ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE SNOHOMISH COUNTY REPORTER NOV, 16th, 2015
Animal Abuse Allegations at epidemic levels. Those targeted say it’s malicious prosecution… and it’s about the money… lots of money.
Jason Markley says he is falsely accused. He says every stitch of the so-called “evidence” used in his prosecution for animal abuse was manufactured. He says he can prove it but the judicial system has turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the evidence he uncovered.
Markley says the King County Prosecutor’s Office concealed a 45 incident career criminal history of one of their primary witnesses. This included 2 felony arrests – one for VUCSA (drugs) in 2008 and another earlier for shoplifting in 2006. This is a money making criminal business mode alive and will in the entire state. King and Pierce County are leading the pack.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist and auditor Julie Anderson have a competing amount of malicious prosecutions compared to King County as in currently being revealed by some of his staff.
One of the more spectacular is the Dr. John Diller case where the county and DEA illegally seized over a $1.5 million of Dr. Dillar’s property (and his 39 horses) and still have not produced any grounds for doing so.
There are many more just like Dillar in Pierce County. The bilking of the county is running amuck. Even when the Pierce County Council was alerted to it – Lindquist failed to prosecute the real culprits.
In King County the main witness for the prosecution has been Regional Services of King County Animal Control Officer Jenee Westberg. Westberg has worked for King County since 2002.
In 2007, the Loudermill proceding began with tardiness, then ended with “dishonesty and theft of county time.” It led to a 4-day suspension in September of 2008.
On January 24, 2008, even though Westberg’s supervisor, Sgt. Steve Couvion came to pick up the inebriated and stoned Westberg (with her dog) after being arrested and booked for a rather spectacular VUCSA felony with over 9 counts of criminal law, Westberg was still not put on the King County Prosecutor’s “Brady Officer” list.
Neither felony arrests were mentioned in the Loudermill proceedings nor was the concurrent 2008 ATV gross misdemeanor (3rd prosecution going on at the same time) also being prosecuted by the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
Conversely all three criminal prosecutions were conspicuously absent from all three of Westberg’s official “Loudermill” proceedings in (2008, 2013 and 2014) even though Westberg’s supervisor, Sgt. Steve Couvion come to pick Westberg up from her VUCSA booking with the Black Diamond Police in 2008. The arresting officer noted Couvion had an extended conversation regarding “professional courtesy” at the time.
Further requests of public documents recently reveal that there was an internal investigation regarding Westberg’s 2008 VUSCA felony arrest within animal control. Couvion’s statement was in direct conflict with the Black Diamond arresting officer’s statements.
Couvion stated, “I am not certain how it all came about of her being an ACO. Perhaps when they had probable cause they went through her belongings and find the badge then, I do not know.”
With the Black Diamond Police referral for probable cause to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, the Black Diamond arresting officer narrative was clear about how they were first made aware of Westberg’s King County Animal Control employment and her King County badge.
Officer Huff: “I made contact with the female driver of the vehicle, I immediately saw a King County badge sitting on her lap. I advised the driver why I stopped her and asked for her license, registration and vehicle insurance. As I was speaking with the driver, later identified as Jenee A. Westberg (DOB: 01/30/76), I could smell an overwhelming odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. Westberg advised me that she had recently purchased the vehicle and was on her way home after riding her horse. I asked Westberg who she worked for and she stated she worked for King County Animal Control. She later advised me she did not have any vehicle insurance. I returned to my vehicle and asked for Narcotics K9 handler…”
In 2008, curiously, Westberg’s defense counsel, Robert D. Rhodes IV (WSBA# 31089) brought in 5 letters “attesting to her “professional competence, passion, honest and reliability” (4:25) from Westberg’s “employers” which he took back (5:32) from Judge Mariane Spearman as he left the courtroom – so nonw were never put in the court record. (080520 Sentencing Audio: 5:43)
During the 4 months of Westberg’s 2008 VUCSA prosecution that King County Prosecutor, Maggie Nave (WSBA# 19004) expedited, Maggie Nave was the primary prosecuter. It was heard in front of then District Court Judge Mariane Spearman (wife of Chief Justice Michael Spearman who is currently Chief Justice on the Court of Appeals Division I). Mariane Spearman is now a King County Superior Court Judge.
Earlier, in October of 2007, Westberg had been a part of the prosecution of Gina and Darryl Lindsey (Case 07-1-11067-1) brought by KCDPA E. Bradford Bales (WSBA# 28791) then prosecuted by the King County Deputy Prosecutor Julie E. Kline, (WSBA #35461) for animal cruelty.
Animal Control Officers Dave Morris and Steve Couvion visited Lindseys followed by an entourage of others including Jenny Edwards of Hope for Horses, Washington State Animal Response Team (WSART) president, Gretchen McCullum (a known ARE). The entourage of which are enriched by successful prosecutions.
On the same day as Westberg’s arraignment, March 19, 2008, Darryl Lindsey was extorted into a plea bargain misdemeanor by King County Prosecutor E. Bradford Bales in order to exclude Darryl’s wife Gina Lindsey from being prosecuted. It was agreed on March 19, 2008.
On March 19, 2008, the very same day, Westberg pled not guilty to the VUCSA felony arrest in court in front of Judge Mariane Spearman though Westberg had over 9 criminal violations and over 19 counts of moral turpitude within that arrest.
No one disclosed any of this to Mr. Lindsey.
On December 3, 2007, Patrick Gleason (Case# 07-347400) was targeted by King County Animal Control Officer Sgt Steve Couvion, Dave Morris, (both Westberg’s supervisors, Steven Fuscher, Jenny Edwards (Hope for Horses), and veterinarian Heather Stewart.
On February 5, 2008, Jake Rider (Case 08-1-00331-7) was prosecuted for animal Cruelty. Jenee Westberg was dispatched to Rider’s residence on December 7, 2007 and acted as a primary witness with ACO Sgt. Dave Morris and veterinarian Heather Stewart.
No one disclosed anything to Mr. Rider about Westberg’s criminal career.
On March 16, 2009, Nicole Pappas (Case# 09-1-04160-8) was visited by Westberg and veterinarian Hannah Evergreen aka Mueller, then prosecuted for animal cruelty. Westberg and Mueller were the primary prosecution witnesses.
No one disclosed Westberg’s criminal history to Pappas.
February 26, 2011, Christy Diemond (Case# 11-1-06177-5) was targeted by Westberg and veterinarian Hannah Evergreen aka Mueller through King County Sheriff Sgt. Bonnie Soule, Jenny Edwards of Hope for Horses, Jamie Taft and Bonnie Hammond of Save a Forgotten Equine and – the now disgraced King County Sheriff Major Crimes Detective Robin Cleary. (Cleary was terminated for criminal malfeasance through her affiliations with the now incarcerated drug dealer/pimp/embezzler Darrion Holiwell).
Cleary has a conspicuous presence in many of these cases.
No one mentioned Westberg’s criminal history to her.
In Diemond’s case, her defense counsel SCRAP Dave Roberson (WSBA# 19298) and the KCDPA Maggie Nave acted in concert to conceal Westberg’s criminal history while Ms. Nave denied knowing anything about being the head prosecutor in Westberg’s 2008 VUCSA case in front of Judge Mariane Spearman.
Judge Jim Rogers allowed the trial to go forward even when it became evident they had perjured themselves as officers of the court. Rogers was a long term law school classmate of Roberson. Rogers had worked with Ms. Nave for a decade and a half before taking the bench.
Recently, public records revealed Ms. Nave had other problems that started over a decade before Diemond’s arraignment.
There was a letter of reprimand in Nave’s personnel file that was no small matter. In it, Chief Deputy, Mark Larson states: “On August 17, 2011, I learned of a concern about cases in your office that had not been filed/handled. As you know, our response was to open an investigation to determine the truth of this suspicion. Mark Stockdale, from the Civil/Employment section, headed the investigation.
At the conclusion of that process, it was determined that cases under your care had, in fact, been mishandled. The scope of the case mismanagement is outlined in an accompanying memo from Assistant Chief Erin Ehlert. However, a summary version is that over 100 cases in your office for some types of review (all of which were file-able cases), were neglected and not filed within the statute of limitations.
Nothing more needs to be said about the significance of this mismanagement, In any other practice, this would be considered malpractice. It is also of significance that this failure stretched over a long period of time, dating back to 1999. In other words, this was not a singular failure or a problem that arose in one particular time frame. Rather, the failure was repeated, persistent and profound.”
The mismanaged files taken represent 117 case files from September of 1999 – July of 2010. Westberg’s case was not among them.
Nave was defrocked of her post as the Chair of the District Court Unit. Larson goes on to state: “Failure to meet these expectations in the future will lead to further discipline, up to and including termination.”
Nave is currently one of two early plea negotiators for Animal Cruelty, interestingly included in this assignment is “Tampering with a witness or Public Servant.
None of Ms. Nave’s malpractice history was ever disclosed to Diemond. Nor does it appear there was any oversight or chain of custody of the evidence. Nave continued to conceal this exculpatory evidence.
Nave then made a textbook mistrial. Nave passionately told the jury during her close that Diemond’s horses “had gained weight and were doing well now” when in fact both Diemond’s horses had been euthanized under the care of veterinarian Hannah Mueller aka Evergreen and SAFE due to Mueller’s improper feeding and care. This happened 10 months and 16 months post possession and in the care of Mueller and the “rescue” organizations.”
Rogers failed to call a mistrial.
April 4, 2011 Darryl Lindsey was targeted a second time by Westberg and veterinarian Heather Stewart. The prosecution never disclosed Westberg’s criminal history. Judge Mary Roberts found Westberg’s collection of evidence unlawful and the case ended up dismissed.
On April 7, 2011, Cherish Thomas and Jason Markley were targeted by Westberg. They claim Westberg kept them and their 4 children hostage for 4 hours by patting the gun Westberg later claimed she didn’t have. Westberg appeared to be “high.” Markley claimes Westberg was terrorizing him and his family.
No one told Thomas or Markley that Westberg had a criminal record until Markley’s attorney found it.April 11, 2011 Shannon Dunham was targeted by Westberg, veterinarian Heather Stewart, King County Sgt Tony McNabb and Christina Bartlett – associates of the disgraced Major Crimes detective. Robin Cleary who has a presence in many of these cases.
Dunham was never told of Westberg’s criminal history.
On March 30, 2012, Westberg targeted Dell Adams and Sue Jackson (Case# 12-1-02069-4).
No one disclosed Westberg’s history to them.
It turns out the lead prosecutor in most of these cases, King County Deputy Prosecutor Gretchen Holmgren (youngest daughter of Mike Holmgren) never disclosed any of Westberg’s criminal history as required when there is “exculpatory” evidence. This is an issue coming up in the Mark Lindquist prosecutions also.
In addition, Holmgren concealed a third concurrent 2008 ATV gross misdemeanor and the fact Westberg was having a second “Loudermill” hearing resulting in a 2nd suspension for dishonesty and “theft of county time” while Markley and Diemond were attempting to defend themselves.
Westberg was terminated earlier this year for criminal malfeasance and has been placed on the King County Prosecutor’s “Brady Officer” list.
Yet the King County Prosecutor’s Office had done nothing to address and/or correct Westberg’s testimony in Markley’s case and 21 others just like it.
King County have done everything to conceal it and are currently being sued under the Public Records Act (PRA)for withholding information surrounding these cases. A second PRA was filed May 21, 2015 for King County’s further withholding of public documents.
When a prosecutor withholds evidence that would serve to prove of benefit to a defendant (exculpatory), it is known as a “Brady violation” says Markley who claims he has become more legally savvy than he ever imagined with no criminal record of his own until he was wrongfully accused.
Markley says that the prosecutor never disclosed the qualifications of their other primary veterinarian witness, Hannah Mueller aka Evergreen, who appears to have provided counterfeit and incomplete school transcripts in 2004 to the State Dept. of Health to become licensed as a veterinarian in the State of Washington.
Markley says Westberg and Mueller aka Evergreen switched (see photo upper right) his horse with 1 – 3 “after” horses with the help of “rescue” organizations – that they all committed perjury during his trial then proceeded to quadruple bill the county for “Alex” under several other aliases.
“She (Ms. Holmgren) can’t even get the breed of the bait’ n switched animals straight. Holmgren says Alex is a Quarterhorse and “Save a Forgotten Equine” (SAFE) says he’s Morgan, says Markley. The horse,”Mr. Pibb” (another “after” horse) shown on TV news several times appears to be an Arabian (third horse).
Markley’s wife, who was a co-defendant in the same trial in the same room at the same time – only with a jury – was dismissed because the jury didn’t believe the “after” horse was the same horse either. Some of the jurors risked sanctions by speaking up they were so appalled by the prosecution’s claims during trial.
The judge in that case, Judge Cheryl Carey was quick to berate Markley even though the jury dismissed Thomas with the same evidence. She sentenced Markley, who has never been in jail in 42 years, someone who home schools his 4 children, to 30 days in jail and 240 hours of community service.
Markley says many veterinarians and rescues are profiteering through embezzlement and fraud on taxpayers dollars while King County has failed to act. When the prosecutor creates a distressed property, they profit more by acquiring a distressed property at 30% – 70% of market value.
Markley claims he has uncovered 100’s of 1000’s of dollars billed to the county (and paid) for manufactured care and double to quadruple billing for the same horse under several different names (through public records requests). He believes there are at least 21 cases since 2006 in King County and it appears to be epidemic nationally.
To complicate matters further, the King County prosecutor in his case, Gretchen Holmgren-Peterson, who has prosecuted a majority of King County’s animal abuse cases like Markley’s, is the youngest daughter of one of the most elite highest-paid football coaches in the National Football League’s history, millionaire (and 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame nominee) Mike Holmgren.
Click on picture above to view the video of Markley’s Sept. 12, 2014 COA Oral Arguments
Markley claims he has found through court records that Ms. Holmgren is no stranger to allegations of malicious prosecution in her short, part-time career, most recently, in late 2012 at the same Court of Appeals with the Hon. Verellen writing the opinion.
Verellen also sat on Markley’s COA panel along with Chief Justice Michael Spearman (Judge Mariane Spearman’s husband) and the Honorable Michael Trickey.
In the Dunham case Holmgren attempted to collect an extra $13,000 in restitution for the care of her two mini horses and a goat, Markley’s horse “Alex” and another two horses from another (third) case.
When exposed, the prosecutors switched from Gretchen Holmgren to Kelsey Schirman.
Schirman acknowledged the $13,000 “miscalculation” then asked for another year’s worth of restitution while there was no documentation filed with that request.
The judge in that case – the honorable Mariane Spearman (wife of Chief Justice Michael Spearman) – chose to “deny the request at this time.”
Markley says there are at least 5 more cases where Ms. Holmgren has participated in questionable acts as a prosecutor, some still active.
Markley has submitted his discoveries and evidence in the form of a “Statement of Additional Grounds” (SAG) to the Court of Appeals, a “SAG addendum“, SAG addendum and a point by point “SAG response” to Ms. Holmgren’s argument, but so far – and during oral arguments September 12, 2014, none of the judges panel chose to visit the controversial topic in front of an audience which included not only Ms. Holmgren but her high-profile father sporting his Super bowl ring. (See the video above).
Prosecutor Holmgren says Markley is guilty of animal abuse because he fed the animal “local hay” 3 -4 times a day and put shoes on the horse.
While defense counsel, Casey Grannis pointed out that even if one assumed Markley was guilty, the prosecution picked the wrong law to prosecute – Ms. Holmgren claimed the local hay Markley “provided was of no nutritional value” – something local hay growers are outraged about because most of them provide forage analysis with the purchase of their hay.
Ms. Holmgren then admitted that she had no evidence of that claim such as as laboratory forage analysis.
Tipton Hudson, MRS, Kittitas County Director of WSU’s Extension program of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (hay specialist) couldn’t disagree with Ms. Holmgren more. In an email responding to this claim he states:
” While Eastern Washington is known for producing high quality hay consistently because of the increased portion of the growing season with favorable conditions for curing hay, there is certainly plenty of high quality hay produced in Western Washington that is successfully fed to livestock, including horses.
Making generalizations about hay-growing regions of the state and applying that to a given situation without forage test data, and without any other relevant supporting information, would be an error.”
Ms. Holmgren went on to claim that, “The only reason for a horse to be “shoed,” (proper term is “shod’) as presented by testimony during trial, is so that the animal can be ridden.”
Ms. Holmgren said this while her own expert stated during trial there are therapeutic reasons to put shoes on a horse “such as the crack developing in one of Alex’s hooves.” says Markley.
How to “Photoshop a horse for court. Below are the photos used in the Markley trial as the “After” horse.