Suspect named in Eastern State Hospital murder

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by KREM.com

NWCN.com

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 8:07 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 20 at 7:10 PM

MEDICAL LAKE, Wash. -- The Spokane County Sheriff's Office says a female patient is suspected of killing a male patient at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake.

Staff members found the male victim around 2 a.m.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said 30-year-old Amber Roberts was booked in the County jail on murder charges.

The Medical Examiner’s Office was expected to release the victim’s name after an autopsy Tuesday afternoon.

Deputies both Roberts and the victim were housed in the Forensics Services Unit. According to Eastern State’s Web site, patients housed in that area are committed after a conviction in a criminal trial, or when they are acquitted by reason of insanity.

The Spokane Co. Sheriff's Office secured the entire floor where the homicide occurred to investigate. Based on evidence at the scene, deputies call the woman their primary suspect.

The Forensics Services Unit is one of three at Eastern State Hospital. The hospital has enough beds for 95 patients at a time in this unit.

An employee at Eastern State addressed concerns about being short staffed Tuesday morning to KREM 2, suggesting it contributed to the homicide.

The employees’ union, Local 782 of the Washington Federation of State Employees, issued a statement following the incident. It reads:

“We have been diligent in raising concerns about short-staffing on the wards at Eastern State Hospital. We have raised these issues with management for more than a year. It’s not clear if this understaffing contributed to this morning’s tragedy. Regardless, it doesn’t bring back one of our family members, a patient in our care.”

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Department is investigating in an effort to determine the facts surrounding the patient’s death.

Administrative reviews of the death will be conducted once law enforcement has gathered the information they need to complete their investigation.

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