Crash victim not happy with driver’s sentence

TACOMA – A judge who sentenced a high school football coach to three months of work-release confinement for causing a car accident said he was impressed by the man’s previous service to the community.

The victim in the crash didn’t want to hear it.

“I’m broke from my ankles to my neck,” Christopher Butts said after Thursday’s sentencing hearing, which he called “insulting to me and my family.”

Bethel High School football coach Eric Kurle pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular assault last year. Kurle’s blood alcohol level was about twice the legal limit when his SUV struck Butts’ motorcycle. Butts spent 19 days in the hospital.

Associated Press

Rare reptile dealer gets 15 months in jail

A Camas man was sentenced on Friday in U.S. District Court to 15 months in prison and two years of supervised release for illegally dealing in rare reptiles.

Jonathan Corey Sawyer was accused of importing and exporting more than 230 rare reptiles in an eight-month period, the Justice Department said.

Sawyer pleaded guilty in August to shipping 20 corn snakes, 100 leopard geckos, one albino leopard gecko, 14 rhino iguanas, and 98 emperor scorpions in boxes labeled “Stuffed toy animals.” In his plea agreement, Sawyer admitted shipping reptiles valued at $30,000 on seven occasions.

Associated Press

Seattle: Cantwell gets challenge from the left

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, who already faces a challenge from the left for the Democratic Senate nomination, has picked up an anti-war Green Party foe.

Aaron Dixon, once a Black Panther leader and now a black community activist, said Thursday he will take on Cantwell because of her support for the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and other issues.

He rejected the label of spoiler, but told reporters that if he draws enough votes for Cantwell to lose to Republican Mike McGavick, “I won’t feel bad at all. Maria votes like a Republican.”

Mark Wilson, who has previously run under the Green Party banner, is running as an anti-war Democrat against Cantwell. McGavick is opposed by Brad Klippert of Kennewick, a major in the Army National Guard, for the GOP nod.

Associated Press

Olympia: State and feds join to clean up Sound

Washington state and the federal government are linking up for a renewed push to clean up Puget Sound by 2020.

Gov. Chris Gregoire; U.S. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., dean of the state’s congressional delegation; the Bush administration; and state Ecology Department director Jay Manning said Friday that a “collaborative partnership” will pool resources, scientific know-how and political muscle to deal with the state’s inland waters.

The money will help finance research, watershed protection and salmon protection, and bring tribes and other key players into the diverse circle of federal, state and local agencies, nonprofits and the private sector.

Associated Press

Yakima: The parents of dead firefighter sue

The parents of a firefighter killed in the Thirtymile fire in 2001 have sued two U.S. Forest Service officials, accusing them of destroying or withholding evidence.

Ken and Barbara Weaver of Yakima filed suit in U.S. District Court in Yakima on Tuesday, alleging that Forest Service employees Maureen Hanson and George Jackson violated the civil rights of their 21-year-old son Devin, one of four firefighters killed in the blaze.

The lawsuit alleges that Hanson, a Forest Service supervisor in Wenatchee, destroyed the shelters used by the firefighters. Jackson, a fire investigator working in Missoula, Mont., withheld crucial information about the shortcomings of the shelters from the families, the lawsuit contends.

Loss of the evidence forced the Weavers to settle their claims for much less than they otherwise would have, according to the lawsuit, which seeks at least $3 million in damages.

Associated Press

Bellingham: Killer of sex offenders sentenced

A Whatcom County man who shot two sex offenders to death in their Bellingham home was sentenced Friday to more than 44 years in prison.

Michael Anthony Mullen, 35, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of second-degree murder, saying the killings were not premeditated.

Mullen, who posed as an FBI agent to get into the home of three sex offenders, was originally charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the Aug. 27 deaths of Victor Vazquez, 68, and Hank Eisses, 49. The third resident left the home before the killings.

Associated Press

Alaska: Spill largest ever on North Slope

A massive oil spill discovered earlier this month at Prudhoe Bay is the largest to date on Alaska’s North Slope, officials said Friday.

Between 201,000 and 267,000 gallons of crude leaked from a ruptured transit line onto the snow-covered tundra, according to an official estimate of the spill. That amount far surpasses the 38,000 gallons spilled in 2001, officials said. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons when it ran aground in Prince William Sound in 1989.

The spill covers 2 acres of remote and unpopulated land on Alaska’s north coast near the Beaufort Sea.

Associated Press

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