Archive for July, 2011

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, July 31st, 2011


• A teenage girl was arrested for third-degree assault for allegedly kicking a police officer as she was being taken into custody for an outstanding warrant last night. The incident occurred during a contact with police about 9 p.m. at the 2800 block of Russell Road in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A bag of new clothing just purchased from Carters was stolen from a vehicle parked on the 500 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to  police on Friday afternoon.


• Police took a report yesterday morning of a window broken out from a vehicle on the 1300 block of View Avenue in Centralia.


• A 39-year-old woman was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after a motorcycle wreck about 6 p.m. yesterday on the 1600 block of Lincoln Creek Road, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Death in prison of convicted Lewis County murderer “appears” to be suicide

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The death of a 54-year-old Lewis County man at Stafford Creek Corrections Center near Aberdeen this week appears to be a suicide, according to a spokesperson for the prison.

Daniel W. Johnson was found dead in his cell Wednesday morning with a plastic bag over his head, prison officials said.

Johnson began his prison sentence in 1993 after he was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in Lewis County.

He was arrested in December 1991 after a man and a woman were found stabbed to death in a home on Elk Creek Road near Doty. The victims were the resident, Paul Pilz, and his friend Eleanor Warden.

Johnson, then 34, had grown up in the area, and stayed the night at the home after his truck became stuck in the mud a few miles away, according to court documents.

He had just been released from psychiatric treatment days earlier, and had a five-year psychiatric history, according to court documents.

Johnson was serving a 27-year sentence and had been at Stafford Creek since May 2010 when he was transferred from McNeil Island Corrections Center, according to the state Department of Corrections. He was living in a minimum security unit.

Prison spokesperson Sheri Izatt said Johnson was scheduled for release in March 2015 and hadn’t committed a serious infraction since 1994.

Preliminarily, the death appears to be suicide, Izatt said.

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office is investigating his death. The prison is conducting a separate investigation.

The Grays Harbor County Coroner’s Office said a determination of the cause and manner of Johnson’s death is pending toxicology results.

An autopsy was conducted yesterday and nothing suspicious was found, Deputy Coroner George Patrick said.

Court records from 1993 say Johnson was a father of two children and divorced.

News brief: Three hurt in Rochester head-on collision

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 20-year-old driver was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after a head on crash on U.S. Highway 12 in Rochester yesterday afternoon.

Troopers called about 4:45 p.m. to the scene near Pecan Street said both cars were totaled and a third vehicle driven by a Chehalis woman was damaged from debris from the wreck.

Kory J. Hardcastle, 20, of Tumwater was westbound when his Honda Civic crossed over the centerline striking an eastbound Toyota Avalon, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Hardcastle was taken by helicopter to the Seattle hospital, according to the state patrol.

The occupants of the Toyota, William C. Meyers, 77, and Carol M. Meyers, 74, both of Olympia, were transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, the state patrol reported.

Debris from the wreck struck a nearby pickup and trailer causing about $1,000 damage, according to the investigating trooper.

Its occupants, Kristin Lusk, 27, Jannette M. Largen, 60, and Michael A. Largen, 66, were reportedly uninjured.

The state patrol blamed the crash on inattention.

Salkum fire chief loses bid to get job back

Friday, July 29th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Former Salkum-area Fire Chief Phillip McDaniel today lost his lawsuit claiming wrongful termination.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt signed an order this morning granting Lewis County Fire District 8’s motion to dismiss the case.

McDaniel was fired in August 2009 after almost three years as the paid chief for the volunteer department, following about 17 years of working in the same capacity as a volunteer.

His attorney contended a new trio of fire commissioners decided they wanted to go back to having a volunteer chief and terminated McDaniel without cause, even though his contract was still in effect.

Seattle lawyer Jon Rosen told the judge in a hearing this morning the criticisms only began after Sharon DeBuhr was elected to the board of commissioners.

“In fact, that’s what occurred,” Rosen said. “Mrs. DeBuhr’s husband became the volunteer chief.”

The lawyer for the fire district told Judge Hunt there really was no dispute McDaniel was fired for cause.

Seattle attorney Stephanie R. Alexander noted instances of personal work on the department computer and that McDaniel refused to turn over the password to the computer when asked by one of the commissioners.

Rosen said these were issues for a jury to decide, but the judge disagreed.

Hunt, when he announced his decision, said the insubordination related to the password stood on it own as a reason for the firing.

McDaniel was in the Chehalis courtroom today, but had no comment.

Fire District 8 operates with some 50 volunteer members and protects about 200 square miles in middle Lewis County. It’s annual operating budget is about $400,000.

McDaniels’s case was filed in Lewis County Superior Court in January of last year, and moved to U.S. District Court, until it was remanded back to Lewis County three months ago.

It initially included complaints for breach of contract, defamation and a civil rights violation as well.

Volunteer Fire Chief Dave DeBuhr has been replaced with Mayfield Village resident George Penzenik.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 29th, 2011


• Police arrested a 36-year-old Centralia man for second-degree rape early yesterday morning on the 3000 block of Fords Prairie Avenue. Jason B. Banks had been staying a few days with a friend, and she awoke about 4 o’clock in the morning to him attacking her, according to Officer John Panco. She pushed him off her and called police, Panco said. Banks was booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• Centralia police called to a report of a fight about 10:20 p.m. last night at the 1200 block of Windsor Avenue arrested a belligerent 19-year-old Centralia man for being a minor consuming alcohol. According to the Centralia Police Department, as an officer was transporting Emmanuel Martinez to jail, Martinez made threats to kill the officer and his family. Martinez was subsequently booked for felony harassment, according to Officer John Panco.

• A 41-year-old Onalaska man was arrested last night for unlawful imprisonment after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and either held or locked her into a bathroom at an Onalaska residence. Deputies who went to the 100 block of Fickett Road found Owen J. Fickett uncooperative and used a Taser on Fickett, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Fickett was booked into the Lewis County Jail for unlawful imprisonment and referred for potential charges of resisting arrest and fourth-degree assault domestic violence, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• Chehalis police arrested a 38-year-old Chehalis resident yesterday for second-degree assault in connection with an incident  last week in which a pedestrian said he was attacked by the driver of a red Jeep behind the Kit Carson restaurant and Relax Inn on Southwest Interstate Avenue. Michael A. Mitchell, 38, was booked into the Lewis County Jail yesterday evening, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Police had been called about 9 p.m. on July 20 to a report of a fight and found an injured 46-year-old Toledo man. He told officers a driver yelled at him and as he approached the Jeep, the driver attacked him, police reported at the time. Mitchell is not being charged, pending further investigation.


• Centralia police were called yesterday by a woman who reported someone used her bank account information to join an online dating website.


• Police were called yesterday morning to the 1200 block of Logan Street to a complaint that sometime during the night an unknown person pruned branches off a tree. It has happened three times, according to the Centralia Police Department.

News brief: Two injured in two I-5 wrecks

Friday, July 29th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A collision early this morning between a semi truck and a passenger vehicle on Interstate 5 south of Napavine sent a 37-year-old Centralia man to the hospital.

Shawn Gammon was northbound near milepost 66 when the left-side front of his pickup truck struck the rear right corner of a 2008 Peterbilt, according to the Washington State Patrol.

A trooper called to the scene about 4:40 a.m. reported Gammon’s truck then ran into the center concrete barrier.

Gammon was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with cuts to his face and soreness in his back and neck, the state patrol reported. His 2007 Nissan Frontier was totaled.

The driver of the big rig was reportedly uninjured.

The wreck follows another one at about 8:15 p.m. last night in which a woman was hospitalized after a rollover accident on Interstate 5 in Chehalis.

Troopers called to the northbound lanes near the Chamber of Commerce Way interchange found the 2004 GMC Envoy on its top.

Eileen M. Morgan, 55, of Elma, was northbound when she tried to change lanes, noticed a vehicle next to her and overcorrected losing control of her vehicle, according to the state patrol.

Morgan was taken to Providence with a cut to her head, according to the investigating trooper. Her vehicle was destroyed.

Lawyer wants evidence of 2009 Centralia bank robbery tossed out

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Michael Anthony Lar is shown his seat in Lewis County Superior Court this morning.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Defense attorney Don Blair asked a judge today to suppress evidence against accused bank robber Michael Anthony Lar, contending police made an illegal arrest of Lar in January 2010.

Lar is currently serving a sentence of life in prison without any possibility of release following his conviction for the attempted robbery of Twin Star Credit Union in Centralia on January 25 of last year.

While he was being held in the Lewis County Jail and on trial, police got DNA samples they say matched material found on duct tape from an unsolved similar robbery at the same financial institution in January 2009.

The 58-year-old is awaiting trial on the 2009 robbery.

Blair told Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler today his motion to suppress evidence stems from the arrest in the 2010 case, and an expected decision this fall on Lar’s appeal of that conviction could settle the issue.

The judge did not make any decision today on the motion.

Employees arriving for work at Twin Star Credit Union on South Gold Street early on Jan. 25, 2010 found a man inside, who held one of them briefly, until an arriving Centralia police officer pulled her out a door to safety and fired two shots at the man inside the bank.

Officers set up containment around the building and entered several hours later to find nobody inside.

About 9:45 p.m. that night, according to Blair’s motion, Olympia police were advised of a suspicious person waiting for a cab at a downtown hotel; Lar was taken by a taxi but pulled over about two blocks away.

Blair goes on to write: Lar was ordered out of the vehicle at gunpoint and ordered to lay face down on the ground. Arriving Centralia police officers immediately ordered Olympia officers to arrest him.

“At the time Mr. Lar was arrested, he had not even been rolled over from where he was laying,” Blair wrote.

Lar was taken to the Olympia Police Department where he was searched and photographed, according to Blair.

Charging documents in the case describe a Centralia police officer who waited in the hospital room with Lar at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and then interviewed him.

Blair writes the the burden is on prosecutors to prove the warrantless seizure and arrest was justified under one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement.

Lar’s trial is currently scheduled for the week of Nov. 28.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer today said even though Lar was sentenced to life under the three strikes law for the 2010 case, his office finds it necessary to pursue charges in the 2009 robbery.

That’s because it’s potentially possible Lar could be successful in his current appeal, Meyer said.

Read background on the two cases, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 28th, 2011


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 21-year-old woman last night for allegedly stealing checks from a former roommate in Mossyrock. A deputy called to the 100 block of state Route 122 was told by a 62-year-old man four checks of his were missing. Kimberly A. Hennagir was contacted and then arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for two counts of forgery and one count of financial fraud, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Chehalis police arrested a 29-year-old man for stealing a fingerprinting ink pad from the police department lobby Tuesday morning. Detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said Daniel S. West had come in to report his wallet was stolen. West was arrested for third-degree theft and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to McNamara. Ordinarily officers don’t book people for misdemeanors, but West has exhibited some behavior that led police to hope to get him a position where he may be able to talk to a mental health specialist, according to McNamara.


• A 52-year-old Randle man was arrested for possession of heroin and methamphetamine last night in Centralia. Brian E. Bridges was booked into the Lewis County Jail following his contact with an officer at 9:20 p.m. at the 2300 block of North Pearl Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Read about Lewis County convict found dead in prison cell …

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A man who began his prison sentence in 1993 after he was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in Lewis County was found dead in his cell with a bag over his head this morning, according to KXRO Newsradio.

Daniel Johnson, 54, was scheduled for release from the prison near Aberdeen in March 2015, KXRO reports.

Read more about it here

Attorneys ready for another bank robbery trial; same Centralia institution twice in two years

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 58-year-old man whose history reportedly includes at least seven bank robberies – some he’s been convicted of and some he’s admitted to – over more than a quarter of a century will be in Lewis County Superior Court tomorrow as lawyers prepare for his November trial, for bank robbery.

Michael Anthony Lar is currently serving a sentence of life in prison without any possibility of release following the attempted robbery of Twin Star Credit Union in Centralia and a jury trial last year.

In that case, according to court documents, Lar broke a window early on a January morning and waited inside for employees to arrive to the building on South Gold Street.

Court documents describe how his plan was foiled, but he nearly evaded capture:

The first entering employee screamed, prompting a call to 911 and the arrival of police. An officer pulled the woman outside to safety and fired two shots at the ski-mask wearing, would-be bandit.

Police surrounded the bank, but after hiding in nearby bushes nearly 12 hours, a wounded Lar called a taxi and headed to Olympia, where he was arrested the same night.

His BB gun, six-inch knife and ski mask were later found north of the bank.

Lar was convicted by a jury in March of last year in Lewis County Superior Court of first-degree attempted robbery, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary.

While he awaited sentencing, a Centralia police detective got DNA samples that matched material found on duct tape from an unsolved similar robbery at the same financial institution a year earlier, according to court documents.

According to charging documents in the current case, Lar was waiting for employees to arrive early on the morning of Jan. 2, 2009.

The documents go on to allege how he managed to get away with approximately $360,000:

As the second employee began to enter the building, she heard crunching in the snow behind her, and was pushed inside.

He told the two women to open the vault and get the armored car cash drop which had been delivered two days earlier. He ordered them to lay face down on the floor and duct taped their hands and feet together before leaving.

Lar was charged in May of last year with first-degree robbery, two counts of unlawful imprisonment and first-degree burglary.

When he was charged, court documents showed he had a north Seattle address, although he was in the Lewis County Jail awaiting sentencing. He is currently residing in prison.

Tomorrow morning’s hearing is the type in which attorneys on both sides typically report to a judge if they are or are not on track for an upcoming trial.

Lar’s trial is scheduled for the week of Nov. 28. His defense attorney is Don Blair.

He is appealing last year’s conviction.

Court documents note the following other bank robberies in which Lar has either been convicted of or admitted to. He reportedly often used an air pistol:
• 1982, Wyoming
• Dec. 22, 1984, Interwest Savings Bank, Stanwood
• Feb. 21, 1985, First Interstate Bank, Stanwood
• March 14, 1996, Riverview Savings Bank, Longview
• March 29, 1996, First Community Bank, Centralia
• May 31, 1996, First Community Bank, Tumwater
• July 24, 1996, Mohave County Federal Credit Union, Arizona

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011


• Somebody entered a vacant Centralia area home and broke several windows as well as spray painted graffiti inside and out, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called yesterday to the 2200 block of Graf Road learned it happened sometime since last Wednesday.

• A deputy took a report yesterday of a burglary at the 400 block of West Reynolds Avenue in Centralia. Sometime between 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday someone entered through an unsecured door and stole $300 cash and jewelry, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police yesterday took a report of a burglary to a shed on the 300 block of N Street. It occurred sometime in the previous 10 days, according to police.


• A 48-year-old man was arrested for two counts of felony violation of a domestic violence protection order, following an investigation of phone calls made from the Lewis County Jail that began early last week, according to the sheriff’s office. James L. Evans Jr. of Kennewick, was arrested and also his case was referred for 13 more possible attempts to violate a protection order, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

Online visits for jail inmates coming to Lewis County

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Jail is moving forward to install an Internet-based system for visitation with inmates that some are hoping will be expanded to offer a form of telecommuting in other parts of the local criminal justice system.

Inmates have not enjoyed face-to-face visits for years, since the new jail was built and a video screen visitation system was installed in the Chehalis facility.

But Jail Chief Kevin Hanson says that equipment is antiquated and hard-wired into the building; and he’s found a program he says is more versatile.

If inmates have family who live far away, they would not have to drive to Chehalis for a visit, according to Hanson. They could just log in from home, he said.

It could still only happen during the inmate’s scheduled visitation time and would cost the user about $9 for a 30 minute session, according to Hanson.

And, while children are not allowed into the the jail for visits under the current setup, they could visit through the Internet system, he said.

Another advantage is the session would be archived for a period of time, and will be a good tool for detectives investigating certain crimes by watching the visits.

The system could potentially be used by others, according to Hanson. For example, defense attorneys could have meetings with their incarcerated clients over the Internet.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer could perhaps avoid the expense of flying in expert witnesses for trials, by putting them “virtually” on the witness stand, according to Hanson.

Hanson said they hope to have the new visitation system in place by this fall, and move on to phase two of the plan; using it for video arraignments in court.

Centralia Municipal Court and Chehalis Municipal Court are on board with the idea, according to Hanson.

Hanson and Sheriff Steve Mansfield have touted the cost savings and increased security from not having to transport inmates to the courts to actually see judges.

Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg said last week he likes the idea of his officers not having to drive over to jail to bring inmates back to Centralia for court.

“It would save us a lot of money, but what really sold me on it is increased security of the court,” Berg said.

The judges in Lewis County Superior Court and Lewis County District Court are opposed to video arraignments  in their courtrooms however.

District Court Judge Michael Roewe cites a number of factors including their belief it violates court rules and would impose unnecessary work on other participants working in the criminal justice system.

News brief: Centralia police chief encouraged by sharp drop in crime

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Criminal activity in Centralia during the first six months of this year is showing a dramatic reversal from the sharp uptick that was measured in 2010, Police Chief Bob Berg reported yesterday.

Violent crime is down 29 percent and property crime is down 38 percent compared with the first six months of last year, according to Berg.

Berg notes crime in Centralia seems to be following the pattern of 2009, and continues a six-year downward trend.

The department believes its enforcement work has had somewhat of an effect of reducing the number of crimes in the city, but Berg says crime is a community problem and police can’t take too much credit when the numbers are good, nor too much blame when the numbers are bad.

Most significantly changed are felony assaults. In the first six months of 2010, the department saw 38, while in the same period this year it saw only 18, according to a news release from the Centralia Police Department.

Burglaries dropped much as well, with 117 during the first half of last year but only 68 in the first half of this year.

“We are at a loss to explain the significant single-year spike in criminal activity in 2010, other than we had several known criminals released back into the community,” Berg said in his news release.

The statistics are as measured by the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reporting system, and looks at certain offense as indicators of overall activity.

The chief reports that violent gang activity continues to be suppressed in Centralia, although incidents of graffiti tagging are on the rise.


Read about 2010 crime statistics in Lewis County, here