Paula Wissel

Law & Justice Reporter

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KPLU since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KPLU, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

Paula's most memorable moment at KPLU: “Interviewing NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr about his ability to put current events in historical context. It’s something I aspire to.”

Ways To Connect

Scott Schaefer / B-Town blog

They say you can’t tell a book by its cover.  But maybe coming face to face with one that towers over you will entice you to read a little more.  At least that’s the hope of the King County Library system.

Huge, 6 foot tall posters of book jacket covers have been placed next to coffee shops, paint stores, law firms and other small businesses on main streets in Burien, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Renton, Issaquah, Kirkland and on Vashon Island.  It’s called the Book Cover Walking Tour.

The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, which received $595,000 from Seattle Public Schools, insists taxpayers got their money's worth despite a state audit report calling the payments of questionable value.

Burke Museum

A new species of crab spider was found last spring by Rob Crawford, curator of arachnids for the Univesity of Washington's Burke Museum.  He discovered it on Foster Island in the Washington Park Arboretum.  Seattlepi.com reports a team of students will soon be scouring the island for more information.

Just as intriguing as a new discovery is the question raised by Knute Berger of Crosscut who wonders about the effect a newly discovered spider could have on the Highway 520 expansion.  The highway cuts across Foster Island.

WSDOT

The brunt of an arctic cold front is expected to hit Western Washington this afternoon, bringing wind and 2 to 6 inches of snow.  National Weather Service meteorologist Art Gable says temperatures "will drop below freezing and remain below into Thursday morning." A winter storm warning remains in effect through 10 a.m. Thursday.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

With 82-percent of Seattle's officers living outside the city limits, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says it's hard to have a good local police force. It's also difficult to do anything about it because state law prevents cities from requiring officers to live where they work. McGinn says there could be an opportunity, though, when 300 officers who are eligible for retirement leave the force.

AP

It was an emotional scene in a King County courtroom as the man known as the Green River killer pleaded guilty to his 49th murder.  Gary Ridgway is already serving 48 consecutive life terms. The latest plea is for murdering Becky Marrero in 1982, whose remains were found last December.

Paula Wissel / KPLU News

Sage smoke, prayers and the beat of Native drums filled the air at Seattle City Hall Wednesday afternoon as several hundred people gathered to demand justice for woodcarver John T. Williams. Williams, a member of the Nuu-Chah-Nuulth First Nation in British Columbia, was shot to death last Aug. 30th by a Seattle police officer.

The demonstrators moved on to Westlake Park.  Later, several dozen marched to the crosswalk at Boren St. and Howell St. where Williams was killed by Officer Ian Birk.

Gary Davis

Justice, Harvest, Charlie, Tiger, Blaze, Jet and Cody recently got a reprieve.

The horses are in  Seattle Police Department's Mounted Patrol Unit. Budget cuts had threatened to eliminate their jobs. But the Seattle Police Foundation and the Seattle Hotel Association have pledged to pay for feeding, sheltering and caring for the working horses for three years.

The organizations have enough money to cover two years and are asking the public to pay for the rest. At the website, saveourhorses.net, you can make a donation.

Here's a video about the Mounted Patrol Unit produced by the Police Foundation:

AP

Update Feb. 10, 2011 - The correct percentage of area mortgage holders "underwater" - as reported by Zillow.com - is 34.3%, not of all homeowners. This post has been updated to clarify that point.

Do you owe more on your mortgage than your house is worth? You’re not alone. One-third of homeowners in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties are “underwater” on their homes. "Negative equity" rose faster in this region than anywhere else in the country.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

In Washington state, if someone dies under suspicious circumstances or suddenly with no obvious cause, an investigation is required. But just how that investigation is conducted depends on where the person dies. It varies county by county.

In King County, Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Harruff has a full staff of forensic pathologists who respond quickly to conduct autopsies and other post mortem investigations.  On a recent morning, he described the bodies that had been brought in over night.

King County Prosecutor's Office


The man known as the "Green River Killer" has been charged with another murder. Gary Ridgway is already serving a life sentence for killing 48 women. He's considered one of the nation's most prolific serial killers.


On Monday, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced aggravated first-degree murder charges against Gary Ridgway in the death of Rebecca "Becky" Marrero, who disappeared after leaving a motel in SeaTac in 1982.


A teenager caught with an illegal gun in Washington gets little more than a slap on the wrist.  That’s the complaint of prosecutors who are trying to stiffen the penalty.

melsil / YouTube.com

Seattle has a special connection to the Oscars this year. Anne Rosellini, a Mercer Island High School graduate and co-founder of the One Reel Film Festival at Bumbershoot,  received two nominations for "Winter's Bone,"  a film she produced and co-wrote, with director Debra Granik. Here's the trailer:

Some Seattle high school students plan to walk out of class tomorrow, Wednesday, as part of a protest against police brutality and misconduct.  They plan to rally at Victor Steinbrueck Park near Pike Place Market at 1 p.m.

guidehorse.org

When you think of a service animal, you probably think of a dog sitting next to someone who’s blind.  But under new civil rights legislation in Seattle,  the city defines " service animal” as:

"any animal a doctor deems medically necessary."

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