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Defendant had wounds, Starbuck detective says

Clay Duane Starbuck (KHQ-TV)
Clay Duane Starbuck (KHQ-TV)

A Deer Park man charged with strangling his ex-wife and sexually violating her remains had wounds on his right hand and forehead, the lead detective in the case told jurors Tuesday.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Detective Mike Ricketts showed the jury 10 photographs documenting small wounds or “defects” on the right hand of 48-year-old Clay D. Starbuck, who is charged with the aggravated first-degree murder of 42-year-old Chanin D. Starbuck.

Ricketts, who did not note those injuries in his report, said he photographed those wounds on Dec. 5, 2011, two days after Chanin Starbuck was found dead inside her Deer Park home. The autopsy revealed that she had bruises all over her body from a prolonged attack.

Starbuck complied with Ricketts’ request to come to the Public Safety Building to be photographed, provided DNA samples and allowed detectives to download information from his cellphone.

Defense attorney Derek Reid asked Ricketts why he didn’t note Starbuck’s hand injuries in his report; Ricketts replied that he didn’t write it down.

Reid spent most of the afternoon grilling Ricketts about why most of the swabs taken from Chanin’s body were not tested for DNA evidence.

Ricketts explained that he had a conversation with lab technicians and they decided to rush the tests from around Chanin’s neck and fingernails, which came back with partial matches to Clay Starbuck as well as his and Chanin’s sons, Austin and Blake Starbuck.

The DNA from her neck, fingernails and face could be correlated with injuries received when she was killed, Ricketts explained. Other swabs were “not as probative” because of Chanin Starbuck’s sexual relationships with one or more other men, he said.

Investigators said four other men texted Chanin Starbuck on the day she died.

Ricketts also said many of the DNA samples tested had to be completely used up in the process of extracting a DNA profile.

Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt also reversed an earlier ruling and allowed a brief 911 tape to be played.

A high-pitched, guttural noise lasting just a moment could be heard before the 911 call ended at 9:18 a.m. on Dec. 1. A call back to Chanin Starbuck’s home went to voicemail and she wasn’t discovered for two more days.

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