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WWII vet’s daughter-in-law, Spokane mayor insist murder not racially motivated

Following the murder of a World War II veteran in Spokane, the city’s police chief expressed empathy for one of the accused killers.

Now, the mayor has recorded a video with the victim’s daughter-in-law to make sure people know this was not a racially motivated attack and this kind of crime is not what Spokane should be known for.

Delbert “Shorty” Belton, 88, survived the bloody Battle of Okinawa during the war, but he didn’t survive being beaten with flashlights last Wednesday night outside the Eagles Club in Spokane.

“I can’t imagine what he must have been thinking,” says Belton’s daughter-in-law Barbara. “He must have been scared to death.”

Barbara says she will let the justice system work out punishment for the two teens accused of the murder.

“It was a terrible thing, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. But they must not make it a racial issue. It was, as far as we know, two young boys, for whatever the reason, did what they did to Delbert. If these are the boys that did it, they are in the judicial system and whatever the judicial system says is the punishment – so be it. But don’t make this a racial thing or a vigilante thing,” says Barbara.

The two teens are black. Belton was white. But throughout the five-minute video she remains calm and insists the crime was the result of a robbery and nothing more.

That’s the same thing Spokane’s Police Chief Frank Straub said earlier this week when he even expressed empathy for one of the suspects.

“One of these individuals was, pretty much, a stand-out basketball player. Because nobody wrapped their arms around him, because nobody cared enough about him, he’s now going to face murder and robbery charges. He’s looking at the rest of his life being significantly affected, if not destroyed by this,” said Straub.

This horrible crime is not what Spokane is about, insists Mayor David Condon, despite the international news attention it has brought to the city.

“We’re all struggling to make sense of this murder and this senseless, senseless death of Shorty. This isn’t who we are. This isn’t what our community is about. Our community is about coming together, about supporting each other,” says Condon.

The two 16-year-olds will face charges as an adult for the beating death of Delbert Belton.

Demetruis Glenn is being held on
$2 million bond, because he turned himself in. While Kenan Kinard’s bond is $3 million because he hid out for several days before being arrested Monday in the basement of a friend’s house.

In court Tuesday, Kinard claimed Belton was selling crack-cocaine. Spokane police, prosecutors and family members say there is nothing to support the teen’s claim.

Mayor Condon closed his video by asking the community to come again together.

“We need to continue to support each other, build on this tragic incident and create a community that we all continue to choose to live in, to raise our families, and to truly call home.”

By LINDA THOMAS’s Alyssa Kleven contributed to this report.

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