ST. GEORGE – The driver of a vehicle that led both Arizona Highway Patrol and Utah Highway Patrol on a high speed chase terminating just inside the Utah border last Sunday is being arrested under a probable cause warrant on charges of murder in Klamath Falls, Ore.
Zane Sterling Skeen, 34, from Klamath Falls, Ore. was driving northbound on Interstate 15 just north of Mesquite, Nev. on Feb. 10, and was making unsafe use of lanes which gave rise to an AHP trooper attempting to pull him over. Skeen refused to yield to the officer, took off and chase ensued, with Skeen reaching speeds up to 120 mph through the Virgin River Gorge heading into Utah.
Utah Highway Patrol, having been alerted to the pursuit by AHP, were ready at the border and spiked Skeen’s automobile tires at Utah exit 2. At this point, Skeen, in a somewhat debilitated vehicle, crossed the median and appeared to attempt a head-on collision with a vehicle in oncoming southbound traffic, sideswiped the vehicle, rolled and was ejected from his car.
St. George News has previously reported on the chase and related events of Feb. 10, linked here.
Ties to Klamath Falls, Ore.
The vehicle that Skeen was driving, a silver 2007 Honda CRV, license plate ZCY774, was believed to belong to Larry Wayne Clark, also a resident of Klamath Falls, Ore.
Sonia Foster, a neighbor of Clark, said that the Clarks had a silver CRV. Foster said the car was Carla’s, Larry’s ex-wife as of final divorce in Dec. 2012. Foster said it hadn’t been in the neighborhood in the last few months.
Larry Clark, age 65, was found dead in his home Monday.
“At some point on Monday someone went to the house and they found the body,” Oregon Department of Justice spokesman Jeff Manning told St. George News on Friday. “They called the authorities, crime lab people were there all day Tuesday, autopsy scheduled for (Thursday). It was not a natural death, homicidal violence was involved,” Manning said.
Clark’s home is located at 2400 Lindley Way and records show Skeen’s residence as 2420 Lindley Way, both in Klamath Falls and next door to each other.
Skeen has a lengthy record in Klamath County, including convictions for rape III and felony assault IV. He is currently wanted on unrelated burglary I charges as well.
Washington County, Utah and Clark County, Nev.
Upon being ejected from his vehicle at the conclusion of the high speed chase on Feb. 10, Skeen was transported by Life Flight helicopter to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nev. where he underwent CT Scans, no surgery, and was expected to make a full recovery. A Las Vegas Metro Police officer was stationed with Skeen for a time, but Skeen ultimately was released on Feb. 11 without arrest.
Las Vegas Metro later did arrest him on warrant from the Washington County Attorney’s Office and he is in custody at the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas pending extradition to Utah – or Oregon, as the case may now be.
Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap said that Washington County and Utah Highway Patrol are assisting Oregon officials in their investigation.
A search warrant was signed by a local judge, Belnap said, on Wednesday night authorizing a search of the vehicle Skeen had been driving.
“I couldn’t tell you anything about what they’re looking for, but we are trying to assist the Oregon investigation,” Belnap said on Thursday.
A property search and inventory would have been made when the car was impounded after the crash. But with new issues emerging, the search warrant would be obtained to ensure that nothing found be suppressed in a forthcoming action.
The Klamath County Major Crime Team, consists of the Klamath County Sheriff, Klamath Falls city law enforcement, Oregon Police and the District Attorney. Normally, the protocol for the Major Crime Team is for the District Attorney to serve as spokesperson on an investigation. However, the Klamath County DA retired in January, and the Attorney General’s office took oversight, with the Department of Justice offering public information service via Manning only yesterday.
The various agents of the Major Crime Team have been unable to comment until now on the investigation. Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah said that the members of the Major Crime Team are bound by a Memorandum of Understanding which prevents them from commenting on any matter subject to the Major Crime Team investigation.
While Manning would not comment on Skeen as recently as yesterday evening, he did release a statement late last night indicating that a probable cause warrant for Skeen’s arrest was issued on charges of murder.
“This investigation led authorities to believe Zane Sterling Skeen, age 34, was responsible for the death of Mr. Clark,” Manning’s statement said.
In cases of competing extradition orders, Belnap used the Warren Jeffs case as an example of Washington County’s approach:
“There’s two things – from my experience,” he said. “Back when we prosecuted Jeffs, the feds, Arizona and we had warrants. We got on a conference call and decided who gets him. We talked it out.”
Belnap said it comes down to who has the best evidence, the most serious case.
“We would look at the best thing in the interest of justice and we would work cooperatively.’
Note: Persons arrested are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Herald and News reporter Shelby King contributed to this story.
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