Jury convicts man in killing of Montana senator’s nephew
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A jury has convicted a man of first-degree murder in the death of a nephew of Montana Sen. Jon Tester.
John A. Radavich, 25, was convicted Wednesday in Robert Tester’s death, The Spokesman-Review reported .
Robert Tester, 35, was stabbed with a sword and beaten to death on Sept. 5, 2016 at his home near Spangle, a small town just south of Spokane.
Tester’s daughter, who was 8 at the time, called her grandmother to say that a man she didn’t know had broken into their home and killed her father, according to court records.
Spokane County deputies arrived to find a blood trail leading from Tester’s bedroom throughout the house. Tester had suffered dozens of blunt-force and stab wounds, including a blow to the back of his head by a firewood-splitting maul.
The case remained unsolved until late December 2016, when Radavich allegedly called a friend in Texas and admitted to killing Tester.
The two-week trial before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno was delayed in April when Moreno declared a mistrial after new evidence was discovered. The evidence included gruesome photos of the scene.
The trial also included testimony from Tester’s daughter, who had been sleeping in the same bed as her father on the night of the attack.
“She will live with the menace of this,” said Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald.
Radavich’s lawyer Douglas Pierce contended that Radavich went to the home because Robert Tester had abused a 17-year-old girl whom Radavich had dated.
“My client, John Radavich, did not intend to kill” Tester, Pierce said. “His plan was to walk out there and tell him, ‘You don’t get to beat up (the 17-year-old girl) anymore’ and then leave.”
Pierce said on the night of the killing, Radavich knocked on Tester’s door, which Tester opened while holding the maul in his hands. Radavich claimed that Tester pulled him into the home and then initiated a fight to the death that Radavich ultimately won in self-defense.
Fitzgerald told the jury Radavich’s explanation of the killing did not add up. She showed the jury the front door and nearby trash bins and a large bag of dog food that had not been disturbed, as would be expected if Tester had forced Radavich into the home.
Fitzgerald said the killing most likely started in the bedroom, as Tester’s daughter testified.
Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com