Nation/World


Teen Charged With Murders Prosecutor Will Seek Life In Prison For 15-Year-Old In Hillyard Shooting

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 16, 1995

Fifteen-year-old Kenneth “Junior” Comeslast faces aggravated murder charges for gunning down two Spokane girls, authorities said Tuesday.

While the motive behind the Hillyard shooting remains unclear, the same can’t be said about the punishment being sought by prosecutors.

They want the North Side youth imprisoned for life without parole.

Nothing is tougher short of a death sentence, and that option isn’t available under Washington law because of Comeslast’s age.

“There’s no adequate punishment that’s going to bring these young girls back,” said Spokane County Prosecutor Jim Sweetser.

Comeslast is accused of opening fire with a semiautomatic rifle on a group of girls sitting on the front porch of a home on East Central. The sudden gunfire erupted shortly before 2 a.m. on Aug. 9.

Kendra Grantham, 16, and Cindy Buffin, 17, were shot in the back of the head and killed instantly. Another girl, Amanda Denny, 13, was wounded in the side.

Police say Comeslast squeezed off at least 11 more rounds at nearby homes before leaving in a friend’s station wagon.

Tuesday afternoon, Comeslast smiled broadly at family members as he was brought into Juvenile Court to be advised formally of the criminal charges and his legal rights.

Besides the murder charges, he faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder for firing at Amanda Denny and another girl, two counts of reckless endangerment for shooting at homes and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Prosecutors are asking that Comeslast face the charges as an adult.

If Comeslast were a year older, he would be automatically waived into adult court under state law.

Because he is 15, Comeslast must go through a formal hearing with a judge weighing the benefits of adult prosecution versus juvenile rehabilitation. Comeslast’s age, background and criminal sophistication are among the factors taken into consideration.

The hearing before Judge James Murphy will be held in a couple of weeks.

While Comeslast has reportedly confessed to the shootings and has been fingered by eyewitnesses, police say they still have no motive that makes sense.

“We can’t pin it down,” said Detective Nick Stanley.

One theory is that the boy became angry when the girls - acquaintances of his - failed to show him sufficient respect. Another is that he set out to act tough and frighten the girls but his plan went tragically awry.

Gary Moses of Spokane, who was like a father to the boy for 12 years, said Comeslast called him from the Juvenile Detention Center a few days ago and said: “Dad, I just tried to scare the girls.”

When Moses asked questions about the killings, he said the boy grew silent.

Moses said he broke up with the boy’s mother, Sharon Comeslast, a couple of years ago.

Up until then, Junior was staying out of trouble, he said.

“There’s not much I can do for him now,” Moses said.

There are four co-defendants charged with rendering criminal assistance in the shooting, which police are calling gang-related.

Douglas Champagne, 18, was the driver of the station wagon.

The other three were passengers: Christopher McIlveen, 17; Amy Allen, 15; and Adawn Lowry, 16.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos


 

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