University recommends charges against student for taking newspapers

WASHINGTON –Central Washington University has recommended that county prosecutors seekcriminal charges against a student for taking the student newspaper, a collegespokeswoman said today.

CWU spokeswoman Becky Watson said a campuspolice investigation found that Ashley Gilmore took missing copies of theEllensburg, Wa., university’s student newspaper, The Observer.

Gilmore, whowas running for student body president, was featured in afront-pagestory of the May 18 edition of TheObserver that reported he had been acquitted in September 2005 ofsecond-degree manslaughter in connection with the 2004 death of his roommate,Joseph Tibbs.

At the time of Tibbs’ death, Tibbs and Gilmorewere roommates at Washington State University, according to anarticlein The Seattle Times. According to aFebruary 2004 police report, Gilmore told officers he kicked a gun fromTibb’s hand in horseplay, and when the gun hit the floor, it fired bulletsinto Tibbs’ chest, the article said.

The student newspaperchose to run the story on May 18, the day of the election, because they receivedthe tip about Gilmore the Monday before the May 18 issue, and the weekly papercoincidentally published on election day, said Rachel Guillermo, editor in chiefof The Observer.

”Thisis public knowledge. You can actually Google his name and all of this comesup,” Guillermo said. ”If he wants to be a public figure, this kindof stuff — a tragic accident I don’t wish upon anyone — willcome up, it’s part of his past.”

Guillermo said out of6,000 papers distributed on the night of May 17, 4,000 were missing the nextmorning. She said the paper reprinted the issue at a cost of$806.

”What I am really concerned about, is that people thinkwe are a campus newspaper, and it’s not a big deal, but it is,” shesaid. ”A student has the right to know who exactly they are voting for. Itjust makes me really upset that all of our hard work can be treated liketrash.”

On May 18, Guillermo said the newspaper received ananonymous tip that the missing papers were at Gilmore’s residence. Shesent photographers and a reporter to Gilmore’s house, and stacks of paperswere photographed in Gilmore’s garage, which she turned over to campuspolice.

Watson, the college spokeswoman, said the campuspolice’s evidence pointed to Gilmore as the person that took thenewspapers. But Watson did say the university is still investigating chargesmade by Gilmore that computer glitches resulted in an unfair election, which helost.

Gilmore did not immediately respond to a phone call seekingcomment.