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Vader man gets 34 years for toddler death

Friday, September 25th, 2015
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Danny A. Wing watches as Jasper’s mother prepares to leave the courtroom following his sentencing hearing.

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Danny Wing was ready to be sentenced today.

For his role in the abuse, neglect and death of a 3-year-old boy he and his wife took into their family last summer.

His lawyer argued for far less time than prosecutors requested, and even made a winning argument that prosecutors should give his client another polygraph test before concluding Wing violated their plea agreement.

“My client knew the parents of Jasper would be in the courtroom today,” Vancouver defense attorney Todd Pascoe said. “He knew I would make this argument. He wants to proceed as if I’d never raised this issue.”

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Jasper Henderling-Warner

Wing, 27, has been held in the Lewis County Jail since last autumn, as has his wife, charged following the death of Jasper Henderling-Warner.

Firefighters and deputies responding the evening of Oct. 5 to a 911 call from the Wing’s new home in Vader, found CPR was underway. The toddler was revived, but died at Providence Centralia Hospital, according to prosecutors.

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

Prosecutors initially charged the couple with homicide by abuse or, in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter; each of the two were charged as either the principal or accomplice.

Conflicting stories and an inability to figure out just what occurred led to deals with the Wings this past spring which required them to truthfully describe what occurred, in exchange for guilty pleas and convictions on first-degree manslaughter and recommendations they be locked up for about 16 years.

But Danny Wing didn’t pass the lie detector test, and today in Lewis County Superior Court, prosecutors asked for an exceptional sentence beyond the standard range, citing the so-called enhancements that allowed it; that the victim was a member of his household, and that Wing abused a position of trust on a particularly vulnerable victim.

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Brenda A. Wing

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead described what investigators learned. Wing’s lawyer spoke of cooperation from his client and other reasons for a standard sentence.

After hearing from Jasper’s mother, his father and a Vader firefighter who was part of the huge aid response that tried to save the child’s life, and vowed to speak forever for the little boy who was silenced, Judge Nelson Hunt imposed a sentence of a little longer than 34 and a half years.

The judge called it an incredible story of horror and suffering inflicted.

“The top of the range for the crime that was actually committed here, is what I’m going to go with,” Hunt said.

Between the statements from Halstead, and those of Pascoe, a clearer picture emerged of Jasper’s last 64 days on this earth.

Jasper’s 21-year-old mother Nikki Warner had given the couple temporary custody last summer – at the end of July – while she was homeless and looked for work out of state.

Warner, who lived in the Vancouver area, and Danny Wing were loosely related in a foster family scenario although they’d only recently met each other.

The married couple had three children of their own.

Both lawyers told the judge they did not believe the Wings set out to kill Jasper or intended for him to die.

It started on the return home from a beach trip to Oregon, Halstead said.

Brenda Wing told her husband Jasper had placed his hands over Danny Jr.’s mouth, he said, noting that turned out to be a lie.

“This set off Danny, he struck Jasper quite a few times in the back of the van as they left,” Halstead said.

The beating left the little boy with injuries to his lip and nose, according to Halstead.

The senior deputy prosecutor went on to describe the Wings as heavy heroin users without a stable home, moving from hotel to hotel.

“One of the ways the Wings decided to treat the bruises was to put hot wash cloths on them,” he said. “We all know people on drugs don’t always think rationally.”

Then they spent hours blowing a hair dryer onto the bruises, causing a massive burn one-third the length of Jasper’s upper thigh, he said.

Danny pulled the scab off, Jasper at this time was crawling around in diapers; he contracted MRSA, Halstead said.

The little boy was being hit and conditioned until he would say someone else had been harming him, he said.

“We know now one of the reasons they did not seek help is they’d had prior contact with CPS,” Halstead said. “They didn’t want CPS coming to see the kids.”

Defense attorney Pascoe spoke of a glowing report from CPS about the family, “I think it was July 1,” he said.

He spoke of the Wings love for their children and the “Cinderella affect”.

They should have given Jasper back to his mother, or taken him to the hospital, or accepted help that was offered, Pascoe said. But they didn’t.

“At the root was fear of separation from their own children,” he said.

Halstead told the judge that Jasper’s mother and the Wings had actually written out an agreement, that included that she could visit her son whenever she wanted.

“Nikki had her own personal issues she was taking care of,” he said.

She tried to see Jasper during this time, he said.

“Every time, she was denied,” he said. “She didn’t understand why.”

“Come to find out, of course, her son was slowly dying at the hands of the Wings,” he said. “She never saw her son again.”

Eventually the couple moved to the house in Vader, about two weeks before Jasper’s death, according to Halstead.

He continued to recite what the investigation and interviews revealed.

“They put makeup on him so they could go out in public,” he said.

In the end, the toddler was not eating, not drinking, was basically non-responsive and having seizures, he said.

The last week of his life he lay on the floor in a blanket, and they would periodically check on him to make sure he was still alive, Halstead said.

Halstead, with Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer beside him, told the judge the state thought long and hard about the penalty. They considered the senselessness, the couple’s attempts to blame others and the length of time Jasper suffered.

They asked that Danny Wing be sent to prison for 55 years.

Judge Hunt asked the lawyers to tell him the standard sentencing ranges that would apply for first-degree murder, for second-degree murder and for homicide by abuse.

Among the many gathered in the Chehalis courtroom was Vader’s Assistant Fire Chief Ruth Crear.

“He won’t go to school, get married, he won’t get to do anything,” Crear said. “And that man gets to still breathe.”

Casey Henderling told the judge he agreed with the prosecutors’ recommendation.

“I don’t think 15 years is even close,” he said. “They chose to kill and torture my son.”

Jasper’s mother read from a lengthy letter about the loss of the child she gave birth to at age 17.

She told of a handsome, bright boy who loved all animals and insects and whose favorite foods were Gummy hot dogs and real hot dogs.

“I did the best I could for him, then came to a point where my surroundings were no longer good for Jasper,” Warner said. “The Wings, I thought, were a regular married family with three kids.

“Brenda told me she would decorate his room with Ninja Turtles.”

She said she couldn’t understand how fully grown adults could torture a 3-year-old and how she hoped their children, for their sake, would never find out what their parents did.

“I wish you a painful, violent and slow death in prison,” Warner said.

Pascoe offered reasons he felt the judge could consider a 15-year sentence noting his client was the first of the two to take responsibility; that he turned over records and even a cell phone to investigators, without deleting its messages.

He read to the judge letters from Danny Wing’s mother, a jail chaplain and a fellow inmate who described Wing discovering a sincere desire to serve God. And he made mention of seeing an eerie parallel between Wing as a baby and Jasper as he read passages about CPS concerns from late 1998.

Danny Wing was the last to address the court.

He told the judge that whether he got 50 years or 15, he plans to teach others what drugs can cause.

“I’m not asking for leniency,” he said. “I’m really sorry; I know that doesn’t make up for what they lost.”

Wing was also given 48 months for third-degree child assault, which he also pleaded guilty to in March. The time will be served concurrent with the other.

Brenda Wing’s sentencing was also scheduled for today, but postponed because of a technical issue with materials handed over to her attorney on a CD. The lawyer couldn’t open up the CD to read it, according to Prosecutor Meyer.
•••

For background, read “Coroner: Ongoing physical abuse led to Vader toddler’s death” from Friday November 7, 2014, here

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Prosecutors and a victim advocate stand with Nikki Warner as she addresses the court about the loss of her 3-year-old son.

 

Prosecutor: Vader couple broke their agreement to tell truth about toddler death

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County prosecutor is claiming a Vader couple didn’t hold up their end of the deal in a plea agreement that allowed them to admit to manslaughter instead of facing a more serious charge, but wants them to be sentenced for manslaughter anyhow, and face much more prison time.

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Danny Wing

Danny and Brenda Wing, both 27, have both been held in the Lewis County Jail since their arrest late last year in the death of  3-year-old Jasper Henderling-Warner who was living with their family.

Each of the two have pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and third-degree child assault. In exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of homicide by abuse, the couple promised to share information with authorities and undergo polygraph examinations.

Jasper died last Oct. 5. from what the coroner labeled chronic battered child syndrome. His 21-year-old mother had given the couple temporary custody last summer while she was homeless and looked for work out of state.

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Brenda A. Wing

Prosecutors filed motions last Friday, and Monday, asking the court to find the Wings violated the plea agreement and the state wants to make sure the agreement is enforced. Prosecutors want to add back into the case so-called enhancements and seek exceptional sentences.

Had the Wings done what they said they would, prosecutors agreed they would face standard sentencing ranges of between 146 months and 194 months in prison.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said Brenda Wing admitted some information she gave was a lie. And her husband withheld information in three of four areas, he said.

The idea was for prosecutors to find out the details of Jasper’s death, so they could hold everyone accountable who needed to be held accountable, Meyer said today.

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Jasper Henderling-Warner

The Wings were initially charged on Nov. 7 with homicide by abuse or, in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter, two crimes with widely different penalties. Each of the two were charged as either the principal or accomplice.

Their sentencing hearings are currently on the court schedule for tomorrow, in Lewis County Superior Court, at 9 a.m. for him and 1:30 p.m. for her.

Brenda Wing’s lawyer John Crowley has asked for the hearing to be postponed. Yesterday, prosecutors filed a response to the defense motion.
•••

For background, read, “Despite convictions, investigation still underway in death of 3-year-old Vader boy last year” from Friday August 21, 2015, here

Charging decision expected soon in Onalaska triple fatality wreck

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The lawyer for the driver who survived a head-on crash that killed three teenagers in Onalaska this summer still hasn’t seen the final accident report, even though his client is involved in a case for allegedly driving under the influence that night.

But the report should finally be available soon, according to Centralia defense attorney J.O. Enbody.

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State Route 508 on July 13, 2015

Joseph W. Rogerson, 36, of Chehalis, appeared before a judge today for a hearing in Lewis County District Court in Chehalis.

Enbody told the judge he’d like to set over the hearing for two weeks. He said Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher asked him to make the request, while prosecutors work on their decision whether to charge Rogerson with a felony.

The parties have been waiting for the report from an investigative team from the Washington State Patrol.

Three teenagers died from the July 13 wreck on state Route 508. The initial report indicated both vehicles crossed the centerline.

Rogerson and his wife were traveling westbound in a Ford Freestar minivan. Eight teenagers were traveling the other direction in a Land Rover Discovery when the vehicles met up near Hyak Road, only two of them were wearing seat belts, according to initial reports.

Dead at the scene were the Land Rover’s driver, Arnold W. Mullinax, 17, and Taylor N. Thompson, 13, both from Onalaska. Dakota L. Dunivin, 18, from Chehalis, died the following day at the hospital.

Most of the young people either attended Onalaska schools, or had in the past.

Depending on the information in the accident report, Enbody knows his client could be facing charges such as vehicular assault and vehicular homicide.

Rogerson’s DUI case has not progressed very far, because of the possibility prosecutors could file those charges in Lewis County Superior Court, on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center.

Enbody and Rogerson are just waiting. And a decision is expected soon.

“If it’s good news, we’ll deal with a DUI down here,” Enbody said. “If it’s bad news, we’ll deal with it upstairs.”

Rogerson has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence.

He told a deputy he’d had a beer about five hours before the wreck, and declined a portable breath test, but was taken to the hospital to have his blood drawn for testing.

The initial accident report does not include his blood alcohol level.

Among his conditions of release are that he may not drive without an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle. He may not consume any alcohol and is wearing a court-ordered alcohol monitor bracelet which will detect if he does.

Enbody told Judge R.W. Buzzard this afternoon his client has gotten a drug and alcohol evaluation. He also said Rogerson has 100 percent compliance with the bracelet and requested its removal, in part because of financial considerations.

Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Blye said the state opposed the removal. Judge Buzzard didn’t grant the request.

Today’s hearing was then postponed for two weeks.
•••

For background, read “Surviving driver from fatal Onalaska wreck ordered to wear alcohol monitor while case pending” from Friday July 17, 2015, here

Cougar removed from Grand Mound family’s tree

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015
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Deputy Steve Hamilton poses with the young adult female after she is tranquilized. / Courtesy photo by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Wildlife officers captured a cougar yesterday that was discovered in a tree in the front yard of a Grand Mound area residence.

The big cat was about 12 feet up in a Douglas fir, just south of 183rd Avenue Southwest, a few miles east of Interstate 5.

Monique Hibberd, who works nights at a casino, said her husband woke her at about 11:30 a.m.

“My husband was so excited, he said, ‘there’s a lion in our tree’,” she said. “I go, ‘you mean, a cougar’? He’s like, ‘I don’t know. It’s huge.’ ”

So Hibberd went outside near her car, to take a look.

“I could see her face, she was pretty,” she said. “So we just backed out, and called 911.”

The couple stayed inside their house and watched while a team that included a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy and officers with the Department of Fish and Wildlife took care of it.

“They were so good, so gentle with her,” Hibberd said.

The cougar was shot with a tranquilizer dart and after waiting for it to take effect, an officer put a ladder against the trunk, to coax the cougar down, Hibberd said.

The Hibberds were told it was somewhat out of the ordinary for the animal to be found where it was, inside a fenced yard with no livestock.

“The deputy did say there’d been sightings on Danby,” he said.

They think their dogs treed the cougar, as they had been barking, she said.

The young adult female was put into a trailer and taken away to the forest, according to the Thurston County Sherif’s Office.

“The best part is knowing she had a good outcome,” Hibberd said. “The best part is knowing she is able to be released out onto the land.”

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Wildlife officers load female cougar into trailer so she can be taken out into the forest. / Courtesy photo by Dave Hibberd

 

Centralia woman arrested for the child assaults she blamed on her grown daughter

Thursday, September 17th, 2015
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Victoria A. Cheney looks back to the benches in the courtroom as attorneys discuss her bail in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – After weeks of investigating how two little boys ended up bruised and swollen, and arresting and then releasing the girlfriend of their father, authorities arrested the girlfriend’s mother.

Victoria A. Cheney, 44, of Centralia, was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with  two counts of second-degree child assault.

Authorities came to believe the injuries occurred on July 22, while the children, ages 2 and 3, were staying with Cheney and her husband at their home on Little Hanaford Road, according to court papers.

Cheney’s daughter, 22-year-old Chandra M. Munsey, was arrested on July 23 and charged in the case, but prosecutors have since dismissed the charges against her after numerous interviews confirmed her alibi, according to the documents.

The boys stayed a few nights at the Cheney’s, and when their dad Casiano Baldovinos got a phone call telling him to come pick them up, he found both with bruises on their faces, the little one’s left eye almost swollen shut, according to court documents. He reported it to the sheriff’s office.

The boys were taken into protective custody and remain in foster care, the sheriff’s office said yesterday.

Charging documents allege Cheney gave varying accounts of what happened or may have happened, blaming her daughter and describing abusive behavior she said she’d witnessed.

Her husband Don Cheney said he saw the injuries when he returned home from work on July 22.

Cheney is charged also with three counts of witness tampering, as she told detectives she wasn’t even home the day the boys were assaulted, she’d gone to visit friends in Bucoda early that morning and came home to discover the injuries. The friends told detectives Cheney arrived around 1 p.m. and she allegedly asked them to tell detectives she’d shown up much earlier, according to the documents.

She also allegedly asked one of them to write a letter saying he’d witnessed Munsey assault the children.

Detectives spoke to the 3-year-old twice, and when he was asked who hurt him and his brother, both times he said “Grandma Vicky,” according to the documents.

Cheney is also charged with malicious prosecution, for attempting to incriminate her daughter.

“Based upon the investigation, it appears the only person who was with the victims during the time they were assaulted was Mrs. Cheney,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wrote in charging papers.

When she went before a judge yesterday afternoon for a bail hearing, defense attorney Joely O’Rourke argued for lower bail, noting Cheney had a felony case in 2014, but her other history with the law was much older.

While she is currently unemployed, O’Rourke said, it was just two years ago Cheney worked for the county, driving a dump truck and snow plows. She’s a life long Lewis County resident, O’Rourke said.

Judge Richard Brosey set her bail at $100,000, and gave her a court appointed lawyer.

Her arraignment is scheduled for next Thursday.
•••

For background, read “Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigating child assault, one arrested” from Tuesday July 28, 2015, here

Winlock man confessed to trying to kill former girlfriend, gets 18 plus years

Thursday, September 17th, 2015
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Joseph M. Lowery looks over court documents with his lawyer at his sentencing hearing yesterday.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The prison sentence he was given is almost as long as he is old.

Before the judge made the decision, Joseph M. Lowery, the 20-year-old who grew up in Winlock, turned toward his ex-girlfriend sitting in the very back of the courtroom and apologized for shooting her in the back.

“I hope you recover to the best of your abilities,” Lowery said. “I’m sorry for what I did, you didn’t deserve it. I truly am.”

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Joseph M. Lowery

Shyann Gallimore, also 20, and also a resident of the small South Lewis County town, chose not to make a statement to the court.

Lowery was arrested in July after the shooting on the outskirts of Winolequa Park in Winlock.

Prosecutors said Lowery and a 16-year-old boy found Gallimore on a Saturday evening; she was alone, sitting next to a stream and talking on her phone with a friend she’d asked to pick her up.

Authorities said Lowery leaned into some bushes from some 50 feet away and took aim with a 22 caliber pistol, pulled the trigger and then ran off.

“She underwent a procedure to have the bullet removed,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said. “She won’t know what the long term consequences are until time passes.”

Halstead told the judge, yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, the defendant made a full confession.

He was cooperative with the sheriff’s office, going through a videotaped reenactment of what transpired, defense attorney David Arcuri said.

“What I thought was most striking, was the matter of fact, honest way Mr. Lowery just admitted it,” Arcuri said.

His client was contrite from the beginning, Arcuri said.

Lowery pleaded guilty last week to attempted first-degree murder. As part of the plea deal, Halstead dropped a firearm enhancement, which would have added five years to the sentence.

Halstead and Arcuri both recommended to the judge he be given 220 months – 18 years and four months.

Judge Richard Brosey agreed.

Before Lowery was taken back down to the jail, Brosey ordered him to have no contact for life with the victim. He also gave him three years of supervision following his release from prison.

Lowery’s mother and other family members were in the audience during yesterday’s hearing, but declined to comment.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office in its investigation conveyed to prosecutors Lowery had grown tired of his former girlfriend disrespecting the “Juggalo family.” They said he identified himself as a Juggalo, a name for fans of performance artists called the Insane Clown Posse.

Arcuri after the hearing said he wouldn’t discuss what he understood to be the reason his client did what he did.
•••

For background, read “Prosecutors: Winlock park shooter grew tired of ex-girlfriend disrespecting gang” from Tuesday July 21, 2015, here

Chehalis parking tickets out of step with Washington courts

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The city of Chehalis discovered it’s been assessing a delinquent penalty after only 72 hours on parking tickets even though a state court rule say cities must allow recipients a 15 day grace period.

The fee for not responding timely to a parking infraction is $25.

Chehalis Municipal Court Administrator Becky Fox said a review in July of legislative changes and the city’s ordinance is what brought it to her attention.

Fox said since learning the city was out of compliance, they have not charged people the delinquent fee until the appropriate amount of time has passed.

The issue was brought before the city council last night, which voted to revise its ordinance to bring it into line with what is required. Fox said they have an approved and updated form now, ready to use.

A standard parking ticket is $5, according to Fox. Certain types are more, she said.

The Washington State Court Rules Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction provide that a person served with a notice of infraction must respond within 15 days of the date the notice is personally served or, if the notice is served by mail, then within 18 days of the date the notice is mailed.

Fox said she doesn’t know how much the city has collected from those who were penalized even though they responded within 15 days. She said she’s not certain how long the city has been out of compliance.

There are no plans to reimburse anyone.

The city contends its local ordinance trumped state court rules and there was nothing incorrect or illegal about the way it imposed charges or penalties.

The memo to the city council about the issue, from Fox and Police Chief Glenn Schaffer, reported the parking infraction form being used was also out of compliance because it had not been reviewed by the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts.

The new ordinance passed unanimously last night by the city council. The council suspended the usual requirement for two readings – two subsequent votes – on the measure.

The Washington State Court Rules’ IRLJ govern the procedure in courts of limited jurisdiction – municipal courts and district courts – for all cases involving infractions. Infractions are noncriminal violations of law defined by statute.

The newly adopted city ordinance also added a prohibition against one vehicle taking up two parking spaces.

Investigation into double fatality Highway 12 crash continues

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Updated at 7:28 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 39-year-old woman and a 13-year-old boy died yesterday when the car they were traveling in was rear-ended and shoved into the opposite lane of U.S. Highway 12 in East Lewis County.

The 2000 Dodge Stratus was hit by an oncoming pickup truck pulling a camp trailer.

It happened about 9:40 a.m. at the entrance to Cascade Peaks Campground about seven miles east of Randle, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The man who was driving the car, Jeremy W. Denniston, 37, from Randle, was taken to Tacoma General Hospital and remained in critical condition this evening.

The collision is blamed on inattention by the 79-year-old driver of the semi truck, from Nevada – behind the wheel of a 2014 Kenworth with two unloaded trailers, according to the state patrol.

State Patrol Sgt. Mike Cournyer indicates the investigation would continue today, with the names of the victims to be released when their identities are confirmed.

The wreck shut down the highway in both directions until about 4:30 p.m.

According to troopers, the eastbound car was stopped to make a left turn into the campground. The semi truck behind it failed to slow and struck the rear of the car, forcing it into the westbound lane, where it was hit by the 2011 Ford F350 pickup pulling a trailer, according to the state patrol.

The pickup’s passenger, Cheryl L. Kinder, 69, from Astoria, was transported to Morton General Hospital with minor injuries, according to Sgt. Cournyer. The driver, Lewis H. Kinder, 68, also of Astoria, was reportedly unhurt.

The other passengers of the car, Kerri M. Denniston, 39, and the teenager, are also from Randle, according to the state patrol.

The semi driver, Arthur H. Harrison, 79, of Laughlin, Nevada, was also reportedly uninjured. Potential charges are pending, the investigating trooper reports.

All the vehicles were described as totaled.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office arrests man in Dallas for long-distance sexploitation of local teen

Sunday, September 6th, 2015
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•••

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Texas man who allegedly engaged in an online sexual relationship with a 14-year-old Lewis County boy is jailed following his arrest on a $100,000 warrant.

The case was investigated last summer, charges were filed in June and law enforcement traveled to Dallas last week to pick up 31-year-old Lavon S. Sellers.

Sellers’ arraignment is scheduled for Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

The teen was interviewed in August 2014 after his parents discovered the long distance romantic relationship over the phone and the Internet.

According to charging documents, the boy told a deputy he’d met Sellers a few weeks prior on a site called “Hot or Not” and the two communicated using KiK Messenger and Skype.

The boy said he’d initially told Sellers he was 16 but later confided he was actually 14. Sellers allegedly had plans to come to Washington and take the boy to Seattle, with a plan in which the teen would tell his parents he was staying with a friend.

Charging documents say deputies responded to the family home for a prescription drug overdose emergency after the boy was caught once more Skyping with Sellers after being ordered by his father not to.

It wasn’t until February of this year that the sheriff’s office confirmed one of the phones taken into evidence had images substantiating child exploitation, according to the court documents.

Sellers is charged with four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, four counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes and one count of luring.

When he appeared before a judge on Thursday, Sellers’ temporary defense attorney said he worked at a foundry in Dallas – until his arrest – and had no criminal history.

The judge decided his bail should be $100,000, the same amount as the arrest warrant.

News brief: Fire destroys Onalaska garage

Sunday, September 6th, 2015
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The site of the former garage. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 6

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Members of three fire departments responding just before 11 o’clock this morning to a structure fire in Onalaska found a detached garage fully engulfed in flames.

“Quick action from arriving crews kept damage to the house at a minimum, with the majority of (that) damage affecting the exterior of the structure,” Lewis County Fire District 6 Firefighter DJ Hammer said in a news release.

It happened at the 100 block of Hoyt Road.

Hammer described the garage as a total loss, and noted he was unaware of any injuries.

A fire investigator is looking into the cause.

Chehalis: Peaceful panhandling permitted, just nowhere near storefronts or most-traveled areas

Friday, September 4th, 2015
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The busy retail area on the west side of Interstate 5 in Chehalis is virtually off limits for panhandling, begging or soliciting.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Those who stand on the corners of busy Chehalis intersections asking for money – typically with a handwritten cardboard sign declaring their need – may need to relocate to a quieter part of town if they want to avoid a fine.

Those whose begging practices include getting up close and personal with their targets, or even fibbing about their bad luck situation, need to take heed as well.

A new law went into effect on Wednesday, heavily curtailing panhandling inside the city limits of Chehalis.

The ordinance was passed by the city council last week. It basically puts off limits all of Chamber of Commerce Way, the arterial that takes shoppers over Interstate 5 at the north end of town to the roughly one mile north-south stretch that is home to Wal-Mart, the Twin City Town Center and other businesses. The activity is essentially banned as well all along that retail strip of Northwest Louisiana Avenue from K-Mart to beyond I-5 Toyota .

It also prohibits the act of panhandling, begging or soliciting within 25 feet of the entrance to any building anywhere in the city, or, within 25 feet of a potential “donor’s” parked vehicle while they are loading or unloading it. And after dark.

A first time violation can cost $250.

Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer said back when the city of Centralia enacted its rules on panhandling, he was asked if Chehalis ought to do the same. He said no, he didn’t see any problems, at the time.

But that’s changed over the past year or so, Schaffer said.

“We’ve started seeing trash accumulating, and getting complaints from businesses in the area,” he said earlier this week.

Sometimes it’s been about panhandlers who would return, even after being asked to leave, he said.

“And complaints from business owners and managers, who are getting complaints from their customers, who are being approached as they’re coming and going,” he said.

While a first-time violation is a civil infraction, a ticket, further offenses could prompt the issuance of a citation for a criminal misdemeanor, according to the chief.

That kind of citation would mean a mandatory appearance before a judge and, if convicted, a fine of up to $1,000 and as long as 90 days in jail.

The city council passed the new law last week at its regular meeting, claiming serious public harm caused by panhandlers.

The ordinance’s introductory section expresses the council’s desire to protect citizens and visitors from fear and intimidation from some kinds of solicitation.

It also makes note of the city’s interest in promoting business and tourism and preserving the quality of urban life as well as mentioning risk to traffic and public safety.

Certain kinds of panhandling are outlawed altogether, anywhere, anytime.

The ordinance bans what it calls coercive solicitation, which includes what some might think of as aggressive panhandling, and also includes making any false or misleading representations in the course of a solicitation.

Prohibited activity includes approaching within one foot of the person, persisting after the person gives a negative response, blocking a person or their vehicle, or engaging in any conduct that would reasonably be construed as intended to compel or force a person being solicited to accede to demands.

Chehalis’s police Sgt. Gary Wilson said the first day under the new rules went fine.

“There were none out there to be seen,” Wilson said. “So either word spread around, or maybe it was the weather.”

The issue came up back in May, when Council Member Chad Taylor asked if the city manager might look into Centralia’s ordinance on panhandling, so that Chehalis could do something similar.

At a June city council meeting, Chief Schaffer reported back, according to minutes from the meeting, explaining the city could put restrictions in place if they served a significant government interest, as long as they left open sufficient channels for the activity. An individual’s right to beg for money is protected speech under the First Amendment, Schaffer told the council.

He noted Chehalis the year before had repealed its former panhandling ordinance because it was unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Schaffer told the council they had received about 20 complaints since January, all related to panhandling on private property, specifically the Twin City Town Center, the Main Street Food Mart and the Jack-in-the Box. He noted the police department had gotten no official complaints regarding panhandling on public property, but there had been a number of comments such as “they make me feel uncomfortable” and, “can something be done about the trash they leave behind.”

He offered up details about Pierce County’s private property soliciting ordinance, but Mayor Dennis Dawes said it appeared there was interest on the part of the council to take it to the next step.

Earlier this month, the proposed ordinance was brought before the council, with a discussion that included how panhandlers presence in driveways and along roadways adds to the traffic hazards. Schaffer reported that 45 percent of city-wide traffic accidents during the past three years occurred in the area that is Chamber Way from State Street to Louisiana Avenue, and along Louisiana Avenue from K-Mart to Home Depot.

Specifically, in terms of locations on the map, the ordinance that passed bans solicitation within 25 feet of the entrance to any building, unless specific permission has been given by the business owner or occupant.

It’s banned at all on or off ramps to state routes or interstate highways, specifically all those along Interstate 5; at Chamber Way, Main Street and 13th Street.

It’s banned within 300 feet – think the length of a football field – from any of the three intersections along Chamber of Commerce Way: at National Avenue, at State Street and at Louisiana Avenue.

It’s banned within 300 feet of the entrances to the parking lots of all businesses from the 1200 block of Louisiana Avenue, K-Mart, to the 2100 block of Louisiana Avenue, north of I-5 Toyota.

The same goes for any driveways existing or installed in the future on the street between Wal-Mart and Home Depot known as Arkansas Way.

One part of the ordinance also prohibits any kind of selling or distributing anything to a person who is in a vehicle at any of those locations in the congested area.

Another section makes it clear that providing or delivering unrequested services or products with a demand for payment would be a coercive solicitation.

Chief Schaffer this week said he didn’t know if 25 feet meant every part of the sidewalks that run through the historic center of town on North Market Boulevard are off limits. Sgt. Wilson said he thought that might be true, but officers would have to look at each case as it comes.

The chief said he didn’t know if any of the collisions he counted in the congested areas were actually caused by panhandlers, only that there is the further distraction of people on the corners with signs, and motorists stopping to give money.

He also couldn’t address exactly what was the “serious public harm” caused by panhandling cited in the ordinance, saying those weren’t his words.

The ordinance notes the city still allows for safe and appropriate venues for the constitutionally protected activity.

“We can’t outright prohibit it,” Schaffer said. “So if people want to peacefully panhandle, as long as it’s not in the area outlined in the ordinance, they’re free to do that.”

Ordinance No. 944-B, is added as an amendment to Chapter 7.04.320 of the Chehalis Municipal Code.

As Lewis County’s fourth large wildfire expands, some still ignoring burn ban

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Alder Lake fire continues to grow and progress to the southeast, but an expected change to wet and cooler weather in Western Washington could bring some relief.

The National Weather Service indicates that tomorrow through the weekend rain will become locally heavy at times, especially in the mountains. Daytime temperatures are forecast to be lower than normal, with many lowland sites not even reaching 70 degrees, according to the weather service.

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Centralia-Alpha Road, 18 acres, Onalaska Aug. 4, 2015

The conditions could help reduce the size of or even end ongoing fires in the mountains, the forecasters said this morning.

The forest fire northwest of Mineral has now consumed 225 acres and is threatening residences on or near the Pleasant Valley Road, outside of Mineral. Those living there were told yesterday afternoon to start making plans to evacuate.

The firefighting effort is being managed by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the state Department of Natural Resources. About 105 personnel remain assigned to the lightning-sparked fire that was discovered 17 days ago just south of Alder Lake.

While the end or break in the hot, dry spell is surely welcome news, Steve Mansfield of Lewis County Department of Emergency Management, cautions the public to remain vigilant about fire danger.

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Gish Road, 102 acres,
Onalaska Aug. 9, 2015

“The Pacific Northwest has reached such a low moisture level, it may take weeks once the rain starts before the danger of fire is reduced,” Mansfield stated in a news release today.

Although outdoor burning is usually prohibited during the driest months of the year in unincorporated Lewis County, officials earlier this month issued a ban on even recreational fires, as did the cities of Chehalis and Centralia.

Besides the Alder Lake fire, Lewis County has seen three other large vegetation fires already this month, each increasingly bigger. Last week a grass fire in Onalaska rolled through 175 acres, decimating a farming operation and consuming 200,000 chickens with their barns.

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Gore Road, 175 acres,
Onalaska Aug. 19, 2015

Still, some fire departments have been running a little ragged, responding to calls that turn out to be illegal burning.

Every time it rains a bit, that picks up, Firefighter Brad Bozarth said.

Bozarth estimated his department, Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue in Napavine, has gone to 30 such calls since the restrictions were put in place.

“Usually its recreational fires, or someone burning trash,” he said.

For a first offense, the firefighters usually just advise the people of the rules, he said.

Earlier this week, Mossyrock’s fire chief was feeling less patient about those who’ve ignored the danger.

Lewis County Fire District 3 Chief Doug Fosburg said his department chased campfires all weekend. The offenders usually claim they didn’t know of the ban, he said.

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Alder Lake, 225 acres,
Elbe-Mineral area, ongoing

“People haven’t gotten the idea they can’t have open flames,” he said.

Each time he and his crews are toned out, they have to react as though it’s a working structure fire, with everyone responding, he said.

In one case, Fosburg said, the resident assumed since they’d watered their yard, it would be fine.

“I explained, you can’t control what goes airborne,” he said.

Both he and Salkum’s fire chief had to stop what they were doing at the Gore Road chicken farm to deal with illegal burns, he said.

Ignoring the outdoor burn ban can be costly even if one doesn’t accidentally burn down their neighbors house.

Acting Lewis County Fire Marshal Lee Napier said it’s a civil infraction which can bring a fine of up to $250.

On the criminal side, the sanction is a gross misdemeanor, with the possibility of a fine up to $10,000 and up to 364 days in jail.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said yesterday morning she wasn’t aware of any such citations issued this year.

Typically, reports of illegal burning are handled by the particular fire department, according to Brown.

“The fire department then goes out and evaluates the situation and typically educates the person,” Brown said. “If the person refuses to put it out or causes a problem, then we respond and use our discretion, as always, to evaluate the situation.”

Chief Fosburg said he doesn’t give people a choice. He  waits and watches the campfire getting put out, and sticks around to make sure it’s entirely extinguished.

“If I have to go back more than once, I will bring law enforcement with me,” he said.

The causes of the first three big fires are unknown, although the sheriff’s office said preliminarily the Gore Road incident was believed to have been sparked by a brush hog operating in a field. DNR is investigating them.

Outdoor burning in unincorporated Lewis County has been prohibited since mid-June, with the increased restrictions put into place within days of the Centralia-Alpha Road fire.

Those in the Mineral area have been advised to continue to monitor their local news media.

The weather service has also noted it it will likely become locally windy on Saturday due to a strong front moving across the area.
•••

For the details about the specifics:

The Lewis County Board of Commissioner’s resolution allows for enforcement under Lewis County Code 15.05.020.  The code referencing the penalty for violation is under RCW 70.94.430(1).
•••

For background, read “Fire evacuation alerts issued for residents west of Mineral” from Wednesday August 26, 2015, here

Fire evacuation alerts issued for residents west of Mineral

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
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Looking south across Alder Lake at mid-day on Tuesday. / Courtesy photo by Raymond Schrader

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A lightning-caused forest fire northwest of Mineral has grown from 60 acres to 173 acres since Friday and is progressing to the southeast, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

More than 200 members of the public attended a community meeting at the Mineral School last night to hear information about the wildfire and this afternoon, a level one evacuation notice was issued for people living on or near the Pleasant Valley Road.

A Code Red notification was sent out by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at about 3:45 p.m. today, to those who have registered their phone numbers with the emergency alert system.

“(Level one) means that danger exists and you should begin making arrangements to evacuate,” the alert stated. “Evacuations at this time are voluntary.”

Pleasant Valley Road is northwest of Mineral.

If the fire advances to necessitate a level two evacuation notice, residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family or friends outside of the affected area, according to the Lewis County Department of Emergency Management. Those who choose to stay should be ready to go at a moments notice.

If a level two evacuation occurs, shelter would be setup in the Morton area, according to the sheriff’s office.

The fire was first reported two weeks ago, burning just south of Alder Lake. It is approximately four miles west of Elbe, five miles from Mineral and seven miles south of Eatonville.

It is being managed by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the state Department of Natural Resources.

One hundred and five personnel are assigned to the fire, which is being battled with heavy equipment, fire engines, a helicopter and hand crews.

The fire behavior today was described as moderate, creeping, rolling and occasional torching. It’s burning in steep rugged terrain on a 60 percent slope.

The incident commander’s primary objective is to stop and hold eastward spread of the fire.

Fifteen homes are threatened, as are 20 other structures, all on the Lewis County side of the fire, according to Public Information Officer Kristen Bowles. The fire is only two percent contained. Forest Service Roads 74 and 7409 have been closed.

Alder Lake is at the intersection of Lewis, Thurston and Pierce counties.

A level three evacuation notice, if issued, would mean leave immediately because danger is current or imminent.

The Lewis County Sheriff’ Office indicated in its Code Red alert that people can get additional information from the sheriff’s office website or call the DEM information line at 360-740-1152. Locals may contact Alder Lake Fire Information at 360-623-5525.

Emergency Management recommends people continue to monitor their local news media as well.
•••

Other Resources:

• Northwest Large Fire Information Summary, here

• InciWeb Incident Information System, here

• The Forest Service-Gifford Pinchot National Forest on Facebook, here

• Sign up for Code Red alerts, here

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The south shore of Alder Lake dips into Lewis County. / Courtesy photo by Raymond Schrader

Firefighters’ work at Gore Road fire done, mostly

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015
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Salkum Fire Department’s fire engine-tender / Courtesy photo by Lewis County District 8

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – After three days of pulling apart a dozen 20,000 square-foot buildings to extinguish smoldering hot spots at the Onalaska chicken farm that burned, the all-volunteer fire department was able to turn the scene over to the property owner yesterday.

Firefighters from the state Department of Natural Resources finished their work the night before and put the fire on patrol status yesterday, Lewis County Fire District 8 Fire Chief Duran McDaniel said this morning.

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Wednesday Aug. 19, 2015

The fire that rolled through 175 acres of grass, tree lines and briars on Wednesday destroyed 12 large chicken barns, three or four tractors and one fire engine-tender that was abandoned when a wall of flames jumped a fire break where a crew was defending a large propane tank.

The farmer’s house was saved as was a neighbor’s barn and several other structures,

Neilson’s chicken farm is located on the 200 block of Gore Road, west of Salkum.

“I can’t thank all of the volunteers enough,” McDaniel said.

In a phone interview, the chief’s voice broke as he spoke of the help his department got from fire districts in three counties. And crews from Pacific County were on standby, he said.

“It’s overwhelming,” McDaniel said this morning.

Over the past three days, members of his department, with some help from Lewis County Fire Districts 6 and 1, worked until midnight, he said.

Eight of the 12 barns contained chickens. Thousands of chickens perished and with the heat, most were consumed, he said. Each wood-framed, metal-sided building measured 40 feet by 500 feet long.

They worked with crews from Draper Valley Farms and tractors, pulling back the metal to make sure everything was extinguished and to get rid of all the heat, he said.

A spokesperson with the Mount Vernon headquartered poultry company said 200,000 chickens were lost. Draper Valley owns the chickens; the farmer raises Draper Valley’s chickens under contract, according to Julie DeYoung.

“It’s a tragic situation and we are working with the farmer to minimize the economic impact from losing this flock,” DeYoung said. “We are thankful that no one was injured fighting the fire.”

Chief McDaniel said two very large stockpiles of sawdust have sprinklers on them, and will probably have to be torn apart as well to make sure nothing reignites.

“We’re blessed, we have volunteers that work opposite shifts,” McDaniel said, meaning they would leave to go to their regular jobs at different times.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has said the fire is believed to have been sparked by a tractor-brush hog operating in a field.

The fire, among the largest seen in Lewis County, prompted evacuations for a mile around. Residents weren’t given the all-clear to return home until almost 8 o’clock on Wednesday night.

Officials have been warning all season that the exceptionally hot and dry summer is presenting extreme fire danger. Two weeks ago, McDaniel and his department assisted neighboring Lewis County Fire District 1 with a wildfire that was the largest McDaniel had seen in more than three decades – the Gish Road fire was 102 acres.

This fire was nearly twice as large.

“DNR confirmed the fire behavior we saw has only been seen in Eastern Washington,” McDaniel said.

All outdoor burning is banned. Only closed-lid barbecues are allowed.

Last night, McDaniel said, he responded to three calls for prohibited activities, including one campfire and two parties burning open-propane fires.

His message to members of the public today: “Please, please, observe the burning regulations.”
•••

For background, read “Onalaska chicken farm and almost 200 acres consumed by wildfire” from Thursday August 20, 2015, here

Authorities: Stay out of Winlock creek, avoid contaminated runoff from warehouse fire

Friday, August 21st, 2015
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Responder examines fish from Olequa Creek. / Courtesy photo by Department of Ecology

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Local officials yesterday joined state ecologists in warning residents not to swim or play in Olequa Creek after all species and sizes of fish, insects and other living organisms were killed for five miles downstream of Tuesday’s warehouse fire.

The early morning blaze in Winlock destroyed a 14,640-square-foot building. Runoff from the fire’s extinguishment that included cooking oil reached a storm drain, and seeped into Olequa Creek behind the building.

Olequa Creek is a tributary to the Cowlitz River.

Lewis County Public Health & Social Services cautions the public to stay out, at least to Ferrier Road and avoid any water with a visible sheen of oil.

Bill Teitzel, the department’s environmental services supervisor, indicated that local staff have inspected the area and will continue to monitor the situation.

Spill responders by Wednesday afternoon had already filled two 21,000 gallon tanks with oily waste water, according to the state Department of Ecology. The number of dead fish is most likely closer to thousands rather than hundreds, the state agency said.

The warehouse stored grocery products.

Authorities confirmed with the building’s owners they had recently received 1,124 gallons of vegetable and canola oil, according to the state agency. They also stored vegetable shortening.

DOE hired Cowlitz Clean Sweep from Longview to assist with the cleanup and both were on the scene on Tuesday. Seventeen personnel with at least seven response trucks were on site on Wednesday.

They are continuing today to recover oil from the creek, using absorbent pads and vacuum trucks and have utilized sand berms and other methods to keep more polluted water from entering the waterway as the fire’s extinguishment has been ongoing.

The creek itself is not a drinking water source, or, more specifically, Lewis County Public Health is not aware of any approved drinking water source from Olequa, according to Teitzel.

The state Department of Ecology identifies the warehouse as belonging to Olympic Trading Company. The building and the property are shown by the Lewis County Assessors Office as 915 N.W. Kerron St. and owned by Alternative Logistics LLC.

State authorities indicated the responsible party, the warehouse owner, is out of the country but has been cooperative.

Department of Ecology crews and cleanup contractors are expecting to keep working through the weekend and eventually move into a longer term passive cleanup program, according to Teitzel.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by Sgt. Sam Patrick of the Toledo Police Department.
•••

For background, read “Winlock fire reduces grocery product warehouse to charred frame” from Tuesday August 18, 2015, here

Despite convictions, investigation still underway in death of 3-year-old Vader boy last year

Friday, August 21st, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The criminal case of the 3-year-old boy who died while in the care of a Vader couple last autumn continues to drag on.

Danny and Brenda Wing, both 27, have pleaded guilty under an agreement in which they’ve promised to share information with authorities and undergo polygraph examinations.

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Jasper Henderling-Warner

Jasper Henderling-Warner died from what the coroner labeled chronic battered child syndrome last Oct. 5.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead back in May sought and was granted permission for sentencing to be held off, because, he said, the investigation was still ongoing.

In July, Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer revealed criminal charges could be filed against others. He didn’t rule out the little boy’s mother.

Brenda Wing was scheduled to be sentenced today in Lewis County Superior Court, but the hearing has been delayed. Danny Wing went before a judge last Friday when Halstead got a postponement for his sentencing.

Danny WIng’s lawyer opposed waiting, according to court documents.

Halstead last week said he is still waiting for unspecified things to happen in the case – including the polygraph tests – and it’s taking longer than he thought.

Each of the two have pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and third-degree child assault. They both face a standard sentencing range of between 146 months and 194 months in prison.

However, if they don’t hold up their end of the bargain, prosecutors indicate in court documents they could add so-called enhancements, leaving the Wings facing terms up to life.

Authorities have spoken about the little boy’s injuries, but nothing has been shared publicly about how he got them.

The formal statements of guilt don’t offer much insight, as Danny Wing said he recklessly caused Jasper’s death by failing to get medical care for the boy and Brenda Wing’s statement says she recklessly caused the death, as an accomplice.

Jasper’s  21-year-old mother had given the couple temporary custody last summer while she was homeless and looked for work out of state.

Currently, Danny Wing’s sentencing is on the court calendar for Sept. 11 and his wife’s is scheduled for Sept. 25.
•••

For background, read, “Prosecutor not ruling out other arrests in Vader toddler’s death” from Thursday July 2, 2015, here

Onalaska chicken farm and almost 200 acres consumed by wildfire

Thursday, August 20th, 2015
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Chicken farm fire on the 200 block of Gore Road. / Courtesy photo by Rhonda Volk

Updated at 5:49 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The fire believed to have been sparked by a tractor-brush hog operating in a field in Onalaska destroyed a dozen chicken barns and burned 175 acres of property.

Crews are still on the scene this morning.

“Everything is black, burned, but nothing right now is causing any major hazard,” Lewis County Fire District 8 Chief Duran McDaniel said this morning.

It was reported shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday at the Neilson’s chicken farm on the 200 block of Gore Road.

Crews created what McDaniel called a wet line to protect the farm and also to keep fire from getting to an 18,000 gallon propane tank.

McDaniel and two of his firefighters were putting water down around the tank when flames about 25 feet tall rolled over the fire break towards them, he said. Some neighbors were in the area as well, he said.

“We left on foot,” McDaniel said. “There was probably six or seven of us that ran out of there.”

They left behind a 2,500 gallon fire engine-tender that was destroyed, he said.

McDaniel called for everyone – fire personnel and residents alike – to evacuate the area for at least a half mile away from the propane tank, and then enlarged the zone to a mile, he said.

“The size of it, if it blew, it would have launched itself about a mile,” he said.

McDaniel at that point requested help from every fire chief in Lewis County. Assistance came that included fire tenders from all or almost all departments in the county, as well as two from Thurston County and two from Cowlitz County, he said.

Firefighters with the state Department of Natural Resources responded as well, he said.

The firefighting effort couldn’t continue until after a DNR helicopter was able to observe that the only thing still left burning near the tank was the fire truck, he said.

Homes in the area of the fire have Onalaska addresses, but are protected by the Lewis County Fire District 8, based in Salkum.

The farmer’s house was saved as was a neighbor’s barn and several other structures, according to McDaniel.

But 12 large chicken buildings were lost; eight of them occupied by poultry, he said.

Nobody was injured, but two firefighters became overheated, he said.

Critical fire weather conditions are expected to continue through the weekend, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

DNR is warning the public to take every available precaution to protect themselves during what they call emergency conditions.

All available resources, both statewide and nationally, are already deployed fighting wildfires across the American West, according to Carrie McCausland, DNR’s deputy director of communications.

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling 10 large wildfires on the other side of the mountains, where more than 120,000 acres have burned.

Three U.S. Forest Service firefighters were killed yesterday fighting fires in Okanogan County, and other federal and state wildland firefighters were burned or injured.

McCausland urges members of the public to take any evacuation order or emergency direction with the utmost seriousness.

Most firefighting agencies have, by necessity, adopted a defensive posture to contain the already overwhelming spread of wildfires, she stated in a news release this morning.

A fire that broke out a week and a half ago south of Gish Road in Onalaska scorched 102 acres of private property and at one point had about 170 personnel assigned to it.

On Aug. 5, approximately 50 DNR firefighters were working about four miles north of the Gish Road fire to extinguish 18 acres of burning brush and trees off Centralia-Alpha Road.

After District 8’s call for assistance yesterday, the Chehalis Fire Department was put on standby to answer any other calls as far away as Mossyrock, wherever they might be needed.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Dusty Breen said deputies provided traffic control and helped with evacuations.

Breen said it appeared the fire originated with the tractor-brush hog, but they are conducting an investigation.

U.S. Highway 12 was closed at Leonard Road in Ethel, and then expanded to reach from Jackson Highway at Mary’s Corner to Fuller Road in Salkum.

Gore Road was shut down at Fred Plant Road on the east end to Leonard Road at the west end; and Leonard’s closure extended north to Gish Road.

The Lewis County 911 center put out reverse 911 calls to advise residents in the area to evacuate beginning just after 3 p.m. and ending at 7:45 p.m. The Code Red emergency alert warning system is available to those who register their phone numbers with it.

McDaniel said it wasn’t until about 11 p.m. they felt like the fire was under control enough to wrap up for the night.

DNR is estimating the fire is 50 to 60 percent contained this morning.

District 8’s fire engine-tender that burned is worth about $350,000, according to McDaniel.
•••

For background, read “Breaking news: Large fire prompts evacuations near Ethel” from Wednesday August 19, 2015, here

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Deputies and firefighters knocked on doors for an evacuation of one mile in every direction after fire rolled over an 18,000 gallon propane tank. / Courtesy photo by John Cleveland