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News brief: Empty Napavine area home catches fire

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 1:03 am

Updated at 11:22 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Crews called to a house fire east of Napavine just before 11 p.m. found smoke coming from all sides and called in help from three neighboring districts.

The single-story home on the 300 block of Forest Napvine Road East was unoccupied, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

District 5 spokesperson Lt. Laura Hanson said the kitchen, dining and laundry rooms were heavily burned. The 1,500-square-foot wood structure sustained smoke damage throughout, according to Hanson.

The house was undergoing some renovation between renters; it’s owner resides in an RV on the back of the property, according to Chief Eric Linn. A passing motorist saw smoke and woke up the owner, he said.

It seemed to have begun in the laundry room, Linn said.

“He said before he went to bed, he threw some clothes in the dryer,” he said.

The chief said it had been burning for awhile before the fire department was called. Flames from the laundry room rose into the attic and then ran the full length of the building, dropping fires into other rooms, he said.

Firefighters were on the scene until about 4 a.m.

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News brief: New police dogs start work

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm
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Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rick Vanwyck poses with his new partner Axel.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two new police dogs joined local police agencies after passing their accreditation tests last week.

The Chehalis Police Department now has a canine to call its own, with 19-month-old Reign partnering with Officer Warren Ayers.

The German Shepherd and Malinois mix was introduced this evening to the city council.

He worked his first shift this weekend, helping try to track a subject in Thurston County, Ayers said.

The animals’ basic training consisted of 400 hours over three months.

At the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, 15-month-old Axel is now qualified to work patrol with his handler Deputy Rick Vanwyck.

The sheriff’s office said the German Shepherd in the near future will be cross trained for narcotics detection.

Both the new dogs are from the Czech Republic and both are trained to track and apprehend people and evidence.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield, in a news release, praised Centralia Police Department Officer Tracy Murphy for assisting to select the right dog, which he called another excellent tool to help combat crime in Lewis County.

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Chehalis Police Department Officer Warren Ayers shows off his new partner Reign.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Updated at 8:52 p.m.

LUCRATIVE BUT UNRULY PASSENGER KICKS CABBIE

• A deputy was called to a Packwood home about 2:30 a.m. on Friday after a resident allegedly stiffed a taxi driver on a $400 fare, a ride into Morton for some drinks and a ride home afterward, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office said that on the way home, the 63-year-old man had the cabbie stop at the Shell Foodmart to hit up the ATM as was their ordinary routine, but for whatever reason it didn’t work and he said he could pay when they got to his house on Cannon Road. The cab driver told a deputy that when he tried to collect his money, his passenger kicked him in the stomach. “The victim did not want to press charges for the assault, he just wanted to get paid,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The case is being referred to prosecutors with a recommendation of a charge for third-degree theft, according to the sheriff’s office. The amount owed included another $200 for a cleanup fee because the customer urinated in the front seat, Brown said.

FAKE MONEY

• Two Centralia men were arrested last night after they allegedly spent a counterfeit $20 bill to make a small purchase at the 500 block of South Tower Avenue and then used the change to buy beer at another store, according to the Centralia Police Department. An officer called about 9:30 p.m. arrested Luke T. Baker, 43, and Thomas J. Roy, 39, for forgery and booked them into the Lewis County Jail, according to police. Sgt. Kurt Reichert said his department is aware of seven or eight fake $20 bills passed in the recent past. How many more are out there? Reichert said he has no idea. Baker is being released without charges pending further investigation. Roy is being held on a warrant.

FAKE NAME

• A 31-year-old Toledo woman was arrested for identity theft because she lied about her name to a deputy on Saturday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy responding to a report of suspicious activity at Gee Cees truck stop on Foster Creek Road near Vader contacted the occupants of a vehicle and one of them said she was Sarah Meyer, according to the sheriff’s office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said the deputy knew Meyer and knew the woman was not her. The female subsequently identified as Michelle Price, was wanted on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Brown.

WINDOW SMASHED

• Deputies are looking for a 23-year-old Rochester man after he allegedly broke a window at his ex-girlfriend’s home on the 1800 block of Lincoln Creek Road early yesterday morning when she refused to let him inside. A deputy responding about 1:40 a.m. reported the loss is about $100, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Police were called about 7:30 a.m. yesterday about a car prowl on the 500 block of Ash Street in Centralia. Someone broke a window or windows to get inside and took a wallet, a camera and CDs, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 12:45 a.m. yesterday to the 600 block of Southwest William Avenue about a laptop computer stolen from a vehicle.

• A 43-year-old Puyallup woman contacted the sheriff’s office about 5 p.m. on Saturday after she discovered someone had prowled her vehicle as it was parked near the Packwood Airport during the community’s flea market event. Missing were two jackets, two Motorola walkie talkies and a GPS device, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It appeared a door was left unlocked, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• A purse containing credit cards and an iPhone were stolen from a vehicle parked at the 12,000 block of U.S. Highway 12 between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The victim said she left the pink, fabric shoulder bag on the passenger seat of the unlocked locked vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office.

ILLEGAL WEAPON

• A 35-year-old Salkum man, Larry E. Ridgley, stopped on Sunday evening for driving an ATV on the 700 block of Gore Road with a suspended license was subsequently arrested for possession of a dangerous weapon; brass knuckles discovered in  his pants, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

DRUGS

• A 28-year-old homeless man was arrested for possession of heroin about 1:20 a.m. today when a Chehalis police officers stopped two males on bicycles without proper lighting at the 600 block of North National Avenue. Douglas M. Capelli was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police. The officer confiscated about five and half grams of suspected heroin, police said. However, he was charged this afternoon with delivery of a controlled substance in connection with an ongoing case. His defense attorney in arguing for lower bail suggested to a judge Capelli couldn’t be much of a community safety risk given that police didn’t arrest him back in October when they could have. “The reason we’re here now, they’re doing this, is he didn’t follow through on a deal to rat someone out,” Chehalis attorney Bob Schroeter said. His bail was set at $25,000, half of what prosecutors requested.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• A former area attorney who was disbarred was charged with second-degree organized retail theft and possession of methamphetamine, both as a principal or an accomplice in Lewis County Superior Court today. Roland T. Hunter, 52, of Tacoma, appeared before a judge following his Saturday arrest at the Centralia Outlets for his alleged role in a shoplifting spree. Matthew D. Drennan, 36, of Edgewood, was arrested at the same time and charged today with the same offenses. Hunter works in Edgewood selling used cars, defense attorney Bob Schroeter told the judge. Bail was set at $10,000 for both men. Centralia police called about 5:30 p.m. to the shopping center on Lum Road found the pair’s vehicle with merchandise taken from several stores. Schroeter said he didn’t remember the details of Hunter’s troubles as lawyer, but thought he worked in Centralia until several years ago.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence; responses for parking lot hit and run, other non-injury collisions, misdemeanor assault, shoplifting, suspicious circumstances, suspected suicide … and more.

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Making a difference when kids go missing, and beforehand

Monday, May 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm
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Barbara Glenn, a 911 supervisor in Lewis County, sends up a balloon in recognition of missing children. / Courtesy photo by Jennifer Ducummon

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Michelle Croft and Melissa Baum are living every parent’s nightmare, but still took time out to help Lewis County 911 dispatchers shine a spotlight on the resources available to both prevent and find missing children.

Both have daughters who vanished; Kayla Croft-Payne three years ago and Lindsey Baum from McCleary in Grays Harbor County almost a year before that.

“It’s a club none of us wants to be in,” Baum said last week when the two mothers took part in a gathering at Stan Hedwall Park in Chehalis.

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Lindsey Baum

Lindsey Baum was 10 years old, when she was last seen June 26, 2009. She left a friend’s house to walk home and never arrived. Kayla Croft-Payne was 18 and living southwest of Chehalis on April 28, 2010 when she last logged onto her MySpace internet account. She was reported missing on May 5 by a friend who hadn’t seen or heard from her for several days.

Though Kayla was already technically an adult, Lewis County sheriff’s detectives have made sure her information got added to various databases on missing kids.

Kayla’s younger sister Shelbie regularly sends messages to Kayla, via floating helium balloons up in to the sky.

“Three or four times a month, plus events like this,” Croft said.

On Wednesday, beneath gray and drizzling skies, they did it again. Theirs was among scores of red and white balloons released in recognition of youngsters who have disappeared.

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Kayla Croft-Payne

“Each balloon represents hopes and prayers for the eventual return of each missing child,” said Craig Larsen, Lewis County 911 manager.

Larsen’s staff began a big push last year to do more about the issue, taking part in training to provide swift and decisive responses in the early stages of incidents.

The first few moments when a child goes missing are the most critical, Larsen told a crowd of more than 40 individuals.

“You never get to go back to that,” he said.

The county department recently got its certification from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

His people have been working to spread the word about what others can do.

What they’ve learned from NCMEC, is families can help by making sure their little ones know their own phone number, their address, he said.

“Their parents names, not just ‘mom’ and ‘dad’,” he said. “Together, we really can make a difference.”

There are approximately 800,000 missing kids in the country today, according to Larsen. Eleven of them are from Lewis County.

The following list was read on Wednesday of 11 children who are listed as missing from Lewis County, compiled from local law enforcement agencies by the Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit.

• Kayla Croft-Payne: Since April 2010, then age 18, believed endangered

• Xavier Burroughs: Since February 2011, then age 1, circumstances unknown

• Lillie Burroughs: Since February 2011, then age 2, circumstances unknown

• Angelica Mejiamoctezuma: Since May 2012, then age 15, believed runaway

• Ashley Fern: Since September 2012, then age 16, believed runaway

• Ashley Tanner: Since January 2013, age 17, believed runaway

• John Williford: Since January 2013, age 17, believed runaway

• Antonio Aguilar: Since January 2013, age 17, believed runaway

• Ruben Valles-Nortin: Since February 2013, age 15, believed runaway

• Cody Moorman: Since May 10, 2013, age 13, believed runaway

• Lilli Morellia: Since May 18, 2013, age 17, believed runaway
•••

See missing children of Washington state, here

Lewis County 911 is distributing resource materials to local libraries and through the sheriff’s office. The “Take 25” campaign – with info also available online – encourages parents and other adults to take 25 minutes to talk to children about safety.

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Stan Hedwall Park, Chehalis. May 22, 2013 / Courtesy photo by Jennifer Ducummon

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm

SHOP LOCAL, BUT PLEASE PAY UNLESS YOU WANT ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE GRAY BAR HOTEL

• A shopping spree for two Pierce County men ended yesterday with their arrests at the Centralia Outlets for organized retail theft and possession of methamphetamine. Police called about 5:30 p.m. to the 1300 block of Lum Road regarding a shoplifted purse found a pair of suspects in an adjacent store and a vehicle with merchandise inside it from places such as Aeropostale, Corning, Nike, Sunbirds in Chehalis and Sears at the Lewis County Mall, according to the Centralia Police Department. When one of the men was patted down, an officer discovered suspected stolen goods such as sunglasses and gloves, along with a tie from another retailer, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. “They cuffed him,” Reichert said. One of the subjects was seen kicking a bag under a patrol car; it contained suspected meth, according to police. The total value of the goods was $1,665, but it only takes hitting three or more stores to push a misdemeanor shoplifting offense up to the felony of organized retail theft, according to Reichert. Police counted approximately nine victim businesses. Centralia has lately become somewhat of a destination location for “northerners” engaging in this type of activity, Reichert said. Roland T. Hunter, 52, of Tacoma, and Matthew D. Drennan, 36, of Edgewood, were  booked into the Lewis County Jail.

DRUGS

• A 39-year-old Rochester man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop about 10:50 p.m. on Friday on West Main Street and North Washington Avenue in Centralia. An officer asked James W. Strothman if he wanted to retrieve anything from his vehicle before it was impounded and he asked for a small black bag, according to police. The officer checked to make sure it didn’t have any weapon inside before handing it over and found a handgun and a baggie of a powdered substance, according to police. The Rochester man was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Centralia police were called just before 9 a.m. yesterday to the 1500 block of South Gold Street after a woman discovered someone had taken her purse and keys from the back of her truck. She was getting ready to leave and set them there while walking a dog, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A leather jacket was reported stolen from an unlocked car at the 1100 block of West Pear Street in Centralia on Friday morning.

WRECKS

• A 62-year-old Olympia man was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital after a single-vehicle collision yesterday evening on Interstate 5 near Vader. Troopers called about 6:30 p.m. to the southbound lanes near milepost 58 found that traffic had slowed in front of Bill Bakke who was unable to stop. Bakke moved to the left into the concrete barrier, then rotated back the other way coming to rest in the right lane, according to the Washington State Patrol. His 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt was described as totaled. He was cited for following too closely, according to the state patrol.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, DUI, 49-year-old woman walking in the middle of the roadway disrupting traffic; responses for possible identity theft, for shoplifting such as a man pushing a baby stroller at Outlet stores, alcohol and energy drink from grocery store … and more.

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Police: Centralia shopping dispute culminates with man, children attacked with pepper spray

Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 4:24 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Tacoma woman is jailed after she reportedly used pepper spray to break up a brawl between her grown son and another man outside the Centralia Outlets yesterday afternoon then chased the subject, spraying him and two children who were with him.

Police and aid were called about 3:15 p.m. to the shopping center on the 100 block of West High Street. Tamala J. Summerhill, 53, was arrested, according to the Centralia Police Department.

“Spraying the guys to break up a fight is one thing,” Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. “But chasing him across the parking lot is a whole different ball of wax.”

As to why she used the streaming pepper spray on two boys, ages 8 and 9, she had no explanation, according to Reichert. She was arrested for two counts of third-degree child assault, he said.

It began with an exchange of words between the two males as they stood in line inside one of the stores and the 22-year-old son picking a fight when they got outside, according to police.

“The victim gets the suspect down, the female whips out the pepper spray,” Reichert said.

The 38-year-old Tumwater man got up and ran to his vehicle; she follows, he said. He and the boys were standing outside the vehicle when she let go with more pepper spray, according to Reichert.

Medics treated the patients, none were hospitalized.

Jesse E. Summerhill, 22, also of Tacoma, was arrested for misdemeanor assault, his mother was booked for the felony assaults, according to Reichert.

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White Pass School District prevails in wrongful death lawsuit involving student

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 10:33 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The lawsuit against White Pass School District – sued by the family of a sophomore who committed suicide – is over, with a Lewis County Superior Court judge ruling this morning school officials had no duty to notify Brian Stephens’ family of a suicide note they learned of or a possible suicide pact between two students

Brian Stephens, 16, was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head, inside a Tacoma man’s vacation mobile home in Packwood in May 2009.

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Brian Stephens

His grandmother Debbie Reisert, with whom he lived, never heard about the note until months afterward. She wasn’t called when the high school counselor brought her grandson into his office to ask him if he was suicidal.

Days before Brian’s death, one of his friends had taken 30 Ibuprofen pills one morning and then went to school. When the counselor learned of it,  the boy was taken away in an ambulance to Morton General Hospital where he was treated and subsequently released.

A female classmate told counselors Brian had passed her a  note in English class, writing that if his friend killed himself, he would too.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed last year by Brian’s family never went to trial.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey today granted a summary judgement requested by the school district.

“Is there a duty in the first place?” Brosey asked lawyers this morning. “That’s the issue we’re dealing with today.”

Brosey said the answer was no, based on case law.

“If the court of appeals or the Supreme Court want to declare there is, that’s up to them,” he said.

Tukwila attorney Philip Talmadge who represented the White Pass School District said the district feels horrible about the tragic circumstances, but they are not legally culpable.

The school counselor talked to the young man and he denied he was suicidal, Talmadge said.

He said the grandmother claimed she had previously had a long conversation with the counselor, asking him to inform her if he noticed anything amiss. But the counselor Justin Neilson didn’t recall the conversation exactly the same way, he said.

“Before you can have liability, you have to have a duty, as a matter of law,” Talmadge said.

He said it’s a question for the legislature, should it want to make such laws. There are many variables that would need to be addressed, he said.

“The Idaho legislature did that,” he said.

The family attorney Kevin Coluccio said he doesn’t yet know if they will appeal.

“I think what’s disappointing to us, is the school district won’t be held accountable for withholding information about kids,” Coluccio said. “Because mom and grandmother didn’t have the information, they couldn’t take action.”

Coluccio said some changes have been made, in part due to efforts by his clients.

The governor recently signed legislation that requires suicide education training for educators and some notification requirements, he said.

He called Brian’s death, or any child to suicide, a great tragedy.

“My hope is that this caused them to re-evaluate, to take more seriously the threat of teen suicide,” Coluccio said.
•••

For the in-depth story surrounding Brian Stephen’s death, read “Packwood teen’s suicide to be revisited, in court” from Sunday July 1, 2012, here

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Jail time for bong-smoking baby’s mother

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm
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Rachelle L. Braaten pleads guilty to “delivery” of marijuana in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Centralia mother who was captured on cell phone video offering up a marijuana bong to her toddler’s mouth was sentenced today to six months in jail.

Rachelle L. Braaten, 24, admitted what she did as part of a plea agreement, and the judge went along with it.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler called the recommendations appropriate, given the particular facts of the case.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke and defense attorney Sam Groberg told the judge what Braaten did involved a foolish lapse of judgement by a young mother while in the company of pot smokers in her home.

“It was at least those things,” Lawler told Braaten. “You’ve got to take care of your child.

“Being a parent means you have to protect your child; hopefully you’ve learned your lesson.”

Braaten and the boy’s father were arrested in early March.

Centralia police initially said they went to the home on the 1400 block of Delaware Avenue to confiscate marijuana plants, but court documents described the anonymous video they received as the primary reason for law enforcement’s visit to the home.

No charges have been filed in connection to the marijuana plants; the deputy prosecutor said it turned out there was evidence 25-year-old Tyler J. Lee was  validly prescribed medical marijuana and validly providing it for a second person.

According to the documents, Braaten told police she knew she shouldn’t be giving her son a hit off the bong, but felt “peer-pressured.”

She has no criminal background.

The video, which caught the attention of a worldwide audience on news sites, includes the sound of laughter from a number of people as the child approaches the marijuana smoking device which the mother is holding, and when his mouth gets close to its top, the little one rears back and coughs.

Braaten pleaded guilty today to delivery of marijuana, which carried a sentence of zero to six months, as well as a violation of a no contact order.

The charge which was dropped –  delivery of a controlled substance by a person over 18 to a person under 18, domestic violence –  has a standard sentencing range of 51 to 68 months.

“Our big thing is once she takes responsibility for what happened, I don’t think she needs to be subjected to the high sentencing range,” O’Rourke told the judge.

Both of her sons were taken by Child Protective Services initially. It wasn’t discussed in court where they are now.

Under the terms set forth by CPS, Braaten began attending parenting classes at Centralia College, which stopped when she was put in jail for violating the no contact order last month, O’Rourke told the judge.

Lawler said she could have contact with her son under the conditions allowed by CPS, but he made it part of the court order she continue parenting classes.

He implored her to embrace the course as an opportunity to become the very best mother possible.

“You’re young, you don’t have a lot of experience,” the judge said. “There’s a lot to be learned.”
•••

For background, read “Police: Marijuana smoking toddler taken from Centralia parents” from Friday March 8, 2013, here

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Kennewick man rescued after falling into Ohanapecosh River

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm
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The victim is pulled back over to safety as the diver, left, looks on. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 10

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 24-year-old camper northeast of Packwood was rescued after he slipped into a glacial river while on a morning walk.

The Kennewick man was staying with friends and family in an unimproved area about a quarter mile south of Mount Rainier National Park off state Route 123, according to authorities.

He got too close to the edge of the Ohanapecosh River and slid about 25 feet into the swift water, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said. Packwood Fire Chief Lonnie Goble said the current swept him to the opposite bank, where he yelled for help.

His companions drove to Packwood to make a 911 call, which came about 7 a.m., responders said.

Responders set up a pulley system, with help from the man.

A sheriff’s deputy who is trained in swift water rescue entered the 40 degree water and was pulled to the other side, where he put a harness on the victim who was pulled back to awaiting rescue teams, according to the sheriff’s office.

The river is about 25 to 30 feet across at that point. The man was definitely hypothermic, but otherwise okay, Goble said.

He was checked by EMTs and transported to the Packwood Fire Department where he was able to get a hot bath, according to Goble.

Responding with sheriff’s office, the fire department and swift water specialists was Packwood Search and Rescue. They were at the scene about two and half hours.

While some were setting up the rope system, others tossed the man bags of warm, dry clothing, hot liquids to drink and shoes, according to Goble.

The fire chief said the area, known as the Cedar Brook camping area, has seen two drownings in the last decade and four to five water rescues.

“The rocks, they’re very slick,” he said. “They’re always wet.”

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Starting to set up for rescue at Ohanapecosh River. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 10

•••

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Boat that couldn’t be used because of the rapids. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 10

 

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm
according to the Centralia Police Department.

Homemade mini shotgun discovered with shells in Rochester woman’s SUV. Courtesy photo by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office

SEATBELT VIOLATION LEADS TO HIDDEN METH, SHORT SHOTGUN

• Neglecting to put on her seatbelt got a 23-year-old Rochester woman the attention of deputies last night, who in turn found hidden in the spare tire storage area of her SUV an unspecified quantity of suspected methamphetamine and a tiny home made shotgun. The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office was working a seatbelt emphasis patrol at U.S. Highway 12 and Albany Street in Rochester when at about 7 p.m. a driver was spotted without her seatbelt, according to the sheriff’s office. A deputy who pulled her over found suspected meth on her person and so subsequently impounded and searched her vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said it was just a personal amount of meth found on the driver but more found in the storage area. The handheld shotgun shooting device discovered was homemade, spring loaded and illegal, according to Lt. Greg Elwin. Brianna Carrothers, 23, was arrested for possession of synthetic drugs while armed with a deadly weapon as well as unlawful possession of a short-barreled shotgun, the sheriff’s office reported. Law enforcement officers on Monday began adding extra patrols seeking out motorists who fail to buckle up and those who use cell phones while behind the wheel. The emphasis, which is also taking place around Lewis County  until June 2, is part of a campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injury accidents in Washington by 2030.

POLICE CHASE, TAZE WANTED MAN

• A short foot pursuit and a zap with a Taser ended with a 49-year-old man getting taken into custody yesterday morning near South Gold and East Summa streets in Centralia. Police say when they attempted to contact Jose A. Rodriguez around 8:20 a.m., he ran. He was wanted for an outstanding warrant,  according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers booked him into the Lewis County Jail also for obstructing and resisting, according to police.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• The Centralia mom who gave her toddler a hit off a marijuana bong – which was captured on a cell phone video – will spend six months in jail, a Lewis County Superior Court judge ordered this morning. More to come.

• The lawsuit against White Pass School District – sued by the family of a sophomore who committed suicide – is over, with a Lewis County Superior Court judge ruling this morning school officials had no duty to notify Brian Stephens’ family of a suicide note they learned of or a possible suicide pact between two students. More to come. Meanwhile, for background, read “Packwood teen’s suicide to be revisited, in court” from Sunday July 1, 2012, here

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for shoplifting, misdemeanor assaults, warrant; responses for non-injury collisions, stolen bicycle, gas station drive-off, to assist retrieving a 22-month-old who had locked self inside a bathroom; complaints of someone kicking at the back door to a business at the Lewis County Mall … a complaint by a taxi driver that after he gave a male a ride from Rock Street in Centralia to Yelm yesterday, the customer said he needed to go inside and get some money, but ran down an alley and never returned … and more.

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Read about Centralia arson inquiry looks for link with Aberdeen fire …

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 12:35 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Aberdeen) Daily World reports fire officials are looking to see if there is a connection between Centralia’s arsons and a nearly $1 million suspicious blaze in Aberdeen earlier this week.

The newspaper writes that  Riverside Fire Authority Assistant Chief Rick Mack yesterday visited the building that burned around 12:50 a.m. on Tuesday, a commercial structure in Aberdeen that houses a law firm, a hair salon and massage businesses.

Read about it here

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Chehalis parent pleads not guilty to stealing from high school senior fund

Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 6:58 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Chehalis father accused of writing himself some $8,000 in checks from the W.F. West High School’s senior class fund went before a judge today and pleaded not guilty.

Robert N. Downs Jr. remains free on his personal recognizance but was ordered to visit the jail to get his finger prints and picture taken.

Downs, 43, hired Centralia attorney David Arcuri to represent him. He was charged last month with first-degree theft and 14 counts of forgery.

The Chehalis Police Department began investigating in January following a complaint from students’ parents the account had less money in it than they thought there ought to be.

The fund comes from a a tradition of adults collectively fundraising during their children’s high school years to pay for graduation-related activities.

When Chehalis police announced their findings in March, they indicated only that $8,200 was taken out and that Downs’ wife, who was in charge of the account, replaced the missing money after she learned of the losses.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer wrote in charging documents an analysis is being conducted on the bank records to determine how much, if any, additional money is missing.  His office is still looking into that, Meyer said today.

Downs was charged on April 30, the same day he was served his summons at his workplace, Green Hill School, the state juvenile corrections facility for boys in Chehalis.

It’s not clear what his job is there or if he is still employed.

Charging documents allege Downs wrote checks between June and August of last year in amounts ranging from $275 to $850. The total is $8,075, according to the court documents. Prosecutors state he forged his wife’s name.

Charging documents don’t offer any indication of what he may have spent the money on.

Downs sat to the right of his attorney this morning in the Chehalis courtroom, sporting slacks, a dress shirt and tie.

Arcuri told the judge he didn’t think it was necessary in the conditions of release order to restrict his client’s travel. His family has a sports tournament in Idaho in June, Arcuri said.

Meyer said the pre-trial limitation to Western Washington is typical.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey ordered Downs not to go outside Washington, Oregon or Idaho.

Meyer said outside the courtroom it doesn’t change the fact of a theft – under Washington state law – even if all the money was put back in the account.

“So, can I take $10,000 from your account, and put it back when I get caught?” he asked by way of an illustration.

Meyer contended the funds were not returned to the account until after questions were being asked.

A trial date was set for the week of August 5.

•••

For background read “High school senior class fund in Chehalis under scrutiny” from Tuesday March 19, 2013 at 9:45 p.m., here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm

MOM CONFRONTS BURGLARS IN ROCHESTER HOME

• A 28-year-old Rochester mother awakened yesterday morning by noises in her living room confronted two subjects carrying away her television. They dropped the TV, one said sorry, and they ran out the door, jumped in a car and drove away, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called just before 9 a.m. to the home on the 10,800 block of 188th Avenue Southwest said she described the intruders as teenage boys, both about 6 feet tall. Their car was a 1990s dark green “junkie” Chevrolet Impala, Lt. Greg Elwin said. Her door had been left unlocked, he said. They managed to get away with a Playstation II, according to the sheriff’s office.

GAS STATION THEFT

• Someone broke into an outside cabinet at Dave’s Chevron station in Toledo and stole six to eight recycled car batteries, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy who responded to the 400 block of state Route 506 was told it happened sometime between 11 p.m. on Tuesday and 3:30 yesterday morning, according to the sheriff’s office.

LITTLE MOTORCYCLE LIFTED

• Centralia police took a report yesterday regarding the theft of a small, bright yellow “pocket” motorcycle from the 500 block of South Pearl Street.

WHEELS REMOVED FROM VEHICLE

• Centralia police were called to an auto body shop yesterday afternoon at the 200 block of East Summa Street when the victim discovered a car sitting on blocks and missing two of its tires and wheels (wire spoke rims).

VEHICLE PROWL

• Centralia police were contacted yesterday morning about a diamond ring stolen out of a vehicle sometime during the previous two days. The loss is almost $1,000, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called about 3:30 p.m. yesterday regarding a car prowl at the 1000 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. It wasn’t immediately obvious if anything was missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• Centralia police responding to a home on the 1200 block of West Main Street about a dispute just before 11 p.m. yesterday ended up arresting a 35-year-old resident for allegedly having a baggie with pills in her pocket she did not possess a prescription for. Melinda M. Murphy was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called just after 4 p.m. yesterday regarding graffiti spray painted onto an alley-facing garage off Southwest Cascade Avenue. The sliver “bubble” letters are not really decipherable, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

SNOOZING IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT

• Centralia police were called about 1:15 a.m. today to the area just north of East Maple Street and Railroad Avenue after a railroad officer discovered a man sleeping inside a locomotive. Dale L. Wester, of Quilcene, was cited for trespass and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

ANOTHER CHEHALIS OVERPASS STRUCK BY LOAD

• One lane of northbound Interstate 5 at the 13th Street interchange in Chehalis was shut down for a time yesterday afternoon after a too-tall load on a flatbed trailer struck the overpass and caused some concrete to fall. Troopers and police responded about 3 p.m. found that a forklift being hauled hit the bridge. The truck driver from Ellensburg was cited for a load that was over the legal limit in height, according to the Washington State Patrol.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, failing to register as a sex offender by a transient; responses for misdemeanor theft, alarm, a report of forgery, dispute, parking lot hit and run; complaints of possible inappropriate touching … and more.

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Kelso man held on $100,000 bail for Chehalis bank robbery

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm
2013.0522.jerrell.redmill.two_2

Jerrell S. Redmill, right, listens as defense attorney Bob Schroeter speaks on his behalf in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 54-year-old Kelso husband who until recently was employed was driving a gold Chrysler PT Cruiser like the one which pulled out of the front parking lot at Chase Bank in Chehalis after it was robbed.

When law enforcement officers stopped Jerrell S. Redmill’s car on Interstate 5 near Kelso about 30 minutes later, and patted him down, money was falling out of his shorts pockets, dropping onto the ground.

“He didn’t run or fight,” Chehalis Police Department detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.

He asked to speak with an attorney.

Redmill was in Lewis County Superior Court today, charged with first-degree robbery for yesterday afternoon’s events at the bank on South Market Boulevard.

He doesn’t have any criminal history, Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the judge.

In the benches behind him were his wife, grown daughter and another family member. The longtime Cowlitz County resident owns a home worth about $100,000, defense attorney Bob Schroeter said. He collects about $1,000 a month from unemployment, according to Schroeter.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey set his bail at $100,000.

It was a casual and quiet holdup, according to Wilson.

Court documents say the teller told police she watched an older man enter the bank, pace back and forth for a short period of time in the lobby, and then approach her counter and hand her a note.

He was wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses.

She handed over about $1,000 in $20s, $10s and $1 bills, according to charging documents. He took the cash and the note then walked out.

Wilson said it was a good description given by employees and the manager running over to look out the window to see the car, along with a sheriff’s detective being in the right place at the right time that brought it all together so quickly.

“We relayed that (information) to all the officers in the area,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the PT Cruiser was first spotted by the sheriff’s detective who was driving an unmarked car near milepost 68, the U.S. Highway 12 interchange. But it took time for enough officers to catch up to make a safe traffic stop, he said.

Redmill was pulled over and arrested near milepost 42.

According to charging documents, the cash that fell onto the ground totaled $775. When the car was searched, $270 was found on the driver’s side floor.

In the driver’s pocket door was a note which read, “Give me all your money now!” according to the documents.

Police also collected a baseball cap from the car – blue with a white logo – that appeared to match what the robber was wearing in bank photos.

Charging documents state Redmill has charges from 1982 of criminal mischief and disorderliness.

He will return to court on another day to make his plea.

The same Chase Bank branch was robbed a little more than a year ago by two men who were captured less than 30 minutes later after a brief pursuit by a Centralia police officer and his police dog.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

DISPUTE

• A 46-year-old Centralia woman was arrested after she reportedly took a swing at a neighbor yesterday afternoon. Police called just before 2 p.m. to the 500 block of South Silver Street were told Patsy A. Bartlett was calling the young woman names and when the young woman made a comment to her companion, Bartlett ran up to her and tried to hit her, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officer Mike Lowrey said it sounds like they are not getting along. Bartlett was booked into the Lewis County Jail for fourth-degree (misdemeanor) assault, according to police.

THEFT

• Centralia police took a report just before 11 a.m. yesterday about kitchenware and fishing rods stolen from a house on the 1000 block of Long Road.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning about a wallet stolen from an unlocked vehicle on Southwest Fourth Street near Cascade Avenue.

• Centralia police took a report yesterday about mail-order medication that should have but didn’t show up in a mail box on the 700 block of North Washington Avenue in Centralia.

DISORDERLINESS

• Centralia police were called just before midnight to the 600 block of J Street where they were told a 23-year-old occupant used a chair to break out a bedroom window.

DRUGS

• A 30-year-old Centralia man was arrested for alleged drug dealing after he was stopped on his bicycle yesterday evening on Cooks Hill Road in Centralia, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The contact about 7:30 p.m. with Anthony B. Velazquez came from an ongoing investigation, according to detective Sgt. Gary Wilson. Police found in his possession a plastic baggie with about one-eighth of an ounce of suspected black tar heroin and another baggie with suspected methamphetamine, Wilson said. Velazquez was booked into the Lewis County Jail for conspiracy to deliver heroin and possession of meth, according to police.

MORE DISORDERLINESS

• Chehalis police were called about 11 p.m. yesterday by a woman on Southwest 20th Street who said there were three males outside dressed in black and wearing skeleton masks who were yelling, screaming and kicking at each other. Detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said he knew that a warning was given, but he didn’t have further details.

BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We call that a clue.”  – Police Sgt. Gary Wilson about the cash falling out of the pockets of the suspected bank robber when he was pulled over yesterday on Interstate 5 near Kelso.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, misdemeanor assault; responses for minor collision, false alarms, disputes, stolen bicycle and other misdemeanor theft, suspicious activity, lost wallet; complaints of kids on the school roof … and more.

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News brief: Emergency dispatchers to put spotlight on missing children with balloon release

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County 911 dispatchers will gather at a Chehalis park today and do a balloon release to bring attention to the issue of missing children.

Saturday is National Missing Children’s Day and employees of the county department recently became certified with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“Putting that highlight back on missing kids is what we’re trying to do,” said employee Laura Hanson.

They’ve scheduled a news conference from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. at Stan Hedwall Park on Rice Road in which representatives from the Washington State Patrol and Lewis County 911 will discuss what more folks can do about missing children.

Gordon Trucking will bring one of its semi trucks which features a poster-sized face of the missing Lewis County girl,  Kayla Croft-Payne, Hanson said.

Croft-Payne is among those on Washington state’s missing children list. She was 18 and living outside Chehalis when she was reported missing on May 5, 2010.
•••

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Twenty-five ways to make kids safer, here

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News brief: Empty suitcase empties Centralia Post Office lobby

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 9:56 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Streets around the Centralia Post Office were blocked off for about three hours this evening after police responded to an unattended suitcase found sitting in the lobby.

It was empty.

Centralia police were called at 5:03 p.m. to the building on the 200 block of Centralia College Boulevard because the lone piece of luggage was suspicious, according to the Centralia Police Department.

The Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad was summoned and after an examination, concluded it contained nothing, Officer John Panco said.

It was a small gray soft-sided bag, according to Panco.

Thy opened it up, it was empty and there was no information indicating who it might have belonged to, he said.

It was just one month ago when a shoe box found sitting on the sidewalk next to the police department brought a response from bomb technicians. It too was empty.

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Kelso man detained after Chehalis bank robbed

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 9:02 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 54-year-old man was picked up on Interstate 5 just north of Kelso following a bank robbery in Chehalis this afternoon.

Police were called just before 3:30 p.m. to Chase Bank on the 600 block of South Market Boulevard. An employee told officers a man in his 50s handed a teller a note demanding money and left in a gold colored PT Cruiser, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

No weapon was displayed and nobody was injured, according to police.

Shortly after the 911 call, a Lewis County sheriff’s detective spotted a vehicle and driver matching the given description traveling southbound on the freeway, police stated in a news release. The car was stopped near milepost 42 and police concluded he was their suspect.

The suspect is identified by police as Jerrell S. Redmill, 54, of Kelso, according to police. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree robbery.

How much money was stolen or if it was recovered was not reported by police.

The same bank was robbed in March of last year, by a pair of local men who got away briefly with less than $2,500 from Chase, moments after a failed attempt at the nearby Twin Star Credit Union – which keeps no cash in its drawers.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Updated at 1:43 p.m.

THEFT AND METH

• Two people were arrested this morning for allegedly stealing a car hoist from a Chehalis business, cutting it up into pieces and selling it to a local scrap yard. Police had been looking for Jeanelle L. Matson and Charles R. Smith since last week when the item was discovered missing from behind an auto shop on Northwest State Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Sgt. Gary WIlson said he understood they got about $50 scrap value from the $4,000 hoist. He said the Olympia residents – both 48 years old – have been driving around in a U-Haul van. They were picked up about 5 o’clock this morning when Centralia police spotted a woman push open the door to a vacant house on the 1000 block of Eckerson Road. Both were booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of stolen property, he said. Matson was arrested also because she was found in possession of suspected methamphetamine, according to Centralia police.

CYBER “STALKER” REMAINS ANONYMOUS

• Police contacted by a student at W.F. West High School yesterday concerned she was being stalked by an anonymous texter concluded the messages were coming from an unknown person in Memphis, Tennessee. Chehalis detective Sgt. Gary Wilson described it as a random, out-of-the-blue situation and said the girl was advised to block the number.

MORE THEFT

• Centralia police arrested a 33-year-old man yesterday afternoon in connection with a burglary at an apartment complex on Reynolds Avenue in Centralia where he worked as a maintenance man. Police said Joshua J. Meyers used a key to get access and took drills, activity which was captured on security video. Officers continue to investigate since other items have been reported missing from a complex owned by the same person on the 2900 block of Mount Vista Road, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert. Meyers, of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BRUSH FIRE IN DITCH

• Firefighters responded about 2 p.m. yesterday for a brush fire off Coma Road west of Vader. “It was burning in a ditch, starting to get into the timber,” Lewis County Fire District 15 Firefighter Patrick Jacobson said. He estimated the size at 100 feet by 50 feet. Crews from Winlock and Vader extinguished it, he said. Jacobson said he’d only be guessing as to the cause.

WRECKS

• Deputies and aid were called about 9:45 p.m. yesterday to the 300 block of Hewitt Road southeast of Chehalis where a motorcycle struck a deer. The 21-year-old driver from Salkum spoke of leg and arm pain but declined to be taken to the hospital, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. His 2001 Suzuki sustained major damage and was towed, the sheriff’s office said. He was cited for driving without a motorcycle endorsement on his license, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• Two occupants of a passenger car escaped serious injury yesterday when they blew a stop sign entering U.S. Highway 12 west of Rochester and were hit by a semi truck. Trooper called at 3:30 p.m. to the scene at Moon Road reported the eastbound big rig had begun to slow because its driver watched one vehicle turn right off Moon Road without stopping and suddenly the second car did the same thing, Trooper Guy Gill said. The pair in the car were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with minor injuries and have been released, Gill said. The driver was cited for second-degree negligent driving he said. Her car was heavily damaged on it left side, according to Gill.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for driving with a suspended license; responses for misdemeanor theft, receipt of a counterfeit bill, suspicious circumstances, complaints of drunken yelling man, noisy dogs … and more.

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News brief: Rochester logger killed by falling tree

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 10:18 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 28-year-old Rochester resident was killed in a logging accident yesterday morning in Cowlitz County

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office reports deputies and aid called about 9 a.m. to the site roughly two miles west of Cougar learned that Kyle M. Schlesser died instantly when he was struck by a falling tree.

Schlesser and his partner, 43-year-old Owen Fickett of Onalaska, were falling separate trees when it happened, according to the sheriff’s office.

Fickett said he called out prior to dropping his tree to make sure Schlesser knew, and that the tree Fickett dropped hit a second tree which fell onto Schlesser.

The sheriff’s office said in a news release all indications are it was a very tragic accident.

Deputies were told Fickett has 23 years of logging experience without ever causing injury to himself or others. Schlesser has been logging nine years, the sheriff’s office stated.

He is the son of the owner of the logging company, James Schlesser, according to Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rozenzweig.

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News brief: Centralia marijuana dispensary trial ends with hung jury

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Lewis County jury deadlocked on whether 47-year-old Lauri Spangler committed a crime in connection with what police said was a medical marijuana dispensary they raided  two years ago shortly after it opened in downtown Centralia.

Spangler was the only one of four individuals in the case to go to trial. The others’ cases are already settled with plea agreements.

She was charged with maintaining a premises for using controlled substances, but her attorney told jurors last week all she did was get the business license and set up the checking account for her boyfriend Colby Cave.

Hub City Natural Medicine opened on Tower Avenue in early 2011 with a city-granted business license which the city said accidentally slid below its radar.

Jurors deliberated about five hours following the two-day trial last week in Lewis County Superior Court.

Lewis County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said jurors didn’t stick around on Friday to talk so that he or the defense attorney might learn what their issues were.

However, documents now available in the court file offer some clues.

Jurors sent a question to the judge on Friday after lunch, asking for the definition of “knowingly”.

The judge’s written answer delivered back to the jury room essentially said he couldn’t answer that, they should refer to their jury instructions.

Within a half an hour, jurors sent out another note, informing the judge they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt queried them individually in open court, asking if they were certain they couldn’t reach a unanimous decision in a reasonable amount of time.

The jurors were all in agreement that they couldn’t reach an agreement.

The judge declared a mistrial.

Meagher said today he hasn’t made a decision on whether to retry Spangler, however, on Thursday he will go ahead and schedule another trial.

“We’ll make our formal decision later,” he said.
•••

For background, read “Centralia marijuana store case goes to trial” from Wednesday May 15, 2013, here