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Two men sentenced on manslaughter charges in separate slayings

WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2014, 12:26 P.M.

Two men have been sentenced to prison terms after pleading guilty to manslaughter in a pair of unrelated slayings dating back to May 2012.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said Shane Smith, 40, was sentenced to a little more than 14 years in prison for his role in the killing of Warren Flinn on May 13, 2012. Investigators said Flinn was shot twice in the back of the head in a dispute over cigarettes, but acquaintances - who described Smith as “Psycho Shane” - said the argument may have been over drugs.

Smith was arrested a little more than a week after the killing at a residence in the 6700 block of East Third Avenue in Spokane Valley. His trial was initially postponed so he could undergo a mental evaluation, and he pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month. A trial had originally been scheduled to begin Monday.

Also sentenced this week was Michael Bullock, 41, who was arrested in March for the death of a man pulled from the Spokane River last fall. Authorities say Donald J. Kuest died of drowning and hypothermia, though his body showed signs of a struggle.

Bullock traded accusations about Kuest’s death with co-defendant James Bonham, 35, who remains in custody of the Spokane County Jail with a trial scheduled for October, according to court records. Both Bonham and Bullock have extensive criminal histories, according to court records.

A judge on Tuesday sentenced Bullock to eight years in prison for his role in the slaying, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The investigation into Kuest’s death is ongoing and additional arrests are expected, authorities said in a news release.

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