Judge Laurie to retire at end of June

judge laurie

Kitsap Superior Court Judge Anna Laurie wrote Gov. Jay Inslee today to say she will retire effective June 30.

Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith confirmed the letter, and said Inslee’s office will post notice of the vacancy soon.

Although judges can have a reputation for being no-nonsense while conducting their courtrooms, those who have been present to see Laurie finalize adoptions know she has a soft side.

This from a story I wrote last year about a finalization ceremony:

Some of the parents tried to quiet the young ones as Judge Anna Laurie spoke, but she told them not to worry.

“You don’t have to shush those children,” Laurie said, who was adopted from foster care as an infant. “You have no idea how joyous that noise is for me.”

This from Laurie’s page on the county courts website (it doesn’t mention that Laurie, like me, is from Renton):

Judge Laurie graduated from Highline Community College with an Associates in Arts degree.  She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Washington, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology.  She later returned to the University of Washington to earn a Juris Doctorate.

After her graduation, she settled in Kitsap County and practiced law in Bremerton from 1982 to 2001 when she was elected to the Kitsap County Superior Court Bench.

Solved: The mystery of the Highway 16 dancer


A 33-year-old man was charged Friday with possession of meth after Washington State Patrol troopers investigated a report  of a man “dancing” in the median of Highway 16 near the Tremont Street exit.

“The report matched similar incidents of a male in the median, sometimes hiding in the bushes, reported by passing motorists since the summer of 2014,” a trooper wrote in court documents. “I have responded to many of these calls was never able to observe the individual.”

Two troopers responding to the March 2 call, which was dispatched at about 6:50 a.m., didn’t see a male in the median. One noticed a large hole in a fence leading to a neighborhood off Tremont, however, and when he stepped through the hole he saw a man matching the description of the suspect.

The troopers got back in their vehicles and drove into the neighborhood. When they caught up with the man, he was “moving erratically,” the trooper wrote, “flailing his arms about in an animated fashion.”

When they approached him, the man appeared to discard a used meth pipe from his pocket, though he denied it was his, according to the document. During a search of the man, the trooper also found suspected meth.

“I asked (the man) about the meth, noting that it was the old home-cooked style that was prevalent several years ago,” the trooper wrote.

“(The man) stated that I was correct, that it was locally cooked.”

Deliberations begin in Kingston man’s second trial for shaking death of baby daughter


A Kitsap County Superior Court jury started deliberations Wednesday in the case of a Kingston man accused of shaking his infant daughter to death in July.

It is the second time Hector Francisco Saavedra Ruiz, 22, has stood trial for the death of 5-month-old Natalie. The first trial, in February, ended in a hung jury.

Saavedra Ruiz is charged with second-degree murder, but before trial prosecutors added a charge of first-degree manslaughter.*

Prosecutors have alleged that Saavedra Ruiz and the child’s mother, Kayla DesRochers, smoked meth then Saavedra Ruiz took the child to visit his coworkers at the Puerto Vallarta Mexican restaurant on Highway 104 July 16.

When Saavedra Ruiz returned, the child was not breathing. Natalie died in the hospital two days later. An autopsy found she had injuries consistent with being shaken.

DesRochers told investigators differing accounts of what happened that night. Also, a juror on the first trial said testimony raised questions about a broken rib on the child that was healing in light of testimony from DesRochers stating Saavedra Ruiz had little or no unsupervised contact with Natalie prior to that night.

Natalie was one of two infant girls alleged to have died in 2014 after being shaken by their fathers. Christopher Mayo, 20, is scheduled to be sentenced May 1 after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for the death of 10-week-old AnnaBelle in October. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors will ask that Mayo be sentenced to 14 years in prison.

*Prosecutors attempted to file this charge, but it was not filed.

Mystery helicopters most likely not the Easter bunny, United Nations



The whump whump of a helicopter heard thundering above Central Kitsap during the early hours of Easter morning was likely a King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter on its way to help rescue an injured hiker in Jefferson County.

Reports of the low-flying helicopter came in from Seabeck to Silverdale and Bremerton, where windows were rattled, sleep was disturbed, questions were raised and the possibility of a United Nations invasion was pondered (by me).

The King County helicopter was sent to The Brothers mountains – across Hood Canal from Seabeck – to hoist the hiker and take him to Harborview Medical Center, said Deputy BJ Myers, spokesman for the office. The office’s Facebook page was updated at 12:25 a.m. to say the helicopter, known as Guardian 2, was preparing to launch.

Myers said the helicopter is known as being noisy. One person in Silverdale said it sounded like it was going to land on their roof. A man in Seabeck commented it did two passes over his house, which he found “rude.”

“It’s a super loud helicopter,” Myers said. “I know exactly what they are talking about.”

There was a medical airlift from Bainbridge Island at about 4:30 a.m. following a car crash. Tom Struck of Airlift Northwest said the helicopter took off from Boeing Field, went directly to Bainbridge and then flew to Harborview Medical Center.

“There’s no reason for us to do anything but fly a straight line back and forth,” he said, noting that the medical airlift helicopters are relatively quiet and generally do not generate complaints except for during warm weather when people sleep with their windows open.

Struck offered an alternative theory, however.

“One other thing it could have been was the Easter bunny.”

Aggressive human jailed in row over hot dog

hot dog


One woman got punched in the head, twice, another got grabbed by the throat and had claw marks down her chest. Another went to jail.

The dog, however, emerged uninjured.

As the weather warms up and people leave pets in the car while they run errands, and other people keep an eye out for those pets lest they perish in the car, an incident last week over a dog left in an SUV shows how volatile and aggressive humans can be when it comes to dogs.

A Poulsbo woman who routinely patrols parking lots looking for dogs in distress applauded the women who removed the dog last Tuesday, as well as the Bremerton Police officer who said the dog removers acted “in good faith” and were not cited. However, she thinks lawmakers need to write a law making sure good Samaritans are protected.

Here is what happened:

A 52-year-old Port Orchard woman took her friend’s teenage daughters to a show at the movie theater on Fourth Street in Bremerton. She left her dog inside her car. She cracked the windows and left it a bowl of water.

Meanwhile, employees of a nearby business believed the unseasonably warm weather and direct sunlight was putting the dog in distress (A National Weather Service meteorologist said the high for the day was 61 degrees). They called police for a check on the dog, but nobody arrived. They tried breaking the window, to no avail.

One of the employees – the one who got choked – has skinny arms and she was able to reach into the SUV and unlock the door, releasing the dog.

When the 52-year-old Port Orchard woman returned from watching a movie, all hell broke loose. At first she thought the dog had been stolen, so she called 911. While on the phone, the employees approached her with the dog.

The employee said the Port Orchard woman was calm at first, but then attacked her. The Port Orchard woman said she felt threatened. During the punching, the other employee tried to intervene, the report said, but that’s when the suspect grabbed her by the throat. The two teenage girls were shocked by what they saw and refused to go with the woman.

The Port Orchard woman’s husband came and said he would take the dog, the teenage girls and the SUV. The woman was arrested for two counts of fourth-degree assault. When she inquired about the removal of her dog, the officer said, “It appeared that it was a good faith effort for the safety of the dog,” according to the report.

Last summer I wrote about Sandra Crump, who almost instinctively roves parking lots on hot days looking for dogs left in cars.

She knows how quickly those confrontations can escalate. She has never been punched or grabbed by the throat, but one time an “elderly gentleman” started swinging his cane at her, using “filthy and vile language.”

“He limped through parking lot after me, his wife was aghast,” she said, who has a sense of humor about herself, and has called her fixation on looking for overheated dogs a “curse.”

It can also lead to violent encounters. You never know who you might be upsetting, or what kind of frame of mind they might be in when you confront them.

“I guess they are embarrassed,” she said of those she has confronted. “People don’t want to be told don’t beat your kid. ‘It’s my kid.’ People don’t want to have others interfere with their property. But (a dog) has rights.”

Crump believes state lawmakers should clarify that a residents will not be subject to prosecution, although local law enforcement officials have said if one acts in good faith to save a life — dog or human or otherwise — they are unlikely to get in trouble for breaking a window or entering somebody else’s car.

Aside from legal protections, Crump said a new law would raise awareness and might help eliminate the practice of leaving dogs in cars entirely.

She said she was relieved to hear about the people who freed the dog last week, saying it made her feel less lonely.

“I’m not the only nutcase out there,” she said.

First person shooter: Scenario training helps cops prepare for high-pressure encounters

This guy is going 90 mph so I pull him over. He is irate, apparently at me, and although I have never seen him before in my life, he wants me to kill him. What I’m really afraid of is that he will try to kill me first.

He’s white, 30s, driving an SUV, and that’s all I really recall. I guess he said he intended to shoot me, but I don’t remember that. I don’t remember much, including how many bullets I fired into him before he slumped to the ground.

This is a drill, only a drill, on a training simulator a few weeks ago in the basement of the Bremerton Police Department. At this point, nobody associated Pasco with Ferguson or Staten Island.

Although questions about the use of force by police have been steadily in the center of the national consciousness since the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Missouri city police officer in August, the fatal shooting Tuesday of a rock-throwing man by police in the Tri-Cities has brought the discussion home again.

The scenario is projected on a wall. An officer at the controls can escalate or tone down the situation, the weapons on my “belt” are borrowed from Laser Tag, but for our purposes they are a Taser and a Glock.

The man who just led me on a 90 mph chase to a residential neighborhood is screaming at me, telling me to shoot him.

“C’mon!” he keeps screaming at me.

I keep telling him to calm down, just calm down and we can talk about it. He keeps screaming. He’s going back to the truck. What has he got in the truck? He’s not listening to me, he’s out of control. I reach for my Taser.

Showing the public the scenario training demonstrates to non-cops the preheated conflicts officers waltz into, however, Police Chief Steve Strachan said it isn’t meant to shock people into concluding the police are always right. They are human, Strachan said, they make mistakes and should be held accountable. The point of training is to reduce mistakes.

In the same way police work to understand the challenges of dealing with a diverse population, including the mentally ill, he said showing city officials, ministers and a reporter the exercises can expand the discussion. It can help the public understand how police train to secure the safety of others, themselves and choose the appropriate level of force under terrifying circumstances.

“It isn’t to say anything the police do is justified,” Strachan said. “Because it isn’t.”

It is, however, terrifying.

Bremerton City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs talked down a disturbed man holding a gun to his head, while training her gun on him.

“Oh my God, I’m sweating,” she said after the man put the gun down.

Even with unarmed people, situations can spin out of control. In addition to weapons, lethal and non-lethal, officers use their hands, but they are limited to their size, strength and speed. If they choose the wrong person to grapple with, their weapons can be used against them.

“Every time I’m in fight with a guy who is unarmed, there is still a gun in that fight,” said Officer Duke Roessel.

Currently, a fatal June shooting of Thomas Daniel Rogers, 36, by Port Orchard Police is under review by Prosecutor Tina Robinson. Police had gone to arrest Rogers on felony warrants from Oklahoma for sexually assaulting children. Rogers, who investigators said was armed with a kitchen knife, allegedly wounded one officer in the encounter. In an eerie coincidence, in October, Rogers’ brother, Jason Rogers, 35, was fatally shot by police in Oklahoma following up a domestic violence report. Jason Rogers allegedly pulled a gun on the officers, according to media reports.

Incidents involving force are usually inflammatory, one of the lesser reasons Strachan said he has never known a cop who wanted to use his or her gun. When the incidents are caught on video, the situation explodes. On top of the issue of police accountability and training, the deaths trigger frustrations people have with poverty and racism, Strachan said.

“I’m not justifying anything, I don’t know what happened,” Strachan said of the Pasco shooting. But when videos can be watched over and over, “People want an answer now, they want a statement that is strong now.”

He added, “It doesn’t feel good, but we have to take a step back.”

Back to my suicide by cop, who is a step away from the SUV and is saying something I can’t remember.

He’s going back to the vehicle, like he is going to show me. Whatever it is, I don’t want to see it.

Gun, I think. Gun. Oh, crap, he’s going for a gun.

I reach for my Taser. Good old trusty Taser. That should do the trick. A little non-lethal force. He’ll go down and we’ll both be fine.

“Taser failed!” I hear from behind me. Taser failed. It takes a second to sink in. Taser failed. I don’t really have a second to ponder the meaning of those words. My stomach drops. I don’t have time to think.

I’m still yelling at him to get away from the vehicle, to calm down, to just calm down.

He’s not listening. “OK,” I say out loud, as if to say, you asked for it.

Out comes the Glock. Both hands. Finger on the trigger. He’s got something in his hands. It’s the butt of a gun. It’s a shotgun. I’m focused on the barrel. He’s holding it like a gift he wants to give me. I’m waiting. What am I waiting for? The guy is smiling. He’s actually smiling. I can’t wait until I’m staring down the business end of that thing, I don’t want to do this.

He’s turning it on me. He’s still smiling.

I pull the trigger. I don’t know how many times. Maybe two? Maybe just once?

The guy crumpled. I killed him.

My scenario was pretty clear-cut. He was armed, and not with a rock. He was facing me and went for a gun, not his driver’s license. He moved slow enough that I had more time to react than I likely would have had in real life.

The lights come on. I’m shaking.

The great Puget Sound Energy swindle … explained


It’s not unusual for a business to get scammed, and it’s not extraordinary for a police officer to investigate and find, yup, they got scammed.

What isn’t typical is when a police officer rings up a confidence man and has a nice, straightforward chat about how the con works and ends with an apology from the swindler for an off-color comment he made to his vic and a wish that the officer “be safe and have a blessed day.”

Bremerton police were called Tuesday by a member of the family that owns the Mannette Mart and Deli, 2044 Wheaton Way, reporting that one of the family received a call from a person claiming to be an bill collector for Puget Sound Energy. The person said the store was in arrears $858 — which was not true — and in order to keep the power from being shut off they had to pay that day through a wire transfer service.

The family member paid $500 to before realizing they had been tricked. When the family member’s daughter called to demand the money back, the scammer said her voice was “sexy” and that “she should meet him in person so she could get her money back,” according to a police report.

When the police officer called, and identified himself and asked the confidence man if he was willing to answer a few questions, the man said, “Of course.”

Considering the person is a con artist, it’s hard to say if the answers he gave the officer were just more rubbish, but the glimpse it does give is plausible.

The thief said he works as part of a team that targets a particular area code, paying close attention to businesses, as they seem to pay more and more often. Although it may seem to a victim that the con artist has access to account information, no, the man said — and then laughed — it’s a matter of asking “subtle questions” which lead victims to unknowingly provide important information.

The man said he is in Jamaica and works with a small group, and the money they scam goes into a pot and is divided up. The scammers try to get at least $1,000 a vic, because if they get less than others “it causes problems.”

And although it sounded to the victim like they were speaking to multiple people, no, that’s just him disguising his voice. He said he lived in New York City for 19 years and is adept at “sounding professional.”

As he was wrapping up the Q and A, the officer mentioned that one of the people he spoke with was more upset at how the con man spoke to her.

The man “apologized and stated he was just having a little fun.”

The officer thanked the man and asked that he not call the victim back, and the con man agreed.

At the end of the conversation the man “told me to be safe and have a blessed day,” the officer wrote.


Top 10 frivolous lawsuits of 2014


To get people in the mood for Christmas, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce compiled a list of the “most ridiculous” lawsuits of 2014.

“Ridiculous,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder. The beholder in this case is a U.S. Chamber website that calls itself “Faces of Lawsuit of Abuse.”

This from the site:

“This list puts a light-hearted face on a serious problem: that as a country, we simply sue too much,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “In fact, the collective toll that abusive lawsuits take on our society and our economy is no laughing matter. Lawsuits should be a last resort, not a first option.”

This lecture on abusing government resources of course comes from an organization that spent about $92 million lobbying the government in 2014.

Here is the list.

Call me ridiculous, but at least one of the “ridiculous” lawsuits is a little sympathetic.

One woman, who apparently likes sprouts, was unhappy when her Jimmy Johns brand food product did not include sprouts as advertised. So she sued.

Sure, it was probably not a good idea. But who hasn’t been lied to, snubbed, or otherwise dismissed when trying to give money to a company? Who hasn’t wanted to summon the full force of our courts to send a message to our food product providers that we want sprouts, darn it!

Proposal would make Supreme Court race partisan

State Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, has signed onto a measure to make the race for state Supreme Court partisan, just like the Legislature and the governor’s office.

The main sponsor of the bill, prefiled Friday in advance of the Jan. 12 legislative session, is state Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, who is on the conservative side of the Democrat-controlled state House. Appleton is on the liberal side.

However, the Seattle Times reports, the bill’s sponsors may be making a statement with the proposal. Instead of really wanting the Supreme Court race to be partisan, they are sort of slapping at the justices. Or maybe think of it as shooting rubber bands. Or maybe it’s closer to writing unflattering things about them on a lavatory wall.

The Court has ruled that the state is failing its primary duty to educate kids, putting the Legislature on the hook to figure out how to fix/pay for the education system. It has also found the Legislature in contempt. Apparently, the Legislature is quaking in its boots.

Here is the revealing text from the measure, to give you an idea of where the sponsors are coming from:

“The legislature finds that because the supreme court has decided to act like the legislature and has thus violated the separation of powers, the supreme court should be considered partisan like the legislature.”

Anonymous Seahawk buys Kevlar vest for Mason Co. Sheriff’s dog

Dep Cotte & K9 Solo

A Kevlar vest for a Mason County Sheriff’s Office tracking dog was bought with money donated by an anonymous Seattle Seahawk, the office announced Thursday.

A 3-year-old German shepherd named Solo, who is regularly called to help track down dangerous suspects, will wear the “Storm Vest.” Solo’s handler is Deputy Justin Cotte.

The vest cost $2,300, and was donated by a group called “All K9s Go To Heaven.” The group solicits donations, then purchases and donates the equipment.

The office’s K-9 program is paid for by private donations, and the office would not be able to afford equipment like the vest, the statement said. The office has three dogs.

Police dogs often are first to encounter suspects, and often enough are injured and killed in the line of duty.

A Bremerton Police dog, Buddy, was shot and killed by a suspect in Lion’s Park in 2001.

The office also has an Education K9 Team, which includes a Great Dane named Jack who often sports toenails painted pink, meant to engage students in a discussion about bullying.