SPOKANE, Wash – As the murder trial continues for Clay Starbuck, charged with strangling his ex-wife Chanin to death, in court Tuesday morning the jury heard a :30 second 911 call that came from Chanin Starbuck's cell phone the morning she was killed on December 1, 2011.
The call begins with a second or so of noise, followed by silence.
"911, what are you reporting?" The call received was heard saying. "Hello?"
What follows is a beep; it's a TTY query into the line done by 911 to determine whether the caller is hearing impaired. Then the call disconnects.
15 seconds later, the 911 employee calls back, but after several rings the call goes to Chanin Starbuck's voicemail.
This is significant because 911 protocols were not followed the day Chanin Starbuck was murdered. Spokane County 911 Supervisor David Affeldt told KHQ's Kelsey Watts that when a hang-up call comes in – which is roughly 22% of all calls received – protocol dictates that 911 employees call back twice. If they can't determine whether there is an emergency, they are supposed to enter a CAD (computer aided dispatch) log for police.
In this case, Chanin Starbuck's cell phone was providing 911 with a geographic location, but the 911 employee only called back once, and never made a CAD report.
That means police didn't know until they began their murder investigation that a 911 call had been made.
Clay Starbuck's defense lawyer, Derek Reid, told KHQ's Kelsey Watts if those policies had been followed, he believes "we'd be in a much better position" today.
Spokane County 911 Operations Manager Amy McCormick told KHQ's Kelsey Watts the 911 employee was tenured, was a valued employee and had an excellent record. Because of that, no disciplinary action was taken.
McCormick said, "It was an oversight on his part," but also added, "He struggled with the outcome of that phone call."
The employee resigned in February 2012 – just three months after Chanin Starbuck's death.