Northwest briefly: Craigslist killing suspects plead not guilty

TACOMA — Three men have pleaded not guilty to charges they killed an Edgewood man during a home-invasion robbery.

Clabon T. Berniard, of SeaTac, and Kiyoshi Higashi and Joshua Reese, of Tacoma, entered the pleas to murder, robbery, assault and burglary charges Monday in Pierce County Superior Court. They are each held on $2 million bail.

Prosecutors say the three joined a woman named Amanda Knight in fatally shooting James Sanders, tying up his wife and beating his 14-year-old son during at the family’s home April 28.

Knight pleaded not guilty last week.

Police say the four went to the home posing as customers who wanted to buy a diamond ring that Sanders posted for sale on Craigslist.

2 arrested for crawl space body

A Tacoma man and wife accused of killing his mother and stuffing her body in the crawl space of her home were arrested Sunday in Miami.

The News Tribune of Tacoma reports tips led police to arrest Thomas and Austa Bienville at a Greyhound bus station.

They are wanted on a murder warrant in the death of Laurinda Mae Hughes whose body was found April 28 by police checking on her house.

The autopsy showed she had been hit in the head and shot in the chest. She worked at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle and failed to show for work on April 16.

$1M settlement in sexual harassment case

A former Western State Hospital employee who said she was sexually harassed on the job will receive a nearly $1 million settlement.

A lawyer for former hospital worker Jackie Delgado said the state Department of Social and Health Services and the Washington Federation of State Employees agreed last week to settle the case before it went to trial.

A spokesman for DSHS said the state will pay $795,000 and the union will pay $200,000. Neither the union nor the agency admit any wrongdoing as part of settling the case.

Seattle: Cost of Brightwater treatment plant up to $1.8B

The cost of a new sewage treatment plant for King County has risen to as much as $1.86 billion.

The project manager delivered the latest estimate last week to the Regional Policy Committee.

The Seattle Times reports it doesn’t include $152 million in dispute over problems with tunnel boring machines.

To help finance the project King County County Executive Dow Constantine asked the county council last month to raise the monthly household sewer bill to more than $35. Nine years ago, rates were less than $20 a month.

The plant is being built near Woodinville and requires a 13 mile tunnel to pump the outflow to Puget Sound near Edmonds.

FBI to probe police kicking case

A Seattle FBI spokesman said his agency will conduct a preliminary inquiry into an videotaped incident in which Seattle police officers are seen stomping on a man’s head and body and using a racial epithet.

The April 17 incident was recorded by a freelance videographer. Seattle police have begun an internal investigation.

Special Agent Fred Gutt said the inquiry was requested by the U.S. Department of Justice. He told The Seattle Times that such an inquiry is routine in cases where there may be a possible civil rights violation. It could be followed by a full investigation.

One of the officers involved apologized last Friday for his “hateful words.”

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Interim Police Chief John Diaz, the City Council and Latino groups have expressed concern.

Alaska firm used cheap steel in McChord fences

An Alaska company has agreed to pay $822,000 for using cheap steel in security fences at McChord Air Force Base.

Chugach Management Services Inc. did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement reached Monday with the Defense and Justice Departments.

The company is an Alaska Native corporation based in Anchorage. The Seattle U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release that it was awarded a contract for four fencing projects at McChord In each project the company billed the government for high-grade steel but actually used steel that was far lighter and cheaper.

Prosecutors say the $822,000 fine is double the amount the company overbilled the government.

Groups want more water over dams for salmon

Conservationists and fishermen say the state’s decision not to allow more water to spill over dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers will hurt salmon survival.

The state Department of Ecology on Friday denied a petition by Earthjustice, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association to change the spill standard.

The groups say increasing water releases over the dams rather than running it through turbines improves salmon’s chances of surviving their migration.

Ecology denied the request, citing concerns about possible harm to other aquatic life if water standards are changed.

Kirkland: Suspect in fatal hit-and-run surrenders

The driver involved in a fatal hit-and-run in Kirkland has turned himself in.

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Keith Trowbridge said the 30-year-old from India has been in the United States less than two years and didn’t know what to do after the accident.

Trowbridge told KOMO Radio Monday that a friend told him to call police. The man has been released to his family while prosecutors decide on possible charges.

The pedestrian was killed early Sunday while trying to cross Interstate 405.

Tukwila: Suspect arrested in hit-and-run

A hit-and-run accident early Monday left a woman unconscious with serious injuries in Tukwila where another woman was killed in a Friday night hit-run.

Police say a 26-year-old woman was in a crosswalk on International Boulevard about 2 a.m. Monday when she was hit by a pickup truck that fled the scene.

The woman was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The truck was found abandoned in Tukwila with a dent in front and a hole in the grill. Police searched the area with dogs and arrested a suspect.

In Friday’s accident, one and possibly two vehicles struck and killed a 24-year-old Seattle woman who had been walking along East Marginal Way South. She died at a hospital.

Port Orchard: Manslaughter charged in shooting death

Kitsap County prosecutors on Monday charged a 72-year-old man with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of a 22-year-old man who lived in the same Port Orchard, Wash., apartment complex.

Kitsap County sheriff’s detectives said Wallace G. Finlay called 911 early Saturday to report a burglar. He said someone had broken into his apartment and he fired four shots toward the intruder as he ran away, trying to hit his legs.

The body of Donald Axthelm was found in the complex several hours later.

The Kitsap County coroner’s office says Axthelm was shot in the back. His death was classified as a homicide after an autopsy Monday.

Friends say Axthelm worked as a painter and had an eight-month-old daughter with an ex-girlfriend.

Connell: Paddleboat fisherman drowns

The Franklin County sheriff’s office said a man who had been fishing from a paddleboat drowned in the Scooteney Reservoir near Othello.

KNDU-TV reported there were four men in the boat Saturday when it filled up with water. Three were able to swim ashore, but 39-year-old Valentin Javier Pedro of Othello drowned.

Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel said the boat was designed to hold one person weighing less than 150 pounds.

The men were not wearing life jackets.

Witnesses say the victim when straight under water and never surfaced.

British Columbia: ‘Prince of Pot’ faces extradition

The lawyer for Canada’s so-called Prince of Pot said Monday that his client has been ordered extradited to the United States.

Marc Emery has sold millions of marijuana seeds around the world by mail over the past decade, drawing the attention of U.S. drug officials, who want him extradited to Seattle.

Emery’s lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, said Canada’s Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson signed off on his extradition shortly after the marijuana advocate turned himself in on Monday to authorities.

The justice minister’s spokeswoman, Carole Saindon, would not comment on the order or the timing of his surrender, saying only that Emery has the option of a court appeal of the order.

The department said Emery’s extradition was sought on charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

Emery reached a plea deal with U.S. prosecutors last year, agreeing to plead guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana in return for a sentence of five years in prison.

Idaho: Northern Rockies face big fire year

The northwestern United States enter wildfire season with drier-than-normal conditions following a mild winter that left little snow.

Robyn Heffernan, a deputy fire weather program manager at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, blames the El Nino weather pattern that suggests higher-than-normal fire wildfire potential for the northern Rocky Mountain states.

That includes Montana, Idaho, parts of eastern Washington, northwestern Wyoming and southcentral Oregon, as well as northeastern California.

Though Nevada had a dry winter, it’s also had a dry spring, meaning desert grasses aren’t growing as quickly. It should see below-normal fire activity.

While El Nino left the northern Rocky Mountains dry, it deposited heavy snow and rain on Arizona, New Mexico and southern Utah and Colorado, meaning those areas could also see below-normal fire activity.

Missing woman’s husband ordered held on gun count

A federal judge on Monday ordered the husband of a missing Clarkston, Wash., woman to be held in jail on a firearms count.

Charles Capone is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

He was ordered to remain in jail after a hearing in Coeur d’Alene. He was arrested last week in Moscow.

Capone’s estranged wife, 40-year-old Rachael Anderson, has been missing since April 16.

Federal court records indicate Capone is a person of interest in Anderson’s disappearance and that she filed a report with Clarkston police on Jan. 2 alleging he had pushed and strangled her. She filed for divorce on Jan. 7.

KREM-TV said prosecutors told the judge about Capone convictions for bank larceny, aggravated assault, burglary, criminal mischief, vehicle burglary, trespassing, assault, theft and possession of a controlled substance.

From Herald news services

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