PRIEST RIVER — Jury selection and preliminary arguments got underway Monday in a Vay man’s prosecution for murder in Washington state in 1997.
The Yakima Herald reported that the judge presiding Barry Brandon Beckford’s case granted more than 50 hardship requests to prospective jurors for health, employment and other reasons.
Beckford, 62, is implicated in the killing of his wife Deborah Bailey, who was found shot to death in her Volkswagen Cabriolet on a remote road near Naches, Wash.
Beckford pleaded not guilty to the crime following his arrest in Idaho in January 2015.
The Herald reported that arguments on Monday consisted of what evidence jurors will or will not hear. Both the defense and the state have filed motions which seek to limit certain evidence.
Jury selection is expected to resume today in Yakima County Superior Court. Additional argument on pretrial motions is also expected, according to the Herald’s report.
Beckford, formerly known as Barrett Bailey, was considered a suspect in his wife’s killing, although prosecutors at the time didn’t have enough evidence to charge him, according to published media accounts.
Yakima County investigators reopened the investigation in the Bailey’s killing in 2014, although prosecutors have not disclosed if additional evidence came to light which prompted the filing of a criminal charge. Beckford’s arrest coincided with the telecast of an episode of “Cold Justice” that drilled down on the circumstances surrounding Bailey’s murder.
The episode, entitled “Miss Congeniality” due to Bailey’s background as a pageant contestant, recounted how Beckford reported her missing on Feb. 16, 1997. Beckford fell under suspicion because he portrayed his wife of more than 13 years as a cocaine abuser who was likely killed over a drug debt.
Investigators noted that Beckford lacked an alibi for when Bailey was killed and allegedly told a former coworker that he dismantled and disposed of the murder weapon and expressed remorse for the killing.
Friends of Bailey, 32, disclosed to investigators that she planned on leaving Beckford and obtaining custody of their then-minor children.
Beckford was unwaivering in his denials that he killed his wife when he was confronted by Yakima County sheriff’s investigators during a videotaped interview outside his Horn Mountain home in the weeks leading up to his arrest.
Following his arrest, Beckford was charged with witness tampering for telling his son and girlfriend not to cooperate with investigators.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.