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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm

BASEBALL BAT THREAT

• A 56-year-old Centralia man was arrested for second-degree assault yesterday after he allegedly swung a metal baseball bat at an 18-year-old woman during a dispute. Officers called just after 11 a.m. to the home on the 1000 block of E Street booked Jay B. Woods into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. The woman was not injured, according to police. Woods is to be released without charges pending further investigation.

RECOVERED STOLEN CAR

• Police arrested a 27-year-old Rochester man yesterday afternoon after spotting a vehicle stolen from Thurston County parked on the 800 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia. Two people were detained at about 4 p.m., according to the Centralia Police Department. Booked into the Lewis County jail for possession of stolen property was Johnathan L.B. Pennypacker, 22, according to police. Kathryn R. Dailey, 28, of Centralia, was booked for outstanding warrants, police reported.

STOLEN CAR

• Centralia police we called yesterday to the 1200 block of G Street to take a report of a stolen vehicle. The victim told police she had loaned her silver and purple 2005 Scion XB to an individual awhile back who wouldn’t return it and subsequently told her he’d sold it for drugs and money, according to the Centralia Police Department.

GUNS STOLEN

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning someone burglarized a residence outside Chehalis sometime between Friday and Monday stealing three firearms. A deputy responded to a report made on Tuesday from the 200 block of Lake Creek Road and learned that missing were a shotgun, a rifle and a revolver, according to the sheriff’s office.

WELDER MISSING

• Chehalis police were called just before 11 a.m. yesterday to a business on the 600 block of West Main Street about a missing welder. The Lincoln brand items is valued at approximately $750, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

PURSE MISSING

• A woman called Centralia police yesterday to report she’d accidentally left her purse in a shopping cart after loading groceries into her car at the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue and didn’t realize it until she got home. When she returned, it had not been turned in to the lost and found, according to the Centralia Police Department.

PURSE STOLEN

• Police were called about 6:30 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Lum Road in Centralia where they were told a male wearing a yellow and black hooded sweatshirt stole a handbag and fled on foot.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Chehalis police were called yesterday about someone getting into an unlocked vehicle overnight at the 400 block of Southeast Washington Avenue. Missing is a traffic vest and identification, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, obstruction; responses for alarm, domestic dispute, misdemeanor theft, receipt of counterfeit money, suspicious circumstances, parking lot and other collisions, concern about a family member off their mental illness meds … and more.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Updated at 1:03 p.m.

POLICE: SUSPECT STEALS CASH OFF EX-GIRLFRIEND

• Centralia police say a known suspect in his 30s forced his ex-girlfriend to drive him from Chehalis to Centralia last night, snatched a small amount of money from her at the 1400 block of Lum Road and made her drive to another location to get more money. When the woman, who is in her early 40s, was at the second place, she got away from him and had a friend call police, according to the Centralia Police Department. It happened around midnight and officers were still looking for the suspect this morning, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert. She was unhurt, except for some scratches from when the money was grabbed from out of her clothing, according to Reichert. The two are from the Centralia, Chehalis areas, he said.

TWO FIREARMS STOLEN FROM HOME

• A deputy was called about 9 p.m. yesterday to the 200 block of Carroll Way outside Chehalis about residential burglary in which a 9 mm Taurus handgun and 22 caliber Rohm revolver were among the items stolen. The 49-year-old victim said it occurred sometime between 3 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Also taken was an alternator from a vehicle and an AM/FM cassette stereo, according to the sheriff’s office.

CENTRALIA RESIDENT BLAMED FOR FAKE BILLS

• Centralia police called about 9 a.m. yesterday about an individual attempting to spend counterfeit money at a business on the 1400 block of Johnson Road are trying to track down the 23-year-old man who reportedly previously passed the fake bills to the individual, to purchase a jacket. When officers contacted their suspect a short time later, he was wearing the jacket but dropped it and fled, according to the Centralia Police Department. Jacob D. Holmgren, of Centralia, is being sought for forgery – allegedly knowingly passing counterfeit money – and resisting arrest, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR MORTON THEFT

• A 55-year-old woman was arrested last night in Randle in connection with the theft reported on Friday of more than $800 worth of gold and silver jewelry from the 100 block of Chapman Road near Morton. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said the 53-year-old victim said it occurred sometime since Oct. 11. Deborah L. West, who was contacted around 8 p.m. yesterday at the 100 block of Kelly Lane in Randle, was arrested for second-degree theft and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office. West is from East Lewis County but currently homeless, according to Sgt. Rob Snaza. She was released without charges pending further investigation.

HIT AND RUN

• Chehalis police were called to the 600 block of Southwest William Avenue yesterday about an apparent hit and run which had occurred sometime in the previous week. There was damage to the northeast corner of a garage, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DRUGS

• An officer who happened upon what appeared to be sexual activity inside a vehicle at Fort Borst Park in Centralia yesterday afternoon contacted a pair of teenagers, smelled marijuana and ended up arresting 18-year-old Jody L. Hyde of Centralia for unlawful possession of marijuana. He and his female companion were then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 1 p.m. yesterday to the 300 block of Southwest 16th Avenue about a possible marijuana violation. The case is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• The 51-year-old Toledo man who led multiple law enforcement agencies on a freeway-speeds pursuit down into Cowlitz County and then back north on Interstate 5 on Sunday night managing to avoid spike strips set out in at least two locations, had gotten into a fight with his wife and made a comment about “suicide by cop” before leaving Toledo, according to court documents. The prolonged incident ended near Centralia after spike strips disabled his van, according to charging papers. Authorities say Jamey D. Brown refused to get out and when officers saw what looked to be a gas can and lighter, they broke a window and used non-lethal force to make him cooperate. Centralia police said they shot him with a bean bag gun. Brown was charged with malicious mischief, for allegedly kicking in a door at the residence; with fourth-degree assault for allegedly pouring dish soap on his wife’s head and telling her she should clean up; and with attempting to elude, according to court documents. When asked why he did not stop, he said he “just lost it.” Bail was set at $25,000 when he was charged on Monday in Lewis County Superior Court. His arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting; responses for alarm, collisions with parked vehicles, report of possible child molestation … and more.

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Arson suspect: Voices, hallucinations lead to kerosene and a torch at Ethel store

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 9:00 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The 58-year-old man who allegedly admitted he tried to burn down his brother’s business in Ethel over the weekend is scheduled for an arraignment tomorrow in Lewis County Superior Court.

Mark S. Breitenbach, of Castle Rock, told law enforcement officers when he was contacted at the Ethel Store he was trying to destroy the place as voices were telling him they were going to kill him and his brother had put a “hit” on him, according to the allegations in court documents.

Breitenbach remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $100,000 bail.

According to court documents, officers arriving about 3:20 a.m. on Saturday to the  1400 block of U.S. Highway 12 found the glass to the front door busted out and puddles of Coleman stove fuel and a newspaper “torch” inside the building. A deputy observed two black burn marks on the floor inside the front door, according to documents.

A trooper had already arrived because of a vehicle found in the ditch on the south side of the highway, and Breitenbach had come out from his hiding place near a port-potty to give himself up, according to the documents.

Breitenbach reportedly told the deputy he initially tried to enter by ramming his car through the doors but when he tried to get a running start, he lost control and put it in the ditch. After lighting the torch and tossing it inside, he ran eastbound, but fell into a water-filled ditch and was waiting on the roadside for a semi truck to pass so he could run in front of it and be killed, he told the deputy.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matt Schlecht noted that as he spoke with Breitenbach, he seemed worried about passing cars, saying they were the hit man who was going to shoot him in the head, according to court documents.

Breitenbach has a 1987 conviction out of Los Angeles for assault with a firearm, according to charging papers.

He was appointed a lawyer on Monday afternoon when he was charged with second-degree arson and second-degree burglary.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

SHOP WITH A COP COMING

• Employees of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office are looking for donations and for kids for its annual Shop with a Cop event. The program is an opportunity for underprivileged children who would benefit from positive interaction with police officers to go Christmas shopping for gifts for themselves and their family. The deadline of today to submit an application on behalf of a child to take part has been extended to Nov. 27. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown says the program is aimed towards children who live in unincorporated areas of Lewis County, as the police departments in Centralia and Chehalis conduct events for their residents. Brown says also their program is funded by employees and they are appreciative of any and all donations and financial assistance. Checks, cash or money orders can be sent to: Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Attn: Chief Stacy Brown, 345 W. Main St, Chehalis, WA 98532.

DRESS DUMMY UNCLOTHED

• Centralia police were called yesterday to the 1200 block of Lum Road where an unknown suspect had stolen a pair of jeans off a mannequin that had been left outside overnight near the Centralia Outlets.

OTHER THEFT

• Centralia police were called to the 200 block of South Pearl Street about 10:15 a.m. yesterday regarding the theft of unspecified items from a locked display case. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• An officer took a report yesterday of a window broken out of a vehicle overnight at the 800 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault; responses for stolen bicycle, other misdemeanor theft, possible suicide threat; complaint of loud music … and more.

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Breaking news: Jury finds Ricky Riffe guilty in Maurin homicides

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm
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Ricky A. Riffe, right, stands before Judge Richard Brosey as he is pronounced guilty in the 1985 deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin today.

Updated at 6:34 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Ricky A. Riffe has been found guilty in the slayings of Ed and Minnie Maurin, the elderly Ethel couple whose bodies were found off a logging road near Adna on Christmas Eve day in 1985, shotgun wounds through their backs.

The jury took about a day and a half of deliberating to reach its decision.

Denise Snell was among the many family members and friends of the couple who gathered in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis this afternoon to hear the verdicts. The trial lasted six weeks, the investigation nearly three decades.

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Ed and Minnie Maurin

The Onalaska woman said now that it’s over, her grandparents can be remembered like the wonderful, loving people that they were and not just as homicide victims.

“I want them remembered like that, like it should be,” Snell said.

Two of Minnie’s children, now in their 80s, were in the front bench in the courtroom as they have been throughout the proceedings.

Hazel Oberg said simply, “I’m relieved.”

Denny Hadaller’s emotions kept him from finding exactly the right words, he said.

“I’m elated, and I’m sorry for his family,” Hadaller said. “I knew he was guilty, I knew it in 1992. We just couldn’t prove it.”

Riffe, now 55, was arrested last year in at his home in King Salmon, Alaska and returned to Lewis County. The sheriff’s office has said he and his younger brother were suspects as early as the 1990s, but previous prosecutors wouldn’t file charges.

Hadaller hired private investigators 10 years ago who reviewed the apparent abduction of the couple from their home. New witnesses came forward, according to the sheriff’s office.

On Dec. 19, 1985, Ed Maurin withdrew $8,500 in $100 bills from Sterling Savings Bank in Chehalis and the couple’s blood stained car was found abandoned the following morning at Yard Birds Shopping Center. It wasn’t until five days later they were located.

Investigators found they were shot from behind while sitting in their car on Stearns Hill Road, their bodies dumped.

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Ricky A. Riffe

A jury of eight women and four men began their deliberations late on Thursday and at lunchtime today indicated they were nearly finished with their duty, sending a message to the judge that they’d made a mistake on two of the forms and needed new ones.

An hour later, about 60 people crowded into the spectator side of the courtroom. Judge Richard Brosey began reading the verdicts at 2:10 p.m.

Riffe was found guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder, although the jury had the option of second-degree given to them in their instructions.

They found him guilty also of two counts each of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery and one count of first-degree burglary as well.

The jury answered yes on the special verdict forms, that they found the crimes involved particularly vulnerable victims, deliberate cruelty and the defendant showed an egregious lack of remorse.

Ed Maurin was 81, his wife Minnie was 83 years old.

“They answered everything we wanted to be answered,” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said.

Meyer gave credit to the hard work of detective Bruce Kimsey and Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.

“And to the family, for never giving up,” Meyer said.

Riffe’s partner of 24 years, Sherry Tibbetts, and her son and another relation left the courtroom once he was taken away. It didn’t appear he even looked their direction before leaving.

Local attorney Sam Groberg stood in for Riffe’s lawyer, John Crowley, who had to be in another court today.

Riffe was charged as as the principal player or as an accomplice, and only the jury knows exactly what it believed occurred.

One witness testified he saw both brothers inside the Maurin’s vehicle the morning of Dec. 19, heading away from their home. Other witnesses who saw the car that day at key places saw one person in the backseat.

Numerous witnesses picked out both brothers from montages, brothers who some witnesses said did everything together. John Gregory Riffe died last year at age 50 before he could be charged.

Crowley this evening said he’s not a sore loser but it wasn’t a fair prosecution, and the things he saw were appalling.

“I’ve never seen a case where as a rule, witnesses changed from what they told police initially to when they testified,” Crowley said. “And the prosecutors did it with a straight face.”

It’s not over, according to Crowley.

“We’re not giving up, we’re going to investigate and Rick’s gonna get justice,” he said.

Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

•••

For background, read “Maurin murder trial: What will the jury decide?” from Saturday November 16, 2013, here

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Hazel Oberg and Denny Hadaller embrace, surrounded by family after the verdict comes in guilty in the 1985 deaths of their mother and step father.

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Ricky A. Riffe’s longtime girlfriend Sherry Tibbetts, center, and family wait for the verdict to be read.

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Hazel Oberg talks with a news reporter while her niece Denise Snell looks on.

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Denny Hadaller sits with his daughter while Ricky Riffe talks with his stand-in lawyer today in Lewis County Superior Court.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Updated at 12:30 p.m.

ATTEMPTED ARSON

• A 58-year-old Castle Rock man was arrested early on Saturday morning after he allegedly tried to burn down the Ethel Market. A trooper called around 3:20 a.m. about a vehicle in a  ditch and a deputy responding to a smashed window at the business on the 1400 block of U.S. Highway 12 contacted the suspect who reportedly admitted involvement. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says Mark S. Breitenbach used kerosene and Coleman fuel from inside the store which he poured onto the floor and lit before running away and falling into a ditch. He was arrested for second-degree arson and second-degree burglary, according to the sheriff’s office. It’s not clear why he might have done it or if there was much damage, but the fire department was not called to respond. Sgt. Rob Snaza said they don’t know his motive.

ONE ARRESTED FOR VARIOUS BREAK-INS

• A 35-year-old Pe Ell man was arrested yesterday in connection with burglaries in recent days in Vader and Pe Ell, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies following up on cases contacted Daniel G. Thompson Jr. and subsequently booked him into the Lewis County Jail for two counts of burglary and two counts of possession of stolen vehicles involving a 1997 Ford F350 and a 1998 Dodge Stratus, according to the sheriff’s office. Sgt. Rob Snaza said the investigation is ongoing and further charges are possible. Thompson is the same man arrested earlier this month when deputies found a stolen Massey Ferguson tractor from Curtis on his property in Pe Ell, according to Snaza.

BURGLARY IN MINERAL

• A 90-year-old Mineral woman called law enforcement yesterday to report someone had come inside her home sometime since the day before and stolen $400 cash from her wallet. It appeared they got in through an unsecured window, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The burglary on the 600 block of Pleasant Valley Road is under investigation, Sgt. Rob Snaza said this morning.

STOLEN JEWELRY MORTON

• A deputy was called to the 100 block of Chapman Road near Morton regarding the theft of more than $800 worth of gold and silver jewelry sometime between Oct. 11 and Friday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

FUEL HEIST

• Police were called to the 200 block of Northwest Quincy Place in Chehalis on Friday morning regarding approximately 50 gallons of diesel stolen from a Freightliner truck overnight. The approximate value is $200, according to police.

VEHICLE PROWL

• A 25-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for multiple counts of attempted and actual vehicle prowl as well as misdemeanor theft last night at the 300 block of Southwest Third Street in Chehalis. Police were called about 11 p.m. after an individual reported someone inside their vehicle who fled and then was chased by two males, according to the Chehalis Police Department. As a dog track was underway, officers heard yelling from behind the apartment building, “We’ve got him,” according to police. Officers found several subjects gathered around the 25-year-old suspect and took him into custody, Officer Linda Bailey said. Brandon D. Woody was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Bailey. Among the items recovered were a beanie hat, a cell phone charger and a makeup bag, Bailey said.

• Chehalis police took a report of a car prowl on the 400 block of Northeast Washington Avenue on Friday in which someone took keys and a black case containing scissors from an unlocked vehicle during the previous few days.

ASSAULT ASHFORD

• A deputy was called regarding a second-degree assault at the 300 block of North Skate Creek Road in Ashford at about 6 p.m. on Friday. The deputy was told the 69-year-old woman that her boyfriend tried to choke her during an argument when they returned home from a tavern, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Michael D. Manning, 57, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

COLLISIONS

• A 50-year-old Tenino woman was uninjured but arrested for first-degree negligent driving after a single-car collision about 5 p.m. on Friday on Centralia-Alpha Road near milepost 8 outside Chehalis. Treva Bittler told a deputy she had leaned down to light a cigarette and her car crossed into the oncoming lane and struck an embankment, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Her 2002 Volkswagen Golf sustained major damage but she was unhurt, Sgt. Rob Snaza said. Bittler had allegedly been consuming alcohol and was subsequently booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Snaza.

• An 18-year-old Chehalis driver avoided injury but did major damage to his car when he wrecked on Saturday evening at the 300 block of Brown Road West,  according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies responding about 6:30 p.m. issued a citation for speeds too fast for conditions, according to Sgt. Rob Snaza.

• A 23-year-old Toledo resident was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with minor injuries after a truck in which they were a passenger flipped and wrecked on a logging road near Toledo Friday morning. A deputy called about 9:45 a.m. to the area about a mile up from the end of Toledo-Salmon Creek Road learned the driver was coming down a hill and lost control of his 1977 Ford pickup truck striking an embankment, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The driver is 23-year-old Joshua P. Razsa, 23, and the passenger Jordan L. Razsa, both of Toledo, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, misdemeanor assault, shoplifting; responses for alarm, parking lot hit and runs, fight outside bar … and more.

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News brief: Tenino family wakes to house fire

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 8:53 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Nobody was injured but a family of five is displaced after a house fire in Tenino on Saturday morning that damaged a home built in 1897.

Six fire departments responded to the blaze at about 6 a.m. on the 100 block of Wichman Street South, according to Thurston County Fire District 12.

Smoke alarms woke up the residents who were able to get out, Battalion Chief James Fowler said.

Arriving units found flames at the back of the house and with help were finally able to extinguish it, he said.

It began in the area of a wood stove and destroyed the back entry way, a pantry and a laundry room, he said. A daughter’s bedroom at the rear of the home sustained smoke and water damage as well, according to Fowler.

Fire District 12 is waiting for the insurance investigators to look into the cause.

The two-story structure is one of the original homes in Tenino, Fowler said, known as the McArthur House.

“It’s a beautiful old farmhouse is what it is,” Fowler said. “We had to cut a lot of holes in it.”

The Red Cross was called to assist the two adults and three children, he said.

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News brief: Freeway chase ends in Centralia

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 8:23 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police shot a subject with a bean bag last night ending a prolonged incident that began in Toledo and ended on Interstate 5 in Centralia.

Centralia police responded just before 10 p.m. to assist other agencies with a fleeing suspect near the northbound exit at Mellen Street.

Firefighters were asked to standby because the person apparently had a gas can and a lighter and threatened to light himself on fire, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

The subject was taken into custody.

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Maurin murder trial: What will the jury decide?

Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 7:08 pm
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Ed and Minnie Maurin

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 28-year-old double murder case is in the hands of the jury now, who will return to the courthouse on Monday morning to continue deliberations.

While Ed and Minnie Maurin have long rested in the cemetery next to the St. Francis Mission Catholic Church in Toledo, one of the two longtime suspects waits in the Lewis County Jail since his arrest last year.

Ricky A. Riffe, 55, is charged as the principle or an accomplice in the Dec. 19, 1985 shotgun deaths of the elderly Ethel couple. The former Mossyrock man relocated to Alaska in the late 1980s.

His trial in Lewis County Superior Court began in early October and concluded Thursday afternoon. His younger brother John Gregory Riffe died last year before he could be charged.

Defense attorney John Crowley says there’s nothing more than rumors and gossip that connect his client to the case. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer and his senior deputy Will Halstead have told the panel that circumstantial evidence is just as valuable as direct evidence.

The jury of eight women and four men was sent to begin deliberating shortly before 5 p.m., on Thursday but went home at 5:30 p.m. and reconvened yesterday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, for anyone who wished they’d followed the court proceedings more closely, now is a chance to catch up and perhaps draw some conclusions before the jury finishes its work.

Below, find below the complete coverage of the trial with headlines and links to the stories:

• “Maurin murder trial: Final words to the jury” from Friday November 15, 2013 at 3:28 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Defense points to fear, distorted memories” from Friday November 15, 2013 at 9:18 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Prosecutor points to defendant as accomplice” from Thursday November 14, 2013 at 9:27 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Defense decides to call no witnesses” from Tuesday November 12, 2013 at 1:20 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Reporter’s notebook” from Monday November 11, 2013 at 11:35 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Testimony of Riffe admission to inmate leads to dual complaints” from Saturday November 9, 2013 at 7:59 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Internet chat with the suspect” from Friday November 8, 2013 at 9:28 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Suspect is ‘witty’” from Thursday November 7, 2013 at 9:03 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: The arrest” from Wednesday November 6, 2013 at 9:02 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: What suspects told detectives, and more” from Saturday November 2, 2013 at 3:59 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Money for drugs” from Friday November 1, 2013 at 8:42 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Former drug dealer claims defendant admitted involvement” from Thursday October 31, 2013 at 8:57 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Lab tests turn up little to nothing” from Wednesday October 30, 2013 at 1:20 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Jason Shriver talks” from Tuesday October 29, 2013 at 8:52 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Riffe’s buddy tells what he knows” from Sunday October 27, 013 at 8:37 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Witnesses pick out Riffe brothers as men they saw at Yard Birds” from Saturday October 26, 2013 at 4:35 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Robin Riffe’s family talks” from Friday October 25, 2013 at 9:17 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Ed and Minnie go to the bank” from Thursday October 24, 2013 at 9:03 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: More testimony, and the arrest” from Wednesday October 23, 2013 at 9:12 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: New information in old case takes both sides by surprise” from Tuesday October 22, 2013 at 7:31 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: What jurors didn’t hear about” from Tuesday October 22, 2013 at 1:21 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Witnesses testify about a green sedan” from Monday October 21, 2013 at 8:55 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Testimony takes day off for death of defendant’s dad” from Friday Oct. 18, 2013 at 9:27 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Surprise witness implicates dead Riffe brother” from Thursday Oct. 17, 2013 at 8:52 a.m., here

• “Defense: Maurin murder trial jeopardized by hearsay evidence” from Wednesday October 16, 2013 at 9:10 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Jurors hear of autopsy and finger prints” from Tuesday October 15, 2013 at 9:38 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: What the crime scenes showed” from Saturday October 12, 2013 at 7:06 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Testimony continues about slain Ethel couple” from Thursday October 10, 2013 at 9:13 a.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Defense attorney tells of two other suspects” from Tuesday October 8, 2013 at 11:51 p.m., here

• “Jury may be picked tomorrow in Maurin murder trial” from Monday October 7, 2013 at 9:15 p.m., here

• “Maurin murder trial: Twenty-seven-year-old case to commence in Chehalis ” from  Friday October 4, 2013 at 9:45 p.m., here

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Ricky A. Riffe, 53, of King Salmon, Alaska, makes his first appearance in Lewis County Superior Court in July 2012.

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Ricky Riffe, 55, far right, and lawyers during trial in mid-October.

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Ricky Riffe talks with a jail guard during a recess in court early this past week.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 11:47 am
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Car comes to rest a few feet away from gas pump after impact. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 5

CLOSE CALL AT SPIFFY’S CORNER GAS STATION

• A motorist was arrested but lucky to be alive after a collision at a Lewis County gas station that knocked over a gas pump and sparked a fire. Firefighters called just before 5 o’clock yesterday morning to the AM/PM at U.S. Highway 12 near Interstate 5 found flames rising from the pump and the fuel around it, according to Lewis County Fire District 5. Lt. Laura Hanson said they extinguished it with foam. An employee had used the emergency shut off switch, she said. The driver exited the car before crews arrived, Hanson said. He was taken to the hospital for reasons which were unknown to her, but were not for any burn injuries, she said. Washington State Patrol Trooper Will Finn said possible charges included driving under the influence in a car stolen car from Tenino as well as hit and run. John R. Loutzenhiser, 26, from Roy, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Finn. The investigating trooper could not determine the reason Loutzenhiser collided with the gas pump, other than he was intoxicated, Finn said.

OUT OF CONTROL

• Centralia police arrested a 27-year-old driver overnight after he led officers on a high-speed chase around the city running stop signs and traffic lights and allegedly tried to hit police cars with his vehicle multiple times. It began about 12:35 a.m. when, police say, Michael P. Miller-Gobal failed to stop for officers when he was signaled to do and ended when his car blew out a front tire and he fled on foot. One patrol car was disabled when it struck a curb but nobody was injured,  according to the Centralia Police Department. Miller, described as a transient who lives in Centralia, was apprehended and booked into the Lewis County Jail for eluding, possession of methamphetamine, misdemeanor warrants and second-degree assault, according to police.

• Police responded about 3:15 p.m. yesterday to a dispute at the 1200 block of Alder Street and arrested two Centralia residents for violating protection orders they have against each other. Patsy A. Bartlett, 46, was also arrested for misdemeanor assault and several warrants, according to the Centralia Police Department. She and Mark A. Johnson, 60, were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

BURGLARY

• Centralia police responded to a burglary at the 1200 block of West Main Street on Wednesday afternoon in which home electronics and jewelry were stolen.

• More than $2,000 worth of valuables were stolen in a residential burglary on the 2000 block of Lincoln Creek Road northwest of Centralia on Thursday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called to the scene learned the break-in occurred sometime between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office. Among the missing items are two flat screen televisions and numerous pieces of jewelry, Sgt. Rob Snaza said.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Chehalis police were contacted on Thursday about a vehicle prowl on Northeast Adams Avenue and another on North National Avenue.

• Chehalis police were called to the parking lot at Wal-Mart regarding a vehicle prowl on Wednesday morning and later in the day to other prowls on South Market Boulevard, Northeast Terrace Road and Southeast Park Hill Road.

DRUGS

• A 51-year-old Cinebar man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and a warrant when he was contacted by police about 10:30 p.m. on Thursday at the 1500 block of Delaware Avenue in Centralia. Howard D. Eslick was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 22-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and a warrant when contacted by police around 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the 900 block of Alder Street in Centralia. Darcie N. Negrete was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 60-year-old man was arrested when deputies assisted the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force serve a search warrant at the 400 block of Leudinghaus Road in Dryad on Tuesday evening. A large amount of methamphetamine and marijuana was recovered as well as a stolen firearm, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Edward K. Baker was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office. He was released pending further investigation.

COLLISIONS

• A utility truck caught fire and its driver suffered minor scrapes when the vehicle lost power and rolled backwards over an embankment on Tuesday morning at the 400 block of Wildwood Road near Vader, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office took a report of a hit and run accident about 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 in which a motorcycle collided with a light-colored mid-sized sedan at the 3900 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. The 44-year-old Centralia resident said she was headed northbound when the car pulled onto the roadway attempting to head south and her 2007 Suzuki hit the car’s left side and she ended up sliding down the road, according to the sheriff’s office. Her injuries were minor, according to the sheriff’s office.

UPDATE: DECEASED TRANSIENT REUNITED WITH FAMILY

• The Lewis County Coroner’s Office reports a staff member was to fly to San Francisco to hand deliver the cremated remains of Manabu Ishikawa to his family prior to his memorial service scheduled for today. Ishikawa, 49, died in a Centralia motel this summer and was about to be buried in a Chehalis cemetery with other unclaimed persons when an employee of the motel tracked down his friends and family via Facebook. Coroner Warren McLeod said his mother would be flying from Japan to San Francisco for the service.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarms, misdemeanor thefts, collisions, hit and run, shoplifting, suspicious circumstances; complaint of neighbor revving an engine for about 45 minutes … and more.

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Maurin murder trial: Final words to the jury

Friday, November 15, 2013 at 3:28 pm
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Rick Riffe, right, and his lawyer listen to prosecutors offer a rebuttal in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The prosecutor summarized his case, the defense offered its closing statements and the state got one last chance to address the jury yesterday before deliberations began on the 1985 slaying of Ed and Minnie Maurin, the Ethel couple who instead of hosting their annual Christmas party that year, were taken out to a logging road and shot in the backs.

Ricky A. Riffe, 55, is represented by a Seattle attorney who says the sheriff’s office got the wrong man. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer and his senior deputy prosecutor contend the former Mossyrock man at the very least was an accomplice to their other longtime suspect who is dead, the defendant’s younger brother John Gregory Riffe.

Riffe’s attorney had said at the beginning of last month his client would take the stand, but he didn’t.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead took and hour and a half at the end of yesterday to rebut Crowley’s closing.

Crowley did what defense attorneys do when they don’t like what’s happened in the courtroom, Halstead said.

“What’s the defense, did you hear one?” Halstead asked. “Did you hear Greg was not involved?”

“No,” he answered himself.

Crowley’s insinuation prosecutors backpedaled from pinning it all of his client in their opening to suggesting two or more people were responsible when they gave closing arguments was an unfair characterization, according to Halstead.

“I thought I made it clear,” Halstead told the jury. “One person involved is dead, one is alive, and, there possibly could be more.”

The fear Crowley kept alluding to is the real fear witnesses felt about testifying, he said.

Nearly 100 individuals took the stand during five weeks of testimony to tell what they noticed at the Maurin’s house from where prosecutors say the couple was abducted, to the bank where prosecutors say they were forced to withdraw $8,500, to Stearns Hill Road where their bodies were found and on roadways in between where prosecutors say the Maurin’s 1969 Chrysler traveled on Dec. 19, 1985.

Item by item, Halstead picked apart Crowley’s contentions.

The event witness Les George described about Riffe tearing the page out of the book after his shotgun purchase at Sunbirds: “It’s not really relevant to this case.”

As far as the money the Riffes seemed to have to spend after the crimes, Halstead said he never claimed Greg Riffe purchased a log truck and detectives didn’t seek out the registration for the boat Rick Riffe bought because he admitted he bought it.

“The Christmas gifts, where’s the money for that?” Halstead asked. “Mr. Crowley glazed over that. He never explained to you where the money came from.”

Crowley said no one saw a sawed-off shotgun, he said, but several people testified they saw a person with a shotgun.

“Mr. Crowley wants you to believe there really were three people in the car,” he said. “Does it really make a difference? No.”

The burglary: “This is where you’re allowed to consider circumstantial evidence,” Halstead said.

The Maurins were in their 80s, all someone needed to do was knock on the door, or enter through an unlocked backdoor, he said.

It’s plausible, in that Minnie Maurin clearly had warning something was wrong, and hid her purse behind the couch beneath a newspaper, according to Halstead.

And the bank documents found on the bathroom floor, he said. Somebody got them and took them into one of the only places in the house where they could not seen from the outside, he said.

“Let’s talk about why Ricky left Washington,” Halstead said. “Oh, the rumors are the reason he left? Who came in here and testified about that? Not one person.”

Halstead told the jurors it was entirely up to them to decide which witnesses they felt were credible and which they did not. The defense attorneys opinion on that doesn’t mean anything, he said.

“Mr. Crowley suggested Deputy Forth didn’t see what he saw,” Halstead said. “It’s ridiculous. He saw the red blanket, he picked the person out the montage.”

Halstead said if jurors wanted to ignore Erwin Bartlett’s testimony, it wouldn’t matter to the case. The former fellow inmate wanted his case dismissed in exchange for telling about what Riffe told him, he said.

Marty Smeltzer. “Again, you can do what you want,” he told the jurors.

The state doesn’t need that testimony, he said.

Halstead said he understood why the defense tried to get jurors to disregard Jason Shriver’s testimony that he saw Ricky and his brother with the Maurins inside their car on the foggy morning of Dec. 19, 1985.

“Because Mr. Shriver is an extremely important witness in this case,” he said. “Is that really what they’re going to hang their hat on? Because Jason said it was clear that day?”

Halstead told the jury if they believed Shriver, the state has proved its case.

“Erwin Bartlett and Gordon Campbell, if you don’t believe them, don’t consider them,” he said.

Halstead’s parting words before the jury was sent to deliberate: “Common sense. Use it. Rely on it.”

The jury of eight women and four men was sent to begin deliberating shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday, but chose to go home at 5:30 p.m. and returned this morning to continue.

Riffe is charged as the principal player or as an accomplice with one count of burglary, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of first-degree murder, or, in the alternative, two counts of second-degree murder.

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Ricky Riffe’s longtime girlfriend Sherry Tibbetts and her son Jeremy Kern watch proceedings from the defense side of the courtroom.

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Bucoda man fights armed intruder

Friday, November 15, 2013 at 11:42 am

Updated at 12:06 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Centralia man was arrested after he allegedly broke into a Bucoda home wearing a mask and armed with a handgun last night.

Police were called about 10:35 p.m. to the 100 block of Perkins Street North where a 34-year-old man said he was awakened by the intruder who ordered him to come with him, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

The resident put on his shoes as though he was going to comply but then turned on the man and began punching him, according to the sheriff’s office. The two fought, the victim was pistol whipped and the intruder fired a single shot into the floor in between the victim’s feet before grabbing his cell phone and fleeing, according to Sgt. Ken Clark.

Clark says the victim recognized the man as the soon-to-be ex-husband of a female friend, as he had pulled the man’s mask off.

The sergeant called it a scary nightmare kind of scenario which the victim decided not to take meekly.

“The victim decided, you know, it’s not going to happen today,” he said.

Clark said it wasn’t clear where the intruder planned to take the man, he just kept demanding he leave with him.

Thomas Denegar, 26, was arrested a short time later in the Grand Mound area after he called to report he was the victim of an assault, according to Clark.

Denegar was booked into the Thurston County Jail for first-degree burglary, assault and robbery, according to the sheriff’s office.

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Maurin murder trial: Defense points to fear, distorted memories

Friday, November 15, 2013 at 9:18 am
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Defense lawyer John Crowley gives his closing arguments in Ricky Riffe’s murder trial.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Ricky A. Riffe’s lawyer gave his closing arguments yesterday telling the jury hearing the 1985 double-murder case that if they followed the rules given to them, they would see there was no real evidence against his client and they would acquit him.

John Crowley pointed to the fear that gripped the community nearly 30 years ago when the elderly couple vanished from their home in Ethel and turned up shot to death off a logging road outside Adna.

It caused folks to sleep with guns and warn their children, Crowley said. As professional as they were, even the police were affected by it, he said.

“Fear is illogical, it knows nothing about time,” Crowley said.

The key instructions the jury must look at, he said, are the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt.

Checking the ‘guilty’ box requires that jurors can, with conviction, walk out of the courthouse and say his client did it, he said.

The Seattle-based attorney spoke for about four hours in Lewis County Superior Court after five weeks of testimony and more than 600 items were presented as physical evidence.

He repeatedly offered the phrase, “false evidence appearing real.”

What prosecutors presented did not connect his client to it, Crowley said, although there were many appearances it did.

“Thirty years plus six weeks of trial, it is obvious nobody knows what happened,” he said. “Nobody.”

Riffe, 55, is charged with numerous offenses in connection with December 1985 deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin. He and his now-deceased younger brother have been the prime suspects since the early 1990s but he was only arrested last year.

Crowley spoke in partial sentences and run-on sentences, from his podium he placed next to his client.

He moved from topic to topic and back again in a courtroom in which eight family and friends sat behind the defense table while about 30 spectators crowded onto the benches behind prosecutors.

Crowley laced his recitation with phrases including the words “friendly”, “hostile”, “scammer” and “invader” in apparent reference to whomever took the Maurins. He spoke of witnesses who have been “cued” for nearly 30 years.

Why do they keep saying sawed off shotgun, he asked. What witness actually saw the sawed off shotgun?

Government is a structure run by people with resources and personalities, he told the jury.

“When it says a sawed off shotgun was used, you believe it, it’s human nature,” Crowley said.

He pointed out witnesses who saw a man around Yard Birds – where the Maurin’s bloody car was found – who spoke of a long gun.

“Make them prove it, make them do something they cannot do, which is prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “Because at the end, Rick is entitled to an acquittal.”

Prosecutors made it sound as though his client was kind of a freeloader, he said, but he was a logger who was hurt on the job, he told the jury.

“He also consumed some amount of drugs, but we don’t know how much,” he said.

Crowley said his client’s friend Les George seemed like a hardworking guy, and it sounded as though he was a suspect at one point, he noted.

Why would Riffe rip the page out of the registration book at Sunbirds when George bought his gun there, and how much did it even mean if it happened 14 months before the homicides, he asked. If it even happened, he added.

As for the burglary at the Maurin’s home, there’s no evidence how entry was made, he said.

“There was real evidence,” he said. “There was the purse between the couch and that wall, but it doesn’t take you down any path.”

Crowley re-characterized his client’s answers to law enforcement as similar to anyone else who is asked about events from perhaps six years earlier from a day that had no significance.

His client did ask his brother-in-law if shotgun shells could be traced, he said. But they were also talking about goose hunting, and he had a felony conviction which meant he shouldn’t handle firearms, he said.

Crowley showed the jury pictures of his client taken during that summer, and on Christmas Day, claiming his beard couldn’t match up with the few days growth of facial hair described by witnesses.

He listed the various purchases prosecutors implied the Riffe brothers made with the proceeds of the crime, suggesting $8,500 couldn’t be stretched that far.

“They nailed Rick at White Pass on Dec. 19 doing a drug deal,” he said. “But remember, (Jeff) McKenzie had him at the AM/PM that night.”

He pointed out no physical evidence linked Riffe to the crimes. No DNA, no hair, no fiber, no trace evidence, nothing, he said.

And where is the registration or any sales document for a supposed white car Riffe owned, he asked.

Early in the investigation, when photos were shown and nobody was picked, the detectives didn’t record it, he told the jury. So nobody knows how many people looked at his client’s face and didn’t choose it, he said, when their memories were fresher.

Crowley kept speaking of how unreliable people’s memories are, noting that witnesses who picked Riffe from a montage made their choice 9,835 days after the homicide.

“I should say this,” he said. “Those witnesses are not lying, they are gripped with fear.”

Adna resident William Reisinger testified the Maurin’s sedan was speeding down Bunker Creek Road at 11:35 a.m. on Dec. 19, 1985, he said.

And former Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Billy Forth – who testified he saw the same car and identified both Riffe and his brother as the lone driver – was already back at the courthouse looking at his watch at 11:10 a.m., he said.

“He’s not lying,” Crowley said. “He’s a mistaken witness that blamed himself.”

Crowley reminded the jury of the long list of witnesses at or passing through Ethel that morning who told of how foggy it was and of the ones who saw the Maurins in their green car with another person.

The one person who said they saw a fourth person in the vehicle was adamant that happened on a clear day, he said.

Jason Shriver was 17 years old and on the way with his mother to a dental appointment, and the “split second” look he got at the Riffe brothers in a car probably occurred, Crowley said.

Crowley suggested Shriver’s memories were jumbled by time and emotion, and the narcotics he was given after his oral surgery.

“Whatever day this was, it undoubtedly was not Dec. 19,” he said.

According to the defense attorney, Frank Perkin’s testimony was preposterous. Marty Smeltzer’s was nonsense. Witness Gordon Campbell is like Erwin Bartlett in that he knew he wasn’t telling the truth, he said.

Campbell is the kind of person who thinks if someone is charged they must be guilty, he claimed. Bartlett committed perjury, he said.

Why is the prosecution even offering witnesses like that, Crowley asked the jury.

“Because fear knows no bounds, it has caught them,” he said.

His client had nothing to do with it, he concluded.

“Rick did not do this, there’s no real evidence he did this,” Crowley  said, raising his voice. “He’s entitled to an acquittal based on real evidence, not perjury.”

The jury of eight women and four men was sent to begin deliberating shortly before 5 p.m., but chose to go home at 5:30 p.m. and return this morning to continue.

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Maurin murder trial: Prosecutor points to defendant as accomplice

Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 9:27 am
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Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead gives his closing arguments with an early 1980s mug shot of Ricky Riffe as a back drop.

Updated at 7:27 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Jurors in the Maurin murder trial listened all day yesterday to a prosecutor explain how Ricky A. Riffe is responsible for the December 1985 slaying of the elderly Ethel couple.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked almost as many questions during his closing as he gave answers to.

“The state’s not going to stand up and tell you we know what happened in this case,” Halstead said. “We do not.”

His hours-long recitation of weeks of testimony left it clear that Ed, 81, and Minnie, 83, Maurin were shot in the backs with double-ought buck inside their car which was then parked and empty at Yard Birds Shopping Center in Chehalis on Dec. 19, 1985.

Ed Maurin had withdrawn $8,500 cash in $100 bills from his bank at about the same hour that day the couple was expecting guests to begin arriving to their home for an annual Christmas party.

Prosecutors believe the couple was forced from their home to drive to the Chehalis bank and had numerous witnesses who believe they saw the 1969 Chrysler Newport at various key places, mostly with the couple in the front seat and a man in the backseat.

But Jason Shriver saw the Maurins as well as Ricky Riffe and his now-deceased brother in the car driving west on U.S. Highway 12, Halstead reminded jurors.

“I want you to ask yourself, what motive does a 17-year-old high school boy have to make up a story?” Halstead asked. “To  make this up?”

Shriver knows the Maurins, he knows the Riffe brothers, he said.

“Jason looks over, he sees Rick in the front passenger street facing straight ahead,” he said. “He sees all of them, recognizes them, IDs them.”

Halstead pondered what the Riffe brothers might have done.

“At this point, there’s no turning back, they are accomplices,” he said. “At this point, a burglary and kidnapping have occurred.”

Halstead reminded jurors of the white car seen leaving the Maurin’s driveway that same morning and to ask themselves who might have been driving it and if it were perhaps waiting on the side of the road.

“The question is, what happened to the other person in the back of the car?” he said.

Numerous witnesses have picked out both Ricky and John Gregory Riffe from photos, seen at various places. They’re brothers, they look alike, he said.

The deputy prosecutor pointed out at the bank, Ed Maurin told Pat Hull something like the kids were going to help them buy a car.

“If this is true, why don’t any of the kids know it?” Halstead asked. “He’s under duress, he’s being told what to do.”

Ed Maurin also said his wife didn’t feel good, he said.

“Why would they go to Seattle or Tacoma to buy a car if Minnie doesn’t feel good?” he said. “These people are 80 years old.”

Halstead recounted to the jury that William Reisinger who saw the green car speeding down Bunker Creek Road – near the logging road where the couple’s bodies were found five days later – remembered seeing the male driver’s two hands on the steering wheel, wearing gloves.

Remember how one witness said he saw the Riffe brothers standing next to the green car in the Yard Birds parking lot and detective Richard Herrington said he thought he’d find more finger prints on the car? he asked.

“But not if you’re wearing gloves. Not if you’ve wiped it down,” he said.

Numerous witnesses described seeing a man carrying a gun who could have been one of the Riffes at multiple places around the shopping center that day.

“My question is, are all these witnesses seeing the same person?” he said. “Or are there possibly two men walking around there with green jackets?”

Halstead spent the next several hours yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court recounting witness testimony that pointed to the Riffe brothers.

Rick and Robin Riffe had little money before the homicides but seemed to have money to spend afterward. His friend, long haul trucker Les George, testified Riffe has possession of his shot gun during that period, as he was cutting it down for him to use as a truck gun.

Halstead offered that the burglary could have been as as simple as someone knocking on the Maurin’s front door that morning, or walking through their back door with a gun. And that prosecutors believe Minnie was shot first while the car was still moving, having partially opened her door leaving a trail of her blood on the logging road.

As he concluded, he told the jury they were allowed to use their common sense to make inferences. In Washington, circumstantial and direct evidence can be weighed equally, he said.

“So, was it Rick or John? Who was the shooter?” Halstead asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said.

Both were selected from the montages.

“They’re both accomplices, it does not matter who was the shooter,” he said. “They’re both equally liable for all these crimes.”

“Could there be someone else out there who had a part in it? Absolutely,” he said.

Judge Richard Brosey sent the jury home before 5 p.m. with the same reminders not to read or listen to news about the case, and to return this morning when they would heard the defense closing.

“You’ve only heard half the closing arguments, so don’t jump to any conclusions,” Brosey said. “Remember what I told you, there’s always two sides to every story.”

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News brief: Body found off highway cliff near Packwood identified as Tacoma man

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 7:39 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  The Lewis County Coroner’s Office confirmed today the skeletal remains found down an embankment with a wrecked car last week off U.S. Highway 12 outside Packwood are missing Tacoma resident, Jerry L. Heilman.

Coroner Warren McLeod said Heilman, who vanished last year, died of blunt force trauma.

Responders had to rappel down about 275 feet to recover the body after hikers came across the scene last Wednesday.

HIs manner of death is undetermined, but the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has said it wasn’t suspicious, that they believe his car was traveling fast in the area without a guard rail near milepost 143.

A missing person listing with the city of Tacoma says Heilman was last seen on July 31 of 2012, had not contacted his friends, family or his employer and could be driving a blue 2003 Ford Mustang. His age given was 49 at the time of his disappearance.

The (Tacoma) News Tribune writes Heilman was an avid hunter and fisherman and left his home on Aug. 1, 2012.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 8:48 am

Updated at 8:15 p.m.

MEN BOOKED FOR ASSAULT OF OFFICERS

• A 58-year-old Centralia man was arrested for third-degree assault last night after two calls about a disorderly and intoxicated tenant at the 100 block of South Silver Street in Centralia. Steven M. Radick allegedly turned off someone else’s electricity and was threatening toward others; when contacted by an officer he allegedly struck the officer in the chest, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• A 45-year-old Centralia man was arrested for third-degree assault on Monday afternoon after police were asked to remove two individuals from a trailer park on the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Police say when Mitchell W. Sinclair finally gathered up his belongings to go, he walked past an officer, twisted his body knocking the officer in the chest with his shoulder. He was He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BOY ACCUSED OF ASSAULT

• Chehalis police were called yesterday afternoon to Green Hill School about an assault of two staff members by a student-inmate. One went to the hospital to be checked and the other didn’t wish to press for charging, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

BAR FIGHT

• Morton police on Monday said they were investigating a felony assault reported about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Bucksnort Inn on Main Avenue in which a 23-year-old Glenoma man sustained a concussion. He was treated at Morton General Hospital and has been released, according to Chief Dan Mortensen.

HOME BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• A 25-year-old Centralia area man returned home about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday at the 2900 block of Sawall Avenue to discover someone had broken into his home and stolen a 40-inch Panasonic flat screen television, an xBox console and as many as 20 games, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

SHED BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• An 83-year-old Centralia man called the sheriff’s office on Monday morning after he discovered someone had cut a fence and gone into a storage shed stealing a red 2007 Yamaha ATV valued at more than $4,000. It happened at the 2200 block of Sandra Avenue, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

STOLEN TRAILER

• A 2004 utility trailer stolen out of Cle Elum was discovered at the 100 block of Cowlitz Loop Road in Toledo, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy was contacted on Friday about the trailer which had been sitting on the property for some time, after tenants had left, according to the sheriff’s office. It was returned to its owner, Sgt. Rob Snaza said.

MAIL THEFT

• A 49-year-old Centralia area resident contacted the sheriff’s office on Friday after discovering two outgoing checks had been stolen from the mailbox at the 100 block of River Heights Road. The victim told of seeing a small blue pickup truck in the area, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

MORE THEFT

• An air compressor and tools were stolen from a garage on the 700 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

• Centralia police took a report on Monday of wire stolen from inside a fenced area and building at the 1700 block of Lum Road which turned up in what appeared to be a homeless camp.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Chehalis police were called about 12:45 p.m. yesterday regarding a vehicle prowl in the parking lot at Shop n Kart on the 2100 block of North National Avenue in which a handgun and a garage door opener were stolen. Officer Linda Bailey said someone apparently got the victim’s home address from the registration and the victim subsequently reported his home was burglarized on Southwest William Avenue. It appeared whoever it was tried to steal the truck as well, Bailey said.

• Chehalis police were called about 6:40 p.m. yesterday regarding a vehicle prowl at the 400 block of Northeast Jefferson Avenue.

• Police called about 3:25 a.m. yesterday about a car prowl on Southwest Kelly Avenue in Chehalis subsequently came across a slew of vehicles in the area which had also been hit. Doors and trunks were found open, dome lights on and stolen items strewn along a path which a police dog attempted a track, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Among the items taken were what you might expect to find inside a vehicle, such as purses, tools, CDs, according to police

• Police were called about 5:25 p.m. yesterday regarding someone stealing a television from a vehicle at the 900 block of South Schueber Road in Centralia.

DRUGS

• A 50-year-old Toledo man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine when a deputy was asked to check on his well-being at the 5100 block of Jackson Highway in Toledo on Friday afternoon. William F. Eberle had an outstanding warrant and when he was taken into custody, the deputy found a substance that field tested positive for the dug, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Eberle was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sherif’s office.

SEXUAL ASSAULT

• Rupp W. Freece was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail on Sunday in connection with an alleged rape of a woman he knows, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

RESCUE IN THE WOODS

• Firefighters from Doty and Pe Ell responded with crews from Raymond when an elderly couple’s vehicle went down an embankment early yesterday morning west of Lewis County. Lewis County Fire District 16 Chief Greg Feuchter said he was not on the call, but it came out around 8:30 a.m. or so and while it was up towards Menlo in Pacific County, the scene was accessed off Elk Creek Road and up logging roads. Kirotv.com reports the truck accelerated off a cliff and was witnessed by the couple’s companions. The 80-year-old woman died and her husband was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in critical condition, according to reporter Richard Thompson.

COLLISIONS

• A 20-year-old Chehalis driver escaped injury when he swerved to miss a deer in the fog at the 200 block of Berry Road outside Chehalis and ended up sheering off a utility pole early on Sunday. His pickup truck sustained major damage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He was cited for speeds too fast for conditions, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 72-year-old driver sustained only minor injuries but her Honda Civic was totaled when she lost control of the vehicle and it rolled at the 100 block of Chilvers Road west of Chehalis on Sunday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Bordena H. Andrew was cited for second-degree negligent driving, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 19-year-old driver was cited for speed too fas for conditions after his 1998 Subaru Legacy collided with an embankment on Friday afternoon at the 100 block of Coal Creek Road near Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The car sustained major damage, Sgt. Rob Snaza said. The driver was not hurt, Snaza said.

• There was significant damage to both the elk and the Honda Accord when  the two collided on Friday evening at the 2500 block of Salzer Valley Road outside Centralia, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The 21-year-old driver was not injured, according to Sgt. Rob Snaza.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, underage drinking; responses for alarms, misdemeanor assaults, dispute, shoplifting, parking lot hit and run, possible fraud, purse taken from shopping cart; complaints loud party, screaming man, growling, staring dog … and more.

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Maurin murder trial: Defense decides to call no witnesses

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm
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Sherry Tibbetts, the woman Riffe has been with for 24 years in Alaska, waits to make sure he sees her before leaving the courtroom this afternoon; with her son Jeremy Kern. Tibbetts was kept out of the courtroom until now because she was listed as a witness.

Updated at 8:21 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – After arguments, motions and rulings this morning without the jury, murder defendant Ricky Riffe’s lawyer told the jury his client instructed him not to put on any defense witnesses.

Prosecutors rested their case just before 11 a.m., and Seattle-based attorney John Crowley stood up and announced to the courtroom:

“Mr. Riffe has directed the defense to call no witnesses and rest our case,” Crowley said. “On behalf of Rick Riffe, we rest our case.”

Then Crowley sat down.

The abrupt conclusion of the weeks-long witness testimony portion of the trial set the stage for closing arguments to begin tomorrow morning.

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Ricky Allen Riffe

Riffe, 55, is charged in Lewis County Superior Court with numerous offenses in connection with the December 1985 shotgun deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin, an elderly couple from Ethel. He and his now-deceased younger brother have been the prime suspects since the early 1990s but he was only arrested last year.

Based on conversation by the court about scheduling, Lewis County prosecutors will take several hours tomorrow for closing, summarizing what they think the evidence has shown.

Then the following morning, Crowley will offer his closing arguments. Prosecutors get the last word with counter arguments and then the jury can be sent to begin deliberations.

The jury was given a long break until after lunch.

Outside the presence of the jury this morning, the judge heard arguments on the previously filed defense motion for prosecutorial conduct, regarding the jailhouse snitch who denied on the witness stand he got anything in exchange for his testimony against Riffe.

The judge had harsh words for both Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead and Crowley

Crowley argued it should lead to a mistrial or dismissal and to disqualify Halstead.

He told the judge the incident deprived his client of a fair trial and that also prosecutors had concealed from him there was a plea deal in place with Erwin Bartlett by not sharing the documentation during the discovery process.

“He was perjuring himself and the prosecutor knew he was perjuring himself at that point, and what the prosecutor didn’t know is we knew,” Crowley said.

Judge Richard Brosey said he could only dismiss if there was no other recourse, but that in the case of Bartlett, by the time the jury heard Crowley’s cross examination and Bartlett’s attorney was put on the stand to verify what occurred, it should have been very clear to the jury there was a deal.

The judge suggested the proper channel for the complaint was not through himself, but through the bar association.

On the matter of Crowley emailing prosecutors that he would not file the motion if they would stipulate to certain other matters, Brosey was equally blunt.

“It sure looks to me like that’s extortion Mr. Crowley,” Brosey said. “How do you explain that any other way?”

“All we were trying to do is get them to stipulate to the truth of the matter,” Crowley said.

Before the jury was brought back in, Crowley made a separate oral motion for dismissal of all charges, stating there hadn’t been enough evidence presented.

The judge denied the motion.

Riffe is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery, as well as one count of burglary; all either as the principal player or as an accomplice.

Numerous aggravating circumstances are alleged including particularly vulnerable victims and deliberate cruelty.

Prosecutors are leaving room for a variety of possible scenarios.

Halstead told the judge that since there were no eyewitnesses, and nobody knows exactly what occurred, it was possible the jury could conclude whoever drove the Maurins up Stearns Hill Road and shot them, whether it was Greg Riffe or Ricky Riffe, that the killing was not premeditated.

He asked for a jury instruction which would allow jurors to find Riffe guilty of second-degree murder instead of first-degree.

The judge said he would allow the so-called lesser included offense to be contemplated by the jury, noting it was unusual for the state to be proposing it, as such an instruction usually it would be sought by the defense and the state would oppose it.

Judge Brosey read to the jury the lengthy list of jury instructions.

The jury was also read a list of stipulations, facts agreed to by both sides to be placed in the record for jury consideration in lieu of live testimony.

The following are among them:

• Rick Riffe and Robin Giddings married in Reno, Nevada on Jan. 5, 1985

• They two divorced in 1991.

• Robin Riffe died of natural causes in 1994 in Washington state.

• Rick Riffe was convicted of a felony in 1981, and could not legally possess firearms until at least 1986.

Closing statements are expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.

The trial is open to the public. The courtroom is on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center at Main Street and Chehalis Avenue in Chehalis.

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Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer defends his senior deputy prosecutor to the judge in court this morning.