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First-degree murder charges planned in shooting

A 59-year-old Ferry County house guest faces arraignment next Friday in the shooting death of his host.

District Court Judge Lynda Eaton set bail Wednesday at $500,000 for murder suspect Philip Jerome “Jeb” Strong, and Strong remained in the county jail Thursday on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Prosecutor Michael Sandona hadn’t filed a formal charge Thursday, but said he planned to charge Strong with first-degree murder by today.

Strong was arrested without incident Tuesday evening on suspicion of murder after he allegedly shot 37-year-old Trent V. Irby to death in Irby’s rural home on Tonasket Creek Road about 20 miles north of Republic, Wash., near Curlew.

According to a court affidavit by Ferry County sheriff’s Deputy Ray Maycumber, Strong had been living with Irby and Irby’s girlfriend, Kelly Lynn Stout, but they had asked him to move out. Despite their differences, Stout reportedly told Maycumber she didn’t think Strong would shoot Irby.

“I can’t believe it,” Maycumber quoted Stout as saying. “They were drinking beers and laughing just last night.”

Maycumber said Stout told him Strong walked into their home and asked Irby whether he was ready to die. Irby raised his hands and jokingly told Strong to “bring it on,” according to Maycumber’s interview with Stout.

Stout said Strong shot Irby in the chest and, when Irby fell to the floor, calmly walked around him and shot him in the back, Maycumber reported.

The deputy said Stout was so distraught when she called for help at 5:49 p.m. that a dispatcher could understand only the word “shooting.” Maycumber said he found Stout kneeling next to Irby’s body on the living room floor, shaking Irby’s head and shoulder.

Stout said Strong looked at her but said nothing after shooting Irby. She ran and locked herself in the bathroom, and Strong left the home, Maycumber said.

Arthur Ray Chedester, 72, came to the home later that evening and said he thought Strong had gone to the nearby home of a woman with whom Strong had once lived.

Maycumber arrested Strong about 10:40 p.m. near the corner of Tonasket Creek Road and State Route 21.