Breaking up may be hard to do, but a Deer Park man is facing substantial time in prison for the way investigators say he ended the relationship with his wife: by trying to throw her new lover off the Wandermere Bridge.
The trial started Wednesday for David E. Epley, 37, who faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping in connection with a confrontation on May 12, 2009. Attorneys presented opening arguments that offered very different views of what happened on the darkened bridge that night.
Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Kyle Treece described a man who hid in his wife’s car for hours as she shared a drink with her guitar instructor at Cinola Restaurant, at 14710 N. Newport Highway. When the couple got into the car, Treece said, Epley put a gun to the back of the instructor’s head and ordered his wife to drive to the Wandermere Bridge on U.S. 395 north of Spokane.
“Mr. Epley then grabbed him by the waist and legs and tried to heave him over the bridge,” Treece said.
The man spun around, escaped Epley’s grasp and took off running. Epley said “I’m going to shoot you and kill you … but he doesn’t stop,” Treece said.
But defense attorney Gloria Ochoa painted a much less menacing picture of Epley, who denies being armed. By a previous ruling, neither attorney mentioned that Epley had been acquitted earlier this year on allegations that he raped his wife at gunpoint just days before the bridge incident.
Ochoa acknowledged that on May 12, 2009, Epley tried to find his wife at Whitworth University and was asked to leave by a security guard. Ochoa said her client was simply trying to deliver Mother’s Day flowers.
Epley spotted his wife’s car at Cinola, but Ochoa said her client was simply worried about her. She said he used his key to enter her car, and he waited in the back seat.
But, he wasn’t hiding, Ochoa said. He simply got tired of waiting and decided to lie down to rest. He awoke when the couple got in the car, she said.
“He was in the back seat. He wanted to talk with her and (the lover) kept interjecting. Obviously, emotions escalated,” she said.
The reason he directed her to drive to the bridge was to take the boyfriend home. Once on the bridge “there was a heated argument,” Ochoa said.
Epley’s former wife, Allison Cavanaugh, took the stand and cried as a recording of her first 911 call was played for jurors. Epley did not know that she had dialed 911 because she kept the phone down at her side. Epley can be heard telling the guitar instructor to “put your hands on the …. dash.”
Epley later called 911 to report that his wife’s lover had threatened to assault him. Deputies found fake suicide notes Epley had written pretending to be his wife, saying she was sorry she lied about the rape and that she was going to kill herself.
Ochoa said those so-called suicide letters were simply notes that her client took while talking to his wife over the phone.