Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

Lawsuit: Glenoma families fault logging practices for 2009 mudslide damage

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Glenoma mudslides. / Courtesy photo Washington State Department of Natural Resources

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Almost four years ago, while the public’s attention was turned to predictions of flooding on major rivers in Western Washington, forecasters were warning the coming heavy rains would swell small streams and increase the likelihood of landslides.

In Morton, an estimated three feet of snow on the ground melted down to two in about 12 hours.

Rain-saturated snow collapsed roofs. Creeks and rivers overflowed and changed courses and hillsides of trees and mud slid into houses, yards and across roadways.

It was Jan. 7, 2009.

Interstate 5 was closed from exit 68 and to the north through Lewis County because of water over the freeway. At the same time, U.S. Highway 12 between Morton and Packwood was shut down with multiple mudslides.

The Glenoma area was especially hard hit.

Lawyers representing 11 families wrapped up closing arguments in Lewis County Superior Court today in a trial in which a timber company is being asked to repay them for the damages.

Seattle-based lawyer David Bricklin contends Menasha Forest Products, purchased in 2007 by The Campbell Group based in Portland, clear cut a steep unstable slope above Glenoma causing a number of properties to be buried by mud on Jan. 7, 2009.

Menasha’s attorney Bud Fallon says the huge storm with an unprecedented amount of water started a process of erosion which caused great damage. But no one was hurt, and no one was killed, Fallon said.

The trial began Nov. 1 before Judge Nelson Hunt.

The “harvest unit” in question was about 118 acres of Douglas Fir clear-cut in the year 2000, according to Fallon.

Fallon spoke to the jury today of multiple slides that ripped whole trees from the ground, and sent boulders, rocks and 16,000 cubic feet of soil down the hillside.

He said Menasha followed the logging rules set by the Department of Natural Resources.

“This isn’t a landslide, you can see clearly this is erosion,” he said. “The run off would have been the same whether the harvest occurred or not.”

The plaintiff’s attorney Bricklin argued it was a big storm, but one that could have been anticipated and taken into account.

The huge storm of 1996 didn’t cause anything similar, he said.

“What’s different between 1996 and 2009?” Bricklin asked. “One difference of course is the fact it’s been clear-cut.

“The geology didn’t change, the slope didn’t change, but the vegetation on it did.”

Bricklin noted some unique features on this site, such as slopes higher than 31 percent situated directly above homes.

“Menasha was willing to take the risk,” he said.

Olympia attorney Robert Wright filed the lawsuit in November 2010 on behalf of Glenoma residents Jerome and Bessie Hurley and others. The plaintiffs involved in the case were affected by the Martin Road slides.

Bricklin said they are asking Menasha to cover in the neighborhood of $100,000 to $750,000 per family.

Jurors began deliberating just after 3:30 p.m. today and will resume in the morning.

Seven of the original plaintiffs – from around the Lunch Creek area – will see their case go to trial in April of next year.

The Roadside Inn Tavern on U.S. Highway was destroyed during the same storm from a different mudslide, according to Wright.

Another suit filed by Wright is pending, involving Manke Timber Co. and five individuals who lived on Bear Mountain Road on the south side of the Tilton River near Morton.

Koralynn Fister: Attorneys to argue over evidence prior to homicide by abuse trial

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

James Reeder waits to be escorted out of the courtroom and back down to the jail.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A judge will decide if some of the information gathered by police during their death investigation of a Centralia toddler will be kept from jurors, details James Reeder’s attorney said were obtained illegally.

Reeder, 26, is charged with homicide by abuse and other related offenses regarding the May death of his live-in girlfriend’s daughter, 2-year-old Koralynn Fister.

Reeder claimed he found her face down in the bathtub and carried the naked and unbreathing child to neighbors across the street from her house asking them to call 911 while he attempted CPR.

Prosecutors allege Reeder tortured and raped the child. According to the coroner, Koralynn died from drowning and head trauma.

Defense attorney David Arcuri filed a motion to suppress evidence in Lewis County Superior Court, alleging a Centralia police detective went inside the home on West Oakview Street the afternoon of May 24 purportedly to see if there was another child in the residence even though other officers had told him they’d already checked inside for anyone else.

The information detective Pat Beall obtained while inside is what Arcuri is trying to get tossed out, according to Arcuri.

According to the written motion, Beall walked through the house and found no other children. He then dipped his hand into the bath water, finding it cold to his touch.

Beall notified the hospital and was told the child’s temperature was 84 degrees while in the emergency room, according to Arcuri.

The fire department had been called the scene at 3:09 p.m. and Koralynn was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 4:15 p.m.

Beall’s information and more was given to Lewis County District Court Judge R.W. Buzzard to then obtain a search warrant for the house, according to Arcuri.

“If you conduct a search without a warrant, it’s presumptively bad,” Arcuri said today.

The other side must show it was okay, according to Arcuri.

Reeder and his attorney went before a judge briefly this morning to schedule a hearing on the matter.

The arguments will be heard on Jan. 11. Reeder’s trial is set for the end of January.

Reeder remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $5 million bail.

For background, read “Defendant in Centralia toddler death by abuse case pleads not guilty” from Thursday July 12, 2012, here

News brief: Defendant pleads not guilty in fatal shooting in Centralia

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Weston G. Miller goes before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court to plead not guilty to murder.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Centralia resident Weston G. Miller pleaded not guilty today in the March shooting death of his houseguest at Miller’s B Street home.

The former welder has been held in the Lewis County Jail since his arrest, unable to make his pleas to first-degree murder because of a question whether he was competent to stand trial.

Miller, 30, told police he acted in self-defense, but prosecutors say it was unprovoked attack when he shot 43-year-old David Wayne Carson twice in the chest area.

Miller pleaded not guilty today to first-degree murder and five counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm in Lewis County Superior Court.

When police searched the home they found five guns, a silencer, a laser site for a gun and a bullet-proof vest, according to charging documents.

Miller’s only criminal history includes a two-year-old fourth-degree assault gross misdemeanor, but that meant he was prohibited from possessing guns.

Carson, a Centralia resident who had just signed up for college and was going to learn to fly so he could go work in Alaska, died on March 13.

A trial was set for the week of February 4.

Miller’s attorney J.P. Enbody has said the issue of insanity – at the time of the incident – could still come up.

For background, read “B Street homicide: Defendant says self defense” from Wednesday March 14, 2012, here

Toledo teen pleads guilty to baseball bat assault on dad

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Toledo High School student charged with hitting his father in the head with a baseball bat this summer pleaded guilty yesterday to a lesser crime, but still in adult court.

The boy, who turned 17 about a month ago, was arrested in mid-July and charged in adult court with first-degree assault, a felony for which he faced as long as 12 years in prison, according to Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke.

Charging documents contended he came upon his parents arguing about the father’s extramarital affairs and struck his dad with a metal bat.

When police and aid were called to the Toledo home, the father Leslie Bagley was unconscious on the floor with what was described as major trauma to his head, according to authorities.

O’Rourke said he understood the injuries included multiple skull fractures, although they appear to have healed.

Prosecutors had to get a court order to get interviews with the parents.

The teenager was in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday, where he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, but still in adult court as prosecutors insisted, according to O’Rourke.

“This is about as close as you can get to being a mortal injury,” he said. “It could have been murder two, that’s why we stuck to our guns.”

The standard sentencing range he now faces is 15 to 21 months, which includes a deadly weapon enhancement for the baseball bat.

O’Rourke called it a good outcome, that takes into account the defendant’s age, their desires and community safety.

Defense attorney Chris Baum said his client made the choice to take the plea agreement. He called it a tough situation.

“It’s kind of a sad case all the way around,” Baum said. “The victim didn’t want him prosecuted, but the state insisted.”

Sentencing will occur in January.


For background, read “Toledo teen charged in adult court for allegedly taking bat to father’s head” from Tuesday July 24, 2012, here

Winlock High School grad gets 25 plus years for molestation

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

A jail guard takes Reginald L. Juntunen’s finger prints before leading him out of the courtroom.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Twenty-four-year-old Reginald L. Juntunen told the court he’s truly sorry for molesting an 8-year-old girl before a judge gave the Winlock man a sentence of 25 years to life.

Juntunen was in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon following a plea agreement that avoids a trial for the girl who is now 13 years old.

His parents, sister, grandmother and friends filled two rows on one side of the Chehalis courtroom while the victim’s father sat in the back in the opposite corner.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke read a statement from the father, who wrote of the day five years ago in the Mossyrock campground that forever changed the carefree life of his then 8-year-old child.

He thanked Juntunen for not killing her, and for admitting what he did.

“She’s very happy you’ll be going away for a long time, and won’t be able to hurt anyone again,” O’Rourke read.


Reginald L. Juntunen, two years ago at a Christian event

Juntunen was arrested this summer after he was identified through DNA as a suspect in the unsolved case from September 2007. He pleaded guilty last month to first-degree child molestation, for sexually assaulting the girl in a campground restroom.

The plea agreement contained an aggravating factor, that the offense was predatory.

The case was originally charged as rape and numerous related offenses but lawyers on the two sides settled on  child molestation, involving sexual contact with the girl.

Defense attorney Chris Baum said told the judge he knew his words wouldn’t change the sentence which is set by statute, but described a client who from the start accepted responsibility for what he did.

Baum said he’s known the Winlock High School graduate for a long time and was surprised by the charges.

“He unfortunately had abused too many drugs and too much alcohol,” Baum said.

Juntunen was enrolled in Lewis County Drug Court when he was charged in the case.

With a box of tissue at his side and with lengthy pauses during which he sniffled, Juntunen spoke of his shame for his behavior and of falling short of his family’s expectations. He kept his back to the courtroom benches and news cameras during the entirety of the hearing.

“As an early teen, I strayed away to a life heavily influenced by drugs and alcohol,” he said. “My morals and values were lost in my addiction.”

He vowed to use his time in prison to better himself.

O’Rourke also read a letter from the victim, in which she described having to stay close to her mom and dad out in public, and her fear of going into a restroom alone.

“Even today, I’m afraid the same thing could happen to me,”Rourke recited. “But at least now I’m more aware.”

Judge James Lawler called the case horrendous, and imposed the sentence of 25 years to life.

During that time, Juntunen will also serve 20 months for a burglary and selling stolen jewelry that occurred this year.

Baum said it will be up to the indeterminate sentencing board if and when Juntunen gets out of prison. He will be on probation for the rest of his life if he gets out.

“He’s gonna do more than 20 years, and then the board will take a look at him,” Baum said.

For background, read: “Breaking news: Winlock man admits he touched girl in campground restroom” from Friday Nov. 9, 2012, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012


• Chehalis police were called just before 10 p.m. yesterday to the 600 block of Southwest Cascade Avenue regarding a break-in. Among the missing items are a 55-inch flat screen television, a wedding band, two compound bows and DVD, according to the Chehalis Police Department. There are no suspects, according to police.


• Police are looking for a stolen Honda, a black 1992 Prelude that went missing from the 100 block of Virginia Drive in Centralia. An officer took a report about 12:30 a.m. today. The car has a license plate of ADK 6583, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police were called just before 4 p.m. yesterday by an individual who said he lost his wallet while at the Centralia Outlets and then discovered someone had used both his debit cards.


• A short foot pursuit and a brief struggle with a suspect just before 2 p.m. yesterday at the 1200 block of North Pearl Street in Centralia ended with the arrest of a 22-year-old man wanted for earlier in the day violating a no-contact order regarding his ex-girlfriend, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers looking for Ronald A. Yeager found him and booked him into the Lewis County Jail for multiple offenses, including resisting arrest, obstruction, possession of methamphetamine, stalking and harassment, according to police.


• Two people were arrested for drug offenses following a traffic stop about 2:20 a.m. today at North Schueber Road and Borst Avenue in Centralia. The driver, Jennifer L. Schroeder, 27, of Chehalis, had an outstanding warrant and was seen trying to hide pills under her leg, according to police. And an officer found a bag of suspected heroin next to the passenger seat where Michael J. George, 23, of Centralia, was sitting, according to the Centralia Police Department. Both were booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• Plus various other incidents and calls involving misdemeanor domestic violence assault, minor collisions warrant arrests and complaints, such as what can one do about people smoking in front of their business.

I-5 shut down overnight for wreckage involving four semis, two passenger vehicles near Vader

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Volkswagen Jetta on Interstate 5 near Vader was hit by two semi trucks overnight, first in the northbound lanes and then after it was propelled across the freeway, by a southbound big rig.

The wreck just before 1 a.m. was part of an incident that involved four semi trucks and two passenger vehicles and closed portions of the freeway until earlier this morning.

All but two of the rigs had to be towed.

“The driver of the Jetta, at least a broken nose, non-life threatening injuries, surprisingly,” Trooper Will Finn said this morning.

It began when a southbound Freightliner swerved for a deer, struck the center barrier and lost part of an axle and at least one tire which came to rest in the northbound lanes, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The Jetta and a Dodge van both struck the tire assembly and became disabled, Finn said. A northbound Freightliner struck the Jetta and the van, shooting the Jetta into the northbound lanes where another semi truck ran into it, according to Finn.

A fourth semi became disabled when it hit debris in the northbound lanes, he said.

It happened near milepost 58, near the Cowlitz River.

A detour was put in place until about 4 a.m. when just the inside lanes were closed while workers reset the jersey barriers, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The driver of the Jetta, Henry Hammond, 57, of Tacoma, was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital. He was treated and has been released.

The van’s driver, Christopher Hawkins, 57, of Clackamas, Ore., was taken to St. John Medical Center in Longview with chest pain, according to Finn.

Stephanie N. Laird, 33, of Vancouver, who was driving the 2005 Freightliner that swerved was uninjured, according to the state patrol.

The deer apparently was not struck and was not at the scene, according to Finn. Charges are pending, he said.

News brief: Semi wrecks close Interstate 5 near Vader

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two collisions involving two semi trucks have Interstate 5 blocked in both directions just south of Vader, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The closure near milepost 58 near the Cowlitz River began about 12:45 a.m., according to a news release from DOT.

Northbound traffic is being diverted at Jackson Highway.

The roadway isn’t expected to be cleared for several hours.

Update at 3:12 a.m.: The southbound right lane has opened. The rest of the freeway may be cleared within the hour, according to DOT.

Chehalis mom who agreed to work with police targeted in drug sting

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 33-year-old Chehalis mother is being held in the Lewis County Jail after she allegedly three times sold small quantities of methamphetamine from her home while police were surveilling.

Nora M. Davis was arrested on Friday morning after police served a search warrant at her home on the 200 block of Southwest Second Street. There, they found a man who answered the door with suspected meth in his pants and then in her bedroom, a scale for weighing drugs as well as a bag of suspected meth and a glass pipe, according to charging documents and police.

Chehalis police had given Davis a break in July after meth residue was found on a pipe in her purse, offering her a chance to become a confidential informant instead of a drug charge, but she failed to follow through, according to prosecutors.

Davis has no criminal history. A judge yesterday ordered her held on $10,000 bail.

Charging documents describe how Davis then became a target for another confidential informant who in October, November and last Thursday allegedly purchased $20 and $60 amounts of the drug during visits to Davis’s home.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg said the 41-year-old Chehalis man – Thomas D. Crews – who was arrested on Friday morning was being released from jail without charges.  Eisenberg wouldn’t say why.

Davis is charged with three counts of delivery of a controlled substance and two counts of possession. She is expected to make her pleas on Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

Police: Surveillance footage, booking photo and facebook pic end short crime spree

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Chehalis police found numerous clues in Wal-Mart’s security video as they scoured the images after the suspected driver of a stolen $50,000 truck eluded pursuing deputies and slipped into the Chehalis super store a week ago.

Sgt. Brian Hickey said he couldn’t make out the license plate of the white van that appeared to pick up the suspect about five minutes after he entered the business on Dec. 2, but he later spotted a similar vehicle and ran the plates to discover the registered owner had been booked into jail before. He looked like the same guy, according to Hickey.

The clincher was the hooded sweatshirt with distinctive stripes shed by the suspect before departing Wal-Mart, according to Hickey. The van’s owner was wearing a jacket like that in his Facebook picture, Hickey said.

It was about 4:40 a.m. a week ago Sunday when a Lewis County sheriff’s deputy attempted to pull over a speeding driver near a Chehalis automobile dealer on North National Avenue. After the chase ended at Wal-Mart, deputies and police surrounded the building but the driver vanished.

The 2012 Chevrolet pickup truck had been stolen from Titus Will.

Hickey interviewed his suspect yesterday, after the 28-year-old Centralia resident was picked up by Centralia police.

“So, I go to ask him questions, like, do you know why police are looking for you?” Hickey said this morning.

“He says yeah, I got an idea,” Hickey said.

“Well?” Hickey asked him.

“Oh, for crimes,” the suspect answered, according to Hickey.

“Yeah?” Hickey said he asked.

“For breaking into the coffee stands,” the man replied, according to the sergeant.

Hickey said Garrett R. Dschaak told him about twice stealing from Ooh La Latte on Bishop Road in Chehalis and two recent espresso stand burglaries in Centralia.

He said he lost his job about a month ago, and needed the money, Hickey said.

“So, when he got done talking about all that stuff, which I didn’t know he was involved in, we talked about Wal-Mart,” Hickey said. “Cleared up a lot of crimes.”

Dschaak was booked into the Lewis County Jail yesterday for attempting to elude and possession of a stolen vehicle. More charges can be expected from the other police agencies, according to Hickey.

The suspect is scheduled to go before a judge this afternoon.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012


• Someone broke into a home on the 100 block of Fircrest Road outside Chehalis while the resident were away over the weekend and made off with more than $10,000 worth of valuables including two guitars, a keyboard, a drum set, a mixer and cymbals, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called after the discovery yesterday evening learned the thief or thieves got inside by removing the handle on a sliding glass door, according to the sheriff’s office. Among the other items stolen were fishing and camping gear, a small safe, two snow boards, a knife set, a rifle scope, a bow and alcohol, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The victim had been the subject of a vehicle prowl recently in Lakewood, where documents containing his address were taken, according to Brown.


• A deputy took a report yesterday from a woman who said her wallet was stolen from her purse on Sunday evening while at the  Packwood Community Center on the 12,000 block of U.S. Highway 12, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Chehalis police were called to Northwest New York Avenue yesterday morning regarding outdoor Christmas lights which someone had broken.

• Two inflatable Santa Claus’s were apparently knifed at the 800 block of Northwest Hood Place in Chehalis over the weekend. An officer called on Saturday afternoon found they were punctured and torn and would no longer inflate, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• A 25-year-old Centralia man was arrested about 8:25 p.m. last night for allegedly throwing a bottle at a vehicle during a dispute at the 1200 block of Mellen Street, according to the Centralia Police Department. Justin R. Smith was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• Police were called just before 4 p.m. yesterday to the 1100 block of Long Road in Centralia to take a report someone had shot the window of a home with a pellet gun.

• The sheriff’s office took a report yesterday regarding mailboxes and posts being removed from the area around the 100 block of Tr-Mountain Lane southeast of Centralia, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office


• Morton police responded to a complaint of the smell of marijuana about 10 a.m. on Saturday in the 100 block of Third Street. The caller was advised the source of the odor was legal if coming from a residence, according to the Morton Police Department. It couldn’t be determined where the smell came from, according to police.

• Chehalis City Hall was evacuated just before 11 a.m. yesterday after a fire broke out on a switch panel in the elevator room in the basement. Firefighters used a dry chemical fire extinguisher to smother the small bit of remaining fire after its source was discovered, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. The damage is estimated at $50,000.


• Plus various other misdemeanor domestic violence assaults, warrant arrests, minor collisions and alarms, as usual.

News brief: Napavine market burns

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Four fire departments were called last night to a fire at a Napavine market that caused extensive damage.

Nobody was injured and the cause is under investigation, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

It happened about 8:30 p.m. at a multi-business commercial structure on Alder Avenue Northwest near Washington Street, according to Fire Lt. Laura Hanson.

Arriving units found smoke and fire in the Annie’s Market end of the approximately 7,000-square-foot single-story building, according to Hanson. All the building’s occupants were out, she said in a news release.

Twenty-six firefighters battled the blaze, coming from Napavine, Toledo, Winlock and rural Chehalis, according to Hanson.

The fire was confined to the one business but the rest of the building sustained smoke damage, according to Hanson.

Hanson said the market had extensive interior damage.

Centralia detective recognized with award of merit by WSP

Monday, December 10th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police detective Rick Hughes has been honored by the Washington State Patrol for his role in helping subdue a man who allegedly assaulted a trooper this summer along side on Interstate 5 in Chehalis.


Detective Rick Hughes

It was July 3 when Trooper Rob Moore contacted the 23-year-old Centralia man near the Main Street off ramp and ended up tackling the man after a lug nut was thrown in his face, breaking his nose and glasses.

Two passing motorists stopped to help, and then detective Hughes and another passerby, Robert Gordon from Washington County in Oregon, stopped to assist.

Don K. Gonzales, 23, was subsequently charged with second-degree assault, plus three counts of third-degree assault related to the brawl as well as  attempting to disarm a law enforcement officer. His attorney said he was suffering from some type of mental issue when the events occurred.

Hughes and Gordon were honored the week before last in Vancouver with awards of merit.

A citation of the events read during the ceremony thanked the men for their life-saving efforts.

“The actions of Detective Rick Hughes and Robert Gordon not only helped, but also may have prevented further significant injury to Trooper Moore,” Trooper Will Finn wrote in a news release.

The two men sprung into action and assisted Moore in getting the subject under control and into custody, Finn wrote. Hughes was reportedly kicked in the chest before it was over.

State Patrol Capt. Ron Rupke commended the two for their courage.

The state patrol’s award of merit is presented to law enforcement officers or citizens who risk their own safety to assist a state patrol employee in the performance of a hazardous act, according to Finn.

Finn said he wasn’t sure of Gordon’s background, if he is a civilian or possibly a retied police officer.

The pair of local civilians who jumped in Timothy Tyrell Daily, 25, of Napavine, and his brother-in-law Jared Kasinger, 24, of Chehalis, are expected to recognized this coming spring for their actions, according to Finn.

“They’re being honored with a higher award in May,” Finn said. “They haven’t been forgotten.”

Gonzales has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

For background, read “View from the ground: Helping trooper take down fighting suspect” from  Sunday July 15, 2012, here