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Friday, September 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Seven months after Spokane County Jail death, manslaughter case ends in plea deal

UPDATED: Mon., March 25, 2019, 7:11 p.m.

A man accused of killing his cellmate at the Spokane County Jail accepted a plea deal on March 6, 2019, and was sentenced to time served. The jail is shown on June 28, 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
A man accused of killing his cellmate at the Spokane County Jail accepted a plea deal on March 6, 2019, and was sentenced to time served. The jail is shown on June 28, 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A man accused of killing his cellmate at the Spokane County Jail accepted a plea deal this month and was sentenced to time served.

Anthony J. Weber, 36, was charged with second-degree manslaughter in August in connection with the death of 56-year-old Christopher N. Luman, who was the seventh inmate to die at the downtown jail in about 14 months.

On March 6, Weber pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of attempted second-degree assault, a class B felony. Judge John Cooney sentenced Weber to the time he had already served in jail – 160 days.

Luman lost consciousness and died shortly after a fistfight with Weber in the early hours of Aug. 9. They were held with eight other men in a cell in the jail’s annex, which is used to hold sex offenders who might be targeted in the general population.

After an autopsy, Dr. John Howard, the county medical examiner, told detectives that Luman had suffered from severe coronary artery disease, and that his death “was precipitated by the physical exertion and stress suffered by Luman during the altercation with Weber,” according to the original charging documents.

Before the fight, Weber was in jail for failing to register as a sex offender, and Luman had recently been sentenced to 90 months of imprisonment after a jury found him guilty of two counts of attempted first-degree child rape.

Luman had been arrested, along with a dozen other people, as part of a 2016 sting operation targeting child predators in Spokane County. Previously, he had never been charged with a sex crime.

Weber’s attorney did not respond to a message seeking comment Monday. In a court filing, Weber wrote that he was pleading guilty to the attempted assault charge to resolve the case, “although I understand the state would be unable to prove the elements of this charge at trial.”

The prosecutor on the case, Preston McCollam, said he would have needed to prove Weber acted with “criminal negligence” in order to secure a manslaughter conviction. The plea bargain was an appropriate resolution to the case, McCollam said.

“I think it was clear from the affidavit of facts that he didn’t mean to kill the guy,” McCollam said.

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