Other items: Woman fatally shot; 33-year-old man held; Poaching may lead to federal charges; Passengers relieved to reach Sea-Tac.

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Seattle


Man who pleaded guilty changes mind

Charles Champion, the 22-year-old man spared a possible death sentence last month when he pleaded guilty to killing Des Moines police Officer Steven Underwood, is now seeking to withdraw his plea, claiming his lawyers misled him and pressured him into the deal.

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Yesterday, King County Superior Court Judge Anthony Wartnik appointed a new attorney for the Federal Way man and removed his previous legal team.

Champion, who had faced capital punishment on an aggravated-first-degree murder charge for the March 2001 slaying of Underwood, had apparently become anxious over the probable 34-year prison sentence he faced.


Maple Valley


Woman fatally shot; 33-year-old man held

A 32-year-old Maple Valley woman died yesterday at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center from an apparent gunshot wound to the stomach.

A 33-year-old man, who lived with the woman and a 16-year-old girl, was booked into the Regional Justice Center in Kent on suspicion of homicide and assault. He is accused of shooting the woman in the abdomen and the girl in the hand, said Deputy Travis DeFries.

The woman’s name wasn’t released last night.


Mount Vernon


Poaching may lead to federal charges

A Mount Vernon man probably will face federal charges in a case of endangered chinook salmon poached from the Skagit River.

“They intend to aggressively pursue the matter,” state Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Russ Mullins said of the case against the 65-year-old man.

On Oct. 13, he was cited on suspicion of illegally taking seven chinook from the lower Skagit and for possessing 18 coho salmon, exceeding his limit, Mullins said.


Seattle


Passengers relieved to reach Sea-Tac

When Northwest Airlines Flight 33 touched down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 6:26 a.m. yesterday, passengers broke into applause, relieved that a marathon journey from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, was finally over.

“People clapped quite a bit when we landed,” said John Castle, who was stuck on the plane for nearly 24 hours, 14 of them at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake.

The flight, originally scheduled to arrive in Seattle at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, encountered heavy fog; with fuel running low, the pilot turned the plane around and landed in Moses Lake.

The 300-plus people on board had to stay on the plane until approximately 10 p.m. because no U.S. Customs agents were at the airport. Passengers then had to wait for a new crew to arrive from Minneapolis because the original crew had exceeded the number of hours it could work under federal law.

Passengers, who were allowed into a secure area of the airport late Tuesday, reboarded the plane at 2:30 a.m., Castle said. But the flight was delayed for almost two more hours because crew members couldn’t close one of the plane’s doors, he said.


Everett


38-year-old guilty of robbery charges

A 38-year-old Everett man who participated in a Marysville robbery July 27 was found guilty yesterday of six felony charges.

Eric Christensen waived his right to a jury trial, and yesterday Superior Court Judge Anita Farris found him guilty of two counts of first-degree robbery and four counts of first-degree burglary. Christensen faces about 40 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 2, said Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Erica Temple.

Christensen is one of five people charged in the robbery, in which a family was held hostage.


Seattle

Conservancy group is given $1 million


An anonymous donor agreed to give the Cascade Land Conservancy $1 million for a sweeping, long-term proposal to preserve up to 600,000 acres in the foothills of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.

Political leaders of the three counties, along with the state Department of Natural Resources, signed an agreement last year to seek every available means to keep development out of more than a half-million acres in the eastern portion of those counties.

While it’s not clear precisely how much it might cost, or how long it would take, officials now have agreed formally in writing that they share the same goal.

Gene Duvernoy, conservancy director, said in a written statement that the large donation could leverage other grants and ultimately help secure far more than $1 million worth of land.


Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Salvage crews hope to remove ship’s oil


Salvage crews yesterday were able to cut most obstacles free on the stern section of a grounded cargo carrier west of Unalaska Island and were hoping to begin removing the oil still on board in the coming days.

Roughly 80,000 or more of the 424,000 gallons of bunker fuel once held by the Malaysian-flagged Selendang Ayu is believed to still be in tanks in the stern section.

Work crews were moving equipment onto the deck of the back section of the ship. But gale-force winds were returning late yesterday, and spill responders already were expecting the weather to put an end to most activity until at least tomorrow.

The ship ran aground Dec. 8.

Times staff and news services