Monday morning's headlines

Apr 11, 2011

Some of the top news stories around the Northwest for April 11th:

  • How High Will Gas Prices Go?
  • Tacoma Police to Focus on Cold Cases
  • Hundreds of Washington Convictions in Doubt
  • Mariners in Free Fall


 AAA: Gas in Washington averages $3.88 gallon

If you're looking for cheap(er) gas in Washington state, you'll have to cross over the Cascades.

The AAA auto club reports the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Washington is $3.88.

That's up six cents in a week and 24 cents in a month. And it's 11 cents higher than the national average.

Some average prices from the AAA survey for Monday for cities:

  • Bellingham $3.98
  • Bremerton $3.90
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett $3.89
  • Tacoma $3.88
  • Olympia $3.91
  • Vancouver $3.81
  • Yakima $3.84
  • Spokane $3.78

Nationally, a gallon of regular averages $3.74, a 30-month high.


Tacoma police devote detective to cold cases

The Tacoma Police Department has devoted a detective to solving cold cases. The News Tribune's Stacey Mulick reports that as many as 190 killings from the past 50 years remain unsolved.

“Cold cases are very important for us,” Assistant Police Chief Mike Ake said. “Everyone knew that this was the direction we were headed.”

Longtime homicide detective Gene Miller started working on the cold-cases last month after the department revaluated its priorities and decided to cut the number of detectives who investigate fatal, serious-injury and hit-and-run crashes to one from two.

Miller previously worked on cold cases while handling new homicides, officer-involved shootings and serious assaults. Last year he year he solved the 1986 slayings of two Pierce County teens. He's been putting together binders for each of the city's unsolved slayings and, with the help of the Washington State Patrol crime lab, is prioritizing the homicides for potential DNA work.

Both Tacoma Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff's Office are hoping to supplement their cold-case work with federal grants.


Slew of convictions overturned in Whatcom County; Implications for More in State

At least 17 criminal convictions in Whatcom County could be overturned on appeal because jurors were questioned inside a judge's chambers, possibly violating the defendants' rights to a public trial. The Bellingham Herald reports appeals courts have been overturning cases based on state Supreme Court rulings and sending them back for new trials.

The Herald's Peter Jensen reports that the problem - as prosecutors and crime victims see it - is far more widespread, with the potential to overturn hundreds of convictions statewide, said Pam Loginsky, an attorney with the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

"There's hundreds - easily," Loginsky said. "It potentially can affect a lot of people."

In King County, the state's most populous county, a second-degree robbery conviction was overturned in December because jury selection was improperly closed, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Goodhew said attorneys for Conner Schierman, who was sentenced to death last year after he was convicted of slaying four people in Kirkland in 2006, are working on his appeal and may challenge his conviction based on his right to a public trial being violated.


M's Early-Season Slide Goes to Seven

Mariner fans got another clue Sunday that this will be a rebuilding season - again. Asdrubal Cabrera  welcomed Erik Bedard back to Safeco Field with a solo homer and the Cleveland Indians beat the Seattle Mariners 6-4 yesterday. Cleveland finished a three-game sweep Seattle, which lost its seventh in a row.

The M's begin a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Safeco.