Kenneth Arrasmith testified Monday that he doesn’t recall pulling the triggers of either of the two guns he was carrying during his fatal confrontation with slaying victims Ronald and Luella Bingham.
Arrasmith admitted killing the couple but told jurors at his trial that he was in a daze May 17, the day the Binghams were shot at their Lewiston auto repair shop.
Arrasmith is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted. The defense rested its case Monday after Arrasmith’s second day of testimony. Closing arguments were to begin today.
Under questioning from defense attorneys, Arrasmith said he didn’t intend to kill the Binghams when he armed himself, strapped a tape recorder on his body and drove to the shop. He said he hoped to get the Binghams to confess to sexually abusing his teenage daughter.
Ronald Bingham, who had been working beneath a truck, made a quick movement as he spotted Arrasmith arrive at the shop, Arrasmith said.
In the defense’s opening statement last week, lawyer Roy Mosman said Arrasmith thought Bingham was reaching for a gun.
Arrasmith said Monday that Bingham’s motion caused him to panic.
“I heard shots,” Arrasmith said in the ninth day of his 2nd District Court trial. “I was wondering, ‘Why don’t those bullets hurt, why don’t they sting?”’
“I realized I had shot. I don’t remember pulling the trigger.”
Arrasmith said he later approached Luella Bingham, still intending to get a confession. She had a gun, he said.
He likewise said he did not recall pulling the trigger when he confronted her.
“I heard shots, then she fell,” Arrasmith said.
Authorities found no guns on the property.
Shortly after the shootings, Arrasmith surrendered to police in Clarkston, Wash., just across the Snake River from Lewiston.
Authorities say Ronald Bingham was shot more than 20 times with a Tec-9 mini-machine gun. Another gun, a 9mm Ruger with a laser sight, was used to kill Luella Bingham. She was shot six times in the back as she tried to run away, authorities said.
In cross-examination, prosecutors asked Arrasmith why he didn’t turn on his tape recorder during the confrontation if his intention was to get the Binghams to confess.
“It was a stupid idea,” he said. “It didn’t happen the way I wanted.”
They also asked him if it was the Binghams’ fault they were killed.
“It was Ron and Luella’s fault that I shot them, because they raped children,” he responded.
The 44-year-old former Sunnyside, Wash., truck driver contends the Binghams drugged and sexually abused his daughter, now 16. In February, she had moved with her boyfriend into a trailer next to the Binghams’ Clarkston home.
Authorities investigated the Binghams’ alleged abuse of the girl, but no arrests were made.
MEMO: Cut in the Spokane edition.