Jessica Robinson. Michael Brown, 16, stands with his mom, Kim Brown, at the memorial for Delbert Belton.
More than 300 people turned out Thursday in Spokane for the burial of World War II veteran Delbert Belton. The 88-year-old was robbed and beaten to death last week while he waited in his car.
Scores of veterans turned out to honor Belton at a cemetery in west Spokane. Friends and family remember a man who loved to repair cars by day and go out dancing at night, and went by the nickname Shorty.
The service also drew many people in Spokane who never knew Belton, but, like Karen Schute, felt compelled to be there.
“This was such a heinous crime,” she says. “We’ve got to band together and make sure these things don’t happen any more.”
Two 16-year-old boys are facing first-degree murder charges for Belton’s death.
That news came as a shock to Michael Brown, who says he played football against one of the teens. Brown, who’s also 16, knew Delbert Belton for most of his life and thought of Belton like a grandfather.
“I was done, I was like, how could … how could someone our age even think of doing that,” Brown says.
In a bizarre twist in the case, one of the Spokane teens accused of killing Belton this week claimed the elderly vet had been selling them crack cocaine. Spokane police say they’ve found no evidence of this.