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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Douglas Klages

Man gets 10 years for beating death

A Spokane transient has been sentenced to 10 ½ years in prison for the slaying of a 46-year-old man last April.

Roland E. Benton II, 35, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree manslaughter with a deadly weapon for the beating death of Douglas J. Klages.

Klages' bludgeoned body was found April 30 in a small cave at Camp Caro Community Park at Dishman Hills.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza sentenced Benton to 126 months, which is the high end of the sentencing range for the manslaughter charge.

The charge came with a deadly weapon enhancement that mandated two years in prison. Benton had been charged with first-degree murder before attorneys worked out a plea agreement.

In solving the case, detectives retraced Klages’ final hours and found video of him leaving a Spokane Valley Rosauers store with Benton on the day Klages’ body was discovered by hikers in the area.

Detectives arrested Benton May 5. He'd been released from jail just days before the slaying.

Past coverage:

May 5: Homicide victim hoped for fresh start

Transient faces 10-12 years for slaying

A Spokane transient faces 10 to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaguther for the beating death of a man last April. 

Roland E. Benton II pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree manslaughter with a deadly weapon in the slaying of Douglas J. Klages, 46.

Klages' badly beaten body was discovered by hikers April 30 in a small cave at Camp Caro Community Park at Dishman Hills.

 Detectives retracing Klages' final hours found surveillance video of Klages leaving a Spokane Valley Rosauers store with Benton the day his body was discovered. Benton was arrested May 5.

Benton, who appeared in Spokane County Superior Court before Judge Sam Cozza, initially was charged with first-degree murder. The lesser charge to which he pleaded guilty carries a sentencing range of 102 to 126 months.

The deadly weapon adds two years to the sentencing range, and Benton will not be eligible for an early release based on good behavior. His sentencing is set for April 25. “The victim's family members were present and were satisfied,” Deputy Prosecutor Jim Kaufman said. Klages is pictured with his two daughters. Past coverage: May 5: Homicide victim hoped for fresh start

Suspect arraigned in Dishman Hills murder

A man accused of beating another man to death in the Dishman Hills Natural Area pleaded not guilty today to one count of first-degree murder.

Roland E. Benton II, 34, appeared in Superior Court via video feed from the jail, where he’s been since May 5, nearly a week after Douglas J. Klages, 46, was found beaten to death in a small cave where he camped. Klages’ pants pockets were turned inside out, and his cell phone was missing.

A Rosauers receipt found with Klages helped police identify Benton, who had left the store with Klages just hours before the April 30 murder. Benton also reportedly told a friend on the day of the killing that he had done something that would be on “the national news,” according to court documents.

Klages’ family and friends, including his parents and one of his daughters, attended Benton’s arraignment today before Judge Linda Tompkins.

Benton’s public defender, Victoria Blumhurst, did not ask for a reduction in bond, which was set at $500,000 during his first court appearance May 6.

His next court appearance is set for June 22.

Past coverage:

Police: Suspect admitted Dishman killing to friend

Homicide suspect left jail just before murder

Homicide victim hoped for fresh start

Police search for murder victim’s cell phone

Police are searching for the cell phone of a man found murdered in the Dishman Hills Natural Area late last month.

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives hope information from AT & T on the time and location of calls made since Douglas J. Klages’ murder will help them solidify their case against Roland E. Benton, who was arrested for first-degree murder last week.

Benton, who’s in jail on $500,000 bond, is to be arraigned May 18.

Klages used his cell phone to call his parents the day before he died.

“At the time the body was discovered, the victim’s pants pockets had been turned inside out, as if someone had gone through them,” according to a search warrant filed today in Superior Court. “(This detective) believes that it is possible that the cell phone, as well as other items, may have been taken from the victim at the time of his murder.”

A Rosauers receipt found with Klages helped police identify Benton, who had left the store with Klages just hours before the murder.

Benton also reportedly told a friend on the day of the killing that he had done something that would be on “the national news.”

Past coverage:

Police: Suspect admitted Dishman killing to friend

Homicide suspect left jail just before murder

Homicide victim hoped for fresh start

Suspect was jailed 2 days before murder

A Spokane transient was arrested Wednesday for the murder of a man found beaten to death in the Dishman Hills Natural Area on Friday.

Roland E. Benton, 34, was booked into Spokane County Jail about noon Wednesday – one week after he was released on a domestic violence charge.

Jail records show it’s his third booking this month: He also spent two days behind bars on a warrant for not complying with court orders for a 2006 misdemeanor hit-and-run.

Benton is the only suspect in the murder of Douglas J. Klages, 46, said Sgt. Dave Reagan. No other arrests are expected.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Homicide victim hoped for fresh start

Homicide victim was beaten to death

When Douglas Klages last talked to his parents, he was planning for the future. The 46-year-old Spokane native struggled with alcoholism but wanted to clean up. He told his parents so in a phone call last Thursday.

“He said, ‘I know you’ll be happy: I’m lining myself up for a treatment program,’” said his father, Don Klages. “It was a terrible addiction.”

The next day, Don and Karen Klages learned of their son’s murder. Hikers found his body in a small cave inside the Dishman Hills Natural Area Friday afternoon, where Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives believe he’d been camping.

An autopsy showed he died from blunt-force trauma to his head, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Now, as detectives search for his killer, Doug Klages’ friends and family are struggling to understand how a man with no enemies and a generous heart could end up beaten to death. Klages’ death is the first homicide investigated by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office this year.

“This community is grieving,” said Dean Whisler, day room manager at the Union Gospel Mission, where Klages stayed on and off for several years. “Everyone loved him.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Dishman Hills homicide victim identified

A man who authorities believe may be Spokane County’s first homicide victim this year has been identified as Douglas J. Klages.

Hikers on Friday found Klages, a 46-year-old transient, dead in a small in a small cave at Camp Caro Community Park, south of Sprague Avenue, in the Dishman Hills Natural Area.

An autopsy was conducted Monday afternoon, but investigators have not release Klages’ cause of death.

Investigators found trauma on his body but no cause of death was immediately determined. They searched the area for several hours Friday but found no additional evidence, Sgt. Dave Reagan said

Klages has been in and out of homeless shelters and was apparently camping in the area around the time of his death, Reagan said.

The only other homicide in the Spokane area this year was the still-unsolved shooting death of John S. Williams, 38, outside a party at 5405 North Crestline on Jan. 17. Spokane police are investigating that case.

Klages gave his address as Cusick, Wash., when he was arrested in a drunken driving incident in 2004 that included a man accidental riding on his car’s roof.

Klages was sentenced to 150 days in jail with credit for 97 days served for driving under the influence, hit and run and operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock.

Read a brief on the crash by clicking the link below.

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