SPOKANE, Wash. - On Tuesday, the public heard a 911 call made by a Deer Park murder victim’s phone for the first time. Prosecutors played the call Tuesday morning during the Clay Starbuck murder trial.
Clay is charged with the strangling death of his ex-wife Chanin Starbuck.
The 911 call was made from Chanin’s phone in December 2011. The call only lasts for 34 seconds and includes mostly silence according to a KREM 2 News reporter in the courtroom. Yet, the detective said you can hear what appears to be Chanin making a gurgling noise as dispatches picked up the call.
Dispatchers claimed they did not hear the noise at the time of the call. However, detectives said it is clear that there is a struggle and a gurgling noise.
Dispatchers fell under heavy scrutiny for their response. They admitted to trying to return the call only to receive Chanin’s voicemail. A Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy was never sent to Chanin’s house following the call.
Defense lawyers call the dispatcher’s decision the “biggest blunder” of the entire case. Clay's lawyer, Derek Reid, told KREM 2 News that “we likely wouldn't be here today,” had the call been handled appropriately.
The judge allowed prosecutors to play the call in court but under several restrictions.
The prosecution cannot argue that the call was made during Chanin's murder because the Spokane County Medical Examiner never determined precisely when she died. The judge also forbid prosecutors from ensuing that the gurgling noise was a result of Clay or anyone strangling or beating Chanin.