Punches were thrown and curse words were shouted in the halls of the Spokane County Courthouse on Thursday following a hearing for Nick Holden, the man accused of killing his girlfriend, Tina Stewart, last month in Newman Lake.
About 25 of Stewart’s family members – each wearing a T-shirt with a screen print of Tina – were in the courtroom. Tensions between the families were evident before disagreements spilled into the hallway.
Holden, 29, is accused of beating Stewart, 30, to death in a drunken rage the morning after Thanksgiving at his father’s home. His bond was set at $1 million after he was charged with second-degree murder.
Moments after the emotional hearing ended, a fight broke out between Stewart’s brother, Charlie Stewart, and Holden’s mother’s boyfriend, Jeff Menter Jr., according to people involved in the scuffle.
According to Don Estes, a member of Stewart’s extended family, the fight started when Menter struck Charlie Stewart after a verbal spat.
Menter denied that allegation, saying he was berated by members of Stewart’s family before being hit multiple times by Charlie Stewart.
“There was just three of us and about 25 of them, we were nothing but intimidated the whole time,” Menter said. “Our lives are also ruined because of this. We feel horrified that Tina isn’t alive anymore and that (Holden) may have to spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Police spoke to both men following the fight, and no charges were filed as of Thursday night. Menter said he doesn’t plan on pressing charges unless Stewart does.
Estes and his family didn’t want to let the fight take away from their collective message, as many wore purple, a color promoting domestic violence awareness.
“We have one huge family – look down the hallway. That’s just some of us,” Estes said, adding that he has now lost two nieces to domestic violence. Estes is the uncle of Stewart’s ex-husband, but said he considered Stewart his niece.
“We’re going to bring awareness to this, if it’s the last thing we do,” he said.
Tina Stewart’s father, Brian Cane, said he doesn’t want anyone else to feel the kind of pain and loss that comes from a domestic violence death.
“Everybody seems to know someone that needs to get out of a domestic violence situation,” Cane said. “Don’t just wish (to get them out), step up and step in. Get them out of there. Do something about it.”
Holden’s arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 9.
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