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Friday, September 10, 2004 - Page updated at 03:25 P.M.

Two teens charged in coach's death

By The Associated Press

Coach Bob Mars was stabbed to death.
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KENNEWICK — Two Kennewick teens were charged yesterday with murder in last weekend's slaying of a high-school football coach.

Prosecutors said the main motive for the slaying was robbery, but that the youths also were trying to gain status in a local gang.

Robert A. Suarez, 16, and a 14-year-old boy were accused of killing King Robert "Bob" Mars, whose body was found Sunday morning in Kiona-Benton Middle School in nearby Benton City.

Friends last saw Mars, of Richland, late Saturday; he said he was going to stop by the school to drop off a videotape of a football game.

Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller said there was evidence the younger boy was initiated into a gang two days after the killing. Suarez, he said, already was in the gang.

The Seattle Times isn't identifying the younger boy because he was charged in juvenile court.

Authorities believe Mars, a sixth-grade teacher and assistant football coach at Kiona-Benton High School, was stabbed to death late Saturday or early Sunday in the course of a robbery.

Mars' truck was found in the school's parking lot Sunday. A window had been broken, and the truck appeared to have been ransacked, according to court papers. Missing were an envelope containing about $300 in cash and the coach's cellphone.

Suarez and the other youth were arrested Tuesday evening.

The younger teen was charged with aggravated first-degree murder and attempted first-degree theft. The theft charge stemmed from an incident earlier Saturday evening near the middle school, when he allegedly confronted another boy and demanded money.

He was being held at Benton County Juvenile Detention Center. Authorities planned to try to have his case remanded to adult court.
 
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Suarez was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and second-degree theft. He was accused of taking items from Mars' truck.

Seattle Times staff reporter Brandon Sprague contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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