Judge says altercation ‘didn’t have to happen’
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor on Thursday described a series of random events that came together two years ago in an altercation that left a 24-year-old man dead and resulted in a 21-year prison sentence for the convicted felon who brought a knife to a fistfight.
The judge sentenced Matthew M. Nedeau, 26, to 252 months in prison after a Spokane jury convicted him in April of second-degree murder in connection with the July 6, 2009, slaying of Vitaly Shevchuk.
“All of us in this room shake our heads,” O’Connor said. “This didn’t have to happen.”
She noted that while Nedeau stabbed Shevchuk, it was co-defendant Maggie M. Tyler who fatally stabbed Shevchuk in the neck. Tyler’s sentencing was also scheduled for Thursday but was delayed after her attorney filed a motion for a new trial.
The altercation started after Shevchuk yelled something at Nedeau, who stopped the car he was driving to confront Shevchuk near Fifth Avenue and Greene Street. After a scuffle that included Nedeau stabbing Shevchuk in the chest, he and Tyler left. But they returned after Shevchuk threw a 16-pound rock through the back window of the car.
“Matthew and Maggie took away the best part of our lives,” said Shevchuk’s sister, Irina Aleshkin. “A part of our hearts died with Vitaly. In Russian, we have a saying: ‘You either say something nice about someone or nothing else.’ ”
Nedeau, who pointed out he is Native American, said his ancestors hold similar beliefs.
“I’m sorry,” Nedeau said as he addressed Shevchuk’s family with tears streaming. “You are beautiful people that you don’t hold anger against me. May Vitaly always live in your hearts. I can’t say nothing to give Vitaly back to you.”
Defense attorney John Stine said it was his opinion that Nedeau, Tyler and Shevchuk all took actions that led to the fatal altercation.
As a result, Stine asked O’Connor to take the low end of the sentencing range and divide it by three. Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Tom Treppiedi, in contrast, asked O’Connor to sentence Nedeau to a total of 25 years.
O’Connor, noting Shevchuk did play a role, gave Nedeau the low end of the sentencing range of 216 months. However, 36 months were added as a weapons enhancement.
Nedeau’s mother, Robin Young, said her son has two children who love their father. “I need him in my life,” she said. “I want him to have another opportunity … to be a good person.”
But Alise Aleshkin said many of the same things about the loss of her older brother.
“For me, it is like someone cut my limb off,” she said. “I feel like I have an open wound and I don’t know when it is going to heal. There is still a little child in me waiting for my brother to come home.”