NEWS BRIEFS Dec. 15, 2001

Murder trial in progress

A Michigan man is on trial for murder in Island County Superior Court, four months after his arrest following the shooting death of his female companion, the mother of his child.

Jerry Lee Farrell was arrested Aug. 4 on suspicion of murder after police and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station security personnel responded to two 911 calls placed from the residence of Faith C. Ellison, a 22-year old Navy petty officer. The residence is in military family housing.

Jury selection and opening arguments began this week and the trial will run at least until Monday, said a spokesperson for the Island County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

It’s the second murder trial in less than a month in Island County. On Nov. 30 Linda Miley was found guilty of second degree murder for the shooting death of Camano Island resident Jack Pearson.

Ferry fares due another increase

The Tariff Policy Committee of the Washington State Department of Transportation will present a proposal to the Transportation Commission to raise ferry fares by 12.5 percent. If approved, a car and driver ticket on the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry would increase from $5 to about $5.60.

Last year fares system-wide were hiked about 20 percent. The big increases are in reaction to a Initiative 695 in 2000 which cut State Ferries’ operating funding by 20 percent and its capital funding by 75 percent. The Legislature told the ferry system to raise 80 percent of its operating costs through fares within six years.

The Tariff Commission is to decide this month of it wants to proceed with the proposal, which would open a formal process over the next three months that would include public input, according to a news release issued Friday.

Once a Code Revisor process is opened, the next step is for the Commission to decide whether to accept the proposal or modify it, and if it should be sent out for public input. The Tariff Policy Committee and Ferry System staff would then be assigned the task of conducting a series of public meetings, in most cases held in February and March.

Following public outreach and comment, the Tariff Policy Committee would finalize its report to the Commission, which would hold a formal ferry tariff hearing in March. At that time the Commission would make a final decision about a fare increase to be implemented in May.

Chase nabs drug suspects

Following a chase that reached speeds of 100 mph, Coupeville Marshal’s officers, with the assistance of Island County Sheriff’s officers and Washington State Troopers, apprehended two drug suspects.

The incident on Dec. 5 resulted in the arrests of Michael J. Russell, 21, and Timothy J. Bohannon, 29, on drug and weapons charges. Bohannan was also charged with possession of child pornography and reckless endangerment.

Responding to a call from Port Townsend officers of a suspect wanted on a warrant for drug-related offenses heading to Whidbey on the ferry, Coupeville Deputy Marshall Ray Hibbs was waiting when the ferry arrived. Russell, the subject with the outstanding warrant, was the passenger in the vehicle.

Russell was arrested on the warrant and searched. The search revealed a large quantity of suspected methamphetamines and a switchblade knife, according to a press release from the Coupeville Marshal’s Office.

During questioning the driver of the vehicle hit the gas and almost hit Marshal Lenny Marlborough. A chase ensued and the vehile headed north toward Coupeville on Ft. Casey Rd., then west on Terry Rd. through the intersection of South Maine St. and proceeding north on SR 20. The driver of the vehicle reportedly threw a package out the window of the car near Sherman Rd. The chase then turned east onto Arnold Road and ended at Monroe Landing Rd.

The driver was stopped and apprehended when he was unable to make the turn onto Monroe Landing Rd. and the vehicle came to rest in a gravel driveway.

A search of the vehicle revealed suspected methamphetamine on the car interior and passenger window, numerous knives and sexually explicit photographs of a teenage girl.

The entire incident was reportedly caught on tape by the patrol car dash video camera.

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