TWIN FALLS — A Jerome man has been charged in the 2017 murder of 20-month-old Lyryk Jean Altom.
Joshua Molina, 33, was arrested March 27 and arraigned March 28 on one count of first-degree murder and four counts of felony injury to a child.
Molina was the boyfriend of the child’s mother, Amanda Dunlap, according to court documents. Dunlap was arrested shortly after Lyryk’s death in October on charges of first-degree murder, eight felony counts of injury to a child and one misdemeanor count of injury to a child.
Recent police interviews with Dunlap and a review of text messages on her phone revealed that she had previously lied to law enforcement about Molina’s relationship with Lyryk, according to court documents.
Photos and texts suggest that Molina, who told police at the time of Lyryk’s death that he was not really involved in the medical care of the baby, may have physically abused the infant over a period of several months.
“Josh broke my kid today,” Dunlap texted a friend in September, after Molina broke Lyryk’s wrist. Dunlap told her friend that the incident was an accident.
The next week, Dunlap left her daughter and three-year-old son alone with Molina and returned to find bruising on Lyryk. Molina said Dunlap’s son and his son, who was also three years old at the time, had beaten up the baby. A doctor at St. Luke’s later told police he didn’t believe the injuries could have been caused by small children.
When Dunlap texted the same friend on Oct. 8 that Lyryk had suffered “another seizure,” she said Molina wouldn’t let her take Lyryk to see a doctor.
Molina had been blowing marijuana into Lyryk’s face to alleviate the symptoms of her seizures, Dunlap told the police in a recent interview, and he was afraid that his son would be taken away from him if Lyryk tested positive for marijuana.
That same day, Dunlap’s friend picked Dunlap and Lyryk up and took them to the emergency room. Lyryk was flown to Boise, where she died six days later.
Lyryk’s doctor at St. Luke’s told police the baby had bleeding in her brain, and said he believed her head injuries were caused by non-accidental blunt force trauma.
While driving up to Boise on Oct. 8, Dunlap and Molina discussed what to tell law enforcement, Dunlap told police in a recent interview. She agreed to a cover story because she was “in shock and overwhelmed,” according to a police affidavit.
It’s unknown how Molina’s arrest could affect Dunlap’s case, as Twin Falls Prosecutor Grant Loebs declined to comment. A long-delayed preliminary hearing for Dunlap is scheduled for Friday.
Molina has been jailed without bond.
BLISS — Picking up trash alongside Bliss roads isn’t the most glamorous way to spend spring break. But for a few dozen teenagers, it’s a chance to build relationships, learn life lessons and live out their faith.
Teenagers from Bliss Community Church are being joined by 17 teenagers from a youth group in Eugene, Ore. this week for the “Bliss Spring Cleanup.” The project kicked off Monday and wraps up today.
Students have spent mornings picking up trash in town. In the afternoons, they’re hosting a soccer camp for local children.
“The big thing is they learn how to set aside their own ideas and plans for what to do for fun and think about how to serve other people,” said Larry Walton, pastor at Bliss Community Church.
The cleanup is supported by a handful of sponsors, including Bliss Community Church, city of Bliss, Bliss Fire Department and several area businesses. Volunteers receive a free breakfast at Ziggy’s Express Gas & Grill and a free lunch at Oxbow Diner.
Volunteer numbers fluctuate each day, but there were 40 on Monday — mostly high schoolers, but also a few community members.
Oregon teenagers who are volunteering this week are from Walton’s home church, Grace Community Fellowship in Eugene. Walton has worked through Village Missions and has been in Bliss — a Gooding County town with about 300 residents — for 18 months.
“They supply pastors and community service workers to small, rural communities,” he said.
In Bliss, Walton is a member of a rural development team, “our ad hoc chamber of commerce,” he said. The idea for a spring cleanup was the result of the group talking about “what we can do to clean up the community of Bliss.”
On Wednesday morning, three teams of teens — each led by one or two students — picked up trash alongside Highway 30. They wore florescent orange and yellow vests and carried orange trash bags and trash grabbers. As the wind howled, some put their sweatshirt hoods up over their heads.
Midway through the morning, they stopped for a snack break at the Stinker gas station.
The group included homeschooled student Evvie Lipskoch, 14, who lives near Bell Rapids in Hagerman and attends Bliss Community Church. She heard about cleanup week through several announcements at church.
She’s volunteering alongside her mother and several siblings, and spending time with her Oregon peers. “It’s been really nice to get to know them and they’re really nice,” she said.
Her mother, Christy Lipskoch, said they’ve met Bliss business owners and other residents, too. The children at soccer camp are having a blast with friends, she said. “It’s a very positive thing.”
For the Oregon teenagers, it’s a cross-cultural experience to live in a rural town for a week and engage with people who have a different way of life, said Josh Mitchell, youth pastor at Grace Community Fellowship.
Eugene is a college town with a population of more than 166,000. Many of the students participating in this week’s cleanup attend large high schools or private schools, Mitchell said.
Kylie Hecker, 18, said they’re doing community service in Bliss “to show the love and glory of Jesus, picking up some trash to make the town more beautiful.” The afternoon soccer camp, she said, gives children somewhere to go over spring break.
Amanda Grinder, 18, said they love working with the children and helping them have a fun time.
The Oregon teenagers are staying at White Arrow Ranch while they’re in town.
Bliss has a nice, small town feel, Grinder said. She has participated in three mission trips in Mexico, but she decided to come to Bliss for the opportunity to serve closer to home. While doing community service, the Oregon teenagers have become friends with their peers in Bliss, who are also volunteering.
“That’s pretty cool,” Hecker said. “We got to know them pretty well.”
And they’ve chatted with Bliss residents around town.
“The locals here are super nice,” Hecker said, “and they’re super welcoming.”
BOISE — Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter on Wednesday allowed some of this year’s most contentious measures to become law without his signature, allowing lawmakers to officially close out their work for the session without debating whether to override a pending veto.
Notably, Otter permitted a measure that would drastically overhaul the state’s trespass laws to become enacted without his signature despite citing concerns that the proposal could have unintended consequences that should be monitored by future Legislatures.
The measure revises property notice requirements and increases trespassing penalties.
“This bill sends a strong message and undoubtedly will serve as a deterrent to those who brazenly disregard private property laws,” said Otter in his transmittal letter to lawmakers. “However, this legislation laudably calling for a ‘renewal of the neighborly way’ also could have a chilling effect on recreationists, sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts, and ironically even neighbors afraid of inadvertently subjecting themselves to strict trespass laws.”
Critics had countered that the trespass overhaul coupled with a “stand your ground” law Otter enacted earlier this session could result in unsuspecting trespassers — such as mischievous kids — being legally shot and killed by landowners.
Otter also allowed a measure repealing a non-compete law to become enacted without signing off on the proposal. The 2016 law had made it easier for Idaho employers to sue former employees over non-compete agreements, sparking concerns from business groups across the state that it created an imbalance between employers and employees.
“Since it is my understanding that the 2016 language has never been tested in court, there seems to be little risk in removing it until consensus is reached on a better solution,” Otter wrote.
Otter’s actions on Wednesday means Idaho lawmakers are finished for the year and can return home.
While lawmakers used to be able to go home once done passing legislation, they stuck around for another five days what Otter would do on the remaining bills they passed over the session in case Otter vetoed a bill lawmakers wanted enacted.
State lawmakers previously had little opportunity to overturn a governor’s veto in years past because they had already left the Capitol. However, an Idaho Supreme Court ruling over the summer deemed the traditional adjournment process illegal and lawmakers were forced to come up with a new process.
The 2018 session lasted 80 days. Idaho’s Legislature tends to run short in election years so lawmakers can leave to campaign. All 105 state lawmakers are up for re-election this year.
“Good luck in your elections and be careful,” House Speaker Scott Bedke said in his closing remarks on the House.
This was Otter’s 12th and final legislative session. He is not seeking re-election.
TWIN FALLS — Dutch Bros. will start constructing a new drive-through layout in mid-April as the business works to resolve conflicts between coffee drinkers and dialysis patients.
Kyle Cooper of BB Holdings LLC presented the plan he’d developed for Dutch Bros. Coffee at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday. The new layout moves some parking around and allows patients and staff with DaVita Dialysis to quickly access their building next door.
The commission approved the design unanimously. Both businesses are satisfied with the plan.
“The whole site’s going to get a nice upgrade,” Cooper said. “It gives the Dutch Bros. customers a direct path to where they’re trying to get.”
When Dutch Bros. first opened in 2015, the company wasn’t quite sure what to expect in Twin Falls, he said. In the initial special use permit application, the business anticipated one to six vehicles in the drive-through lanes most hours of the day.
The new layout allows for 26 to 30 cars to be stacked, Cooper said, as the company signed a 15-year lease for a half-acre to the west. The improved drive-through lanes will have sidewalks beside them for Dutch Bros. employees to take orders, and employees will help direct traffic.
Parking on the north end of Davita Dialysis will be removed in order to create a drive lane to the entrance of the building.
“This does look like it’ll work — if everyone stays in their lanes,” said Gloria Galan, a dialysis patient who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.
Galan has a driver from Interlink Volunteer Caregivers bring her in for treatments three days a week. She sees issues when two patients are coming in at the same time, and the drive-through drivers don’t always let them in.
“I don’t believe that coffee is more important than my life,” she said.
Galan recalled how on her first visit, she had to be transported to the hospital. She worried about that happening in the future, and how emergency personnel could get in and out.
“I’m old but I’m young,” Galan said. “And I’m not ready to die just because somebody needs coffee.”
Oleta Bybee, her driver, also thought the new layout would help.
“I think it really was a team effort to come up with this solution,” Dutch Bros. Coffee Regional Operator Christian Gervais said.
Work begins in mid-April and lasts for three weeks.
“We are going to go down to one drive-through lane during the construction process,” he said.
Extra staff will be on site to help direct the drive-through traffic around DaVita Dialysis.