Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

Maurin murder trial: Jurors hear of autopsy and finger prints

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
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Richard Herrington, with assistance from Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead, displays Minnie Maurin’s house coat.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Testimony continued yesterday in the Ricky A. Riffe double murder trial, with the former Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputy displaying and describing pieces of evidence long-stored in anticipation of an arrest in the 1985 case.

A dozen jurors along with five alternates entered their second week in Lewis County Superior Court, of hearing witnesses discuss the apparent abduction and shotgun deaths of elderly Ethel couple, Ed and Wilhelmina “Minnie” Maurin.

Riffe, 55, is charged with kidnapping, robbery, murder and burglary. He was arrested and charged last year.

Richard Herrington took the witness stand again and told of the items he collected during the autopsy conducted on the couple the same day their bodies were found on a logging road, Dec. 24, 1985.

From 83-year-old Minnie Maurin, Herrington – with assistance from Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead – showed the jury her house coat, dress, white sweater, under garments and one shoe which matched a shoe found on the floor board of the couple’s 1969 Chrysler Newport sedan.

The darkened blood stains were obscured by the clear plastic evidence bags they were contained in.

Herrington displayed 81-year-old Ed Maurin’s clothing and a wallet from his pants containing $39 in bills.

Also collected at the funeral home from Ed Maurin was a Sterling Savings withdrawal slip showing the removal of $8,500 and a remaining balance of a little over $36,000, Herrington testified.

Prosecutors believe Riffe and his now-deceased brother John Gregory Riffe got into the couple’s home, uncovered bank records and forced the couple to go with them to the bank and withdraw money before shooting them in the backs with a shotgun inside their car.

Herrington held up a plastic bag he said contained some double-aught buckshot retrieved by the doctor.

Numerous autopsy photographs were passed to the jurors to see.

Under questioning by Halstead, Herrington said no shotgun shells or casings were found at the Maurin property, at the scene on the logging road or even inside the car.

He spoke of returning to the Maurin’s home on Dec. 21, 1985, the day after the couple’s car was found abandoned in the parking lot of Yard Birds, to “process” the scene again.

He primarily spoke of lifting finger prints, from several Rainier beer cans, pieces of glass from the furnace room floor near a broken window and also from their car.

He was not asked who the prints belonged to.

Relatively few prints were found on and in the Chrysler, according to Herrington.

“Usually I would find a lot more prints than this,” Herrington said.

Testimony is expected to continue this morning.

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Ricky A. Riffe, right, listens as his lawyer John Crowley, addresses Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, October 14th, 2013
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The state patrol reports the chase up Interstate 5 ended safely. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol

Updated at 8:10 p.m.

JOY RIDE BEGINS IN CHEHALIS, ENDS IN FIFE

• A 24-year-old man who picked up a set of car keys off a counter at Wendy’s restaurant in Chehalis got away with a vehicle but was stopped after high speed pursuit through Tacoma yesterday. Police called about 10:10 a.m. to the 1500 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue learned the 2008 Toyota Camry headed north on Interstate 5. After stealing the keys, the subject tried several vehicles in the lot before finding the correct one and taking off, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The 35-year-old Chehalis woman’s purse was inside her car as well, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said. Lacey police briefly caught up with him and troopers joined in near Lakewood as speeds reached as much as 120 mph, according to law enforcement. A trooper used the so-called pit maneuver to spin the car out and make it stop in Fife shortly after 11 a.m., according to the Washington State Patrol. The driver, Victor J. Hobbs, who is tagged in the local law enforcement database as transient from Vader, was arrested without further incident, according to Chehalis police and the state patrol.

VEHICLE THEFT

• A white 12-foot utility trailer containing emergency decontamination equipment and materials was stolen from Providence Centralia Hospital, according to a report made to police about 7 a.m. yesterday. Officers called to the 900 block of South Schueber Road were told the loss is probably more than $15,000, according to the Centralia Police Department. It disappeared during the night, according to police.

• A deputy was called yesterday about a 2005 BMW stolen sometime since the day before from the 100 block of Joppish Road in Centralia. The car, valued at $10,000, has a license plate of AKJ 9351, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police responded about 10 a.m. on Saturday to a report of a vehicle stolen from the 100 block of West Third Street. The 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck was subsequently located on Ham Hill Road, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BURGLARY

• Someone broke into a building on the 600 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia and stole unspecified old military gear and other items belonging to a local collector, according to a report made to police about 7:30 p.m. yesterday.

GREEN HILL BEATING

• A student-inmate at Green Hill School for Boys in Chehalis was arrested for second-degree assault non Friday and then released back into the custody of the juvenile incarceration facility. An officer called that afternoon to the 300 block of Southwest 11th Street learned the 18-year-old had punched a 16-year-old knocking him unconscious earlier in the day, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Police also investigated a less serious assault of personnel from the same morning.

BAR FIGHT

• Police called to a dispute at a Chehalis bar around 1:50 p.m. on Sunday ended up arresting a man for shoving another man in the presence of an arriving officer. Apolinar Ruelas, 34, of Chehalis was arrested for misdemeanor assault at the 300 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue and then booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Police were called about 8:50 a.m. yesterday to the 2800 block of Russell Road in Centralia regarding two slashed vehicle tires.

RECKLESS DRIVING

• Law enforcement is looking for a 46-year-old Mineral area man who rather than pull over when a deputy attempted to make a traffic stop on Saturday night ran through stop signs and then leaped from his moving vehicle on and ran off into the brush. It happened around 10:15 p.m. near the 100 block of Washington Street in Mineral, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office says Timothy C. Saterdal left his passenger in the rolling vehicle. A track with a police dog was unsuccessful, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence of prescription medication, shoplifting; responses for alarms, other misdemeanor assault, family disturbance, horses at large, apparent shoplifting which turned out to be unfounded, minor collisions such as car running into mailboxes; complaints of music so loud it vibrated the neighbor’s apartment … and more.

Maurin murder trial: What the crime scenes showed

Saturday, October 12th, 2013
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Former deputy Richard Herrington describes the logging road outside Adna where the Maurin’s bodies were discovered on Dec. 24, 1985.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A broken window at the back of the Maurin’s farm house, an impression of a shoe print on the nearby furnace, a game of Rummy-O and a folded newspaper sitting atop the lace table cloth of their dining room table.

And an unmade bed.

Richard Herrington, a former detective with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, pointed out the conditions he observed, preserved in photographs displayed on a large courtroom screen.

It was the evening of Dec. 19, 1985. Family members had begun gathering at the Ethel home at 2040 U.S. Highway 12, after guests arriving for a noontime Christmas party found their elderly hosts weren’t there. Ed and Wilhelmina “Minnie” Maurin were missing.

Former Deputy Michael Pea had already described responding about 6:10 p.m. with Deputy Joe Doench, and finding no evidence of a struggle, but seeing a shoe box with bank statements strewn alongside the bathtub and Minnie Maurin’s purse hidden beneath a newspaper and tucked partially behind a couch.

Eighty-one-year-old Ed Maurin’s pickup truck was parked in back, but the couple’s car was not there.

Herrington testified they collected prints and investigated until 1 a.m.

It was about 9:25 a.m. when Herrington got the call the Maurin’s automobile was located in the Yard Birds parking lot in Chehalis.

Most of the hours that followed in Lewis County Superior Court this week focused on the blood found in the front seat of the vehicle and the subsequent Christmas Eve Day discovery of the couple’s bodies laying off a logging road near Adna.

Two of Minnie Maurin’s grown children have been at the courthouse since the jury was convened early last week. On Thursday they spoke on the phone with each other and their remaining living sibling, but stayed home. The prosecutor had given them notice of the graphic evidence that would be shown.

The trial in the county seat of Chehalis is expected to last through the month.

Fifty-five-year-old Ricky A. Riffe is charged in the abduction, robbery and shotgun deaths of the Maurins.

Herrington, who nearly 28 years later is the special agent in charge of the criminal unit for the Washington State Gambling Commission, answered questions from lawyers off and on for two days.

The morning was foggy and cold and the windows were frosted up on the 1969 Chrysler Newport, Herrington testified. Photographs and a videotape taken on Dec. 20, 1985 show the car parked at the far northeastern edge of the lot, behind a row of big trucks.

The keys were in the ignition, a red blanket was draped over much of the driver’s side obscuring mostly from view large blood stains.

“We definitely had a crime scene,” Herrington testified.

By the time they finished examining the car, they had numerous items to be placed into evidence; buckshot from the floorboard on the driver’s side, a man’s hat, a white shoe and a small pillow from the passenger side.

The ashtray was full, Herrington said.

Back then, Roger Ely worked as a scene investigator for the Washington State Patrol in Kelso.

His analysis suggested the Maurins were each struck with a blast from a shotgun with a shortened barrel in their upper back as they sat in the front seat. He couldn’t say which was shot first.

“I believe the shooter was in the backseat, approximately behind her husband,” Ely said.

The blood stain patterns indicated to him the couple were dragged out from opposite sides of the car.

Ely resumed his testimony on Friday morning. And Herrington was recalled to the stand.

Denny Hadaller returned to the courthouse, prepared to leave the room at any time during the discussion of his mother and step-father’s demise, but he stayed.

More photos and a videotape taken on Dec. 24, 1985, took those in the courtroom to the scene up Stearns Hill Road. It was morning, it was cold. A passerby had found the Maurin’s bodies.

On the the tree-lined gravel logging road they found tire marks, Herrington testified. They saw blood trails leading short distances to what they looked for, he said.

Off the outside edge of the right fork in the road in the salal was Ed Maurin; he was clothed in trousers, a shirt and a jacket.

Just off the inside edge of the left fork, lay Minnie Maurin in her housecoat.

Their garments were pushed up as though they’d been dragged there by their feet.

Judge Richard Brosey dismissed the jury early yesterday, at noontime so court personnel could attend the funeral of a longtime bailiff who passed away last week.

The trial is expected to resume on Monday morning.

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Defendant Ricky A. Riffe, 55, far right, observes as lawyers work during a break in the Chehalis courtroom.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, October 12th, 2013
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Northeast Washington Avenue in Chehalis. / Courtesy photo by Chehalis Fire Department

FIRE BREAKS OUT IN CHEHALIS GARAGE

• Firefighters responded just before 4 o’clock this morning to a burning garage on the 100 block of Northeast Washington Avenue in Chehalis. Arriving units found the detached structure fully engulfed in flames, according to Fire Chief Jim Walkowski. The blaze was contained to the garage and was extinguished. Nobody was injured, according to Walkowski. A vehicle inside was heavily damaged, he said in a news release. The cause is under investigation.

MOVING DAY RUINED

• An individual preparing to move from the 700 block of Southwest William Street called police about 5:45 a.m. yesterday after discovering a cargo trailer loaded with all his belongings had disappeared, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The white 2013 Carry brand utility trailer is described as 6-feet by 12-feet with manufacturers stickers on the side. It also had ramps with dents, according to police.

JEWELRY THEFT

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday they are looking for a 59-year-old homeless woman who allegedly stole jewelry from an acquaintance who let her in his home to eat. It happened between Thursday and Friday at the campground area off the 100 block of U.S. Highway 12, according to the sheriff’s office. Sgt. Rob Snaza said a deputy got information the 60-year-old victim’s items were pawned. Among the missing jewelry was a large Black Hills gold ring, according to Snaza.

• A ring was reported stolen from the 800 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia on Thursday, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FRAUD

• Centralia police took a report from the 900 block of South Schueber Road in Centralia on Thursday regarding checks being written by an unauthorized person.

• CAR PROWL

• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning of a purse stolen from a vehicle at the 400 block of South Diamond Street.

VANDALISM

• Police took a report of a window being broken out of a vehicle at the 1100 block of Elm Street in Centralia on Thursday evening.

VEHICLE VERSUS POLE

• A 35-year-old Chehalis resident was arrested for driving under the influence after running into a parked U-Haul truck and a utility pole on the 1000 block of South Gold Street in Centralia overnight. Officers responding about 12:40 a.m. cited and then released Matthew D. Sherman, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with what police described as minor injuries.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license; responses for suspicious circumstances, shoplifting, minor collisions including one in which the driver reached down to get a soda that fell on the floor and crashed into a parked vehicle, complaints about mix-ups at the dry cleaners … and more.

Public invited to join coroner’s staff for burial of unclaimed persons

Friday, October 11th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A burial service for three individuals who have died in Lewis County with no relatives to claim them is set for 11 a.m. tomorrow at Pioneer Cemetery in Chehalis.

The public is welcome to attend.

The Lewis County Coroner’s Office underwent a renewed effort last year to find family members of those whose cremated remains had long sat atop a file cabinet at their office. Fourteen sets of unclaimed remains were then placed in a plot at Claquato Cemetery near Adna.

Tomorrow, a short ceremony will be held in the parking lot at Pioneer prior to the inurnment of three more, according to the coroner’s office.

“Even though these folks do not have families to claim them they deserve to have a respectful final resting place and this is our chance to provide that,” Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod stated in a news release.

One of the individuals is a 49-year-old transient person from California, who died in a Centralia motel this summer, McLeod said. He said he tried and simply could not locate any relatives. Families of the other two elected not to claim them, he said.

They died of natural causes, except for the reason for the death of 52-year-old James Sprague could not be determined. Sprague’s body was discovered at Riffe Lake near Mossyrock in July 2010, months after the Denver man’s vehicle turned up some 30 miles away while authorities in Colorado were seeking him in connection with the slaying of his girlfriend.

Tomorrow’s burial is made possible through the generosity of the cemetery owner, John Panesko. Pioneer Cemetery was founded in the late 1800s as a Masonic cemetery and was known for some time as Greenwood Cemetery, according to McLeod.

It is located at 2000 Jackson Highway; parking is available across the street at the Chehalis Eagles. The actual burial will take place after the gathering ends.

The following are those being remembered:

• Manabu Ishikawa, 49, from Grass Valley, California. Died in Centralia in June 2013
• James Ross, 65, from Onalaska. Died in Onalaska in February 2013.
• James Sprague, 52, from Denver, Colorado. Found deceased in July 2010 in Mossyrock.

Centralia woman’s July death on river blamed on hypothermia

Friday, October 11th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The autopsy results show 40-year-old Tina Thode died from exposure, even though it was a warm summer night when she called for help getting off the banks of the Skookumchuck River in late July.

The body of the Chehalis native who lived nearby in Centralia at the time was discovered partially in the water two days later by kids floating down the river.

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Tina A. Thode

“The findings don’t really surprise me, it was dark, she was in the water and she was comfortable in the water,” her father Roger Thode said.

Tina Thode had phoned 911 about 10:30 p.m. on July 27 saying she was lost near the river and couldn’t get out because it was dark. At one point as she talked on her cell phone to the 911 operator, she said she was sitting with her legs in the water.

An intense but unsuccessful search was abandoned after more than three hours, with responders figuring once it got light she could see her way out.

Roger Thode said he got the word from the coroner yesterday or the day before who explained she may have fallen asleep as her body temperature dropped, and that having methamphetamine in her system would have compounded the lowering of her body temperature.

He said he suspects it happened that night, even though the coroner can’t tell him the hour or even the day his daughter passed away.

“We don’t know, I’ve been asked that and I always give the same answer,” Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said this afternoon. “People need to stop watching CSI, there’s no way to pinpoint the time of death.”

There are just too many variables, according to McLeod. The death certificate will reflect the time and day her body was discovered, he said.

McLeod said the forensic pathologist noted that being under the influence of methamphetamine was a contributing factor as Tina Thode became unable to – in the words of the pathologist – find shelter from a cold, watery environment.

Tina Thode lived alone about a quarter mile from the tree-lined river and was active in a court-related drug and alcohol treatment program, but had recently relapsed.

Her father said he knows that in hindsight, police and fire personnel wish they’d have looked for his daughter longer that night or returned the next day to resume their search.

“It’s such a waste, it is what it is,” Roger Thode said. “You can’t go back and change it.”

“She made a lot of bone-headed decisions, and this one bit her,” he said.

•••

For background, read “What happened to Tina Thode?” from Tuesday September 3, 2013, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

LOCAL POLICE GO UNDERCOVER ON FACEBOOK

• A 36-year-old convicted felon was arrested today after he accidentally made a deal with an undercover detective on Facebook, allegedly, to trade sporting goods and electronic items for a semi-automatic rifle. Deputies got a tip the Silver Creek man was using Facebook trying to obtain a gun and began communicating with him, making arrangements to meet him at 1 o’clock today, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Kenneth L. Kemp contacted the detective at a parking lot on the 100 block of Kirkland Road in Napavine and showed the goods he want to trade, according to the sheriff’s office. After he handled and inspected the Ruger Mini-14, he was cuffed and booked in to the Lewis County Jail for unlawful possession of a firearm in the second-degree, according to the sheriff’s office. Kemp is a registered sex offender, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. He will also face a ticket for driving with a suspended license, Brown said in a news release.

CLERK THWARTS THIEF

• Police were summoned yesterday about 12:45 p.m. after a customer in a checkout line at the Goodwill reportedly reached over the counter and snatched money from the till. The clerk grabbed it back and the suspect described as a tall male with dark hair left the store, according to the Centralia police Department. Officers arriving to the 500 block of Harrison Avenue learned it had occurred several moment before the 911 call was made, as word of the incident traveled through a couple of steps with her superiors before police were called, according to Officer John Panco. He said that left them little to pursue. The departing vehicle was said to be a bright blue compact SUV, according to police.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police took a report yesterday of prescription medication stolen from a vehicle overnight at the 1000 block of Scammon Creek Road.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police say they were called about 5:25 p.m. yesterday about a young man walking down the street spray painting various things orange. The subject was described as younger than 20 wearing a gray sweatshirt and black shorts in the area of South Tower Avenue and East Locust Street. No arrest was made, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assaults including a teenager punching another teen in the back of the head at Green Hill School; responses for alarms, stolen bicycles, minor collisions, suspicious circumstances, an illegal butterfly knife confiscated from a 22-year-old passing through court security, a laptop snatched from a counter at a business, a tablet computer left on an outdoor bench picked up by someone else who told an officer he didn’t think it belonged to anyone; complaint about door-to-door-salespeople knocking at night … and more.

Read infant hospitalized with brain trauma …

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Kirotv.com reports a Lewis County resident is behind bars for allegedly shaking a four-month-old girl into unconsciousness.

Richard Thompson says Kyle Davison, 22, was watching the infant for his ex-girlfriend, a baby that was transported to the hospital with brain trauma.

Davison was arrested in Mineral and was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court.

See more here

Maurin murder trial: Testimony continues about slain Ethel couple

Thursday, October 10th, 2013
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John Dennis Hadaller, who goes by Dennis or Denny, answers questions from Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.

Updated at 9:31 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Retired Lewis County logging business owner Denny Hadaller spoke yesterday of the promise he made himself before leaving his slain parents funeral at the St. Francis Catholic Church in Toledo more than a quarter of a century ago.

“I layed my hand on my mother’s casket and I said, ‘Mom, I’ll find out who done this, and I will till the day I die,” he said.

Hadaller was testifying in the murder trial of Ricky A. Riffe, the longtime suspect in the December 1985 abduction and shooting deaths of Ethel residents, Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin. They were in their early 80s when their bodies were found dumped off a logging road.

Hadaller, now 85 years old, took the witness stand yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court. He spoke before a jury which is now four men and eight women, as one took ill.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead took Hadaller back in time through questioning, asking about the day his mother and step-father disappeared, and the years which followed in which the businessman hired a pair of private investigators to solve the case.

Hadaller said he was involved with the sheriff’s office investigation into the late 1980s and then somewhere around 2001 sought outside help.

“I did get very frustrated, because we weren’t getting anywhere with this” Hadaller testified.

Under questioning, he spoke of seeking out photographs of suspects Ricky and John Gregory Riffe from a cousin of theirs, wanting to know what they looked like out of fear for his own and his family’s safety.

“I slept with a gun under my pillow every night, I had one at my easy chair, because I didn’t know …” Hadaller said.

Yesterday was the second day of testimony for a trial that is expected to last at least through the month. Judge Richard Brosey is presiding over the case in Lewis County Superior Court.

A witness who took up the remainder of the day, told of seeing a pair of headlights in the fog across the street from her home at the Maurin’s driveway on Dec. 19, 1985, a few hours before the couple were discovered missing.

It was somewhere around 9 a.m. and the headlights were pointing kind of west, Nona Pierce said.

Pierce said she was standing at the end of her driveway and heard both a woman and a man’s voice, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. When the vehicle moved down the Maurin’s driveway, she thought she saw the outline of a second car before she went back into her house, she said.

Most of Pierce’s time on the witness stand was spent with lawyers wrangling over her picking out a photo of Ricky Riffe last year that she believes to be the same man who she saw acting strangely in the neighborhood.

Pierce described a pickup truck which stopped along U.S. Highway 12 and a man who got out and looked at three surrounding houses, including the Maurins and hers, before walking to her doorstep and saying he needed gasoline.

But when she told him no, he got back in his truck and drove away, she testified.

Under questioning from Deputy Prosecutor Halstead, Pierce said it occurred the day before and she was absolutely certain  that the photo she selected from a montage when she met with detective Bruce Kimsey in June 2012 was the man on her porch 27 years ago. The one she picked was Ricky Riffe.

However, under questioning by defense attorney Crowley it became apparent the event may have taken place as much as two weeks prior and that during the identification process at the sheriff’s office, Pierce was far less certain when she chose Riffe’s picture.

Three times out of the presence of the jury, the lawyers and judge discussed certain prohibited and allowed practices relating to the way the defense lawyer could cross examine Pierce.

Judge Brosey noted the witness seemed evasive and hostile and directed prosecutors to make sure she knew she was was not excused from possibly having to return to the stand.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• The former treasurer for the Morton Athletic Association was given no jail time but ordered to pay restitution and fines after she pleaded guilty to first-degree theft today in connection with misappropriated M.A.A. funds that were kept in the Morton bank where she worked. Sarah J. Erskine, 34, of Morton, paid back the money she took before the case was brought to the attention of police, lawyers said today. Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg and defense attorney Don Blair both asked the judge to sentence Erskine to zero days in jail. Blair said his client knew it wasn’t right but her husband lost his logging job in 2011 and she used the funds to make ends meet at home, periodically replacing them. Charging documents initially alleged the amount in question to be upwards of $12,000. Blair said Erskine even borrowed money to pay back $3,000 she didn’t think she owed but the association did. Eisenberg said Erskine believes she’s paid it all back but he’s looking further as it seems there still may a few hundred dollars owed. Eisenberg said in this case the social stigma of a felony and the secondary consequences such as losing her voting and firearms rights seems to be enough of a punishment. Lewis County Superior Court  Judge James Lawler agreed.

THEFT

• A wedding ring and several pairs of ear rings were reported stolen from a residence on the 600 block of F Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday.

• Police were called yesterday afternoon about charges on a person’s credit cad which were unauthorized in connection with the the 500 block of Hillkress Street in Centralia .

• Centralia police took a report yesterday afternoon regarding a wallet stolen from a vehicle while it was parked at an individual’s workplace on the 1000 block of West Main Street.

CAMERA MAN

• Chehalis police were called about a man taking pictures near Chehalis Middle School yesterday. It was a third-hand report and while an officer has not found the man or the person who saw it, a check on the vehicle he was driving didn’t turn up anything concerning, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

WRECKS

• Two cars were totaled and two two people injured after a collision this morning on westbound state Route 508 about seven miles west of Morton. Troopers called about 8:45 a.m. to the scene near Dodge Road found a Honda Accord tried to pass a Ford Pinto attempting to make a left turn. Roze L. Tronsen, 26, of Palouse, and Bret D. Dearth, of Spokane, 42, were both transported to Morton General Hospital, according to the state patrol.

• A 22-year-old motorist apparently escaped with no injury when his car went into the river off state Route 508 near Carlisle Road in Onalaska yesterday afternoon, according to the Washington State Patrol. A spokesperson for the state patrol said this morning they didn’t know much about it as the driver, Ryan Andrade, crawled out and called from home at about 1:20 p.m. A tow company was called to remove the1991 Honda Accord from the water, Trooper Will Finn said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving without a license, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarms, shoplifting, someone writing on a wall at the Juvenile Justice Center; complaint about barking dogs … and more.

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Ryan Andrade’s Honda sits off the roadway yesterday. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol

Body found in Packwood mushroom picking area

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A body was found today near Packwood in the area where the 68-year-old Auburn man went missing a week and a half ago.

Saykham Tiansevilay was reported missing Sept. 29, when he didn’t return home from hunting mushrooms the day before.

Search and rescue teams gave up their search last Friday.

A spokesperson for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said he didn’t know yet if the body is confirmed to be Tiansevilay.

The sheriff’s office got the call around 3 p.m., a deputy was responding  and the coroner’s office was on its way up there, Sgt. Rob Snaza said. Snaza didn’t yet have any other details.

More than 25 search and rescue personnel began combing the densely forested area around Forest Service Road 47 approximately five miles northwest of Packwood last Wednesday and found the man’s truck, with a dead battery. The area was covered multiple times by multiple teams.

Last Friday, the sheriff’s office put out a call to the public for information, in case Tiansevilay had attempted to walk out or perhaps even gotten a lift from someone.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Gene Seiber said yesterday the man’s cell phone was located in his truck and it showed he attempted to call family and friends that Saturday evening until 2 o’clock the following morning and then began calling again from 5 a.m. until 8:30 a.m.

Seiber was puzzled about what could have happened, saying it was the only the third time in his 23 years as search and rescue coordinator that someone was not found.

The family has stayed up in the area continuing to look for him, he said.

The search area was at an elevation of about 2,500 feet, with no snow on the ground, although filled with many deep and narrow canyons, according to Seiber. It is also an area well-traveled with mushroom hunters this time of year, he said.

Snaza said he expected further information would be available in the morning.

UPDATE: The family of the missing mushroom hunter found his body near the top of a ridge above Williame Creek – well within the search area. It appeared Tiansevilay slid approximately 40 feet down a steep embankment and may have suffered from hypothermia, according to the sheriff’s office.

News brief: Truck, SUV collide on state Route 6

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
Cheyenne, may i use your photo to go with my news story on LewisCountySirens.com? i would give you credit ... let me know ... news reporter, sharyn decker

1998 Chevrolet Blazer / Courtesy photo by Cheyenne Sayad

This news item was updated at 6:46 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 19-year-old Chehalis area resident was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after his Chevrolet Blazer drove into the path of a semi truck on state Route 6 near Adna yesterday evening.

Troopers and aid called about 5:15 p.m. to the scene two miles west of Chehalis found the SUV had spun out and come to rest in the eastbound lane; the big rig ran off the shoulder into the ditch.

Darrick B. Cruz’s SUV was totaled, according to the Washington State Patrol. The truck driver was reportedly uninjured.

According to the investigating trooper, the 1994 Freightliner was westbound on state Route 6 when Cruz entered from Chilvers Road and stopped in the the westbound lane, causing the truck to swerve into the east lane in an attempt to avoid it. Then the SUV then moved south into the east lane where it was struck, according to the state patrol.

A spokesperson for the state patrol said he believed Cruz may have been attempting to turn left, but wasn’t sure.

“He was unconscious, so we don’t know what he was trying to do,” Trooper Will Finn said.

Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life as there was major “intrusion” into the driver’s side, according to Lewis County Fire District 6. The patient suffered possible head injuries and what Chief Tim Kinder called multi-system trauma – very serious injuries.

Cruz was in the intensive care unit listed in serious condition about 9:30 a.m. today.

Both were wearing seat belts. The semi truck was towed, according to the state patrol.

The cause of the collision is under investigation.

Maurin murder trial: Defense attorney tells of two other suspects

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
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Ricky A. Riffe listens to Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer give his opening statements in the double murder trial in Lewis County Superior Court.

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Finally today, folks heard a different version of the events from December 1985, that led up to the deaths of Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin, the elderly couple who vanished from their house in Ethel and whose bodies were found days later dumped off a logging road near Adna.

It wasn’t Ricky A. Riffe, his lawyer explained, as he told jurors they would hear from a witness who saw the Maurin’s car kind of fishtailing, along with something like a blue LeMans that seemed to be with it.

In the couple’s green car were the Maurins along with two others, defense attorney John Crowley said.

“One guy was a big fella, probably 240 pounds,” Crowley said.

His client weighed about 130 pounds at that time, he said.

“Another person in the car was smaller, but still larger than Rick,” he said.

Riffe, 55, is on trial in Lewis County Superior Court, charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery and burglary.

Since his arrest last year, prosecutors have contended longtime suspects Riffe and his now-deceased brother John Gregory Riffe somehow got into the couple’s home on U.S. Highway 12, uncovered bank records and forced the couple to go with them to their bank in Chehalis  to withdraw $8,500 before shooting them in the backs.

The former Lewis County resident was brought from his home in King Salmon, Alaska, to the jail where he’s been held on $5 million bail. Numerous pretrial hearings later, lawyers finally made their opening statements this afternoon in the Chehalis courtroom.

“This fella is innocent,” Crowley told the jury. “They have charged the wrong person.”

A jury of five men and seven women have been told they could be serving for up to six weeks. Prosecutors plan for some 200 individuals to give testimony and more than 400 items to be presented as evidence during the trial.

Crowley began by saying his client was just a regular guy, who was born in Ketchikan and lived in logging camps until age 14. His family came to Lewis County but later, when he was having trouble finding work, decided to go back to Alaska where he still had family.

He admitted Riffe had gotten into what many refer to as a poor man’s cocaine – methamphetamine. Nothing about his activities were unusual compared to others in his age group, Crowley said.

His client, who is expected to take the witness stand at some point, won’t even be able say when he first heard about the Maurin’s deaths, he said.

Crowley spent much of 30 minutes discussing various witnesses and evidence the jury would hear.

The autopsies showed the Maurins ate breakfast that morning, the dished were done, their house was clean, he said.

“The thing about the Maurin’s, it was probably known they had money,” he said. “They were well known in the community.”

Someone from Sterling Savings Bank was going to explain how Ed Maurin phoned, wanting to withdraw money, because his children wanted him to get a new car, he said, and when he arrived, he was his usual “good natured” self.

“These people were horribly murdered, without a doubt,” Crowley said.

But there’s only one person who claims to have seen Riffe in the car with the Maurins, and he was only 14 years at the time, he said. And it was years later when police finally hear from him, he said.

Jurors can also expect to hear from an inmate who claims Riffe has confessed since he’s been in the Lewis County Jail, but that person has given information on three cases in his desire to get out, according to Crowley.

“He’s innocent. Innocent,” he said. “I’ll ask you to find him not guilty of each of these charges.”

In contrast today, elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer spoke for only 13 minutes, giving the jurors a run down of what was to come.

It wasn’t normal for Ed Maurin to do the banking, Meyer said. Yet he called the bank and went into the bank, insisting he wanted his money in $100 bills.

The day after the Maurins disappeared, and their blood-stained car was found parked in the lot at Yard Birds in Chehalis, leads started pouring in, according to Meyer.

“Green Army coat, blue jeans, carrying a gun, stocking cap,” Meyer said. “That’s the description police got of someone walking away from Yard Birds.”

And in the early 1990s, Rick and his brother John Gregory Riffe became suspects, he said.

Jurors will hear how both men are picked out on photo montage’s, he said.

Rick Riffe and his wife begin acting strange around Christmastime, witnesses tell of being threatened and the Riffes flee to Alaska, according to Meyer.

“Rick starts an online relationship with a wife of a witness,” he said. “Rick even goes so far as to trying to get one witness to move to Alaska.”

Meyer notes all the blood and DNA evidence came back to match the Maurins and their family.

“Lack of fingerprints, hair, DNA, does not mean a crime did not happen,” he said.

Jurors will hear of a witness who heard the Riffes planning the crime, and Rick Riffe admitting to the crimes, he said.

Three family members of the Maurins testified this afternoon, the first two telling about the day the couple went missing, Dec. 19, 1985.

The Maurin’s then-daughter-in-law Shirley Hadaller said Wilhelmina “Minnie” Maurin was holding the monthly luncheon for an older ladies church group. It was extra special because of the holidays and the husbands were invited, jurors would soon hear. She and Dennis Hadaller lived about a mile away, she said.

The guests arrived, and the Maurins weren’t home.

“One of the ladies called me, there was no one there,” Shirley Hadaller testified.

She told of finding the house locked, the car gone and one of Minnie’s sons crawling through a window, so they could get inside. She called Minnie’s daughter who drove up from Toledo with her husband, she said.

Hazel Oberg then told the jury of arriving in the evening, and searching the house with other family members.

They found bank statements near the telephone, a box with bank statements on the floor of the bathroom and her mother’s purse beneath a newspaper beside the chair she always sat in, she said.

“I said, oh, this isn’t right,” Oberg said, having noted the couple who raised beef and leased their land for Christmas tree growing kept their financial matters very private and wouldn’t leave records laying around.

She made many phone calls that night, she said.

“I just kept calling,” Oberg said. ” I called the hospitals, I called their friends, I called my aunt and uncle.”

The Maurin’s grandson who was about 20 years old at the time was the final witness of the day.

Michael Hadaller said he lived about a mile down U.S. Highway 12 and worked with his father at his namesake business, Dennis Hadaller Logging. He described the two of them driving by his grandparent’s place about 5:30 a.m. that day and seeing a light on in the bedroom window.

“(My father) made the comment, it’s awfully early for the lights to be on,” Michael Hadaller said. “I said, grandpa’s probably up going to the bathroom.”

Michael Hadaller testified he later went to work in Alaska for about eight years and went there to look for the Riffe brothers but never caught up with them.

“So you believed they took out your grandparents, and you were going to take them out?” Crowley asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Kill them?”

“Yes.”

Testimony is expected to resume in the morning.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Updated at 7:22 p.m.

BIKE VERSUS POLICE VEHICLE

• Firefighters called to a collision between a bicyclist and a Chehalis Police Department patrol vehicle last night found the 21-year-old man uninjured. It was shortly before 8:30 p.m. when the bicyclist was traveling southbound on Market Boulevard and collided with the front end of the eastbound police SUV at Park Street, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Aust was asked to investigate and determined the young man was at fault because he was going the wrong way, he said. He won’t be cited though, Aust said. “It kinda knocked him up onto the hood a little bit and then onto the ground,” Aust said. There was minor damage to the bicycle, according to Aust.

VEHICLE THEFT

• A red Chevrolet Blazer was reported stolen yesterday from the 1000 block of Mellen Street in Centralia. The vehicle broke down on Saturday and when the owner returned to tow it away, it was gone, according to the Centralia Police Department. The license plate reads ADK 6668, according to police.

MISSING PURSE

• Centralia police took a report about 2:50 p.m. yesterday from the 1800 block of Taylor Avenue regarding a resdential burglary and a missing Coach purse. It was silver with pink rose, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BARN BURGLARY

• A 37-year-old Winlock man was arrested yesterday for second-degree burglary as well as possession and trafficking of stolen property related to  a break-in to a barn at the 400 block of Hawkins Road in Winlock, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Barry W. Worley was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office. Missing was a camouflage pack containing various tools, according to Sgt. Rob Snaza.

DOMESTIC ISSUE

• A 34-year-old Chehalis area resident was arrested for felony harassment yesterday in Centralia after numerous alleged violations of of a no-contact order regarding his ex-wife. Mylo S. Armitage was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with police about 12:45 p.m. at the 900 block of South Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

ELUDING

• A 40-year-old Randle man was arrested yesterday afternoon at his home on the 100 block of Kelly Lane in connection with allegedly fleeing sheriff’s deputies the evening before in the area of U.S. Highway 12 and Silverbrook Road in Randle, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Jake N. Dunaway was booked into the Lewis County Jail for eluding and warrants, according to the sheriff’s office.

CAR PROWL

• Police were contacted about 11:25 a.m. yesterday about a laptop computer missing from a vehicle on the 1600 block of Gails Avenue in Chehalis. It wasn’t clear how someone got inside, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police took a report about noon yesterday from the 700 block of North Pearl Street that someone had slashed a tire on a vehicle during the night.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, shoplifting, a transient sleeping on a church’s steps; complaint about neighbor with loud music, a person who asked another person for money and was rude when he was told no … and more.

Jury may be picked tomorrow in Maurin murder trial

Monday, October 7th, 2013
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Ricky Allen Riffe, far right, talks with his lawyer John Crowley as the defense team sorts through questionnaires filled out by scores of prospective jurors during a recess in Riffe’s murder trial.

by Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Judge Richard Brosey is hoping a jury can be selected by noon tomorrow, so opening statements can be made in a Lewis County double murder trial some have waited almost 28 years to begin.

Ricky Allen Riffe, 54, was wearing street clothes in court today, instead of the jail garb and shackles he’s worn in each court appearance since his arrest in July of last year.

The 54-year-old former Lewis County resident who relocated to Alaska in 1987 is charged in the abduction and shotgun deaths in December 1985 of an elderly Ethel couple, Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin.

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Ed and Minnie Maurin

At the Lewis County courthouse in Chehalis, scores of potential jurors spent the day undergoing questioning so lawyers can pare down the large group to a panel of 12.

Presiding in the large courtroom on the fourth floor, Brosey asked for a show of hands of any who know or are acquainted with the attorneys, the defendant, and the individuals on the lengthy list of witnesses expected to testify.

When he asked who among the 131 citizens couldn’t possibly serve for the entire time in a trial that could go as long as six weeks, most in the room raised their hands. Nearly half the room was excused after individual questioning about the hardship it would cause.

Riffe is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery, as well as one count of burglary.

Numerous aggravating circumstances are alleged including particularly vulnerable victims and deliberate cruelty. Ed Maurin was 81 years old, his wife 83.

Prosecutors believe Riffe and his now-deceased brother John Gregory Riffe got into the couple’s home on U.S. Highway 12, uncovered bank records and forced the couple to go with them to their bank in Chehalis  to withdraw $8,500 before shooting them in the backs inside their car, according to charging documents. Their bodies were found off a logging road near Adna on Christmas Eve days later.

Most of the rest of today was spent with Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead and defense attorney John Crowley probing the remaining 70 prospective jurors in open court about their ability to be impartial.

Many were excused, mostly as they insisted they’d already made up their minds and could not be fair. Like Sandy Bowen of Onalaska who was in her early 20s when the Maurins were slain.

“I understand you think Ricky Riffe is guilty and should get the death penalty,” Crowley said as he addressed Bowen.

She agreed.

“It changed our town, it’s all we heard for the next 25 years,” Bowen said.

Outside the courtroom, Bowen recalled how many in the small community no longer felt safe, how many learned to shoot guns and became licensed to carry them concealed on their person because there was a killer at large.

“We didn’t know where they were,” she said.

Brosey reminded the potential jurors Riffe has pleaded not guilty and the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of the crimes, and that the jury will have the duty to determine the facts which they will then apply to the law.

Riffe, through his attorney, says he did not do it.

The trial will run 9:30 a.m. until noon and then 1:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. each week day, although the judge has said it’s possible there will be a day or portion of a day it goes into recess.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Updated at 5:59 p.m.

SWAT TEAM IN GLENOMA

• A SWAT team served a search warrant just before 7 a.m. on the 8000 block of U.S. Highway 12 in Glenoma on Friday, arresting a 41-year-old man following a drug investigation. Robert A. Young was booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession and delivery of methamphetamine, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

STOLEN TRUCK LEADS TO CHASE

• A 28-year-old man was booked into the Lewis County Jail following a pursuit from Centralia into Thurston County on Friday afternoon involving a stolen vehicle. Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Rob Snaza said a deputy was responding to the 100 block of McAtee Road about 4 p.m. when advised of a burglary taking place nearby at the 100 block of Haliday Road. A police dog track led them to the 200 block of Haliday Road where they learned a Ford F150 pickup was just taken by a person with the same description, according to Snaza. Deputies chased the truck, joined by the state patrol, Tenino police and the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, which ended up crashing, with the suspect fleeing on foot before he was apprehended, Snaza said. Steven C. Elmendorf, from Kent, was arrested for numerous offenses including an alleged hit and run in which someone was injured, according to Snaza.

OLD DYNAMITE

• A deputy was called on Saturday morning to the 400 block of North Military Road in Winlock after a new homeowner discovered explosives in an outbuilding in a field behind the home, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The bomb squad from the Washington State Patrol responded and detonated some of the items at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office. Among the findings were old dynamite, primer cord and blasting caps, Sgt. Rob Snaza said. Firefighters came and helped burn down the small structure, according to Snaza.

BURGLARY

• Chehalis police were called to the 600 block of Northwest Ohio Avenue on Friday afternoon for an attempted burglary; a shoe print was found on the garage door, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Someone burglarized the same residence about a week earlier, removing a 9 mm pistol and some boxes of items, Officer Linda Bailey said.

VEHICLE THEFT

• Police took a report yesterday from the 1000 block of Grand Avenue in Centralia of a stolen car. The white 1996 Ford Taurus went missing sometime in the previous two weeks, according to the Centralia Police Department. It has a license plate reading AIT 6218, according to police.

• The sheriff’s office took a report about 5 p.m. yesterday of a three-quarter ton 1974 Chevrolet pickup truck stolen from the 200 block of Boistfort Road west of Chehalis. The owner, a 23-year-old Pe Ell resident, said it had broken down the night before, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

DRUGS

• Centralia police arrested a 51-year-old man for possession of methamphetamine at about 10:30 p.m. yesterday. Alden D. Herbert was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer at the 1300 block of Lakeshore Drive, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Police were called just before 1 p.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowl at the 200 block of Tilley Road in Centralia. Nothing appeared to be missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• A Centralia officer took yet another report yesterday of a vehicle shot with a BB gun in Centralia. The back window of a truck was struck at the 300 block of West Sixth Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

• Police responded about 9:35 p.m. yesterday to a hit and run collision at the 600 block of Yakima Street in Centralia. in which two vehicles were struck. The suspect vehicle was described as a black Dodge Durango with a known license plate number, according to the Centralia Police Department. A summons is being issued to a 32-year-old Seattle man, according to police.

• A 65-year-old Winlock woman sustained minor injuries when she lost control of her car just before 4 p.m. yesterday at the 200 block of Oyler Road near Ethel and rolled it onto its top, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The car was totaled, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A motorist was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle from Packwood yesterday after getting run over by her own vehicle. Firefighters called to the 100 block of Main Street East found the woman was leaving her place of business when she began swatting at a bee on her shirt and exited her SUV before putting it in park, according to Lewis County Fire District 10. She tried to get back in but ended up beneath the vehicle which dragged her, leaving her with leg injuries, Chief Lonnie Goble said. The sheriff’s office said 56-year-old Donna Breidstein’s Ford Explorer also rolled into a parked car

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, violation of no contact order, shoplifting, hit and run; responses for alarms, misdemeanor assault, disputes, rear-end collision, intoxicated person laying on side of road; complaint of barking neighbor dog  … and more.

Who do you want deciding money matters at your fire department?

Monday, October 7th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The general election is less than a month away, and along with various ballot measures and other choices for the voting public to make, there are nine fire districts around Lewis County which will see contested races for the position of fire commissioner.

Lewis County has 18 fire districts, the majority of which are run by a three-member board of commissioners. They are the mostly unpaid volunteers who are in charge of the finances and budgets to operate fire protection and emergency medical services in each community.

Today is the deadline for voter registration, address changes and other updates citizens might need to make with the elections division at the Lewis County Auditor’s Office. New Washington state residents get until Oct. 28.

Ballots for the all-vote-by-mail election will be sent out on Oct. 18. They must be returned with a postmark either before, or on, election day Nov. 5.

Two organizations will have levies on the ballot: Lewis County Fire District 17 in Mineral and Lewis County Fire District 14 in Randle.

See the online voter’s guide with information about candidates and measures. Following are the races to check out, according to the sample ballot from the auditor’s office:

Lewis County Fire District 2 in Toledo
• Curtis M. Feigenbaum
• Jacqui Spahr

Lewis County Fire District 4 in Morton
• Gerald Klepach
• Douglas L. Osterdahl

Lewis County Fire District 5 in Napavine
• Lyle Hojem
• Donald Ragan
• Kevin VanEgdom

Lewis County Fire District 8 in Salkum
• George Kaech
• Don Taylor

Lewis County Fire District 11 in Pe Ell
• Randy Coady
• John Woods

Lewis County Fire District 14 in Randle
• Frank Kittock
• Kenneth Lindh

Lewis County Fire District 18 in Glenoma
• Richard Kain
• Fred Jurey

Cowlitz-Lewis Fire District 20 in Vader
• Terry Williams
• Scott D. Horton

Riverside Fire Authority in Centralia
• Harlan E. Thompson
• Rick Conklin

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, October 6th, 2013
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The aftermath of failure to use safety chains when towing trailer. / Courtesy photo by Trian DelaMater

THE TINY SHIP WAS TOSSED

• A small boat took an unexpected detour off its trailer and onto the sidewalk along South Gold Street in Centralia last night, narrowly missing a building. Responders arriving after the approximately 8:30 p.m. mishap found two vehicles damaged in the used car lot belonging to Sunny Valley Sales. “We’re fortunate it actually hit the cars instead not the showroom,” Debbie Mills said. She and her husband Brad Mills had just left the business moments earlier and were at home not far away. “Brad was outside with our dogs and said he heard the worst racket ever,” she said. “Then a friend called and said you’d better get down here.” Tow truck driver Aaron Towman (not his real last name, but the name he goes by) said he believed the driver was coming down off the viaduct and the trailer began to bounce before coming unhitched. Towman said the errant trailer must have been clipping along fairly fast as its tongue stabbed through the grill of a Ford F250 pickup and the boat continued on, knocking down the business’s tall sign. That landed on the roof of a Nissan Maxima. Police say they cited the 53-year-old Onalaska man for losing his load. Marc Vonsovic was towing his trailer without safety chains, according to the Centralia Police Department. “The worst thing is, that truck was going to be sold tomorrow,” Debbie Mills said.

DRUGS AND STUFF

• A 44-year-old man from Port Hadlock was arrested about 5:30 a.m. today at the 400 block of East Plum Street in connection with a stolen Madza recovered by police there – which had recently been involved in a hit and run accident – for warrants and also for possession of methamphetamine, according to the Centralia Police Department. Earnest E. Farris was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

CARS SHOT

• Police were called just before 11 a.m. yesterday to the 600 block of Fulton Street in Centralia where several vehicle windows were broken, apparently shot at with a BB or pellet gun, according to the Centralia Police Department. Similar reports were taken earlier in the morning on Oxford Avenue.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, misdemeanor domestic assault, misdemeanor theft; responses for minor collisions … and more.

Maurin murder trial: Twenty-seven-year-old case to commence in Chehalis

Friday, October 4th, 2013
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Ricky Riffe consults with defense team member Richard Davis in Lewis County Superior Court today during preparations for his murder trial.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – As many as 180 potential jurors will be questioned when the trial for the 1985 kidnapping and murder of an elderly Ethel couple opens next week.

Described as one of the most horrific homicides in Lewis County, prosecutors have said the targets were selected more or less at random, taken from their home prior to a Christmas party and forced to  drive to their bank to withdraw money before getting shot in their backs and dumped on a logging road.

One of the two long-suspected brothers – then in their 20s – who was arrested last year plans to take the witness stand in the weeks-long trial, according to his lawyer.

“He’s absolutely going to testify,” Seattle-based attorney John Crowley said today.

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Rick Riffe

Ricky Riffe, now 54, remains in the Lewis County Jail, held on $5 million bail since he was brought back to town from his home in Alaska a year ago in July. He is charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery and burglary, with numerous aggravating factors such as the vulnerability of the victims. His younger brother John Gregory Riffe died last summer.

The bodies of Ed Maurin, 81 and Wilhelmina “Minnie” Maurin, 83, were finally found on Christmas Eve days after they vanished from their home.

“This is a case where Mr. Riffe is going to tell the jury he did not do this, it’s going to be very simple,” Crowley told the judge today.

Lawyers on both sides met with Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey this morning to go over details for the trial that begins on Monday morning.

For the state, elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead are assisted by sheriff’s detective Bruce Kimsey.

On the other side, Crowley and his paralegal Richard Davis will be sharing the defense table with Riffe.

Likely, the judge will weed out those who cannot serve for the lengthy case before a questionnaire is filled out by those remaining.

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John Gregory Riffe

Crowley and prosecutors today discussed such issues as whether the  written inquiry should be so specific as to share that Riffe is charged as either the principal player or an accomplice in the crimes. It won’t.

Meyer requested a potential juror be excused now, since he works for the county and was needed to continue to help with the technical systems which will be used in the courtroom. He was.

Halstead said they’d like to take photos of the more than 200 witnesses they will call to the stand, which may be used  in a visual presentation during closing arguments. They can.

Judge Brosey said he wants six alternate jurors, in case any of the 12 chosen for any reason can’t continue.

Crowley was adamant they shouldn’t today address setting a trial date for an unrelated charge of child rape which prosecutors filed earlier this year.

He suggested that prosecutors were attempting to influence pre-trial publicity against his client and said it should not take place until after this jury is selected. Brosey postponed it.

They spoke of whether the Maurin’s car should have a place in the proceedings, and Crowley took the opportunity to note none of the 40 pieces of evidence collected from the car is connected to Riffe. The vehicle wasn’t preserved, Halstead said.

“Both sides have to deal with the fact this is a 27-year-old case,” Brosey said.

Both sides finally agreed they had all of the so-called discovery from the other – copies of all the statements, all the evidence, anything that either party plans to use in the case.

Prosecutors have more 400 items which will be presented as evidence during the trial.

Among the witnesses expected are a friend of the Riffes who said he used drugs with the brothers and recalled mentioning the couple must have a lot of money as the three drove past the Maurin’s house not long before their death; an individual who revealed in 2004 that John Riffe threatened to kill both him and his mother if he spoke about seeing the brothers with the Maurins in the Maurin’s car; another man interviewed in prison who said John Riffe paid him more than $2,000 in $100 bills for cocaine after the deaths; and numerous other people who have reportedly told detectives of seeing a man or men who matched the brothers’ descriptions at various key places that day, often noting one wearing a dark stocking cap, wearing an Army jacket or carrying a gun.

The trial will take place in the largest courtroom on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center. It can hold 150 individuals.

The judge said no person will be kept out from any part of the proceedings. It will take at least all day Monday to pick the jury, according to Halstead.

The attorneys have previously said the trial could last three to four weeks. The judge will be telling prospective jurors it could last as long as six weeks.

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Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead, right, Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, center, and sheriff’s detective Bruce Kimsey share the table on the left side of the courtroom.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Updated at 6:50 p.m.

SMALL FIRE CAUSES EVACUATION AT NURSING HOME

• A good portion of patients at a Centralia nursing home were evacuated today when a fire started inside a closet. Crews called just after 1 p.m. to the 1300 block of Alexander Street found smoke in the hallways and a wall burned. A heat lamp placed in the utility room that included the fire sprinkler controls had shifted its position and ignited the wall, Riverside Fire Authority Acting Capt. Jennifer Ternan said. Someone on the scene had already used a fire extinguisher on it, she said. Nobody was injured and nobody was treated for smoke inhalation, according to Ternan. She praised the staff of Riverside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for getting the residents outside in an organized and safe manner, even grabbing their medications and bringing a cart of water to the parking lot. They were allowed to return after about 40 minutes, she said.

MATTRESS NEXT TO HEATER IGNITES

• Firefighters were called to the 100 block of Meadow Drive in Adna just before 8 o’clock this morning when a small mattress pushed up against a wall heater caught fire. The residents were just getting ready to leave when a smoke alarm alerted them, according to Lewis County Fire District 6. Nobody was hurt, the fire was small and it was extinguished, Firefighter Kyle Eiswald said.

THEFT

• A 27-year-old Centralia woman was arrested after she was allegedly seen in someone else’s garage on the 400 block of Jefferson Street in Centralia yesterday morning. Some items were taken and some were recovered, such as jewelry, according to the Centralia Police Department. Santana L. Sanchez was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary, according to police.

DRUGS

• A 45-year-old Centralia man contacted by a community corrections officer was subsequently arrested for both an outstanding warrant and possession of methamphetamine yesterday morning. Dale A. Drew had some “scraper baggies'”which field tested positive for the drug, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• The former Thurston County Superior Court judicial assistant charged with growing marijuana was convicted in a bench trial yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court. Debbie Requa, 60, said it belonged to someone who rented her garage space and she thought what he was doing was above board. Judge James Lawler found her guilty of manufacturing marijuana. Lewis County Chief Criminal Prosecutor Brad Meagher said Requa faces a sentence of zero to six months in jail as a first-time offender.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, misdemeanor assault; responses for stolen / missing cash, building tagged with graffiti, a call about a male walking with a military-looking gun that turned out to be a kid who purchased an Air-soft gun at a pawn shop and was on his way home; complaint someone else’s vehicle is parked in caller’s spot, upstairs apartment neighbors are noisy; other as in a found wallet with cash and credit cards turned into the police department … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

WRECKS

• A 19-year-old Toledo resident escaped injury yesterday morning when a deer ran out in front of him as he was driving along the 600 block of Smokey Valley Road near Toledo. A deputy responding to the approximately 6:15 a.m. wreck learned that Cassius Hughes tried to avoid the animal, stepped on his brakes and went into a ditch, causing major damage to his 2008 Ford Focus, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A 29-year-old Toledo woman wrecked her vehicle but was unhurt when she lost control of her Toyota Forerunner, left the roadway, hit the ditch and rolled it onto its top. It happened about 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon at the 200 block of South Military Road near Winlock; the driver was Natasha Pogue, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. There was no mention of a deer.

FROM THE COURTS

• Former Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Hal Sprouse  won’t be getting his job back after the state Supreme Court denied his petition for review yesterday. Sprouse was fired in January 2010, and his termination was upheld by Lewis County Civil Service Commission. However, a Cowlitz County Superior Court hearing his case ruled in Sprouse’s favor. But Sheriff Steve Mansfield appealed the decision and won. In part, according to case documents, it was related to Sprouse’s actions after he received a letter of discipline as sheriff’s office command staff investigated a leak to the press of an outside investigation of the sheriff. Sprouse was let go after he claimed witness tampering to a deputy prosecutor, something the sheriff’s office felt was vindictive. For more background and links to some of the documents, look here.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, shoplifting; responses for disorderly subjects, protection order violation; complaint of a speeding blue Jetta; fire department response for a tree falling onto a power line, a minor collision between a car and a semi truck on Interstate 5 near the Chamber of Commerce Way interchange … and more.

Onalaska man loses bid for further look at manslaughter conviction in shooting case

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The conviction will stand for the Onalaska man who fatally shot a suspected burglar outside his house three years ago.

Ronald A. Brady was sentenced to just over five years in prison for the death of 56-year-old Thomas McKenzie of Morton.

2011.1231.ron.brady.yearend

Ronald A. Brady, convicted

The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office got word yesterday the Washington Supreme Court denied Brady’s petition for review.

Brady argued self defense in his June 2011 trial. He avoided a first-degree murder conviction, but a jury found him guilty of second-degree manslaughter.

He told sheriff’s detectives he was staying overnight at the uninhabited house he owns on the 2100 block of state Route 508 in case burglars from earlier in the day returned. The then-59-year-old described opening the garage door and finding flashlights shined in his face and then firing several times with a .22 caliber rifle.

The rejection by the court means he will stay behind bars.

“It means the defendant petitioned the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals affirmation of his conviction,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh said. “And the Supreme Court said no, we’re not going to look at it.”

Through his attorney, Brady had appealed on several grounds, including contending the court erred when it refused to give his proposed jury instruction on the right to resist the commission of a felony. The appeals court said in its April decision the facts of the case did not support such an instruction, as any felony that may have been committed did not pose an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm to Brady.

Longview lawyer John A. Hays said that actually wasn’t his strongest argument.

Hays said his main concern was jurors were not allowed to hear information that showed McKenzie and his wife were there to steal. Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt kept that out saying the defendant didn’t know it at the time, he said.

“I don’t think the evidence was presented fairly at all,” Hays said. “Of course the trial court didn’t see it that way, neither did the appeals court or the Supreme Court.”

The shooting occurred on April, 19, 2010. Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield believed Brady’s use of force was justifiable, and declined to arrest him. The prosecutor’s office reviewed the case and filed charges the following September.

Brady is housed at Cedar Creek Corrections Center, a minimum security facility near Littlerock, according to the state Department of Corrections. The earliest he could be released, with so-called good time, is January 2016.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said he didn’t think yesterday’s rejection by the Supreme Court necessarily clarified questions such as can a person use deadly force to protect property or how much does it matter if the person shot is inside or outside a house.

“I don’t think so, because this wasn’t self defense,” Meyer said. “It may make it more clear what self defense isn’t.”

There are so many variables, he said, he can’t give an easy answer or a checklist for what’s okay.

“Any action you take against another is going to be reviewed at multiple levels,” he said. “There’s no clear cut answer.”

Meyer did offer this however: “If someone acts in self defense, they are protected by the law.”

•••

For background, read “Breaking news: Onalaska murder trial: Guilty of second-degree manslaughter” from Friday June 24, 2011, here

Read the decision

News brief: Mushroom hunter search resumes

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The search continues today in the forest outside Packwood for the 68-year-old Auburn man who didn’t return home from a Saturday mushroom gathering outing.

More than 25 search and rescue personnel set out yesterday morning in the area northwest of Packwood following the discovery of his vehicle the afternoon before on Forest Service Road 47.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown indicated this morning she believes the same teams, along with family and friends, are out there looking today.

The man’s family reported him missing on Sunday, but a ground search didn’t start until late Tuesday afternoon when his family found his vehicle. The sheriff’s office says he wasn’t equipped to be outdoors for more than a few hours.