Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Developmentally delayed Morton man to be civilly committed instead of going to trial for alleged attack

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Lewis County judge yesterday signed an order meaning Steven Moulton of Morton will likely be held indefinitely at Western State Hospital instead of going to trial for an alleged assault of an 8-year-old boy in a public restroom.

At the prosecutor’s request, Moulton was found incompetent to stand trial and the charges were dismissed, according to Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke.


Steven R. Moulton, Lewis County Superior Court in December 2010

They will petition for Moulton to be civilly committed to the state hospital because he is a danger to the community, O’Rourke said.

Moulton is currently in the care of Western State, O’Rourke said.

The then-21-year-old was charged a year ago in connection with a summer 2010 incident in which he allegedly crawled under the closed door of an occupied bathroom stall where a child said he covered his mouth and punched him twice. It happened in Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

Moulton was charged in Cowlitz County for a similar incident this summer in Castle Rock, and found to be developmentally disabled, a condition that can’t be fixed with medicine, according to O’Rourke.

The Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office challenged the finding but were not successful, O’Rourke said.

It’s a permanent condition, O’Rourke said.

“We came to the conclusion whether we like it or not, we’re not going to get the court to find him competent,” O’Rourke said. “Here, we did not challenge the competency finding.”

O’Rourke said in all likelihood, Moulton will be civilly committed and then reviewed every six months to see if he is no longer a danger and might be released.

Moulton had once before in Lewis County been found not competent in a criminal case related to a developmental disability.

His Lewis County cases were dismissed yesterday with prejudice, meaning the prosecutor could refile the charge at a future date.

News brief: Firefighters to escort Santa around Twin Cities

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters will be joining Santa Claus as he cruises through both Centralia and Chehalis Thursday evening beginning at 6 p.m.

In Chehalis, the so-called Santa Mobile will be traveling its usual annual route starting near Southwest 13th and 16th streets.

Chehalis Firefighter Steve Emrich advises Santa and his helpers will distribute candy canes along with safety information. Donations will be collected for the food bank.

In Centralia, Santa’s sleigh should be found throughout the Edison District until 9 p.m.

There, he and his helpers will be collecting donations of new toys as well as items for the food bank, according to Riverside Fire Authority’s Judith Emler.

The following night, the procession will be repeated in the Fords Prairie area, Emler said.

Chehalis’s Santa Mobile will be out again a week from Thursday, beginning in NW Westside neighborhoods, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

Salkum triple homicide: Lawyers continue to cull jury pool

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

John A. Booth Jr., right, waits with his attorney Roger Hunko, for potential jurors to arrive in the courtroom.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Attorneys are still questioning potential jurors for the trial of John A. Booth Jr. in Lewis County Superior Court.

More later

News brief: One dead, three injured in Rochester wreck

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Updated at 11:28 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 43-year-old man from Rochester is dead and a Chehalis teenager was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 12 in Rochester Friday night.

Troopers were called about 7:40 p.m. to the wreck near Denmark Street Southwest, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Mark D. Stone, 43, of Rochester, was eastbound when his Ford Windstar van struck a guardrail on the right and then crossed into the oncoming lane and ran into a car carrying three individuals, according to the state patrol.

The driver of the Oldsmobile Alero, Carmon L. Gillaspie, 19, of Chehalis, was flown to the Seattle hospital. Two of her passengers were injured and transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, the state patrol reported.

They are: Trevor R. Duncanhostick, 23, of Oakville and Vincent R. Thorp, 19, of Walla Walla, according to the patrol.

Both vehicles were described as totaled. The roadway was blocked until just before 10 p.m.

The cause of the collision is under investigation.

Update Monday December 5, 2011 at 9:05 a.m.:  Gillaspie is listed in serious condition in the intensive care unit this morning.

News brief: Salkum triple murder trial on court schedule for next week

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Attorneys confirmed with a judge this afternoon the triple murder trial for former Onalaskan John A. Booth Jr. is a go for next week.


John A. Booth Jr.

Booth, 32, is charged with murder and other offenses related to the August 2010 gunshot deaths of two men and a teenage boy inside a Salkum-Onalaska area home. Booth is also charged with attempted murder of a woman in the same house the same night.

Jury selection in Lewis County Superior Court is expected to begin at 9:30 on Monday, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said today.

Opening statements by the lawyers may not occur until Tuesday, Meagher said.

The judge has said he thought the trial might last a week to 10 days.

Prosecutors allege Booth and Ryan J. McCarthy visited the house on Wings Way in connection with collecting money for drug debts or a “perceived” debt owed to Robert “Robbie” S. Russell. One of the victims, David West Sr. 52, was a witness in a pending case against Russell.

Also shot dead were David West Jr., 16, and a friend Tony E. Williams, 50, of Randle. Denise Salts, then 51, survived a gunshot wound to her face.

McCarthy, 32, was sentenced in September to a little more than 14 years for his role in the case following a plea deal.

Read “Court hearing reveals more details about Salkum triple slaying” from Saturday Oct. 1,  2011, here

News brief: Intoxicated inmate either fell or jumped to his death

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The inmate who died Friday night at the Thurston County Jail has been identified as 41-year-old Blake C. Matthews.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said Matthews was standing on a top bunk, leaning forward, when he appeared to a corrections officer to jump head first onto the floor.

It happened shortly before 11:20 p.m. in a holding cell where Matthews was alone and waiting to be booked, according to sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin.

Matthews had been arrested less than two hours earlier by the Lacey Police Department for assaulting a bus driver, and on a warrant for a fourth-degree domestic violence assault, Elwin said.

There was no suicide note, no indication ahead of time, Elwin said. Matthews was intoxicated however, he said.

“So, we don’t know what happened; we don’t know if it was an intentional act or he lost his balance,” he said. “We can’t tell for sure.”

An autopsy yesterday concluded Matthews cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock. Whether was an accident or suicide is not yet known, Warnock said.

News brief: Chehalis house burns

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Updated 7 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A two-story house destroyed by fire in Chehalis today may have ignited from a burning candle.

Firefighters were called out just before 1 p.m. to Northeast North Street in between Market and Washington.

Smoke and flames were coming from a window of the wood-frame home; the resident had been outside about 20 minutes when it started, Acting Capt. Pat Gilligan said.

The woman who lived there suffered smoke inhalation, and was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital to be checked out.

“I think that’s why she went back in, to get her pets out,” Gilligan said. “I saw a couple of dogs.”

Gilligan estimated 25 to 30 firefighters were on the scene, coming from Chehalis, Centralia, Lewis County Fire District 6 and Rochester.

It took some time to chase the flames around inside the walls and attic, according to Gilligan.

“The way it was built, it had a bunch of nooks and crannies and false ceilings,” he said.

Gilligan said the home and contents are probably a total loss.

The cause is under investigation, Gilligan said, but it was possibly related to a candle.

News brief: Sandbag distribution cancelled as rainfall slows

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Sandbag distribution in Centralia is cancelled as the revised forecast indicates the Chehalis River isn’t expected to reach flood stage tonight after all.

The flood warning continues on the Newaukum River in Chehalis however through tomorrow afternoon, with moderate flooding still predicted.

The heaviest precipitation shifted north overnight, according to the National Weather Service.

An advisory for urban and small stream flooding was issued overnight for parts of Western Washington, including Thurston County, western Lewis County and southeastern Grays Harbor County, according to the weather service. Another one to one and a half inches of rain is expected this morning, the weather service says.

A flood watch remains in effect through late tonight for flood-prone rivers in that area.

Emergency management officials in Centralia and in Lewis County continue to monitor weather conditions and river levels.

The flood warnings on the Chehalis River at Doty, Centralia and Grand Mound have been cancelled.

Some surface streets are still covered with water, so motorists are encouraged to use caution, a spokesperson for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Center advised this morning.

County residents are asked to report plugged culverts or roadway erosion by calling Lewis County Public Works at 360-740-1123.

Consider joining Lewis County Sirens Facebook group page for frequent and informal updates from readers during times like these.

Follow river levels and their forecasts here

Follow weather forecast, occurrences and warnings here (Click on your location, then click on the “flood warning” and read more)

News brief: Centralia passing out sandbags in the morning

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Since the National Weather Service is now predicting a phase two flood event for the Chehalis River at Centralia, the city has decided to open sandbags stations in the morning as well as activate its emergency operations center.

The river is expected to crest about four and a half feet above flood stage at Mellen Street tomorrow evening, according to a news release from Police Chief Bob Berg. The weather service currently expects it to hit minor flood stage before 8 a.m.

That’s about two feet higher than they were thinking this morning.

Sand and bags for Centralia residents only will be available starting at 8 a.m. at:

• The 100 block of West Center Street, in the northwest corner of the Destiny Christian Center parking lot.

• The 1800 block of Cooks Hill Road, in front  of the medical center

• The 200 block of East Summa Street, by the railroad tracks.

Phase two means that in addition to low-lying roads such as South Schueber, Military Road, Airport Road and possibly portions of Kresky Avenue maybe being impacted by rising waters, other residential streets in the south end of town could be affected, according to Berg.

Also, low-lying areas that traditionally flood early could experience minor to moderate flooding, Berg wrote in a news release tonight.

Changing weather patterns could change the forecast, Berg cautions.

Residents are advised to stay tuned to local radio stations for the latest weather information.

Follow river levels and their forecasts here

Follow weather forecast, occurrences and warnings here (Click on your location, then click on the “flood warning” and read more)

News brief: Heroin supplier given 11-plus year sentence

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced today a leader of a drug trafficking ring they said used runners and dispatchers and catered to customers from Pierce, Thurston, Lewis, Kitsap, and Grays Harbor counties, was sentenced to just over 11 years in prison.

Sergio Omar Valencia Garcia, 35, previously residing in Tacoma and a citizen of Mexico was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 135 months for possession of heroin with intent to deliver and conspiracy to deliver heroin, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In asking for a lengthy prison term, prosecutors noted the huge amount of heroin found in Valencia Garcia’s home; 55 pounds along with a large amount of cash, according to a news release.

He and other defendants were arrested June 9, 2010.

The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force, the Grays Harbor Drug Task Force and the Lakewood Police Department. Numerous other agencies assisted.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars, proceeds of the drug trade, was shipped to Mexico in hidden compartments built into vehicles, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Valencia Garcia most likely will be deported after he is released.

Read background “News brief: Sixty-five pounds of heroin “off the menu” after sweep” from Thursday June 10, 2010, here

News brief: Dog breeding facility burns in Winlock

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A small barn used as a kennel was destroyed by fire in Winlock this morning, along with several dogs inside.

The resident was able to rescue some dogs from a nearby building when the blaze broke out on the 700 block of South Military Road.

“Those dogs were saved, those dogs will be fine,” Lewis County Fire District 15 Assistant Chief Kevin Anderson said. “It’s a pretty sad circumstance for the family, but things could have been a lot worse.”

Firefighters from three departments called about 6:30 a.m. found the barn fully involved in flames and fought it defensively, Anderson said.

They kept the second barn and a utility trailer from burning, but the main structure and its contents were a total loss, he said. Its metal roof collapsed, he said.

Anderson said the couple are dog breeders. He thought the animals were Labradors, both adults and puppies. He did not know how many perished.

The cause is under investigation.

Pre-storm rainy season reminders from Sgt. McDowell

Monday, November 21st, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two days of heavy rains beginning tonight means flooding is possible around the Newaukum and Chehalis Rivers as well as others around Western Washington.

Lewis County Emergency Management Deputy Director Sgt. Ross McDowell said today he expects minor field flooding and urges folks to clean out leaves and debris from storm drains and culverts to help disperse the water.

A windstorm is also forecast to move through parts of Western Washington after 10 o’clock tonight, with winds as much as 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

McDowell took the opportunity as flood season kicks off to remind the public that most natural disaster deaths come from walking or driving through floodwaters. November is the second most frequent month for floods in Lewis County, following February, according to McDowell.

Five such deaths occurred locally in 2006 and in 1990, according to McDowell.

Here’s what he wants people to know:

• Six inches of moving water can cause a person to fall and can cause a loss of steering control or even engine stalling.
• Twelve inches of water can float most vehicles.
• Two feet of water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.
• Beneath a water-covered roadway, the road surface could be damaged or washed away.

McDowell also offers reminders of what to do before, during and after a flood, in hopes that preparedness will keep first responders free to deal with life-threatening emergencies:


• Gather three to five days worth of emergency supplies for home, pets and livestock, including medication and cash.
• At least one plug-in wall phone will help for emergency calls in case the power goes out.
• Learn how to purify water and how to decontaminate a well.
• Keep a tankful of gas in the car.
• Keep insurance policies in a safe place.
• Listen to your radio, television or weather radio for reports of flood danger. Check river readings, road conditions and weather alerts at the county website.


• Stay away from moving water. Wash hands well if you come into contact with flood water.
• Stay away from downed power lines.
• Stay away from disaster areas unless authorities ask for help.
• Keep listening to radio or television for reports of flood danger.
• Limit phone calls to keep lines clear for emergency calls; call 911 only in life-threatening emergencies.


• Wear gloves and boots when cleaning up.
• Open all doors and windows; use fans if possible to air out buildings.
• Wash all clothes and linens in hot water.
• Discard mattresses and stuffed furniture, they can’t be adequately cleaned.
• One cup of bleach per gallon of water will work for wiping and disinfecting various surfaces; use soap and water to wash mud from walls, counters and floors.
• Cans of food can be opened after they are thoroughly washed; throw out all other food that comes into contact with flood water.


Check National Weather Service forecasts and their river level readings with the links on the right hand sidebar of Lewis County Sirens website.

News brief: Suspect in 1980s Centralia homicide to plead guilty

Monday, November 21st, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The man captured in California last spring and brought to Lewis County to face a 25-year-old murder charge is scheduled to plead guilty tomorrow in Lewis County Superior Court.


Efren J. Triana

Carlos Vidal Guiterrez is accused in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Efren J. Triana in downtown Centralia in October 1986.

The 54-year-old was picked up by the U.S. Marshals’ Service in San Benito County in central California.

Prosecutors allege Guiterrez shot the Rochester resident when the two stepped outside La Adalitas tavern to fight on Oct. 25, 1986.

Guiterrez is charged with second-degree murder and is expected to plead guilty to second-degree murder, Lewis County Deputy prosecutor Will Halstead said today.

Halstead said he did not know if it would be a straight guilty plea or a so-called Alford plea.

Guiterrez faces a sentence of somewhere between a little more than 10 years and almost 14 years, Halstead said.

He will go before Judge James Lawler at 1 p.m.


Read background in “Accused slayer of Rochester man in 1986 faces a judge today” from Wednesday April 6, 2011, here

News brief: Hunter died instantly from fall into ravine

Monday, November 21st, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Onalaska man found dead after he failed to return from a one-day hunting trip south of Randle died from an apparent fall of a significant distance, according to authorities.

David Sherwood, 56, was the subject of a search in the Ryan Lake area that ended on Tuesday; his body was discovered down a steep ravine. He had set out alone the Friday before hunting elk.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said an autopsy revealed Sherwood died of blunt force trauma, and the pathologist concluded his death was instantaneous, the coroner’s office said today.

Both the coroner and a spokesperson for the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office said they did not know what Sherwood fell onto.

McLeod said Sherwood died on Friday, Nov. 11, the day he went hunting in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Some 70 family and friends were among those who searched for Sherwood, along with Skamania County authorities and at least one veteran search and rescue member of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Read previous story, here

News brief: Shop with a Cop applications available

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Association is looking for donations and for kids for its annual Shop with a Cop event.

The program is an opportunity for underprivileged children who would benefit from positive interaction with police officers to go Christmas shopping for gifts for themselves and their family.

It kicked off 10 years ago with a fundraiser in which some $7,800 of Krispy Kreme donuts were sold, something that has has helped sustain the program for many years, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

While other fundraisers have been held, and Wal-Mart provides some financial assistance, the majority of its funds have come from sheriff’s office employees and the public, according to Brown.

“We could sure use some donations this year,” Brown says.

The event is set for Dec. 15, when each child is partnered up with a deputy, gets to go shop for presents and then ride back to the courthouse in a patrol car where they take part in a gift wrapping party.

The deadline for applications / nominations of children who would benefit is Thursday. The program is open to youngsters ages 8 through 18 who reside in Lewis County.

The applications are available from United Way of Lewis County, at 450 NW Pacific Ave., Chehalis, by calling 748-8100 and on its web site.

Donations can be sent to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Association, attention Chief Deputy Brown / Shop with a Cop, 345 West Main St., Chehalis, 98532.

News brief: House catches fire in Doty

Friday, November 18th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Doty family was chased out of their home by a house fire last night.

Nobody was hurt and the cause is under investigation, according to Lewis County Fire District 16.

Firefighters called just before 10:30 p.m. to the one and a half story house on Front Street extinguished the blaze but it reignited about 5:30 this morning, Fire Chief Greg Feuchter said.

The fire damage was confined to the upstairs, he said.

The mother and two children are staying with relatives next door, according to Feuchter.