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Prosecutors move to prevent Starbuck from profiting from wife's killing

By Jeff Humphrey, KXLY4 Reporter , jeffhu@kxly.com
Published On: Jul 11 2013 03:46:08 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 11 2013 08:28:08 PM CDT
Clay Starbuck
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Spokane County prosecutors are moving to prevent convicted killer Clay Starbuck from profiting financially from killing his ex-wife, Chanin.

Last month a jury convicted Clay Starbuck of ambushing Chanin Starbuck inside her Deer Park home, strangling her and sexually violating her remains.

During the trial, jurors learned the victim had been dating several men at the time of her death and Chanin's promiscuous lifestyle became one of the defense's avenues for Starbuck's possible acquittal.

However, the jury reached a speedy guilty verdict with aggravating circumstances.

Now as Clay Starkbuck's case is about to reach a national television audience on NBC's "Dateline," deputy prosecutor Larry Steinmetz wants to prevent Starbuck from cashing in his notoriety.

"It's just offensive that anyone should benefit from a violent crime and make money of it by writing a book about it or giving interviews or anything like that," Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker said.

Steinmetz wants a judge to order that any contact for a book or movie deal offered to Starbuck by closely monitored by the Washington Department of Corrections and that any payments be put into an escrow account.

"In this case we want to make sure that all the legal financial obligations are paid to the court including restitution, funeral expenses, those types of things for Chanin and this is one way to do it, to make a motion and see how the court rules on it," Tucker said.

The money would be held for five years and Chanin Starbuck's mother and brother would have the chance to sue Clay Starbuck for damages and collect publishing profits.

The Washington state legislature saw the need to keep criminals from making money off their crimes in 1979 after  New York serial killer "Son of Sam " David Berkowitz was approached by publishers about selling his story.  The "Son of Sam law" was adopted by legislatures across the country and used to compensate the victims of violent crime.

The law also kept Mark David Chapman from profiting from the murder of musician John Lennon.  

On Thursday, information from Starbuck's pre-sentencing investigation was released. Community corrections officers who interviewed Starbuck after his conviction found him to be "a dangerously violent offender due to the calculated planning, the manipulation and the utter violence involved."

"That pre-sentence investigation.. They're always very thorough and I like the outcome," Tucker said.

The report concludes by respectfully asking the court to sentence Starkbuck to prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole.

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