Murder suspect seeking lower bail, release from jail

Author: Jeff Humphrey, KXLY4 Reporter , jeffhu@kxly.com
Published On: Dec 17 2012 05:57:47 PM PST   Updated On: Dec 17 2012 11:40:45 PM PST
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Clay Starbuck, the Deer Park man accused of killing his ex-wife Chanin so he wouldn't have to pay child support, is making a bid Tuesday to get out of jail in time for Christmas.

On Tuesday Starbuck will ask a judge to reduce his $1 Million bail and release him into the custody of his mother. He claims because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty against him, he is entitled to a reasonable bond.

Starbuck is accused of breaking into his ex-wife Chanin's home, waiting for her to return and then strangling her to death.

Detectives say Starbuck staged the victim's body to further degrade her and used her phone to pin the crime on one of her boyfriends.

"This wasn't just somebody who went in and killed her and left. This is something that was planned and took pretty much all day to carry out," Chanin Starbuck's brother Stephen Conway said.

Conway flew into town from Florida Monday night and is prepared to tell the court Tuesday that his ex-brother-in-law is a flight risk.

"If he makes bond, he will be gone. There's no doubt in my mind, he knows he's guilty so the second he's out, he's gonna be gone," Conway said.

Starbuck has been behind bars since last February and new court documents show the jail has recorded 17 hours of his phone conversations behind bars.

This motion being heard in superior court comes just one week after Starbuck got his trial postponed from next month to late May of 2013. Defense attorneys have delayed Starbuck's trial while they review if he made any incriminating statements.

"We were really looking forward to getting this over this winter but as long as he's in jail, we don't have a problem with it. They can take him 10 years to have the trial," Conway said.

Since a jury won't hear his case for another five months, Starbuck wants his $1 Million bail reduced and be released on electronic home monitoring.

However, prosecutors are expected to argue he is a danger to the community's safety. "We think he needs to stay in jail," Conway said.

If he does get released, Clay Starbuck won't be allowed to have any contact with his children, who are set to be witnesses against him at his murder trial. Documents filed earlier this month allege, however, his children are reluctant to testify against their father.

A judge has ordered them to be deposed.