March 14, 2012 in City, News

Man badly beaten while trying to break up party

By The Spokesman-Review

A man severely beaten at an underage drinking party last weekend was a 65-year-old neighbor who was trying to break up the gathering as sheriff’s deputies stood outside.

Doctors do not expect Frank James Motta to survive the attack.

Witnesses said Treven Lewis, 18, attacked Motta about 10 p.m. Saturday after Motta nudged Lewis’s girlfriend while telling her and other young people to leave the house, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Lewis is accused of pushing Motta to the ground, then punching him in the head once after he stood up.

Motta fell to ground again while bleeding heavily from his head and right ear, according to the sheriff’s office.

Motta remained in the intensive care unit at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center Wednesday.

Lewis is in jail on a first-degree assault charge after appearing before a Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese Wednesday.

Witnesses to the assault described a brutal attack that occurred as two Spokane County sheriff’s deputies were also at the property in the 11800 block of North Bedivere Drive, which is northeast of Whitworth College and just west of Highway 2.

But law enforcement didn’t have permission to accompany Motta into the home, said Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. “I know people are asking why didn’t we go in with him,” Chamberlin said. “The reality is we didn’t have the authority to go in. We didn’t have permission by the homeowner and we didn’t have a search warrant.”

Deputies learned from exiting partygoers that a man had been badly beaten inside. They entered the home for a welfare check and found Motta unconscious and bleeding.

Chamberlin said Motta had agreed to watch over the home while the homeowner, Maureen Fanion, was out of town. Motta called Fanion to tell her about the party, and she gave him the security code for the garage so he could break it up. Fanion also called 911 to report the party. Deputies R. Truman and J. Smith went to the house and were told by Motta that he knew the son, Seth Fanion, and would “have him break up the party,” according to court documents.

Chamberlin said it wasn’t until deputies learned of the assault that they were legally authorized to go inside the home, and then it was just to check on Motta’s welfare. Homeowner permission or a search warrant is required to investigate a crime inside a home.

Doctors say Motta’s skull is fractured in two places. He underwent surgery to try to control bleeding on his brain and doctors describe him as in extremely critical condition.

Other people at the party identified Lewis as Motta’s assailant and picked his photo out from a montage. They said he yelled “get away from my girl” at Motta before attacking him.

Detectives with the Spokane gang unit already were familiar with Lewis. They say he is affiliated with “a local violent gang in Spokane County,” according to court documents.

Detectives arrested Lewis at his apartment in the 1400 block of North Atlantic Street Tuesday.

Lewis declined to speak with The Spokesman-Review, but detectives say he admitted to them Tuesday that he’d hit Motta.

He said he got “very angry” and pushed a man, then struck him in the head, according to court documents.

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