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Two teens facing murder, robbery charges in WWII vet's beating death

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(Natalie Flom) (Natalie Flom)
Spokane Police released this image from a security camera. The man shown is being sought as a suspect in the beating death of an 88-year-old World War II veteran. Spokane Police released this image from a security camera. The man shown is being sought as a suspect in the beating death of an 88-year-old World War II veteran.
Highlights
  • Two 16-year-olds charged with murder, robbery, in World War II vet's death
  • WWII vet Delbert Belton tried to fight off his teenage attackers, police chief says
  • Delbert "Shorty" Belton died Thursday after the beating
  • Police say the incident was a botched robbery and race was not a motive

By Michael Pearson

(CNN) -- Delbert Belton fought to the end.

Police said Monday that the 88-year-old World War II vet, who died last week following a brutal beating in a parking lot in Spokane, Washington, tried to fend off his attackers. Two teenagers are in custody, including one arrested early Monday.

Belton's death Thursday came 68 years after he survived being shot in the leg during the World War II battle of Okinawa.

"He came close to losing his life in service to this country on Okinawa, and then he gets killed needlessly on the parking lot while he was waiting for a friend," Spokane police Chief Frank Straub Jr. said.

Belton's efforts to defend himself may have worsened the attack, Straub said. The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office said Belton died of blunt facial and head injuries.

Straub said information provided by church leaders and family members led investigators to a Spokane apartment where they found 16-year-old Kenan Adams-Kinard early Monday morning.

Police arrested him in connection with Belton's killing and arrested three others who were with him on charges of rendering criminal assistance, a felony. Straub did not identify the other three, and it was not immediately clear if they were adults or juveniles.

He described them as friends of Adams-Kinard, one of two teenagers accused of trying to rob Belton in the parking lot of Spokane's Eagles Lodge.

Straub called it a botched robbery, and said race did not appear to play a role in the attack, despite public speculation to the contrary.

Authorities named Adams-Kinard during the search for him even though he is a juvenile, saying "he represents ... an actual danger to the community." Authorities have not released the name of the first suspect, who was taken into custody last week.

Adams-Kinard was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery, Straub said in a statement later Monday. It was unclear when he would make his first court appearance.

The suspect arrested last week, also 16, was charged with the same two murder and robbery counts, Straub said.

Coming just days after an Australian baseball player died in a shooting that police said was conceived by three teenagers out of boredom, Belton's death shocked with its apparent brutality and random nature, and left friends and family wondering why it happened.

"He didn't drive a big fancy car. He didn't didn't dress in expensive clothes. He didn't have a lot of money," Belton's daughter-in-law, Barbara Belton, told CNN's Alina Machado last week. "What did they think they were going to get from this man?"

Belton, a retired aluminum company worker, was wounded during a battle on the Pacific Ocean island of Okinawa while fighting in World War II.

He was affectionately known to friends as "Shorty" because of his diminutive height.

"He was awesome," Lillian Duncan told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. "Anybody that didn't get to know him missed out on a wonderful angel in their life."

CNN's Chuck Johnston and Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire
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