SPOKANE, Wash. -- Bail was set at $3 million Tuesday for a 16-year-old boy charged with killing a World War II veteran who, the boy reportedly contends, was beaten to death because he shorted the teen and another boy on a drug sale.
The allegation was sharply denied by friends of Delbert Belton, the 88-year-old veteran known as “Shorty” because he was just over 5 feet tall.
“Shorty never did no drugs,” said Ted Denison, a friend who added that the defendants were “smearing his name.”
The drug-dealing claim is in a letter police found after they arrested Kenan Adams-Kinard early Monday, Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell said at Tuesday's court hearing.
Haskell said the letter contends that Adams-Kinard and Demetruis L. Glenn, also 16, were buying crack cocaine from Belton when the attack occurred Aug. 21. Family members and friends of Belton scoffed at the allegation.
Haskell did not return several telephone calls seeking additional information on the drug-dealing 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 Thursday.
The teens will be tried as adults.
On Tuesday, Spokane County District Judge Debra Hayes 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 was more of a flight risk if released. The judge noted that Glenn turned himself in Thursday night, while Adams-Kinard hid out for days before he was arrested.
The Associated Press does not generally identify minors accused of a crime but is naming the teens because of the severity of the charges.
Both of the 16-year-olds have criminal records.