Law

Stories about law and politics in the Pacific Northwest, with many from KPLU's Law and Justice reporter, Paula Wissel.

SPOKANE, Wash. - The man accused of attempting to bomb the Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane admits that he constructed and planted the explosive with the intent to hurt parade participants. That admission came with the guilty plea entered Wednesday by 37-year-old Kevin Harpham.

Courtesy of Cowlitz County Humane Society

LONGVIEW, Wash. — The Cowlitz County Humane Society seized two big boa constrictors on Monday and seven more large boas and pythons on Tuesday from homes in Longview.

The man accused of planting a backpack bomb along the Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane is set to change his plea today. Kevin Harpham originally entered a plea of not guilty in what the FBI has deemed a case of domestic terrorism.

Thirty-seven-year-old Kevin Harpham was arrested in March. He faces charges related to a pipe bomb that Spokane city workers found on a downtown bench the morning of Jan. 17. Prosecutors later added federal hate crime charges. Together, the allegations carry a sentence of up to life in prison.

Paula Wissel/KPLU

If you have feral cats in your neighborhood, you know they can be a major headache, what with the loud cat fighting and territorial spraying. 

In Grays Harbor County, two women have taken it upon themselves to fix the problem, literally. They trap cats in order to get them spayed or neutered. They then release them back where they came from.

BREMERTON, Wash. — A Central Kitsap School District teacher has been charged with voyeurism following an investigation that began when he was caught taking suspicious photos of women and girls last month at the Kitsap County Fair.

Blame massive crowding, alcohol and inadequate police response as the main causes of the recent Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, B.C.

An exhaustive review of the riot sponsored by the Province of British Columbia, City of Vancouver and Vancouver Police Board was made public yesterday. 

In a unanimous ruling, the Washington State Supreme court says Attorney General Rob McKenna has the authority to challenge the new federal health care law. The high court denied the City of Seattle’s request to remove Washington from the multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.

TACOMA, Wash. — A trucker was changing a flat tire Thursday morning on Interstate 5 south of Tacoma when he saw a woman in her underwear crawl over the guardrail from a swamp near the Nisqually River.

Salem, OREGON – The Oregon Supreme Court has sided with five juvenile killers who’ve long maintained the state treats them more harshly than adult murderers. The high court Thursday called on the Oregon Board of Parole to schedule hearings and even decide on release dates for two of the five.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court is requiring Attorney General Rob McKenna to represent the state's public lands commissioner in a legal appeal.

An Idaho woman who was prosecuted on felony charges for ending a pregnancy is now challenging state anti-abortion laws in federal court. It's the first constitutional challenge to a so-called "fetal pain" law that several states passed recently.

Police in Pocatello, Idaho, said Jennie McCormack ordered medication online to terminate her pregnancy at around 20 weeks. Under a 1972 state law, however, it's illegal to have an abortion unless it's performed by a doctor.

The Washington State Attorney General wants a top provider of online adult sex ads to prove it’s operating legally, calls Backpage.com a hub for human trafficking.

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna and 45 other attorneys general today called for information about how Backpage.com presumably attempts to remove advertising for sex trafficking, especially ads that could involve minors.

Meanwhile, Snohomish County has received a $450,000 federal grant to combat child sex trafficking.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Police in Vancouver, British Columbia, say a human foot inside a running shoe has washed ashore, the latest in roughly a dozen such cases since 2007.

On the day she was killed, University of Idaho graduate student Katy Benoit met with university officials about the complaint she had filed against former assistant professor Ernesto Bustamante, and university officials cautioned her to remain vigilant and seek out help if she had any safety concerns.

Prosecutors in a federal hate crime case in Spokane are asking prospective jurors if they have ties to racist and militia groups. The man accused of planting a backpack bomb along Spokane's Martin Luther King Day parade route in January has been linked to white supremacists.

Kevin Harpham's name shows up in connection with more than 1,000 posts made to a Neo-Nazi web forum. And the Southern Poverty Law Center says he was once a member of the racist group, the National Alliance.

BOISE – Idaho prison officials dismantled a sweat lodge Wednesday. it was used mainly by Native Americans to worship.

Prisoners have used the sweat lodge at the South Idaho Correctional Institution in Kuna for decades. Deputy Chief of Prisons Jeff Zmuda says they are remodeling the outdoor area and removed the lodge for safety and security reasons.

Friends and family of University of Idaho graduate student Kathryn Benoit, who was killed Monday night in Moscow, are planning memorial observances, as the investigation into her death continues.

When the 22 year old Benoit was killed by multiple gunshots outside her residence in Moscow Monday night, her roommates called 911:

911 AUDIO: “Can you tell me exactly what happened?” “I don’t know. We were in the house cooking and we heard shots.”

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has not given up on the idea of a mileage tax paid by electric vehicle owners. The tax is meant to offset the lack of gas taxes paid by people who drive electric cars.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

SHELTON, Wash. – The recent murder trial in Seattle of Isaiah Kalebu made headlines for the brutality of his crime – the rape and butcher knife attack of two women in their home that left one of them dead.

But the trial also attracted attention because of Kalebu’s volatile outbursts in court and suicide attempts. Now he’s headed to prison – for life.

RICHLAND, Wash. — Six workers at a Hanford radioactive waste disposal site decided to quit rather than submit to drug testing after a baggie of marijuana was found in building at the landfill called the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility.

A University of Idaho graduate student was killed in an off-campus shooting Monday night in Moscow.

The homicide occurred on Lilly Street in Moscow, a neighborhood familiar to the University of Idaho community because of its close proximity to campus. Moscow police say the victim’s identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The case of the "Bad Hair Bandit" raises questions some prison experts say haven't been fully addressed in the correctional system. Police believe a woman from north Idaho is the wigged robber who stole money from banks in Tacoma, Spokane, Lake Oswego and other cities on the West Coast.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Nearly 300,000 Washington drivers currently have suspended licenses because they failed to pay their traffic tickets. The Department of Licensing on Monday introduced a new tool to help them get their licenses back.

Dan Jordan / Flickr

The Lynnwood police chief concedes the department depends on traffic ticket camera revenue and probably would lose seven or eight officers without it.

Chief Steve Jensen previously downplayed the significance of camera ticket revenue and extolled safety benefits.

Victims of clergy sex abuse will get letters of apology, in addition to checks, from a major bankruptcy case resolved this week. In total, the payments amount to $166 million.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The family of slain Lakewood police officer Tina Griswold has filed a notice to sue the state of Washington over its handling of Maurice Clemmons. He's the Arkansas parolee who gunned down Griswold and three of her fellow officers in a coffee shop in 2009. Clemmons was later shot dead by Seattle police.

Two Renton officers have been demoted for posting a cartoon to YouTube that makes fun of the staff and policies of a new jail in South King County.

Deputy Police Chief, Charles Marsalisi and police sergeant Bill Judd, were each knocked down a rank after their involvement in the video came to light.

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.

Evan Vucci / Associated Press

The new U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, says it’s his Washington roots that made him what he is today.

Ambassador Locke left his position as U.S. Commerce Secretary when he was sworn in as Ambassador to China this month.

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