Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

Pot in Centralia: A growing underground industry

Friday, July 29th, 2016
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•••

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Law enforcement estimated a sizable investment was made – as much as $50,000 – in an indoor growing operation on rural property just outside Centralia, where they seized almost 30 pounds of marijuana from an outbuilding.

The 23-year-old resident who allegedly cultivated and trimmed the plants was charged in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday with two felonies in connection with the find.

Ivan C. Spain Hanson was brought before a judge yesterday afternoon, after spending a night in the Lewis County Jail.

Hanson has no criminal history, not even a speeding ticket in his past, defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge as bail was discussed.

He earns about $4,000 per month working at a distributor called Green Leaf Industries in Thurston County, O’Rourke said, indicating that meant he didn’t qualify for a court appointed lawyer.

His case was pursued by the Lewis County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Hanson is charged with manufacture of marijuana and also possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture or deliver, both class C felonies with maximum penalties of five years in prison.

Charging documents don’t make any mention of where he may have planned to market the product.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt when he learned the defendant was employed in the marijuana industry pondered aloud how to tailor the conditions of release, which generally order that a person pending trial may not use or possess illegal drugs.

“Do not have any on your person while you’re away from the job site,” Hunt told him. “And do not use any, on or off the job site.”

While producing and selling recreational cannabis have been legalized in Washington, following the 2012 passage by voters of Initiative 502, businesses must be licensed through the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello said Hanson did not have any kind of license for his operation.

The property is on the 1200 block of Roswell Road, on the east side of town on land just adjacent to the city that sits in unincorporated Lewis County.

Details in court documents are few, suggesting JNET began the investigation “in 2016”. A detective who went to the location could smell the strong odor of growing marijuana coming from the buildings.

Records showed exceptionally high amounts of electricity were being used there. A search warrant for the home and outbuildings was obtained on Monday.

Masiello wrote in charging documents that 150 plant were found in the larger building, and one room appeared to have just been harvested. Marijuana was found inside large trash bags, he wrote.

The preliminary weight of what detectives confiscated was 29 pounds.

Given the growing equipment they found, it appeared $40,000 to $50,000 had been invested in the facility, Masiello wrote.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm made mention to the judge a gun was found in Hanson’s vehicle, when she addressed the question of bail.

O’Rourke noted his car was located elsewhere, with the weapon inside, not at the property and not with Hanson. Hanson had a license for the .22 caliber Walthur, according to O’Rourke.

Judge Hunt allowed the defendant release on a $10,000 unsecured bond. He ordered him to return to court next Thursday.

The illegal grow find comes on the heels of a similar case.

Two individual appeared before the same judge on Wednesday, also charged with manufacture of marijuana.

According to the allegations in court documents in that case, a Renton woman purchased a building described only as on Tower Avenue in Centralia – with recently darkened windows – for the purpose of of growing marijuana.

A detective with tips from citizens, including one who reported smelling marijuana, contacted the driver of a black BMW parked there this past spring.

Anh Tuan Hoang Nguyen, 33, of Centralia, provided the detective with an authorization form and allowed him inside, where he said he had 25 plants.

The detective was shown a room with about 25 plants, but then behind two doorways found rooms with about 80 more plants.

Nguyen told the detective he sold five to six pounds of marijuana every three to six weeks, and that he was growing it for a dispensary in Seattle. When asked about money, he handed over $6,605 he said were proceeds.

Charges were filed on July 1, following the JNET investigation, and Nguyen and his mother were summonsed to court. His mother is named in court documents as Mai Anh Hoang Nguyen, 54 years old.

They arrived to court on Wednesday afternoon with a lawyer and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Judge Hunt set their bail with $10,000 unsecured bonds. Their trials are set for the week of Oct. 13.

Neither the city of Centralia nor Lewis County have yet issued any approvals for growers, processors or retailers of marijuana.

News brief: Woman hurt in single-car wreck near Pe Ell

Friday, July 29th, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 33-year-old Centralia driver was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle today after falling asleep on state Route 6 and crashing.

Dena M. McCully was traveling westbound about five miles east of Pe Ell when her sport utility vehicle went off the road to the right, hit and tree and then continued down an embankment, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Troopers called about 1:10 p.m. to the scene found McCully was injured and her 2006 Hyundai Tucson was totaled.

The investigating trooper reports she fell asleep. McCully was to be issued a citation for second-degree negligent driving, according to the state patrol.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 29th, 2016
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RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY

• Chehalis police were called about 10:35 a.m. yesterday to the 600 block of Southwest Chehalis Avenue where they were told that sometime during the past three days someone entered the residence and stole power hand tools.

SHED BREAK-IN

• Centralia police were called about 1:10 p.m. yesterday for a burglary to a shed on the 2600 block of Mount Vista Road. Someone stole and ax but dropped it in the yard, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police were contacted just before 11 a.m. yesterday and given second-hand information of a stolen vehicle. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

POSSIBLE FRAUD

• Chehalis police were called yesterday afternoon to Wal-Mart and asked to investigate a suspected fraud. An officer was told the store received a fraudulent order for a Playstation 4 and a female had picked it up. An officer contacted the female who said it was a gift from her fiancé who resides in Haiti, a person whose birthday or middle initial she did not know. The situation is still being looked into, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• An officer was called at 8:45 a.m. yesterday regarding a vehicle prowl at the 2600 block of Borst Avenue in Centralia.  A stereo and speaker were removed, but left behind by the suspect, according to the Centralia Police Department. Some sunglasses were missing though, according to police.

• Chehalis police were called about 7:40 a.m. yesterday about a suspected repeat prowling of a vehicle which had been broken into previously on Northwest Gertrude Street.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called yesterday afternoon to the 1500 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue to take a report that the fuel lines had been cut on a vehicle parked there.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, negligent driving, misdemeanor assault, interfering with domestic violence reporting, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, dog alone in parked vehicle  … and more, among 170 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

News brief: Outdoor burning restricted here, and around state

Friday, July 29th, 2016

By Lewis County Sirens

CHEHALIS – With the arrival of warm summer temperatures and below normal precipitation in Western Washington, the Department of Natural Resources has expanded its burn ban to cover the entire state.

It begins today and runs through Sept. 30.

The ban means outdoor burning is prohibited on all forestlands that DNR protects from wildfire, according to the state agency. Anyone caught violating the burn ban can face fines. Prescribed ecological burns approved by DNR will be allowed if expressly approved by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.

Recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal and other campgrounds are allowed.

DNR’s ban does not apply to federally-owned lands such as national forests. Counties and local fire districts may have additional burn restrictions.

Already this year, DNR has had 408 wildfire starts throughout the state.

News brief: Centralia man pistol whipped outside Centralia hospital

Friday, July 29th, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia detectives are investigating this morning after an individual was beaten and left in a parking lot at the 900 block of South Scheuber Road in Centralia.

Police were called last night to Providence Centralia Hospital where they spoke with the 37-year-old male victim at about 10:20 p.m.

“Basically, the person was contacted by someone, told to (drive) somewhere, he got scared and pulled over into the parking lot at the hospital,” Centralia Police Department Officer John Panco said. “Once he tried to get out of the car, he was pistol whipped.”

Panco said the victim had injuries to his face, including a possible broken nose. Someone saw him in the parking lot and helped him into the emergency room, Panco said.

The Centralia Police Department indicated this morning the suspects are known to the victim.

The suspect or suspects ran off, Panco said.

News brief: Appeals court orders Morton horse case restitution amount decreased

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Morton couple won not once, but twice in a row when they appealed the amount Lewis County judges ordered them to pay in restitution associated with animal cruelty charges involving their horses.

Joanne M. Simmons and Terry L. Simmons were convicted of two counts of second-degree animal cruelty.

Back in 2012, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputies and county code enforcement workers seized nine of their 18 horses from property on the  800 block of state Route 7. Prosecutors described the animals as severely malnourished.

The couple was initially charged with numerous counts of first- and second-degree cruelty, but eventually only convicted of the two counts, which were misdemeanors.

The court ordered them to pay $20,589.42 in restitution.

Five private groups and the Lewis County Animal Shelter assisted in the removal and foster care of the horses.

In their first appeal, the Simmones argued the sentencing court erred by imposing costs associated with charges previously dismissed. The appeals court agreed and remanded for modification of the restitution order.

On remand, the sentencing court doubled the amount recommended by the state, saying it was exactly the kind of case where that was appropriate. Prosecutors had asked for $4,533.54.

The three-member panel of division II of the Washington State Court of Appeals said the judge erred again.

While the law allows for a doubling of restitution in lieu of a fine, it wasn’t a fine that was the issue, the justices stated. Their fine was $500.

Another statute provides a basis for doubling restitution, but only applies to felonies, they wrote.

The opinion was issued last week. The order under review was signed by Judge Nelson Hunt.

“Thus, we reverse the sentencing court’s restitution orders and remand for correction of restitution to the amount calculated before doubling,” the justices wrote.
•••

For background, read: “Former owners of Morton horses charged with animal cruelty” from  Tuesday November 13, 2012, here

News brief: Vader area drug conviction sticks

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  The state Court of Appeals in a decision this week upheld the conviction of Jeffrey J. Johnson for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.

Johnson argued the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence discovered after he consented to a search of his home in the Vader area.

The three-member panel of justices disagreed with him and affirmed his conviction from Lewis County Superior Court.

The determination about the 2015 case was filed on Tuesday.

News brief: Potential life term overturned for then-teenage defendant

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  A defendant whose sentence could have been as long as life in prison will be returning to Lewis County Superior Court to get a fixed-length term in prison.

The state Court of Appeals reversed the sentence of Brian W. Buckman, who pleaded guilty to second-degree rape of a child, because he was under 18 at the time of the offense and state law excludes him from indeterminate sentencing.

In 2012, Buckman was given a prison term with a minimum of 86 to 114 months in prison and a maximum of life.

He appealed the court’s decision denying his motion to withdraw his plea and in the alternative appealed his sentence.

He was 17 years and 7 months old when he and a 13-year-old had sexual intercourse. His case was handled not in juvenile court, but in adult court, in Lewis County Superior Court.

The opinion from division II of the Washington State Court of Appeals was issued on Tuesday.

While the guilty plea form he signed set forth both the standard range and the maximum penalty, it also specified indeterminate sentencing applied if he was at least 18 years old, the justices wrote.

The trial court had denied his motion to withdraw the plea, arguing since he was beyond his 17th birthday at the time of the offense, he was not 17 years of age or younger.

The three-member panel of the Court of Appeals agreed with not allowing him to withdraw the plea affirming the conviction, but remanded the case for a determinate sentence.

Buckman was represented in his appeal by Centralia attorney Peter Tiller. Representing the state was Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh and Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher. Judge Nelson Hunt was the judge in the original case.

News brief: K-Mart theft case revived by appeals judges

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Lewis County prosecutors won their appeal of the dismissal of a case by a local judge who concluded gift cards stolen by an employee from K-Mart did not meet the definition of “access devices.”

Angel R.M. Nelson was charged in Lewis County Superior Court in 2014 with second-degree theft of an access device and second-degree possession of a stolen access device. Surveillance video allegedly showed her retrieve empty gift cards three times and add funds to them without adding cash to her register, according to background information in the opinion issued this week by the state Court of Appeals.

At a pre-trial hearing, the judge granted a defense motion, ruling that as a matter of law, a gift card is not an access device, according to the document.

Reviewing in the light most favorable to the state and looking to the statute’s plain language, the three-member panel of justices found the state was correct. The justices said a gift card is an “access device.” The opinion was issued on Tuesday.

They remanded the case for further proceedings.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 28th, 2016
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•••

Updated at 5:46 p.m.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police called about 4 a.m. today regarding a vehicle stolen from the 200 block of West Second Street came upon the vehicle and its driver who fled. Officers pursued the vehicle to Grand Mound where the driver reportedly tried to abandon the vehicle and flee on foot, according to the Centralia Police Department. Zackery J. Konoske 33 of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for vehicle theft, felony eluding and a warrant, according to police.

• Chehalis police were called at 6 a.m. today about a red Volkswagen Jetta stolen from the 700 block of Southwest Pacific Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department. A department spokesperson said she didn’t have all the details but believes the car was located this morning.

INAPPROPRIATE PICTURES POSTED ONLINE

• Chehalis police are investigating a harassment case reported yesterday morning in which a 26-year-old woman said nude photos of her had been posted on Craigslist and she believed it was her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police were called yesterday to the 300 block of Southwest Third Street for a vehicle prowl. Someone had got inside a locked truck and stole its stereo, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Police were called yesterday to the 2400 block of Cooks Hill Road in Centralia where an individual reported that around 4 a.m., a male suspect cut the gas line to their vehicle and stole about 20 gallons of fuel.

VANDALISM

• An officer was called to the 400 block of South Diamond Street in Centralia yesterday where they were told that a rock had been thrown through the window of a vehicle during the night.

DRUGS

• A 20-year-old Chehalis area resident was arrested yesterday for possession of methamphetamine after he was taken to the Lewis County Jail to be booked for allegedly damaging an acquaintance’s car the day before. A woman reported to the Pe Ell Marshal’s Office yesterday that the night before after she gave Timothy Mendizabal a ride, he was angry when she wanted him to get out of her car and she called 911. Mendizabal allegedly kicked the back driver’s side door so hard it collided with the front driver’s side door, causing over $2,000 worth of damage, according to charging documents. He was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with second-degree malicious mischief and possession of meth.

BARK FIRE EXTINGUISHED

• Centralia firefighters were called at 7:30 a.m. to the 600 block of North Pearl Street for a beauty bark fire that had burned up against the home. The bottom siding was removed to check for extension, with none found, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for drugs, warrants, trespassing, failure to transfer title, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, dog alone in parked vehicle … and more, among 163 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

News brief: Criminal impersonation case against Chehalis man dismissed

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors dropped a felony case they had filed against a Chehalis business owner, alleging after they searched his warehouse and his residence he’d used an alias, illegally possessed a gun and falsely declared his qualifications as a voter.

Elvis A. Matias-Lopez, 34, of Chehalis, was charged at the end of April in Lewis County Superior Court.

According to court documents, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office found Matias-Lopez was illegally in the country and eligible for deportation.

A sheriff’s detective began looking into Champion Greens located on Northwest West Street in Chehalis based on information that arose pursuant to an investigation by multiple agencies into organized criminal activity in Washington state, according to court documents.

Law enforcement conducted surveillance on on Matias-Lopez for about a year, ending last October, court documents relate.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wouldn’t say what kind of organized crime was being looked into, but yesterday said he asked a judge to dismiss the charges earlier this month because he anticipates the case will be transferred to a federal jurisdiction.

The local charges were first-degree criminal impersonation, false declaration as to qualifications as a voter and alien in possession of a firearm without an alien firearm license.

They were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be re-filed at a later date, Halstead said.
•••

For background, read “Probe into unspecified “organized crime” nets local resident eligible for deportation” from Sunday May 1, 2016, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
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•••

WOMAN IN CROSSWALK STRUCK BY HIT AND RUN DRIVER

• A 20-year-old Napavine man turned himself in after allegedly knocking down a pedestrian with his Jeep in downtown Chehalis yesterday and driving off. Officers dispatched just before 7 p.m. were told the 56-year-old Chehalis resident was in a crosswalk at Market Boulevard and Boistfort Street when it happened and she sustained scrapes on her side but declined aid, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Her clothing was damaged as well, according to police. An officer tracked down a phone number for the suspect and called him, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said. Joshua D. Denton agreed to come to the Chehalis Police Department where he was arrested for hit and run, and then released pending his court date, Bailey said.

TOWED VEHICLE DISCONNECTS, COLLIDES WITH PARKED VEHICLE

• Centralia police investigated a traffic collision involving a towed vehicle and a parked vehicle. at the 400 block of East Main Street yesterday evening  The in-tow vehicle broke free from the towing vehicle and struck a parked vehicle, according to the Centralia Police Department. The driver was cited for failing to secure load, according to police.

BREAK-IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police were called about 12:10 p.m. yesterday to the 800 block of North Tower Avenue where someone climbed into a fenced compound and then made off with two car stereos.

WHEELS GO MISSING

• An individual called Chehalis police about 6:50 p.m. yesterday to report someone stole all four tires from their vehicle which was parked in an alley near the 500 block of Northwest Quincy Place and left it up on blocks.

FAKE MONEY SPENT

• Centralia police were called about 12:45 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Lum Road to take a report of a counterfeit $100 bill passed at a retail store.

AND FROM MORTON

• Morton police reported yesterday they are investigating a report from Thursday night at the 100 block of Division Avenue of a wallet that was stolen out of a vehicle.  There are no suspects at this time, according to the Morton Police Department.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation, domestic malicious mischief, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, dispute, hit and run, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more, among 161 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

Guilty plea accepted in Green Hill counselor-inmate sex case

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
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Erin Stiebritz, right, and her lawyer face Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The counselor accused of having sex in her office at Green Hill School with a student-inmate pleaded guilty today, as charged.

Erin Stiebritz, also known as Erin Snodgrass, appeared in Lewis County Superior Court with her lawyer this afternoon who spoke to news reporters after the hearing.

“My client made a terrible decision, she’s taken responsibility,” defense attorney Blake Kremer said. “She’s going to be paying for it for a long time.”

Stiebritz, now 37, was arrested earlier this year following an investigation conducted in 2015 for incidents that occurred during the latter half of 2014. She has been free on bond since she was charged.

Judge James Lawler today accepted her guilty plea to one count of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct.

Lewis County prosecutors wrote in charging papers that the then resident-counselor had an intimate relationship with an incarcerated boy who turned 18 during that time. Stiebritz had begun working there in June 2013.

Green Hill is run by the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, a division of the Department of Social and Health Services. It’s a medium to maximum security fenced facility in Chehalis that provides male offenders education and vocational training.

She remains free until her sentencing, which is set to take place in September after a pre-sentencing investigation is done.

The standard sentencing range for the offense is six to 12 months in jail, however, prosecutors have agreed to recommend an exceptionally shorter sentence, according to Kremer.

If the judge goes along with it, she would get 14 days in jail and 46 days converted to treatment, Kremer said. Then she would also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years, he said.

Judge Lawler today also agreed to seal portions of documents in the file he said contained personal and private information about the defendant as well as other people.

Her hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21.
•••

For background, read “Counselor-inmate sex alleged at Green Hill School” from Tuesday January 12, 2016, here

News brief: Gun-pointing landowner gets booked

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  A worker walked off the job at Cowlitz Timber Trails near Salkum yesterday after encountering an angry 69-year-old man who reportedly held him at gunpoint, telling him he could shoot him and anyone else who came onto his property, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

A deputy called just before 12:20 p.m. about the incident at the 1800 block of Spencer Road was told it happened on the property line in the woods and the 42-year-old resident of Silver Creek had been using a chainsaw to clear brush.

The victim said the man was pointing the firearm at him from within five feet, ranting about a property dispute and the victim was very afraid he was going to die, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. The gunman after about 30 seconds put his pistol away and the victim walked off the job, according to the sheriff’s office.

Cowlitz Timber Trails is a membership-based camping and recreation property along the Cowlitz River.

Roger K. Wilkinson, 69, Salkum, was contacted, arrested for first-degree assault and booked into the Lewis County Jail. He is scheduled to be brought before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court to hear what, if any, charges will be filed against him.

A second Chehalis attorney hoping for outgoing Lewis County judge’s seat

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It’s a rare event when any of the three Lewis County Superior Court judge positions really open up, as in recent years the incumbents have run for reelection unopposed until they decide to retire.

So, contested races for the bench here are not common.

This year, two judges will be stepping down at the same time, and two candidates are campaigning for one of those seats.

Rural Chehalis attorney Katherine Gulmert filed to run for the position being vacated at the end of this year by Judge Richard Brosey. Chehalis lawyer Joely O’Rourke declared her candidacy for that seat in March.

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Katherine Gulmert

In December, when Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt announced he would be retiring at the end of this year, Adna attorney Andrew Toynbee announced he would be a candidate. Nobody filed to run against Toynbee.

Hunt was first elected in 2004. Judge Brosey has held his seat since July 1998. Judge James Lawler is running for a third term and is unopposed.

The Superior Court judges preside over felony and high-money civil cases on the top floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis, the county seat. The job pays $162,618 a year.

The names of the three hopefuls will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Gulmert was the last of the three to make her plans known.

The native of central California moved to rural Chehalis in 2002 after earning her law degree in 1998 at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California.

She’s worked both sides of the courtroom when it comes to criminal law, with the early parts of her career in various prosecutor’s offices.

In 1999, Gulmert worked at the Grays Harbor County Prosecutor’s Office. In 2000, she took a similar position with the city of Aberdeen and in 2004, with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

For two years, she was the chief criminal deputy prosecutor in Jefferson County, doubling as the county coroner, and then worked as a deputy prosecutor in Cowlitz County until 2013.

Since then, Gulmert has been in private practice, co-creating a law firm that maintained an exclusive contract with the city of Longview for indigent defense. Gulmert cites other areas in which she’s practiced, such as family law, elder law,  and veteran’s law.

She moved her practice to Chehalis this spring, taking an office in the building that holds the Community Mediation Center of Lewis County on Pacific Avenue.

Gulmert, 58, said when she saw Judge Brosey was retiring, she decided: “If I was going to be a judge, this was my time to do that.”

“I do have the experience for the position and I am hardworking,” she said. “And I will learn the areas which I haven’t yet done.”

“I am willing to put my whole self into it,” she said.

Her election information highlights giving back to the community.

“Our county deserves an experienced judge, one who, after listening carefully to both sides of a difficult case, will make her decision based on the laws as written,” she states.

When she’s not working, Gulmert volunteers her time as a board member for the Evergreen Playhouse in Centralia and the Ballet Theater of Washington.

Both Toynbee and O’Rourke since they announced their candidacies have been put on the contact list to serve as substitutes on the bench in in Lewis County Superior Court handling family law cases, as pro-tem commissioner.

According to the most recent information available from the state Public Disclosure Commission, only O’Rourke has reported raising any money for her campaign, with just over $12,000 raised and spent. Her campaign shows about $4,200 of debt, money the O’Rourkes loaned the campaign.

PDC filings for Gulmert, Toynbee and Lawler each show they have raised no money.

The primary election on Aug 2 won’t include any local judicial races but does include various federal and state offices as well as contested races for two of the three Lewis County commissioner positions.

Numerous candidates have filed to run for state representative and state senator in Legislative District 19 which includes the southwest portion of Lewis County. The two representatives and senator for Legislative District 19, the rest of the county,  are on the ballot, but unopposed.

See the online Voter’s Guide for the primary election, here
•••

For background, read:

• “Judge Brosey eyes retirement, Chehalis lawyer to seek election to the court” from Wednesday March 30, 2016, here

• “Lewis County judge won’t seek election to fourth term, local lawyer to try for the bench” from Wednesday December 16, 2015, here

• Information on candidate Katherine Gulmert, here

• Information on candidate Joely O’Rourke, here

• Information on candidate Andrew Toynbee, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
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•••

VIOLENCE AT GREEN HILL

• Chehalis police were called at 4:30 p.m. yesterday to Green Hill School on Southwest 11th Street on a report a student-inmate had assaulted three staff members. The police department is waiting for more information from the juvenile institution, so details are not yet available, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

BURGLARY

• A deputy was called yesterday morning to the 2000 block of Bishop Road in Chehalis about a burglary at Peace Lutheran Church. The deputy was told a pastor arrived around 2 a.m. to prepare to leave with the youth group for a trip and discovered a door to the church garage was damaged and an auditorium speaker and a bench top drill press had been removed, although they were found behind the building in the grass, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The break-in occurred sometime after 6 p.m. on Sunday, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Centralia police responded to an approximately 4:45 a.m. call today about a burglary at the 100 block of North Iron Street. Taken was cash from a wallet and an Xbox, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called about 1:40 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia where a victim reported while on vacation for the last week someone entered their home and stole prescription medication, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police were called to the 900 block of South Scheuber Road about 10:15 p.m. yesterday where an individual reported their vehicle was broke into and electronics were stolen.

• An officer was called just before 8 a.m. yesterday to the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia for a vehicle prowl. The victim reported that sometime over the night unknown persons entered her vehicle and stole some tools, according to the Centralia Police Department.

LOCKER ROOM THEFT

• Chehalis police were called about 5:15 p.m. yesterday to the pool at the 400 block of Southwest Parkland Drive where they were told a male had left his wallet in his pants in the locker room and it disappeared.

FUNNY MONEY

• Centralia police were called about 3:50 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Belmont Avenue to take a report of a female attempting to pass a counterfeit $50 bill at a business.

LOST AND FOUND

• A worker found money in a parking lot off South Market Boulevard in Chehalis and turned it in to the police department about 2:30 p.m. yesterday, according to the Chehalis Police Department. It was discovered in the area around the 1300 block and the 1500 block, according to police. If the person who lost it can describe it, they should be able to get it back, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, trespassing, probation violation, domestic malicious mischief, misdemeanor domestic assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more, among 187 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, July 25th, 2016
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•••

FIGHT, FIGHT

• Police responding about 12:05 a.m. today to the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia arrested three for fighting in public. They are: Robert Day, 38, of Onalaska; Trevor Johnson, 30, of Chehalis, and Edward Arredondo, 34, of Chehalis, according to the Centralia Police Department. Earlier, around 6:15 p.m., an arrest of similar nature was made at the 600 block of Warren Street, according to police. In that case, James Lowther, 38, of Centralia, was arrested and then also released.

BREAK-IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police called about 9:45 a.m. yesterday to the 500 block of South Pearl Street took a report that an unknown person entered a residence and stole a backpack.

VEHICLE THEFT

• A pickup truck stolen in Centralia turned up about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday parked on 11th Street in Chehalis. The owner came and retrieved it, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning that sometime during the last two weeks, someone stole a 2007 Suzuki 250 dirt bike from an unlocked garage on the 500 block of Avery Road West south of Chehalis. The bike is valued at $4,000, according to the sheriff’s office.

PROWL, PROWL, PROWL

• Chehalis police were called just before noon yesterday to the 600 block of Southwest Chehalis Avenue where a truck in a driveway had been prowled. Among the missing items are a Sears brand tool box containing sockets and wrenches, two Nintendo games and two portable television screens, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Just after 10 a.m. yesterday, police were called to the 1400 block of Southwest Kelly Avenue in Chehalis following the discovery of a vehicle prowl in which an Occidental tool bag containing carpentry tools was stolen from a pickup truck parked on the street, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• An officer responded to an approximately 9 a.m. call yesterday following the discovery of a vehicle prowl on the 1400 block of Southwest Johnson Avenue in Chehalis in which more than $1,400 worth of tools were stolen. The truck had been parked on the street, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Among the missing property is a plumbing wrench, a yellow and black DeWalt sawzall, a vacuum and green and black Ryobi tools such as a drill, a finish nailer, a staple gun, batteries and charger, according to police.

• Chehalis police were called about 6 p.m. on Saturday to the 600 block of Northwest Gertrude Street in Chehalis where someone had broken into a Jeep and stole keys on a ring, a blue child’s backpack with two fishing poles and a folder containing personal information, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police took a report late Friday afternoon from the 200 block of Southwest John Street that someone had stolen a set of golf clubs from a vehicle. The bag is green and black, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about a vehicle prowl on the 400 block of Northeast Adams Avenue at 11:45 a.m. on Friday. Someone broke a window of the car parked on the street and took some cash, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

UNDERAGE DRINKING

• Nine young people were arrested and then released for minor in possession and/or consumption of alcohol after deputies responded about 11:25 p.m. on Friday to the 400 block of Chilvers Road outside Chehalis for what was described as a large party. A deputy was told people were walking in the roads and cars were in an out of the property, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Portable breath tests were administered in the case involving two 17-year-olds, four 18-year-olds, two 19-year-olds and one 20-year-old. All are from Chehalis and all were males except for the 17-year-old girl, according to the sheriff’s office.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A 77-year-old Chehalis resident was ticketed for speeding when his Dodge pickup truck rear ended a Kia Sorento, and his 22-foot boat left the trailer he was pulling coming to rest against a telephone pole on Saturday morning in Mason County. Troopers called at 9:19 a.m. to Highway 101 north of Shelton noted nobody was injured but both vehicles were damaged. Robert G. Johnson, 77, from Chehalis, was traveling at speeds too fast for conditions when he came up on the sport utility vehicle which was stopped to make a turn onto Hamma Hamma Road, according to the Washington State Patrol.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, drugs, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, no-contact order violation, domestic malicious mischief, misdemeanor domestic assault,  driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, hit and run, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more, among 305 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 48-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

News brief: Teen lost during hike spends night outdoors

Monday, July 25th, 2016
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A picture taken just before he went missing on Sunday was shared on social media.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A teenager who got separated from his father while hiking yesterday afternoon south of White Pass was located in good shape this morning.

The White Pass Ski Resort began tweeting just before 1 a .m. today they needed volunteers first thing this morning to help search for 15-year-old Robby Kershaw.

They tweeted he was found just before 10 a.m. and thanked the hundreds of volunteers who responded.

They had been hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail by Hogback Mountain near the Lewis-Yakima county border.

The boy was in good condition when he was found, according to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office.

News brief: Victim found injured, alone at scene of two-vehicle collision in Winlock

Monday, July 25th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Law enforcement is looking for the driver who walked away from a head-on collision in Winlock early yesterday morning after telling an injured woman in the other vehicle he would call for help.

A passing citizen who came upon the wreck on the 200 block of North Military Road called 911 about 5:30 a.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The 50-year-old Winlock woman at the scene sustained serious injuries including broken bones in her face and back, according to the sheriff’s office. She was airlifted to a hospital in Vancouver and then transferred to a Portland hospital for further treatment, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

Her pickup truck and the other car were both totaled, Brown said.

The victim said that before the man left, he tried once to open her door, asked her if she could move and said he would call police or an ambulance, according to Brown.

Deputies searched but could not locate him, Brown said.

His 2007 Acura four-door, with Utah license plates, was impounded to be checked for finger prints and DNA evidence, Brown said.

He is described as a white male with dark hair and around 5-feet 9-inches tall. Brown said he could have injuries to his face or arm.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
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Members of the Chehalis Fire Department tackle multiple grass fires along the freeway. / Courtesy photo

FOUR DEPARTMENTS TO PUT OUT FREEWAY GRASS FIRES

• Chehalis firefighters began getting calls about 4:40 p.m. yesterday of numerous fires along the southbound shoulder of Interstate 5. Firefighter Braxton Traylor said they stretched from about milepost 79 down to milepost 72. Already the closure of the Chamber of Commerce Way overpass changed their response route, according to Traylor. They couldn’t enter the freeway at the 79 interchange, so they headed out Main Street and decided to go south from there, asking Riverside Fire Authority to cover the northern portion, he said. Personnel from Lewis County Fire District 6 and 5 also responded as well to extinguish the burning grass and brush, according to Traylor. The Chehalis Fire Department understood the fires may have been ignited by a motorist dragging a chain or something similar, but Washington State Patrol spokesperson Trooper Will Finn tweeted ” … Tire from semi the cause.” just before 5 p.m. Traylor said it took a couple of hours to get it all put out.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 1:30 a.m. to the 300 block of West Summa Street when the owner of a vehicle came outside as their vehicle was being driven away. It had been left running, according to the Centralia Police Department. However, it was later found, undamaged, in Chehalis, according to police.

ARREST AT FULLERS

• A 26-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for second-degree burglary at the 500 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia at about 7:30 p.m. yesterday. Lucas D. Bryan was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police were called just before 8 a.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowl at the 100 block of South Diamond Street. Somebody rummaged through the unlocked vehicle but nothing appeared to be missing, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

TRESPASSING

• Centralia police responding to an approximately 10:25 a.m. call yesterday to the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue ended up arresting a 45-year-old Chehalis man for trespassing and for obstructing a law enforcement officer. Joshua L. Harris was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, probation violation, malicious mischief, misdemeanor domestic assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, suspicious circumstances … and more, among 170 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

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Grass and brush burns next to Interstate 5 in Chehalis. / Courtesy photo

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 22nd, 2016
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•••

OUT-OF-CONTROL AT ROCK PIT

• A 24-year-old Centralia resident who smelled of intoxicants was finally detained after he allegedly tried to steal four vehicles early yesterday morning, was found at Sterling Breen Crushing at the 800 block of state Route 507, and yelled at deputies to get out of his way as he tried to back up a truck, but could only spin its tires. Deputies responded about 4:30 a.m. to a 911 hang up call and located a suspect at the rock pit, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said he ignored repeated commands to put show his hands and exit the vehicle. Emmanuel Martinez allegedly had also driven a dump truck over a rock pile and nearly into the water, causing an estimated $2,000 damage, Brown said. Two knives were retrieved from the seat beside him, she said. He was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for vehicle theft, burglary and malicious mischief, she said. Brown said he had also poured gas and oil on vehicles, walls and the floor in his father’s garage.

ELBOW TO FACE

• Chehalis police were called about 11:30 p.m. yesterday to Green Hill School to take a report of a student-inmate allegedly assaulting a staff member. The incident between the 17-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man involved an elbow to the face, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The case is being referred to prosecutors for a possible charge of custodial assault, according to police.

ELDERLY RESIDENT SCAMMED

• A man in his 80s reported to Centralia police yesterday he was contacted by phone and told he’d won prize money, and wired $500 to claim it.

SHED BURGLARY

• Police were called to the 100 block of East Carson Street in Centralia yesterday morning where they were told that sometime during the previous week, someone stole a pressure washer and a trimmer from their shed.

AUTO THEFT

• Chehalis police called at 1:30 p.m. yesterday about an abandoned vehicle at the 200 block of Southwest Sixth Street found it had been stolen. The owner of the Honda Civic came and got it, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Sometime between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. yesterday, a black 1995 Honda Accord vanished from where it had been parked at the 100 block of U.S. Highway 12 south of Chehalis. Its owner said she had left the keys on a spare tire next to the car, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The keys, the car and the tire were all missing, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 2002 Infinity with a license plate reading AUM 867 was reported stolen at about 7:15 a.m. yesterday from the 500 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia.

VEHICLE PROWL

• An officer was called about 2:40 p.m. yesterday about a car prowl at the 1000 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia. Someone took a wallet from the unlocked vehicle, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called just before 9 a.m. yesterday to the 1500 block of Northwest State Avenue regarding the discovery of damage to a new vehicle, when someone attempted to remove a “lock box,” according to the Chehalis Police Department.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A 57-year-old Chehalis woman was uninjured but her 2011 Chevrolet sport utility vehicle sustained major front end damage when she struck a deer on the 2200 block of Pe Ell-McDonald Road at about 5 o’clock yesterday morning.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, probation violation, misdemeanor domestic assault, driving under the influence; responses for alarm, dispute, third-degree theft, hit and run, civil issue, suspicious circumstances, barking dog, collision on city street, report of inappropriate touching that occurred more than five years ago  … and more, among 157 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

•••

Correction: The item involving Green Hill School has been updated to correctly reflect the possible charge.

Chehalis fight: Felony trial ends with misdemeanor convictions

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A trial for two men accused of second-degree assault for a fight between distant relatives in Chehalis ended with both found guilty of two counts of fourth-degree assault.

The offenses are gross misdemeanors instead of felonies.

Edu Adsilva Leal, 23, of Chehalis and Gustavo Casmiro-Gomez, 31, were charged in February for the incident that took place the previous September at the 1300 block of Southwest Mills Avenue in Chehalis.

Prosecutors alleged one of them punched his cousin in the head and when the cousin’s father tried to intervene, the other knocked him to the ground, causing a head injury.

Casmiro-Gomez’s lawyer, Chris Baum, said there was yelling, an altercation and then testimony diverged as to what followed.

The jury deliberated in Lewis County Superior Court on Monday after the trial that began the week before.

The two defendants appeared in court this afternoon, out of custody, to set a date for their sentencing. The hearing will take place at 9 a.m. on August 3.
•••

For background, read “Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – FROM THE COURTHOUSE” from Saturday February 27, 2016, here

News brief: Green Hill counselor-inmate sex case will end without a trial

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A counselor who pleaded not guilty to custodial sexual misconduct in connection with a student-inmate at Green Hill School has struck a plea deal with prosecutors.

Erin Stiebritz, who also goes by the last name of Snodgrass, appeared in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon to set a date to change her plea.

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Courtesy photo DSHS

The now-37-year-old  is expected back in court next Wednesday.

Stiebritz was arrested in January, following an investigation conducted by the Washington State Patrol during 2015.

Prosecutors alleged that the then resident-counselor had an intimate relationship with an incarcerated boy who turned 18 during that time, including engaging in sex in her office, during several months in 2014.

She has been free on an unsecured bond.

Green Hill is run by the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, a division of the Department of Social and Health Services. It’s a medium to maximum security fenced facility in Chehalis that provides older, male offenders education and vocational training.
•••

For background, read “Juvenile administrators speak out on arrest of Green Hill counselor” from Thursday January 14, 2016, here