6/17/2023 News Roundup


<<A man has pleaded guilty to hate crime charges for threatening to use his vehicle to hit an Idaho library worker who defended a transgender coworker, as well as two women he believed were lesbians, according to court documents and the U.S. Justice Department.

Matthew Alan Lehigh, 31, of Oregon, on Thursday entered the plea to two hate crimes charges in federal court in Idaho, the department said.

Lehigh had signed a plea agreement in the case last month. He faces sentencing later.>>

<,Lehigh acknowledged as part of the plea agreement that last October at a Boise public library he threatened and struck with a closed fist a library worker who is transgender. Another library employee tried to protect the coworker and followed Lehigh as Lehigh fled to the parking lot. There, Lehigh got into his car and after the worker who followed him outside approached, Lehigh accelerated his car toward the person, who jumped out of the way, according to the agreement.

Days later, Lehigh was in a parking lot in his car at a Boise park and saw two women he “assumed, based on their appearance and dress” were lesbians, according to the document. He shouted threats and slurs at them and accelerated his car toward them. They jumped out of the way, the document states, but Lehigh’s vehicle hit the car of one of the women.

The Justice Department said Lehigh, as part of the agreement, also admitted responsibility for three other incidents, including setting on fire a pride flag that was on a same-sex couple’s porch.

“Hate crimes such as this are an attack on a deeply personal part of someone’s identity, and they have a devastating impact on families and communities,” said Luis Quesada, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI will not tolerate violence against the LGBTQI+ community.”>>



<<Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is crafting a city ordinance that would outlaw the public consumption of hard drugs. including fentanyl, and he’s proposing criminal penalties.

Oregon voters decriminalized the personal possession of small amounts hard drugs with the passage of Measure 110 in 2020. That policy change coincided with an explosion in public drug use on Portland’s streets, infuriating downtown business and property owners.

Measure 110 eliminated criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of hard drugs, replacing them with a $100 fine. In recent months, Portland police have begun handing out more of those fines to fentanyl users downtown.

Now, the mayor is looking to levy criminal penalties as well. It is unclear how Wheeler will do this under existing law. A spokesman for the mayor, Cody Bowman, confirmed that Wheeler was considering the idea but declined to provide specifics. He said more details would be released “mid-next week.”

In recent days, Wheeler has spoken to stakeholders about his intentions, said people familiar with the conversations.>>



<<A new artificial intelligence system will begin answering Portland’s non-emergency lines next week, the city’s 911 director told city commissioners Thursday. The system is called “Case Service” and it’s provided by the company that manages the city’s Computer Aided Dispatch system, Versaterm.

“A automated attendant will answer the phone on nonemergency and based on the answers using artificial intelligence—and that’s kind of a scary word for us at times—will determine if that caller needs to speak to an actual call taker,” BOEC director Bob Cozzie told city commissioners yesterday.

The system will go online next week for “a couple hours a day to test and refine,” he added.>>



<<A man in prison for killing his 3-year-old daughter died Thursday night in the Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla. The Oregon medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of death, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections.

David Gene Elliott, Jr., 36, had been sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for the death of Aniya Zamora.>>

<<The medical examiner said she died of cerebral anoxia due to near drowning after blunt force abdominal trauma. Elliott admitted kicking Aniya in the stomach and assaulting the girl’s brother.>>

<<He pleaded guilty to murder by abuse and two counts of assault in the third degree.>>