MONDAY, JUNE 20 Hello! The week kicks off with a Lifetime-movie-worthy criminal drama packed with love, heartbreak, and tainted Jägermeister set right here in the Pacific Northwest. At the center of the saga: Janjira Smith, the 56-year-old woman who's allegedly spent the last five years scampering around the globe after being accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend in Kirkland. As Seattlepi.com reports, the saga commenced back in September 2006, when Roger Lewis, Smith's boyfriend of 18 months, announced that he'd met another woman whom he planned to marry. "Smith reportedly did not receive this news well," wrote a King County detective in court documents, with Smith's unwell reception of the breakup coming to a head on October 6, 2006. "Smith learned that [Lewis's] new girlfriend, Thanyarat Sengpharaghanh, was going to meet Lewis for dinner," reports Seattlepi.com, quoting court documents. "Smith called Sengpharaghanh and advised her that Lewis was fond of Jägermeister and liked to have a drink before going out for the evening. She offered to send a bottle over and urged the woman to make sure Lewis had a drink before they left for dinner." When Lewis arrived at Sengpharaghanh's apartment, she offered him some of the Jägermeister that Smith had sent over: "Lewis drank a full shot glass, and Sengpharaghanh drank about half a glass. Almost immediately, the woman felt ill, lost her vision, then blacked out. A friend found the woman blind and disoriented in the apartment. The 56-year-old Lewis was facedown on the floor, dead." Investigators soon determined that the Jägermeister had been spiked with the insecticide methomyl, and Smith was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree assault, by which time she had fled the United States for her native Thailand. Last Friday, after a multiyear extradition fight, Janjira Smith was returned to the United States and delivered to King County Jail in Seattle, where she stands charged with first-degree murder and is being held in lieu of $5 million bail.
TUESDAY, JUNE 21 Speaking of horrifying crime, the week continues in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood, where early this morning two young women were out for a walk when a pair of strange men leaped from the bushes and attacked them. As KIRO reports, "The 19-year-old woman was able to get away, but the 20-year-old woman was dragged about 30 feet away into a waiting car." As the mother of the victim told KIRO: "They drove my daughter around for about an hour and a half. They parked somewhere, they raped her and poured beer all over her. The one man took [a] gun and hit her in the mouth, broke one tooth, cracked another, and almost knocked two more teeth out." Afterward, the two men—both of whom spoke Spanish throughout the attack—drove the woman back near Green Lake and "just kicked her out of the car." The attackers remain at large, police have released a sketch of the primary suspect, and the car has been described as a midsize dark gray sedan. Female pedestrians: Please be careful. Seattle police: Please catch these animals.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22 In barely lighter news, the week continues with a day of reckoning for a new age celebrity: James Arthur Ray, the 53-year-old self-help author who was today found guilty of negligent homicide following the deaths of three participants in one his "Spiritual Warrior" sweat lodge ceremonies. As ABC News reports, the fatal sweat lodge took place in October 2009 in Sedona, Arizona, when about 60 of Ray's followers crammed into a 415-square-foot hut heated with red-hot rocks for what the charismatic guru promised would be a "rebirthing." Instead, at least 20 people got violently ill and three people died. "Melinda Martin, a former employee of Ray's who was at the sweat lodge ceremony in question, said when medical help arrived on the scene they mistook it for a mass suicide," reports ABC. "Yavapai County attorney Sheila Polk claimed Ray's recklessness killed three of his followers—Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minnesota; James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, New York... Prosecutors also said Ray conditioned participants through breathing exercises, sleep deprivation, a 36-hour fast, and lectures to ignore their bodies' signs of danger." Following today's conviction, prosecutors will push for the homicidally negligent guru to be sentenced to 11 years in prison.
••Also today, President Obama told the nation of his plan to remove 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, with a total of 33,000 troops returned by next summer and all US military involvement in the country ended by 2014.
THURSDAY, JUNE 23 Nothing happened today, unless you count the bloodcurdling reports of the two would-be Islamic jihadists arrested for allegedly plotting to kill as many people as possible at Seattle's Military Entrance Processing Station. Details come from KING 5, which identifies the failed jihadists as 33-year-old Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif and 32-year-old Walli Mujahidh, both of whom were arrested last night in Seattle following a monthlong FBI investigation that uncovered the pair's alleged plan to gun down people enlisting in the armed forces at the processing station on East Marginal Way. "According to the FBI, Abdul-Latif was outwardly angry about the current United States military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even in Yemen," reports KING 5. "Charging documents show Abdul-Latif believed murdering American soldiers was justifiable: 'Imagine how many young Muslims, if we're successful, will try to hit these kind of centers,' said Abdul-Latif in [an FBI] recording. 'Imagine how fearful America will be, and they'll know they can't push the Muslims around.'" Last night, Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh met an undercover FBI informant at a Seattle warehouse, where the pair were to pick up the machine guns they had purchased to execute their attack. Lucky for all, the place was bugged, the guns were inoperable, and Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were arrested on multiple charges, including conspiracy to murder officers and employees of the United States, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (grenades), and possession of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence. Each man faces life in prison followed by eternity in hell.
FRIDAY, JUNE 24 In much better news, today New York became the sixth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage, a long-awaited, well-timed bit of progress that infused the weekend's gay Pride celebrations with historic significance and throws down the gauntlet to other allegedly evolved states to follow their marriage-equality lead. (More good news: Yesterday, before anyone knew of New York's legalization of same-sex marriage, Washington State gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee announced his support for marriage equality. See page 13 for full details.)
SATURDAY, JUNE 25 In much worse news, today Anchorage, Alaska, hosted the worst gay pride parade in history, which commenced with the fatal crushing of a parade participant by the automobile carrying the parade's grand marshal and ended soon thereafter.
SUNDAY, JUNE 26 In much better news, today brought Seattle's Gay Pride Parade, a perfectly lovely procession featuring thousands of folks made jubilant by the New York ruling and zero fatal crushings.
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