Local News

Starbuck maintains innocence for ex-wife's killing

SPOKANE, Wash. - Clay Starbuck, the Deer Park man suspected of killing his ex-wife so he would not have to pay her child support, is anxious to go to trial to prove his innocence.

Starbuck, 47, is also charged with sexually violating human remains and was in Superior Court Tuesday talking about the jury that will hear his case.

After her divorce was finalized, Chanin Starbuck began using an online dating service called Plenty of Fish to meet other men. The defense is expected to blamer her death on one of those suitors, specifically a married man whose infidelity was exposed by Starbuck's murder.

Clay Starbuck murder case update

Clay Starbuck, arrested six months ago for allegedly strangling his ex-wife to death, is anxious to move the case to trial because he feels detectives have mistakenly arrested an innocent man.

"Mr. Starbuck wants to get this case to trial. He sits here an innocent man and he would like to have that addressed with a jury," public defender Derek Ried said.

Starbuck maintains his innocence and blames Chanin's death on another man who admits he was at the victim's home the day she was killed.

Court documents show that a Spokane high school teacher, who we are not identifying, told detectives he was supposed to have a rendezvous with Chanin but she never answered her door or telephone.

That teacher was tracked down by detectives and his shocked wife ended up giving her cheating husband his alibi.

"Just because we might expose somebody who's having an extramarital affair we can't disregard that due to the embarrassment. We still have to push along and prove that person is not involved," Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

Prosecutors expect the trial to take three to four weeks because of expert testimony on DNA evidence that allegedly links Clay Starbuck to the murder scene. Attorneys are worried about finding enough jurors to sit on a panel that long and may start questioning prospective jurors by mail.

"If somebody is not available to serve as a juror for that amount of time we could definitely deal with them initially and then maybe get our 50 potential jurors that could actually serve that time frame," Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz said.

The trial is set to begin on October 22.

If Starbuck is acquitted he could theoretically be spending Thanksgiving with his children. However, since this is an aggravated murder charge, if he's found guilty he could spend the rest of his life in prison.