Jury hears 911 call during Kennewick murder trial

Tri-City HeraldSeptember 6, 2013 

Scantling Santoy Testimony

Kennewick Police officer Jose Santoy explains to the jury about an evidence photograph he's holding during his testimony Friday morning at the Grant Scantling trial in Benton County Superior Court. Santoy was the initial officer to arrive at the March 22 shooting scene at 520 E. Eighth Pl.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

— A cardboard box found next to Grant Scantling's bed noted that he "died 3-19-13," the same day he claims he tried to visit with his kids in Kennewick, only to get the door slammed in his face.

The scrawl on the makeshift nightstand also included Scantling's birth date, said he'd spent the last days trying to function and added that he never was good at finishing things.

"Let's see if I get the job done this time ...," Kennewick police Officer Isaac Merkl read Friday from the side of the Foster Farms box. "There is no light at the end of my tunnel. 41 and done."

A side note on the box said, "Maybe Ann will bum me a smoke," referring to Scantling's ex-fiancee, Ann Marie Krebs.

Scantling, now 42, is on trial for allegedly returning to Krebs' home on March 22 and threatening her with a gun before killing her roommate and his former friend, Franklin Palmer.

Friday was the first day of testimony in the Benton County Superior Court trial, which is expected to last three weeks.

Merkl, a Kennewick detective in March, said he went with other members of the department's Criminal Apprehension Team to search the Spokane home where Scantling was living with his brother-in-law, nephew and niece.

Merkl talked about several profane and rambling notes he found in the basement room, saying they detail "Mr. Scantling's frustration with Ann Krebs and his idea to resolve that issue."

Scantling is charged with aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.

Scantling and Krebs were in a relationship for six years, but it ended in November. They have two young kids, who reportedly were in the bed next to their mother along with an older brother when Scantling broke into the 520 E. Eighth Place home.

Palmer, 24, died after being shot three times.

Jurors listened to the recording of Krebs' 911 call made at 7:40 a.m.

An upset-sounding Krebs told a dispatcher "we were just moving and he broke in," saying Scantling shot out her back window and put a gun to her forehead.

Palmer was sleeping in a separate bedroom in the home and Michael Billado, who's expected to testify, was staying on the couch. Krebs was planning to move with her children to Michigan.

Palmer and Billado reportedly were coming to help Krebs and the kids when Palmer was shot from the bedroom and fell into a closet in the hallway.

Krebs described the victim as "the neighbor kid" who was hanging out at her house because he had no place to go, and said he wasn't breathing so she didn't know that CPR would help.

Officer Scott Peterson, who arrived at the home after several colleagues, said Krebs was distraught and pacing back and forth in front of the house.

He walked her down the road a little bit to ask her some basic questions while other officers searched the home to make sure the suspect was gone.

Officer Rebecca Jones testified that after she helped clear the house, she put one foot inside the bedroom and reached in to grab the kids from the bed one at a time. She noted there were glass shards everywhere, including on the bed and floor, and said later at the police department she was asked to remove several embedded in the scalp of Krebs' oldest son.

Jones also showed jurors a series of photographs which focused on redness on Krebs' neck consistent with being strangled, and a red and a white circle on Krebs' forehead which likely were caused by the muzzle of a gun.

David Benjamin said it was the end of winter when Scantling, his brother-in-law, moved in to his Spokane home. Scantling was staying in the downstairs family room on a couch, and had tacked blankets to the ceiling to give him some privacy.

Benjamin said when he was picked up for work at 6:10 a.m. that day, he doesn't remember if his Jeep Grand Cherokee was parked outside. He said he often took his .45-caliber pistol to work with him, but left it home that day. He confirmed that a green holster, which was later found empty in his returned Jeep, is what held his gun.

His son, Bradley Benjamin, testified that his bedroom also is downstairs and when he went to bed at 3 a.m., he walked past Scantling's enclosed area and said good night, and Scantling responded back.

But when Bradley Benjamin, 17, awoke about 9 or 9:30 a.m. to start getting ready for school, he noticed that his uncle was gone.

Two detectives in a black SUV visited the house at about 10:30 a.m., and the teen told them he "had no idea" of his uncle's whereabouts and walked them through the home to make sure he wasn't there.

When it became clear to Bradley Benjamin that people were watching the house, he called his brother's wife, Shyann McKeen, and asked her to come pick him up. He told jurors that at the time, he didn't know why police were looking for Scantling.

McKeen, now a Pullman resident, said later that afternoon after picking up her stepdaughter, she drove by the Benjamin home to see if the Jeep was there. It was not, but she saw Scantling walking in the neighborhood, told him that everybody was looking for him and were worried, and that he should call his grandmother's house.

Scantling told McKeen "he was out driving around," then gave her the keys to the Jeep and told her it was parked two blocks down, she testified. McKeen said she then picked up Bradley Benjamin from her home and they got the Jeep. After returning it to his house, they were driving away when her vehicle was stopped by six police cars and they were ordered out.

Testimony continues Monday in the Benton County Justice Center.

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