Second Trial Underway For Cheney Man Convicted Of Double Murder - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Second Trial Underway For Cheney Man Convicted Of Double Murder

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The new trial for John Lipinski began this week in Spokane The new trial for John Lipinski began this week in Spokane
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The second trial for John Lipinski, the Cheney man who was convicted in 2006 of killing his girlfriend and their unborn baby in 2004, is underway in Spokane.

Melissa Saldivar, 19, suffered a skull fracture and other injuries after prosecutors say Lipinski threw her out of their moving car after leaving a house party where Lipinski was intoxicated. She was 7 ½ months pregnant at the time and lived long enough for doctors to do an emergency c-section to try and save the couple’s baby. Saldivar passed away shortly thereafter and their baby girl, Mataya, survived another 52 days before also passing away of her injuries.

During his 2006 trial Lipinski and his defense lawyer maintained his innocence. A new trial was granted in July 2013 after a ruling that attorneys shouldn’t have questioned potential jurors in private before the original trial began.

Opening arguments began Wednesday morning in the new trial, in which prosecutor Stephen Garvin spoke about a party the couple was attending before Saldivar died in which Lipinski was intoxicated and fighting.

“He was so upset at her he told her he would kill her that night," Garvin told jurors. “She had to have been sitting in the car with her back against the door with the door open and she was pushed or kicked out."

However defense lawyer John Stine said witnesses would testify the threat to kill her was never made.

“I’m confident you'll come to the conclusion that the state can not prove the version of events they're trying to say happened," Stine said.

The first witness called to testify Wednesday was Saldivar’s aunt, Toni Foster, who was very close with the teen and very emotional on the stand.

“I adored her, she was kindhearted and loved being a mom and she was so looking forward to being a mom to a little girl," Foster told KHQ’s Kelsey Watts outside the courtroom after her testimony. “She was a really, really good mom.”

Saldivar and Lipinski had a 1-½ year old son also in the car that night; that boy is now almost 11.

Foster said justice for her and their family would be for Lipinski to be found guilty again and serve his time, but that re-living Melissa’s loss once again in court is heartbreaking.

“It feels really awful to hear everything again," she added. “It seems unfair."

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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