Opening statements reveal new Starbuck murder details



Posted on May 9, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Updated Thursday, May 9 at 6:41 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Lawyers finished seating the jury Thursday for the Clay Starbuck murder trial. Opening statements begin at 2:00 p.m. in a Spokane courtroom.

The Deer Park man is charged with the murder of his ex-wife Chanin. Her body was found inside her home in December 2011. Officers believe Clay strangled Chanin. Prosecutors charged him with murder and with the violation of human remains.

Lawyers revealed new details Thursday about the murder investigations. Chanin was not only strangled but beaten according to prosecutors. Detectives believe clay is responsible for her murder and sexually violated her remains. While, the defense insisted he had nothing to do with it.

Prosecutors said Chanin was found on her bed with a house coat draping open and exposing her nude body. The bed sheets were removed and located in the washing machine according to court documents. The prosecution added that a partial match of Clay's DNA was located on Chanin's neck.

Yet, the defense said detectives also found male DNA on Chanin's cell phone that did not match Clay. Defense lawyers insisted that Clay was cooperative from day one. He even voluntarily showing detectives the route he took that day when his car broke down according his lawyer. The prosecution said the problem with that is he was not shown on neighbor's security cameras he should have.

“Detectives reviewed the tapes a number of times and at no time did he ever see any individual matching the description of the defendant,” said Lawyer Larry Steinmetz.

Meanwhile, Defense Lawyer Derek Reid said Clay is innocent citing that he even called Crime Check on December 2nd.

“He says had two concerns. One, welfare. Two, he wanted to know if he could get into the house because their clothes were there,” said Reid.

The defense added that crucial evidence that would prove Clay's innocence like alternative suspects and testimony about Chanin leaving her kids alone at night was ruled in admissible at trial.

The prosecution said they are sure Clay's their guy. Lawyers cited reasons like his cell phone being off for six hours the day Chanin died and only being turned back on when the kids needed to be picked up from school.

A judge decided in April that their five children must give video depositions which will eventually be played in Court. KREM 2 News spoke with the two oldest Starbuck children. Both men claim that their father is innocent.

Blake and Austin Starbuck told KREM 2 News they would not support their dad if they even had the slightest doubt.  Both men said they are convinced crucial evidence that could help their dad was never tested.

However, investigators said the evidence proves Clay committed the murder. 

Items were missing from the victim’s home after her death.  Authorities said those items were later found in the master bedroom closet in Clay Starbuck's home. Detectives found divorce documents, spyware logs, and even Chanin's watch and ID according to court records. Authorities added that they also found printed copies of Chanin's e-mails and her death certificate posted on Clay’s bedroom wall.