The state Court of Appeals has ordered new trials for four men convicted of killing a Pierce County resident outside a Spanaway tavern four years ago, saying the defendants did not get fair trials the first time around.
A jury in June 2009 convicted Terry Nolan, Mike McCreven, Barry Ford and Carl Smith of second-degree murder in the death of Dana Beaudine, 38.
Beaudine died after being beaten and stabbed outside the Bull’s Eye Sports Lounge on April 5, 2008.
Nolan was sentenced to 16 years in prison, McCreven to 22 years, Ford to 13 years and Smith to 35 years.
Deputy prosecutors Sunni Ko and Dione Hauger argued the men attacked Beaudine after he made a disparaging remark about a motorcycle club with which they affiliated. Ko is now in private practice.
Nolan, McCreven, Ford and Smith argued they were defending themselves against Beaudine, who instigated a fight.
The joint trial before Superior Court Judge Brian Tollefson was long and contentious, with supporters of the defendants arguing even after their convictions that the men had been railroaded. A three-judge appellate panel for Division II said in an opinion released Wednesday that Tollefson erred in at least three ways by:
• Admitting too much evidence of the men’s motorcycle gang affiliation into trial.
• Not instructing the jury properly on self-defense.
• Not reining in prosecutors who during their closing arguments improperly shifted the burden of proof to the defense.
The mistakes, all of which were objected to by the defendants’ lawyers at trial, were prejudicial enough to merit new trials, the justices concluded. The men likely will remain in custody until new trial dates are scheduled or if prosecutors decide to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.email@example.com