Local news

In brief: Death penalty possible in stabbing deaths

The man accused of the slayings of 18-year-old Sarah A. Clark and 20-year-old Tanner E. Pehl could face the death penalty, based on amended charges filed in Spokane County Superior Court, officials said Friday.

Justin Crenshaw, 20, was initially charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Those charges have been upgraded to aggravated murder, said Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker.

It will be up to the prosecutor’s office whether to pursue the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

The aggravating factor is killing “multiple victims in a common scheme or plan,” Tucker said.

This is the fifth time the death penalty has been considered since Tucker was elected, he said.

Crenshaw is accused of stabbing Clark and Pehl to death on Feb. 27 in a home at 512 E. Elm St. The 20-year-old, who had moved to Spokane from Las Vegas about two weeks before the slayings, is being held in Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond.

Jody Lawrence-Turner

Hospital leaders try to resolve dispute

After an exchange of terse letters that threatened lawsuits, executives of Spokane’s two hospital systems are meeting about a joint venture that funds air ambulance services, operates St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital and provides computerized patient records and information technologies.

Empire Health Services is being sold to a for-profit Tennessee hospital corporation. The deal includes Empire’s financial stake in Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS). That has stirred the ire of Providence Health, which has offered to buy Empire’s piece of INHS for $25 million and other considerations.

The sides have agreed to a series of meetings over the next several weeks in hopes of avoiding legal action or a delay in Empire’s pending sale to Community Health Systems Inc.

– John Stucke

Spokane Valley

Teenager detained in shooting incident

A 15-year-old boy who witnesses say was arguing with a Spokane Valley man shot in the leg early Thursday on South Carnahan Road is in police custody.

The boy turned himself in Thursday night and was arrested on a previously issued warrant, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

The teen will be charged with second-degree possession of a firearm for possessing a .22-caliber pistol at the time of the shooting, Detective Bill Francis said.

Assault charges for the shooting are still being considered, police said.

The victim, who has not been identified, has not told police how the shooting occurred.

Meghann M. Cuniff

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