Neighbors fight to get nuisance house closed
Updated On: Feb 21 2013 09:11:43 PM CST
Homeowners in the Indian Trail neighborhood made their final Hail Mary effort Thursday to shut down a suspected drug how that they say has caused problems for them for nearly a year.
Under city municipal code, a judge can rule that a house is a "chronic nuisance" and order it boarded up for a year. The 35 neighbors who showed up in court have kept meticulous notes and surveillance of the so-called problem house and hoped that would be enough to convince a Superior Court Judge.
The house, located at 10150 North Seminole Drive, was last raided in late January and police say they found meth inside the house. Seven people were arrested, but neighbors say those people were back in the house the next day and back to business as usual. More arrests were made two weeks later when a stolen vehicle was discovered.
Neighbors said they've dealt with drug deals, drug-fueled fights, vandalism, threats, burglaries and packed Judge Kathleen O'Conner's courtroom to plead their case, but it would not be a good day for them.
City Attorney Mary Muramatsu stood before Judge O'Conner with more than 100 pieces of evidence.
"I'm here before the court today seeking emergency relief on behalf of the Woodridge Neighborhood, " Muramatsu said.
With no sign of the owner of the problem house, Marcy Pratt, testimony to deem the property a chronic nuisance under city code, and ultimately shut it down, continued with Spokane Police Officer Paul Taylor. He's been the point of contact for neighbors throughout the year-long ordeal.
As Taylor began to explain his experience with the problem house, jaws dropped as Marcy Pratt walked into the courthouse late and took a seat in the front row. Though she had been subpoenaed Wednesday, Pratt had no lawyer and that was key to what happened next.
"I did try to call some lawyers last night and this morning, but I do feel like I'm entitled to have an attorney present and I would like to have a continuance if possible," Pratt told Judge O'Conner.
Judge O'Conner granted Pratt 24 more hours to get a lawyer, but warned that she is still under a restraining order that restricts her from having, making or selling drugs from her house. It also rules that she cannot have guests inside her house.
"There never has been any drug sales or anything," Pratt stated.
Upon that announcement her neighbors burst out laughing in the audience, to which the judge scolded them for not keeping proper composure in the courthouse.
Neighbors filed out of the courthouse quickly, some saying they needed to rush home for fear of retaliation from the people Pratt associates with. Mostly, they felt let down by Thursday's proceedings.
"It's disappointing yeah, but we do want everyone to have their day in court and I think she does deserve a lawyer to be there, I think she'll still lose," neighbor Dana Moss said.
Pratt maintains her innocence, claiming drugs have been planted in her car and any problems at the home came from poor judgment of people she called friends.
"There's no drugs, there never has been any drugs," Pratt paused. "Okay, I did have someone at my house, he came at five in the morning and him and his girlfriend had a fight out on the front yard."
Judge O'Connor made it very clear to Pratt that she has 24 hours to find a lawyer or the hearing to decide if her home is a chronic nuisance will go on without her.
The next hearing is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
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