Latest from The Spokesman-Review
The woman convicted of killing a Spokane man in December has been sentenced to 18 ½ years in prison.
Melinda R. Barrera, 32, was convicted last month of killing Robert A. Nelson following a bizarre altercation where Barrera was struck in the face with a cell phone and her boyfriend struck Nelson with a baseball bat.
The same jury acquitted 22-year-old David C. McLaughlin of killing or assaulting Nelson but found that Barrera was guilty of second-degree murder after she admitted firing the shot that killed Nelson.
Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen sentenced Barrera to a total of 224 months in prison with credit for 239 days already served in the Spokane County Jail.
McLaughlin was sentenced recently to a year in prison for felony drug possession.
Three witnesses put the gun in her boyfriend’s hand either during or immediately after a Spokane man was shot last December following a bizarre altercation.
But Melinda R. Barrera, 32, admitted pulling the trigger and a jury convicted Thursday her of second-degree murder while acquitting her boyfriend of all charges.
A judge said she has concerns about the validity of a murder charge against one of two defendants charged in the shooting death of a man last year in the West Central neighborhood.
Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen said she could decide either today or Monday on a motion to dismiss the second-degree murder charge against David C. McLaughlin, 22, who is charged along with 32-year-old Melinda R. Barrera of the Dec. 7 shooting death of Robert A. Nelson.
The state may finish the its portion of the case Thursday against a man and woman charged with second-degree murder of a man who was shot and killed last December just a few blocks from the Spokane County Courthouse.
Defense attorneys Tom Krzyminski and Derek Reid queried Spokane Police detectives Chet Gilmore and Jeff Barrington about how the crime scene was processed and statements given by 32-year-old Melinda R. Barrera and 22-year-old David C. McLaughlin.
Barrera acknowledged firing the gun on Dec. 7 that killed 46-year-old Robert A. Nelson, but she claims that she fired a single shot into a closet, not the bedroom door that police describe as having a hole from the bullet that killed Nelson.
Krzyminski and Reid both said last week that the bullet may have ricocheted from the closet and somehow struck Nelson.
Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor
A Spokane man already jailed on a murder charge now faces two drug-dealing charges.
David C. McLaughlin, 22, is accused of selling methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school on Sept. 23 and Sept. 27.
That was more than two months before McLaughlin and Melinda R. Barrera, 31, were arrested for the shooting death of Robert A. Nelson, 46, at 1328 W. Dean Ave.
McLaughlin said he hit Nelson with a bat because Nelson had thrown a phone at Barrera and hit her in the head, detectives say.
Spokane police drug detectives already were familiar with the apartment building - they'd watched a confidential informant go there to buy methamphetamine from McLaughlin on at least two occasions in September, according to court documents.
McLaughlin was said to be under federal investigation, but he has only been charged in Spokane County Superior Court. He already faces a June 18 trial for the murder.
Now he also has a June 25 trial for the drug charges. Barrera also is scheduled for trial June 18. Both suspects are in the Spokane County Jail.
A Spokane couple arrested after a fatal shooting Thursday is due in court this afternoon.
David C. McLaughlin, 21, (pictured) and his girlfriend, Melinda R. Barrera, 31, are to appear in Spokane County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. via video from the jail, where they were booked about 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The victim's name has not been released.
Police believe Barrera shot the man in the chest after McLaughlin assaulted him. Read more here.
McLaughlin and Barrera do not appear to have criminal records in Washington state, but McLaughlin was convicted of misdemeanor theft in Nez Perce County in August 2010. He was sentenced to 16 days in jail.