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Beating suspect likely to face murder charges

Spokane County prosecutors are expected to file murder charges against an 18-year-old man suspected in the beating death of a 65-year-old retired principal who was trying to break up an underage drinking party.

Frank J. Motta was attempting to clear out a party thrown last Saturday by a neighbor’s teenage son when he was assaulted. Motta suffered head injuries and died Thursday at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Treven Lewis, 18, remains in the Spokane County Jail on a charge of first-degree assault. Jack Driscoll, chief criminal Spokane County deputy prosecutor, said he expects to upgrade the charges, but detectives continue to seek additional evidence.

Witnesses told deputies that Lewis pushed Motta to the ground and punched him in the head after Motta nudged Lewis’ girlfriend while telling her and other guests to leave.

Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Chamberlin said Friday that detectives continue to wait for more information from the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office before sending a new charging recommendation to prosecutors. Driscoll said he didn’t know how long that process might take.

The assault occurred Saturday night at Motta’s neighbor’s home in the 11800 block of North Bedivere Drive in north Spokane County. Two Spokane County sheriff’s deputies had responded to the home after a 911 call.

Deputies said Motta told them he’d talked to the homeowner and knew the teen throwing the party. He had the code to open the garage and went inside to tell the 100 to 150 people at the house to leave.

Deputies stood outside the home and learned of the attack from exiting witnesses. Sheriff’s officials say they weren’t authorized to enter the home.

Motta was a 65-year-old Air Force veteran who fought in the Vietnam War. He later worked as a high school teacher, principal and coach.

Motta’s friends and co-workers have set up a memorial fund that’s accepting donations at any Wells Fargo branch in his name. A memorial service has been scheduled for 2 p.m. March 25 at the United Methodist Church in Mead.

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