Family members of Chanin Starbuck held nothing back as they vented their rage at Clay Starbuck for her killing, while his children maintained both their love for him and belief in his innocence, during his sentencing hearing in a packed Spokane County Courtroom Thursday.
Starbuck was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for the December 2011 killing of his ex-wife Chanin during the Thursday hearing in Judge Greg Sypolt's courtroom.
Two hours earlier, Starbuck entered the courtroom smiling, but that smile soon disappeared as the proceedings got underway.
Before Judge Sypolt handed down the sentence, family members of Chanin, whose presence in the courtroom was evident with a number of pictures displayed at the front of the courtroom, released up their pent-up fury at Clay for Chanin's killing.
Melanie Bourcier, Chanin's mother, was the first to address the court with her victim impact statement, and held nothing back as she called Clay out for being "disgusting," a murderer, coward, psychopath and a "sick bastard" for killing her daughter.
"You are a child abuser, a coward and a liar," Bourcier said. "You are a sick creature. Chanin's life mattered."
As Bourcier stood at the podium she stared down at Clay, whose head was bowed as he stared down at the defense table before him, refusing to make eye contact with his ex-mother-in-law as she wished he was put into an 8'x10' box and stay "in prison until his dying days."
"I hate you with every cell in my body," she said.
Moments before she finished speaking her son, Chanin's brother Steve Conway, who was late to the sentencing hearing due to flight delay, arrived, hugging his mom as she tearfully walked away from the podium.
Conway followed his mom at the podium, calling Clay a "dangerously violent, sexually deviant criminal," and was followed in turn by his sister, Amy Showers, who charged that Clay "took her life. You took her away from all of us."
"Shame on you for thinking you could walk away after murdering my sister," Showers said. "You're a waste of a human being. May you live the rest of your life with shame."
The first time Starbuck showed any emotion during the hearing was when his young son Marshall stepped up to the podium, after seven friends and family members speaking on Chanin Starbuck's behalf, to talk to his dad. Throughout the case, Clay's children have maintained their father's innocence.
"You know I love you with all my heart," Clay and Chanin's son Marshall said. "I know you didn't do this."
At that point Starbuck teared up but then, moments later, cracked a smile as he looked up as his children, one by one, addressed the court.
Blake Starbuck claimed his father's case was mishandled and the jury wasn't allowed to see crucial evidence.
"I'll be thrilled at the day my dad does get a fair trial and the real killer is found," he said.
"I'm looking forward to an appeal and I love my son very much," Clay's mother, Betty Starbuck, told the court.
"I'm extremely sorry you have to go through this. You do not deserve it," Starbuck's sister, Kathy Nasholm, said. "Convicting an innocent man is wrong."
Following the witness statements, defense attorneys and prosecutors spoke briefly. Judge Sypolt addressed Starbuck, telling him he had the right to appeal his verdict, to which he said he's looking forward to a successful appeal and a fair trial. Starbuck added he had a statement prepared to read to the court, but it was neither the time nor the place to speak as he wanted to wait for his appeal.
Then, after calling the case one of the most aggravated instances of murder the court can recall, Judge Sypolt sentenced Starbuck to a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole for Chanin Starbuck's killing.
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