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Murder suspect says he doesn’t know how friend died

UPDATED: Wed., Dec. 21, 2011, 5:58 p.m.

A Spokane man accused of killing his friend in Riverfront Park after a night of drinking told police he was so intoxicated that he didn’t realize who he was assaulting until he saw his shoes, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Yukio M. Rideb, 21, told officers Romero J. Vivit, III, needed medical attention but was still breathing when he left him in the park early Saturday after the drunken assault. Rideb will remain in the Spokane County Jail on $500,000 bond after appearing in court Wednesday on a second-degree murder charge. Divers pulled Vivit’s body from the Spokane River on Tuesday.

Rideb, who police say had told them he left Vivit, 21, in the park and suggested they look for him in a dumpster, was arrested shortly after the victim’s body was found.

An autopsy was conducted on Vivit Wednesday, but his cause of death has not been released.

Vivit’s mother, Clair Sarsozo, told The Spokesman-Review on Wednesday her son’s death “is a hard one to wrap your brain around.”

Sarsozo said Vivit will be cremated. She is asking for his friends to submit letters, photos and cards to remember him. The family is creating a website for mourners to keep in touch.

Rideb and Vivit attended North Central High School together.

Rideb told police he and his sister, Emilia L. Granlund, were drinking with Vivit at downtown bars before Vivit and Rideb ended up fighting near the Looff Carrousel in Riverfront Park, according to court documents filed Wednesday. Vivet’s roommate went looking for him early Saturday after he didn’t return home. He found Vivit’s coat with blood stains near the carousel and noticed a puddle of blood on the ground. He also found Vivit’s baseball hat on Riverside Avenue. Park staff cleaned up the blood later that day but contacted police after hearing of the missing persons investigation.

Vivit’s roommate contacted police again on Sunday and said he’d spoken with Rideb, who said he’d been in a drunken fight with Vivit in the park. Rideb spoke with Officer Todd Brownlee on the phone and said he’d “blacked out and continued hitting Vivit longer than he should have,” according to court documents. Rideb said “he stopped after he recognized Vivit’s shoes.”

He tried to get Vivit up and take him home, but Vivit told him to go away.

That same day, Officer Nate Donaldson spoke to three of Vivit’s friends, including the mother of his 2-year-old son, who said they contacted Rideb at his girlfriend’s apartment. Rideb told them he blacked out and awoke to him kicking someone he later realized was Rideb. Rideb’s girlfriend, Samantha Bennett, told a friend Rideb arrived home early Saturday covered in blood. The friend said she’d gone looking for Vivit in the park and found blood puddles near the carousel “that seemed to go toward the river.”

The blood stains had been pressure washed by park staff by the time police arrived.

Vivit’s brother, Anthony Vivit, told police Rideb told him he’d stomped Romero Vivit’s face “until it was unrecognizable,” according to court documents. He said Rideb told him Vivit “may have fallen into the river.”

Friends also showed police pictures Bennett had taken of heavily stained shoes that they said belonged to Rideb.

Rideb spoke with Detective Marty Hill on Monday and said after a “great, fantastic” night at downtown bars, he blacked out and went into a rage. He said he stayed with Vivit for an hour or so as he cried and tried to call a friend for help, but his phone was dead. But detectives say Rideb’s phone wasn’t dead. Rideb then said he didn’t think to use it. “I was pissed and left and scared with what was going on,” he told police, according to court documents.

Rideb already is on state Department of Corrections probation for a year after pleading guilty in September to third-degree assault and violation of a domestic violence no-contact order. He was arrested in August and spent 26 days in jail. He was released after sentencing with credit for time served.