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Judge slashes $100k from Gerlach legal bill

Lawyers for Gail Gerlach, who killed a thief stealing his SUV and was later found not guilty in court, won't be getting paid as much as they hoped for their work on the case.

On Monday Judge Annette Plese slashed the bill for the lawyers who represented Gerlach during his first degree manslaughter trial, finding the defense team's charges excessive and unnecessary.

Taxpayers are on the hook for Gerlach's legal bills because he convinced a jury he was acting in self defense when he fired that fatal shot. However Plese found the state had been overcharged and cut Gerlach's reimbursement with a six figure knife.

Last April Gerlach's attorneys won a speedy not guilty verdict for their client, sparing him what could have been a life sentence. After submitting a bill for $332,000 Gerlach's defense team found themselves defending claims it really shouldn't have taken three lawyers to try the case.

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The Bickett Building to give downtown a boost

The Bickett Building to give downtown a boost

From the outside, The Bickett looks like many buildings outside – old, brick and in need of a little TLC. On the inside, however, developer Jed Conklin and his band of construction workers have transformed the one-time hotel (and rumored brothel) into a streamlined work of art.

Standing at the bannister of the second floor, Conklin says they had a lot of work ahead of them when they first walked in.

“The entire building was open and full of pigeons,” he said. “The droppings were ankle deep in places, and the rain was pouring in.”

Amazingly, Conklin was able to salvage the original floors, now scraped clean and polished to a smooth finish without even a creak to give away its century of history. The original floor plans are still visible in the wood, outlining the four single-occupancy rooms that now make up each apartment.

“We wanted to save as much as we could,” Conklin explained. “Even the shelves are made of recycled lumber from somewhere else in the building.”

Monday update for Watermelon Hill Fire

Monday update for Watermelon Hill Fire

More than 300 fire crews are continuing to work on containing the Watermelon Hill Fire burning seven miles southwest of Cheney and four miles east of Interstate 90.

The fire started Saturday afternoon and quickly grew – numbers released Monday place the fire at 11,000 acres, 40 percent of which have been contained.

Level two and three evacuation notices for the fire have been lowered to level 1, with the exception of the Fishtrap Lake Resort which remains at a level 3.

Today fire crews expect to deal with winds from the southwest at 8-11 miles per hour, and the occasional gust of up to 16 miles per hour.

 

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CenturyLink 911 services impacted near wildfires

CenturyLink 911 services impacted near wildfires

As wildfires continue to burn across the state, 911 services in Omak, Okanogan, Oroville and Mallot are being stressed to the point that some callers are receiving busy signals when they call.

CenturyLink is asking customers to be patient and limit their calls to true emergency situations. Calls are going through, but it may take several attempts – and the few people calling, the greater the chance.

Meanwhile, CenturyLink says all 911 services along with local and long distance phone lines and internet services remain down in Mazama, Pateros, Twisp and Winthrop due to extensive fire damage in the area.

With destroyed fiber cables and equipment CenturyLink says they are unable to provide an estimated time for restoration and say customers should expect them to remain down for an extended period of time.

Spokane Police searching for suspect in Sunset Grocery robbery

Spokane Police Major Crimes detectives are asking for the public's help identifying a suspect who robbed Sunset Grocery on July 10.

Just before 10:30 pm Police received a report of a robbery at Sunset Grocery in the 1900 block of W. Sunset Boulevard.

The caller reported that a man had entered the store, indicated he had a weapon and demanded cash. He fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of money.

Police arrived on the scene less than a minute after the call and quickly set up a perimeter but were unable to locate the suspect.

He's described as:

  • A white male
  • 5 feet, 4 inches tall
  • Black baseball cap, white and black bandana on his face
  • Red tennis shoes with white soles

Anyone with information related to the robbery is asked to call Crime Check at 456-2233.

Spokane Valley Sheriff's Deputy saves newborn

Spokane Valley Sheriff's Deputy saves newborn

A Spokane Valley Sheriff's Deputy is being credited with saving the life of a newborn infant Friday morning.

Deputy Randy Watts was on patrol around 1:40 am when he heard a medic call explaining a woman had given birth at her home but that the baby wasn't breathing. Deputy Watts was nearby and has basic medical training, so he sped to the home and was met by the newborn's father who led him upstairs.

Deputy Watts could see the child was purple and not breathing so he began administering rescue breaths and chest compressions until the child was attempting to breath on her own.

He then turned the child over and began striking her on the back to help clear the mucus from her nose and mouth. Once it was clear, Deputy Watts resumed rescue breaths and color began to return to the newborn's skin.