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Accused Wife-Killer Posts Bond

A Spokane Valley man accused of killing his wife posted bond and was released from jail Friday evening after the conditions of his release were changed in court action Thursday.

Thomas “Rick” Birnel, 39, is accused in the March 30 killing of his wife, Mary “Cookie” Birnel, 36. She was found dead on the floor of their East Farms home with 33 stab wounds from a 12-inch butcher knife.

When authorities arrived, Birnel was at the 4708 N. Haye home with blood on his hands and clothes. Birnel said, “I did it,” according to court documents.

Birnel was booked into the Spokane County Jail on charges of second-degree murder, and bond was set at $200,000. He was to have no contact with his children, who were staying with his sister.

That changed on Thursday.

Birnel’s bond was reduced to a $25,000 property bond when an order entered in Superior Court amended his release conditions.

County corrections officials recommended Birnel be released without bond, said Superior Court Judge Robert Austin.

Birnel is a long-standing member of the community with a business and property and poses no threat to anyone, corrections officials told Austin.

Austin, however, thought the seriousness of the charge warranted that bond be set. And Birnel offered two pieces of real estate as bond.

“So I took him up on his offer,” Austin said.

Birnel also will be allowed to have contact with his children, pursuant to the recommendations of a guardian ad litem, court documents say.

Cookie Birnel’s mother, Mary MacInness, of Vancouver, British Columbia, is staying at the East Farms home where her daughter was killed, and has not been allowed to see her grandchildren.

MacInness collapsed in the courthouse after Thursday’s hearing. “It was just the whole thing,” she said. “I was so exhausted.”

Cookie Birnel’s 1-year-old and 17-year-old daughters are staying with friends. Three other daughters, including the 10-year-old who witnessed the stabbing, are staying with Rick Birnel’s sister.