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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

Is this the closure we have been promised?


Good morning, Netizens...


Paraphrasing one of those woefully-hackneyed movies you often encounter on various Western TV channels once said, “Yesterday was a good day for a hanging.”


That's because Karl Thompson, AKA Karl the Klubber, was sentenced yesterday for the beating death of Otto Zehm after a prolonged period of attorney-induced waiting. Somehow it always come back to this, that if that were yours truly charged with such an onerous crime, given the deplorable legal resources available to me, I would already be in the federal penitentiary doing hard time for perhaps as much as twenty years. Given the number of aging fat body diseases and maladies I already suffer from, there is reasonable doubt if I would have survived the first year.


However, Karl Thompson hasn't lack for legal representation, no. He's been on the public's dime, thus far, for approximately $500,000 in costs, which may increase dramatically when or if the verdict yesterday goes to appeals court. You and I, as citizens of Spokane, are paying for Karl's legal fees, not to mention the costs of his incarceration pending appeal.


As you probably know, Thompson was sentenced to 4 years three months time. There were no stand-up salutes from Spokane's finest, or police social parties this time around. Thompson has left the court room yesterday in handcuffs in the custody of the U.S. Marshall's Service.


Everyone from the lawyers to the Mayor to the Chief of Police all intoned their respective pieces before the cameras outside the court in the aftermath of Thompson being taken into custody at the end of the sentencing. All promised that the Spokane Police Department had learned their lessons from the death of Otto Zehm, however questions remain in my mind how durable and lasting those lessons will be.


All that I have, as a bystander to history, is the terribly saddening images of how Otto Zehm died, and the manner in which the police standing outside the Zip Trip Store huddled together in the night air, attempting to perfect the story they would later report on the evening news of how things were. Please remember, Karl Thompson wasn't the only person who fabricated the truth that fateful night. He may have been just the scapegoat.


Is this closure we have been promised? Perhaps, but then perhaps not. Of course, your view of matters may differ.



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.