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

Murder charge filed in stabbing

A man was jailed Wednesday in connection with a December stabbing death in northwest Spokane that police had first described as an act of self-defense.

Family members of Justin Snyder, 17, expressed relief that someone has been charged with his death.

“I’m glad that somebody’s going to have to pay for what they did to Justin,” said Snyder’s grandmother, Pat Hansen. “But two ruins don’t make a right. We take no joy in knowing his life is screwed up now.”

Rick A. Kelly, 21, has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in connection with Snyder’s death and stab wounds suffered by Snyder’s friend Jade Britton.

The stabbings occurred during a fight in the early morning of Dec. 5, at a party at 3711 W. Rockwell Ave.

Kelly declined to be interviewed in jail on Thursday, but he has told police that he was acting in self defense when Snyder, Britton and an unidentified man ganged up on him, according to court documents.

Investigators were told conflicting stories about the fight, but most witnesses told police that Snyder and Britton, who apparently were working as a team, threw the first punches.

Jeffrey Granados, who came to the party with Kelly, was knocked unconscious by Britton, who said he threw that punch because it appeared that Granados was about to strike Snyder, court records say.

Snyder’s girlfriend reported that Snyder knocked Kelly to the ground, grabbed his shirt and began swirling him around.

But Snyder then yelled that he’d been struck and ran into a neighbor’s back yard, where he died, according to court documents.

Kelly told detectives that he disarmed an unidentified man during the fight and used the knife to defend himself, records say.

He ran from the scene to his father’s home, where he called police.

Under state law, a homicide is considered justified if the killer thinks he or she is about to become the victim of a felony and great personal injury.

At a candlelight vigil for Snyder in December, family and friends wondered how Snyder’s death could be justified when he did not use a weapon.

His cousin, Rebekah Hansen-Tucker, printed up “Justice for Justin” T-shirts that were given to his family at his funeral.

She also sold the shirts to friends to raise money for Snyder’s funeral expenses.

Snyder had a record as a juvenile but had started to turn his life around, family members say.

“He just had an infectious personality and a lot of charisma,” Hansen-Tucker said.