A jury will continue deliberating today in the second-degree murder trial of two defendants charged in the stabbing death of a Spokane man in July 2009.
The incident began on July 6, 2009, when 24-year-old Vitaly M. Shevchuk yelled something at a car driven by Matthew M. Nedeau, then age 24. Nedeau, who had used methamphetamines, ecstasy and alcohol earlier in the evening, stopped and confronted Shevchuk, according to court accounts.
Nedeau first stabbed Shevchuk in the chest. Maggie M. Tyler, who was in the car with Nedeau, later joined the fracas and stabbed Shevchuk in the neck, according to court testimony before Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor.
Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Tom Treppiedi told the jury in closing arguments Wednesday that Nedeau and Tyler escalated the event.
“This wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill street fight,” Treppiedi said. “It was a meth-induced, ecstasy-induced, alcohol-induced rage.”
Defense attorney John Stine acknowledged that it wasn’t the smartest thing for Nedeau to respond to Shevchuk’s shout by stopping the car near Fifth Avenue and Greene Street. He pointed out that Shevchuk had a blood alcohol content of .22, or nearly three times the legal limit, when he was killed.
“We are not here to judge if someone was stupid. There was plenty of stupidity going around that day,” Stine said.
However, he said, state law also didn’t require Nedeau to retreat in order to protect himself from Shevchuk and two other men who joined the melee.
“It was clearly reasonable to believe that Mr. Nedeau was about to get a beating,” Stine said. Pulling a knife “was exactly the right amount of force to keep those guys off of him.”