That license plate number sticks in Doug Livingstone’s mind. His stepfather, Kenneth Cross, wrote it on a notepad that Livingstone found in the 80-year-old’s Spokane Valley garage after his Sept. 20 killing.
It’s the plate number on Cross’ housekeeper’s 2001 Pontiac Grand Am. Detectives mentioned the note in a warrant they used to search Teresa M. Nelson’s car Oct. 27, more than a month after Cross’ death.
A convicted burglar who Nelson told investigators she met on a dating phone line is charged with Cross’ death. David K. Brewczynski pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder and 23 charges related to four residential burglaries police say he committed around the time Cross was found beaten and shot to death in his Boone Avenue home, where he’d lived since 1968.
Brewczynski was arraigned Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court.
His lawyers, Derek Reid and Veronica Blumhorst, did not ask for lower bond, which remains at $1 million. Brewczynski, 42, finished a work release program in April after serving more than three years in prison for residential burglary.
Nelson couldn’t be reached for comment, but she has told TV reporters she doesn’t know Brewczynski and had nothing to do with Cross’ death. Brewczynski’s name became part of the investigation more than a week after Cross’ death when a garage owner found Cross’ wallet and identification among items Brewczynski had stored there.
According to a search warrant filed Oct. 30, Nelson, 49, approached investigators at Cross’ home a day after his death and, without provocation, said: “I didn’t have nothing to do with it. I didn’t kill him.”
She told Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Michael Drapeau that when she’d cleaned Cross’ home the morning of his death, Cross showed her a pistol he kept in a Crown Royal bag in his bedroom.
“She stated that Cross stated that he would use the gun on someone if someone tried to break in,” according to the search warrant. “Nelson initially stated she left before Cross left, but then stated she had seen him leave.”
Nelson was arrested Sept. 28 on charges of first-degree theft and trafficking in stolen property after Cross’ girlfriend – Nelson was her housekeeper, too – told police Nelson had stolen a ring from her home in August. A pawn slip confirmed Nelson had sold a ring a few days after Cross’ girlfriend said hers disappeared, according to court papers.
Nelson’s arrest came hours after police learned of the garage where they say Brewczynski stored Cross’ wallet and ID. Police arrested Brewczynski Oct. 1 for failing to check in with his probation officer; he was charged in the Cross case Nov. 5.
When detectives asked her about Brewczynski Sept. 28, Nelson said “he did it, he did it,” and said he’d visited her on three occasions after they met on a phone dating service, according to court documents.
Though Nelson didn’t identify Brewczynski from a photo montage on that occasion, she told a detective Oct. 8 that Brewczynski’s picture had been in the montage, but that she only recognized him from Rosauers. More than a week later, a neighbor told police he’d driven by Cross’ house around 3:30 p.m. the day he was killed and saw a red Pontiac Grand Am parked in the driveway.
Livingstone left Cross’ home about 1:30 p.m. that day, about an hour and a half after Nelson, according to court papers. A receipt shows Cross bought food at the nearby Rosauers about 2:20 p.m., according to court documents. He was to go to his girlfriend’s home in Greenacres for lunch about 3 p.m. When he didn’t show, she and friends went to his home and found him dead.
Livingstone suspects his stepfather wrote Nelson’s license plate number on the pad after he saw her car in his driveway. Cross suspected she was stealing from him and from his girlfriend, Livingstone said.
Cross’ girlfriend attended Brewczynski’s arraignment Tuesday with about a dozen others.
Brewczynski’s trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 12.