Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, November 16, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Pullman Fires Related To Fred Russell Case?

I just got word that KHQ 6 out of Spokane is reporting that one of the witnesses who testified against Fred Russell in his recent vehicular manslaughter trial in Kelso lived in either the 9-unit aprtment building or the duplex behind Dissmores that was destroyed by fire yesterday morning. It is being speculated that this witness was deliberately targeted and that the other fires set on Pioneer Hill and Pullman Honda were diversions.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility. Back in December 2001, a friend of Fred Russell's who had been drinking with him the night of the accident was charged with felony harassment, felony witness intimidation and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a police officer afer pressuring the bartender at My Office tavern who served Russell to lie. This person later pled guilty to witness tampering and some other unrelated charges forgery and extortion and received a sentence of 34 months in prison. Former Whitman County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Ron Shirley called this man "a crime wave all by himself." The My Office bartender testified in Russell's trial last month.

I can find no story confirming this on the KHQ website, so this is still very tentative. Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.

UDPATE: Thanks to April, I watched the KHQ story here (it's titled "Displaced fire victims will stay at family restaurant.") KHQ DOES NOT actually make any connection between the fires and the Russell case. The reporter just points out the coincidence that Vinh Tran, owner of Old Peking Restuarant in Moscow testified at Russell's trial last month. Tran was involved in the 2001 accident where Russell killed three WSU students and injured several others. Tran rear-ended Russell's Chevy Blazer after it had struck the students' car. Tran is not the driver Russell's defense attorneys tried to blame for the accident. That was Robert Hart.

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