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

Woman accused of killing ex-partner in Mead amid ongoing custody battle; Khaleel earlier acquitted of killing 5-year-old

Cynthia Khaleel is shown after her acquittal in 2018.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A 37-year-old woman once acquitted of killing her 5-year-old nephew is in custody after investigators say she killed her ex-partner amid an ongoing custody battle.

Cynthia Khaleel is suspected of killing Justin Daniel , according to a news release from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies responded to 15113 Wilson Court in Mead just before 2 a.m. Saturday after Daniel, the homeowner, called 911 to report Khaleel had come to the house in violation of a no-contact order he had in place against her.

Daniel’s teen daughter was home at the time, deputies said.

Khaleel and Daniel were involved in a lengthy custody battle over their young daughter.

Daniel, 40, asked a judge for a parenting plan in February 2023 when the couple’s daughter was 2.

In November , Daniel sought an anti-harassment order against Khaleel, saying she had kept their daughter from him for two months after he filed a parenting plan.

Daniel alleged Khaleel used air tags to track him and took photos of his home, among other issues.

Daniel also alleged that Khaleel was verbally abusive to his teen daughter.

That protection order was granted in December, and Khaleel was ordered to surrender her weapons.

On March 21, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Breean Beggs found Daniel’s account of events to be credible and awarded primary custody of the couple’s daughter to him.

Effective Thursday, Khaleel was to have the couple’s daughter from 9 a.m. to Saturday at 6 p.m.

Beggs left the civil protection order in place, preventing Khaleel from contacting Daniel about anything other than their child. But he ruled Khaleel did not have to surrender her weapons, according to court records. 

Khaleel still was unable to have firearms under the first protection order however.

When deputies arrived at the Mead home Saturday, they reportedly found Daniel dead with numerous stab wounds and several gunshot wounds.

The teenager had fled the home and was not injured, deputies said.

Just before 3 a.m., a local hospital told deputies Khaleel had been admitted with stab wounds that weren’t life-threatening.

Khaleel was not listed as a patient at any local hospital as of Tuesday afternoon, but deputies said she is receiving treatment at an undisclosed location while in custody.

This is not Khaleel’s first brush with the legal system.

A jury acquitted her of murder in 2018. She had been accused of killing her adoptive 5-year-old nephew, Gary Blanton III, in 2015. The boy died of a fractured skull that Khaleel blamed on the boy falling from a piece of furniture.

She had gained custody of her nephew after her brother, Gary Blanton Jr., was slain in 2012 by a killer stalking registered sex offenders in Clallam County. Blanton Jr. had a rape conviction on his record.

Khaleel told investigators in the murder investigation of her nephew that she heard a thump at about 5 a.m. the day the boy suffered an injury. She checked on the boy, who she said told her he fell while climbing on his younger brother’s crib.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner at the time said the “complex” fracture of the boy’s skull could not be explained by a short fall.

Khaleel testified at her trial and denied causing the injuries.

Khaleel had since had a child with Daniel, leading to the custody battle.

Daniel’s adult daughter declined to comment on his death out of respect for the ongoing investigation. A GoFundMe was posted online Wednesday to raise money for Daniel’s surviving daughters.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify that Khaleel could not have weapons under the first protection order.