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Jury selection to begin in trial of man accused of killing his ex-wife when she was picking up their children

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 21, 2022

Spokane police cordoned off several blocks of the Browne’s Addition neighborhood on Aug. 8, 2020, following reports of a woman found dead in a vehicle. Detectives later arrested 37-year-old Nathan A. Beal on suspicion of second-degree murder.  (Ted McDermott / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane police cordoned off several blocks of the Browne’s Addition neighborhood on Aug. 8, 2020, following reports of a woman found dead in a vehicle. Detectives later arrested 37-year-old Nathan A. Beal on suspicion of second-degree murder. (Ted McDermott / The Spokesman-Review)

Jury selection is set to begin Tuesday in the trial of a Spokane man accused of shooting and killing his ex-wife when she came to pick up their children.

Nathan O. Beal, 37, is charged with premeditated murder for the August 2020 shooting.

Mary Schaeffer was found dead in her rental car in Browne’s Addition with a gunshot wound to her head. Schaeffer had arrived in Spokane that day to pick up her two children from Beal.

Police later found a 9 mm Ruger handgun in Beal’s residence that matched a shell casing found outside of the vehicle, according to court documents.

The shell casing also matched a shell casing found at the scene of another homicide in April, months before Schaeffer’s death.

Andrew Bull, a homeless man, was shot in the head just a few blocks from Beal’s home, according to court documents.

Prosecutor Dale Nagy argued last year that Beal killed Bull as practice for killing his ex-wife.

He hoped to join the two cases but both times Judges ruled that combining the cases would unfairly prejudice a jury.

Beal will stand trial for Schaeffer’s killing starting Tuesday. He has not been formally charged with Bull’s killing since a judge ruled against adding the charge to the current case.

Since his arrest shortly after Schaeffer’s death, Beal has written to the court multiple times complaining about his defense attorneys and opposing postponing his trial date, according to court documents.

His current attorney, Stephanie Cady, was assigned the case in March.

Beal said last spring he had no problem with Cady as his attorney but feared “indefinite detention” if the trial were postponed, noting Cady is his fourth attorney.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant delays in the court system, with jury trials put on pause for long periods. Most recently, jury trials were suspended from Jan. 14 through Feb. 22.

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