Kitsap Crime and Justice

The Kitsap Sun staff writes about crime and criminal justice issues.
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Archive for December, 2008

An iPod Breathalyzer Just in Time for New Year’s?

Monday, December 29th, 2008

A California company thinks it has come up with a solution for Apple-inclined customers curious about how drunk they are after putting a few back.

For $79, those of you with iPhones and iPods can purchase a breathalyzer that will, within five seconds, deliver a number said to be your blood alcohol content.

Proponents call it a device that could save lives. Opponents see it as a false sense of security (photo by coolmaterial.com).

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Beware of The Holiday Burglar

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Unfortunately, the time of festive holiday cheer is also a time when home burglaries tend to rise. So without further ado, here are some solid tips from the folks at Response Insurance on how to safeguard your home from would-be burglars:

* Take a look around the outside of your house to make sure all doors and windows are locked and shut tight. Also, make sure no ladders — or other things a thief could climb on to get to upper levels of your house — are around. Often times thieves will be deterred simply if they’re unable to get inside your home easily.

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North Mason’s ‘Go To’ Deputy, Dies at 64

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

In the 1970s, Gaylen Luther Gulbranson was North Mason’s “go to” deputy. He went on to be a detective and ultimately the Mason County jail’s superintendent until 1995, when he left the office.

Gulbranson, 64, died in his home Friday in Peoria, Arizona, where he’d worked as a fingerprint analyst for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Here’s how Dean Byrd, Mason County’s Chief Deputy, recalled Gulbranson:

“I worked with Gail for many years.  I met him when I came to work for the Sheriff’s Office in 1973.  He had a way of getting the job done with quiet and gentle kindness.  The bad guys never wanted to challenge him.  He was highly regarded by his colleagues and the citizens he served.  Gail was a great presence in the community.  I also remember his photographic memory for license numbers and his ability to drive at high speed with smoothness and grace.”

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High Court Weighs in on Kitsap ‘Prior Convictions’ Case

Monday, December 8th, 2008

If you were on a jury, would you be more likely to find someone guilty if you knew he or she had already been convicted before for criminal acts?

Just how “prejudicial” such information would be to a jury was the subject of a state supreme court decision issued last week on a case that originated in Kitsap County.

Here’s the long story short: Johnathon Roswell, who had previous convictions for third-degree rape and third-degree child molestation, was charged in 2005 with new sex offenses, including “Communication with a minor for immoral purposes,” after police alleged he’d propositioned some 16-year-old girls at a park, the supreme court said.

Here’s why the state supreme court took issue: If a defendant has been convicted of a prior sex crime, a conviction for the gross misdemeanor of “communication with a minor for immoral purposes,” becomes a felony.

That means the jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has the criminal history, meaning they need to know at least what said history is. And normally, juries must stick to the facts of the current case out of our courts’ fear they’ll be prejudiced into convicting by virtue of the fact the defendant has done it before.

There are other crimes where juries must consider a defendant’s previous criminal history. Any guesses of what they are?

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Judge: ‘Millennium Bomber’ That Came by Ferry Will be Out in 2018

Friday, December 5th, 2008

On a December day back in 1999, C. Dan Clem was working as a border patrol inspector in Port Angeles, where ferries from Victoria B.C. still come and go each day. 

Clem (pictured on far right, with the photo from cbp.gov), the longtime Kitsap County elected prosecutor until 1995, and other agents had become suspicious of one man who’d come over on the ferry. After a search, the agents found the ingredients for a massive bomb that the man had planned to drive into the Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebration.

Now nine years later, Ahmed Ressam, who federal prosecutors believe had been recruited by al Qaida in Montreal, was given this week a 22 year sentence — for a second time — in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Federal prosecutors said that means Ressam will be out in 2018, when he is 51 years old.

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How 12 Became Jury’s Magic Number (Hint: it was an ‘Accident’)

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Photo courtesy of http://www.impawards.com/

You might remember watching the legal thriller “12 Angry Men,” in civics or social studies class way-back-when (or, perhaps, because it is a classic of cinema, at least in my opinion).

But have you ever wondered why it isn’t “8 Angry Men?” Or maybe “14 Angry Men?”

Turns out it was a “historical accident.” And here’s the story of how such a mishap occurred.  (See the photo credit for the poster here.)

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WMD Attack ‘Likely’ Congressional Panel Says

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

In the next five years, terrorists will use a weapon of mass destruction somewhere in the world, a blue-ribbon commission created by Congress said Monday.

The story gave me pause, especially given the recent coordinated attacks in Mumbai. And I don’t normally post anything but local news here, but this is a report that could, quite obviously, affect all of us.

Here in Kitsap, our local authorities seem to believe such an attack would most likely be carried out on a Washington State ferry. Anyone remember that episode of Gray’s Anatomy? (pictured). And, we were reminded of the possibility last month with a threat to bomb the Hyak.

CNN’s story quoted former Senator Bob Graham in talking about just what form such an attack would come. Biological is more likely than nuclear, he’s quoted as saying. Here’s more: (more…)


Troopers To Swoop in on DUIs this Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Law enforcement is giving intoxicated Washingtonians another reason to avoid getting behind the wheel this holiday season.

Washington State Patrol troopers on the road won’t be the only ones seeking to arrest impaired drivers — they’ll have help from overhead in what they’re calling the DUI Aerial Response Team.

The state patrol’s fleet of planes will pan out over the state, and, somewhat divergent from their duties catching speeders, they’ll scour the roadways — in daylight and at night-time thanks to one high tech camera — looking for cars winding and weaving where the roadways are straight. They’ll also have local dispatchers tell them where residents have called in to report drunken drivers.

I got a chance earlier this year to take to the skies with the state patrol’s air troopers; to see a video of their plane and how they conduct speed enforcement using them, click here.

Troopers said there were 31 alcohol-related traffic deaths in Washington during the 2007 holiday season; that’s 31 too many according to their “Tie One On” campaign.

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