SPOKANE, Wash -- Police moved one of the suspect’s accused of killing a World War II veteran on Friday.
The 16-year-old in custody was transferred from a juvenile detention facility to the main Spokane County Jail campus. Authorities said the suspect will be charged as an adult and booked at the main campus. He will later be transferred back to the juvenile detention facility for the weekend.
Police Chief Frank Straub held a brief press conference Friday about the investigation into the beating death of an Delbert Belton, 88.
Officers arrested the suspect in custody Thursday night in Spokane after his lawyer contacted Spokane Police. He and the second suspect, 16, do have gang ties according to Straub. Both teenage suspects are African American. However, Straub stressed that the attack was not racially motivated.
Major Crimes Detective believe the teenage suspects beat Belton during a robbery.
Chief Straub said the two were looking to commit a robbery in North Spokane on Wednesday night near Francis and Lidgerwood. Straub said that instead the suspects beat Belton with a flashlight outside of the Eagles Ice-A-Rena. He died Thursday morning.
The 16-year-old in custody was booked into Juvenile Detention on 1st Degree Robbery and 1st Degree Murder charges late Thursday night. The teen had a cut on his hand, according to court documents. He was scheduled to make his first court appearance for the murder and robbery charges Monday in Spokane. He is expected to be charged as an adult.
Detectives believe the two suspects were captured on security tape, around the time of the crime, at Arby's, Jack in the Box, Lowes & Eagles Ice-A-Rena. A school security officer also reportedly identified the suspect in custody as one of the males in the security photos.
On Friday, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that the victim, Delbert Belton, died of blunt facial and head injuries.
Police said the teen in custody fits witness descriptions.
Court Documents also revealed Friday that Belton was found at the scene of the assault lying in his vehicle with his body wedged between the front bucket seats. Detectives said a broken flashlight was recovered in the car.
Investigators said Belton was attacked in the parking lot behind the arena, which belongs to the Fraternal Order of Eagles. He had just arrived in his car to play pool with a female friend. A witness said she saw two young men run away from Belton's car.
The contents of Belton's wallet were found in a yard about three blocks from the murder scene. Police are also looking into another assault that happened earlier in the night near the scene where Belton was murdered.
Belton had been taken to the Intensive Care Unit after the assault. Authorities said he suffered numerous facial fractures and the blows to his head ultimately led to his death. A memorial was placed outside the lodge of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
Major Crimes is investigating and are asking anybody with information to please call Crime Check at 509-456-2233.