Jury finds Nathan Beal guilty of killing homeless man Andrew Bull in 2020
Jan. 30—Nathan O. Beal was found guilty of murder for a second time in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday.
Beal, 38, was convicted of first-degree murder after he was accused of shooting dead a homeless man named Andrew Bull in 2020. He was convicted last year of murdering his wife a few months after Bull was found dead in a downtown Spokane alleyway.
Defense attorney Stephanie Cady argued in court Monday that there was not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her client was responsible for the crime. She did not deny that Bull was killed in a "tragic" shooting, but said that Beal could not be convicted based on the evidence presented in court last week.
"There is plenty of reasonable doubt," Cady told jurors.
Forensic evidence linked a gun found in Beal's apartment to the bullet and shell casing discovered in the alleyway where Bull was killed, but Cady argued that doesn't make him the culprit.
The gun was not locked up, it was not out of reach, and it was not purchased by him, she said. Additionally, there was no video evidence that clearly identified Beal, no witnesses who saw him and no connection between the two men, she said.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dale Nagy argued there was no evidence to show anyone else would have had the gun that killed Bull.
Nagy reviewed video evidence that showed a suspect walking from the direction of Beal's apartment in Browne's Addition at about 10:40 p.m. and into the alley where Bull was killed, across Lincoln Street from the Steam Plant, at 10:54 p.m. A shot was heard by witnesses at 11:11 p.m.
"When you look at the video, Mr. Beal was on the hunt," Nagy told jurors. "He walks past a homeless man, and moves behind garbage cans, watches him. ... That is evidence of premeditation. He was back there for 17 minutes thinking about this before he shoots Mr. Bull."
Court documents indicate Beal disliked homeless people and even discussed killing them.
Prosecuting attorneys believe Bull's murder was used as a "practice" run before Beal shot and killed his ex-wife, Mary Schaffer, about four months later. He was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for her murder.
Detectives investigating Bull's killing did not have any suspects or leads until Beal killed Schaffer.
Nagy also discussed how Beal searched for Spokane murders on the internet in between Bull and Schaffer's killing. A Spokane police detective described Beal's gait as similar to the suspect captured on video footage, Nagy said. However, Cady said the detective is not trained to identify walks and that his internet searches were "unspecific."
Bull's family, who has been present throughout the trial, sat in the courtroom pews with their heads down throughout most of the arguments Monday. The family declined to comment after the verdict was announced.
Beal's sentencing is scheduled for February.