Kitsap Crime and Justice

The Kitsap Sun staff writes about crime and criminal justice issues.
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How will the race for Kitsap prosecutor shake out?

June 19th, 2014 by andybinion

Former Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola has analyzed the county Prosecuting Attorney’s race and has concluded 20-year Prosecutor Russ Hauge won’t make it past the primary.

In our state’s primary election system — technically it’s a “contest” — this is possible. The top two vote getters advance.

It’s also marks one of the first attempts to prognosticate what is undoubtedly the most interesting local race this election year.

Coppola theorizes that the county is ready to rise up and dump Hauge because of the longstanding court battle between the county and the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club. This was not the case last election, but Coppola thinks this time is different.

He also cites a Kitsap Sun poll that places Hauge last in the field. This poll was also of interest to Bainbridge Democrat Bob Scales, who is running for the job, as evidence of discontent. Also because Scales was the poll’s runaway winner.

I asked around the newsroom about that poll, and was referred to President Mitt Romney to inquire how well it predicts elections. And not to be contrarian, but a poll of lawyers conducted by the county Bar Association had Hauge thumping the competition.

In any case, there is nothing wrong with guessing — that’s all anybody can do right now — and that’s what makes elections fun.

Should elections be fun? No, actually, they should not be fun.

Right now the candidates are itching for forums so they can do what lawyers do best, argue, and they are ringing doorbells and burning shoe leather.

Hauge has said he plans to push hard into Bainbridge, Scales territory. Scales is not well known off the island, and there is a deep cultural divide between Bainbridge and the rest of Kitsap, right down to their 206 area code. Scales recognizes this.

Tina Robinson, the sole Republican in the race, has said she cancelled vacations this summer to focus on campaigning. And despite skipping the Kitsap Bar preference poll, independent Bruce Danielson — who in 2010 took a respectable 47 percent against Hauge in the only poll that matters — said he will attend other functions.

I don’t have any bold predictions, other than it looks like the primary is going to be a scrum. Right now I am interested in opinions about the four-candidate dynamic heading into the primary. Will one candidate steal votes from another? How will gender, geography and political party play out for voters whose research amounts to reading the names of candidates on the ballot?

Any thoughts? Hit me up.


Special Olympics Torch Run Relay photos

May 29th, 2014 by andybinion

Law enforcement officers of all stripes strapped on their running shoes Thursday for the Kitsap leg of the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, where officers carry the Special Olympics torch by land and sea to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Here’s more information on the Special Olympics.

The list of agencies participating in the event is nearly comprehensive, and includes the departments of Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Bremerton, Suquamish, along with the Kitsap Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard (MFPU Bangor), N.C.I.S., the Washington State Patrol and the Kitsap Prosecutor’s Office.

And here are some photos from Deputy Tim Young.

Sheriff’s Detective Ray Stroble pilots the sheriff’s office SAFE Boat out of Bremerton Marina early Thursday afternoon, with the Special Olympics torch carried by Sheriff’s Corrections Lt. Genie Elton. Sgt. Jim McDonough of the sheriff’s marine services unit assists. WSF M/V Sealth departs Bremerton Ferry Terminal for the 12:20 crossing to Seattle.

Sheriff’s Det. Ray Stroble pilots the Sheriff’s Office SAFE Boat out of Bremerton Marina early Thursday afternoon, with the Special Olympics torch carried by Sheriff’s Corrections Lt. Genie Elton. Sgt. Jim McDonough of the sheriff’s marine services unit assists. In the background, the M/V Sealth departs the Bremerton Ferry Terminal for the 12:20 crossing to Seattle.

Left to right: DPA Chad Enright Deputy Duane Dobbins Corrections Sgt. Scott Billingsley Sgt. Jim Porter (with torch) Deputy Darren Andersson on motorcycle

Left to right:
Deputy Prosecutor Chad Enright, Deputy Duane Dobbins, Corrections Sgt. Scott Billingsley, Sgt. Jim Porter (with torch) and Deputy Darren Andersson on motorcycle

The county team passes the Special Olympics torch to the Bremerton running team consisting of officers and detectives from Bremerton Police Department and cadets from the Washington Youth Academy. Kitsap County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Porter passes the Special Olympics torch to Bremerton Police Detective Ryan Heffernan, prior to the start of the Bremerton leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

The county team passes the Special Olympics torch to the Bremerton running team, made up of officers and detectives from the Bremerton Police Department and cadets from the Washington Youth Academy. Kitsap County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Porter passes the “Flame of Hope” to Bremerton Police Detective Ryan Heffernan, prior to the start of the Bremerton leg of the run.


Correction, also, AR-15 at center of Kitsap gun club case being inspected by feds

May 23rd, 2014 by andybinion

The rifle at the center of a legal battle halfway through its second decade is now in the custody of federal agents for inspection.

Earlier this week, a Kitsap District Court judge dismissed a suit against Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club Executive Officer Marcus Carter that claimed he unlawfully possessed a machine gun. The rifle was seized in 1999.

Carter had asked that Judge Stephen Holman dismiss the case and return the 1970s-era AR-15 to him. Holman dismissed the case, but in his decision Holman noted that he would not rule on returning the rifle to Carter. A story in the Kitsap Sun on Wednesday, written by me, incorrectly stated that Holman ordered the rifle be returned.

Kitsap Prosecuting Attorney Russ Hauge said his office would file a motion to reconsider, and if that doesn’t work he will appeal the case to Superior Court.

By law, a machine gun doesn’t require the trigger be pressed for each shot, it can shoot five or more bullets per second and, most important to this case, has a separable device that can supply the rounds, or a magazine. Magazines are known commonly as clips, much to the chagrin of gun aficionados.

An affidavit from a deputy who tested the gun reported that he “used a 30 round magazine to test the firearm, and the rifle fired in full automatic with one jam.”

According to court documents, the state had to prove Carter had “dominion and control” over a magazine that could supply the rounds to the rifle. Carter claimed the state couldn’t prove it. Holman agreed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has taken custody of the rifle at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the Sheriff’s Office has been the custodian for the rifle, which is considered evidence. He said it was removed from storage Wednesday and turned over to the federal agency.

Hauge said his office requested the bureau inspect the weapon.

“We asked the (bureau) if they are interested in looking at it and see if it is anything other than a machine gun,” Hauge said.


The ‘these are not my pants defense’

May 9th, 2014 by andybinion
brook shields

Want to know what comes between me and my Calvins?

A 47-year-old man arrested on a Pierce County warrant Wednesday offered a mind blowing reason for why a Kitsap sheriff’s deputy found a small bag of meth in his pocket: the pants he was wearing were not his.

In legal circles this is known as the “these are not my pants defense.”

The man was arrested in Port Orchard shortly after midnight when law enforcement officers received a call about a possible burglary at a house being remodeled, court documents said.

A Port Orchard Police officer was unable to get the man to come to the door. A sheriff’s deputy threatened to kick in the door and send a police dog inside. The man complied.

Officers discovered the man had been sent to the house by its owner to watch for burglars, but also found he had a felony warrant for malicious mischief.

While being booked in the jail, the deputy found the baggie of drugs in his right front pocket.

“As the bag was pulled out, (the man) said, ‘These are not my pants,’” according to documents.

A casual reader might think this is funny. That casual reader would be wrong. Dead wrong. Discovering that one is not wearing one’s own pants is a terrifying experience.

There are numerous accounts of other poor souls finding themselves railroaded by our criminal justice system after realizing they have been tricked into the pants of somebody else. And then had drugs planted on them.

Here is one. And another. And yet another.

So next time you are approached by a law enforcement officer, make sure you are wearing your own pants. If you are not, quickly strip naked.


A breakdown in landlord/tenant relations

May 7th, 2014 by andybinion

A 45-year-old Bremerton man was charged Wednesday with second-degree assault for jumping onto the bed in which his tenants were sleeping, brandishing a large knife and demanding they pay rent immediately.

When police arrived at the house on Tuesday they found the suspect apparently taken aback that the tenants had called the police.

The suspect “seemed surprised to see us as he was eating his breakfast from a bowl,” the officer wrote.

The victims said they were lying in bed in the basement they rent for $450 a month and woke up to the suspect standing over them with the knife, pointing the blade at their heads and “screaming that he wanted the rent paid now,” the report said.

One victim said he had paid $49 toward the rent the day before.

The suspect then folded the knife and went upstairs.

When questioned by police, the suspect said, “all he did was ask them to leave, and to get out of his house.” He refused to say if he had gone downstairs that morning.

Police inspected a knife the suspect had on him and reported it had a four-inch blade. He was lodged in the Kitsap County Jail on $100,000 bail.


Turns out, judges are not robots

May 5th, 2014 by andybinion

cat

The New York Times, in writing about the U.S. Supreme Court rendering a tight, partisan decision that found prayer before town meetings was not a violation of the Constitution, published a related story on the partisan voting habits of justices.

Political scientists found that judges ruling in First Amendment cases favor speech with which they agree.

The implication is that judges are above passion and prejudice, and this research should come as a shock.

Of course, the thought that a person, any person, can be 100 percent impartial is very comforting, especially at a time when we are inundated from all sides with information and decontextualized data.

At least I find the thought comforting. Kind of like the thought that my cat won’t eat me if I should die while locked in my house.

I’ll be locking my cat out of my room at night from now on.


Linda Malcom’s family hasn’t forgotten her, and neither has Port Orchard Police

May 2nd, 2014 by andybinion

20090429-184810-pic-859012884_t607

When Linda Malcom’s family gets together, or passes the phone around at holiday gatherings for siblings living afar, there is this constant feeling that something isn’t right.

And even when they joke around about their late sister and daughter, when they ask “What would Linda say about that?” or recall some goofy thing she did, invariably the mood changes and the loss is felt.

“We start out with Linda, she might come up in conversation, and we try to come up with something funny she did or said, and still it turns,” said Dianna Malcom, 55, Linda’s sister. “It always seems to turn back to the fact of what we have had to deal with, what happened, and that we have no answers.”

April 30 marked the sixth anniversary of Linda’s death, who was 47. Her rental house on the 1100 block of Sidney Avenue had been set on fire, likely to conceal the crime.

Her death is one of 32 unsolved murders in Kitsap County dating back to 1961. Although the killers have not been brought to justice, there are developments in the cases that keep detectives rethinking and theorizing. Just last week the remains of a young man found in South Kitsap in 2009 were identified.

Port Orchard Police Chief Geoffrey Marti said investigators assigned to the case will rotate, with Det. Beth Deatherage becoming the primary lead. Det. Jim Foster, who has been on the case for four years, will rotate back to assignment as a uniformed officer, but will be on day shift with Deatherage so they will be able to compare notes.

Marti said the investigators will review the case and reinterview sources. Some have moved out of the area, and others have died.

“It makes it difficult,” Marti said, but noted the department is still committed to the case. “I am glad to say the detectives have been able to keep developing things to work with.”

Linda’s family has been steadfast in pushing for more information, to get her name out and to appeal to the decency of those with information about her death.

“We don’t forget,” Dianna said.

Raised in Springfield, Ill., the Navy brought Linda to Kitsap County. Despite being two time zones away from her hometown on the prairie, and her big family — she was one of nine kids — she decided to stick around. She worked as a paralegal and liked singing karaoke.

Linda is buried in Springfield, and her family keeps her grave clean and will pour out a bit of wine in her honor. Her mom is mobile, and tends to the gravesite. Her dad has more difficulty getting out of the house, but it is their wish to see justice delivered before they die.

“I don’t think (mom) wants to go before she knows who did this to her daughter,” Dianna said.

Those with information on Linda Malcom’s death can contact a tip line set up by the Port Orchard Police. The number is: 1-844-TIP-POPD, or 1-844-847-7673.


WSP Chief: Troopers will be on the hunt for irresponsible motorcycle behavior

April 30th, 2014 by andybinion
tom_cruise_motorcycle

Don’t be a maverick, stay out of the danger zone

As the weather warms up — it’s beautiful outside, what are you doing staring at a computer screen? — law enforcement (and news reporters) watch with dread as the number of motorcycle fatalities climbs.

That dread was reflected in a statement the Washington State Patrol issued today, noting that State Patrol Chief John Batiste is not order troopers to crack down on dangerous motorcycle behavior.

“What order could I give that would be more powerful than their own experience investigating these completely preventable tragedies?” Batiste said in the grim, but tongue-in-cheek statement. Troopers see first hand the carnage, they help load injured riders into ambulances and frequently make death notifications to families.

The point of the statement was to emphasize: “You can bet troopers will be cracking down on irresponsible riding behavior.”

Last year 73 riders were killed in motorcycle crashes in Washington. In half of those it was a single-vehicle crash, and in the majority of the total it was the rider who caused the crash.

Speed, intoxication and inexperience are the contributing factors in many cases, the statement notes.

“This isn’t about clueless drivers pulling out of their driveways in front of motorcycles,” Batiste said in the statement.


Shelton man wanted to blow up Wal-Mart to distract cops from three planned bank heists

April 29th, 2014 by andybinion
LarryGillette

Source: Department of Corrections

While driving around Shelton, planning an apocalyptic scheme to blow up a Wal-Mart and gas stations, Larry Gillette, 53, allegedly held forth on his plans to use the explosions as cover for bank heists.

The other person in the car was an undercover officer working with an FBI task force, according to a statement Tuesday from the U.S. Attorneys Office.

The plan occurred to Gillette while serving time in prison for identity theft, the statement said, and he discussed it with other inmates.

After his release April 14 he made contact with the undercover officer in hopes of recruiting his help, the statement said.

Gillette had intended to cause as much carnage as possible with the bombings and robberies.

“The plot allegedly anticipated that while first responders were busy with the bombings, Gillette would rob three banks,” the statement said. “Gillette indicated he wanted the maximum loss of life to occur in the bombings and the bank robberies.”

The undercover agent gave Gillette four Glock handguns; Gillette apparently was unaware the guns were modified so they would not fire.

Gillette was arrested, however, when he met again with the agent and attempted to ignite a car bomb.

“The ‘bomb’ was inoperable,” the statement said.

The agent belonged to the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, which includes personnel from the FBI and Seattle Police. The Mason County Sheriff’s Office, the Shelton Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives helped on the case.

Gillette was charged in federal court with solicitation to commit a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm.


Distracted driving crackdown resulted in lots of stops, but problem persists

April 25th, 2014 by andybinion

text and drive

The person driving on Highway 3 Thursday afternoon held the phone against the steering wheel with one hand and punched buttons with the other.

I punched the gas (ahem) and tried to get ahead of them.

Oddly enough, the person seemed more in control of their car than the person not too far behind, bobbing around the right lane, a cell phone pressed against their head.

The county waged a concerted effort to crack down on distracted driving earlier this month, from April 10 to 15, pulling people over, writing tickets. But after a few minutes on the highway, it looks like the crackdown never happened.

Even with the pleas from safety advocates, the state outlawing it and cops being paid overtime to just look for people chit-chatting without a hands free device and texting, it’s still plainly obvious texting and talking is endemic.

A study from Harborview Injury and Prevention Center found one in 10 drivers were seen texting or talking on a mobile phone.

Deputy Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, compared it to smoking. The government can do a lot, but it can’t assign a cop to each driver.

Ultimately, it will be up to people to change their own behavior, he said.

The prohibition is a popular law, the recent effort to get the point across was cheered by many.

About 35 troopers, deputies and officers spent 140 overtime hours on the road, making 467 contacts with drivers suspected of not paying attention to what they were doing.

Those contacts resulted in 141 tickets for talking on mobile phones and 13 for texting or using other electronic devices, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.

The lopsided results — more tickets for talking than texting — may be a result of how obvious cell phone usage is compared to texting, where the device is usually kept in a driver’s lap.

One Leadership Kitsap group is planning a project where they give away zip-lock bags to combat the problem. The hope is that people will stick their phones in the bag to serve as a reminder to leave their phones alone while driving. But that idea relies on people to change their own behavior.

“What’s it going to take? Something real startling happening to them to make them sit up and think a second time,” Wilson said.


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