Category Archives: Breaking News

UPDATE: Cops search car of suspected liquor thieves

Fifty bottles of high end liquor were removed from a car police believe belongs to one of three women who stole it from area Safeway stores, Port Orchard Police Cmdr. Geoffrey Marti told me this morning. 

The bottles were mostly in the $50 price range, Marti said. A detective obtained a search warrant and served it on the car, found by police at the Port Orchard Safeway, Thursday afternoon.

Long story short, the three women, who have yet to be charged with a crime, are accused of stealing the liquor from Safeway stores all across the county, from Bainbridge Island to Port Orchard. They were arrested in Port Orchard but released Tuesday as the investigation developed.

Here’s the recap, if you haven’t read it yet:

 Police say the trio, two Seattle women age 23 and 21 and a 21-year-old Kent woman, have been caught on camera and by store security loading shoulder bags and shopping carts full of liquor and then attempting to leave the stores. Up until early Monday, they’d avoided apprehension.

But early Monday — after the women were alleged to have made off with more than $600 worth of mostly Crown Royal from the Bainbridge Island Safeway on High School Road — the suspects showed up at the Bethel Road Safeway in Port Orchard, 36 miles away.

There, an officer, notified by Bethel Road store’s employees and Bainbridge officers, confronted the three. In interviews with Port Orchard officers, two denied the thefts and a third declined to talk to police. Police located a vehicle in the parking lot that had numerous bottles of liquor, including Crown Royal with security devices attached to them.

In total, the three are alleged to have attempted to take or make off with liquor in the past week at Safeways in Bainbridge, Port Orchard, East Bremerton and West Bremerton. Police say they might have stolen from some stores more than once.

The case is now being coordinated by a Kitsap County Sheriff’s detective, Marti added. We’ll keep you posted.

Blogger’s note: the photo on this post comes from the Bremerton Safeway’s attempted liquor theft by the same suspects Sept. 3. 

Reporter’s Notebook: Bainbridge civil rights trial continues; plea in assisting trooper’s killer?

It continues to be a busy week for crime and justice news in Kitsap County.

Today, the federal civil rights trial Ostling vs. Bainbridge Island continues, with Officer David Portrey and William Ostling taking the witness stand. William’s son, Douglas, was killed in October 2010 in an encounter with police.

The Kitsap Sun won’t be live blogging today’s proceedings but rest assured we will be keeping up on the day’s events. Follow the links for coverage to the case’s opening arguments and Officer Jeff Benkert’s testimony.

Elsewhere, a plea deal was announced Tuesday in the assault cases filed in the wake of the Armin Jahr School shooting that left a third-grader critically wounded in February. Jamie Chaffin, mother of the boy, has agreed to plead guilty to unlawful possession charges in exchange for a little over a year prison sentence and her testimony against her boyfriend and owner of the gun taken to school that day.

Finally, there is a scheduled change-of-plea in Kitsap County Superior Court for one of the people charged with rendering criminal assistance to Joshua Blake, the man authorities believe murdered Washington State Trooper Tony Radulescu during a traffic stop in February.

I’ll keep you posted.

Mustard Trial Update: Prosecutors Close to Resting Case

The prosecution of Daniel J. Mustard for the murder of Ruby Andrews continues this week in Kitsap County Superior Court.

Prosecutors are continuing to put witnesses on the stand that back up deputy prosecutor Kevin Kelly’s opening argument: that the killing was an “act of greed and violence,” and Mustard told many others of the brutal homicide and how he’d committed it. That includes people he was with the day of the murder and jail inmates he’d told after he was arrested, as well as several hours of telephone calls being played for jurors.

The case hinges upon Mustard’s mental state at the time of the crime. There is no dispute of the fact that Mustard stabbed Ruby Andrews, 87 to death at her South Kitsap home on April 5, 2009.

Deputy prosecutor Kevin Hull told me Tuesday that the prosecution is close to closing its own case and that could happen as early as Thursday.

On Monday, the defense plans to call Dr. Mark Whitehill to the stand, Hull said. Keep in mind that defense attorney Bryan Hershman bears the burden to prove to jurors that while Mustard committed the act, his mental state was diminished to the point he couldn’t comprehend his actions.

That means that once the defense finishes with its case, prosecutors will be able to rebut the insanity argument — and plans to do so sometime after Thanksgiving with nationally known forensic expert Dr. Park Dietz.

We will keep you posted on the trial’s developments.

2010’s Officer-Involved Shootings on the Kitsap Peninsula

On Tuesday night, Bainbridge Island police shot and killed an ax-wielding man, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

It’s the fifth time this year that police — on duty or off — on the Kitsap Peninsula have resorted to lethal force. Here are the previous incidents:

In February, Suquamish officers opened fire on a man who drove a car at them on Nelson Street. The shooting was justified, according to the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office.

In July, a Poulsbo officer on a traffic stop in Silverdale shot and killed a Bremerton man who police said was reaching for a gun. That shooting was also ruled justified by the prosecutor.

In September, an off-duty Washington State trooper at his home in Olalla shot and killed a man who’d hit him in the head with a steel rod. That shooting remains under investigation.

In early October, a Mason County deputy was hit in the leg with gunfire following a chase in Allyn. Though the investigation is not complete, early reports indicate a deputy had fired a shot at the suspect’s car after he’d begun using it as a “deadly weapon,” according to the sheriff’s office.

Kitsap’s Prosecutor, Coroner Will Have Election Opponents

Two elected leaders got opponents in this fall’s elections in the last two days of filing week. Bruce Danielson, a South Kitsap attorney who ran for superior court judge in 2004 and 2008, will challenge Russ Hauge for the job of Kitsap County prosecutor.

It’s the first time Hauge has faced an opponent since dethroning C. Danny Clem in 1994 Here’s the profile I wrote about Hauge in 2006, when he last ran for the post.

And in a surprise Friday filing, Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom garnered an opponent in Pete Favazza. Favazza last ran for the Public Utility District Commission in 2008.

Sandstrom has overseen the coroner’s office’s transition into a new building during his current term. Here’s the profile I wrote about him in 2006, when he ran unopposed.

Mystery Shrouds Death of Belfair Native in California

The mysterious shooting death of a Belfair native is making headlines in a California town east of San Francisco.

Benjamin Merrill, 22, was found shot to death in a Pittsburg, California park at 3 a.m last Tuesday, according to a story in the local Contra Costa Times. Though he’d grown up in Belfair, he’d become a waiter in San Francisco, the story says.

But despite the police’s best efforts, they have no idea how he got there. In fact, they didn’t even know who he was. It took one of his relative’s happenstance appearance in a nearby courthouse to see a sketch of then John Doe to realize it was Merill.

Read the story here.

Kitsap Sheriff’s: No New News in Homicide, But …

20091101-205403-pic-125675228_t600Kitsap County Sheriff’s detectives continue to hunt for a suspect or suspects believed to have killed Paymela Faye Long in Illahee Shores last weekend.

Scott Wilson, sheriff’s spokesman, put out a new release Thursday night. You can read it below.

Long story short: there’s not any new information outside of what we reported. But sheriff’s detectives would like to recirculate a call for tips if anyone does know anything about the killing.

“Sheriff’s detectives are pursuing all investigative leads,” Wilson said in the release.

Looks like any help they can get would be greatly appreciated.

Continue reading

Balloon Boy: Sorting out the Criminal Charges

You had to be living under a rock last week to avoid what has become known as the saga of “Balloon Boy.” What I’m most curious about is what exactly Larimer County’s lawyers will announce are the official criminal charges in the case.

According to CBC, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said Sunday that charges his department is recommending include conspiracy, making a false report to authorities, attempting to influence a public servant and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Some of those are felonies.

And what about federal charges? The Federal Aviation Administration is also conducting an investigation.

The Denver Post says the couple who allegedly orchestrated such a hoax faces up to six years in prison and a “seven figure fine.”

What makes this most interesting in my mind is how the couple will be prosecuted. Why? Because never before has an attorney in Colorado (let alone anywhere) been greeted with such a fact pattern.

All cases are unique. But somewhere in Colorado’s (and the United States’) criminal code, they’ll have to pick and choose laws they believe were violated (there is no “Pretending my kid’s in a UFO-like balloon so I’ll get the reality TV show I’ve always wanted” statute).

Constitutionally, they’ll have to find laws passed by lawmakers who could’ve never dreamed up what took flight over Colorado last week. And they’ll do it under the intense lens of the media. That, in my book, is a challenge.

Port Orchard Man Gets 30 Years in Prison for Ponzi Scheme

Charles Nolon Bush, 69, was sentenced in federal court today to 30 years in prison for bilking investors out of $35 million. He also will have to bay $30 million in restitution.

Bush took the money, promising high-yield investments, but only invested a third of the money. He used the rest of it to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a home with a golfing green in Port Orchard. He also used the money to pay previous investors in a Ponzi scheme.

One victim from Gig Harbor Gig Harbor stated during sentencing in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, “everything you’ve ever done is a lie” and wished a 300-year term upon him.

After sentencing, Bush told the court, “I do plan on appealing … I am sickened over the pain I’ve caused people.” But he says he didn’t do anything “criminally.”

We’ll have more on the sentencing this evening.

– Angela Dice (filling in while Josh drives back from Tacoma to write the story)