A Spokane man pleaded not guilty Thursday to murdering his wife, who authorities say was repeatedly run over by a van.
Richard A. Atkinson, 32, said “not guilty” to one count of first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree assault and one count of reckless endangerment.
Atkinson is being held in the Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond for allegedly running over his estranged wife, 29-year-old Andrea Atkinson, on April 12 as his four children watched, according to court records.
Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt set a tentative trial date of Nov. 1. However, defense attorney John Whaley said he didn’t anticipate the trial would start then.
“These are very serious allegations in this case,” Whaley told the judge.
Andrea Atkinson may have saved the lives of her three youngest children when she pushed them out of the way of the oncoming van, according to prosecutors.
As a result, prosecutors have added the three counts of second-degree assault, for the three children who were with their mother, and one count of reckless endangerment, for the one child who was with Atkinson.
The incident occurred in north Spokane near Lidgerwood Street and Princeton Avenue, court records say. Witnesses say Atkinson ran over Andrea Atkinson several times as she ran to get out of the way, court records state.
Neighbors chased Atkinson after he abandoned the van and held him until police arrived, according to records.
Since the killing April 12, the four children have lived with Andrea Atkinson’s friend, Sandy Abel.
She’s caring for Richard and Andrea’s three biological children, plus a 9-year-old girl who is Richard Atkinson’s daughter from a previous relationship.
A hearing is scheduled for next week which will be the start of a roughly yearlong process to determine who will get custody of the children. Relatives of Andrea Atkinson have expressed dismay that authorities have picked a sister of Richard Atkinson as their recommended guardian.