Trial set in cold case

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SANDPOINT — A trial date is set for a Bonner County man charged with killing his wife in Washington state in 1997.

Barry Brandon Beckford is scheduled stand trial in Yakima County Superior Court on May 31, according to online court records. A trial confirmation hearing is planned for May 27.

Beckford, formally known as Barrett Bailey, is charged with first-degree murder. His 32-year-old wife Deborah Bailey was found shot to death northeast of Naches, Wash.

Beckford was a longtime suspect in the slaying, but escaped prosecution due to a lack of evidence until January of last year, when he was arrested at his Vay home. Beckford’s arrest coincided with the airing of an episode of “Cold Justice,” a Turner Network Television program that probes unsolved homicides with the consent of law enforcement.

In a video segment, detectives from Yakima County braced Beckford about killing his wife, but Beckford denied any involvement. Yakima County prosecutors determined they had probable cause to arrest Beckford after conducted a thorough reinvestigation of the evidence and witnesses. The prosecution has not disclosed whether new information emerged as a result of the reinvestigation.

When Beckford was returned to Yakima County to faces the charge, Beckford said his case amounted to public entertainment in which he was the “sacrificial lamb,” according to a Yakima newspaper account.

About six months after Beckford’s arrest, he was further charged with witness tampering for telling a fellow inmate to place a threatening letter in the mailbox of a key witness and to burn down the person’s garage in Selah, Wash. The letter allegedly warned that there was $10,000 hit out on the witness and alleged drew a map of the targeted property, according to published news accounts.

It was not clear in news reports if the inmate carried out the alleged plot.

Additional witness-tampering charges were filed after Beckford allegedly tried to influence the statements of his two sons, both of whom are identified as witnesses in the murder case.

Beckford, 62, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail while the case is pending.

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