After five days of testimony implicating accused double-killer Kenneth “Junior” Comeslast, defense attorneys pulled a surprise Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court.
Public defenders Jay Ames and Richard Fasy rested their case without calling a witness.
Afterward, Fasy said he’ll rely on points raised during the cross-examination of prosecution witnesses and today’s closing argument to convince an eight-man, four-woman jury of the Spokane teenager’s innocence.
Comeslast is accused of killing Cindy Buffin, 17, and Kendra Grantham, 16, in a hail of gunfire on a Hillyard porch last Aug. 9. Another girl was wounded.
Prosecutors have no eyewitnesses to the shooting. They produced former friends of Comeslast, now 16, who say he was a gang member who had run-ins with gang rivals, including the man whose home Buffin and Grantham were visiting the night they were killed.
Other witnesses said Comeslast owned the same kind of semiautomatic assault rifle used in the attack - and on the night of the shootings, he loaded it with hollow-point bullets stashed at his North Side home.
Comeslast was riding in a station wagon with friends when it parked, at his direction, near the Hillyard house. They said Comeslast grabbed his rifle and walked into the darkness. He ran back to the car after a series of gunshots erupted about 1:45 a.m.
If convicted of two counts of aggravated murder, Comeslast would be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The state does not allow the death penalty for minors.
Fasy said he’ll argue in his closing statement that Comeslast isn’t a gang member and wasn’t the shooter.
“We felt satisfied with the points we brought out during cross-examination” to show that evidence against Comeslast was circumstantial and not overwhelming, Fasy said.
The defense lawyers also plan to argue that even if the jury decides Comeslast was the shooter, the act was not intentional, Fasy added.
The jury, expected to begin deliberations today, has the option of convicting Comeslast of lesser charges, including first- or second-degree manslaughter.