By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The suspected Centralia jewelry store thief who was shot pleaded not guilty today in Lewis County Superior Court.
Justin D. McPherson, 29, remains held on $100,000 bail.
McPherson is believed to be one of two subjects who fled Salewsky’s Jewelry shop on North Tower Avenue on the morning of March 20, escaping through an opening cut into the wall of an adjacent vacant business after the shop owner’s son awakened by noise, came downstairs and fired one round.
McPherson is charged with one count of second-degree burglary as well as residential burglary because the upstairs apartment where Jeremy Salewsky was sleeping is connected to the showroom by an open stairway.
Police say McPherson is from Auburn; an address in his court file shows he lives in Federal Way.
Centralia police arrested McPherson last week as he was getting released from a Tacoma hospital. His girlfriend and mother of his two children was arrested days before when she went to visit him at the hospital. Jennifer Nordyke, 30, who is suspected of being one of two female getaway drivers, is also being held in the Lewis County Jail.
Police have said they don’t know how the burglars knew how the shop shared an inside wall with an unoccupied business.
Charging documents in the case offer a few new details about the break-in. The following are some of them:
Detectives retrieved a two-foot crowbar from the scene, and believe it was used to break through the drywall.
The younger Salewsky told police when he went downstairs, he was startled by a male in a blue hooded sweatshirt he saw grabbing merchandise from an open showcase next to the hole in the wall. He fired at the subject with a Colt .45 pistol, but didn’t know if he hit him.
Salewski stated the male then left through the hole.
A witness smoking a cigarette behind the Olympic Club at about 6:45 a.m., told police he saw two masked males who were running and got into two cars parked in the south lot of the railroad station.
The male who got into a red Mercedes was holding his stomach as he ran, the witness said.
Centralia Police Department detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald previously said McPherson was shot in the lower back, at the belt line. The thieves left a trail of dropped jewelry, according to Fitzgerald.
Charging documents continue, to indicate that police got a break in the case when an off-duty detective spoke a few days later with an off-duty Tacoma police officer and learned a male with a gunshot wound was dropped off at a Tacoma hospital by a female in a red Mercedes the morning of the burglary.
Surveillance video confirmed that, and showed McPherson being escorted into the hospital by a male. Detectives confirmed Nordyke as the registered owner of a red Mercedes.
When police contacted Nordyke at the hospital on March 22, a bag she had with her was searched; the jewelry inside it was taken as evidence. She said she’d recently found it.
McPherson has a 2006 conviction for possession of stolen property, as well as three three eluding convictions. He is represented by Chehalis attorney Ken Johnson.
Their trials are set for the week of May 20.
For background, read “Breaking news: Centralia jewelry shop burglary interrupted with gunshot” from Wednesday March 20, 2013 at 10:27 a.m., here