Archive for April, 2012

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, April 30th, 2012

ASSAULT

• A 37-year-old Randle man was arrested after he allegedly attacked his wife last night because she was late getting home. Deputies called about 8:30 p.m learned the woman fled her home after her husband choked her until she saw stars, slammed her face into a floor and put his hand down her pants, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. David C. Haviland was arrested for second-degree assault, second-degree rape and related offenses and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• A 23-year-old Chehalis man was arrested on Friday night for allegedly dislocating a man’s shoulder during a dispute the day before at Stan Hedwall Park in Chehalis. The 30-year-old victim told police he was sitting in a car with his girlfriend when her ex-boyfriend approached and assaulted him, according to Chehalis police. Ryan J. Vanetta was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree assault and also malicious mischief as he reportedly threw rocks at the vehicle, according to police.

BURGLARY AND THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 1:15 a.m. today to an attempted burglary at a business on the 600 block of West Main Street. Someone broke into the smoke shop but was apparently scared away by an alarm, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police reported it was not immediately evident if anything was stolen.

• A 32-year-old Centralia man was arrested early Sunday morning for allegedly burglarizing  house under construction on the 1700 block of Hillview Road, according to the Centralia Police Department. The unspecified stolen property was found and returned to its owner, according to police. Steve Ingle Jr. was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police. Ingle was released without charges pending further investigation.

• A stolen garden pond was recovered at an Onalaska home after a couple were contacted Saturday in connection with a red pickup truck suspected to be involved with multiple burglaries and thefts. The part of the case involving a 20-year-old Onalaska woman is being referred for a possible charge of obstruction as she allegedly lied to protect her boyfriend, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The boyfriend, James C. Cunning, 35, of Onalaska, was arrested and booked for possession of stolen property in the second-degree, but he is being released without charges pending further investigation. A deputy was told of two other individuals who reportedly borrowed the truck at some point, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• A television and a laptop computer were among the items taken in a burglary at the 900 block of South Silver Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Friday morning.

• More than $1,000 of items were stolen from a Mossyrock-area home, shop and camper including tools, skis and two bottle of liquor, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The burglary reported Friday at the 100 block of Winston Creek Road happened sometime since early January, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A deputy took a report on Friday of a $6,000 farm implement stolen from the 200 block of North Military Road in Winlock sometime since April 13. The equipment, used to remove round bales of hay, had to have been towed away, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A leaf blower and a chainsaw were reported stolen from a garage Saturday evening on the 300 block of South Street in Centralia.

• Centralia police were called about 1:45 a.m. on Sunday to a tavern on the 300 block of North Tower Avenue where a woman said someone had stolen her purse.

DRUGS FOUND HIDDEN IN VEHICLE

• Morton police reported they were called to the 200 block of Jastad Road last week after a citizen discovered two large bricks of marijuana when removing the rear seat in his car. He had locked his keys in the vehicle and when trying to get in, found the “bricks” each weighing a little more than two pounds, according to the Morton Police Department. They were believed to have been there for several years, according to Chief Dan Mortensen. Mortensen said he “back tracked” the car and found it was purchased at auction in Auburn and then sold at a car lot. The chief suspected the vehicle might have come from the midwest a few years back, he said. The marijuana was taken for destruction.

WRECKS

• A 25-year-old Centralia woman was hospitalized after wrecking a bike as she was towed behind a motorcycle in the Winlock area on Saturday night. A deputy called about 7:45 p.m. to the 300 block of Raubuck Road learned she and her brother were traveling downhill when the bicycle passed the motorcycle flipped and tossed her face first onto the black top, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The woman sustained a large cut on her forehead and multiple scrapes, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• A 54-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for driving under the influence following a two-vehicle wreck about 9:30 p.m. on Friday on the 2500 block of Jackson Highway south of Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. His PT Cruiser and the pickup truck driven by a 23-year-old Chehalis resident both sustained major damage, according to the sheriff’s office. Matthew D. Clark was  booked into the Lewis County Jail, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

Fire set overnight at Centralia non-profit

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Updated at 12:24 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities are investigating an arson that occurred overnight at the offices of a Centralia community services organization.

Fires were intentionally set in two different rooms in the building on the 200 block of West Reynolds Avenue, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Damage at Reliable Enterprises is estimated at as much as $10,000, according to a news release.

Firefighters responding about 2:35 a.m. to an automatic fire alarm found smoke coming from the west side of the building and called for help from fire departments in Chehalis and Rochester, according to the news release.

Crews were able to get inside and hold the flames to two office rooms, according to Riverside Fire Authority Chief Jim Walkowski.

Several items of evidence were collected for analysis, the chief said, although he declined to share specifics.

It was not an accident, it definitely looks like a set fire, Walkowski said.

“Someone intended to cause significant damage to the building,” he said.

The fire investigation team has interviewed several people, but have no suspects.

Reliable Enterprises was founded in the 1970s to assist individuals with developmental disabilities.

The wood and metal building houses administrative offices on one side and the actual business where its clients work on the other.

They sell donated building and construction products, according to the chief. That side was unaffected and a representative told him it shouldn’t affect daily operations, Walkowski said.

The damaged offices were two of several like them inside the building.

Whether they have particular relevance is not yet known, the chief said.

“We have lots of interviews and lots of leads to work,” Walkowski said. “We don’t have any idea what a motivation might have been.”

Reliable is also involved in housing services, Head Start and “payee services” assisting clients with managing their money, among other programs, according to information from the organization.

No injuries were reported.

Pe Ell rape trial: Guilty as charged

Friday, April 27th, 2012
2012.0427.phelps.handcuffed_2

Deputies take Todd Phelps into custody after the jury verdict this morning in Lewis County Superior Court.

Updated at 3:18 p.m. on Saturday April 28, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The jury came back with guilty verdicts in the rape trial of former Pe Ell High School softball coach Todd Phelps.

It took six men and six women a little more than four hours between yesterday afternoon and this morning to make their decision.

Phelps, 52, was handcuffed and taken down to the jail.

The benches in the the courtroom in Lewis County Superior Court were packed, except for about half of them on the defendant’s side of the room.

Phelps faces as much as six years in prison when he is sentenced in the case involving a 16-year-old student player.

A sentencing date has not been set.

The expected four day trial that began last week extended into eight days as prosecutors attempted to prove Phelps gradually seduced a girl already troubled with low self esteem and depression and ultimately had sex with her they said was clearly against her wishes.

Jurors heard witnesses testify about thousands of texts exchanged between the two, before and after Phelps was forced to quit his coaching job because of boundary violations with the player.

Defense attorney Don Blair painted a picture of a caring father-figure who was attempting to prevent a suicide. Blair said his client never thought he did anything inappropriate.

The now-17-year-old girl spent a day and a half on the witness stand

Phelps did not testify.

He was found guilty of third-degree rape as well as second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor in connection with encounters last spring and summer with the high school student.

The jurors also found he used his position of trust with a particularly vulnerable victim, meaning the judge can sentence him above the standard sentencing range.

The potential sentence is anywhere between six months to six years, according to Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.

Phelps’ family and lawyer quickly vanished from the courthouse following the verdict.

The victim’s family slowly made their way out of the courtroom in Chehalis as they exchanged hugs with each other and others. It was very quiet.

Judge Nelson Hunt had warned spectators there should be no outbursts when the verdict was read.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said he had little to say since the sentencing is pending.

“As always, we have trust in the jury system,” Meyer said. “But the case isn’t over, so that’s all I can say.”

Before the jury began deliberating on Thursday afternoon, they heard an almost three hour summary from both sides about what they should consider.

Deputy Prosecutor Halstead spoke for more than two hours reminding jurors of the many details – lots of talk with sexual overtones – they’d heard that suggested Phelps had a different motive than helping a troubled teen.

In mid-April of last year, after the assistant coach was told by the school and her parents to stop having contact with her except at fast pitch, it continued with constant texting including one from him the following morning, according to Halstead.

“This should have been the end of all of this,” he said. “The state would submit to you he has a different agenda.”

Defense attorney Blair subtly told jurors it was her word against his.

None of the lawyers were involved in the situation when it was going on, he said.

“We can’t tell you, we have to rely on what everybody else said happened,” he said.

Blair agreed there were a lot of “contacts” but reminded jurors the content of the messages were unavailable, and said the prosecutor’s case relied upon a lot of smoke.

The defense attorney spoke of how Phelps had coached for as long as 18 years before “all of the sudden” something like this comes up.

His client was concerned because he learned the girl had been cutting on herself, something her father yelled at her about when it came to his attention, Blair said.

He made no secret he was trying to help her, Blair said.

Blair argued some of the prosecution’s witnesses were mistaken and that the April 2 incident at Phelps house about kissing and Phelps pressing his body against the girl’s did not happen.

“I’m not saying any of these folks did or did not lie,” Blair said. “But we know all of the stories can’t be true, because of the lack of consistency.”

The detectives found no blood on the carpet in Phelps’ brother’s house, which the girl said soaked through a towel, Phelps’ computer wasn’t analyzed and much of the prosecutor’s case relied upon what the girl and her friend said, the defense attorney said.

“Other than the contact, we don’t have that hard proof,” he said. “It’s just not there.”

On the topic of the alleged rape on July 27, Blair offered indications of both his client not even being present and if he was, that it did not amount to rape.

The defense attorney noted phone records that showed Phelps and his wife were texting late that afternoon.

“In order to get a text and reply 30 second later, one would think you’re at your phone, not committing a sex crime,” he said.

Deputy Prosecutor Halstead pointed out the records showed texts and phone calls, not all of which were answered immediately and argued they supported what the teenager told detectives.

“The defendant’s whereabouts, despite the testimony from his daughter, cannot be accounted for,” Halstead said.

Halstead reminded jurors of testimony from others that would help them understand why Phelps asked the teenager to meet him at his brother’s house the day of the rape.

He knows his brother is working out of town and his sister-in-law is going shopping with his wife, Halstead said.

“I guess he was either there, or he wasn’t,” he said. “If he was there, I guess you are to believe (the girl) consented.”

He detailed the girl’s actions and words that he said showed clearly she was not consenting to sex.

Consent is not an issue for the other charge, only that the girl was a student and the defendant was her coach, according to Halstead.

Halstead gave numerous examples of Phelps’ “grooming” the girl for sexual activity.

He also noted that after the April 2 kiss – when she was asked to show her coach the self-inflicted cuts on her thighs – a girl who had never been kissed told the youth pastor’s wife the very next day.

“She needs to express something to someone, but doesn’t want to get the defendant in trouble,” he said.

He pointed out another kiss, which Phelps said was on the forehead, was witnessed by Phelps’ daughter who told two individuals about it but denied it when she took the witness stand.

Halstead admitted the girl played a role in the continued contact between the two, although he blamed Phelps for isolating her from others, leaving him as a lone trusted confidante.

“I think it’s pretty clear she had a crush on him,” he said. “She trusts him, she probably likes the attention, she’s 16.”

Her reliance on her coach was part of why there was little physical evidence showing their conversations via text, according to Halstead.

For example, when she got caught texting him in class, she erased everything, according to Halstead.

“She’s upset, she didn’t want this to get out,” he said. “She deletes all heir texts from her iPod, her mom actually has to go under the stall (in the school bathroom) to grab the iPod.”

Halstead reminded jurors of corroborative testimony and evidence the two continued communicating after he was no longer her coach; through girls who said they acted as go-betweens, and when the teenager gave Phelps her password to him so he could message her using her hotmail account.

Two emails from September submitted as evidence were found inside a special folder called “For my little star” were important, according to the deputy prosecutor.

One was a love song by Mariah Carey called “Without you“, the other a frowning face with the words I’m sorry.

“Who is sorry? What are they sorry for?” Halstead asked.

He pointed out jurors had heard testimony the only individuals with the password were the girl, Phelps and Phelps’ daughter.

“Remember what he said to his co-worker, ‘My life would be over if they found my text messages’, ” Halstead said.

The same co-worker Mark Miller testified Phelps was “obsessed” with the teenager, Halstead reminded the jury.

“Mark warned him, stay away from her Dude, you’re a truck driver, not a shrink,” he said.

Halstead suggested Phelps misled his family, suggesting the girl was in imminent danger of harming herself and nobody was doing anything about it, when actually her family already knew about the cutting and had gotten her counseling.

He related that to a motive Phelps family members may have had to remember facts in a skewed manner when they testified, in particular Annette Phelps when she told what time she last saw he husband on July 27.

“She’s in denial, the reason she’s in denial is she doesn’t have all the information,” he said.

Halstead told the jury the girl told very detailed, consistent stories; that it took courage for her to testify.

“She was cross examined for four and a half hours,” he said. “Consistent. Nothing inconsistent with her story.”

Judge Hunt told the attorneys to return next Thursday when a sentencing date for Phelps would be set.

The second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor conviction is related to an incident that occurred on or about April 2, 2011. It is is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail.

The third-degree rape conviction is related to July 27, 2011. It is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

2012.0426.phelps.closingcrowd

Attorneys gave closing arguments in front of a large audience in Lewis County Superior Court.

Pe Ell rape trial: Family provides alibis for former coach

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Todd Phelps won’t be testifying in his rape trial, but the jury has heard from his family members they were well aware he was texting the 16-year-old girl and trying to save her life because she was suicidal.

2011.1129.todd.phelps.small_2

Todd D. Phelps

The former Pe Ell High School softball coach is charged with an incident or incidents of kissing and touching the team member before he was forced to resign a year ago. The 52-year-old is also charged with third-degree rape in connection with an encounter the girl described as taking place three months later at his brother’s house in Pe Ell.

The allegation regarding the rape charge is her lack of consent was clearly expressed by her words or conduct.

Phelps’ wife took took the witness stand yesterday, describing the girl as a talented ballplayer with little self worth who sometimes refused to talk.

“She needed encouragement,” Annette Phelps said.

She was virtually a part of their family during the summer of 2010 when they traveled often to softball tournaments, according to the Phelps’ daughter Angelina.

Angelina Phelps, now 20, said she tutored the girl in math.

“She would constantly talk about being ugly, say I cost that game for us, I can’t do this,” Angelina Phelps said.

Last spring their relationship became strained, she testified.

“She’ll wear you out,” Angelina Phelps said. “I mean, she has to have attention constantly.”

They are all residents of the small West Lewis County town of Pe Ell.

A jury of six women and six men are hearing the case in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis.

Because the expected four-day trial has already gone three days over, two jurors with previous commitments have been allowed to step down. The two alternates have stepped in.

Under questioning, Annette Phelps said she knew her husband began texting the teen in late March of last year, and he shared with his wife his dealings with the girl.

Her husband told her about the girl showing him self-inflicted cuts on her thighs she said.

“She said you can’t cry and lifted her shorts,” Annette Phelps said. Her daughter was home when it occurred, she said.

Annette Phelps recalled the girl spending the night once during spring break of last year, and being very upset and crying in the morning. The girl wouldn’t talk with her, she said, only her husband.

The teenager had stopped speaking to her father long before, she said, when he yelled at her about her cutting.

“She wanted to move out, she wanted to be emancipated,” she said. “She would tell us she didn’t even want to be home.”

Annette Phelps said her husband told her the teenager was troubled about a friend who experienced suicide in her life and another who was molested.

She said she told her husband he needed to get a hold of her parents, which he did in on April 9, she testified.

Annette Phelps testified she knew her husband had access to the teen’s hotmail account, but she never heard anything about a separate folder in there called “For my little star”. She also thought their texting ended in mid-April, she said.

In May of last year, she switched phones for her husband to keep the girl from calling, she said. She knew the girls’ parents had blocked the Phelps’ phone numbers from the girl’s phone.

Todd Phelps’ mother took the witness stand as well.

Jean Schmitt testified her son was with her at her Pe Ell home the day of the alleged incident sexual misconduct.

The 72-year-old mother of five boys said it stuck in her mind, because her daughter-in-law’s nephew had been in a very serious accident the day before and been hospitalized.

On April 2 of last year, Schmitt said, her daughter-in-law went Harborview in Seattle and Todd Phelps was with her from about 1 p.m. until 11 p.m., except when he left for five or 10 minutes to go get one of his daughters.

Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked Schmitt if she knew why her son was put on leave or why he resigned. She answered that he violated school policy to save the girl’s’ life and quit because it would be better for the girl.

Under questioning, Angelina Phelps confirmed she joined them at her grandmother’s that night.

Angelina Phelps also gave an accounting of her father’s whereabouts on July 27 of last year, the day of the alleged rape.

Her father worked that day she said. He got home about 3:30 p.m. and was still home after she drove to Chehalis in the late afternoon to drop her mother off at Starbucks, she said. He was mowing the grass when she returned and they spent the evening together, Angelina Pheps testified

Her father never goes anywhere alone now, because of this case, she said.

The prosecution originally alleged in charging documents the incident of second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor occurred on April 2, 2011. Last month, after getting new information, they ammended the charging documents to allege the incident occurred sometime between March 25 and April 3.

The teen has testified she may have gotten confused on her” timeline.”

Attorneys on both sides have said jurors won’t see much of the supposed thousands of texts exchanged between Phelps and the teenager, because they were deleted.

Defense attorney Don Blair finished calling witnesses yesterday.

Blair has told the jury he doesn’t know why the girl is saying these things about his client and Phelps at no time thought the relationship was inappropriate.

One or two rebuttal witnesses are expected to take the stand this morning.

Third-degree rape carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. There is no allegation of physical force.

Second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail.

If convicted, Phelps would be required to register as a sex offender.

Phelps remains free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
•••

For background, read previous stories by scrolling down when on the homepage.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

VEHICLE PROWLERS HIT CHEHALIS OVERNIGHT

• Chehalis police responded yesterday to seven reports of car prowls, most occurring overnight and involving thefts or attempted thefts of stereo equipment and missing items such as CDs. Some windows were broken to gain access and some were not, according to Deputy Chief Randy Kaut. The calls began about 8:20 a.m. on South Market Boulevard and included locations such as Southeast Adams Avenue, Northeast Washington Avenue and Southeast Dobson Court. One individual heard a dog barking and saw two men walking up Adams Avenue but didn’t report it until later, Kaut said. He said it’s a lot for one time period and they are likely related to the same person. One attempt involved a delivery truck in the Twin City Town Center, according to the Chehalis Police Department. An officer was called just before 5 o’clock this morning to the area of South Market Boulevard near R.E. Bennett School where two subjects were observed looking inside cars, but no arrests were made, according to police.

DUMP TRAILER HAULED AWAY

• A dump-style construction trailer was reported stolen from the 1800 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia yesterday morning. The black 2007 trailer has a license plate of 4580TK, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BURGLARY

• An unspecified variety of home electronics were stolen from a home on the 1900 block of Ahlers Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 11:20 a.m. yesterday.

• Morton police investigated a burglary last Tuesday at a residence on the 300 block of First Street. Missing was a laptop computer and a Playstation, according to the Morton Police Department.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS PUT IN GAS TANK

• Police were called just before 6 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Roosevelt Avenue in Centralia where a vehicle’s tires had been slashed and sunflower seeds place in the fuel tank.

DRUGS

• A traffic stop just after 4 p.m. yesterday at the 1500 block of Belmont Avenue in Centralia ended with two people getting arrested for possession of drugs. Charles Stilson, 37, no hometown noted, was driving with a suspended license and in his pocket an officer found a syringe and a baggie of suspected methamphetamine, according to officer John Panco. His passenger Diane Gange, 36,  no hometown noted, was found to have suspected heroin, Panco said. Both were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRIVER OF ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE ACCUSED OF ATTEMPTING TO RUN OVER DEPUTY

• A 23-year-old Tenino man was arrested for allegedly trying to run down a sheriff’s deputy with an ATV Sunday on the 7000 block of Skookumchuck Road, according to The Olympian. Read more here

Pe Ell rape trial: Teen answers questions from defense attorney

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
012.0423.todd.phelps_2

Todd Phelps, 52, speaks with defense attorney Don Blair during a break in the trial.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Testimony continued all day on Monday from the now-17-year-old alleged rape victim in the trial of former Pe Ell High School softball coach Todd Phelps, under questioning from Phelps’ attorney.

Centralia lawyer Don Blair didn’t ask about the encounter last July between the two at Phelps’ brother’s house in Pe Ell until after lunchtime and spent only about 30 minutes on the topic.

“One of the things you told us is Todd asked if you wanted to have sex, and you shrugged your shoulders,” Blair said.

“Yes, he didn’t use those words,” the girl answered.

“When your underwear and pants were off, you didn’t say no?” Blair asked.

“I shrugged my shoulders,” the girl replied.

Blair went on to elicit agreement that the teen had previously testified her former coach had once said if they did ever have sex, he would use a towel.

“When you got into the bedroom, there was a towel on the floor,” Blair asked. She agreed that was true.

“How is it you got on the floor?” he asked.

“He picked me up and put me there,” she answered.

“And you didn’t say anything?” Blair asked.

The girl agreed.

The attorney showed her a report from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and asked why Deputy Matt Schlecht wrote that she told him: “I never said no, I never said no.”

The teen said she was talking to the deputy about what occurred on a couch before the two went into the bedroom.

But Schlecht is asking about the time period inside the bedroom, Blair said.

“After the thing started, I never said no,” the girl responded.

She agreed she told a friend it was not rape, saying she thought that because she did not fight and scream.

Some 30 spectators sat in on the trial yesterday that began last week in Lewis County Superior Court, only eight of them sitting in benches behind the defendant.

Many of the witnesses have been asked to remain outside the courtroom by Blair even after they’ve testified, as he may want to recall them to the stand.

Most of the hours of questioning from the defense attorney have involved who she told what and when regarding contact and communications with Phelps beginning in April of last year, as well as about her self-inflicted cutting, conversations about suicide and other topics.

A jury of six women and six men hearing the case were told by the judge they should get to begin deliberating no later than today.

Phelps, 52, is charged with third-degree rape as well as second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor in connection with encounters last spring and summer with the high school student.

The prosecution is arguing Phelps is a man who gradually seduced a girl already troubled with low self esteem and depression. She has testified she’d never even been kissed before a kiss from her coach.

Phelps, a log truck driver, resigned his assistant softball coach position at the end of April 2011 as he was investigated by school officials about “boundary issues” with the girl.

Blair in his opening statements spoke of a coach who became close to the girl because he was worried when he learned she was cutting on herself and thought she might even commit suicide.

Blair has told the jury he doesn’t know why she is saying these things about his client and Phelps at no time thought the relationship was inappropriate.
•••

For background, read:

• “Pe Ell rape trial: Teen testifies about alleged rape” from Saturday April 21, 2012, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

LARGE MARIJUANA STASH DISCOVERED IN TIRE

• Chehalis police are trying to track down what they can after a call over the weekend from Les Schwab about a truck tired filled with marijuana. “It’s actually quite a large amount,” Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said. Kaut said a Centralia resident bought a truck a year or so ago with a spare tire in it he never used. He took it to the tire store on North Market Boulevard to have them destroy it, or whatever they do, Kaut said. That’s when the drugs were found, according to Kaut.

FOOT PURSUITS END WITH ARRESTS

• A Packwood man was booked into jail Saturday following a visit to Morton General Hospital after he was Tased by a deputy and fell to the ground, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies went to a residence late Friday night on the 13,000 block of U.S. Highway 12 looking for Efren E. Barron, wanted on a warrant, according to the sheriff’s office. Barron took off running and was chased, Cmdr. Steve Aust said. He was transported for treatment of what Aust described as minor cuts to his hands, knee and arm, before being booked into the Lewis County Jail for his warrant and obstruction, according to Aust.

• When Centralia police tried to contact a man wanted on a warrant about 8:20 p.m. on Friday in the 600 block of Harrison Avenue, he fled through a restaurant and was caught coming out the back door, according to the Centralia Police Department. Randy M. Haroldson, 29, of Centralia was found to be in possession of both methamphetamine and marijuana, according to police. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

VANDALISM

• Somebody threw a brick through the front window of a home on the 2900 block of Borst Avenue breaking a television set as well as the window, according to the Centralia Police Department. An officer was called to the scene just before 1 a.m. yesterday, according to police.

THEFT

• A blue scooter was reported taken from a garage on the 100 block of Haliday Road in Centralia on Saturday morning. It is a 202 Yamaha with a license plate reading 6A6980, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A deputy was called late Saturday afternoon to the 400 block of Jorgensen Road in Onalaska about the theft of a water pump and chain saw. The items were stolen sometime between April 12 and Thursday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is estimated at $850, according to the sheriff’s office

• Police were called on Friday afternoon to the 1100 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia where an officer took a report that a 17-year-old boy stole medication and made unauthorized charges on a credit card including purchasing a cell phone, according to the Centralia Police Department

• Centralia police were called late Sunday afternoon about money stolen from a juke box at the 1200 block of Alder Street.

• Police were called about 11:50 p.m. on Saturday about a car prowl on the 1400 block of Johnson Road in Centralia. Someone rifled through some papers in the vehicle, but nothing appeared to be missing, according to police.

• A wallet was stolen from a vehicle parked on the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police Saturday afternoon. A passenger window was broken out to get inside, according to police.

DRUGS

• A 45-year-old motorist was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after he was pulled over about 4:40 a.m. today in Centralia for driving with a suspended license. Eugene Amburgy was booked into the Lewis County Jail following his contact with n officer on the 300 block of Centralia College Boulevard, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• A 23-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for possession of heroin after she was detained for allegedly trying to steal a car cell phone charger about 7:20 p.m. on Friday at the 600 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia, according to police. Jennifer M. Smith was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

WRECKS

• Centralia police assisted with a multiple vehicle collision on southbound Interstate 5 around 10 p.m. on Saturday that closed the freeway briefly. Nobody was seriously injured, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 39-year-old Onalaska woman was hospitalized after a two-vehicle collision about 7:30 a.m. today on U.S. Highway 12 at Morton, according to the Washington State Patrol. Debra Brehmeyer was traveling eastbound when she slowed to turn and her Jeep was struck by an eastbound Ford F350 pickup, according to the state patrol. Both vehicles were totaled, according to the patrol. Brehmeyer was transported to Morton General Hospital for back pain, according to the investigating trooper. The driver of the truck, 25-year-old Cody Carson of Oakland, Ore., was reportedly not injured.

CHILDREN SUSPECTED BEHIND SATURDAY’S SHOP FIRE IN CHEHALIS

• Three Chehalis boys detained after a fire on Saturday that destroyed a two-story shop building may have been playing with matches they found inside, according to police. Some kids were seen running away from the area of the Ohio Avenue fire and interviewed, according to Deputy Chief Randy Kaut. They are 10, 11 and 14 years old, he said. Kaut said it appeared, depending on which of the boys you talk to, it was either an accident or intentional igniting of items. A cardboard box caught fire and it sounds like they tried to put it out themselves, but then ran away, he said. The case is being referred to the Lewis County Prosecutors Office for possible charges of arson, he said.

News brief: Kids investigated after shop fire in Chehalis

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012
2012.0421.cheh.shopfire.johnmain.trim_2

Fire breaks out on Ohio Avenue in Chehalis. / Courtesy photo by Terrence Thompson

•••

2012.0421.cheh.shopfire.extinghp_2

Fire put out on Ohio Avenue in Chehalis

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A large fiberglass boat was spared when a two-story shop building went up in flames yesterday in Chehalis.

Three Chehalis firefighters were joined by more than a dozen members of nearby fire departments when they were called around 5:30 p.m. to the 800 block of Ohio Avenue.

The wood structure was fully involved with 50-foot tall flames, and is a total loss, even though they knocked it down fairly quickly, Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Casey Beck said.

No injuries were reported, but Beck said he understood some kids seen in the area were rounded up by police and may have been playing with fire inside.

Firefighters used foam and kept the blaze from spreading to neighboring homes, he said.

The shop is owned by an individual who lives in Seattle, according to Beck.

The boat, parked right in front of the shop, and a nearby heavy duty mechanic’s truck were saved, he said.

“How it didn’t burn, I do not know,” Beck said of the boat. “It had a little tiny melting in the back.”

2012.0421.cheh.shopfire.birleyhp_2

Chehalis Firefighter Jay Birley adds foam to the fire

•••

2012.0421.cheh.shopfireover.boat_2

The burned building is fairly close to two residences.

Pe Ell rape trial: Teen testifies about alleged rape

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Caution: The following news story about the testimony of an alleged teenage rape victim contains passages that are graphic and not suitable reading for all audiences.

CHEHALIS – When the teenage girl from Pe Ell spoke yesterday in court about the day last summer when the 51-year-old man she knew as a softball coach and mentor allegedly had sex with her against her wishes, the prosecutor asked her: Why didn’t you leave?

2011.1129.todd.phelps.small_2

Todd D. Phelps

The now-17-year-old and the defendant Todd Phelps had been kissing on a couch after she pulled her pants partway down to show him the cuts she’d made on her upper thighs – because he’d asked – and he suddenly pulled off her pants and subsequently her panties, she testified.

“He asked if we were gonna have sex, I shrugged my shoulders,” she had just told Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead. “He asked me to follow him in the bedroom.”

Phelps had grabbed a towel and her pants and carried them with him, she told Halstead. She stayed on the couch for three or four minutes, she said.

“I’m thinking in my head I want to leave,” the girl testified. “But I can’t, because my pants aren’t there.

“I also didn’t want to hurt him, I didn’t want him to think I didn’t appreciate him, respect him.”

She went to the doorway of the bedroom, she said.

A jury of six women and six men are hearing the case in Lewis County Superior Court that began on Tuesday and will continue into next week.

Phelps is charged with third-degree rape as well as second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor in connection with encounters last spring and summer with the high school student.

The prosecution is arguing Phelps is a man who gradually seduced a girl already troubled with low self esteem and depression. She has testified she’d never even been kissed before the startling kiss from her coach.

The allegation regarding the rape charge is her lack of consent was clearly expressed by her words or conduct, according to charging documents.

Defense attorney Don Blair in his opening statements spoke of a coach who became close to the girl because he was worried when he learned she was cutting on herself and thought she might even commit suicide.

Blair has told the jury he doesn’t know why she is saying these things about his client and Phelps at no time thought the relationship was inappropriate.

When the teenager took the witness stand on Thursday afternoon, she spoke of “the kiss” and texting that led to the suspension and end of the assistant fast pitch coach’s job.

On Friday morning, when her testimony continued with questions from the prosecution, she spoke of mid-April of last year as rumors and taunting at school  followed Phelps’ suspension.

“Did you love him?” Halstead asked.

“Yes, as a “father”, as a mentor, as a, not a romantic love,” she said.

She had already testified she was angry at her parents, and at the youth pastor’s wife who broke her confidence and told the school about the kiss that ‘freaked her out.” She indicated she felt her coach was the only one she could still confide in.

Days later, however, Phelps and his wife met with her parents, she thought because he wanted to straighten things out so he could continue to coach, she testified.

Instead, he told them all her “secrets” like about her cutting, trying drugs, sneaking out and things she’d confided to him about a friend and rape, and about other friend and suicide, she told Halstead.

Phelps had told the school district superintendent the kiss was on her forehead and the texting would stop, that he was only trying to help the teen.

After the meeting, her father and Phelps appealed to the school, successfully, not to let him go.

At the next softball practice, she still was very angry at her coach, but he spoke to her in the dugout, she testified.

Phelps told her he’d been married twice and never loved anyone as much as her, the girl told Halstead under questioning.

“How does that make you feel?” the deputy prosecutor asked.

“I’m like flattered, at the same time scared, but not too scared,” she answered.

About a week later, she was caught in class texting with her coach, she testified. He was forced to quit.

She was upset, feeling like the team – which had taken the state championship the year before – would crumble and she would be blamed, she testified.

Under questioning, the girl described how for the next three months the two continued to communicate using her friends’ phones and also when she gave him the password to her email account, so he could use it to send messages to her on it.

“What did you think the relationship was?” Halstead asked her.

“I was really confused cause I didn’t know if it was like a romantic love, or coach,” she said. “I wanted it to be just friends.”

Halstead drew from her the content of some of the communications, that she had already told to a detective.

Her coach sent her a song called “Sex” and told her there were rumors they were doing it, and he wished it were true, she testified.

Phelps continued to talk about sex, saying things like orgasms fix migraines and how he would be gentle with her, she testified.

She testified Phelps told her the age of consent was 16, but she would be worth going to jail for.

“When he was saying all this stuff, I was trying to come up with ways to say no without hurting his feelings,” she said.

He told her to meet him one day last July to meet him at his brother’s house in Pe Ell, she testified. She walked there.

“I was like scared my parents would find out,” she testified.

Phelps asked if she was nervous, she told Halstead. “I said a little bit,” she said.

He held her hand, gave her a hug, she said.

They sat on a couch.

“He asked about cutting, he asked if I was going to show him,” she said.

He unbuttoned her pants, she stood up, he pulled her towards him and looked at them, felt them, she said.

“He says, I can’t believe you’re doing this to yourself,” she said.

“He says, why don’t you take these off,” she said. “I said no, I want to leave my pants on.”

The teenager testified Phelps pulled her pants down to her ankles, and then pulled her on top of him onto the couch.

“What happens next?” Halstead asked.

The girl said Phelps kissed her and she didn’t kiss him back. Then he kissed her more.

“I kissed him back a little,” she said.

She continued to testify: He put his hand down her panties, she pulled it out.

The second time he did it, he’s saying she should like it, she said. She pulled away, turned her face so he couldn’t kiss her and then sat up and got off of him, she said.

Phelps came her way and then laid her down on her back, she testified. He grabbed her panties and pulled them off, she said.

“I don’t think I said anything, but I covered up my private area,” she said.

He asks doesn’t she want him to see and she says no, she said.

“He says you can trust me,” she said. “So I’m like, trying to trust him.”

But instead, she said, he actually put his fingers inside of her and it hurt, she testified.

Warning number two: The story the girl told in court under oath may be troubling to readers. Any reader who doesn’t want to feel troubled, should stop reading. (more…)

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, April 20th, 2012

THEFT

• Centralia police were called yesterday morning to a vacant home that had been foreclosed on after someone made off with the stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, water heater and wood stove, according to the Centralia Police Department. The home is on the 300 block of Linda Lane.

• Chehalis police were called just after 6 p.m. yesterday to a burglary on Southwest Third Street. Further details were not readily available.

• Someone broke into a vehicle on the 1100 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia and stole an iPod and other items, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called to the  900 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia about 8:30 a.m. yesterday where someone had broken out a window of a parked vehicle.

• Centralia police are trying to link a man arrested for trafficking in stolen property with local burglaries they suspect he may have been involved in over the past two months. Solano R. Trevino, 51, was arrested last week at a motel on 1300 block of Lakeshore Drive where officers found suspected stolen goods, according to Officer John Panco. Panco says detectives have connected him to at least four burglaries. Police are asking anyone who may have been burglarized during that period but not reported it to do so. Panco says to contact detective Rick Hughes at 33-7680.

SHED FIRE

• Firefighters couldn’t find anything that pointed to the cause of a smokey fire yesterday in an RV park on the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Riverside Fire Authority called about 1 p.m. found smoke billowing from a shed, according to Capt. Ken Colombo. It was gutted. He estimated the loss at about $5,000.

Pe Ell rape trial: Girl tells of kissing

Friday, April 20th, 2012
2012.0419.phelps.trial_2

Todd Phelps leans over to talk with supporters during a break in his trial.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The alleged rape victim in the trial of former Pe Ell High School softball coach Todd Phelps took the witness stand yesterday.

She spoke of “the kiss” and answered numerous questions about herself and her interactions with her fast-pitch coach.

The now-17-year-old was not asked about the events that amounted to a third-degree rape charge; she is scheduled to continue testifying this morning.

Phelps, 52, is charged with rape as well as second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor in connection with encounters last spring and summer with the then-16-year-old student.

A jury of six women and six men are hearing the case in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis.

Jurors have already heard from a youth pastor’s wife and friends in whom the girl confided, as well as her parents, another coach and some who described inappropriate behavior on the part of Phelps.

All are witnesses for the prosecution. Phelps’ attorney has not yet called any witnesses.

The girl described the summer before her sophomore year as one in which she spent a great deal of time at the Phelps’ house. She and their daughters were friends and played on the softball team Phelps coached. She was close to his wife because they attended the same church, she said.

The teenager revealed under questioning that that autumn, her family sought help for her depression when they learned she had been cutting herself.

The following spring, when soft ball started up again and coach Phelps asked about it, she wanted to explain it to him, she testified.

He was driving her home after an outing to “scout” at a softball game in Adna, but he parked at the church in Pe Ell before dropping her off, she said.

He told her a story about an individual who’d gotten into an accident and said she was his second chance to help a teenager, the girl testified. And then he told her “lots of dirty stories” about sexual experiences in his past, she said.

Why? Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked.

“He said it was to reassure me he wouldn’t tell my secrets,” she said.

“He told me he was going to text me, so he could make sure I was not cutting myself,” she said.

She went to his house a few days later, because he wanted to see the cuts on her legs, she testified.

He had her go into the bedroom and asked her to pull her pants down, she said.

The cuts were on the front of her upper thighs, she said.

“I started crying because I don’t show many people,” she said.

The girl testified Phelps said come here, and he hugged her.

And then he pulled her down on top of him on the bed, she said.

Then they went into the living room, she said.

After, as they texted each other, Phelps told her she shouldn’t be dating her boyfriend, because he’s also “a cutter”, she said under questioning.

On April 1, she finally broke up with her boyfriend, which left her crying and upset, according to the girl.

“Why did you do that,” Halstead asked.

“Because he told me to,” she said. “I felt like what he had to say was best. I thought I should just listen to him.”

The girl testified she confided to Phelps she then cut herself again.

The next day, Phelps drove her to his house and the first thing he said was, you know I’m going to have to see those cuts, she testified.

She said no, just hold on as she didn’t want to go in the bedroom again, because that scared her before, she said.

But they did and the same thing happened again, according to the girl. But this time, he also kissed her, many times, she said. And pressed his body against her, she said.

She said she was nervous and scared and didn’t want to be there anymore.

“Why didn’t you leave?” Halstead asked.

“He was important in my life,” she said. “I didn’t want him to think less of me.

The girl was asked about another day during the first week in April in which she spent the night at the Phelps, and she and one of his daughters slept on the couch.

“The next morning I wake up and he is kissing me on the lips,” she testified.

His daughter woke up, and “he points to his forehead, like, just on the forehead,” she said.

She didn’t want to tell anyone, because it meant both of them would be in trouble, she testified. But she did, the day after the second incident in the bedroom, she said.

She confided in Melodie Porter, the wife of the youth pastor at her church, she said.

“Why did you tell Melodie?” Halstead asked.

“I was really freaked out about it, and I didn’t know what to do about it,” she said.

Phelps, a log truck driver, resigned his assistant softball coach position at the end of April 2011.

His resignation came when the school district superintendent told him he had two choices after being investigated for violating boundary policies including texting the student, being alone with the student and “the kiss” Phelps said was on the forehead.

Third-degree rape carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. There is no allegation of physical force or violence.

Second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail.

If convicted, Phelps would be required to register as a sex offender.

He remains free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

Breaking news: Body found in Chehalis River

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
2012.0418.daniel.kuhn.trim_2

Daniel Kuhn during his deployment in Iraq. / Courtesy photo

Updated at 9:37 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A deputy surveying an area for Sunday’s dive team search for the missing rafter found a body this evening in the Chehalis River in between Doty and Dryad.

“It matches the description, we believe it’s him,” Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Steve Aust said.

Twenty-four-year-old Daniel Kuhn took part in Saturday’s Pe Ell River Run and hasn’t been heard from since.

The coroner’s office and Aust were just departing the area off the 200 block of Doty-Dryad Road just before 8 p.m.

The body was found submerged in about five feet of water, Aust said.

Kuhn, who lives in Olympia, is from Michigan, according to one of his friends Tony Abbot.

He was rafting with several others on Saturday, but got separated from his group and indicated he would meet them down river. When he didn’t show up by about 8 p.m. that night, they departed thinking he must have  left with other friends, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

He wasn’t reported missing until Monday afternoon, according to the sheriff’s office.

He never retrieved his truck from where he had left it parked. The sheriff’s office yesterday said they learned a raft like his had been found on a gravel bar on Sunday.

Kuhn is a member of the National Guard, with the group based at the Centralia Armory, according to Abbott. Kuhn served in Iraq in 2008 and 2009, Abbott said.

The sheriff’s office was planning a search on Sunday by the dive team.

Aust said when the deputy went out there to scope out the area this evening, he decided to get in the water and look some more. It was about 6 p.m.

The spot is near the rails to trails trail, about 450 yards upstream from the trestle, according to Aust.

Aust met with Kuhn’s mother this evening, who flew in from Michigan last night.

Kuhn’s mother – after Aust visited – said she wanted to express her gratitude to the community, especially the soldiers.

“The military was Danny’s second life,” Deborah Rudisel said. “And he really did love Washington. I tried to get him to come home a couple of times.”

Abbott said he’s trying to “put something together” for his friend on Saturday.

“Danny was a great man,” he said. “He’ll never be replaced.”

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

THEFT

• Somebody stole a John Deere utility vehicle and the garden tools stored on it from the 200 block of Tennessee Road in Winlock sometime between Monday and yesterday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is estimated at $4,700.

• Police were called about 12:30 p.m. yesterday about a burglary to a garage on the 700 block of Euclid Way, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called just before 11 a.m. yesterday to a residence on Northeast Cascade Avenue near Main Street about a stolen .22 caliber gun. It had gone missing about two weeks earlier, according to the report.