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Friday, November 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gun that killed Brenda Thurman to get tested, 16 months after Spokane Valley shooting

UPDATED: Mon., April 24, 2017

The first-degree manslaughter trial against Dwayne  Thurman, right, begins this week  in Spokane County Superior Court. Thurman, 44, was charged last year with killing his wife, Brenda Thurman, left, on Jan. 18, 2016, in their Spokane Valley home. Dwayne Thurman told investigators the shooting was an accident. (Courtesy of the family Brenda Thurman)
The first-degree manslaughter trial against Dwayne Thurman, right, begins this week in Spokane County Superior Court. Thurman, 44, was charged last year with killing his wife, Brenda Thurman, left, on Jan. 18, 2016, in their Spokane Valley home. Dwayne Thurman told investigators the shooting was an accident. (Courtesy of the family Brenda Thurman)

The Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory is expected to run tests next week on the gun that killed Brenda Thurman in Spokane Valley.

The testing comes about 16 months after investigators first submitted the weapon to crime lab experts to assist in their death investigation.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office investigation into the Jan. 18, 2016, shooting of Thurman, 43, had stalled. Investigators need the crime lab to determine whether the .380-caliber Glock pistol was functioning properly when Dwayne Thurman shot his wife in their home.

Dwayne Thurman has said he was cleaning the gun because it wasn’t functioning properly. When it fired, a bullet struck Brenda Thurman in the chest.

The children of Brenda Thurman earlier this month filed a wrongful death suit against Dwayne Thurman. But the criminal investigation has stalled pending the testing of the gun.

The main reason for the delay in testing came from the high number of cases to process and a low number of scientists to process them, said George Johnston, spokesman for the WSP’s Crime Lab Division.

The case also was delayed because of higher-priority cases, including those that have upcoming trial dates, people in custody or imminent public danger, moving ahead of it, he said.

“The backlog continues to build,” Johnston said. “We have too few people for too many cases.”

The person assigned to test the Thurman gun is out on vacation this week.

“My guess is that when he gets back from vacation, that will be one of the first things that he does,” Johnston said.

Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell, who has been checking on the progress of the testing, said he believes sheriff’s Detective Mike Drapeau will be forwarding his investigation very soon after receiving those results.

“We won’t know what we have until we get that,” Haskell said.

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