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Spokane Valley blog

Posts tagged: murder

High school student rediscovers family’s dark past

Reporters described the star witness of a Spokane murder trial, Lena Malito, as a pretty Italian woman clad in black, according to Spokane Daily Chronicle archives.

When she spoke from the witness stand, she had such a low tone in her voice, reports said, the prosecutor could not hear her.

On Labor Day 1932, her ex-husband died, Peter Malito, after being reportedly shot by Charles Potestio, a man she would later marry after he was acquitted.

The trial went on for several days in December. Spectators were turned away when the additional 50 seats were filled up at the courtroom at Spokane County Superior Court. Some jurors were sent home when they said they opposed capital punishment.

Potestio claimed self defense throughout the trial because Malito and his friend Mauro were stalking him at local hotels and saying they were “going to get him,” reports said.

Though the trial was over 80 years ago, Lena’s descendants live on and are scrambling to piece together what happened. The trial was heavily publicized in local papers and called an Italian romance.

We spoke with 14-year-old Joselynn Tensley who stumbled upon this forgotten history while working on a school project at Central Valley High School. Her great-great grandmother was Lena Malito.

In Saturday’s Spokesman-Review Valley Voice, you’ll read more about her search and what they learned about their family that had been swept under the rug over the years.

(Lena Malito portrait appeared in numerous issues of the Spokesman-Review and Spokane Daily Chronicle during the 1932 murder trial. | The Spokesman-Review photo archive)

Homicide suspect arrested in Spokane Valley

Detective Michael Drapeau, front, and investigators with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office remove evidence from a house at 6704 E. Third Ave., where Shane Smith, 38, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in connection with the homicide of Warren Flinn. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Reporter Meghann Cuniff has a story in today's paper on yesterday's arrest of homicide suspect Shane C. Smith, 38. Smith was arrested at 6704 E. Third. He is suspected of shooting Warren S. Flinn, who died in the hospital several days after he was found with gunshot wounds. Details are slim, but you can check out what we have here.


Update: Police believe an argument over cigarettes caused Smith to allegedly shoot Flinn twice in the back of the head. Reporter Thomas Clouse has more details here.

Arson and murder suspects arrested

In two separate incidents yesterday, police arrested a 15-year-old boy suspected of setting multiple arson fires and a 22-year-old man suspected in a triple murder outside Lodge Grass, Mont., on the Crow Indian Reservation.

Sheldon B. Chase was arrested during a traffic stop near the Spokane Valley Mall only a few hours after local law enforcement received a wanted flyer for the murder suspect. Click here for more details.

Crews from the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to two arson fires between midnight and 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Three dumpsters were reported on fire behind a strip mall on the northwest corner of Sprague and Evergreen at 12:41 a.m. They were quickly put out and there was little damage. A caller reported at 9 a.m. that bushes were set on fire near the Numerica Credit Union at 14610 E. Sprague just a few blocks away.

The 15-year-old admitted setting the fires and also admitted to stealing a bicycle in Liberty Lake, said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford. He will be charged with four counts of second degree arson and one count of third degree theft. Anyone in Liberty Lake missing a 10-speed bike can call the Fire Department at 928-1700 to describe it.

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Welcome to the Spokane Valley blog. Here we cover news, events and information from the greater Spokane Valley area, including Millwood, Otis Orchards, Liberty Lake, Newman Lake, Rockford and Fairfield.

Stop by often to find stories, information on events received too late to print in the Valley Voice and breaking news.

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Nina Culver Nina Culver covers city of Spokane Valley, Spokane Valley Fire Department, Newman Lake Fire and Rescue, Spokane County Fire District 8, Liberty Lake Police Department and the small towns of Fairfield and Rockford.

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