SPOKANE, Wash. – One of the 16-year-olds charged in Washington state with the killing of a World War II veteran reportedly suggested Tuesday that the attack came after the veteran shorted him and another teen on a sale of crack cocaine.
Police discovered the drug-dealing claim in a letter they found after they arrested Kenan Adams-Kinard early Monday morning, Spokane County deputy prosecutor Larry Haskell said.
Haskell said the letter contends that Adams-Kinard and Demetrius L. Glenn, 16, were buying crack cocaine from Delbert Belton, 88, when the attack occurred Aug. 21. That notion was scoffed at by family members and friends of Belton, who was known as Shorty because he was little more than 5 feet tall.
"There's absolutely no truth to that whatsoever," Belton's nephew Ian Day said after the court appearance, The Spokesman-Review reported. One of Belton's friends told the paper she had to remind Belton to take his blood pressure medication, let alone crack cocaine. Haskell, for his part, did not return several telephone calls seeking additional information on the drug-dealing claim. The paper pointed out that Spokane police said they have no evidence to support the drug deal claim.
Both teens are charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery. The charges carry a potential life sentence.
Police said Belton, who was wounded in the Battle of Okinawa, was beaten in his vehicle as he waited for a friend in the parking lot of an Eagles Lodge in north Spokane. Officers found Belton with serious head injuries, and his wallet had been taken. He died in the hospital last Thursday.
The teens will be tried as adults, and Spokane County District Judge Debra Hayes on Tuesday ordered Adams-Kinard moved from a juvenile jail to the Spokane County Jail.
A lower bail of $2 million had been set for Glenn on Monday, but Hayes said Adams-Kinard is more of a flight risk if he's released. The judge noted that Glenn turned himself in Thursday night, while Adams-Kinard hid out for days before he was arrested.
Both of the 16-year-olds have criminal records.
Court records show that in 2011, Glenn and people he was with surrounded and confronted another teenager in a park because they saw a black bandana on the ground, which they took as an act of disrespect. Glenn was convicted of assault, riot and obstruction after attacking the person with a stick or bat studded with nails. He was placed on probation and later agreed to pay restitution.
Earlier this year, Glenn had two run-ins with law enforcement. On Feb. 9, he was charged with malicious mischief after damaging a garage door, and on March 18, he was arrested and charged with driving without a license.
Adams-Kinard was also arrested earlier this year after snatching a cellphone from a girl on a city bus. The girl suffered scratches on her hand, and Adams-Kinard pleaded guilty to theft and assault.
Belton was born and raised in Spokane. He survived being shot in the leg in 1945 at Okinawa, one of the fiercest battles of the war, and went on to spend 33 years working for Kaiser Aluminum before retiring in 1982.
The Associated Press contributed to this report