Lights & Sirens

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Archives: June 2007

June
26th

State rests in trial of principal accused of rape

After 5-1/2 days of calling witnesses, Pierce County prosecutors finished presenting their case against Baker Middle School principal Harold Wright Jr. on Tuesday morning.


The defense began about 11 a.m. with Wright’s attorney, Wayne Fricke, asking Superior Court Judge Lisa Worswick to dismiss the second-degree rape charge against his client. Fricke said there was no evidence that Wright had sexual intercourse with the victim, who was 19 at the time, and only dubious evidence that he was in the room when she alleges she was raped.


Worswick declined, however. The judge said she felt there was enough evidence

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June
26th

King County lawyers award highest honor to Tacoma native

Lights & Sirens sends out another salute, this one to Judge Betty Binns Fletcher of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


Fletcher has received the King County Bar Association’s William L. Dwyer Outstanding Jurist Award.


The Tacoma native was honored Thursday at the association’s annual banquet in Seattle. Fletcher is a senior circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


The award recognizes outstanding service by a judge whose jurisdiction includes King County. The Ninth Circuit includes Washington and other western states.


Fletcher was nominated to the Ninth

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June
25th

Here’s a quick update on the principal’s rape trial

I wasn’t able to get to Harold Wright Jr. trial today, but I saw his attorney at lunchtime and got a quick briefing on where things stand.


Defense attorney Wayne Fricke said deputy prosecutors Lori Kooiman and Kevin McCann continued to put on their case, calling among other witnesses a trauma nurse who examined the woman who’s accused Wright and a friend of raping her.


Kooiman and McCann could rest their case as early as today, Fricke said.


Then it will be the defense’s turn, which means Wright or co-defendant Richy Carter could be on the

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June
25th

Wounded Puyallup officer back on the job

Bumped into Gary Shilley at the courthouse today.


I barely recognized him in his civilian clothes. Shilley (seen here) said he was there to tie up a few loose ends from the attempted murder trial of Tremayne Reed.


The careful reader will recall that Reed was convicted and sentenced to 45 years in prison earlier this month for shooting Shilley in the face outside the South Hill Mall in March 2006.


The attacked nearly killed the veteran officer, and three weeks ago Shilley still had not returned to duty.

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June
25th

Deadline on death penalty approaching for murder suspect

The man charged with killing an elderly Tacoma woman six years ago may find out Wednesday if prosecutors will pursue the death penalty against him.


Joseph Anthony Neal, 32, is charged with the state’s highest crime – aggravated first-degree murder – in the May 2001 slaying of Elizabeth Crawford.


Authorities contend Neal raped, beat and strangled the 76-year-old Crawford in her I Street home. Detectives theorized that Neal, who once did yard work for Crawford, intended to rob her.


Prosecutors notified Neal at his arraignment last month that they might seek the death penalty against him.

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June
22nd

Clues sought in year-old fatal UP fire

Friends and family will gather at 2 p.m. Sunday to remember Beverley Ann Steward-Hill, who died in a suspicious fire a year ago.


Associated Ministries also will hold a blessing ceremony at the site of the fire, which occurred at the Castellan West apartments, 2625 Cascade Place W. in University Place.


The cause of the fire was never determined.


Steward-Hill’s relatives have been passing out flyers seeking information about the fire and also have set up a MySpace page about the case.


Crime Stoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County also is publicizing the case.

June
22nd

Pierce County court staffer named best in nation

A Lights & Sirens salute goes out to Pierce County Superior Court administrator Andra Motyka, who has been selcted to receive the Award of Merit from the National Association of Court Managers.

That means she’s been judged the best court administrator in the country. She’s scheduled to receive the hardware next month in Chicago.
The county’s Superior Court judges nominated Motyka for the honor.

Presiding judge Thomas P. Larkin praised Motyka, who’s been with the county since 1995, for her leadership skills and progressive thinking on technology as member of the Pierce County Trial Court Coordination Council.

“The first project the council assumed was the brainchild of Andra: the creation of public court calendar monitors, much like one sees at an airport, in our courthouse,” Larkin said in a news release issued by the county.

The monitors show what’s happening in each courtroom that day and help people find where they need to go.

The complete text of the county’s announcement of Motyka’s award follows:

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June
21st

Alleged victim being cross-examined in principal’s rape case

The woman who has accused a Tacoma middle school principal and another man of raping her back in 2004 spent much of the morning being cross-examined by the men’s defense attorneys.


The woman, who was 19 when she claimed the men attacked her in a Puyallup townhouse, testified that she couldn’t remember many details of that night, including who was in the room with her when she was raped and who attacked her.


At one point, defense attorney Robert Freeby pressed her about whether she screamed for help that night or tried to pull away when she claims

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