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Judge denies request to reduce Starbuck bond

A prosecutor alleged Tuesday that a man charged with killing his ex-wife also contacted his children to help back up his alibi.

Clay D. Starbuck, 47, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to aggravated first-degree murder in connection with the death of his ex-wife, Chanin D. Starbuck, 42. Investigators believe she was killed Dec. 1, based on a 911 call from her phone, but her body was discovered Dec. 3 inside her rental home at 509 N. Reiper St. in Deer Park.

Starbuck’s attorney, Derek Reid, asked Superior Court Judge Annette Plese to reduce Starbuck’s $1million bond based on Starbuck’s extensive family ties and lack of criminal convictions.

“He’s had absolutely no contact with law enforcement. He’s never been in trouble,” Reid said. “One million dollars is too high.”

Plese noted that the National Crime Information Center listed an arrest in Oregon, but she made no other mention of that case. Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz asked the judge to maintain the $1 million bond.

“It’s the state’s position that Mr. Starbuck poses a flight risk,” Steinmetz said. “He has lived in Alaska.” Steinmetz added, “It appears that Mr. Starbuck has attempted to influence his children as to his alibi,” but the prosecutor offered no details of that alleged attempt.

A victim/witness coordinator said she spoke for Chanin Starbuck’s family when she asked the judge to maintain Starbuck’s bond. Family members declined comment after the hearing.

Plese ruled Starbuck’s bond would stand at $1 million, noting that he had been back in the Spokane area for only about a year and has lived in Alaska and Oregon.

“I am concerned … that you could be a flight risk,” she said.

She set a trial date of April 16, but it’s unlikely the trial will take place that quickly.

The Starbucks divorced last summer and were in legal battles over assets when the killing occurred, according to court records.

Detectives believe Clay Starbuck lured his ex-wife from her home by telling her that his car had broken down and asking her to drive their children to school. The investigators believe Starbuck then went to the home and waited for her to return.

Investigators arrested Starbuck earlier this month when lab results confirmed that DNA was found under Chanin Starbuck’s fingernails, on her neck and her face.