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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Teen gets 11 years in murder over $20

Matthew T. Shope told police everything. He led them to the victim's body, described her murder in detail and, ultimately, gave detectives a solid case against her killer.

But it's what Shope did - and didn't do - before his arrest that earned him more than a decade in prison under a sentence imposed Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court.

"He was not the instigator of the incident," said Deputy Prosecutor John Love. "However, he did not attempt to stop the incident."

Shope pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2008, strangulation death of 28-year-old Jennifer L. Siria and was sentenced to 134 months in prison.

His accomplice, Michael A. Quinones, 29, was sentenced to 25 years in prison March 25 after pleading guilty to first-degree murder.

"I should have done something," Shope said today through tears. "I was a coward in the situation and didn't take action to stop it and I feel terrible for the family."

Siria's mother, Patricia, said Shope is an example of "what every parent fears for their child, that their bad choices will take them to a place they'll never be able to overcome."

"Why didn't he run out and pound on doors and call for help?" she said. "I hope he wishes now that he had."

Quinones and Shope gave Siria $20 to let them stay in her apartment at 537 E. Hawthorne Road but demanded the money back when they decided the leave, which led to Siria's murder.

Shope feared he would be Quinones's next victim, defense lawyer Mark Hannibal said. Shope helped Quinones clean the apartment, later telling police "it's amazing how well you can clean when you're threatened with your life," Hannibal said.

A Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy picked Shope and Quinones up near the scene and released Quinones not knowing of the murder. But Shope refused to get out of the car and told the deputy he had an arrest warrant. Not finding one, the deputy drove Shope to Daybreak rehab, where the boy told employees “he had been involved in something that could send him to prison for a long time,” according to court documents.

Had it not been for Shope, "the killer would have gotten away with his crime," Hannibal said. Hannibal asked Moreno to impose an exceptional low sentence of 114 months (the high-end sentence for first-degree manslaughter), but the judge declined.

"I just simply can't justify it based on the loss of a life in this case," she said. "I know that you feel badly. I know you are very remorseful for what you did and didn't do....(but) the devastation that you caused with your codefendant cannot be ignored."

Past coverage:

Drifter sent to prison for brutal slaying

Second suspect charged in murder

Police: Accused killer wrote rape suspect's alleged victim

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.