Deputies probe near-drowning of 1-year-old in Benton City

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldNovember 8, 2012 

Benton County sheriff's deputies are investigating a near drowning of a 1-year-old Benton City girl.

Deputies and medics were called Monday evening to the girl's Benton City home off Thunder Road after getting report about a child not breathing, said Lt. Chuck Jones.

The child was taking a bath with a 2-year-old sibling when the mother left the bathroom briefly, then returned and found the younger child under water, he said.

The child was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she was said to be in the intensive care unit.

Detectives are investigating.

Identity of victim found in river still unknown

It's been more than two months since a body was found floating in the Columbia River near Vantage and officials still have not been able to identify the man.

Grant County sheriff's officials now are looking for help from the public and other law enforcement agencies.

The man was found Aug. 25 in the river just south of Interstate 90 across from Vantage.

Forensic examiners determined he had been in the water for up to a year, and an autopsy ruled his death was a homicide.

Grant County sheriff's detectives have been trying to identify the victim, but have had no luck.

Officials are reaching out to agencies and citizens in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. They also are putting emphasis on areas near the Columbia River north of Vantage in Grant, Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Ferry and Okanogan counties.

A sketch of what the victim may have looked like also was released. The drawing was done by Seattle-area forensic artist and reconstructionist Natalie Murry.

Officials said the victim is a white man, 40 to 60 years old, but they were not able to determine his height or weight because of decomposition. He was wearing a dark-colored print Calloway golf shirt with a white undershirt.

The victim had extensive dental work and wore contact lenses. There also is evidence of previous abdominal surgery where surgical staples were used.

Sheriff's officials said they have DNA and dental records that can be shared with other law enforcement agencies for comparison. They have partial fingerprints, but not enough to enter into the database.

Anyone with information about the case (12GS10810) is asked to call Grant County sheriff's Detective Kyle Cox at 509-754-2011, Ext. 468, or email crimetips@co.grant.wa.us.

Off-duty police officer involved in fatal accident

The driver who struck and killed a man last week in Moses Lake was an off-duty police officer.

The Washington State Patrol is investigating the Halloween night fatality, but Police Chief Dean Mitchell told the Columbia Basin Herald that there's no indication Officer R.C. Sheats did anything wrong.

Mitchell called it an unfortunate accident, The Associated Press reported.

State patrol troopers said Gary C. Kilpatrick, 47, of Moses Lake, was killed when he ran into traffic in front of Sheats' personal vehicle. Sheats, 25, has been on the Moses Lake police force for about a year.

400 pounds of pot found in Moses Lake home

More than 400 pounds of marijuana was seized from a hidden marijuana grow at a Moses Lake home, authorities said.

Two men also were arrested as part of an investigation by detectives with Grant County's Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team.

The arrests came after detectives watched a home at 14802 Third St. N.E. and spotted the two men leaving in a car, Grant County sheriff's officials said.

Moses Lake police stopped the car and found a large quantity of marijuana packaged for sale.

When the home was searched, investigators found more than 400 pounds of marijuana and 19 mature pot plants, officials said.

The plants were found inside 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood stacked vertically to form a fence around the marijuana in order to prevent detection by police, officials said.

Two sheds on the property also were dedicated for drying and processing the pot for later sale. More than $3,000 cash and a vehicle also were seized.

Carlos Ali Cera, 18, of Royal City, and Juan Carlos Cortez Barajas, 20, of Quincy, were booked into the Grant County jail on a variety of drug charges.

Gang member from Walla Walla arrested

A Walla Walla gang member was arrested early Sunday after Walla Walla police responded to a call about shots being fired, police said.

Officers responded to the area of Ninth Avenue and Edith Street and saw someone running to a vehicle parked on Highway 12 near the Second Avenue off-ramp, said Officer Tim Bennett. The officer waited until the car pulled back onto the highway, then stopped it.

Two people with warrants for their arrest were found in the car, including Luciano Castorena Jr., 27, and Alicia Marisol Lara, 22, both of Walla Walla.

Officers also found a loaded semi-automatic handgun, two boxes of ammunition and suspected cocaine where Castorena had been sitting, Bennett said.

Castorena, a convicted felon and documented gang member, was booked into the Walla Walla County jail on suspicion of possession of a gun and possessing cocaine.

2 gang members arrested, drugs seized

A search of a Walla Walla home early Tuesday ended with the arrest of two gang members and seizure of marijuana and cocaine.

The SWAT team was used when the search warrant at 317 N. Seventh Ave. was served because of the "propensity of violence when dealing with gangs," said Walla Walla police Officer Tim Bennett.

Ray Gutierrez, 23, was arrested and booked into the Walla Walla County jail on suspicion of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver and possessing cocaine.

Rogelio Gutierrez Jr., 27, was jailed on suspicion of possessing cocaine with intent to delivery and possessing marijuana.

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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