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Daniel Arteaga murder trial begins this week


A murder trial begins this week for a former Spokane Valley scuba instructor accused of shooting dead a woman with whom he was having an affair.

Daniel Arteaga, 42, has been in the Spokane County Jail since August 2012, facing a first-degree murder charge in the New Year’s Day 2012 death of Kimberly Schmidt.

Arteaga and Schmidt were installing a washing machine the night before at a residence they briefly shared. In the morning, Schmidt’s mother arrived at the home to find her daughter dead of a single gunshot wound to the head after Kimberly Schmidt was late picking up her daughter, according to court documents.

Schmidt’s 12-year-old daughter, who was fathered by another man, was the last person besides Arteaga to see her mother alive, according to court documents.

Texts between Schmidt and the father of her daughter show she broke plans to spend New Year’s with him late in the evening. The last message Schmidt checked on her phone was sent shortly after midnight, according to court documents. Arteaga told police he left the house around 4 a.m. when Schmidt fell asleep.

Schmidt’s money and credit cards were found at the shooting scene untouched. A lengthy investigation by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office produced DNA evidence on a sock found at the scene that belonged to Arteaga. Spokane County Medical Examiner Sally Aiken wrote in an autopsy report that the person who shot Schmidt placed the sock over their hand and a semi-automatic handgun before firing the fatal bullet.

Aiken estimated Schmidt survived for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours after the shooting.

Arteaga denied allegations he killed Schmidt when questioned by investigators eight months after the shooting. He has sought to suppress digital evidence obtained by investigators in his home and car that detailed his relationship with Schmidt prior to the shooting.

Two civil lawsuits were initiated against Arteaga from his scuba business before the killing took place. Schmidt was expected to testify.

The murder trial is expected to last into next week.

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