SPOKANE, Wash – Clay Starbuck's defense attorneys filed a motion Wednesday at the Spokane County Courthouse asking the judge to drop the no-contact order between Starbuck and his three youngest children that was upheld at his sentencing last week.
"The law does not allow for that," defense attorney Derek Reid told KHQ, adding that it would only make sense if the three children were victims of the crime in a legal sense, which they are not.
Starbuck was convicted in the 2011 murder of his ex-wife, Chanin Starbuck, in June and was sentenced to life in prison without parole last Thursday.
Throughout the course of the trial, Starbuck wasn't allowed to have contact with any of his five children, because they were called as witnesses in the case by the state. However, that order was lifted for his two adult children when he was convicted.
Reid says they understood the order would also be lifted for the three younger children at Starbuck's sentencing; however, the state asked to uphold it and the judge agreed.
Throughout the sentencing, Clay Starbuck remained calm – except on this one issue.
"[The prosecutor] surprised us today," he told the court. "We've been expecting the three minor children to be able to visit with me and now in the 11th hour people are trying to make a run to stop that, so I hope you'll take that into consideration."
The motion filed Wednesday says the no-contact order "interferes with Mr. Starbuck's fundamental right to parent," and goes on to say the issue is not the business of a sentencing court, but rather a "family and juvenile court" to decide.
It also cites other case law in which people convicted of crimes have been allowed to see their children, including Mary Kay Letourneau, the Burien, Washington, teacher who was convicted of rape after having a sexual relationship with her 12-year-old student.
"I did prepare several pages to speak about today but this is not the time or place to debate these issues," Clay Starbuck said at his sentencing. "We're looking forward to a successful appeal and being able to get all the pertinent evidence admitted into court in a fair trial."
That appeal should be filed in the next week or two. Then, it will be up to a Court of Appeals to decide whether Starbuck's murder conviction stands, or if an error was made during the proceedings that impacted his right to a fair trial, in which case he'd get a new trial.