NPR Story
5:13 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Two Spokane Teens In Custody, Charged With Murdering WWII Vet

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 5:35 pm

Police have arrested the second teenager accused of beating to death an 88-year-old World War II vet in Spokane. The two 16-year-old males have been charged with first degree robbery and first degree murder in case that's attracted national attention.

Delbert Belton was beaten beyond recognition while he waited in his car outside the Eagles Lodge in north Spokane last week. Belton, known as "Shorty" to his friends, served in the Army and had survived injuries in the battle of Okinawa.

Police believe two local teens are responsible for Belton's death. The first turned himself in last week. Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub told reporters that officers found the second 16-year-old suspect with the help of teen's family.

"The family worked with the department to bring this to a conclusion because the family got the gravity of this situation," Straub said. "These are two young men that just spun out of control. And now they've been arrested."

There's been some online discussion calling the death a “hate crime” because Delbert Belton was white and the teens charged with killing him are black. But Straub emphasized at the press conference that the motive for the crime was robbery and that race was not a factor.

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