Local prosecutors support death penalty referendum

Local elected prosecutors are backing a proposal to ask voters if they want to reaffirm or toss the state’s rarely used death penalty.

Tina Robinson, in Kitsap, and Michael Dorcy, in Mason County, both say they are in favor of the death penalty, but are also supportive of the proposal from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Robinson said she has concerns about how the death penalty is carried out, the length of time it takes to carry out the sentence and the effect that has on families.

“We want to hear from the citizens of Washington,” Robinson said.

Robinson has considered pursuing the death penalty once during her term – she took office in January – for the case of Geraldo DeJesus, accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and her roommate’s toddler in March. After consulting with family members and survivors, Robinson opted not to pursue it (DeJesus has pleaded not guilty is currently scheduled for trial Feb. 8, 2016).

Dorcy got closer in the case of Charles Longshore, convicted in 2014 of killing two people in Shelton, but after a lengthy and intensive seven-month process, opted not to pursue it, a decision he believes was right. Dorcy has been in office since 2010.

The proposal is for a referendum, which means voters would have a chance to weigh in after the Legislature and governor approve it, as opposed to an initiative, which is placed on the ballot after a certain number of signatures are gathered. Lawmakers could consider the matter when the Legislature meets in January.

Although the state’s current law has been on the books for 34 years, it is reserved for specific types of murder — aggravated first-degree murder —  and has rarely been used. Since voters approved the death penalty in 1975, five people have been executed in Washington state. Currently there are nine people on death row in Washington. The longest serving inmate on death row, Jonathan Gentry, was sentenced to die by a Kitsap jury in 1991.

For context, since 1976 the state of Texas, where the death penalty is used more than any other state, has executed 530 people.

Although the process is intensive and expensive, a factor both Robinson and Dorcy say is something they consider, it is not the “driver of the bus,” as Dorcy put it.

Tossing the state’s law, if voters choose to do so, might be fairly simple. Presumably the sentences of those on death row could be commuted to life without parole and as of the issuance of the association’s statement there were no pending death penalty cases in the state.

Keeping the death penalty on the books, however, doesn’t necessarily mean inmates sentenced to death will be executed any more quickly nor does it mean it would be used more frequently.

First, Gov. Jay Inslee has imposed a moratorium on executions. If voters elected another governor, however, they would not be required to maintain the moratorium.

However, those sentenced to die have numerous appeals available to them, state and federal, some mandatory.

There is also the matter of method. Washington state, historically, has used hangings to execute people. Lethal injection has been an option since 1986, and was used in the past three executions, the last one taking place in 2010.

However, the companies that have made the drugs used in lethal injection are from Europe, and object to capital punishment, and have refused to import them to the U.S. Some states have found substitute drugs, but there have been reports of those drugs not working as intended.

And Washington did not have any of the accepted drugs on hand when Inslee declared his moratorium.

Below is the statement, issued from the office of King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

Nov. 12, 2015

The prosecuting attorneys of Washington State overwhelmingly believe that the people of the state should vote on the question of whether the state should retain the death penalty as an option in cases of aggravated murder.  As the elected officials entrusted with the fair administration of capital punishment in our state, we call upon the Governor and the Legislature to place a referendum on the ballot next year seeking guidance from the voters about this significant public policy issue.

It was forty years ago, in 1975, that the people of the state approved Initiative 316, which created the death penalty in our state.  The previous death penalty scheme had been found unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in the Fuhrman v. Georgia case in 1972.  The language of the initiative was amended by the Legislature in 1981 to comport with the 1981 State Supreme Court decision in Frampton

For the past thirty-four years Washington prosecutors have pursued capital punishment in the most heinous murders committed in our state.  During that time, prosecutors sought the death penalty in 90 of 268 cases where it was a possible sentence.  Jurors returned unanimous verdicts of the death penalty in 32 of those 90 cases.

The 32 death sentences that have been imposed under the current statute have resulted in the execution of five men, three of whom were “volunteers” who instructed their attorneys to not pursue appeals of their convictions.  Two men were executed following a lengthy period of appeals: Charles Rodman Campbell in Snohomish County, executed in 1994 for three murders committed in 1982, and Cal Colburn Brown in King County, executed in 2010 for a murder committed in 1991. Nine men currently reside on death row, awaiting more appellate process.

Eighteen men who were sentenced to the death penalty had their sentences reversed by appellate courts and their cases were ultimately resolved without imposition of the death penalty.

Most of the people in the state of Washington today did not participate in the election forty years ago that established our state as one of 31 U.S. states with the death penalty.  The citizens of Nebraska will vote on the repeal or retention of the death penalty in that state next year.  Washington State voters should have a similar choice. 

Prosecuting Attorneys act daily as ministers of justice exercising the power and authority of the state in the name of the people of the state.  Prosecutors want to know that when we embark on the long and difficult process of capital punishment for the worst crimes inflicted upon our community that we are doing so with the support and approval of the people we represent.

Mason County “reply all” spat

Sh Salisbury Best Elect Ofc 2015A spat between Mason County officials on what constitutes appropriate use of tax dollars went public Thursday, when the county public works director hit “reply all” on his criticism of a press release from the Sheriff’s Office lauding the sheriff for an award.

Detective Bill Adam, who is also the office’s public information officer, sent the first email, letting the media know that readers of Mason County’s weekly newspaper voted Sheriff Casey Salisbury the “best elected official.”

Included in the release was a photo of a smiling Salisbury holding the unframed certificate, along with a direct quotes from the sheriff which contain a number (5) of exclamation points.

Brian Matthews, public works director, took issue with the press release, and hit “reply all.”

Stop wasting County resources with this crap. Take me off your email list as of now. Brian

In fairness, not many tax dollars were likely wasted. How many tax dollars were wasted by me writing this? The answer will shock you! (none)

Later in the day, Adam responded with another statement from Salisbury, lamenting the response as “unfortunate,” and cited a line from the county “mission statement” that says the employees of the county are the foundation on which county services are provided.

Salisbury also apparently shot back at Mathews:

It is also unfortunate that people, who do not live in this community, do not support the community the way I do.

The friction between the officials was aired before multiple news outlets in Western Washington, including Seattle television stations and daily newspapers such as the Sun and others from Port Angeles to Olympia.

Mason County has had other interesting email incidents in recent months. In August, Adam accidentally sent out a restricted bulletin about a dangerous suspect wanted by police.

Realizing the error, Adam sent out another note to the media contact list, asking journalists to destroy the email, claiming that publishing it “could cost an officer his or her life.” In case there was any confusion about what email Adam was talking about, he sent the restricted email again.

Bremerton man convicted of terrorizing gay men has history of drug dealing

Troy Burns

A Bremerton man sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for terrorizing a group of gay men on Capital Hill in January has a history of drug dealing.

Troy Deacon Burns, 38, pleaded guilty in August for violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Here is a summary of the incident, from a statement issued Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice:

“Burns admitted in his plea agreement that he came up behind the three men and shouted homophobic slurs.  Burns then raised a knife over his head in a stabbing position.  Fearing for their safety, the men started running.  As Burns caught up to one of the men, he again used a slur and attempted to stab the man.  One of the other men was able to pull his friend away from Burns.  The third man located Seattle police officers who took Burns into custody.  While detained in the police car, Burns continued to yell homophobic slurs.  During the plea hearing, Burns said he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the assault and claimed that he does not remember his actions.”

Burns has convictions in Kitsap Superior Court for violation of the uniform controlled substance act from when he was caught in 2009 selling cocaine in the East Bremerton Fred Meyer’s parking lot to a police informant. He also was caught with about 2/3 of a pound of marijuana in 2007. He also has a juvenile court conviction from 1994 for stealing a car, according to court records.

Cherry Boy — or — a Sweet and Bawdy Tale that Ed McDonald, 78, Swears is True


ed mcdonald

The USS Lexington disembarked in Bremerton and already the mission had been decided: Ed McDonald’s shipmates would march him to a cat house — his words — and the baby-faced Irish Catholic boy from Sunnyside, Queens, rosary beads clacking under his uniform, would meet a Real Woman and then become a Real Man. It was 1955 and Ed was turning 18, though he could have passed for 12. In those days he wore his rosary around his neck, “To protect me from me.”

They all called him Cherry Boy, but there are worse things to be called aboard a warship. It is fine to be called Cherry Boy when your shipmates reckon you just haven’t had the right opportunities.

ed mcdonald sailor

Bremerton was a land of opportunities, but with more profanity than providence. The way it struck Ed the first time he stepped ashore in Kitsap County, Bremerton was open for business and existed only to challenge the upbringing of souls cursed with cash.

“You should have seen it. This place was wild.”

His buddies take him to a red brick building on Fourth Street, maybe Fifth Street, though he remembers a sci-fi black and white movie was playing at the Roxy. His buddies say to him, “OK, Cherry Boy, it’s time.” Ed figures out what is happening and becomes very terrified.

Then he sees her. She is very Real, and very beautiful, Ava Gardner with dark skin and eyes. Young Ed was introduced as Cherry Boy.

“She grabbed me by the belt buckle and led me around like a dog on a leash.”

“Ah,” she purred. “I love cherry boys.”

The room was red with lots of silk. There was a bed.

Let it never be said that Bremerton doesn’t take pride in its work. It’s written on the shipyard for all to see, “Building on a proud tradition.” The Real Woman hired to make a Real Man out of Ed was no less determined. She tried.

“She was really pretty, I just didn’t know what to do with it.”

Ed could fool most. He could fool his shipmates, officers, maybe even the whole neighborhood back home in Queens. Maybe he just led them to believe what they wanted to believe. But he couldn’t fool her. For Ed, it wasn’t a matter of opportunity or luck.

She took his face in the palm of her hands.

“Cherry Boy, you’re leaving here a cherry, too,” she said. “You are on the wrong side of the tracks.”

“Is there a right side of the tracks?”

“Not in this town.”

Ed’s shipmates were waiting. Now what? What about the congratulations? The braying and back slapping? What about his soul? At 7 Ed knew he liked boys. “They were prettier than the girls.” He joined the Navy to escape a cold home life, to see the world, to live and wear those hot white uniforms. Now what? What will become of him?

There were two kinds of people the Navy didn’t abide: communists and homosexuals. “Better dead than red” was a popular slogan. No slogan for killing homosexuals became as memorable.

“By the way,” she said, “my brother is gay too.”

It was the first time he had ever heard the word used like that.

“What’s gay?”

Her name was Anne. She promised to keep his secret.

“A story like that spreads like wildfire.” He was terrified by nightmare visions of prison or mental hospitals, of a dishonorable discharge. “It only takes a rumor, just a rumor.”

Keeping his secret wasn’t enough. He needed something else from her. Anne didn’t protest. When she presented the Real Man formally known as Cherry Boy to his waiting comrades, she called him a miracle of procreative genius, she raved about his abilities, ranked him among the celebrities of virility and swore that he showed considerable potential as a stud if the Navy didn’t work out.

“She was great,” Ed said. “Oh, they were patting me on the back, all those alpha males!”

Then it was back to the rosary. “I was sure I was doomed to hell.”

ed mcdonald actor

Ed got tired of secrets. Parting with the Navy had been more sweet than sorrow, and after a youth of acting and traveling, he returned to New York and got a start as a restaurateur. He opened a bistro in Greenwich Village called the Omnibus. He lived openly gay, cooked and ran his business, mingled with artists and activists, traveled, smoked a lot of pot and cigarettes — too much pot and cigarettes — and fell in love. The highlight of his travels might have been Bali, where a spider monkey bit him.

He kicks himself now for not planning for his future, or jumping at the chance to buy the building that housed his restaurant. The price was $200,000. Now it is worth many millions. At the time he didn’t want to trouble himself with material things.

“I saw myself as this spiritual thinker and here I was dripping in leather and chains.”

On the night of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, Ed was at his restaurant, not too far from the action, but without a clue the gay rights movement was being born down the street. He cleaned up, counted the till, jotted in the books and then smoked a joint. He locked the door and walked home. By the time he noticed the commotion and looked over this shoulder, all he could see was a wall of 2,000 rioting people.

“Oh my god,” he thought, his mind clouded by weed paranoia. “Was my cooking that bad?”

The ’70s were good to Ed. He was handsome, fit and had a head of hair and money in his pocket. Climbing stairs was no trouble. His restaurant did well, catered to everybody and anybody but attracted big names in the world of the gay community, literature and entertainment. The legendary Beat Generation writers Allen Ginsburg and William S. Burroughs lived in the neighborhood and were known to stop by. Anne Bancroft might be sitting at a table with Mel Brooks. One of his long-time waiters, Vito Russo, would go on to became an influential gay rights activist and film historian.*

ed mcdonald passport

In the ’80s a pall fell over New York. Cocaine replaced pot as the drug du jour. Tastes changed, leaving his funky stoner-friendly restaurant in the dust. AIDS struck and Ed lost too many friends to count. The love of his life, David, he lost to schizophrenia. That was 33 years ago, he has been single since. Rather than walk the same streets and see none of the same people, he moved away.

He picked Seattle, arriving in 1983, and found an apartment on Capital Hill for $175 a month. The University of Washington hired him, and for his life’s third or fourth act, he worked in food service at the medical center’s cancer and psychiatry departments.

Before he served people looking for a good time, now he served the afflicted. The work was not so challenging, but chatting up the patients was its own reward. He still feels pangs thinking about them, some of them were so lonely. Some became friends. He mentions their names to this day.

About seven years ago he tried to walk up the hill to Broadway and realized he was gasping for air. Too many cigarettes, too much pot. He had always walked or taken the bus. He’s never had a driver’s license or owned a car. At the same time the COPD came, the once modest apartment was bleeding him dry. Rent climbed up to $800 when he moved out. Now he hears it is getting close to twice that.

He got word of affordable housing in Bremerton. He hadn’t spent any real time here, but it sounded promising. Moving to Bremerton could be a way to get back on his feet.

He regretted the decision almost immediately. Bremerton was not the same wild and wooly port-of-call of his youth. Far from it. The buses don’t even run on Sundays. The only thing that might make it a bit more bearable, the one thing that might help: a gay bar. He doesn’t know of any. “It would be nice to have a drink among my own tribe.” But like the baby-faced Cherry Boy in 1955, he finds himself on the wrong side of the tracks.

Ed rates his health five out of 10. He’s still got his laugh. He has retained his New York swagger, but his knees are wobbly. Mouth cancer took his teeth, and his dentures are hell. He’s frank about what kind of health-imposed limitations he will endure and where he is at in life. For Ed, it’s bleak. “Everybody I have ever loved is dead.” Although he is addicted to Netflix – and is about ready to lead an uprising against CenturyLink and Comcast for their anti-consumer practices – things like Facebook hold no interest for him.

“There’s nobody out there for me to look up, not unless it can connect with the afterlife.”

He has good days and bad. On this day, a few years after he arrived in town, he was walking along Wheaton Way in Manette, on his way to the Boat Shed to have a drink. On the sidewalk, he crossed paths with a woman. She was old, like him, hunched over, had to use a walker to inch her way on the sidewalk. They nodded, said hello and went on their way.

He saw her again in the neighborhood. Nod. Hello. Maybe a “How are ya?” He ran into her a few more times.

On this day, the woman stopped him.

“Have you always lived in Bremerton?”

No, Ed explained, but he was stationed here in the ’50s for a period.

She looked him in the eye.

“I never forget eyes,” she said. “Did you ever go by the name Cherry Boy?”

Anne and Ed walked together, slowly, and sat on bench overlooking the water. They talked about how they first met, giggling.

They became friends, but not close. “What we did as kids wasn’t exactly meaningful.” When they saw each other on the street, they waved, and giggled.

A few years passed and Ed realized he had not seen Anne in a while. He saw a friend of hers on the bus one day. She said Anne had died.

“And she told me about you,” the friend said.

After they discovered each other, and sat overlooking the Port Washington Narrows, he had asked about her memory. It was amazing, he remarked, to remember somebody from so long ago, somebody with whom she had an even more meaningless encounter than usual, after so much had changed.

Anne said it was hard to forget the first-timers, especially the one they called Cherry Boy. Ed was pretty, but it was more than that.

“You were so utterly innocent.”

“Well, Anne,” Ed said. “I got over it.”


*Ed disputes an account of the Stonewall Riots in a book about Russo, where he is said to have warned his waiter to stay away from the angry crowd outside the Christopher Street bar. “Never happened,” he said. Ed maintains he had no idea what was happening at the Stonewall until after he closed the Omnibus for the night. He doesn’t dispute, however, that he butted heads with Russo, though he considered him a friend. Ed is a proponent of gay rights, but he is, in general, a proud liberal who literally carries his ACLU membership card in his wallet and was not, and is not, hostile to straights.

Rise of the robocall machines

We are calling you with an exciting opportunity

Twice on Monday, an hour or so apart, a robot with a woman’s voice called Tim at his Central Kitsap house, warning him that the IRS was going to file a lawsuit to collect back taxes and that he better call her back.

“Don’t disregard this message and do return the call,” the recorded voice said. “This issue is very serious.” The number had a Virginia area code.

Tim is savvy, though. A retired shipyard worker, he does his own taxes and isn’t about to fall for the okey doke, a robocall phone scam that has been reported as far away as Florida.

Of course, then there is “Rachel from credit card services,” another robot Tim has gotten to know.

“That’s a classic,” Tim said, but noted sometimes “Rachel” switches it up and instead it is “Kimberley” calling. “I get that one a lot.”

Although Tim isn’t going to become a vic anytime soon, somebody out there must be falling prey to the new generation of telephone scam artists, which use technology to trawl for potential victims.

The Federal Trade Commission has noted a “significant increase” in “illegal robocalls” and the same day the “IRS” twice called Tim, National Public Radio published a report from a computer security expert who said those ghost calls — your phone rings but nobody is on other line — could be robots probing your number to determine if it is connected to a real life human, who might make a good real life victim.

“They’re trying to see: Are they getting a human on the other end?” Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Pindrop Security, told NPR. “You even cough and it knows you’re there.”

Even if a person isn’t at risk of turning over bank account information or Social Security numbers, it’s unnerving, and irritating.

“It’s getting to be insane,” Tim said.

A woman from Kitsap Lake I spoke with in June said her 98-year-old mother gets multiple scam calls a week. She received a similar call as the one Tim received, and thought the cops were coming to haul away her mom. She was ready to block the door until she called Bremerton Police, who told her, no, don’t worry, that was a trick.

Real human non-robots are still prowling the phone lines, though, so don’t despair that the robots are taking all the good con jobs from human thieves.

A Bremerton convenience store got swindled in January when a man posing as an agent of Puget Sound Energy called to say power was about to be shut off at the store unless the storekeeper ponied up some money. Maybe it was the human touch, but it wasn’t until after the woman wired in the money that it struck her: she had been had.

A Bremerton police officer called the telethief and had an informative conversation about the swindle – something you just can’t do with a robot. The conman confessed to getting a little fresh with the woman he bilked, but he also apologized for his off-color remarks.

Robots don’t get fresh, but then again, they also can’t apologize, unless they are programmed to apologize. But can they be programmed to mean it?


Kitsap Lake woman said her elderly mom gets three scam calls a week

phone scam


The caller said Holly Morton’s elderly mother, Genevieve, owed back taxes and if she didn’t pay – and pay immediately, like, in the next 45 minute – agents were going to come to her door and arrest her.

“I was shaking all over,” Holly said Tuesday. “I was going to have to stand in the doorway with arms open, saying, ‘You can’t come in and get her!’”

Holly, who lives near Kitsap Lake with Genevieve, called the Bremerton Police Department and spoke to an officer. He said in a very calm voice that it was a scam, the perpetrators were likely in a foreign country. He would forward a report to the FBI, but no cop was going to come and arrest her 98-year-old mother.

“I actually bought a thank you note for that,” said Holly, 65. “It’s nice to have support when this happens. It’s almost like we got robbed.”

Although the ruse was convincing, it’s not uncommon. Holly estimates she fields about three scam calls a week for her mom. Three.

The FBI has a page on its website dealing with seniors and scams. Although it offers plausible reasons for why seniors seem to be targeted so often, it doesn’t explain the mystery Holly describes: frequent calls from people she figures are not who they say they are.

Holly frequently checks on her mom’s bank accounts but that she doesn’t know why they keep targeting Genevieve, other than she is a senior and seniors seem to be targeted.

It’s gotten so bad, Holly has considered disconnecting the land line, but that would cause more problems than it solves, as it is how Genevieve reaches Holly when she is out shopping.

“Sometimes I say ‘hello?’ and they will hang up. Sometimes they will say they are selling a security system.”

“Security system is a big one,” Holly added. “It’s just horrible for senior adults to get picked on like this.”

Genevieve is hard of hearing, and doesn’t see well, which may be why she has not made such a productive mark for the scam artists who seem to be hounding her.

“Thank goodness she can’t hear, or she might answer and say ‘yes,’” Holly said.

New law lets cyclists enrage drivers who are not too distracted by their iPhones



In an effort to get drivers to look up from texting and get angrier at cyclists, a new law will give pedalers the right to blow through a red light IF the traffic signal’s sensors won’t pick up the bike AND they wait for a full cycle.

How thoughtful.

Many traffic signals use metal detectors embedded in the asphalt to let the signal know a motorist is waiting. Often enough, the sensors are not sensitive enough to detect two-wheelers.

Up until now, or next month when the law takes effect, lawmakers expected cyclists (and moped riders) to sit at the red light until hair grew out their ears.

Motorcyclists had the right to blow a red if the sensors weren’t sensing them, but not bikes, which have even less metal on them (On Bainbridge bicycles are made of carbon fiber and kitten whiskers, which is why the city has installed traffic signal detectors that can sense a person’s chakras).

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, as you read this on your iPhone while driving on Highway 303, when has the law ever stopped a bicyclist from running a red? The answer: never!

An interesting note on the new law:

It is not a defense to a traffic citation … (to proceed through a red light) … under the belief that the signal used a vehicle detection device, when it did not; or that the signal was inoperative due to the size of the bicycle, assisted bicycle, or moped, when the device was in fact operative.

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize an exemplary traffic signal. The left turn light on the traffic light regulating the Bucklin Hill Road and Tracyton Boulevard intersection in Silverdale is a very sensitive and considerate traffic light, and always takes the time to notice my cromoly frame and let me pass.


Local lawyers to vote for their preference to replace Judge Laurie

Curious about the seven candidates seeking to be appointed to a Kitsap Superior Court seat being vacated?

Here they are, presented in order they appear on the local bar ballot, to be distributed tomorrow to dues-paying members.

-Jeffrey Bassett

-Rennison Bispham

-Roger Dunaway

-Alexis Foster

-Stephen Greer

-Melissa Hemstreet

-Thomas Weaver

Gov. Jay Inslee’s lawyer, Nick Brown, said earlier this week the governor takes into consideration the local bar’s opinion, and would personally interview one to two of the finalists.

It’s Judge Anna Laurie’s seat that is being vacated. She plans to enter retirement at the end of the month. Brown said Inslee would like to have somebody in place by no later than the first part of July.

Felon arrested by deputy watching from inside Jack in the Box

drive thru

A crafty Kitsap sheriff’s deputy, watching from inside the Silverdale Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru at 3 a.m. for suspects in a stolen gun case, didn’t make the arrest he was planning on making, but instead arrested a violent felon on a parole violation.

The deputy had spotted the tan Mercedes pulling into the drive-through Saturday, and found it was registered to a couple suspected of leaving behind a stolen gun at a Bremerton motel last month, according to court documents.

In order to confirm the identity of the people in the car, the deputy “formulated a plan” to watch from the drive-thru window. He contacted an employee inside, who let him in, and the deputy watched as the car pulled forward.

It wasn’t the criminals he was looking for, but behind the wheel was a criminal, a 25-year-old convicted of first-degree robbery wanted for a state Department of Corrections warrant.

Deputies arrested the man without incident, after he got his food. The man said he had been driving the car for about a month. Before booking him into jail on the warrant, the deputy found a scale covered in small specks of heroin. The man said the scale was used to weigh pot, and it didn’t belong to him.