The families on all three sides of a stabbing death of a Spokane man sobbed today as a jury returned guilty verdicts against the man and woman who fought the man they killed in 2009.
The jury found Matthew M. Nedeau and Maggie M. Tyler guilty of second-degree murder in connection to the July 6, 2009, slaying of 24-year-old Vitaly Shevchuk.
“I am really, really sorry for their mothers,” said Lyudmila Shevchuk, the mother of the victim. “They are not the enemy. From all my heart, I pray for them every night for strength. But their children are still alive.”
Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor directed attorneys to work on a date for sentencing, which will include a mandatory minimum 10 years added to the murder charge because the jury found that both Nedeau and Tyler were armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the killing.
Deputy Spokane County Prosecutors Eugene Cruz and Tom Treppiedi said Nedeau and Tyler stabbed Shevchuk after the victim yelled something at their car and they chose to stop and confront him near 5th Avenue and Greene Street.
In his closing argument earlier this week, Treppiedi said Nedeau had consumed methamphetamine, ecstasy and alcohol before driving into the neighborhood where Shevchuk lived.
He yelled something, which prompted Nedeau to stop. A fight ensued in which Nedeau stabbed Shevchuk in the chest. Nedeau, Tyler and a third person tried to drive away but Shevchuk threw a 16-pound rock at the back window of their car.
Nedeau drove a short distance but returned to the scene and again confronted Shevchuk, who had grabbed a pipe and was joined by at least two others. During a second scuffle with Nedeau, Maggie Tyler then stabbed Shevchuk in the neck, which killed him.
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 earlier this week.
However, Stine 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.”
But Lyudmila Shevchuk said the decision to pull the knife is what caused the tragedy.
“If they would have put down the knife like they were told, nobody would be killed and nobody would be in jail,” she said. “I have three grandchildren who will never see their uncle.”