Dive Teams Search River For Evidence Twice After Assault - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Dive Teams Search River For Evidence Twice After Assault

SPOKANE, Wash – Since Thursdays assault, dive teams with the Spokane County Sheriff's Department have searched the Spokane River twice looking for any evidence in the case – namely, the mallet used in the attack, and any shoes or clothing the suspect may have shed.

Avondre Graham, 17, is in custody on assault and robbery charges, after police say he randomly attacked a woman with a mallet and took her cell phone while the woman was walking along Centennial Trail near Mission Park Thursday.

However, finding any single piece of evidence in a flowing river is a lot like trying to find a needle in a haystack - a haystack full of garbage.

"We've seen outboard motors, anchors, bicycles, scooters, CD's, weapons, a ton of things in the water," said Sgt. Jim Gladden.

The stretch of river from the park south to the railroad bridge is a known homeless camp, and trash along the banks – and in the water – is not unusual.

The good news is, the water is lower and, in places, calmer than it was at the height of the season, making the search a little easier for divers.

Dive teams made their first go at it Friday, and then resumed the search Monday with a five-person crew, including two divers.  A tender on the back of the boat has a line to the diver in the water, helping control where that person searches.

"We use GPS, we use the position of the tender and the length of the rope to try to recreate the distances and the area that's searched," Sgt. Gladden told KHQ.

Deciding how much of the water to search, and how, depends largely on what crews are looking for and witness statements of the crime involved.

And their work does prove successful; earlier this month, crews found an AK-47 under the TJ Meenach Bridge, believed to have been used in the December murder of Marcus Shur in Bonnie Lake.

But even when dive crews don't find that one key piece of evidence, that in itself can be evidence.

"Let's say we get information that a weapon is in a certain area, and we've covered it to the point that we think, ‘You know what?  This weapon isn't here.'  That information is also important to investigators because they may have gotten some bad information, and they can go back and re-interview and try to see if they need to do something else with the case," he added.

Dive crews will be back on the lake as requested by Spokane Police, the lead agency on the assault case. 

The suspect Avondre Graham is due back in court next week.

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