Archive for March, 2017

Tensions build between immigration enforcement, local law enforcement

Friday, March 31st, 2017
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Lewis County Jail Corrections Sgt. Ron Anderson shows how any ICE detainers the jail receives are placed loose in an inmate’s folder, so a phone call can be made when people are to be released.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Federal immigration authorities issued their first list last week to highlight jails that don’t cooperate with ICE detainers or requests for notification of release of aliens who are potentially removable from the country.

It’s possible it won’t be long before the Lewis County Jail lands on the list.

Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza says this isn’t a “sanctuary county” but, his jail doesn’t and won’t hold inmates for immigration officers to come and pick up based on a detainer.

When it’s time to be released, whether because they’ve posted bail or their sentence is served, inmates get set free.

“We will not keep you, unless you have a warrant,” said Snaza, a Republican who was elected to his position in 2014 with 77 percent of the vote in a two-way race.

The jail used to routinely honor the detainers, until a federal court case in 2014 in Oregon after which they changed their policies. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said the court decision concluded the ICE detainer is not a warrant, it’s more like a letter.

“We don’t have the authority to hold anyone just on a detainer,” Meyer said.

Meyer didn’t know how many jurisdictions in Washington have taken the same position, but said he didn’t think the county’s interpretation was out of the norm.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

The report issued March 20 is required by an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 25, according to DHS.

The agency stated it plans to publish a report weekly to inform the public of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdictions which choose not to cooperate, potentially endangering Americans.

Neither the press release or companion report acknowledge the legal position that Lewis and other counties have taken.

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,” Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan stated. “Our goal is to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners.”

The Lewis County Jail in Chehalis – the county seat – houses arrestees from sheriff’s deputies, from the Washington State Patrol and police from all the cities and towns within the county. It also holds those who are sentenced locally to less than one year.

On any given day, it’s population is roughly 200 inmates, give or take about 20.

Despite the sheriff’s stance, the jail isn’t entirely uncooperative.

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Corrections Officer Dave Rodkey, booking

Deputies enforce state laws and county codes, and don’t ask people about their citizenship or immigration status, according to Snaza.

However, when anyone is booked into the jail, one question is asked of all of them.

Where were you born?

If the answer is anything but inside the United States, corrections officers will notify ICE.

Jail staff don’t attempt to figure out anyone’s citizenship or immigration status, they leave that up to the immigration authorities.

Lewis County Jail Corrections Sgt. Ron Anderson said they fax information on foreign born individuals probably three or four times each month to the ICE field office in Seattle. And about once a month, ICE will fax back a detainer on someone.

The piece of paper goes into the inmate’s file and when it’s time for that person to get out, a corrections officer will phone ICE and let them know what time the individual is going to be released.

Anderson said maybe only once so far this year, an immigration officer has actually shown up and taken someone into their custody.

“It’s a lot different than it used to be,” he said.

Anderson, who has worked at the facility for 30 years, recalls the process before the 2014 change.

“If the agency said they couldn’t get down here till the next day, we would hold the person,” he said.

ICE used to come down and conduct sweeps, Anderson said.

DHS’s first report – called the Declined Detainer Outcome Report – contains a section which names the 10 “non-cooperative” jurisdictions which had the highest number of detainers issued to them during the seven-day period that began Jan. 28.

Two Pacific Northwest entities appear; Snohomish County with 12 detainers issued and Washington County in Oregon with seven.

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett issued a press release the same day, taking issue with the feds suggesting some choose not to cooperate.

“(It) does not accurately describe the difficulties or potential legal ramifications associated with honoring ICE detainer requests,” Garrett stated.

Sheriff Garrett went on to recount how in April 2014, a judge for the U.S. District Court of Oregon found Clackamas County violated Maria Miranda-Olivares’ constitutional rights, by holding her on an ICE detainer, ultimately costing taxpayers more than $100,000.

The ruling that detainer requests are unconstitutional led every county in Oregon to immediately stop honoring them, according to Garrett.

Like Sheriff Snaza and Prosecutor Meyer, Garrett said his county will honor any warrant or court order to detain a person.

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Lewis County Jail

Another section of the March 20 report includes a table presenting information about 206 declined detainers around the country during the seven-day period, naming the facility, the county and state, along with the country of citizenship and examples of criminal activity – charges or convictions – associated with each case.

ICE sends detainers if it possesses probable cause to believe that the alien is removable from the United States. The report notes however, the agency does not document in a systematically reportable manner, the immigration status of each target.

Another table in the report shows more than 100 jurisdictions throughout the country, of which ICE has become aware, which have policies that limit cooperation with ICE. The majority of them indicate they will not hold individuals solely on an ICE detainer, with several suggesting with various phrasing they will honor a warrant or court order.

Lewis County Undersheriff Wes Rethwill put it this way:

“We do have open lines of communications with all agencies,” he said. “But the whole detainer thing is a civil piece in the federal system, and we don’t act on civil stuff.”

Earlier this month, after news headlines abounded about presidential executive orders dealing with immigration and immigration bans, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office command team sent a memo to employees to affirm they were making no changes in how they operate.

“We will not go after people because of their status,” Snaza said. “That’s not our job.”

Prosecutor Meyer says the sheriff’s office is only authorized to enforce state law – and county ordinances – but not federal law.

Sheriff Snaza related that their primary mission is to keep the community and it’s people safe.

“In order to best accomplish this, we must build confidence so victims and witnesses to crimes come forward to report such criminal activity and/or seek assistance, as needed, without fear of becoming vulnerable to immigration repercussions,” his memo stated.

The memo reiterates that the sheriff’s office serves all people within Lewis County regardless of their immigrations status as well as noting that all people they come in contact with are entitled to the rights and protections of the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

The command team memo asks employees to be mindful of how their actions, statements and questions they can answer impact the public’s level of fear and trust in law enforcement.

These are tense times, Snaza said.

“When I hear of kids at school afraid of losing their mom or dad, that concerns me,” Snaza said.

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Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza

He said he was discouraged when he heard some ICE agents were hanging around courthouses to find people.

Snaza said he wishes everyone could work together to help “these folks” to ease their concerns and fears.

“I’m not going to go into a home and rip a family apart,” Snaza said. “It’s not my job and there’s no way I’ll do that.”

It’s a conversation that’s been had even around his own dinner table, Snaza said.

His father-in-law, a Marine who went to Vietnam, worked here for some 30 years on a green card before he decided to take steps to become a U.S. citizen, he said.

“Most people in the U.S. illegally want to make a better life for themselves,” Snaza said. “It’s a small percent that do the crime.”

ICE issued a press release yesterday announcing 84 foreign nationals were arrested during a recent three-day operation conducted in Washington, Alaska and Oregon.

They targeted at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives.

Sixty of them have criminal histories including prior convictions for sex crimes, drug offenses and domestic violence but the most common was driving under the influence, according to ICE.

Seven of them were women. They came from 12 countries, with the largest number (64) from Mexico.

The enforcement actions took place in 20 communities, and King County accounted for the largest number of arrestees at 19.

Among them, two people were picked up in Thurston County, three in Cowlitz County and one in Mason County.

Rose M. Richeson, public affairs officer for ICE for the Pacific Northwest, said she didn’t have a label for someone who arrived to this country with a visa and never left when they were supposed to.

“They’re not considered a priority, I don’t have a term for those people,” she said.

However, if they are picked up, they are dealt with on a case by case basis, she said.

Prosecutor Meyer today said the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys is working with ICE to see if there are ways local jurisdictions could honor a new form of detainer.

“I worry it may have a chilling effect on victims reporting crimes,” Meyer said. “Our laws have to mean something.”

Sheriff Snaza shared a memo he received today from the Washington State Sheriff’s Association taking exception to ICE’s label of some as uncooperative.

Every sheriff in the state complies with the federal court decision that precludes them from holding inmates on ICE detainer requests, Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson, president of the WSSA wrote.

“Sheriffs need to uphold what is legal and what is right and not bend to political pressure or convenience,” Nelson stated. “The public expects us to enforce the law while obeying the law.”

Nelson’s letter notes that after the 2014 court decision within the Ninth Federal Circuit, sheriffs reached out to ICE in order to find a workable solution.

“ICE’s position has been less than cooperative,” Nelson wrote. “Their current approach has the potential to undermine long standing relationships between federal and local agencies.”

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Lewis County Jail, Southwest Chehalis Avenue

Centralia murder case waiting for state crime lab results

Friday, March 31st, 2017
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Janet L. Anderson is shown her seat in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lawyers checked in with a judge yesterday to gauge progress towards the trial for a Centralia woman accused of fatally shooting her husband.

Janet L. Anderson, now 40, is charged with second-degree murder for the December death of 41-year-old Ty Anderson.

Her trial is scheduled for the week of May 8, but neither attorney expects it to take place that soon.

Centralia defense attorney Shane O’Rourke said a significant amount of discovery – materials prosecutors intend to use at trial – has been exchanged, but they are still awaiting the results of DNA testing from the state crime lab.

O’Rourke told the judge he will be asking to postpone the trial date, but doesn’t want to do it yet because he wants to make sure the crime lab keeps the case as a high priority.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said there are lots and lots of items to be tested.

Outside the courtroom, O’Rourke said among the blood to be tested, is his client’s.

“She sustained some injury as well, and was bleeding,” he said. “From our position, she was hurt during an altercation.”

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler agreed the parties should return to court in two weeks, and on that date they could address a new trial date.

Anderson remains held on $1 million bail.

She was arrested Dec. 17, after she turned herself in to police and told them she and her husband had been arguing at their home off of West Oakview Avenue and he grabbed his gun and pointed it at her. Her husband’s body was found in their bedroom with a bullet hole in the back of his neck and another in his lower back.
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For background, read “Centralia wife’s murder trial postponed” from Thursday January 19, 2017, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, March 31st, 2017
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•••

CAR PROWL

• A 22-year-old Chehalis resident reported to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office about 6 a.m. on Wednesday that someone got inside his parked vehicle during the night and stole his gun. Missing is a Walther PPQ 9 mm handgun, according to the sheriff’s office. It happened at the 3500 block of Jackson Highway between midnight and 5 a.m. that day, Chief Dusty Breen said. The loss is $700.

CAR FIRE

• Firefighters were called just after 5 p.m. yesterday to the 400 block of Coulson Road east of Napavine where a car caught fire on private property. It was fully involved in flames when the crew arrived, but they extinguished it before it could spread to a nearby outbuilding, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, resisting arrest, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, civil issue, vehicle collision, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances, vehicles parked in handicap spaces without placard, pair of individuals on the front steps of library passing a beer back and forth  … and more among 130 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

News brief: Rollover crash claims life on SR 508

Friday, March 31st, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – One person is dead after a single-vehicle accident along state Route 508 south of Chehalis last night.

Firefighters called about 9:10 p.m. to the scene near Tauscher Road about three miles east of Interstate 5 found the driver was deceased.

The 1999 Ford F250 pickup had been heading eastbound when the driver lost control and rolled off the north side of the roadway, coming to rest on its passenger side in a pasture, according to responders.

The passenger, 45-year-old Stephanie R. Richards, of Onalaska, was conscious but injured and transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the Washington State Patrol and Lewis County Fire District 5.

The driver is identified as a 53-year-old Onalaska man, but his name has not been released.

Both had been wearing their seat belts, but the truck was totaled, according to the state patrol.

District 5 Firefighter Brad Bozarth said some bystanders were taking care of a dog which had been traveling with the couple.

Prosecutors: Meth-making discovered during domestic violence call in Centralia

Thursday, March 30th, 2017
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Justin G. Bonifield is led out of the courtroom following his bail hearing.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – He said the firearm accidentally discharged, but his girlfriend said that during an argument Justin G. Bonifield hit her in the face, struck her in the back of the head with a beer bottle causing her to see stars and threatened to kill her as she tried to get out of their Centralia house.

The 40-year-old woman told deputies she slid beneath the garage door after pushing the automatic door opener, and began to run toward a neighbor’s house for help when she heard a gunshot, so she dropped to the ground and crawled the rest of the way, according to court documents.

Bonifield, 47, wasn’t arrested until the following day, but by then, law enforcement was already in the process of uncovering a fully functional meth lab at the Joppish Road home, according to authorities.

The Centralia man was brought before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court facing six felony charges.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said the defendant has two prior felonies and asked that his bail be set at $200,000.

Temporary defense attorney Kevin Nelson noted his client has only had one warrant in the past and has a job as a fabricator in Olympia. Nelson requested $25,000 bail.

Judge Joely O’Rourke agreed with the prosecutor’s request.

The incidents took place on Monday night, and were investigated after the victim got her neighbor to call 911. She had a bloody lip, large lumps on the back of her head and a concussion, according to authorities. Bonifield had fled in a Ford Mustang.

The girlfriend told deputies Bonifield manufactures methamphetamines in one of the outbuildings on the property, something she’d watched him do on prior occasions, according to Halstead.

Deputies obtained a search warrant and located what was described as a lab, with chemicals known to be associated with the red phosphorous method of meth making, according to charging documents. They collected beakers, tubing, flasks, a condenser and crystal substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the documents.

They also found an empty Corona beer bottle on the floor of the home and a gun, the documents relate. Deputies found a trailer on the property that had been reported stolen within the county late last year as well, according to Halstead.

Charging documents make no mention of any bullet being retrieved.

The suspect was found in Thurston County on Tuesday and taken into custody.

“Bonifield admitted to having the firearm and acknowledged he was not to possess any firearm,” Halstead wrote in charging documents. “He also stated the firearm was accidentally discharged.”

He is charged with second-degree assault, felony harassment and manufacture of methamphetamine – an offense Halstead said he hasn’t seen in his nearly seven years in the prosecutor’s office.

Bonifield is also charged with second-degree possession of stolen property, second-degree unlawful possession firearm and possession of meth.

His prior convictions were from 1995 in Pierce County, for attempting to elude and a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

His arraignment was scheduled for today.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, March 30th, 2017
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FRAUD

• A Toledo resident contacted police yesterday to report it appears her debit card was used recently at the Wal-Mart in Chehalis, with a charge of $195. She told police it’s been happening at Wal-Marts up and down the Interstate 5 corridor and she still has her debit card, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

THEFT

• Chehalis police were called about 3:35 p.m. yesterday to the 200 block of Southeast Adams Avenue to take a report of items stolen from a mailbox. The first time it was a package and the second time it was an envelope, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DRUGS

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports it responded about 10 p.m. yesterday for a “suspicious circumstances” call at the 100 block of Joppish Road outside Centralia where they contacted a 39-year-old woman who turned out to have two felony warrants for probation violations out of Idaho. She was arrested and suspected methamphetamine was found on her person, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Heather R. Peterson, of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, Chief Deputy Bruce Kimsey said.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, obstructing, failure to transfer title, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, civil issue, harassment, vehicle collision, suspicious circumstances, barking neighbor dog, people hanging out near a bus stop … and more among 131 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

News brief: Pe Ell residence sustains major fire damage while occupants away

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
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Smoke alarm melts, but keeps operating through Pe Ell fire. / Courtesy photo by Derrick Paul

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Pe Ell couple is without a home after a fire that appears to have been related to an electrical issue.

Fire investigator Derrick Paul said he won’t know the cause for sure until after the insurance company runs some tests.

The occupants pulled into the driveway at the 300 block of West Fourth Avenue late Monday night after two days at the beach, and noticed the fire, Paul said.

Crews from Lewis County Fire District 11 arrived and extinguished the flames beneath the double wide mobile home and then entered and put out fire in the living room, according to Paul.

It had apparently been burning for quite a long time, but because the house was closed up, didn’t have a lot of oxygen, Paul said. The interior temperature was about 700 degrees and there was major heat damage inside, he said.

“The light fixtures throughout the house were melted,” he said.

However, Paul said, there was one working smoke detector and despite having partially melted, it was still beeping and flashing when he go there.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
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WANTED CENTRALIA MAN FOUND IN YELM

• A Centralia man wanted for allegedly assaulting his live-in girlfriend – by hitting her over the head with a beer bottle and firing a shot towards her as she exited their home – was captured yesterday in the Yelm area after an investigation led to his vehicle parked outside a residence there, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Justin G. Bonifield, 47, surrendered to law enforcement about 12:15 p.m., Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said. The 40-year-old woman was found to have suffered a concussion from the Monday night events at the 100 block of Joppish Road, according to the sheriff’s office. Bonifield was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree assault, second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm, Breen said. There is an ongoing investigation now of possible meth-making at the Joppish Road home, according to Breen. Bonifield is tentatively scheduled to go before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court at 4 p.m. today.

THEFT OF POWER EQUIPMENT

• A deputy was called yesterday to the 200 block of Short Road outside Morton where someone had stolen a generator and an air compressor sometime since March 10. The loss is about $750, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Locks had been cut on a cable blocking the driveway, on a shed and also on a cable securing the generator, according to the sheriff’s office.

AUTO THEFT

• A white 1995 Honda Accord vanished from where it was parked on the 200 block of Southwest 13th Street in Chehalis yesterday between 4 p.m. and 5:50 p.m., according to the Chehalis Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police were called just before 3 p.m. yesterday after a victim parked at the 1300 block of Northwest State Avenue observed a male open the canopy of his vehicle, remove a Stihl chainsaw, put it into his white Ford Ranger and drive away.

SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATION

• Centralia police responded about 4:15 p.m. yesterday for a report of a sexual assault associated with a location at the 200 block of Railroad Avenue. An investigation is underway, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CONTAINER FIRE

• Rural Chehalis firefighters were called about 12:20 p.m. yesterday to the 1600 block of Bishop Road for a fire burning inside a 30-foot cargo trailer at a pallet yard. They observed heavy smoke and were able to extinguish the flames within six minutes of their arrival, but stayed on scene almost an hour to make sure the fire was out, Lewis County Fire District 6. Fire Chief Tim Kinder said the metal container had been converted into a wood drying kiln. The exact cause was to be determined by a fire investigator, according to Firefighter DJ Hammer.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• Centralia police responded about 10:20 p.m. yesterday to a wreck at the 2600 block of North Pearl Street. A vehicle collided with a pole, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, third-degree theft, misdemeanor assault, protection order violation, no contact order violation; responses for alarm, dispute, civil issue, harassment, vehicle collision, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances … and more among 136 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

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Firefighters Jeff Ames and Matt Foley extinguish fire inside shipping container. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 6