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Sirens & Gavels

Tue., June 8, 2010, 11:59 a.m.

Judge rejects murder suspect’s booze test

A murder defendant facing life in prison asked a judge today to let him undergo a test in which he gets drunk and experts analyze how violent he becomes.

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen declined Justin W. Crenshaw's request and ordered him to take the test he'd refused to take at the Spokane County Jail late last month.

Crenshaw, charged with two counts of aggravated murder for the brutal slayings of Mead High School senior Sarah Clark and 20-year-old Tanner E. Pehl on Feb. 28, 2008, still is set for trial this month, with jury selection beginning June 28. Testimony cannot begin until July 12 because of scheduling conflicts with investigators.

Crenshaw, 22, requested the alcohol test himself and indicated possible concerns with his defense lawyer, Chris Bugbee, running for Spokane County prosecutor.

Crenshaw apparently plans to present the 'diminished capacity' defense at trial - meaning Bugbee will argue Crenshaw was incapable of intentionally causing death because of his mental capacity. The prosecution is to prove two aggravating factors: deliberate cruelty and multiple victims, one motive.

Eitzen told Crenshaw this morning that he has until Thursday to undergo a test by an Eastern State Hospital doctor or the diminished capacity defense won't be admissible at trial. (Crenshaw had refused to answer questions when Dr. William Grant met with him at the jail May 27.) The test is the prosecution's response to a test Crenshaw underwent in Western Washington that supports the diminished capacity defense.

Past coverage:

April 26: Crenshaw double-murder trial delayed, again

Nov. 6, 2009: Judge rules on evidence in Crenshaw trial

Oct. 16, 2009: Motion to suppress filed in Elm Street homicides

Sept. 9, 2009: Crenshaw double-murder trial delayed

Sept. 4, 2009: Detectives just now examining Crenshaw's cell phone

July 9, 2008: Murder defendant will get new attorney

March 5, 2008: Murder suspect trying to better life, friend says

March 1, 2008: Friends remember slain Mead High senior

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