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Gerlach claims shooting was self-defense

Gerlach claims shooting was self-defense

Very soon a Spokane jury will be deciding whether Gail Gerlach's shooting of a car thief last year was self-defense or manslaughter.

When they begin their deliberations, they will consider the words from Gerlach himself, who took the witness stand Wednesday and told the jury he fired the fatal round that struck and killed Brendon Kaluza-Graham, and that he fired it in self-defense.

Gerlach claimed he only drew the gun holstered on his hip after he saw Kaluza-Graham stealing his SUV turn in his seat and point what Gerlach thought was a gun. However it was clear prosecutors think Gerlach has embellished his testimony Wednesday to benefit his own defense.

As the defense's last and most important witness, Gerlach told the panel about the morning he walked outside and saw a stranger sitting in his idling Chevy Suburban.

"He sat pretty tall in the seat, he saw me come out and he looked right at me, not very long and then he diverted his eyes," Gerlach said.

Gerlach said he chased the Suburban as it backed of his driveway and then as the SUV moved forward away from his home, the rising sun back-lit the driver as he raised his arm.

Police see rise in phone scams

Police see rise in phone scams

From the Spokane Police Department:

Over the past weeks, Spokane Police have received several reports of scams involving power companies. Victims have reported receiving a call about an overdue payment from the caller stating they are an employee of the power company, demanding immediate payment. Victims have sent money orders in as payments before realizing the calls was fraudulent.


Sharon Gerlach takes stand in husband's defense

Sharon Gerlach takes stand in husband's defense

Sharon Gerlach was calm and articulate and withstood some pointed cross-examination as she bolstered her husband Gail's claim he fired in self defense when he shot at Brendon Kaluza-Graham after he stole Gerlach's SUV in March 2013.

The question is will the jury consider her testimony credible or coached?

Gerlach took the witness stand to defend her husband Gail at his manslaughter trial Tuesday, saying Gail routinely warmed up their Suburban on chilly Spokane mornings. The couple was just walking out their front door when Gail Gerlach saw Kaluza-Graham backing the SUV out of their driveway.

"He's holding the door for me and he suddenly just let the door go and he took off jogging down the driveway waving his arms over his head saying 'Hey, stop, stop," she said.

Gerlach told the jury though the stolen SUV was now out in the street she could still see the thief through the Suburban's tinted windows.

"With tinted windows it washes out the color but because he was backlit by the sun, yes I could see through the windows," Sharon Gerlach said.

That's when Sharon Gerlach said she thought he husband Gail was about to get shot.

Inslee names April National Poetry Month in honor of Oso

Inslee names April National Poetry Month in honor of Oso

Governor Jay Inslee has declared April National Poetry Month in Washington and is hoping the state will use poetry as a way to send solace and well wishes to the communities affected by the mudslide in Oso.

Spokane considering red light program in school zones

Spokane considering red light program in school zones

Drivers going over 20 miles per hour in Spokane's school zones may soon find a ticket in the mail from an automated speed reader if the city's plans to crack down on school zone speeders become a reality.

The cameras would work like red light cameras. Once a car passes through the school zone and is exceeding the speed limit the camera would take a picture of only the license plate and car and send the citation to the registered owner of the car. Whether or not that citation is a fine or a warning, is still being decided, among other things.

The Spokane City Council has approved a pilot project to install speed reader devices that would ticket those going over the limit in a school zone.

"We have really seen some success in reducing accidents at intersections where we currently have this technology and we would like to do the same for children in Spokane," Councilmember Candace Mumm said.

It's still in the planning stage and city staffers are working with the Spokane Police Department to decide where the test run would be, if citations would actually be a ticket or just warnings and what kind of device would be used to capture the speed.

Prosecutors rest case against Gail Gerlach

Prosecutors rest case against Gail Gerlach

Prosecutors rested their case Monday against Gail Gerlach, who is on trial for shooting car thief Brendon Kaluza-Graham.

Gerlach is charged with first degree manslaughter in the death of Kaluza-Graham.

On Monday the prosecution tried to prove that Gerlach's claims that he fired in self defense don't match the physical evidence and that if Kaluza-Graham had really been armed with a gun that detectives would have found it.

In their opening statements, Gerlach's defense team said their client did not shoot someone to keep his SUV from being stolen, that he only opened fire when he thought he saw Kaluza-Graham raise his hand and point something at Gerlach as the car thief began driving away.

"He's not caring about the SUV any more. He sees something far more important that. He sees this. He sees this," defense attorney Richard Lee said.

Prosecutors contend Gerlach couldn't have seen Kaluza-Graham turn around in the driver's seat and point a weapon at him because of the tinted windows on his SUV.

Detectives also testified there was just too much stuff in Gerlach's cargo bay to be able to see what the thief was doing.

Homeowner stabbed during home invasion robbery

Spokane Police are investigating a stabbing that happened at a residence near the intersection of Maple Street and Jackson Avenue Monday morning.

According to officials, the robber was inside a home while the homeowner was downstairs in the basement. When he was confronted by the homeowner the suspect was rifling through the victim's refrigerator.

The robber then allegedly stabbed the homeowner and fled the residence.

"The person that was inside the house got a hold of a kitchen knife and stabbed the homeowner," Spokane Police Captain Keith Cummings said.

Police aren't sure what the intruder was doing in the kitchen, but neighbors like Len Pupo believe it could have been a transient.

"We've had police a lot here a lot. We've had three break ins in the last month," Len Pupo said.

Pupo lives down the street and said he often sees transients in the neighborhood.

"They had squatters in a house back over there they found sleeping bags and other stuff in that house over there that's empty," he said.