Archive for Criminal Justice

Barry Massey set to be released in 2016

By | June 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Barry Massey, who was 13 at the time he and a co-defendant murdered a Steilacoom shop owner, will be set free in early 2016. Massey’s release comes on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled it was unconstitutional for juveniles to be automatically sentenced to life without parole.

Massey, who was the youngest person in the U.S. to receive a sentence of life without parole, will be released in February after serving almost 30 years in prison, according to a decision released Thursday by the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.

The board made the unanimous decision after seeing “noticeable and dramatic change” in Massey’s behavior, according to board chair Lynne DeLano. She spoke on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” with host Austin Jenkins. The interview airs Thursday, June 4 at 7 & 10 p.m.

“In his hearing, you could see this is not the 13-year-old who killed that man. It was a brutal murder, but this is not the same 13-year-old. This is a man who has changed his life around,” DeLano said.

TVW taped the board’s March hearing to consider Massey’s release.

In 1987, Massey and Michael Harris shot and stabbed Steilacoom Marina owner Paul Wang during a robbery of the store. Harris was 15 at the time of the crime.

The board is also releasing two other offenders who were juveniles when they were convicted. David Cobabe was convicted of attempted murder, burglary and assault charges. Niguel Jones was convicted of murder and assault.

Gun notification bill known as ‘Sheena Henderson Act’ signed into law by Gov. Inslee

By | April 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Sheena Henderson Act into law Tuesday, setting up a notification system for families when police return a confiscated gun back to its owner.

Sheena Henderson’s father, Gary Kennison, said Tuesday the bill was not about taking away gun rights. “It’s giving family members the ability to protect their loved ones,” he said.

Sheena Henderson’s friends say the slain woman might have been able to protect herself if she had been notified by police that her estranged husband, Chris Henderson, had gone to the Spokane Police Department to retrieve his gun. Police had previously confiscated the weapon following a suicide attempt.

The day that Sheena Henderson was shot, “she was going to call and check on the gun on the way to work,” said Kristen Otoupalik, Sheena’s friend who lobbied the Legislature to pass the bill.

But Sheena never called, and Chris Henderson used the gun to kill Sheena and himself at her workplace, Deaconess Hospital in Spokane.

If the law had been in place, “we would have been able to keep her safe longer,” Otoupalik said Tuesday following the bill signing.

Inslee signs the Sheena Henderson bill into law.

Gov. Inslee signs the Sheena Henderson bill into law.

Senate Bill 5381 allows family or household members to request to be notified when police return a firearm to its owner. The notification can be done by telephone, email, text or personal service.

Both of Sheena’s children attended the bill signing on Tuesday, along with several friends and family members.

TVW taped the bill signing ceremony, watch it online here.

Kennison and Otoupalik say they intend to return to Olympia to continue to push for House Bill 1448, which creates a process for law enforcement officers to request mental health evaluations of people who attempt suicide.

The bill passed the House and out of a Senate committee, but was not brought up for a floor vote in the Senate before the end of regular session on April 24.

State Auditor Troy Kelley pleads not guilty to 10 counts in federal court

By | April 17, 2015 | 0 Comments
State Auditor Troy Kelley surrounded by media as he leaves the U.S. District Court after pleading not guilty to 10 counts. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)

State Auditor Troy Kelley surrounded by media as he leaves the U.S. District Court after pleading not guilty to 10 counts. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)

State Auditor Troy Kelley entered a not guilty plea to 10 counts connected to tax evasion and obstruction in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Richard Creatura set the trial date at June 8, and released Kelley on his own recognizance. Creatura allowed Kelley to travel to South Korea for scheduled Washington National Guard duty and throughout Washington for his children’s sports events.

Amid calls for his resignation from Democrats, Republicans and Gov. Jay Inslee, Kelley maintained his innocence and announced he would be taking a leave of absence from his position starting May 1.

“I take this action to allow my office to the important work without distractions and to allow me to participate fully in my defense,” he read from a statement in front of reporters at a press conference. “I fully expect to resume my duties when these old legal matters are finally put to rest.”

Kelley read from the prepared statement before leaving through a back door, on advice from his lawyers.

State Auditor Troy Kelley, behind the podium, addresses reporters as his attorneys (l-r) Rob McCallum and Mark Bartlett, look on. (Photo by Venice Buhain)

State Auditor Troy Kelley, behind the podium, addresses reporters as his attorneys (l-r) Rob McCallum and Mark Bartlett, look on. (Photo by Venice Buhain)

“I’m very confident — very confident — that I will be able to prove my innocence. I look forward to doing that in an open court of law,” he read.

He maintained that he will clear his name and his activities at the company are in line with current real estate practices.

“It’s not our intent to settle the case, unless there’s a dismissal of the indictment,” one of his attorneys Rob McCallum told reporters.

Kelley has been under public scrutiny since March, when federal investigators raided his Tacoma home, and requested information from the State Auditor’s Office.

It emerged that the federal investigators were looking into financial activities related to The Post Closing Department, Kelley’s former real estate transaction business in California. They also had requested information related to Jason JeRue, who worked with Kelley at the California company, and then took a part time remote job at the Auditor’s office in 2013.

The charges filed this week are related to alleged activities Kelley conducted at Post Closing Department. According to the indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Thursday, Kelley withheld more than $2 million that he was supposed to return to clients and that he moved the money between accounts and between states. The indictment also alleges that when the companies filed a lawsuit to get the money back, Kelley lied under oath. The indictment also alleges that Kelley filed false income tax returns, and then lied to Internal Revenue Service agents who questioned him about it in April 2013.

U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Langlie declined to comment on whether charges were forthcoming against JeRue.

Each count is punishable between 3 and 10 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office.

Kelley, a Democrat, was a state legislator elected to the State Auditor’s Office after Auditor Brian Sonntag decided not to run.

The State Auditor’s Office is consulting with the State Attorney General’s Office to find out whether Kelley will be paid during his leave of absence, according to spokesman Thomas Shapley.

McCallum and Kelley’s other attorney, Mark Bartlett, told reporters that it was unusual for a criminal case to be filed in connection to a settled civil case.

“I have never ever seen a criminal case brought related to civil deposition or civil filings,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said that Kelley believed that the case was behind him before he ran for the state auditor’s office.

“That tells you more about what was in Troy Kelley’s mind than anything else. He clearly didn’t think he’d done anything wrong,” Barlett said.

“If he had thought he did anything wrong,the last thing he would have done is run for office.”

New deadline for mental-health evaluations

By | March 12, 2015 | 0 Comments


Washington jails and hospitals now will have a deadline of two weeks to complete mental health evaluations under a bill Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Thursday.

“Defendants do have the right to understand the proceedings against them and to participate in their own defense,” he said. “We all know we now need to turn to the important task of making sure this bill and these provisions are funded adequately.”

In a class-action lawsuit filed against the state, people charged with crimes say they were forced to wait an unconstitutional amount of time before receiving mental health evaluations for competency to stand trial, sometimes weeks or months.

Hospitals, under Senate Bill 5889, will have 14 days to offer admission to a defendant for inpatient competency evaluations. Jails must also complete evaluations within that time frame, with an option to extend another seven days for clinical reasons.

The new time limit will be phased in throughout a period of one year beginning July 1. If a jail or hospital exceeds a time limit, it will have to submit a report to the Legislature and governor’s office, and the defendant could use the missed deadline as a defense in court.

A shortage of psychiatric beds and staff contributed to the long wait times, mental health officials say. Lawmakers last month passed a supplemental budget with more than $20 million toward the state’s mental health system, including adding 45 beds to the Western State Hospital mental health wards.

Categories: Criminal Justice

‘Alicia’s Law’ bills pass out of state House, Senate

By | March 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

Investigators who fight child pornography in Washington say they are overwhelmed and underfunded. So the state is going after a new source of funding: The sex offenders themselves.

aliciaHouse Bill 1281 creates an account to fund the state’s Internet Crimes Against Child Task Force, which has six full-time employees who search online materials trying to identify victims and help prosecute the people who exploit them. The bill also imposes a $1,000 fine per image or video containing child pornography.

“We are asking the people who victimize children to pay first into a fund that helps rescue more children,” Rep. David Sawyer, prime sponsor of the House bill, told a Senate committee Thursday.

Sen. Pam Roach is sponsoring a similar bill in the other chamber, Senate Bill 5215, which solely creates an account to fund the task force.

Original versions of the bills allocated up to $2 million in unclaimed lottery prize money to the account every two years, but the provision was removed in committees. Now, the state would decide how much money is allocated to the account, similar to others.

Sawyer said if lawmakers have to revisit the account during each budget discussion, it’s more likely to get the funding he says it deserves. “We don’t want people to stop talking and thinking about what’s happening,” Sawyer told TVW.

Most of the civil fines collected under the House bill would go toward funding the state’s task force, but 25 percent would be reserved for advocacy organizations that provide mental health services for victims. “It’s not just after stopping the sex offenders, we need to make sure we’re taking care of victims too,” Sawyer said.

Both measures are named for Alicia Kozakiewicz, a woman who was lured from her home at 13 by a man she met online. A FBI internet crimes task force rescued the young girl four days later, after she was chained in basement, raped, beaten and tortured.

The 26-year-old now advocates around the country for state-level task forces, which she says have limited resources. “They have to look into these children’s eyes and say ‘I don’t have the ability to come get you’,” Kozakiewicz told TVW last month. “I know who you are, I know where you are and I know what’s happening to you, but I can’t come save you because I don’t have the manpower.”

Seattle Police Captain Mike Edwards, who commands Washington’s tax force, says the team needs more funding to secure more full-time help. They received more than 16,000 leads last year. “We’re getting crushed by the number of reports,” he said.

Sawyer’s bill received a hearing in the Senate Law and Justice committee on Thursday. The Senate version is scheduled for a hearing Monday in House Appropriations.

Categories: Criminal Justice

Wednesday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | February 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Wednesday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review.” We cover a pair of bills that aims to reduce the child pornography trade in Washington by using unclaimed lotto money to fund a task force. Plus, we have details about several bills considered in fiscal committees and other measures passed off the Senate floor.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Categories: Criminal Justice

Washington would abolish death penalty if bill passes

By | February 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

For the more than 30 years since Washington’s death penalty was reinstated, state lawmakers have debated whether to abolish it.

That didn’t change this year when Rep. Reuven Carlyle introduced his seventh bill to keep criminals in prison for life and off death row. But this year’s push, amidst a death penalty moratorium, has more bipartisan support.

House Bill 1739 has 17 sponsors, including two Republicans. Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, has long supported eliminating the death penalty, but this year’s bill also has support from Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah. Republican Sen. Mark Miloscia is sponsoring the Senate version.

Families of murder victims, law enforcement, bill sponsors and a former death row inmate were among those who testified Wednesday before a House committee on the bill.

The death penalty, Carlyle said, fails to deter homicide and is much more costly than life in prison.  “There are incredible implications, not just for our state and for our society, but for the choices we are making for the justice system, public safety and how we choose to spend the public’s hard-earned tax dollars,” the Seattle Democrat said. “Regardless of your view, the death penalty struggles to justify itself finally.”

Rep. Jay Rodne, Snoqualmie Republican and House Judiciary’s ranking GOP member, told sponsors he doesn’t think cost is enough to justify abolishing a punishment that he says gives justice to families. “The cost argument is a red herring, it’s disingenuous,” he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a moratorium on the death penalty last February. He did not vacate sentences of the nine men currently on death row in Washington, but announced none would be executed while he’s in office.

The state sentenced Washington’s most recent death row inmate after Inslee took office. Byron Scherf, an inmate who killed corrections officer Jayme Biendl while she was on duty at a Monroe prison in 2011, was sent to death row in May 2013.

Inslee issued a statement in support of the measure following Wednesday’s hearing. “Capital punishment is a complex and emotional issue with very strong feelings on both sides and it’s important to have civil discussions like we saw today,” he said.

The niece of Delbert Belton, the 88-year-old World War II veteran who was killed by two Spokane teenagers in 2013, testified in support of the bill. One of the boys was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison.

She told lawmakers she’s thankful her family did not have to go through the process of seeking the death penalty. ”It would reopen this wound again and again,” she said. “It may be the only way I end up remembering my uncle. Instead I end up remembering my found childhood memories of him.”

Only one person testified in opposition to the bill. Mitch Barker, executive director for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, said the death penalty is important leverage for law enforcement.: “Had the death penalty not been available to prosecutors, Gary Ridgway would never had admitted what he’d done,” he said.

If the bill passes, Washington would follow 18 states in abolishing the death penalty. Washington has a long legacy of banning and re-imposing a death penalty. The state reinstated the death penalty most recently in 1981. Since then, 33 people have been sentenced to death, but only five have been executed. Altogether, the state has executed 78 people since 1904.

Categories: Criminal Justice

‘Revenge porn’ bills get hearings

By | February 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

When computer technician Jeremy Scott Walters took a customer’s nude photos from her computer and threatened to post them online unless she “played along,” the woman said police did not take her seriously at first.

The woman told a House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday at a hearing on HB 1624 that Walters posted her intimate photos on a website where people post nude images of women with the intent of humiliating them, and links were sent to her family and friends.

The practice commonly is called “revenge porn,” though in this case, the only contact that the woman had with Walters was when she hired him to transfer her files from one computer to another.

After months of investigation, King County prosecutors charged Walters with computer trespass of four women whose nude or topless photos were posted online, and he was sentenced in December to a year in prison, according to news reports at the time.

“The process was long and arduous and painful,” the victim told the House Judiciary Committee. The woman spoke to the committee without identifying herself by her full name.

The woman testified on a bill that would set a civil penalty of at least $10,000 in restitution to the victims. The House will hear two other bills on Friday that would criminalize distributing intimate images of a person without that person’s consent.

Gary Ernsdorff of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office said the bills would help stop cyberstalking, which is a complicated crime to prove.

“It took us about five months and about a dozen search warrants before we had a complete picture of what revenge porn was and how it affected victims in an extreme fashion,” he said.

While some cases may be of an angry person getting back at a former girlfriend, that was not the case for Walters, Ernsdorff said.

“This was a person who was doing it, frankly, just to be cruel,” he said.

Ernsdorff said when victims contact the website, they are told they must pay $500, deposited into a foreign account, to have the images removed from the site.

“They are completely law-enforcement unfriendly by design,” he said. “Their business model is extortion.”

The violation still affects her life, the woman told lawmakers, forcing her to put her name and face out in the public in her efforts to stop the activity.

“Requiring me to be courageous and brave and having this be more upfront than I wanted this to be in the first place,” she said.

Categories: Criminal Justice

Bill would strengthen laws against animal cruelty

By | February 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

A new effort in the state Senate would strengthen charges for people who abuse animals and make it easier for law enforcement to intervene in cases of cruelty.

A state Senate bill would strengthen animal cruelty laws.

Senate Bill 5501 expands felony charges for animal cruelty, outlaws forcing all animals to fight and increases the legal value of pets. It also makes it easier for animal control officers to retrieve animals from cars without liability.

Right now, animal cruelty in the first degree includes intentionally inflicting substantial pain, causing physical injury or killing an animal. The bill would expand the charge to include anyone who causes an animal undue suffering with malice or extreme indifference to life. It’s a class C felony, with a maximum penalty of five years or a $10,000 fine.

The bill would give animal control officers more power to save animals and prosecute offenders, Thurston County Animal Control officer Erica Johnson told a Senate committee Tuesday.

“Adding malice and extreme indifference to life would allow me to request charge for people who just don’t care,” she said. Anyone charged with first degree animal cruelty is barred from owning animals or living anywhere where animals are present.

Forcing some animals to fight is illegal in Washington state, but the definition is limited to dogs and male chickens. The bill expands the state’s definition to include all animals.

It would also increase the value limit of a pet animal to $750, the monetary threshold for theft in the third degree. That’s three times the current value limit.

If an animal is left in a vehicle in excessive heat or cold, the bill would allow an animal control officer to remove the animal without liability. The owner could, if the bill passes, face a $125 fine.

Animal control officers often wait for law enforcement to arrive because liability has been a grey area, Johnson told committee members. “We’ve been told to wait outside,” she said.

No one testified in opposition to the bill at its first hearing Tuesday, but Sen. Pam Roach raised concerns. “This bill is extremely broad and I think we need to understand how subjective it really is,” the Auburn Republican told fellow committee members.

Categories: Criminal Justice

‘Alicia’s Law’ would fund child exploitation task force in Washington state

By | January 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Alicia Kozakiewicz was 13 when she was lured from her Pittsburgh home by a man she met online.

Alicia Kozakiewicz advocates for a bill to devote more funding to finding exploited children.

She was taken to another state, chained in a basement and, for four days, raped, beaten and tortured. “My degradation was shared live, to an audience, over streaming video,” she said.

A FBI internet crimes task force rescued her less than a week after she was abducted. Now, 13 years later, Kozakiewicz is advocating for “Alicia’s Law,” which would secure more funding for child exploitation task forces in Washington and other states.

Law enforcement agencies have limited resources for rescuing many victims of child pornography, Kozakiewicz says. “They have to look into these children’s eyes and say ‘I don’t have the ability to come get you’,” she said. “I know who you are, I know where you are and I know what’s happening to you, but I can’t come save you because I don’t have the manpower.”

Senate Bill 5215 would use unclaimed lottery prize money to fund child exploitation investigations. Sen. Pam Roach is prime sponsor of the bill to allocate up to $2 million every two years to Washington’s branch of Internet Crimes Against Children, one of 61 national task forces dedicated to ending child exploitation online.

Most of the money from unclaimed prizes stays in the state lottery fund to use for other prizes, but one-third is deposited in the development strategic reserve account.

Rep. David Sawyer is sponsoring House Bill 1281, which adds a $1,000 fine per image or video containing child pornography.

Seattle Police Captain Mike Edwards commands the Washington state task force, which in 2014 received more than 16,000 leads. It’s the job of six full-time employees to watch child pornography to identify victims and help prosecute sex offenders.

The task force needs more labor to handle its caseload, Edwards said. It’s a tough job to do for more than a few years, he said, and it can take years before a position is filled. “You don’t want to force anybody to do this,” he said. “It’s something they have to decide on their own.”

Local police departments offer some resources to assist with cases, but Edwards says agencies need more funding to devote full-time employees to child exploitation cases. “We’re getting crushed by the number of reports,” he said. Funding would help pay for more devoted employees.

Seven states have passed similar bills and Washington is one of five states considering “Alicia’s Law” this year. Both bills have received public hearings, but have not yet been scheduled for a vote.

Categories: Criminal Justice