Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, July 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Court upholds retired sailor’s murder conviction


Norman Roberts, who is accused of first-degree murder and assault, testifies Thursday  at the Spokane County Courthouse. 
 (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Norman Roberts, who is accused of first-degree murder and assault, testifies Thursday at the Spokane County Courthouse. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The Court of Appeals in Spokane has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a retired sailor who killed Ken Conklin and wounded Thomas Darco during a drunken party on Spokane’s South Hill in 2007.

Norman L. Roberts, 74, appealed his 2008 conviction by a Spokane County Superior Court jury, saying now-retired Judge Robert D. Austin erred in admitting hearsay evidence and lay testimony. He was sentenced to nearly 38 years in prison.

The court allowed Spokane Police Detective Mark Burbridge to testify as a ballistics expert about the order in which the shots were fired, over the objections of defense counsel. Austin didn’t abuse his discretion in allowing Burbridge to testify, the appeals court ruled.

Roberts testified he couldn’t remember shooting Conklin, but claimed self-defense. That was undermined by his own taped statement, where he admitted no one threatened him and that “he shot Mr. Conklin because he did not like him,” wrote Appeals Court Judge John Schultheis for the three-judge panel.

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com