A convicted sex offender who's been told to stay out of all Pasco parks claims he only was passing through Wade Park on the Fourth of July as hundreds of children and adults gathered for pre-firework festivities.
Melvin Dean Rode of West Richland told a Pasco cop that he was on his way home and was using the walking path in the middle of the park as a short cut, according to court documents.
However, Rode was arrested after he acknowledged that in July 2012 he was served with notice from the Pasco Parks and Recreation Department that he was banned from all parks, documents said.
A search of Rode before he was taken into custody allegedly turned up crystal methamphetamine.
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The drug was inside a pornographic image, which was folded up in his wallet, Officer Chad Pettijohn wrote in court documents.
Rode, 51, pleaded innocent Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court to criminal trespass against children and possession of methamphetamine, both felonies. His trial is scheduled Sept. 4.
Documents show that Pettijohn was assigned on July 4 to work in Wade Park where a large crowd of people, particularly families, had gathered in advance of the fireworks display on the Columbia River. He was patrolling the park between Roads 39 and 52 when he was alerted that Rode may be in the park.
Pettijohn said he pulled up a police database and discovered Rode is a registered sex offender who'd been told to stay away from all city parks.
The officer looked at Rode's picture, then at 9 p.m. found a man who matched the image and answered to the name, "Melvin."
Rode was arrested for criminal trespass and it was during the search of his person before being placed in a patrol car, that Pettijohn found the meth in Rode's wallet in his pant pocket, documents said. The meth allegedly weighed 1.53 grams.
Rode admitted it was his meth, saying he'd purchased about one-quarter of a gram for $30, court documents said.
Asked if he was in the park because of the children, Rode reportedly told Pettijohn, "I didn't even notice there were children here."
Rode also told the officer he'd previously been arrested for criminal trespass against children, which he'd pleaded down, and because of that he knew he wasn't supposed to be in the park, documents said.
Rode's bail was set at $10,000.
His criminal history includes indecent exposure, failing to register as a sex offender, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and committing lewd conduct.
Last November in Benton County he pleaded guilty to possessing meth, and in February his criminal trespass case was reduced to a misdemeanor charge of first-degree criminal trespass, court records show.
Pasco men face trials for robbery, assault
Two Pasco men face Sept. 11 trials on allegations they chipped a man's tooth while kicking him to steal his cellphone.
Mario Uvalle Jr., 22, and Jesus Castillo, 23, both pleaded innocent to first-degree robbery and second-degree assault.
According to court documents, Pasco Officer Jason Griffin was patrolling the city at 1:40 a.m. July 6 when he was dispatched to West Lewis Street for a physical disturbance.
The officer found two men who matched the description and were identified by the victim and a witness, documents said.
Few details on the incident were given in court documents, other than Uvalle kicked Erik A. Montejano in the head before taking his property.
The phone reportedly was found on either Uvalle or Castillo as they were being arrested on suspicion of taking property from another person while inflicting bodily harm, Griffin said in court documents.
Uvalle and Castillo have been ordered to have no contact with the 23-year-old victim while the case is pending.
Uvalle was ordered held on $25,000 bail, while Castillo's was set at $15,000, documents show.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer