Local News

Starbuck murder trial in jury's hands

SPOKANE, Wash. - The fate of a Deer Park man on trial for the murder of his ex-wife is in the hands of the jury as closing arguments were held in the case of Clay Starbuck, who stands accused of killing his ex-wife Chanin in her home in 2011.

The defense maintained Starbuck's innocence during closing arguments, wanting the jury to believe even though Starbuck fully cooperated with investigators detectives took the easy way out focusing on a jealous ex-husband instead of looking at more viable suspects in the case. Defense attorney Derek Reid wanted to make sure there was plenty of doubt in the minds of the jury.

"It's important so I'll say it again, what is an innocent person supposed to do?" Reid asked.

The defense said the state's case against Starbuck is incomplete and that any DNA that links their client to the crime scene was laid down when Clay was still living there.  

"It's not Clay Starbuck's DNA on her phone. It's not Clay Starbuck's semen. It's not Clay Starbuck's fingerprints on the massager box.," Reid said.

The defense wanted the jury to believe that Chanin Starbuck was killed by one of her several online boyfriends.

"The state asks you could else have could have done this? Ladies and gentlemen John Kenlein was there four times that day and he didn't see anything," Reid said.

Starbuck closing arguments

However prosecutors said they've cleared Kenlein and that DNA similar to Clay Starbuck's was found under Chanin's fingernails.

"At the heart of this killing, and I would submit the motive, is greed, anger, obsession and jealousy," Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz said.

Prosecutors said when Starbuck realized his ex-wife was moving on while he was falling further and further behind in his child support he decided he could fix both problems with a carefully planned murder.

Detectives said Starbuck even prepared friends and family for the killing. Just nine days before Chanin was attacked, Starbuck told one of his children's teacher that Chanin's social life would lead to her death.

"And there he tells Miss Pearson that the children hate their mother. He said I wouldn't be surprised if they found Chanin dead," Steinmetz said.

Telling everyone Chanin was promiscuous and posing her after she was killed, was all part Starbuck's plan to throw detectives off his tracks, prosecutors added.

Prosecutors are asking the jury to find the existence of aggravating factors in this case, that the killing was preceded by a burglary and that it was especially cruel or an act of domestic violence. Any one of those factors could get Starbuck life behind bars if convicted.