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Spokane convicted murderer appears in court for opening arguments

Nathan Beal, who is already sentenced to 31 years in prison for killing his ex-wife, appeared in court Tuesday morning for the murder of Andrew Bull.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane man accused of killing another man for practice before murdering his ex-wife in 2020 appeared in court for opening arguments Tuesday morning.  

A judge previously ruled both murders would be tried separately. Nathan Beal is already sentenced to more than 31 years in prison for killing his ex-wife, Mary Schaffer, in August 2020. Tuesday is the beginning of the murder trial relating to Andrew Bull’s death, which happened just four months before Mary's death. 

In opening arguments, attorneys explained to the jury why they should find Beal either guilty or not guilty of Andrew's death in April 2020.  

Prosecutors said initially, investigators had no idea who shot and killed Andrew. They also had no solid leads. That is until a few months later. 

Spokane police began investigating the death of Beal’s ex-wife. During a search of the suspect’s apartment, they found 9-millimeter ammunition that was the same style of casing found near Andrew’s body in a downtown Spokane alley.

Spokane County prosecutor Jonathan Degan argues the results of ballistics testing on the firearm also found in Beal’s apartment prove he is guilty of Andrew’s murder. 

“Through that testing, it concluded the gun that was found in the defendant’s apartment was in fact the firearm used to kill Andrew Bull," Degan said. 

But, Beal’s defense attorney Stephanie Cady argues there’s still not enough evidence to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

“What they did find was a firearm in Mr. Beal's apartment," Cady said. "What they did not find was a relationship between Mr. Beal and Mr. Bull. They did not find a credible witness who saw Mr. Beal that night. They did not find any blood on clothing that was in his apartment or anywhere else."

The detective on this case took the stand in the afternoon. During his investigation, the detective strung together more than a dozen surveillance videos, which he believes show the suspect’s walking route to and from the alley where Andrew’s body was found. 

In one of the videos, you can also hear what the detective said is the sound of a single gunshot. The medical examiner confirms Andrew's cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. 

The defense attorney pointed out other people seen in some of the security video clips. She argues none of the videos are clear enough to be certain it was Beal. 

Still, prosecutor Dale Nagy pointed out in the suspect is the only one seen walking in nearly all the videos. In his testimony, the detective acknowledged a couple people seen on the videos. But, he said they all had distinctly different clothing and mannerisms compared to the individual he believes is the suspect. 

Prosecutors called a few more witnesses to testify on Monday. Including the victim’s friend who found his body in the alley and called for help. A woman who lived near the alley also testified to hearing a single gunshot the night of Andrew's death. 

The trial will resume Wednesday morning. 

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