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Probe into deadly shooting continues

by KEITH KINNAIRD
Hagadone News Network | December 29, 2010 8:00 PM

SANDPOINT - The investigation into the shooting death of Erik David Foust is deepening, setting the stage for a day-long preliminary hearing next month.

Lorraine Kathryn Kenitzki is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Foust's Oct. 6 death north of Priest River. Kenitzki is accused of accidentally killing Foust by negligent or reckless handling of a firearm.

Kenitzki, 45, told Bonner County Sheriff's investigators Foust was shot while wrestling for control of a 9-millimeter pistol inside a recreational vehicle parked at the Green Owl Tavern.

But preliminary autopsy results, statements from Foust's family and other physical evidence appear to be undermining Kenitzki's explanation of what happened during the shooting, according to court documents.

Foust, 41, died of a gunshot wound to the upper chest. Sgt. Gary Johnston testified in a search warrant hearing last month that there was no gunshot residue or stippling - unburned gunpowder and debris from a gun's muzzle that causes abrasion - found on Foust. Such evidence is common in close-contact shootings.

Preliminary autopsy results further indicated that the path of the deadly gunshot had a slight downward trajectory, which would suggest Kenitzki, who is shorter than Foust, was above him.

Johnston told the court additional forensic testing was being conducted to determine if Foust's fingerprints are on the weapon or on live and spent shell casings. Investigators are also looking for the victim's blood spatter on the firearm, court records indicate.

Initial statements to investigators suggested Foust may have been bent on avenging a prior physical assault on Kenitzki in Newport, Wash. Discovery in the case shows an exchange of Kenitzki's medical records from Pend Oreille County stemming from a Sept. 28 incident.

Discovery also revealed that a friend of Kenitzki's bought the pistol at the Army Surplus store in Sandpoint, although Kenitzki accompanied her during the purchase. The gun was reportedly bought for Kenitzki's protection.

Kenitzki, according to court documents, had emphatically stated she was in love with Foust, although his surviving family members reportedly told investigators Foust was planning to leave the area and had a romantic interest in another woman.

Kenitzki's preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 26.

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