Drunk drivers who cause deadly accidents in Washington rarely spend more than two years in prison. A bill working its way through the state legislature would increase the maximum sentence to eight years.

Prosecutors and people who've lost loved ones to accidents caused by drunk drivers say it's about time.

The Associated Press

TACOMA, Wash. — A social worker pleaded with a 911 dispatcher throughout a nearly seven-minute call to quickly get police to Josh Powell's house after he locked himself inside with his two sons.

(The un-edited audio of that 911 call is posted above.)

But the dispatcher seemed to have trouble understanding the seriousness of the situation. It took almost two minutes from the start of the call for the dispatcher to learn Powell's address, as the social worker fumbled through paperwork, and more than three minutes to understand that she was there to supervise a child custody visit. Near the end of the call, she asked how long before officers could get there.

The agency that runs the call center said it would review the matter and start a disciplinary investigation if necessary.

The Associated Press

An uncle and aunt of Josh Powell issued a statement saying there's no justification for the loss of his children, but Maurice and Patti Leach feel "this family tragedy was set into motion from the beginning due in part to the various questionable government agencies' practices, religious bias, the Internet kangaroo courts, and sensationalized news media."

The Associated Press

GRAHAM, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say Josh Powell planned the deadly house fire that killed him and his young sons for some time, dropping toys at charities and sending final emails to multiple acquaintances.

Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, died along with his children Sunday.

Image from YouTube video

Since 2008, four prisoners in Washington State have been exonerated through DNA testing and other evidence. Advocates for granting them compensation say it’s the right thing to do, even in tough budgetary times.

Of the four wrongfully convicted men, Alan Northrop did the most time behind bars. Now that he’s out, he’s trying to put the pieces of his life back together.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A man who pleaded guilty to charges related to underwear thefts was sentenced Tuesday in Olympia to 15 years in prison.

King County prosecutors have spent nearly $700,000 on two active death penalty cases, but the defense cost is even higher — $4.3 million and climbing.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg told The Seattle Times death penalty opponents are trying to hold off executions by running up the bills for investigators, forensics and expert witnesses.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

This past spring we brought you the story of an Eastern Washington dairy town plagued by gang violence. Now, several months later residents of Outlook, Washington are fighting gangs with summer camps and social gatherings.

This spring a 17-year-old girl was shot at her home in Outlook, Wash. allegedly by four gang members. But just recently, blocks away from that murder site, children played bean bag toss and took whacks at a piñata.

Associated Press

One of the three teens convicted of killing a popular Seattle street musician in 2008 continues to make headlines for his tangles with the law. Billy Chambers – who's now an adult – was most recently locked up for hit-and-run. It turns out he did not qualify for supervision by a juvenile parole officer because of state budget cuts.

The Washington Department of Corrections says one inmate was killed Wednesday during an escape attempt at the Clallam Bay Corrections Facility.

Spokesman Chad Lewis says that just after 10 a.m., a corrections officer was taken hostage by a prisoner with a pair of scissors. At the same time, another prisoner drove a forklift through the doors of the work area and into the prison fence.

Associated Press

One of Seattle’s seediest buildings is going up for auction on Wednesday. Rick’s Nightclub on Lake City Way was seized by federal agents more than a year ago.

Null Value / Flickr

If you’ve witnessed a crime, you’ll swear you can accurately identify the person who did it. But, there’s a good chance you’re wrong, especially if that person is of a different race. Still, jurors believe eyewitness accounts.

And, in Washington state, the law doesn't allow judges to tell juries about the problems associated with cross-racial eyewitness identification. One Court of Appeals judge says that's wrong.

The Washington State Patrol says some evidence was likely damaged by a sprinkler malfunction at its crime lab in Seattle. The patrol says the leak Monday occurred in a freezer used to store evidence.

Seattle firefighters shut off the sprinklers, and the evidence was moved to dry out. Lab manager Jim Tarver says workers are still determining the extent of the damage. Then they'll have to tell police and prosecutors.

DEER PARK, Wash. — A pack of dogs blamed for killing about 100 pets and farm animals in northeastern Washington state has been eliminated.

The Stevens County Sheriff's Office said three of the dogs in the pack have been killed.

Associated Press

Colton Harris-Moore, who gained a popular following as the "Barefoot Bandit," has pleaded not guilty to all charges in federal court in Seattle.

The 20-year-old is accused of a two-year cross-country burglary spree in stolen cars, boats and planes — some of the crimes allegedly committed while he was barefoot. He entered his plea Thursday.

The lawyer for the young man known as the Barefoot Bandit says plea negotiations have hit a snag as federal prosecutors balk at allowing him to sell the rights to his sensational tale, even if money from movie or book deals is used to repay his victims.

Colton Harris-Moore led authorities on a two-year game of cat-and-mouse in stolen boats, planes and cars that finally ended with his arrest in the Bahamas last summer.

His lawyer, John Henry Browne, says no final decision has been made.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part four of our series "Living In Gangland" we learned how one Idaho man got out of a gang - and stayed out.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part three of "Living In Gangland," we profile a mother and daughter and their struggle with gangs.

Across the nation there are an estimated 750,000 gang members. That's according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of them are women, but more often, women are impacted as the mothers, sisters and girlfriends of gang memgers. They may not actively choose the gang life, but its perils affect them nonetheless.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part two of "Living in Gangland," we bring you the story of the unincorporated town of Outlook, in Eastern Washington - and one woman who is fighting to get the town back.

When "Maria" gets off Interstate 82 and heads down the off ramp for Outlook – she starts praying -  that she’ll get home safe today.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part one of our series “Living In Gangland," we go on patrol with a Washington Fish and Wildlife cop. 

Gang violence is mostly a big city problem. But in parts of the rural Northwest, police are grappling with gang rivalries, graffiti and even drive-by shootings.

Just ask Darin Smith, chief of police in Royal City, Washington, population 2,000.

Still image courtesy of Anzamarch (Junko) / YouTube

Clean it up or close it down – that's the choice for the new owner of a vacant property in South Seattle that's become notorious for noisy raves. 

Police have declared The Citadel a chronic nuisance. The boxy warehouse building was turned into a music venue by owner Steve Rauf, who says the dance parties have brought in much-needed revenue. 

This week Northeast Washington learned one of its residents is suspected of being a Neo-Nazi terrorist. The FBI arrested 36-year-old Kevin Harpham for allegedly planting a bomb in a backpack along the route of Spokane's Martin Luther King Day Parade. Harpham is now being held at the Spokane County Jail.

Paula Wissel

The homicide rate in Seattle is at its lowest level since 1958.  Most other major crime is down as well.

Murder, rape, robbery and other violent crime was down 9 percent in 2010 compared to 2009. The 2010 crime statistics were released Tuesday by the Seattle Police Department. As KPLU reported, the  Seattle Police Department has also released a report showing that the use of force by officers is rare and below the national average.

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 batch of documents released by the Pierce County Sheriff late last week reveal more about the man who killed four Lakewood Police officers in a Parkland coffee shop in late 2009. More than 2,000 pages provide added details about Maurice Clemmons, his family and the investigation into the murders.

The documents were released following a long legal dispute between Pierce County and a number of news organizations, including The News Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Associated Press and three Seattle television stations: KIRO, KOMO and KING. 

The co-founder of a Northwest chain of eye-surgery centers has been convicted of plotting to kill two former colleagues.

Dr. Michael Mockovak of Clearly Lasik eye centers was found guilty Thursday of four counts, including attempted murder. The King County Superior Court jury deliberated for less than two days.

Prosecutors said Mockovak was willing to pay more than $100,00 to have business partner Dr. Joseph King and former company president Brad Klock killed, and that he solicited an employee to hire an assassin.

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.

Remains found in an Auburn ravine earlier this week are those of a likely Green River serial killer victim.

The King County Sheriff's Office says dental records positively identified the victim as Rebecca "Becky" Marrero. The 20-year-old was last seen on Dec. 3, 1982, leaving a motel room on Pacific Highway South.