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Politics and Murder 

An arrest in the South Hill killing; plus, Spokane City Council shows its new colors

Charges in Killing

Based on DNA evidence matching their suspect to a glove at the crime scene, Spokane police investigators have arrested 50-year-old Timothy E. Suckow for the alleged first-degree murder of South Hill businessman Douglas Carlile on Dec. 15. Detectives also recovered a black ski mask, an incriminating checklist and phones records linking Suckow to the victim's business interests.

Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub says Carlile, 63, appears to have been involved in numerous and complex business deals related to the growing North Dakota oil industry. Investigators believe property or assets disputes may have provided motive for his murder.

"There were some significant financial issues that arose during those transactions," Straub says. "We believe that it is very possible that the homicide is the result of those business transactions that went bad."

Major Crime detectives pursued the case relentlessly, Straub says. The FBI helped match the glove DNA through its database. Licensing records also led investigators to a white van Suckow often uses that matches a suspect vehicle spotted near the scene.

"We also recovered this very detailed note," Straub says, "outlining kind of a checklist of 'here are the things ... I have to do to prepare for the ultimate homicide.'"

Suckow, who has previous convictions for burglary and firearm crimes, made his first appearance in court Tuesday. Bail was set at $2 million. — JACOB JONES

Head of the Table

Aside from a new seating arrangement that splits the dais along political lines, the Spokane City Council showed the first sign of its newly instituted liberal majority this week. With Candace Mumm's November election, the council's 4-3 majority shifted from a conservative one to a liberal one and now all four of the council's standing committees are chaired by one of those left-leaning members.

Council committees, each focused on specific areas of policy, discuss and consider ordinances before they go before the full council. Council President Ben Stuckart appoints council members to committees and the rest of the council approves those appointments. In the new arrangement, Jon Snyder chairs the Public Safety Committee, formerly run by Nancy McLaughlin (whom Mumm replaced on council), and Amber Waldref chairs the Public Works Committee, which Steve Salvatori had previously chaired. The Finance Committee remains chaired Stuckart, and Mumm will chair the Planning, Community/Economic Development Committee.

Snyder says he's already made changes to Public Safety, like scheduling monthly updates on the recently finalized recommendations of the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission and creating a subcommittee to follow the implementation of marijuana legalization. More than political leanings, Snyder says he and the other new committee chairs are "biased toward action."

"I wouldn't be surprised if there's just more policy we consider," he says. — HEIDI GROOVER

Meet Leonard Christian

There were some big names in contention to replace the retiring Rep. Larry Crouse, R-Spokane Valley: Bob McCaslin Jr., the son of the late state senator and Spokane Valley council member Bob McCaslin Sr., and Diana Wilhite, former mayor of Spokane Valley.

But in the end, the board of Spokane County commissioners went with Windermere realtor Leonard Christian to represent the 4th Legislative District for at least one legislative session.

"Leonard has been someone very heavily involved in the party and the party leadership," Commissioner Al French says. "The thought was that he's been somebody that has clearly paid his dues and understands the issues, and I think that's the direction the board used."

French says, repeatedly, that all three candidates were incredibly qualified. "We expect to see all three of their names on the ballot this fall, and let the voters make their selection," French says.

Suffering from health problems, Crouse retired last October after serving 19 years in the legislature.

Sworn in Sunday, Christian has already had a chance to cast a vote. He was one of only 23 representatives to oppose the state's DREAM act, allowing the children of illegal immigrants to apply for financial aid in local state schools. But considering Christian is a conservative Republican representing an extremely conservative Republican district, his vote was not surprising. — DANIEL WALTERS

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