Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Elderly Mossyrock woman dies from hypothermia

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Sheriff’s detectives were asked to conduct a death investigation after a 92-year-old Mossyrock woman was found in her closet at her home and transported to Morton General Hospital where she passed away not long after.

Morton Police Chief Dan Mortensen, whose jurisdiction includes the town of Mossyrock, said this afternoon it turned out to be an unfortunate accidental death.

Beulah McMurry was found by a friend on Friday, he said.

“She used a walker, we think she got disoriented and got tangled up in her closet,” Mortensen said. “And was there for a day or more.”

The residence on the 200 block of Hope Street was cordoned off for the investigation.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Dusty Breen said it was very chilly inside. The heater and two wood stoves were not producing heat, as she apparently only used an electric blanket in the evenings, according to Breen.

An autopsy today confirmed McMurry died from hypothermia, according to Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.

Mortensen said he believed she lived alone, but said she obviously had many friends and family.

Rumors that her home had been ransacked and all her medications stolen added to law enforcement’s concern, Mortensen said. But the investigation concluded that wasn’t the case, he said.

Vader toddler: Lawyers argue instead of proceeding with sentencing hearing

Saturday, November 21st, 2015
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Jasper’s family waits in the first row for Brenda Wing, far right, to be sentenced in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Though numerous individuals gathered yesterday for the sentencing of Brenda A. Wing regarding the death of the 3-year-old she and her husband were caring for in Vader, that’s not what took place.

Instead, lawyers on the two sides and the judge spoke for about 15 minutes about three issues: a written motion filed by the prosecutor, whether the defendant lived up to her end of the plea agreement and whether all the requirements of the agreement had yet been met.

Jasper Henderling-Warner died on Oct. 5 of last year from what the coroner called chronic battered child syndrome.

Among the many sitting in benches in Lewis County Superior Court were a handful of Jasper’s supporters who wore matching T-shirts, with an ominous statement across their backs:

“Rot in hell Danny & Brenda Wing; Evil has been seen.”

Danny Wing was sent to prison in September for 34 years and eight months.

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 happened, in exchange for guilty pleas on first-degree manslaughter and third-degree assault, and then recommendations they be locked up for about 16 years.

Danny Wing failed the lie detector test meant to evaluate his honesty, and prosecutors were free, under the terms of the agreement, to seek an exceptionally long sentence.

At issue, in part, yesterday was a passage in the plea agreement between the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office and Brenda Wing’s lawyer John Crowley that required the use of Washington state licensed polygraphers.

Washington state doesn’t license that profession.

That came to light when Danny Wing was sentenced and yesterday the judge repeated his surprise about the wording.

“I find it astonishing that is in there,” Hunt said. “I’ve known we don’t license them since I began practicing.”

According to Crowley and Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead, the plea agreement provided for both the state and the defense to conduct polygraph examinations.

Prosectors had an unlicensed Washington State Patrol polygrapher do theirs. The results for Brenda Wing were inconclusive.

Last month, prosecutors went ahead and got an Oregon-licensed polygrapher to conduct another test with Brenda Wing.

Halstead says she was found to be being deceptive. Crowley said she “supposedly” failed that test.

They are scored on a spectrum, with a gray area in the middle, Crowley said outside the courtroom.

During yesterday’s hearing, Crowley seemed to insinuate to the judge, he hadn’t yet gotten a polygraph done for his client because the agreement calls for a Washington licensed polygrapher, and there is no such kind of person.

Judge Hunt gave him a choice.

They could proceed with sentencing if Crowley would “endorse” the state’s polygraph done by the Oregon polygrapher, or they could return on a later date after Crowley got a licensed polygrapher from any state he chose to do an examination.

Hunt seemed to suggest by his questions that he considered the state’s first and inconclusive polygraph as a non-polygraph.

Crowley consulted briefly with Brenda Wing and then informed the judge they’d like to exercise the second option.

Judge Hunt apologized to the audience for the postponement.

“I want to be clear, the only reason I’m doing this is the stakes are high,” Hunt said.

Unfinished discussions before the hearing ended made clear prosecutors believe Brenda Wing didn’t fulfill her obligations under the plea agreement, because she omitted some information during her interviews. They will be seeking an exceptionally long sentence for her, according to Halstead.

Crowley indicated to the judge he didn’t believe the information she didn’t disclose was material.

Judge Hunt stated Brenda Wing did breach the agreement.

The two sides agreed to return to the courtroom for her sentencing on Dec. 16 at 1:30 p.m.
•••

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

Centralia: Driver escapes collision with train uninjured

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A man in his 70s was shook up but unhurt when his car was T-boned by a train yesterday morning in south Centralia.

It happened about 10:15 a.m. at the 700 block of South Street on the less-frequently used rail line that runs through the center of town, not the main BNSF rails that carry Amtrak and large freight trains.

He was headed eastbound and didn’t hear the train’s horn, according to the Centralia Police Department.

The engine and the handful of tanker cars it was pushing north were traveling only about 4 to 5 mph, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said.

“It was the train equivalent of a fender bender,” Reichert said.

Still, the mid-sized car was shoved 20 to 30 feet up the tracks, damaging the passenger side door, Reichert said.

There was no passenger in the car, Reichert said.

Reichert said the motorist didn’t have to go to the hospital, and his vehicle is likely repairable.

The area where the rail crosses South Street is somewhat overgrown and doesn’t utilize lights and crossing arms like the BNSF lines, according to Reichert.

Law enforcement reveals they think Kayla Croft-Payne died from overdose

Friday, November 20th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – As expected, authorities have gone public with further information about the missing Kayla Croft-Payne.

Earlier this week, law enforcement revealed they believed she died in northern Cowlitz County about the time she went missing. They said they had recently been looking for her body in Oregon.

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Kayla Croft-Payne

Yesterday, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office revealed they believe she died from an overdose and that it happened in an RV park in their county.

The then-18-year-old Lewis County resident was reported missing in early May of 2010.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has investigated the case over the course of the past five years and conducted numerous interviews of people that have knowledge of the case.

In a news release issued yesterday, Cowlitz County indicated the new information that got them to this point was obtained by Lewis County investigators. The suspected location of the death prompted the transfer of the case to Cowlitz detectives.

The new and credible information passed along to them included that Croft-Payne’s body was transported to a remote and heavily wooded area in Oregon and concealed, according to the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.

The (Longview) Daily News reports detectives believe she was buried in northwestern Oregon, and it was because people were scared of notifying authorities and didn’t know what to do.

In yesterday’s news release, Cowlitz authorities stated that detectives from the two counties have conducted multiple extensive searches over the past six weeks in Oregon.

No human remains were found.

“Out of respect to the current property owners, we are not describing the area where Kayla is believed to be located,” the sheriff’s office wrote in its news release.

Early in the investigation, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said the last place they could verify her spending time was a trailer park in the Toutle area. Among their theories early on, was that she died of a drug overdose.

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is still looking for further information from anyone who knows something.

They offered up numerous ways to contact them.

Detective Cory Robinson and Sgt. Brad Thurman can be reached at 360-577-3092.

Callers who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers of Cowlitz County at 360-577-1206. People can also give tips by texting 847411 and downloading “CCSOTip”.
•••

For background, read “Law enforcement: ‘Credible report’ the missing Kayla Croft-Payne died in Cowlitz County” from Tuesday November 17, 2015, here

Prosecutors: Littlerock prison employee recommends early release for inmate, meets him at motel

Friday, November 20th, 2015
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Kristina M. Auckland sits at the defense table during her bail hearing.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A counselor at Cedar Creek Corrections Center has been arrested for allegedly spending nights at a Centralia motel with a former inmate, including the day he was released from prison.

Kristina M. Auckland, 31, was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree custodial sexual misconduct. Centralia police arrested her yesterday.

Prosecutors say the inmate was supervised by Auckland during his stay at the Littlerock facility and that even after his release, she would have influence over his treatment during his period of community custody.

The 33-year-old man was released from confinement on Oct. 18, 10 days early upon her recommendation, prosecutors allege.

The case came under investigation after another employee of the state Department of Corrections saw the two together on Saturday at the Motel 6, according to charging documents.

The former inmate when interviewed yesterday told detectives the relationship was completely consensual, the documents state. He showed investigators text messages in which they both said loving things to each other.

It’s unlawful for an employee of a correctional agency to have sexual intercourse with someone who is an inmate or is under correctional supervision, if the defendant has or the victim believes they have, the ability to influence terms of their incarceration or supervision. First-degree custodial sexual misconduct has a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

A Centralia police detective confiscated both of their phones.

When Auckland was brought before a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court, a defense attorney shared information for the purposes of influencing the amount of bail, and to show the defendant appeared to qualify for a court-appointed lawyer.

The Castle Rock woman brings home about $2,400 each month and her husband works at Home Depot, wages that support them and their three children, according to attorney Joely O’Rourke.

She has a letter indicating she has been put on paid leave from her job, O’Rourke said.

Prosecutors noted Auckland has no felony convictions in her past.

Judge Nelson Hunt allowed her to be released pending trial on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

He declined a request from the state for a sexual assault protection order, saying he would only order it if the victim wanted it. Auckland is prohibited from contacting witnesses through the standard conditions of release.

Attorney Shane O’Rourke was appointed to represent her. Her arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 3.

Deer hunters accidentally shoot into two Lewis County homes

Friday, November 20th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A man deer hunting just outside the Centralia city limits was arrested yesterday after one of several rounds he fired burst through the window of a house, traveling through a bookcase, a wall and across a hallway, lodging inside a closet where it shattered a six-pack of prune juice.

A couple in their mid-70s who were home at the time were unhurt.

Deputies were called about 7:40 a.m. by the residents who indicated a bullet had just been fired into their house, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

They contacted 62-year-old Royce R. Larson who said he was hunting, had killed a deer but did not realize there was a home there, according to the sheriff’s office.

The incident happened at the 100 block of Summerside Drive, near the northwest edge of town.

“Yeah, scary stuff,” Lewis County sheriff’s Cmdr. Dusty Breen said. “That’s why one of the foremost safety rules is be aware of what your target is and what’s beyond.”

Larson was issued a citation for reckless endangerment, his rifle was seized and and then he was released, according to Breen.

It’s something that’s happened a handful of times in his time with the sheriff’s office, Breen said.

Later in the day, it happened again in central Lewis County.

A 52-year-old woman inadvertently shot through a bathroom window striking a refrigerator in a Mossyrock area kitchen.

Deputies were called at about 4:30 p.m. to the 100 block of Bear Ridge Road near the western edge of Riffe Lake after a 55-year-old found the damage, according to the sheriff’s office. It was inside an apartment he’d built in a shop building, according to Breen.

Karen L. McDougall was contacted and said she’d been trying to shoot a deer. In speaking with her, it became clear she was the one who fired rounds in the direction of the victim’s property, but did not realize she was putting persons or property at risk, Breen said.

The Mossyrock woman too was arrested for reckless endangerment, issued her citation and a date for court and then released, according to Breen. Her firearm was also confiscated.

There wasn’t anything else illegal about what the two had done, according to Breen.

It’s Lewis County, you’ve got rural areas, he said.

“Both seemed like normal good citizens, who just exercised bad judgement,” he said. “That’s why they weren’t booked.”

Prosecutor: Centralia fight involving knife was over $20 worth of meth

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
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Sasha A. Morgan, in red, consults with a lawyer, while her co-defendant Jesse R. Bartley, far left, waits his turn to go before the judge for their bail hearings.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – While she was arrested for first-degree assault, 29-year-old Sasha A. Morgan was charged the following day with second-degree assault, in connection with a stabbing incident in Centralia.

Morgan was brought before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday afternoon, where her bail was set at $20,000.

Court documents indicate the victim, a 34-year-old Tacoma man, was stabbed two times in the leg.

Morgan told police it was self defense.

Centralia police yesterday described the incident as related to a failed drug transaction.

According to charging documents and police, officers were called at mid-morning on Tuesday to  a disturbance at the 600 block of South Silver Street where they spoke with Morgan, her companion Jesse R. Bartley and the victim.

The victim, Jamie Zurinskas, was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital for treatment of his wounds.

According to the victim, he gave $20 to Bartley who said he and Morgan could get him some methamphetamine but they never came back so he went looking for them.

Charging documents go on the give the following general account:

Zurinskas found Bartley and Morgan in their car, pounded on the window and Bartley got out and said he would make it right.

One version of the story includes yelling, arguing, and an aggressive movement which caused Bartley and Morgan to fall to the ground.

At one point, Morgan told an officer, she ended up on the bottom of the pile of a fight, so she pulled out a knife and stabbed Zurinskas  twice.

Morgan and Bartley allegedly had consumed the meth meant for Zurinskas.

Police collected a knife with a bloody four-inch blade and also recovered from the car a scraper baggie with white crystal residue, plus two glass pipes.

Bartley, 25, and Morgan were both charged with conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance. Morgan was charged also with second-degree assault, with a deadly weapon enhancement.

Both offenses hold maximum penalties of 10 years in prison.

Bartley, said by police to be transient but by a defense attorney yesterday to be from Winlock, has no felony criminal history, only convictions for driving with a suspended license. His bail was set at $10,000.

Morgan, who lives in Tacoma is formerly of Centralia.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meager told the jude she has prior convictions for residential burglary, forgery and theft of rental property, and because of the knife allegation, presented a community safety risk regarding release.

Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke pointed out the judge Morgan’s crimes are at least five years in the past. Morgan’s mother and father attended the hearing.

O’Rourke asked the Judge Nelson Hunt to allow Morgan to be released from jail pending trial on a $10,000 unsecured bond, which her father would co-sign.

Hunt declined.

“She is a drug court former participant, I know quite a bit about her,” he said. “She is a risk to community safety.”

Both qualified for a court-appointed lawyer, and their arraignments were on the court calendar for today.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Fight over meth sale leads to assault with knife” from Wednesday November 18, 2015, here

Law enforcement: ‘Credible report’ the missing Kayla Croft-Payne died in Cowlitz County

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Detectives recently traveled to Oregon, in search of the body of Kayla Croft-Payne, the Lewis County teen who vanished five and half years ago.

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Kayla Croft-Payne

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating since the beginning, but several weeks ago, after getting new information, the case was turned over to the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.

Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig said he feels like the case has progressed from where it stood six months ago.

“We have had some good leads,” Rosenzweig said yesterday.

Detectives feel like they know now where it was Kayla Croft-Payne died, and they think it was in Cowlitz County, Rosenzweig said.

That’s the reason his detectives have taken it over, he said.

“We believe the information she died in our jurisdiction is a credible report,” he said.

Croft-Payne was 18 year old in May 2010 when she was reported missing by a friend. She was described as jobless and transient, but lived in rural Chehalis.

Her roommate at the time has said they were together the night she went missing, and another friend came to pick Croft-Payne up from their friend’s in Onalaska.

Early in the investigation, the sheriff’s office said the last place they could verify her spending time was a trailer park in the Toutle area. They had a cadaver dog search around a river in the Toutle area that summer, without success.

Rosenzweig said that in the next couple of weeks, he and his people plan to share more information about what they’ve been doing.

He wasn’t prepared to say specifically where in Oregon they hunted for her body, or specifically where they think Croft-Payne died, although he said it was in the northern portion of the county.

“Honestly, we’re hoping to spur some interest,” he said.

He did ask that anyone who has not yet talked to police, but has any information, to please phone detective Brad Thurman at 360-577-3092.
•••

For background, read “Kayla Croft-Payne: Missing Lewis County teen’s parents still seeking answers” from Friday March 25, 2011, here

Tacoma murder suspect arrested in Centralia

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Acting on an anonymous tip, Centralia police yesterday arrested a 22-year-old man wanted on a first-degree murder warrant related to the death of an 18-year-old in Tacoma earlier this month.

Several officers at about 1:30 p.m. conducted a building search at a business on the 500 block of North Tower Avenue and found Alberto Cole Sarmiento hiding under some stairs, according to the Centralia Police Department.

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Alberto Colt-Sarmiento

He was taken into custody at gunpoint, but without incident, Officer Angie Humphrey said.

The suspect, identified as Alberto “Taxer” Colt-Sarmiento by Tacoma police, is believed to have set up an ambush the night of Nov. 2, near 44th Street and East R Street in the Salishan neighborhood of east Tacoma.

According to Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers, as the victim and his two friends exited their vehicle, an unidentified shooter jumped out of the bushes and fired multiple shots toward them. Victim Elijah Crawford was struck once and died from his wounds; the second victim was struck in the shoulder and face and survived; the third friend ran away without being hit.

Crime Stoppers reported one of the surviving victims had an ongoing dispute with Colt-Sarmiento, and that detectives believe Colt-Sarmiento set up the ambush but was not the shooter.

Centralia police yesterday further assisted the Tacoma Police Department yesterday by recovering evidence related to the homicide.

Humphrey said she didn’t know what that evidence was but did say no gun was found on the suspect yesterday.

She said she understood Colt-Sarmiento has a relative at the bakery where he was hiding.

Colt-Sarmiento was turned over to Tacoma police after his arrest.

Feds: Winlock mill owner admits illegal buying and selling of specialty maple “music wood”

Monday, November 16th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Winlock lumber mill owner pleaded guilty today to federal violations for trafficking in specialty wood cut on national forest land.

In his plea agreement, Harold Clause Kupers, admitted he suspected the big leaf maple had been illegally taken from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, but purchased it and made sales out-of-state of nearly $500,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Courtesy photo by U.S. Attorney’s Office

The so-called figured maple is particularly valuable for making  musical instruments and, for example, just one shipment to PRS Guitars in Maryland from Kupers’ J & L Tonewoods sold for $21,395, according to authorities.

Kupers, 48, made his pleas for violations of the Lacey Act,  in U.S. District Court in Tacoma today, according to the  announcement from U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.

According to the plea agreement, in April 2012, law enforcement officers with the U.S. Forest Service met with him and specifically informed him that he was required by Washington law to review specialized forest products permits for all persons from whom he purchased maple, Hayes stated in a news release.

Despite that, he admitted, he continued to buy the wood without requiring the harvesters to show the permit until March 2014.

Kupers faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least $159,000 in restitution when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle on February 8.

Three men suspected of harvesting the wood were charged with theft of government property and damaging government property.

Ryan Justice, 28, of Randle, has pleaded guilty to theft of government property and is scheduled for sentencing on December 7.

James Miller, 36, of Morton, and Kevin Mullins, 56, of Packwood, are scheduled for trial on January 12.
•••

For background, read “Feds: Tree thieves and mill owner indicted for trafficking specialty maple from Gifford Pinchot” from Friday August 7, 2015, here

Arson at Chehalis school under investigation

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A fire alarm at W.F. West High School in Chehalis yesterday sent students outside and drew firefighters, and subsequently police who are investigating an arson.

Smoke filled the boys’ bathroom and drifted into the adjacent commons area, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

Fire Investigator Derrick Paul said a janitor used a fire extinguisher to put the fire out, before leaving the building.

The fire department called at 1:05 p.m. summoned police and, along with the school resource officer, they spent about two hours investigating at the scene, he said.

It appeared someone ignited the plastic bag that contained the soap in a dispenser, he said. The damage was limited to maybe about $700 for cleanup, but the potential for something much worse was there, Paul said.

The walls are masonry, but the ceiling is not.

“It could have been bad, there’s a reason we’re investigating for a criminal act,” Paul said. “This didn’t just affect one person; it disrupted school for an hour and put the kids outside in the cold and rain.”

Because the school has cameras, investigators have two suspects, Paul said this morning.

Nobody was arrested, yet, he said.

Rain brings minor flooding to Lewis County

Saturday, November 14th, 2015
Monitor your area by clicking the link here, then clicking your location on the map and reading about weather watches and warnings. / Image from National Weather Service

Monitor your area by clicking the link here, then clicking your location on the map and reading about weather watches and warnings. / Image from National Weather Service

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A flood watch remains in effect through tomorrow morning for much of Western Washington, while forecasters this morning upgraded that to a flood warning for two Lewis County Rivers.

Expect minor flooding on the Cowlitz River from Randle through Riffe Lake as well as along the Newaukum River around Chehalis, the National Weather Service says.

A flood warning means flooding is imminent or actually occurring. A watch just means conditions are favorable for flooding and the public should monitor the weather.

Just after 10 a.m. today, the weather service said heavy rain over the southwest interior would drive the Newaukum River above flood stage at about 1 p.m. today, inundating many roads and residential as well as commercial areas along the Newaukum River and its forks.

Flooding in some areas could be deep and hazardous especially near rivers, according to the weather service service, prompting them to remind motorists of the dangers of driving through flooded areas.

Roads and surrounding areas that would be impacted include: Jackson Highway, Tune, Rush, Sommerville, Griel, Hamilton, Tauscher, Guerrier, Kirkland, Macomber, Rice, Senn, Lucas Creek, Middle Fork and North Fork roads.

The two rivers should fall back below flood stage this evening and tonight, according to the NWS.

The flood watch for other areas remains in effect through tomorrow morning, and includes the Skookumchuck River as well as others in Lewis, Thurston, Pierce and Grays Harbor counties.

While the rainfall rates eased up overnight, the threat of landslides continues through today.
•••

Follow the forecasts and watch for weather advisories and warnings:

The link for the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Seattle can be found here and also always on the right hand column of this page, labeled “Weather Alerts, forecasts”

The link for the National Weather Service’s river level observation and forecast for Western Washington can be found here and also  always on the right hand column of this page, labeled “River levels”

Monitor your river levels by clicking the link here, then clicking your chosen river gauge on the map and see diagram of previous, present and forecasted river levels.. / Image from National Weather Service

Monitor your river levels by clicking the link here, then clicking your chosen river gauge on the map and see diagram of previous, present and forecasted river levels. / Image from National Weather Service

Ricky Riffe loses appeal in Maurin murder case

Thursday, November 12th, 2015
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Ricky A. Riffe listens to his lawyer during a court hearing a few weeks after his 2013 trial.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  After his conviction two years ago, Ricky A. Riffe’s lawyer said his client contested everything about his conviction for the 1985 slayings of Ed and Minnie Maurin and in a 30-page opinion, the Washington State Court of Appeals has rejected all of Riffe’s claims.

At the end of a six-week trial in Lewis County Superior Court, the former Mossyrock man who was extradited from his his home in Alaska was condemned to nearly 103 years in prison, still maintaining he had nothing to apologize for regarding the case.

The elderly couple were found fatally shot in their backs on a logging road outside Adna, days after vanishing from from their Ethel farmhouse, in what prosecutors described as an abduction and a trip to their Chehalis bank at gunpoint to withdraw all their money.

Riffe, now 57, appealed his convictions for first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary citing numerous reasons they should not stand.

In it’s decision filed on Tuesday, the three-member panel of judges unanimously affirmed the convictions.

“We hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it (1) excluded Dr. Reinitz’s testimony, (2) admitted two composite sketches of Riffe, (3) admitted Riffe’s brother’s statement about killing before as an adoptive admission, (4) admitted Riffe’s former wife’s question to police, and (5) did not allow Riffe to improperly impeach a witness with her prior inconsistent statements,” Justice Lisa Sutton wrote.

“Next, we hold that Riffe’s right to due process was not violated and the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Riffe’s motion for mistrial for the state’s alleged failure to disclose information about a witness’s plea agreement,” Sutton wrote. “Finally, we reject Riffe’s prosecutorial misconduct and cumulative constitutional error arguments, and his statement of additional grounds claims.”

Judge Richard Brosey presided over the autumn 2013 trial. His attorney was John Crowley.

Riffe was represented in his appeal by Seattle lawyer Suzanne Elliott. Handling the appeal for the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office was Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sara Beigh.

Riffe and his younger brother were both implicated in the murders, but John Gregory Riffe died just before detectives traveled to Alaska to make the arrests in the summer of 2012. Ricky Riffe was convicted as the principal or an accomplice, in the case in which prosecutors at the end revealed they believed may have involved more perpetrators than just the two brothers.

Ed Maurin was 81, his wife Minnie was 83 years old when their lives were taken from them in December 1985.

Read the appeal here, which begins with nine pages outlining the facts of the case.
•••

For background, read “Riffe continuing battle against finding of guilt in 1985 double-murder” from Friday January 3, 2014, here