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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Shorty deserved better, and his killers deserved more

Won’t be shopping for a pink XXXL tutu anytime soon.

There’ll be no slow walk of contrition through River Park Square.


I promised to star in this extreme spectacle on condition that the most absurd crap I’d ever heard in my life turned out to be true.

Namely, that Spokane’s Delbert “Shorty” Belton, a beloved World War II survivor of the Battle of Okinawa, was a double-crossing crack dealer.

No way. No how.

But that was the vile lie contained in a letter found during the arrest of Kenan Adams-Kinard, one of the teen punks who beat Shorty to death in the parking lot of the Eagles Lodge as the 88-year-old man sat in his car.

The media repeated the lie because, well, it was unproven and part of the narrative of this horrific crime that occurred on the North Side in August 2013.

Shorty the crack dealer.

Hey, if you’re going to rob and murder someone, you might as well assassinate his character, too. I mean, it’s not like a dead dude can defend his honor, can he?

It made me sick and angry each time I heard it.

But at least the truth is now an official part of the record.

Christian Phelps, an attorney representing Demetruis Glenn, the other young punk, said Thursday that the “claim that Belton dealt crack … was not true and was never part of Glenn’s defense,” according to the news story that appeared in The Spokesman-Review.

I dunno.

Does this casual concession from a third party leave you feeling as hollow as it does me?

I expected more. I had hopes that when justice for Shorty finally arrived, this slur would be properly and emphatically laid to rest by the perps themselves.

Adams-Kinard had his day in court last month, sentenced to 20 years for his vicious role in the murder.

Tears were shed. Hopes were high.

Nothing seems to bring out that Ol’ Time Religion quite like a sentencing.

Even the judge complimented Adams-Kinard for “owning up and taking accountability” for his actions, adding, “That’s what a man does.”

Adams-Kinard read from a prepared statement, saying …

“Life is a precious gift, and to know that I have taken the life of another person has severed my spirit. From this day forward, I intend to turn the page and start a new chapter in my life.”

Bringing in the sheaves. Bringing in the sheaves. We will come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Stop it. I’m getting all misty-eyed at the thought of how committing cold-blooded murder can be such a wonderful opportunity for personal growth.

And yet this excerpt from our news coverage of the sentencing bothers me.

And I quote: “He did not address the accusation made in a letter tied to Adams-Kinard claiming the 88-year-old man shorted the teen on a crack deal.”


Unlike his pal, Kenan, Glenn didn’t do any courtroom oratory. They both pleaded guilty to first-degree murder although Glenn received a 16-year sentence.

The four-year discount is due to Glenn turning himself in and not formally participating in the bloodshed. He apparently just stood around like a coward and let the evil deed happen.

They’re both a couple of very lucky lads, all things considered.

This criminal justice expert I was talking to the other day said it would have been fair if the two sat in prison double the time they were sentenced. Perhaps. Yet even that would be a more compassionate bargain than anything these two gave Shorty.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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