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Man sentenced to 10 years for throwing mortal punch

Sat., Aug. 23, 2014

A raucous party two years ago in north Spokane County has earned a 21-year-old man a decade in prison after he pleaded guilty this week to manslaughter for throwing a mortal punch at a Vietnam veteran.

Treven Lewis was 18 when investigators say he struck Frank Motta, 65, who had arrived at the request of a teenage neighbor to help disperse the party. Motta, a retired principal and patient’s advocate at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, received head wounds in the altercation. He died at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center a few days later and prosecutors filed murder charges against the teen.

Motta’s friends and family members submitted several letters to Spokane Superior Court Judge Annette Plese, who handed down the sentencing Thursday after prosecutors and defense attorneys reached a plea agreement earlier this summer. The letter writers remembered Motta as a caring individual always willing to volunteer his time and energy.

“I was very sad to learn of Frank’s death in what seems to be a senseless crime by Treven Lewis,” wrote James Gilman, who said he hired Motta as a high school principal when he was superintendent of schools in Oroville. “Frank was trying to get control of a bad situation.”

Witnesses said Lewis told Motta not to touch a girl he was with before the teen threw a punch.

Motta’s family said they remembered the night of March 10, 2012, as “typical in our house.” The family had fallen asleep watching a movie when their dog began barking and the Mottas got a phone call from their neighbor requesting help, wrote Motta’s daughter, Jami.

“I would not wish what happened to my father or what my mother and I went through on my worst enemy,” Jami Motta wrote to the court. She described her father as a friend and mentor, and even though he was a principal at her high school she welcomed his presence. The two volunteered together at the VA hospital, she wrote.

Motta also dismissed the statement that her father would have tried to strike Lewis’ girlfriend.

“It is absolute pish posh that my father would ever lay a hand on a woman in violence,” she wrote.

After his death, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers read a statement into the Congressional Record honoring Motta, and the flag flew over the U.S. Capitol in his honor.

Attempts made to reach Lewis’ defense attorney were unsuccessful Friday.

Lewis also will serve three years’ probation upon his release. He was given credit for time served in jail, which is a little more than two years.

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