The man on whom Tom DiBartolo hoped to pin his wife’s murder is dead.
Curtis Jones, 19, was shot in east Spokane early Wednesday in what police are calling a gang-related slaying.
Jones was known to deal drugs and had felony charges pending against him, police said.
DiBartolo is the former sheriff’s deputy who was convicted last month of murdering his wife, Patty. DiBartolo, who blamed the attack on robbers, is awaiting sentencing.
Officers questioned Jones the day after Patty DiBartolo was killed because he fit the description her husband gave of one of the robbers.
Police later eliminated Jones as a suspect because DiBartolo failed to pick him out of a photo line-up.
But DiBartolo’s attorney, Maryann Moreno, hoped to prove at trial that police didn’t thoroughly investigate Jones and that he could have been the killer.
Defense witness Sam McNeal was prepared to testify that he gave Jones and an acquaintance a ride the night of the shooting, and that the two men talked about killing a woman. But Judge Neal Q. Rielly excluded most of McNeal’s testimony as hearsay, and McNeal later failed to show up in court.
Moreno said Thursday that Jones’ death may help DiBartolo should he win a new trial on appeal.
A number of witnesses Moreno planned to call during the original trial refused to testify because they were afraid of Jones, she said.
“He was known to carry a gun and was generally viewed as a dangerous person,” Moreno said.
Some of those witnesses may change their minds about testifying now that Jones is dead, she said.
Patrol officers responding to a call of shots fired discovered Jones lying in the street in the 2500 block of East Pacific about 12:30 a.m.
Detectives have questioned several people in the incident, but no one had been charged with killing Jones.
Police did arrest a man seen running from the area shortly after Jones was shot. Adrian Waller, 24, is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.
Detectives found a semiautomatic 9mm pistol in an apartment where Waller ran after the killing.
Waller told detectives he was carrying the gun, which belonged to Jones, because he was afraid the people who killed Jones would come after him, too.
The reputed gang member is being held on $100,000 bail.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Adam Lynn Staff writer Staff writer Tom Sowa contributed to this report.