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In brief: Prosecution expected to end case today

Prosecutors have not linked Clay Starbuck to the scene of his ex-wife’s killing in an ongoing murder trial, other than a partial DNA match that Starbuck’s defense has argued could have come from their sons’ clothes.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz is expected to end his case today after calling lead detective Mike Ricketts. Forensic experts testified Monday that they lifted several fingerprints from the crime scene. None came from Clay Starbuck, 48, who is facing life without parole if he is convicted of killing 42-year-old Chanin Starbuck in her Deer Park home.

In previous court records, detectives said they found the victim’s death certificate on display in Clay Starbuck’s home. But under questioning, Detective Mike Drapeau conceded that it was in a locked closet and out of view from someone standing in the doorway when the closet was opened.

In fact, Drapeau said he didn’t know what the document was until it fell off a shelf as he searched for other items. He then placed it back on the shelf, photographed it and testified that he’s never found a death certificate “in anyone’s house in this manner.”

At the end of the day, Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt reversed his previous ruling and will allow Steinmetz to play a brief 911 call that may have been placed by Chanin Starbuck on Dec. 1, 2011, the day investigators believe she died.

Follow the Starbuck trial on Twitter @SRTrials

Another Spokane police officer put on leave

The Spokane Police Department has placed Officer Darrell Quarles on administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation.

Spokeswoman Monique Cotton said she could not comment on any aspect of the investigation.

Quarles was placed on leave May 7 and has not been arrested. Cotton said the case is not related to another officer, Jeff Graves, who was placed on leave May 9 after the department became aware of misconduct allegations against him.

Plane with blown tire makes safe landing

A Horizon passenger airplane with a blown tire made an emergency landing at Spokane International Airport late Monday afternoon.

The flight, Horizon 2358, en route to Spokane from Portland, stirred emergency crews to the runway.

The plane, a Bombardier Horizon Q400, can carry more than 70 passengers. The Associated Press reported that the plane had two tires on each set of landing gear as a redundancy safety precaution.

S-R, Russell win awards for Idaho coverage

The Spokesman-Review and its Boise-based state capitol reporter, Betsy Z. Russell, won several awards from the Idaho Press Association for coverage of Idaho government and politics in 2012.

In the general news category, Russell’s coverage of the failed lobbying efforts by Avista Co. to oust two incumbent North Idaho legislators in last year’s GOP primary earned first place in the political reporting category. She also earned a first-place prize for her coverage of the city of Sandpoint’s push to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Russell earned a second-place award for watchdog/investigative reporting for her examination of Idaho’s contract to provide laptops to all schoolchildren. She also won a third-place award in the political reporting category for her coverage of the out-of-state money flowing into the ballot campaigns for last year’s school reforms, and a third-place award in the First Amendment category for coverage of the state’s execution procedures.

The awards were announced Saturday in Boise.


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