Jury picked for Kennewick murder trial

Tri-City HeraldSeptember 5, 2013 

— Grant Scantling ignored the screams of three young kids as he pressed the barrel of a gun to his ex-fiancee's forehead, before turning and firing one shot into the chest of her roommate, a prosecutor said Thursday.

But Scantling didn't stop there, Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller explained.

When the wounded Franklin Palmer fell into an open closet door in the hall, Scantling walked over to the man he claimed had slept with his ex and fired two more times -- once through the lip and another behind the right ear at close range.

"After (Scantling) shoots Mr. Palmer, he looks at Ann Krebs, makes a comment that he has a bullet for her and he has a bullet for him, and he leaves the house," Miller told jurors Thursday in his 22-minute opening statement.

Scantling is on trial for aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.

A Superior Court jury of nine men and five women was seated Thursday morning. Then, Miller gave an outline of the evidence from the March 22 shooting, saying each witness during the three-week trial will have a piece of the puzzle.

In the end, the jurors should convict Scantling, 42, of killing Palmer and threatening Krebs after breaking into her Kennewick home, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Alexandria Sheridan and co-counsel Scott Johnson opted to reserve their opening statement and did not speak to the jury Thursday. They can make the remarks at the start of the defense's case, or not at all.

In March, Scantling was living in Spokane while his ex-fiancee, Krebs, was in Kennewick with her older son and her two kids with Scantling.

Krebs and Scantling reportedly broke up in November after a six-year relationship, and she planned to move to Michigan with her children on the day of the shooting.

That morning, the kids were in bed with Krebs while Palmer slept in a separate bedroom and a friend, Michael Billado, was on the couch.

Scantling left Spokane early after stealing a Jeep Cherokee and a .45-caliber gun from his housemates, and drove to Krebs' East Eighth Place house, Miller said.

Scantling had come down two days earlier but Krebs wouldn't let him in the house to see his kids, so this time Scantling didn't bother knocking, the prosecutor said. He went to the backyard, picked up a cinderblock and threw it through a sliding door, sending shards of glass through the house into Krebs' bedroom.

Scantling then allegedly got on top of Krebs and choked her with one hand while holding the gun to her forehead with the other hand, Miller said. Both actions were so hard that police later saw red marks on Krebs' neck and the imprint of the gun's barrel on her forehead, he said.

The noise of shattering glass and the commotion woke the children, who started shouting and screaming while still in bed next to their mother. Scantling continued to threaten Krebs until he heard Billado and Palmer coming down the hallway, Miller said.

"Mr. Billado will testify about how short this time occurred -- the defendant looked up, took his gun and shot," he said.

Billado reportedly ran from the house after the first shot was fired, but told police and lawyers that he heard two more shots as he was leaving.

Billado also said he saw Scantling drive away in the Jeep, adding that the suspect yelled something like, "That's what happens when you (expletive) my girlfriend," Miller told jurors.

Scantling and Palmer used to be friends and worked together for a Tri-City company doing glass installation in commercial and residential remodeling projects.

Once Scantling left after shooting his former friend, a scared Krebs called 911 and remained on the phone even as Kennewick police arrived at her home, Miller said. Because the children still were in their mother's bed, officers shielded them with a blanket while walking them out so they wouldn't see Palmer's body.

Meanwhile, Scantling went to the Richland home of another former co-worker and tried to get money from the man's wife, but was turned away. He returned to Spokane and was arrested later that day.

Miller said the green holster that usually held the handgun was found in the Jeep, but police never found the stolen gun.

Detectives also seized several notes from Scantling's bedroom that included profane language and disjointed statements like, "I'm gonna kill ya for that," and "The demon is loose."

In one note, Scantling wrote that Krebs was the only woman he ever loved, and she didn't deserve the way he treated her, but she does now.

"My love for her is dead. That's not true, I love her to death. That's why this hurts so much. If only she would drop the lies and apologize ..." Miller read from the note. "I apologize to everyone for the pain and heartache that this day is going to cause. I'm already going to burn in hell. God have mercy on me."

Miller then turned to the jury and finished: "The issue of whether or not that God is going to give mercy on the defendant as requested is going to be between the defendant and his god. Our rule in this case is to seek justice, and we'll hear the evidence that will give you the tools to come back with a verdict that will give justice to Franklin Palmer and to give justice to our community."

Testimony begins todayFriday at the Benton County Justice Center.

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