and asked Jaelynn N. Pluard, 22, and her boyfriend, Krystofer M. Yates,19, where Pinotti was.

Pinotti gave himself up.

Pluard and Yates were each charged yesterday with first-degree rendering criminal assistance, and are going to be represented by private attorneys.

Meyer asked they be held on $50,000 bail, but the judge set it at a more modest $5,000 for Pluard and $10,000 unsecured for Yates.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said Yates was booked also on a drug offense, as suspected heroin was found in his wallet, but charging documents provided by the prosecutor don’t reflect any drug charge.

Centralia police and sheriff’s deputies together on Tuesday pursued tips to locate Pinotti, and charging documents suggest sheriff’s detective Riordan is the lead on investigating the alleged crimes of the five young people.

Separately, Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg said he requested the actions of court security Officer Howard be investigated by the multi-county shooting review team. The police department said primary responsibility for that would be assumed by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

It’s the third time this year a Centralia officer has fired at someone. The other two instances were fatal, one in which the suspect-victim held a knife and the other with a handgun.

They stemmed from incidents, separately, of an attempt to contact a “suspicious person” and with the the shoplifting of a burrito.

Officer Howard has a limited commission and handles courtroom security for the city. The retired California Highway Patrol officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the shooting investigation.

According to Pinotti’s criminal charging documents, Howard indicated that he fired his weapon in fear for his safety, because Pinotti’s vehicle was being used as a weapon against him.

Pinotti’s charging documents also indicate, that as Pinotti sped backwards on Maple Street heading west and away from the scene, his driver’s side window fell out of his car and was found laying on Maple Street.

In previous officer-involved shootings, Prosecutor Meyer has analyzed the findings from the multi-county shooting review team to make a decision about whether the officer’s use of deadly force was justified or criminal. In the most recent instance, Meyer said an officer must have probable cause to believe that the person “poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer.”

The next step has been for the police chief to convene an internal use of force review board, to help him conclude if the officer followed department policy.

It appears Howard drew his weapon to prevent Pinotti from driving away.

One witness who said she watched the escape from where she was parked across Maple Street from Centralia Municipal Court said she was surprised to learn later a shot was fired. She didn’t hear one, Sarah Gee of Toledo said.

“The problem is, in no way, shape or time did the kid go forward,” Gee said. “The vehicle never moved forward.”

Gee said she was sitting in her car when she saw “the kid” pull away from the court security officer, through the glass doors of the municipal building.

The 25-year-old said she watched who she later learned was Pinotti run outside, at first into the street, then back to the sidewalk and then down the block to the north side of the Chronicle building, with the guard following.

Gee said she stepped out of her car and watched.

“I could hear a commotion, but I couldn’t see, because the first car blocked my view,” she said of the vehicle parked in front of the Subaru.

Next, she saw “the kid” at his driver’s door and the officer standing in the middle of the street, she said.

She described the officer as taking a “drawing stance” and pointing his gun at the car.

“I saw the kid speed down the middle of the road backwards,” she said. “And flip into the Rollerdrome lot and take off.”

Gee said she had given Jaelynn Pluard a ride to court that morning, and was just waiting for her outside. They left after 10 or 15 minutes, she said. She said she doesn’t know Pinotti.
•••

For background, read “Five jailed in connection with Pinotti’s attempt to stay out of jail” from Thursday December 18, 2014, here

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The view looking west on Maple Street, outside the Centralia municipal building toward the Chronicle.

Local sellers on Facebook robbed of items by “customers”

Friday, December 19th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Four young people have been arrested after two instances of “buyers” snatching and running off with items from individuals selling through Facebook.

A 20-year-old woman who arranged to meet up with a purported buyer at W.F. West High School after dark on Monday night lost a gold necklace and matching bracelet to a male she only knew as “Tyler Frank Best”.

The night before, a 16-year-old boy was going to sell  a bicycle frame to an acquaintance on Southwest Chehalis Avenue, when a male he did not know approached him, grabbed the bike and threatened him with brass knuckles.

In both cases, the victims noticed a white car nearby, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Officers suspected 19-year-old Andrew Gastfield was involved as that was who the 16-year-old boy intended to meet near Thorkbekes, according to police. And the boy said after the incident, he followed the male through a field and saw him put the bike in the white car; and also saw Gastfield was one of two or three other people in the vehicle as it passed, according to court documents.

By Tuesday night, Chehalis Officer Matt McKnight had set up a Facebook account under a fictitious name, and arranged to meet Gastfield to purchase a cell phone, according to police.

Charging documents say police waited in Wal-Mart’s parking lot. Detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said the meet took place at K-Mart.

Gastfield said he’d be in a white T-Bird and when it arrived, officers arrested a 16-year-old girl, a 17-year-old boy, 19-year-old Gastfield, and the driver, 24-year-old Matthew B. Meyer, according to authorities.

Charges of robbery and theft are pending for each of them, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Said Wilson: “I want people to be leery of these meetings.”

“Meet in a well lit, if not daylight, at least crowded, places,” he said.

When McKnight searched Gastfield, he found in his pocket a yellow gold necklace and matching bracelet, according to court documents; and in Meyer’s car, police found a set of brass knuckles.

Not all of the suspects were booked that night, and not all of them were present at each of the two robberies, according to Wilson. But he suspected if they’d have continued, someone would have gotten hurt.

“They were starting to have fun with it,” he said. “(And eventually), either they’re going to do something, or they’re going to meet up with the wrong person.”

Five jailed in connection with Pinotti’s attempt to stay out of jail

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Four young people are now locked up for reportedly helping hide the 22-year-old Adna man, who drew gunfire from an officer as he fled arrest for a misdemeanor warrant in Centralia.

Phillip A. Pinotti faces a first-degree assault charge for allegedly trying to run down a court security officer with his car following a short foot pursuit out of Centralia Municipal Court on Tuesday morning.

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Phillip A. Pinotti

The driver’s side window of Pinotti’s blue Subaru was shattered, but Pinotti’s injuries were limited to cuts on his face from the glass, according to authorities. He sped away and while his car was located that afternoon inside his garage in Adna, he wasn’t found until yesterday morning, at a residence on Bishop Road in Chehalis.

Deputies yesterday morning also arrested the resident of the home, Krystofer M. Yates, 19, and Yates’ girlfriend, Jaelynn N. Pluard, 22, who allegedly hid Pinotti. Both were booked into the Lewis County Jail for rendering criminal assistance.

Yates was additionally booked on a drug offense, as suspected heroin was found in his wallet, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

How and when Pinotti got to Bishop Road is unclear. Where he was for almost 24 hours is unknown.

But court documents give some ideas of how he managed to get out of Centralia and evade multiple officers who converged following the morning incident on West Maple Street – which took place between Centralia City Hall, where both the municipal court and police department are housed, and the next block to the west outside The Chronicle building.

Two of Pinotti’s Centralia friends were arrested the same afternoon at his home, also for rendering criminal assistance.

Eighteen-year-old Miguel V. Martinez and 22-year-old Kayla Burleson gave varying versions to law enforcement officers of what transpired.

One version has Tuesday morning beginning with the three of them driving together in Pinotti’s car to Centralia, as they all had court.

Martinez and Burleson appeared in Lewis County Superior Court before a judge yesterday afternoon  but no charges were filed. Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher asked the judge to continue to hold them in jail because the investigation was not complete.

Centralia Municipal Court security Officer Steve Howard was’t scheduled until this morning to be interview by detectives about his role, Meagher told the judge. Police Chief Bob Berg has said Officer Howard fired one shot, and it entered the vehicle.

Meagher’s declaration of probable cause to hold the pair, offered some details about the time period immediately following the escape from court.

It appears Burleson was sick and vomiting and didn’t attend her court hearing, but she and Martinez were across a parking lot in an alley just north of the Chronicle, according to the document.

The two either did or did not see Pinotti entering his vehicle and fleeing, but Martinez said they walked to the penny candy store north of there and met up with Pinotti, according to the document.

Martinez said he drove the car with Burleson in it to Adna, the document states.

Pinotti and his four friends are all scheduled to appear this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court, to face whatever charges are filed.
•••

For background, read “Adna resident wanted for attempt to run down court officer located in Chehalis” from Wednesday December 17, 2014, here

Adna resident wanted for attempt to run down court officer located in Chehalis

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 22-year-old Adna man who fled an attempted misdemeanor warrant arrest in Centralia yesterday – and was shot at – was found hiding at a friend’s home in Chehalis this morning.

Deputies got a tip this morning that Phillip A. Pinotti could be found at a residence on the 1600 block of Bishop Road and just before 9 a.m. they arrested him without incident, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Pinotti was not not struck or injured from the shooting, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. But he did have injuries to his face from when the glass in his vehicle’s window broke, Brown said.

Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg said yesterday his court security officer fired one round at Pinotti’s car when Pinotti reportedly drove toward him, after a foot chase of about one block west from Centralia City Hall.

Pinotti had come there for court for arraignment on a DUI and learned he had a warrant from Chehalis Municipal Court because he failed to appear in court after a third-degree theft arrest. He slipped away as court security Officer Steve Howard was handcuffing him, according to police.

Law enforcement officers searching for Pinotti found his vehicle yesterday hidden in the garage at his home on Clinton Road in Adna. Two individuals contacted there were arrested for rendering criminal assistance. This morning, deputies arrested the young woman who let him stay at the home on Bishop Road for the same offense.

Jaelynn N. Pluard, 22, knew law enforcement was actively searching for Pinotti, but hid him anyway, according to Brown.

Brown said Pluard is from Centralia and was staying at Bishop Road; Brown didn’t know who that residence belonged to.

According to Brown, Pinotti had help yesterday from 18-year-old Miguel V. Martinez and 22-year-old Kayla Burleson. They both admitted they helped Pinotti take his vehicle from the area and drive it back to Adna, Brown said.

The two, who are from Centralia, initially told police yesterday they knew nothing, according to Brown, but eventually it was determined they had witnessed him flee court.

The sheriff’s office says Pinotti will be booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree escape and for first-degree assault, for attempting to run over the court officer while fleeing.
•••

For background, read: “Shot fired by officer, misdemeanor defendant flees court to avoid jail” from Tuesday December 16, 2014, here

Shot fired by officer, misdemeanor defendant flees court to avoid jail

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
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Sheriff’s deputies wait for a search warrant after finding suspect’s car at his rural Chehalis home.

Updated at 3:54 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Police are looking for a 22-year-old man who sped away after a court security officer fired a round into his driver’s window this morning near Centralia City Hall.

Phillip A. Pinotti was being taken into custody at Centralia Municipal Court when he slipped away from the officer, ran down the street, got into a car and apparently drove toward the officer, according to the Centralia Police Department.

“We do not know if the individual was hit,” Police Chief Bob Berg said, meaning the escapee.

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Phillip A. Pinotti

That took place just before 10 a.m.

At about 1 p.m., Pinotti’s sport utility vehicle was found in the garage of his residence on Clinton Road in Adna. But Pinotti was not there.

“There were two individuals at the house, we’re talking to them now,” Lewis County Undersheriff Rob Snaza said as deputies waited for a search warrant.

Pinotti is now wanted for first-degree assault and felony escape, according to Berg.

Berg said he asked the sheriff’s office to investigate because it involved one of his own employees.

Several patrol vehicles from both the sheriff’s office and the Centralia Police Department were at the scene on the 200 block of Clinton Road this afternoon. The roadway was blocked by a trooper, at state Route 6, about five miles west of Chehalis.

Snaza said he believes the home belongs to Pinotti’s parents, but they were not present.

“We’re continuing our investigation, and following leads,” Snaza said.

According to Berg, Pinotti came to court this morning for an arraignment on a charge of driving under the influence. The judge noticed he was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant for failing to appear in Chehalis Municipal Court, in connection with a third-degree theft, Berg said.

The judge ordered court security Officer Steve Howard to take Pinotti into custody for the Chehalis warrant, which he began to do just outside the courtroom, according to the chief.

“As officer Howard is handcuffing him, that’s when he bolts,” Berg said. “He’s running down the street, with officer Howard in pursuit.”

Berg said they ran west to the next block, and Pinotti got into a dark blue sport utility vehicle parked on Maple Street next to the The Chronicle.

“According to the officer, the individual gets in the car, starts it, puts the car in drive and comes toward the officer,” Berg said.

The court security officer advised him to stop, but he didn’t, according to police.

Officer Howard fired one shot, Berg said.

The vehicle backed down the street, into the drive at the Centralia Rollerdrome, and headed away.

“He drove away at a very high rate of speed,” Berg said. “The last I saw, he turned at the stop sign.”

The street was closed for about an hour, he said.

Berg said they found a casing but not the bullet, so they know the bullet entered the car. They believe it shattered the driver’s side window. It’s unknown if Pinotti was struck by the bullet or injured.

Officer Howard has a limited commission and handles courtroom security for the city, according to Berg. He is a retired California Highway Patrol officer.

Centralia Police Department spokesperson Officer Patty Finch indicates Howard has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

The shooting incident will be investigated by the multi-county shooting review team with primary responsibility assumed by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, according to Finch.

It’s the third time a Centralia officer has fired at someone this year. The other two instances were fatal.

Berg was confident Pinotti would be located. His criminal history is not extensive or violent, he said.

“He knows we know who he is, I think he just made an extremely poor decision,” Berg said. “Fight or flight.”

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Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg describes how the wanted man fled outside Centralia City Hall on West Maple Street this morning.