Crime

Man denies offering to pay cyclist after Kennewick accident

KENNEWICK -- A Kennewick man pleaded innocent Thursday to allegations he hit a bicyclist, then offered the victim money for his injuries if they left before police arrived at the crash scene.

Anuar C. Lopez, 24, is set for jury trial April 5 in Benton County Superior Court for hit-and-run with injury. He has two other cases set to go before juries that day for possession of cocaine and theft.

Defense attorney Larry Zeigler asked to have all three cases trail each other.

According to police and court records, Leo Gorham was riding his bicycle east on Fourth Avenue at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 12 when he was hit by a red sedan.

The 19-year-old Kennewick man said the impact threw him onto the road. The crash occurred near Conway Place.

Lopez, who allegedly had been drinking before the collision, got out to talk to Gorham, who was laying on the ground. Lopez said he was OK, then told the victim he'd give him "money for his injuries if he came with him to his apartment, which was nearby," court records said.

Several residents in surrounding homes witnessed Lopez speaking with Gorham before driving away, records said.

Once police and paramedics arrived, Gorham was taken to Kennewick General Hospital, where he was treated for bruises and abrasions to his arms, legs and throat.

The crash also caused significant damage to Gorham's bike.

Officers, working off witness descriptions of Lopez and his maroon Ford Contour, found the car the next day in a nearby apartment complex. The front bumper reportedly was damaged.

The Ford belongs to Lopez's girlfriend, who told police that Lopez admitted parking the car several blocks away after hitting a bicyclist, court records said. He moved the car back to the apartment that next day, records said.

In his police interview, Lopez said he'd been drinking before the collision, then proceeded to a friend's house after hitting Gorham to continue drinking, according to records.

Less than four weeks later, Lopez allegedly pocketed a debit card left behind by a customer at Mr. Qwik's gas station on Court Street.

Lopez claimed he found the card on the ground and used it for multiple transactions at a gas station, restaurants and a retail store, court records said. He was charged with second-degree theft in February.

At the time of both incidents, Lopez was awaiting trial on allegations he tried to get rid of some plastic-wrapped cocaine when confronted by police.

In that case, Kennewick officers were investigating Lopez for possible involvement in a robbery. Officers were staked out around Lopez's home when he came out into the driveway, court records said.

When they announced themselves as police, Lopez allegedly pulled his hand out of his pants pocket and dropped the cocaine and a key onto the ground.

The powdery substance in the plastic came back positive for cocaine, records said.

Lopez is currently being held in the Benton County jail.

Trial delayed for man accused in sex abuse

KENNEWICK -- A Benton City man agreed to delay his trial 3 1/2 months so his lawyer has more time to review all documents in the sexual abuse case involving five victims.

Bob Trainor, 46, now has a trial set June 28. He is charged with two counts of first-degree rape of a child and one count each of second-degree rape of a child, first-degree child molestation and second-degree child molestation.

Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra said the June trial is a "firm date that works for both of us." She didn't object to the delay.

Attorney Larry Stephenson said it is "a quite involved case" with a lot of paperwork.

"I will do my very best to make sure we can try it on the 28th," Stephenson said, adding, "I make no promises."

Trainor is a volunteer captain with Benton Fire District 1 who has worked at Hanford for 21 years.

The sexual abuse allegedly started with one girl in 2002 and escalated to sexual intercourse four years later. The other girls reported incidents beginning in 2006 and occurring as recently as December, court documents said.

Trainor was released from jail after posting bond on $50,000 bail.

Trial for kennel owner to begin March 15

The trial for a longtime kennel owner accused of neglecting 371 American Eskimo dogs has been pushed back one week, but a judge refused any further delays by the defense.

Ella Stewart, 67, had been set for trial March 15.

Both Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor and defense attorney Peyman Younesi agreed to a one-week delay to March 22.

But when Younesi told the court that April 5 works better for him because he has another trial on March 22, Bloor objected to dragging the case out any longer. Bloor said if that happens, he would rather stick with the original date.

Judge Vic VanderSchoor questioned why Younesi can't do back-to-back trials, as other lawyers sometimes have to do. Younesi can pick both juries on his separate cases, and immediately try one while having the jury return at a later date on the other, VanderSchoor explained.

Stewart is charged with one count of first-degree animal cruelty, a felony, and nine counts of second-degree animal cruelty, gross misdemeanors.

She had owned Sun Valley Kennel since the 1960s.

Police arrested Stewart in May after a sheriff's deputy allegedly found the small, white dogs living in filthy cages, shopping carts, wooden boxes and other makeshift kennels while responding to an unrelated call at a neighbor's house.

Younesi said his client is "going through a counteroffer" and will decide whether to accept it or proceed to trial.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com

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