University recommends charges against student for taking newspapers

WASHINGTON -- Central Washington University has recommended that county prosecutors seek criminal charges against a student for taking the student newspaper, a college spokeswoman said today.

CWU spokeswoman Becky Watson said a campus police investigation found that Ashley Gilmore took missing copies of the Ellensburg, Wa., university's student newspaper, The Observer.

Gilmore, who was running for student body president, was featured in a front-page story of the May 18 edition of The Observer that reported he had been acquitted in September 2005 of second-degree manslaughter in connection with the 2004 death of his roommate, Joseph Tibbs.

At the time of Tibbs' death, Tibbs and Gilmore were roommates at Washington State University, according to an article in The Seattle Times. According to a February 2004 police report, Gilmore told officers he kicked a gun from Tibb's hand in horseplay, and when the gun hit the floor, it fired bullets into Tibbs' chest, the article said.

The student newspaper chose to run the story on May 18, the day of the election, because they received the tip about Gilmore the Monday before the May 18 issue, and the weekly paper coincidentally published on election day, said Rachel Guillermo, editor in chief of The Observer.

''This is public knowledge. You can actually Google his name and all of this comes up,'' Guillermo said. ''If he wants to be a public figure, this kind of stuff -- a tragic accident I don't wish upon anyone -- will come up, it's part of his past.''

Guillermo said out of 6,000 papers distributed on the night of May 17, 4,000 were missing the next morning. She said the paper reprinted the issue at a cost of $806.

''What I am really concerned about, is that people think we are a campus newspaper, and it's not a big deal, but it is,'' she said. ''A student has the right to know who exactly they are voting for. It just makes me really upset that all of our hard work can be treated like trash.''

On May 18, Guillermo said the newspaper received an anonymous tip that the missing papers were at Gilmore's residence. She sent photographers and a reporter to Gilmore's house, and stacks of papers were photographed in Gilmore's garage, which she turned over to campus police.

Watson, the college spokeswoman, said the campus police's evidence pointed to Gilmore as the person that took the newspapers. But Watson did say the university is still investigating charges made by Gilmore that computer glitches resulted in an unfair election, which he lost.

Gilmore did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Central Washington University, news, The Observer, Washington