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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Jury finds man guilty of murdering 21-year-old in Hillyard McDonald’s parking lot

May 27, 2022 Updated Fri., May 27, 2022 at 9:30 p.m.

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)
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)

After more than two years and two trials, a jury on Friday found Christian Robinson guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting of 21-year-old Christian Salazar at a Hillyard McDonald’s parking lot.

The first jury in November could not reach a verdict on the case.

Salazar’s parents hugged after Spokane County Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke read the jury’s verdict.

“It’s been hell,” said Shaun Salazar, Christian Salazar’s father. “Having to relive this twice. Our whole family’s gone through a lot. We’re just glad to be all done.”

Robinson, dressed in a gray suit, was taken into custody shortly after the verdict.

Robinson, who turns 30 in August, shot Salazar in the head early on Feb. 3, 2020 outside the McDonald’s at 3416 N. Market St., according to court documents.

Earlier that night, 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.

Robinson tracked his phone through a phone tracking app on one of his friend’s phones to the McDonald’s.

Video surveillance showed a black Ford F-150, driven by Robinson, pull up and park behind a white Toyota Corolla in the restaurant’s parking lot at 1:13 a.m.

Inside the Corolla were Salazar and two of the women from the bar.

One of the men in Robinson’s truck 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.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy said during closing arguments that Robinson demanded his phone on the one side of the car while one of his friends from the vehicle opened Salazar’s door and threatened him. Nagy said Salazar and the front passenger were scared.

Nagy said Robinson then stuck his gun in front of the face of the front passenger and fired a round, striking Salazar.

It took just over one minute from the time Robinson arrived at McDonald’s to the time of the shooting.

Joe Kuhlman, Robinson’s attorney, said his client defended himself and his friend that morning because Robinson saw Salazar reaching on the car floor and in his pockets. Kuhlman said Robinson was also in fear for his life because of the car occupants’ alleged gang affiliation.

Robinson testified that Salazar lunged toward Robinson’s friend, so his friend pushed Salazar back.

Kuhlman said Robinson struck Salazar several times in the head before the gun went off.

“He was trying to use the least amount of force to stop this,” Kuhlman said.

Robinson’s friend and the two passengers with Salazar testified they did not see Robinson hit Salazar.

“When you pull out a gun and you point it at someone and that gun goes off, you’re responsible for that,” Nagy said.

Nagy disputed the self-defense claim.

“They were attacking to get the phone,” he said.

The jury deliberated for about three hours before reaching a verdict Friday.

Kuhlman told The Spokesman-Review it was “by far” the quickest deliberation of the roughly seven murder cases he has handled. He said he expected deliberations to continue next week.

“At the end of the day the only thing I can attribute this verdict, the speed at which it came, is some deficiency by me,” Kuhlman said. “I do not know what that deficiency is. We had a strong closing … this doesn’t land on Mr. Robinson’s shoulders. His testimony was valid. The evidence and forensic evidence was valid in his favor. That leaves only one option. There was some error that I made that I did not correct.”

Nagy declined to comment after the court proceedings.

Robinson is scheduled to be sentenced June 16.

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