Lance A. Leighton has been charged with murder in the May 6 stabbing death of a Spokane Valley man. Leighton, 21, reportedly admitted to detectives he stabbed 19-year-old Jeffery P. Bieber after an argument, but said he thought Bieber was reaching for a gun, according to court documents.
Leighton was arrested shortly after the stabbing and has been kept in jail for parole violations. When the first-degree murder charge was added late Wednesday, his bail was set at $1 million.
“We had the luxury of him being in jail on other issues, so there was no need to do a hasty investigation,” said Spokane Valley Police Department spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan.
Paramedics were called to a car crash on a quiet Spokane Valley road May 6. They discovered Bieber had been stabbed in the chest and had then driven his car into a tree.
Court documents give the following account of the events that led up to the stabbing:
Bieber, Katherine Collins and Michael R. Priestly decided to leave the house of Gary B. Olive Jr. at 612 N. Farr Road. Collins told police she had been drinking and decided she wanted a ride but planned on coming back.
Before she got into the car, Bieber sprayed Collins with a small water gun.
Collins told detectives she yelled at Bieber and this seemed to anger her boyfriend, Joe Legendre, who had also been at the house. Legendre got out a BB gun and waved it around to “intimidate Bieber,” according to court documents. Leighton, who had also been at the house, got involved in the argument and allegedly stabbed Bieber.
Leighton had recently gotten out of prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary in August of 2003. Leighton allegedly used a gun to take $7 from a man who was walking in Spokane Valley late at night. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, with credit given for time served, according to court records.
Bieber grew up only a few blocks from the spot where he was stabbed.
His parents, Diania and Tim Bieber, said they’re still grieving over their son’s death.
“Right now, I’m in a lot of pain. I don’t know how else to describe it,” Diania Bieber said in an interview Thursday.
Tim Bieber said he’s proud of his son, whom he described as compassionate and one who always followed through on everything he did. The Biebers said that they hope justice is served, but that nothing will make their son’s death less tragic.
It’s not like a video game that can be turned off and everyone comes back to life again, Tim Bieber said.
“You’ve got to pay for what you do,” Bieber said. “It doesn’t just go away.”
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