Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 31° Cloudy
News >  Crime/Public Safety

Court documents: Drug deal gone wrong led to New Year’s Eve killing in Spokane Valley; second suspect arrested

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 19, 2021

A man was shot outside of the Brookdale Park Place senior living facility New Years Eve morning.   (Rebecca White / The Spokesman-Review)
A man was shot outside of the Brookdale Park Place senior living facility New Years Eve morning.  (Rebecca White / The Spokesman-Review)

A dispute over drugs was behind a fatal New Year’s Eve shooting outside a Spokane Valley nursing home, according to court records filed Tuesday in conjunction with a second suspect’s arrest.

Joseph Gray, 28, was arrested in northeast Spokane at about 10 p.m. Monday, according to a news release from the U.S. Marshals Service.

On Dec. 30, victim Christopher Smith, 35, had a fight with his partner, Andrea Nagle, according to court records. Nagle told police Smith left their Richland home at about 9 p.m., according to court records. Nagle didn’t hear from Smith again.

Smith was robbed, shot and killed on New Year’s Eve, just days after purchasing an engagement ring for Nagle, with whom he shared a 10-year-old daughter. Smith was on active Department of Corrections supervision and had previously spent time in jail, according to court records. Nagle told police that Smith still sold “illicit narcotics” and used drugs, according to court records.

On New Year’s Eve, an employee of a courier service that delivers medication to Brookdale Park Place walked into the dementia wing just after 7 a.m., according to court records. As the courier waited in the foyer for an employee to pick up the delivery, he saw a man, later identified as Smith, standing nearby on the phone. Smith asked the courier for the closest freeway off-ramp. When the courier answered, Smith relayed the information to the person on the other end of the phone, according to court records.

Then a woman appeared at the unlocked facility, the courier told police. The woman, later identified as Krystal M. Johnson, 30, pointed at Smith and said, “He’s in here. Here he is,” the courier told police, according to court documents.

A few moments later, a man matching Gray’s description ran up and entered the foyer, the courier told police. Gray then “aggressively” began asking Smith, “Where’s my money?” the courier told police.

A member of Brookdale’s staff came out of the secured area and told the men they had to leave and they did, the courier said. That’s when a physical struggle broke out between the two men outside of Brookdale, witnesses told police.

Gray pulled off Smith’s fanny pack while Johnson egged him on, according to court documents. A staff member told police that the pair separated after Gray pulled off Smith’s fanny pack. That’s when Gray pulled a out a pistol and shot Smith, according to court records. The witness told police that Smith did not make aggressive movements toward Gray.

Immediately after the shooting, Gray and Johnson ran toward Park Road, witnesses told police, who arrived shortly after the shooting. Smith was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.

After getting a search warrant for Smith’s phone, police contacted people with whom Smith had recently been in touch. Kevin Beaver had exchanged numerous text messages and phone calls with Smith. The messages indicated Beaver wanted to buy drugs from Smith, according to court records. Beaver had an outstanding felony Department of Corrections warrant and was arrested on Jan. 9.

Beaver told police that Smith had asked him if he knew anyone who wanted to buy drugs and Beaver put Smith in contact with Gray. Smith allegedly sold drugs to Gray at Beaver’s house about 1½ miles from Brookdale on Eastwood Avenue, according to court records.

After purchasing the drugs, Gray left, but a short time later he returned to confront Smith, saying the drugs were garbage, according to court records. Beaver’s wife, Natalie, told police that Smith had sold Gray sugar instead of the $4,500 worth of drugs. After the confrontation, Smith then ran out the back door, Beaver told police.

The shooting occurred a short time later.

On Jan. 13, police arrested Johnson in connection to Smith’s death. She was charged with aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree robbery, according to court documents.

Johnson confirmed much of what the Beavers had said to police, according to court records.

The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force worked with the Spokane Police Department Patrol Anti-Crime Team (PACT) and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office over the past week to apprehend Gray.

Gray was booked into Spokane County Jail on suspicion of first-degree robbery and aggravated first-degree murder early Tuesday morning. His bond is set at $1 million.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.