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News brief: Laura Hickey gets slight modification to sentencing order

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 6:06 pm
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Laura Lynn Hickey waits for the judge to arrive in Lewis County Superior Court today.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The actual hearing took less than two minutes, but seven friends and family of the former Centralia woman who cut off her premature newborn’s head in 2011 showed up to see her in court today.

Laura Lynn Hickey was back in Lewis County Superior Court from the Washington Corrections Center for Women at Purdy, to go before the same judge who sent her away for 30 years.

The Washington State Court of Appeals recently affirmed her sentence, but ordered a passage stricken from the findings of fact and conclusions of law document which was incorrectly recorded following her conviction.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer asked Judge Nelson Hunt today to enter an amended order. Hunt did.

The issue was related to language indicating her exceptional sentence was in part because the child suffered from methamphetamine intoxication. In the plea deal, Hickey stipulated to an aggravating factor that the victim was particularly vulnerable because of its age only.

Hickey, who was about halfway through her pregnancy, told authorities she unexpectedly delivered into a toilet and ended the baby’s life with a serrated kitchen knife as he was trying to take a breath. Her lawyer said she viewed it as a mercy killing.
••

For background, read: “Centralia mother who decapitated premature newborn back in court for technical issue” from Tuesday December 9, 2014, here

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Adna resident wanted for attempt to run down court officer located in Chehalis

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 11:43 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 22-year-old Adna man who fled an attempted misdemeanor warrant arrest in Centralia yesterday – and was shot at – was found hiding at a friend’s home in Chehalis this morning.

Deputies got a tip this morning that Phillip A. Pinotti could be found at a residence on the 1600 block of Bishop Road and just before 9 a.m. they arrested him without incident, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Pinotti was not not struck or injured from the shooting, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. But he did have injuries to his face from when the glass in his vehicle’s window broke, Brown said.

Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg said yesterday his court security officer fired one round at Pinotti’s car when Pinotti reportedly drove toward him, after a foot chase of about one block west from Centralia City Hall.

Pinotti had come there for court for arraignment on a DUI and learned he had a warrant from Chehalis Municipal Court because he failed to appear in court after a third-degree theft arrest. He slipped away as court security Officer Steve Howard was handcuffing him, according to police.

Law enforcement officers searching for Pinotti found his vehicle yesterday hidden in the garage at his home on Clinton Road in Adna. Two individuals contacted there were arrested for rendering criminal assistance. This morning, deputies arrested the young woman who let him stay at the home on Bishop Road for the same offense.

Jaelynn N. Pluard, 22, knew law enforcement was actively searching for Pinotti, but hid him anyway, according to Brown.

Brown said Pluard is from Centralia and was staying at Bishop Road; Brown didn’t know who that residence belonged to.

According to Brown, Pinotti had help yesterday from 18-year-old Miguel V. Martinez and 22-year-old Kayla Burleson. They both admitted they helped Pinotti take his vehicle from the area and drive it back to Adna, Brown said.

The two, who are from Centralia, initially told police yesterday they knew nothing, according to Brown, but eventually it was determined they had witnessed him flee court.

The sheriff’s office says Pinotti will be booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree escape and for first-degree assault, for attempting to run over the court officer while fleeing.
•••

For background, read: “Shot fired by officer, misdemeanor defendant flees court to avoid jail” from Tuesday December 16, 2014, here

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Shot fired by officer, misdemeanor defendant flees court to avoid jail

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 2:26 pm
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Sheriff’s deputies wait for a search warrant after finding suspect’s car at his rural Chehalis home.

Updated at 3:54 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Police are looking for a 22-year-old man who sped away after a court security officer fired a round into his driver’s window this morning near Centralia City Hall.

Phillip A. Pinotti was being taken into custody at Centralia Municipal Court when he slipped away from the officer, ran down the street, got into a car and apparently drove toward the officer, according to the Centralia Police Department.

“We do not know if the individual was hit,” Police Chief Bob Berg said, meaning the escapee.

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Phillip A. Pinotti

That took place just before 10 a.m.

At about 1 p.m., Pinotti’s sport utility vehicle was found in the garage of his residence on Clinton Road in Adna. But Pinotti was not there.

“There were two individuals at the house, we’re talking to them now,” Lewis County Undersheriff Rob Snaza said as deputies waited for a search warrant.

Pinotti is now wanted for first-degree assault and felony escape, according to Berg.

Berg said he asked the sheriff’s office to investigate because it involved one of his own employees.

Several patrol vehicles from both the sheriff’s office and the Centralia Police Department were at the scene on the 200 block of Clinton Road this afternoon. The roadway was blocked by a trooper, at state Route 6, about five miles west of Chehalis.

Snaza said he believes the home belongs to Pinotti’s parents, but they were not present.

“We’re continuing our investigation, and following leads,” Snaza said.

According to Berg, Pinotti came to court this morning for an arraignment on a charge of driving under the influence. The judge noticed he was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant for failing to appear in Chehalis Municipal Court, in connection with a third-degree theft, Berg said.

The judge ordered court security Officer Steve Howard to take Pinotti into custody for the Chehalis warrant, which he began to do just outside the courtroom, according to the chief.

“As officer Howard is handcuffing him, that’s when he bolts,” Berg said. “He’s running down the street, with officer Howard in pursuit.”

Berg said they ran west to the next block, and Pinotti got into a dark blue sport utility vehicle parked on Maple Street next to the The Chronicle.

“According to the officer, the individual gets in the car, starts it, puts the car in drive and comes toward the officer,” Berg said.

The court security officer advised him to stop, but he didn’t, according to police.

Officer Howard fired one shot, Berg said.

The vehicle backed down the street, into the drive at the Centralia Rollerdrome, and headed away.

“He drove away at a very high rate of speed,” Berg said. “The last I saw, he turned at the stop sign.”

The street was closed for about an hour, he said.

Berg said they found a casing but not the bullet, so they know the bullet entered the car. They believe it shattered the driver’s side window. It’s unknown if Pinotti was struck by the bullet or injured.

Officer Howard has a limited commission and handles courtroom security for the city, according to Berg. He is a retired California Highway Patrol officer.

Centralia Police Department spokesperson Officer Patty Finch indicates Howard has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

The shooting incident will be investigated by the multi-county shooting review team with primary responsibility assumed by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, according to Finch.

It’s the third time a Centralia officer has fired at someone this year. The other two instances were fatal.

Berg was confident Pinotti would be located. His criminal history is not extensive or violent, he said.

“He knows we know who he is, I think he just made an extremely poor decision,” Berg said. “Fight or flight.”

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Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg describes how the wanted man fled outside Centralia City Hall on West Maple Street this morning.

 

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The new gun law, Lewis County style

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 10:26 am

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS  – Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer won’t be applying the letter of the law regarding the recently enacted Initiative I-594 – requiring expanded background checks for firearm sales and transfers – among otherwise law abiding citizens.

However, give or sell a gun to someone prohibited from possessing one, and he will take action.

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Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer

Meyer, in a joint news release issued yesterday with Lewis County Sheriff-Elect Rob Snaza, said the broad language and vague definitions of the new law have given rise to many questions and concerns.

Each man offered a brief written statement, attached to their summary of the main provisions of I-594.

The measure which passed in November applies currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun shows and online sales, with specific exceptions. It went into effect Dec. 4.

“The Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Office will not make criminals out of the hardworking citizens of Lewis County,” Meyer states. “Where I-594 attempts to criminalize every-day activities, I, in the exercise of my prosecutorial discretion, will not charge individuals with these types of violations.

“At the same time, make no mistake I will hold accountable those who, in violation of this initiative, knowingly put guns in the hands of criminals.”

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Sheriff-elect Rob Snaza

A first offense is a gross misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses are a class C felony. Meyer is responsible for all felony prosecutions in the county, and for misdemeanor and gross misdemeanors in cases from the sheriff’s office, the state patrol and some other police departments.

Regarding the gun shows regularly held at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds where sales have traditionally been made by both licensed firearm dealers and private citizens, Meyer said he presumes the organizers will make sure proper processes are followed.

An example Meyer gave yesterday, in a brief interview, of what he won’t pursue involve transfers of a gun in some cases.

He spoke of innocent activities such as if a person and their brother-in-law went target shooting and used each others weapons.

The law provides exemptions to background checks, among them are transactions involving gifts between immediate family members as well as antique firearms as defined by applicable law.

Meyer said he views the new law as applying to even temporary transfers such as handling a firearm for inspection, for consideration of purchase or stocking store shelves. But he’s not interested in prosecuting those types of activities, he indicated.

His example of what he is interested in pursuing related to selling or giving a gun to a felon.

As for going after a person who sells or gives a firearm, without the checks, to someone who subsequently uses it in a crime, he said he would be looking at situations on a case by case basis.

Meyer noted he can’t give legal advice to individual citizens and recommended anyone with questions should consult their attorney.

The new law does not change the definition of a firearm. It does mean any sales or transfers must be completed through a licensed dealer, according to Meyer.

The prosecutor said he has not seen any cases involving it yet, and thinks the RCW will be called “Unlawful transfer of firearms.”

I-594 passed statewide with 59 percent of the vote. In Lewis County, 67 percent of voters rejected it.

Sheriff-elect Snaza, in his formal statement, reminds the public he is a strong proponent of the second amendment and notes the “significant” impact of  I-594 on law abiding citizens.

He states that each of these cases will be considered by his office in regard to both the spirit and the letter of the law.

However, his office’s enforcement strategy doesn’t appear to include proactively seeking out violations, or making arrests, according to his statement. He’ll let the prosecutor decide.

“(Our strategy) will be to thoroughly investigate those cases reported to us, and file these cases with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office, when appropriate,” Snaza stated.

This morning Snaza pointed out the majority of Lewis County residents oppose the new law, which he said he believes has good intentions, but is vague.

“We don’t have all these resources to go after every person breaking the law,” Snaza said.

“Personally, I think this law is unconstitutional,” he said. “We’ll do what we can.”

•••

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS OF I-594, from Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer

WHAT IS A “FIREARM”?*
A “firearm” is a weapon or device from which a projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder. This includes tools such as a concrete nailer that is gas or powder-actuated.
*I-594 did not change the definition of a firearm.

WHO IS SUBJECT TO BACKGROUND CHECKS UNDER I-594?
All purchasers or transferees of firearms are subject to background checks unless the purchase or transfer is specifically exempted by state or federal law.

WHICH SALES AND TRANSFERS ARE SUBJECT TO I-594?
All sales or transfers occurring in whole or in part in Washington State, including sales and transfers through dealers, at gun shows, online, and between unlicensed persons, are subject to the background check requirements of I-594.

WHAT IS A TRANSFER?
A “transfer” means the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without payment or promise of payment, including gifts and loans. This includes a “temporary” transfer (including the handling of a firearm for inspection, consideration of purchasing, stocking of store shelves, etc.).

HOW MUST A SALE OR TRANSFER BE ACCOMPLISHED UNDER I-594?
Any sale or transfer of a firearm where neither party is a licensed firearms dealer must be completed through a licensed firearms dealer in compliance with the following requirements:
1. The seller or transferor must physically deliver the firearm to the dealer. The seller or transferor may remove the firearm from the dealer’s premises while the background check is being conducted, but the firearm must be physically delivered back to the dealer prior to the completion of the transaction.
2. The purchaser or transferee must complete, sign and submit all federal, state, and local forms needed for processing the background check.
3. The dealer must process the transaction in the same manner as he/she would in a sale or transfer of a firearm from his/her inventory. The dealer must comply with all applicable federal and state laws.
4. If the purchaser or transferee is ineligible to possess a firearm, the transaction cannot proceed and the dealer must return the firearm to the seller or transferor.
5. The dealer may charge a fee for facilitating a sale or transfer that reflects the fair market value of the administrative costs incurred.

WHAT TIMING REQUIREMENTS APPLY TO A PURCHASE OR TRANSFER UNDER I-594?
A dealer may not deliver a firearm to a purchaser or transferee until the earlier of:
1. The completion of all required background checks if the purchaser or transferee is not ineligible under federal or state law to possess a firearm; or
2. Ten (10) business days have passed since the dealer requested the background check, except this period is sixty (60) calendar days for a pistol transfer if the purchaser or transferee does not have a valid Washington state driver’s license or identification card or has not been a resident for the previous ninety (90) days.

ARE ANY TRANSACTIONS EXEMPT FROM THE BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIREMENT?
The following transactions are exempt from the background check requirements established by I-594:
1. Bona fide gifts between immediate family members, which is limited to spouses, domestic partners, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles;
2. Sales or transfer of “antique” firearms, as that term is defined by applicable law;
3. Sales or transfers by or to law enforcement and corrections agencies, and to the extent the person is acting within the course and scope of his or her employment or official duties, law enforcement and corrections officers, active members of the military, and federal officials;
4. Receipt of a firearm by a federally licensed gunsmith only if the firearm is received for purposes of service or repair.

ARE ANY TEMPORARY TRANSFERS EXEMPT?
The temporary transfer of a firearm is exempt when:
a. Necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to the transferee, if the transfer lasts only as long as needed and the transferee is not prohibited from possessing firearms by applicable law;
b. It is between spouses or domestic partners;
c. It occurs at an established shooting range authorized by the local governing body and the firearm is kept at all times at the range;
d. It occurs at a lawful organized firearm competition or performance and  the firearm is possessed exclusively at the competition or performance;
e. It is to a person under eighteen (18) years of age for lawful hunting, sporting, or educational purposes while under the direct supervision of a responsible adult; or
f. It occurs while legally hunting if the transferee has completed all required training, holds all required licenses or permits, and is not prohibited from possessing a firearm.

WHAT IF THE FIREARM IS INHERITED?
Acquisition of a firearm, other than a pistol, by inheritance is exempt.
In the case of acquisition of a pistol by inheritance, the transfer is exempt for the sixty (60) days following the transfer by operation of inheritance. However, upon the expiration of the sixty (60) day period, the person must either have lawfully transferred the pistol or must have contacted the Washington Department of Licensing to notify that department that he or she has possession of the pistol and intends to retain possession of the pistol, in compliance with all federal and state laws.

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING THE NEW LAW?
A person who knowingly violates the background check requirements is guilty of a gross misdemeanor for a first offense and of a Class C felony for each subsequent offense.
Each firearm sold or transferred in violation of the background check requirements is a separate offense.
A Class C felony conviction for this offense is included in the definition of “serious offense” for purposes of the crime of unlawful possession of firearms.

WHAT ABOUT THE SALES TAX ON SALES OR TRANSFERS OF FIREARMS?
The retail sales tax does not apply to the sale or transfer of a firearm between two unlicensed persons if they have complied with all required background checks.

DOES THE DEALER HAVE TO COLLECT THE USE TAX ON THE TRANSACTION?
Keeps the requirement for firearms dealers to collect sales or use tax from the transferee on interstate firearms transfers by a licensed dealer.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, December 15, 2014 at 11:50 am

Updated

THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS STOLEN FROM CHEHALIS WOMAN

• An elderly Chehalis resident is out about $23,000 after someone tricked her into believing she’d won a lottery and a car. Police called on Friday found the 81-year-old had been contacted about two weeks earlier and told she was the winner of $2.5 million, according to the Chehalis Police Department. She was told she needed to pay for taxes and the vehicle registration and sent money to individuals supposedly in Florida, Ohio and Maine, detective Sgt. Gary WIlson said. WIlson said the department can contact police agencies in those areas to see if they could track down the perpetrators, but the names given are likely fake. He was not optimistic about solving the theft. “There’s really very little we can do about this,” he said. He repeated advice police give about  the various scams, such as people calling and saying you’re a winner, threatening you with arrest or that your grandson needs bail money. “Don’t send money to people, no matter what,” he said.

POLICE OFFICER PUNCHED

• A suspected shoplifter who reportedly punched an arriving police officer in the face was arrested last night. Police responded to the Twin CIty Town Center on Northwest Louisiana Avenue about 9:30 p.m. and when the officer asked the suspect for his identification, he was struck in the cheek, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The officer took a step back, told him he as under arrest and tased him, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.Both were taken to the hospital to be checked out, according to police.  Booked into the Lewis County for third-degree assault was William M. Eaton Jr., 36, from Chehalis, Wilson said.

BREAK-IN CHEHALIS

• Someone burglarized a downtown Chehalis business and stole about $300 during the night over the weekend. Officers responded to an alarm about 2 a.m. yesterday to a vape shop on the 500 block of Northwest Pacific Avenue and found someone forced open the ]front door. No arrest was made, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

GARAGE BURGLED

• Someone got inside an unsecured garage on Southwest Cascade Avenue in Chehalis and stole a camping airbed, according to a report made to police yesterday morning.

AUTO THEFT

• Chehalis police were called about 2:30 a.m. yesterday to Southwest William Avenue where someone had stolen a 1996 Honda Civic. The sliver-gray car has a license plate reading AEL 3752,  according to the Chehalis Police Department. It happened sometime after 10 p.m., according to police.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Chehalis police were called about 7:20 a.m. today regarding a vehicle prowl on Southwest First Avenue in Chehalis.

OUTBUILDING BURNS

• Firefighters called about 2 p.m. yesterday to a fire at the 16000 block of Case Road in Rochester found a shed fully engulfed in flames. Flames spread to some nearby trees but nobody was hurt, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. The fire was extinguished and crews cleared shortly after 3 p.m., Lt Rob Smith said.

COLLISION

• A motorist was airlifted from the Chehalis-Centralia Airport overnight after a single-vehicle wreck on the 1500 block of Bishop Road in Chehalis. Firefighters called about 2:15 a.m. to the scene near Maurin Road found a significantly damaged sport utility vehicle in the ditch and the 32-year-old man driving with serious injuries, Lewis County Fire District 6 Firefighter Steven Busz said. Responding deputies found that Joshua B. Breault’s vehicle had struck a garbage can, a utility box and a mobile building, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It appears the driver said he fell asleep, and sustained a head injury and a possibly broken leg, detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, trespass, shoplifting, resisting arrest, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, disputes, robbery, harassment, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more.

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News brief: Defendants finally arraigned in Vader toddler death

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 6:36 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Vader couple accused in the death of a 3-year-old boy they were caring for pleaded not guilty yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court.

Danny and Brenda Wing were charged in early November with homicide by abuse or, in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter; each are charged as either the principal or accomplice.

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Jasper Henderling-Warner

The toddler, Jasper Henderling-Warner, died from what the coroner called chronic battered child syndrome.

Jasper died on Oct. 5, an evening when Brenda Wing called 911 to their home and said he wasn’t breathing. His 21-year-old mother had allowed the couple to care for her son for a period of time described by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office as several months while she was homeless, traveling and looking for work.

The Wings gave conflicting accounts to detectives of the child’s final weekend.

Their trials were scheduled for the week of Jan. 26, before separate judges.

Danny A. Wing, 26, is represented by Todd Pascoe, a defense lawyer from Vancouver, Wash. Brenda A. Wing, 27, is represented by Seattle-based attorney John Crowley.

Ordinarily, a person has a right to be arraigned within 14 days, but they waived that right while they worked out hiring their lawyers.

The remain held in the Lewis County Jail, on bails set at $500,000 and $200,000 respectively.
•••

For background, read:

• “Defendants in Vader toddler death case postpone arraignments again” from Thursday December 4, 2014, here

• RCW 9A.32.055: Homicide by abuse, here

• RCW 9A.32.060: Manslaughter in the first degree, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Updated at 5:23 p.m.

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THAT …

• Centralia police responded about 1 o’clock this morning to the 1200 block of Mellen Street where an individual said they gave a friend a ride to store and when he arrived, he discovered $100 missing from his wallet. The friend entered the store and then ran out the back door, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Chehalis police were called about 8:40 a.m. yesterday regarding a car prowl on Southeast Washington Avenue.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• Former Centralia resident Laura Lynn Hickey appeared in court briefly yesterday to set a date for a hearing  on an issue that stems from a decision from the Washington State Court of Appeals regarding her 2012 second-degree murder conviction of her prematurely born infant. Hickey is serving 30 years in prison but is back in Lewis County so the court can strike language from her judgement and sentencing documents referencing the baby suffering from acute methamphetamine intoxication. Hickey was 25 years old and about halfway through her pregnancy when she used a serrated knife to cut off her baby’s head  as it was trying to take a breath after she unexpectedly delivered it into a toilet. The three-member panel concluded in its Oct. 10 decision her conviction stands, but the document must be revised. The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. next Wednesday in Lewis County Superior Court.

COLLISION

• Two people were injured including a 40-year-old Rochester resident in a two-car wreck on state Route 507 about three miles south of Yelm yesterday morning. Troopers responding approximately 7:20 a.m. determined Corey R. Tribble, 40, from Rochester was traveling northbound and collided with an oncoming Toyota Tercel in the southbound lane, according to the Washington State Patrol. The Tercel’s driver, Kenneth T. Brackett, 51, of Rainer, was transported to Harborview Medical Center, according to the state patrol. Tribble was booked into the Thurston County Jail on suspicion of vehicular assault, the state patrol reports. His Honda Accord was impounded. The cause of the collision is under investigation.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, misdemeanor theft, collision on city street .. and more.

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Windstorm passes through

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 10:32 am
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The aftermath: Barn, tree on Logan Hill. / Courtesy photo by Robin Williams

Updated at 11:28 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Onalaska was hit pretty hard with wind last night, keeping the fire department busy removing trees from roadways.

Power in the area was knocked out and remains that way this morning, according to Lewis County Fire District 1.

“Responders watched lawn chairs blow across the roads and flags coming off (their poles),” Fire Chief Mark Conner said this morning.

No injuries have been reported, but Conner said a tree fell on a house on state Route 508 near Carlisle Avenue. He assumed the residence was unoccupied, because nobody requested the fire department for it, he said.

It was a relatively quiet night for firefighters at the North Pearl Street station in Centralia, where the highest wind gust was recorded at 35 mph, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

The National Weather Service recorded gusts as high as 46 mph at the Chehalis-Centralia Airport.

Just before 9 p.m., the Washington State Patrol asked area residents to just stay indoors until the storm passed, because of the number of trees falling onto state routes.

One close call occurred about dinnertime, just east of Onalaska beyond Parnell Road, according to Conner.

A UPS truck was forced off the road when a maple tree fell in front of it, Conner said.

“I think maybe a few branches hit it and it went into the ditch,” he said.

State Route 507 north of Centralia was shut down for hours overnight because of trees and power lines on the ground.

Centralia City Light which serves about 10,000 customers responded to power outages from around 4:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Roughly 1,200 were affected at different times, but all service has been restored, according to Line Superintendent Rick Evans.

The latest information from Lewis County PUD’s website – at 3:30 a.m. – shows power outages in places such as around Big Hanaford Road, around U.S. Highway 12 to Mayfield Lake and roads in the Chehalis area.

However, PUD spokesperson Corenne Moses said at midmorning, while she didn’t have a “head count” of the number of customers without electricity, they have several power lines down still.

“We hope to get the greater Onalaska-Salkum area up by noon,” Moses said.

Utility crews responded to calls through the night all around the county and are still working, she said.

Moses reminds members of the public whose power is out to unplug their electronics, to prevent possible damage when their electric service is restored.

The National Weather Service cautions that the increased risk of landslides continues through today, because of the rainfall in recent days.

PUD customers who want to report an outage may call 360-748-9261 or 1-800-562-5612

Customers of Centralia City Light may report an outage by calling 330-7512 during business hours or 736-7040 after hours.

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News brief: Police chief in Centralia stepping down

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg is retiring this spring, and a search for his replacement is already underway.

Berg, 63, whose law enforcement career began in Centralia in 1972, moved on to other jobs and then returned as chief in early 2004.

He is retiring in May, according to the city’s human resources director, Candice Rydalch.

The pay for the head of the department with 31 commissioned officers in Lewis County’s most populated city is being advertised as between about $100,000 and $122,000.

Rydalch said yesterday they have already begun a nationwide search.

Applications are being accepted through the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs  through Jan. 8.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm

PEDESTRIAN WITH WALKER HIT BY TRUCK

• An elderly woman using a walker was struck by a small pickup truck on a dark county road early this morning. Firefighters called about 5:10 a.m. to the 500 block of Logan Hill Road in Chehalis said the 84-year-old victim said she had ankle pain, but other than that, she fared very well. Lewis County Fire District 6 Firefighter-EMT Kyle Iswald said he believed she was just out for a walk. The woman was transported by ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital, Iswald said.

CAR VERSUS SCHOOL BUS

• Firefighters called to a collision involving a passenger vehicle and a school bus about 3:05 p.m. yesterday at Johnson Avenue and  Southwest 16th Street in Chehalis concluded no one was injured. The front end of the car impacted the side of the bus, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

BURGLARY DOTY

• Someone got into a residence on the 100 block of Doty Street and stole assorted coins and US Cellular WiFi tablet, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The break-in happened sometime between 7 a.m. on Tuesday and 5 p.m. yesterday, according to the sheriff’s office.

DRUGS

• A 24-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine last night after contact with an officer at the 1000 block of Harrison Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department. Natasha A. Grubb was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, protection order violation, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence of drugs; responses for disputes, suspicious circumstances, collisions on county roads .. and more.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm

WIRE HEIST

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning it is checking with neighboring businesses on the 100 block of Ribelin Road in Chehalis to look for clues to the theft of $4,000 worth of copper wire from Sound Wood Products. The victim reported someone kicked in a gate to his fenced area sometime between Friday and yesterday and stole a spool of 400 feet of the wire, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies are hoping to find video surveillance images of the incident, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. Brown says anyone with information wishing to remain anonymous or to earn a reward can contact Lewis County Crime Stoppers.

AUTO THEFT

• Chehalis police were called about 9:20 a.m. yesterday regarding a 1991 Acura Integra stolen overnight from the 300 block of Southwest Third Street. The car had already been found three hours earlier in Thurston County, minus its four tires and wheels, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

EASY PROWL

• Chehalis police took a report of a someone snatching a purse from a vehicle yesterday while the victim was helping her companion into a clinic on Bishop Road. She left the car door open and when she returned, her purse was gone, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, drug violations, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, dispute, possible fraud, suspicious circumstances … and more.

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Morton’s Officer Perry Royle passes away

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm
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Perry Royle
1960 – 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Morton Police Officer Perry Royle died yesterday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He was 54.

Royle was on duty a week earlier when he suffered an unspecified medical issue, summoned help and and then lost consciousness at the hospital.

A procession of law enforcement officers from various agencies accompanied Royle’s body back to Lewis County yesterday evening, ending at Brown’s Funeral Chapel in Chehalis. A candle light vigil was planned in Morton.

Royle had been with the department since 2002, and was Chief Dan Mortensen’s only officer.

Morton Police Department Clerk Michelle Matchett said Royle’s family, and Chief Mortensen, were with him when he passed.

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Courtesy photo by Jim Hill Photography

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 8:42 pm

BUSINESS BURGLARY

• Chehalis police responded yesterday morning to a burglary at an automotive shop on the 100 block of North Market Boulevard. A cash box was taken as well as money from Christmas trees being sold on the honor system, according to the Chehalis Police Department. There was no signs of forced entry, according to police. The loss was more than $700, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police were called just before 7 a.m. today to a vehicle prowl on the 200 block of Southwest William Avenue.

• Centralia police took a report of a vehicle prowl yesterday that occurred last Thursday at the 1000 block of Mellen Street in Centralia.

“JOHN DOE” BOOKED

• Centralia police arrested a male this morning for no driver’s license and no identification. The approximately 4 a.m. encounter at the 200 block of South Tower Avenue led to the unidentified male getting booked into the Lewis County Jail as “John Doe”, according to the Centralia Police Department.

NOT CHICKEN LITTLE

• Chehalis police were called about 1 p.m. yesterday when something fell from the sky onto a car at the 100 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue. It was a piece of roof torn off a building by a passing vehicle that caught an overhead wire, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said this morning he wasn’t sure if the offending vehicle was located.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, probation violation, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, misdemeanor assault, harassment by classmate, a man bleeding from the head who said he fell down, a drunk man in pajama pants and rubber boots banging on an apartment door,  collision on city street, collision on county road … and more.

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News brief: Speed possibly contributed to fatality on Centralia-Alpha Road

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 7:01 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The wreck that killed 25-year-old Dustin N. Meyer on Centralia-Alpha Road southwest of Chehalis on Saturday night remains under investigation, but the sheriff’s office believes speed may have been among the factors involved.

Meyer was northbound at a righthand curve when his car left the roadway and hit a tree, spun around and then struck a second tree, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

It happened near Senn Road just before 9 p.m.

The Centralia man was wearing a seatbelt but died at the scene of multiple blunt force injuries, according to authorities. He was driving a Hyundai Sonata.

The Washington State Patrol assisted deputies in investigating the collision, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

CORRECTION: This has been updated to correctly reflect the middle initial of Meyer’s name. Erroneous information was initially provided by the Lewis County coroner.

•••

For background, read “Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – FATAL WRECK” from Sunday December 7, 2014, here

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Centralia mother who decapitated premature newborn back in court for technical issue

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An appeals court says its enough that a 25-year-old Centralia woman used a kitchen knife to end the life of her severely premature infant after she gave birth, and the fact it did or didn’t have drugs in its system won’t change her 30-year-sentence.

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Laura Lynn Hickey

Laura Lynn Hickey pleaded guilty to second-degree murder almost three years ago, in Lewis County Superior Court and was sent off to prison. She’s back in the Lewis County Jail for an expected hearing on an issue that stems from the October decision from the Washington State Court of Appeals.

It was an early March morning in 2011; neighbors had phoned 911 after hearing calls for help coming from Hickey’s home at the Peppertree Motor Inn and RV Park on Alder Street. She was taken to the hospital where at first she said she’d had a miscarriage, and then police found the decapitated newborn in a Tupperware container under the kitchen sink of  her fifth-wheel trailer.

At sentencing, Hickey’ lawyer asked the judge to give his client about 12 years in prison, for what she viewed as a mercy killing when her approximately 21-weeks-along fetus was unexpectedly delivered into a toilet. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer recommended 80 years, saying it was a crime so heinous, she should lose the ability to “walk among us.”

Attorneys disagreed if the infant boy was far enough along he could have survived outside the womb.

Because Hickey not only admitted guilt, but stipulated to an aggravating factor the victim was particularly vulnerable, the judge could have imposed a sentence all the way up to life in prison. The standard sentencing range for the crime was between about 12 years to 20 years.

At the time, the woman apologized, cried and told the judge said she would accept whatever sentence he gave her. But her appeal attorney appealed the exceptional sentence.

Her lawyer contended the trial court violated Hickey’s Sixth Amendment rights as articulated in Blakely v. Washington, by making findings the victim was particularly vulnerable not only because of age, but because of drug intoxication

The three-member panel concluded in its Oct. 10 decision that Judge Nelson Hunt’s finding was incorrect, and sent the case back to Lewis County so the reference to methamphetamine intoxication could be struck from the findings.

The appeals court however, affirmed the exceptional sentence of 30 years.

One of the reports submitted to Lewis County Superior Court, from a psychologist, noted both Hickey and the victim had significant amounts of methamphetamine in their blood stream at the time of the offense. Another, from the autopsy stated the infant suffered from acute methamphetamine intoxication.

Neither Hickey’s appeals attorney or the appeals court suggest the information is untrue, only that it should not have been considered at sentencing.

Prosecutor Meyer indicates Hickey is scheduled to go before a judge at 2:15 p.m. on Thursday, although the actual hearing may take place at a later day.

•••

For background, read:

• “Centralia woman gets 30 years for decapitating premature infant” from Wednesday February 22, 2012, here

• “Laura Hickey pleads guilty to killing her premature infant” from Tuesday February 7, 2012, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, December 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Updated at 2:51 p.m.

MAN ARRESTED AFTER SON INJURED

• A 29-year-old Glenoma man was arrested on Friday after a deputy responded to White Pass Elementary School where a 5-year-old boy said his father had dropped him on his head the evening before. Paul A. Leggett said he’d picked his son up by the feet and ankles to get him to stop jumping on the couch, a form of discipline he said he uses because the child is afraid of heights, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Leggett said however, he didn’t know how the boy struck his head, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The child on Friday said his head still hurt and he had a bump on the back of it, Brown said. Leggett was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree child assault and a warrant for contempt of court, according to Brown. He is not being charged with the felony pending further investigation.

GUNS AND JEWELRY MISSING

• Chehalis police are investigating a burglary to a house on the 200 block of Southwest Lewis Street in which the victim is missing jewelry and firearms. It’s not clear yet when the valuables were taken, but the report was made on Saturday, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Deputies are looking for who it was that pulled more than 100 feet of guard rail, including 15 posts, from the ground and left it all in the middle of a county road east of Centralia. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said this morning nothing at the scene on the 300 block of Centralia-Alpha Road suggested a collision.

• Centralia police took a report about 1:15 p.m. yesterday of a window that got broken on the 800 block of South Pearl Street.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• Two men arrested by Centralia police on Saturday were released from jail with no charges filed. Ernesto Monrroy-Hernandez, 37, of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree assault, for allegedly assaulting two officers as they tried to take him into custody. Edward K. Gonzalez, 21, of Centralia, was arrested for second-degree robbery domestic violence in connection with an afternoon call to West Plum Street. The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office today declined to file those charges.

FROM THE APPEALS COURT

• A Centralia man locked up for thirty years lost his appeal last week of his first-degree murder conviction. Weston G. Miller, age 30 last year when he was sentenced for the shooting death of 43-year-old David Wayne Carson, contended insufficient evidence existed to find he acted with premeditation and made other arguments, according to the opinion filed by the Washington State Court of Appeals. The three-member panel of justices disagreed in their filing last Tuesday. Miller’s attorney said his client was delusional and preoccupied with people being after him, being in danger.

WRECK

• A 41-year-old driver and a 12-year-old girl were injured this morning when the car in which they were traveling was rear-ended by a Toyota Corolla on U.S. Highway 12 in Salkum. Troopers responding just before 8 a.m. report everyone was seat belted but both vehicles were totaled. Ronald L. Rosenberg as westbound but stopped for traffic when his Jetta was struck, according to the Washington State Patrol. Trisha F. Day, 43, of Mossyrock, was to be cited for a violation of the basic speed rule, according to the state patrol. Day was reportedly uninjured. The injured, both from Chehalis, were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the investigating trooper.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants,  trespass, misdemeanor theft, misdemeanor assault,  driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, dispute, vehicle into ditch … and more.

•••

CORRECTION: This has been updated to correctly reflect the gender of the child in the car accident.

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Read about a reunion more than 50 years in the making …

Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm
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Courtesy photo Lesa Buchanan Givens

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

From the hills west of Centralia to the east coast, a wedding ring lost after a 1959 small plane crash and discovered years later by a local logger has made its way onto the hand of its owner’s daughter just this week.

Q13 Fox News in Seattle reports Nick Buchanan found the piece of jewelry while hiking in 1997 and kept it safe for nearly 20 years.

Reporter Jamie Tompkins wrote that with the help of his nephew’s research, Buchanan connected with Joyce Wharton in New Jersey, who received her mother’s five-diamond ring in the mail on Wednesday.

ABC News reporter Gillian Mohney via Good Morning America wrote yesterday that Wharton’s parents Hazel and Hugh Armstrong, from San Antonio, Texas, had been on their way to see family when the plane crashed; Wharton was just 23 at the time and newly married.

New York Daily News writer Lee Moran yesterday described Wharton’s reaction: “‘It’s such a precious memento and this logger found it when he was out in the woods poking around at the base of a tree with a stick. This ring just popped out and he’s been looking for me ever since.’ ”

The tale first surfaced on Lewis County Sirens companion  Facebook page last Monday when Buchanan’s daughter, Lesa Buchanan Givens, shared what she called a Christmas miracle.

“This is a wonderful ending to a story that has been part of our family for many years and I thought it was worth sharing.” Givens wrote.

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Read about former POW, lawyer, from Winlock dies on Veterans Day …

Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 7:55 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A hero to every boy from Winlock, whose longing for Christmas during his years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam prompted the small town to decorate itself as such for his July 1973 homecoming has died.

Edward W. Leonard, a highly decorated veteran who grew up in Winlock, was shot down on Memorial Day and passed away last month on Veterans Day, two of those “boys” related as they recalled a childhood idol.

He became a lawyer and lived in Astoria and then was was mayor of Ilwaco, Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey said.

Another of those who went in the practice of law, Dana Williams, spoke of Leonard being honored with a medal rarely given.

“Eddie was a hero to every kid from Winlock, including me,” Williams said.

The Chinook Observer writes that Leonard spent five years as a POW, three and a half of those years in solitary confinement.

Brosey said Leonard and now Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., were in adjacent cells at the so-called Hanoi Hilton.

His obituary says the former Air Force pilot was 76 years old when he died in Portland, Ore. on Nov. 11. Internment and military services will be in the spring at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, according to the obituary published Nov. 25, in the Chinook Observer.