Archive for September, 2015

Appeals court says Toledo lottery theft sentence is too long

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Winlock woman who helped herself to thousands of dollars worth of lottery tickets while she worked at the Flying K store and gas station in Toledo partially won her appeal, that the judge imposed a clearly excessive exceptional sentence.

Katrina M. Bowen was sent to prison for four years, twice the amount of time prosecutors recommended.

Bowen was fired in September 2013 after the owners analyzed their books and confronted her. She was charged in early 2014 with first-degree theft, and pleaded guilty soon afterward, not in connection with any plea deal.

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January 2014

Bowen, then 37, stole nearly $140,000 over a period of time, saying she had a gambling problem. She also won $40,000, but the state lottery reimbursed the business owners for that portion, according to court documents.

Lewis County prosecutors included an aggravating factor that it was a major economic offense, meaning a judge would be free to hand down an exceptional sentence..

Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg recommended to Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey in March of last year that Bowen get two years. She asked for leniency based on her acceptance of responsibility for the crime. Her attorney asked that she get 90 days, the top of the standard sentencing range for a person with no criminal history.

In its opinion issued last week, the Washington State Court of Appeals acknowledged the judge was not bound by the prosecutor’s recommendation, but said the 48-month sentence was grossly disproportionate to the standard range of zero to three months.

Justice Thomas R. Bjorgen, writing for the unanimous three-member panel, wrote that the judge abused his discretion.

“We hold that the exceptional sentence was manifestly unreasonable, vacate it, and remand for resentencing,” Bjorgen wrote.

The unpublished opinion was filed Sept. 22.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh said once she gets the mandate the appeal is final – which can take as long as 60 days – she will bring Bowen back to Lewis County for resentencing.

According to the state Department of Corrections, Bowen is currently incarcerated at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Belfair.

Beigh said today that in her five years of handling appeals for Lewis County, she can’t recall a case of the appeals court saying a Lewis County judge manifestly abused his discretion.

The prosecutor’s office won’t be petitioning the state Supreme Court for a review, but still will seek an exceptional sentence, Beigh said.

It was less than four years earlier when another Winlock resident was caught stealing lottery tickets at a local grocery store where he was a longtime trusted employee and store manager. Judge Brosey gave Benjamin C. Macy 14 months in prison as Macy attempted to repay the debt. The losses to Cedar Village IGA were said to be close to $1 million.

Bowen was represented in her appeal by attorney Jodi R. Backlund from Olympia.

Backlund also argued the guilty plea was involuntary because there was not a sufficient factual basis for it, but the appeals court disagreed.
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For background, read “Winlock woman owns up to stealing thousands of dollars from her employer” from Thursday January 30, 2014, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
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•••

Updated at 7:15 p.m.

THEFT INVESTIGATION

• Centralia police were contacted yesterday by a local business about suspected embezzlement by an employee. The case was sent over to detectives to investigate, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• A pair of teenagers taking photographs for a class project at Schaeffer Park off state Route 507 north of Centralia yesterday evening returned to their vehicle to find a window broken out and both of their purses stolen, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Chehalis police were called about 3:20 p.m. yesterday about the theft of a puppy from inside a car parked behind Safeway on the 1100 block of South Market Boulevard. Its owner said she had locked the doors but left the windows cracked, according to the Chehalis Police Department. An officer got a phone call  few hours later from the victim who said her boyfriend recovered the dog from an individual in Centralia after seeing the dog on the Internet,  according to police. The male claimed he bought the puppy from another person, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.

• Chehalis police were called about 3:20 p.m. yesterday by a teenage girl who discovered someone had got into her car and stolen a backpack containing among other items, school supplies and an iPhone. It happened while she was parked outside a business on the east side of the the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis, according to the Chehalis Police Department. She had left her passenger window down, according to police.

• Centralia police were called about 11:45 a.m. yesterday to the 200 block of North Washington Avenue where approximately 50 CDs were stolen from a vehicle.

DRUGS

• A 42-year-old Centralia woman was booked into the Lewis County Jail yesterday for allegedly being caught by drug detectives with a pouch containing plastic packaging, a scale, more than $200 cash and a small bag plus a larger bag of a crystal substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine. Janet L. Gleason is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver – in a school zone – and went before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court. Her bail was set at $20,000. Charging documents indicate law enforcement began investigating Gleason sometime between May and August of this year and that she was pulled over by a detective, admitted she was on her way to Borst Park to sell 10 grams of and granted him permission to search her car. Jail records show she was booked at about 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The affidavit of probable cause does not specify where or even what day she was pulled over, but the information charging her states the alleged offense occurred on or about Sept. 17.

• A 36-year-old Packwood resident charged with allegedly growing 24 marijuana plants in his backyard this summer was summonsed to appear in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon. James M. Miller is charged with manufacture of marijuana, a class C felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A judge agreed to a $10,000 unsecured bond so he could stay out of jail while his case proceeds. Before his hearing, Miller said he has permits but didn’t give them to the sheriff’s office because he didn’t want to get harassed. Charging papers state two deputies went to his home on the 100 block of Rainbow Lane on June 28 to speak with him on another matter, and noticed the marijuana growing in his fenced backyard when a female answered the door and said Miller was not there. The officers reportedly obtained a telephonic search warrant and collected 24 plants in various stages of growth and told the female that if Miller was a medical marijuana patient, he needed to provide the paperwork to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Twenty-four is beyond the 15 plants allowed for a medical marijuana patient. On Aug. 4, when a detective spoke with Miller in the jail, Miller said he had the authorization posted on his fence, but it was stolen, charging documents indicate. Miller’s arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 8. He is the same James Miller indicted in federal court with theft and damaging government property, as one of the three alleged timber cutters involved in illegally harvesting Big Leaf Maple from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which was allegedly sold by a Winlock man to out of state companies for more than $800,000.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, obstructing, shoplifting, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, harassment, misdemeanor assault, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, violation of anti-harassment order … and more.

Outdoor burning allowed again, sparks brush fire in Ony

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
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Onalaska firefighters work to put out grass fire off Jorgensen Road. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 1

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Just because the outdoor burn ban has been lifted, it doesn’t necessarily mean wildfire danger is over.

That’s the message from the Onalaska Fire Department who spent about an hour yesterday afternoon extinguishing a fire that popped up in a field.

Crews were called just before 2:30 p.m. to the 800 block of Jorgensen Road where they found grass burning an area of approximately 150 feet by 50 feet, according to Lewis County Fire District 1.

Assistant Fire Chief Rhonda Volk said the landowner said he was burning a stump this weekend out in the middle of a field that hadn’t been used for awhile, and thought he got it all put out.

“What happens, is fire burns down into the roots, and they can smolder for months,” Volk said.

She believes the gusty winds helped reignite it.

A crew of five saturated the edges of the area and dug down to make sure the entire stump and its roots were extinguished, she said.

The outdoor burning restrictions that were put into place in mid-June in unincorporated Lewis County were lifted on Saturday morning.

“After careful review, of the current and extended weather forecast, the Lewis County Building Official-Fire Marshal, has determined that current weather conditions within Lewis County have improved and will lift the restriction to allow outdoor burning, subject to an open burning application and permit,” Lewis County Community Development Director Lee Napier stated in a news release on Friday.

Still, officials urge residents to be attentive.

The county reminds people to supervise any outdoor burning until the fire has been extinguished and to have fire extinguishing equipment on hand.

Four large wildfires broke out in Lewis County last month in the midst of an exceptionally hot and dry summer, three of them in Onalaska. The 102-acre fire off Gish Road and the Gore Road chicken farm fire at 175 acres were bigger than any seen in three decades in areas near homes.

Even campfires were prohibited for a few weeks.

Outdoor burning in unincorporated Lewis County is limited to only natural vegetation. Always prohibited is burning any kind of garbage, paper of other refuse.

To obtain an Open Burning Application and Permit, individuals may apply on-line at http://lewiscountywa.gov/burn-permit-2 or in person at the Lewis County fire marshal’s office.

For further information concerning outdoor burning, Lewis County Building Official-Fire Marshal Doyle Sanford can be reached at 360-740-1146. The fire marshal’s office is in the Lewis County Public Services building, located at 2025 NE Kresky Avenue in Chehalis.

The Lewis County Board of Commissioners makes the rules for  areas in Lewis County that are outside any city limits and not part of any state or federal lands. For information about any of those other locations, folks can call their fire department.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
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•••

Updated at 6:08 p.m.

BURGLARY CLUES: PANTIES, KID’S SHIRT

• A 63-year-old Toledo area man called the sheriff’s office yesterday after discovering someone had broken into his detached garage and stolen some equipment as well as frozen meat from his freezer but left behind a pair of women’s underwear, a child-sized T-shirt and a hair dryer. Missing is an Onan generator and a Karcher pressure washer, plus other items, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said the burglary at the 800 block of Spencer Road occurred sometime since Sept. 2, while the victim and his fifth-wheel were away from the property. It appeared someone used a card to open the lock on a side door and then reached in to push the garage door opener button, Brown said.

CUSTOMER’S RV VANISHES FROM LOT

• Police were called by the owner of a 2015 Cruise Light travel trailer who dropped it off at a Chehalis business Saturday evening to be serviced and then returned yesterday to check on the progress and learned nobody knew where it was. An officer responding to the RV sales and repair store at the 1000 block of Southwest Interstate Avenue noted it was taken through the gate when it was left there, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The loss is about $25,000, according to police. It was entered into the system as a stolen vehicle, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.

MISSING MONEY

• Centralia police were called about 11 a.m. yesterday regarding the suspected theft of cash from a business on the 100 block of South Tower Avenue. The business owner will try to resolve the issue prior to police taking enforcement action, according to the Centralia Police Department.

TRESPASSING CASE

• Centralia police are continuing to investigate a trespassing incident, reported yesterday from the 1400 block of South Tower Avenue. Police say video captured images of a female entering into a fenced compound of a closed business.

FIREARM VIOLATION

• An individual pulled over for a routine traffic stop at U.S. Highway 12 and Second Street in Morton at about 10 p.m. on Saturday was issued a citation for having a loaded handgun in the vehicle without possessing a concealed weapon permit, according to the Morton Police Department. The gun was given back after its ammunition was separated from the weapon, according to police.

VANDALISM

• Somebody spray painted graffiti onto a shed at the 2800 block of Russell Road in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday afternoon.

• Centralia police were called to the 1200 block of Ward Street yesterday where graffiti was spray painted onto a garage.

ON THE ROAD

• A Morton police officer assisted a trooper with an investigation in which a driver exited a vehicle, but left it running and in gear, and it rolled across a street into a building at the 200 block of Second Street in Morton last Thursday afternoon, according to the Morton Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, shoplifting, harassment, vicious dog, suspicious circumstances, violation of anti-harassment order … and more.

News brief: Toledo resident dies after motorcycle crash in Oregon

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 70-year-old Toledo man is dead following a motorcycle accident in southern Oregon after he lost control in a curve and struck four orange construction barrels and then a concrete barrier.

Oregon State Police reported yesterday it happened about 2 p.m. on Sunday on Interstate 5 near Siskiyou Summit.

William R. Larson was taken to Rogue Regional Medical Center by ambulance, but pronounced deceased upon his arrival at the hospital, according to Oregon State Police.

Preliminary information indicates a 2004 Yamaha motorcycle was traveling northbound on Interstate 5 negotiating a right hand curve when the rider lost control, according to police.

One lane of northbound was closed for two hours while the investigation was conducted. It is believed speed is a contributing factor. The investigation is ongoing, according to police.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, September 28th, 2015
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•••

Updated at 7:09 p.m.

ARSON INVESTIGATION

• The cause of a Saturday night fire at the 200 block of U.S. Highway 12 south of Chehalis is under investigation, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Members of Lewis County Fire District 5 – Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue – responded to an 11:34 p.m. call and found an outbuilding burning, according to Fire Chief Gregg Peterson. They extinguished it, he said. Peterson described  the shed and its contents as a total loss. The sheriff’s office said this morning two sheds were set on fire. It is believed to be related to an ongoing neighborhood dispute and both parties are pointing fingers at each other, according to the sheriff’s office.

STUDENT ACCUSED OF PILFERING IN BACKYARD

• A 28-year-old Centralia College student was arrested on Saturday morning following a call about a man seen pulling a cart with a bicycle through a backyard on the 500 block of South Cedar Street and then a call soon after by a person on the 500 block of South Ash Street who said he came home to discover numerous items dumped in his fenced yard. Among the property found was an air compressor and solar radio that belonged on Cedar Street, according to the Centralia Police Department. The makeshift trailer located on Ash Street also contained metal and tools including a small chainsaw, according to police. The resident on Ash Street showed police other items he found, including four bicycles and a tote with bike wheels and bike parts, police reported. Jeremy A. Goldner was booked into the Lewis County Jail and subsequently charged today with second-degree burglary. Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke said he is a full time student, on the honor roll, trying to major in diesel mechanics who lives with his mother, but has arranged to go live at a sobriety house in Lewis County. His bail was set with a $10,000 unsecured bond when he went before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

BELONGINGS PLUCKED FROM OPEN WINDOW

• Centralia police were called to the 400 block of West Plum Street about 6 p.m. yesterday where they were told a bag sitting on the sill of of open window had been stolen. It contained $20, identification and a green card, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VEHICLE THEFT

• A pickup truck reported stolen about 3:40 p.m. on Friday from the Twin City Town Center was located on Sunday afternoon at Wal-Mart. It was returned to its owner, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

MISSING MEDS

• An officer was called about the theft of prescription medication yesterday from the 1000 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday evening to the 500 block of Northwest New York Avenue where an individual said she discovered numerous of her Oxycodone pills were missing.

OTHER THEFT

• Police yesterday contacted an individual in Centralia who said the rear license plate had been taken from her vehicle. She didn’t know when it went missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 33-year-old woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after contact with police about 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the 1000 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Stephanie R. Keen, described by police as a resident of Ethel, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called about 6:15 a.m. today following the discovery of several windows damaged at R.E. Bennett Elementary School on the 200 block of South Market Boulevard. They had holes in them, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Somebody spray painted a car at the 1300 block of Windsor Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday morning.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

• Prosecutors asked for $50,000 bail and a judge set it at $100,000 today for a 52-year-old Mossyrock man accused of assaulting his girlfriend, threatening to cut her head off, taking her phone and keeping her from leaving the home for five hours. Police were called on Thursday afternoon after she finally did leave and called 911 from someone else’s home, according to charging documents. The woman told police Stephen L. Shores was angry she wasn’t helping him sell his artwork and allegedly pinned her to the bed, spit on her and slapped her repeatedly, according to charging documents. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail early on Friday and went before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court, charged with unlawful imprisonment and harassment. Prosecutors told the judge they had concerns about community safety in part because Shores has seven convictions for second-, third- and fourth-degree assaults from 2008 and around that time period, plus five convictions in 2002 for assault and harassment.

ON THE ROAD

• A 29-year-old Castle Rock man was arrested for driving under the influence after his car took out several small trees over a distance of about 30 yards near Avery Road West and North Military Road early on Sunday morning. Deputies responding about 3:30 a.m. for a collision found burning rubber and smoke rising from the 2006 Dodge Stratus; it’s engine running, stereo blaring and wheels spinning at maximum RPMs, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A passenger window was broken to extract the driver Jeremy L. Franklin who was unconscious, according to the sheriff’s office. Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said Franklin woke up but was confused and was taken to the hospital to be evaluated. Blood was drawn as he was suspected to be under the influence of alcohol, according to Brown. Franklin was then booked into the Lewis County Jail. The car was totaled.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, hit and run, drugs, urinating in public, protection order violation, reckless endangerment, malicious mischief, driving under the influence; responses for alarm, dispute, misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor theft, collision in parking lot, vehicle stuck on railroad tracks, student driving like a maniac at or near W.F. West High School, someone lighting off fireworks at a house with Christmas lights … and more.

News brief: Sheriff Snaza returns from training, announces new crime team

Monday, September 28th, 2015
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Lewis County Sheriff’s Enforcement Team poses for photo – left to right, Deputy Tim English, Deputy Jeff Godbey, Sgt. Dan Riordan, Deputy Rick Van Wyck , K9 Axel – with Sheriff Rob Snaza and Undersheriff Wes Rethwill. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza has completed a five-day executive development program with the National Sheriff’s Institute in Aurora, Colorado.

Snaza, a Napavine area Republican, was elected in November following about two decades with the sheriff’s office.

He was among 27 sheriff’s from across the country to participate early this month in training on the challenges facing American sheriff’s today, according to a news release from the National Sheriffs’ Association.

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Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza

“In light of those challenges, the sheriffs explored the role of the local sheriff in providing effective leadership for the public good in such areas as public safety, criminal justice system policy, community relations, and organization effectiveness and efficiency,” Hilary Burgess, NSA manager of training, stated.

The National Sheriffs’ Association is a professional association representing the nearly 3,100 elected sheriffs across the country. The program was also co-sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons.

Snaza has said among his priorities are rooting out career criminals, continuing to run a no-frills jail and partnering with schools.

In mid-September, he announced the formation of a team to assess and work on problem areas and issues within the county.

The Sheriff’s Enforcement Team, or SET team, consists of a sergeant, three deputies and a K-9.

“If we have a rash of vehicle prowls in a particular neighborhood or identify a burglary trend in one area of the county, SET will be called in,” Snaza stated. “The team will also work DUI emphasis, warrant sweeps, drug investigations, or anything else that we feel helps us better meet our mission.”

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, September 26th, 2015
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•••

PEDESTRIAN KILLED ON I-5 NEAR WINLOCK

• A motorist attempting to retrieve an item that had fallen from his truck was hit by a car on Interstate 5 last night south of Chehalis. Troopers called at 7:50 p.m. to the southbound lanes just north of the Winlock-Toledo interchange report that Matthew B. Hearn, 46, of Castle Rock, died at Providence Centralia Hospital. The driver of the Toyota Camry that struck him was unhurt, according to the Washington State Patrol. The southbound lanes were closed until about 10 p.m., according to the state Department of Transportation.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police were called about 6:45 a.m. today to the 500 block of East Maple Street where someone stole a stereo and amplifier from a vehicle. It had been left unlocked, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Police were called about 10 p.m. yesterday regarding two parked vehicles getting egged at the 900 block of Johnson Road in Centralia.

COLLISION

• No charges are expected in a fatality collision yesterday morning a mile east of McCleary in which an eastbound pickup truck crossed the centerline and hit an oncoming log truck driven by a Rochester man. Troopers called about 8:40 a.m. to the wreck on state Route 108 found the 2004 Ford pickup and the unloaded log truck on the westbound shoulder, according to the Washington State Patrol. Randall R. Russell, 52, of Rochester, was reportedly uninjured. Ernest J. Eichhorn Jr., 34, from Lacey died, the state patrol reports. Both men were wearing seat belts. The roadway was fully blocked for more than five hours.

ROCHESTER RESIDENTIAL FIRE

• One of two people that escaped a fire in a Rochester duplex yesterday was treated for possible smoke inhalation, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. Firefighters called at about 11:40 p.m. to the 6600 block of Southwest 188th Avenue found heavy flames and smoke on one side and extinguished the blaze, according to Lt. Lanette Dyer. Nobody was home at the time in the second unit, but it sustained heavy smoke damage, Dyer reported. A dog was unaccounted for, Dyer said. The female wasn’t taken to the hospital. An explosion reported by several individuals turned out to be what Dyer called a pressure tank for the water. Crews from five other departments assisted. The cause is being investigated, she said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, probation violation, malicious mischief, driving under the influence; responses for misdemeanor theft, collision on city street … and more.

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Fire breaks out at 6600 block of Southwest 188th Avenue. / Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority

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State Route 108 in Grays Harbor County. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol.