November 29, 2012 | Vol. 116 -- No. 32

Suspect named in Eastern State Hospital homicide

The murder of a male patient at Eastern State Hospital Tuesday, Nov. 20 is still under investigation.

Amber I. Roberts, 30, is suspected of killing Duane Charley, 56, between Monday and Tuesday. According to Associated Press reports, she appeared in court Wednesday, Nov. 21 and pleaded not guilty. At the time of publication, she was being held in Spokane County Jail on a $1 million bail for first-degree premeditated murder.

“The Spokane County Sheriff’s Department is investigating in an effort to determine the facts surrounding the patient’s death,” the Department of Social and Health Services said in a press release. “Eastern State Hospital management and staff are cooperating fully as the Sheriff’s Department conducts its investigation.”

The Washington Federation of State Employees, representing the facility’s direct-care workers said in a press release last week that they were “deeply saddened by this morning’s tragedy that took the life of a male patient. Losing a patient is like losing a member of our family.”

Earlier this year in May, union workers held a rally to draw awareness to short staffing numbers at the facility, hoping to address concerns about staffing levels to the administration.

“We have been diligent in raising concerns about short-staffing on the wards at Eastern State Hospital,” the union said in its press release.

“When [officers] arrived on scene, it was determined that the cause of death was homicidal in nature. The scene was secured and Spokane County Major Crimes Detectives and the Spokane County Forensics Unit responded to the scene,” the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

More information will be presented as the story develops.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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