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Pasco man accused of imprisoning girlfriend for month

PASCO — A Pasco man is being held on $100,000 bail for allegedly beating and holding his girlfriend against her will for a month.

Larry Dean Buck, 39, pleaded innocent Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court to second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment.

His trial is set for March 23.

According to court documents, Pasco police were called to the Shopping Spot Mini Mart, 128 S. 28th St., at 1:15 p.m. Jan. 27 for a report that a hysterical woman was asking for help from police.

Officers found the woman, 45, later determined to be Buck's girlfriend, shaking and crying and trying to catch her breath.

She had bruising on her face and chest, a cut on the bridge of her nose and cuts on her left ankle, documents said. She told officers the rest of her body also was bruised.

She said she was held against her will by Buck at the Sage N Sun Motel and inside a motor home at 2714 W. Hopkins St., documents said.

She told officers that Buck beat her and attempted to drown her, documents said. She also said a knife might have been involved.

The woman said she was able to escape from the motor home and run to the store for help.

Officers said she had "head to toe" bruising, documents said.

Witnesses interviewed by investigators said the couple had been at the Sage N Sun Motel for a month.

Buck reportedly left the room daily, but they never saw the woman leave the room, documents said. They also said the only time the woman was seen, she was covered in blankets.

Man pleads innocent to employee assault

BENTON CITY — A 26-year-old Benton City man pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges that he tried to assault employees at an auto parts store when they suspected him of stealing.

Justin Kirk Smith faces a March 30 trial for third-degree assault. He was being held in the Franklin County jail on $25,000 bail, but Judge Vic VanderSchoor agreed to reduce it to $10,000.

Smith had hoped to be released on his own recognizance. His attorney, Karla Kane, said Smith lives in the area, is about to become a father and works as a caretaker for his disabled father.

Deputy Prosecutor Brian Hultgrenn requested bail stay at $25,000, citing a prior criminal history that includes two drug charges and failing to appear in court twice.

Smith was arrested by Pasco police Jan. 31 at the Auto Zone, 2220 W. Court St. Store employees reported that Smith was armed with a pocket knife and was in an argument with them, court documents said.

Officers were told Smith was seen using a knife concealed in his hand to open packages in the store, documents said.

When he was stopped by an employee and asked to leave, he reportedly stood up and thrust the knife blade toward the two employees.

Officers found a silver pocket knife and a glass pipe in Smith's pockets when they searched him, documents said.

Spokane couple held for ransacking home

A Spokane couple is being held on $10,000 each for allegedly ransacking the home of an elderly Franklin County man who currently is at a rehabilitation center.

Tanya Maria Solway, 50, and Steven Ray Stephens, 55, were ordered held on a 72-hour investigative hold for residential burglary.

Both made preliminary appearances in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday, a day after their arrest by Franklin County sheriff's deputies, and said they would like to hire their own attorneys.

Prosecutors have until Thursday to file charges.

Solway and Stephens, her boyfriend, were arrested after being found Monday inside Julius Prattle's home in Franklin County, documents said.

Deputies were called by David Neff, who said he owns the home and is watching it for Prattle, who currently is at the Life Care Center in Richland.

Neff said he arrived Monday afternoon to check on the property and found Solway and Stephens inside ransacking the kitchen, documents said.

Solway and Stephens left before deputies arrived, but they spotted the car leaving the area and arrested the couple.

Solway said she was doing some cleaning for Prattle when Neff showed up and told them to leave, documents said. She also said Prattle had given her his checkbook and wrote her a check for $1,900 for "stuff like firewood," documents said.

Stephens told deputies he was at the home with Solway to help clean the place and to build a ramp for Prattle's wheelchair.

He said he found the checkbooks and gave them to Solway so she could put them away for Prattle, document said.

Deputies then talked to a social worker at the rehabilitation center who said Prattle told her that Solway was stealing money from him and shouldn't be in his house, document said.

Deputies took two checkbooks from Solway and found a skillet in the trunk of her car that she said she took to clean.

Prattle's son then checked the bank account and saw a check for $1,900 had been cashed by Solway, documents said.

In court Tuesday, Solway said she was in the home trying to clean it up so Prattle could return home. She said Prattle was a longtime family friend -- considered an uncle -- and "this is a family situation."

She asked to be released without bail, saying she hasn't been in trouble for almost 20 years, has proven to be an upstanding citizen and has "lived a good life."

Stephens also said he's "been on the straight and narrow" since his trouble with the law in the late '90s.

* Paula Horton: 509-582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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