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

Police: Man admitted to downtown Spokane hit-and-run that killed 78-year-old woman

Gary Burns, in green, makes his first appearance Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court for a hit-and-run charge stemming from a June 11 downtown crash that left 78-year-old Janet Mann dead.  (Garrett Cabeza / The Spokesman-Review)

A 42-year-old man accused of hitting and killing 78-year-old Janet Mann with his truck told police he fled the downtown Spokane crash scene out of fear and concealed the truck in his garage, according to court documents.

Police arrested Gary F. Burns on suspicion of hit-and-run causing death Wednesday at his Spokane Valley home.

Burns, wearing light green Spokane County Jail clothing, made his first appearance Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court, where he wiped away tears before Superior Court Commissioner Eugene Cruz set his bail at $100,000.

The prosecution requested the six-figure bond because of Burns’ “flight risk,” considering the gravity of the case and the steps Burns took to hide evidence and abscond from officers.

Cruz said he was concerned about public safety and Burns’ potential to interfere with the “administration of justice.”

Spokane police and fire personnel responded to the alleged hit-and-run at about 12:50 p.m. June 11 at Browne Street and Main Avenue, according to documents.

Witness statements and video surveillance showed a gray 2007 Chevrolet Silverado strike Mann and then run over her before leaving the scene, documents say. Mann died from her injuries at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Mann co-authored a book in 2017 and was a former director of Children’s Ark, a foster parenting program that ran until 2009. Mann and her husband, Paul Mann, were two of the primary owners who revitalized the downtown Ridpath Club Apartments.

Video surveillance from Spokane Transit Authority showed part of the Silverado’s license plate at Main Avenue and Bernard Street, about one block before the crash, court records show.

The partial plate number showed two potential trucks registered in Spokane, and one of the vehicles matched Burns’ truck. A check of the plate showed the registered owner as Burns, who lives at 515 N. Best Road in Spokane Valley.

Surveillance showed a male driver matching Burns’ physical description. He was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and had a mustache and beard. Social media photos of Burns showed him wearing a white short-sleeved shirt with a beard and mustache, police said in documents.

A traffic camera the day before the crash showed the Silverado and the driver wearing a white short-sleeved shirt. The driver’s “build” resembled Burns’ physical description, documents say.

Law enforcement officers saw Burns operating his other vehicle, a Hyundai Santa Fe, with his wife as a passenger, on June 13.

Police surveilled Burns that day coming and going from his Spokane Valley home in the Santa Fe, according to documents. Officers placed a tracking device on the Santa Fe.

Police searched the home Wednesday and found Burns and the Silverado, which was backed into the garage.

Burns was detained at the residence and taken to the Spokane police detectives building for questioning.

Burns admitted to being the driver and sole occupant of the Silverado at the time of the crash, according to court documents. He said he didn’t see Mann before the crash, nor did he intend to hit her.

He told police he immediately drove to his residence and concealed the truck in his garage.

Burns, who remained in jail Thursday night, declined a Spokesman-Review interview.

He is set for an arraignment July 2 in front of Superior Court Judge Timothy Fennessy.