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

Second trial starts for man accused of murder in northeast Spokane

Defendant Christian J. Robinson stands with his defense team at his trial in the Spokane County Courthouse on Oct. 26 for the shooting of Christian Salazar at the Hillyard McDonald’s restaurant in 2020.  (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A second jury is tasked with determining whether a man acted in self-defense when he shot and killed 21-year-old Christian Salazar in February 2020.

A jury could not reach a verdict in November for Christian Robinson, who is charged with second-degree murder.

Robinson, now 29, is accused of shooting Salazar in the head in the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 2020 at a McDonald’s parking lot in northeast Spokane, according to court documents.

“He was shot in the head over a stolen cellphone,” Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Jonathan Degen said Wednesday during opening arguments in Spokane County Superior Court.

Robinson and two friends went to Crave, a downtown Spokane bar, met three women and bought drinks for them. One of the women took a cellphone from a table at the bar, witnesses told police.

One of the three men said in the documents that the other two realized at some point their phone was gone as well as the women they met.

Robinson tracked his phone through a phone tracking app on one of his friend’s phones to the McDonald’s at 3416 N. Market St., the man told police.

He said in the documents Robinson blocked the car, which contained two of the women from the bar and Salazar, with his truck in the restaurant parking lot.

The man said he and Robinson confronted the women in the car but didn’t call police, according to court documents. The man approached the driver’s side where Salazar was sitting and Robinson approached the passenger side where one of the women was sitting, according to documents.

The man told police that Robinson started demanding his phone from those in the car, saying their friend was about to get “beat down.”

The man said he then heard a “pop” and realized someone was shot, documents say.

One of the women, who was in the front passenger’s seat, said in the documents Robinson pointed a handgun across her toward Salazar and fired. She then looked over and saw Salazar slumped over on the center console and was bleeding.

Degen, the prosecutor, said witness accounts described Salazar as seemingly confused and scared during the confrontation.

Robinson’s attorney, Joe Kuhlman, said Salazar opened his door and tried to get toward Robinson’s friend and that Robinson, a real estate agent, swung his .38-caliber handgun at Salazar to protect himself and his friend. On the final swing, the gun went off, Kuhlman said.

Kuhlman said Robinson had a reasonable fear for the safety of himself and his friend.

The trial is scheduled to continue next week.