Beckford murder trial comes to a close; he could leave prison at - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Beckford murder trial comes to a close; he could leave prison at end of month

Posted: Updated:

5-16-17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - After 20 long years, the cold case murder of Debbie Bailey comes to a close. Today, the man accused of killing her - her husband - was sentenced in Yakima.

Reporter Gilbert Magallon was there as many of Bailey's family members got to express their feelings and frustrations to the man they believe took her life. The family and the judge were not happy.

"You took a precious soul from our family," said Bailey's cousin. "She wasn't one of my cousins, she was my best friend."

Before being sentenced, Barry Beckford, the man accused of killing Debbie Bailey in 1997, came face-to-face with her family.

"He took our daughter away, and I don't think he will ever have any peace," said Bailey's father, Carl Smotherman.

"As a Christian, I forgive him," said Scott Smotherman, Bailey's brother. "God will judge him, and he will judge you harshly."

Beckford chose not to speak, but his attorney did.

"We will all be judged, we will all atone, all of us, as will the state for what they have done here," said Attorney Adolfo Banda. "Everybody failed her, everybody failed her."

Bailey's family disagrees.

"When Mr. Banda stood up and said we all failed her; no," said Sandi Mckenzie, Bailey's cousin. "Barry failed her. This family did not."

Last week, Beckford took an Alford plea and today the judge accepted, resulting in a one-year sentence for tampering and 27 months for second-degree manslaughter. Last month, a jury couldn't decide on first degree murder.

"I am very comfortable in my belief that Mr. Beckford murdered his wife," said Judge Michael McCarthy.

"I feel that it gave us a little bit of peace when the judge said, 'I know you are guilty of killing your wife,'" said Barbara Bales, Bailey's family member.

 Beckford has spent two years in prison, and that time will be taken off of his sentence. Prosecutors say that because of that, Beckford could be getting out of prison by the end of this month or sooner.

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5-11-17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - The 20-year-old cold case murder of Debbie Bailey is finally coming to an end. Her husband, Barry Beckford, is taking an Alford plea deal from prosecutors.

Beckford was facing first-degree murder but now he's pleading guilty to second degree manslaughter. An alford plea allows Beckford to maintain his innocence but also plead guilty.

Basically, Beckford is still saying he didn't kill his wife but is admitting that prosecutors do have enough evidence to possibly get a conviction.

Yakima county prosecutor Joseph Brusic admits this is not the conviction he wanted out of this murder case but at least Beckford will be held accountable in some way for this horrific crime.

"The case isn't getting any better, it's getting worse because of people that are passing away as well as memories that are fading," Brusic said. "I felt it incumbent upon our office to in fact go forward and attempt to show to the community that we believe that we have the person who committed the crime. Also, to take a chance, and that's exactly what we did. I'm very proud of our office. We worked very, very hard on this case."

There is still one more step to go. Beckford will be back in court next Tuesday for formal sentencing.

Alford pleas are very rare. Brusic estimates that of all the felony cases across the U.S., only 15% of them end with Alford pleas.

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4-10-17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - A jury has found Barry Beckford guilty of two counts of tampering with a witness in the 1997 murder of his wife, but declared a mistrial on the 1st degree murder charge.

The prosecution now has 60 days to file for a retrial on the murder charge.

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04/07/17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - The second full day of deliberations in the First Degree Murder trial of Barry Beckford hits a snag.

The jury is having to start from square one because of a family emergency for one of the jurors. That means an alternate has to take their place.

Yesterday, the jury told Judge McCarthy they had reached a verdict on two counts but were at an impasse when it came to the murder charge.

Judge McCarthy instructed the jury to continue deliberating.

Barry Beckford is on trial for the horrific murder of his wife, Debbie Bailey. 20 years ago, she was found dead in her car on the Naches-Wenas Grade. She had been shot four times in the head.

Prosecutors say Beckford killed his wife because of Bailey threatening to divorce him and money. But the defense claims the police were "relentless" in accusing Beckford over the years, and that Bailey was killed by someone else because of her drug habit.

The jury wrapped up deliberations just a short time ago and will pick back up on Monday morning.

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04/05/17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - The fate of Barry Beckford in the 20-year-old murder of his wife is now in the hands of the jury. Closing statements from both sides did get pretty intense, but now, it's a waiting game for Debbie Bailey's family.

The jury began deliberations this afternoon to decide if Bailey's husband, Barry Beckford, was the one who shot and killed her in 1997.

This morning, the defense rested their case without calling any witnesses. Beckford didn't take the stand in his own defense.

During closing arguments, Deputy Prosecutor Steve Jackson acknowledged that the case against Beckford is circumstantial but the evidence adds up to a "wall of guilt". But Beckford's defense attorney, Adolfo Banda Junior, asked the jury multiple times if the state's evidence proved "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Beckford murdered his wife.

Now we wait for the verdict.

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YAKIMA, WA - An intense day in a Yakima Superior Courtroom, over a 20-year-old cold case murder. Daniel Beckford is on trial for killing his wife, Deborah Bailey, in 1997.

At times, the testimony was contentious.

"People are telling the truth they're testifying only to what they know and what they have heard or seen themselves," said detective Jerrold Towell.

"Until they contaminate each other, correct each other during some questions," Beckford's defense attorney snapped back.

Towell replied, "I don't know that that occurred, and I'm pretty sure it hasn't."

"We'll find out," Beckford's attorney said.

Then it was painfully emotional, especially when Debbie's father, Carl Smotherman took the stand explaining the moment he found out his daughter had been killed.

"When they told us what happened, where it was at and my wife came out and she didn't take it too good either," Smotherman choked out while wiping his eyes with a Kleenex.

Detective Jerrold Towell, forensic investigator Robyn Light, and Debbie's father Carl all testified early this morning. Towell was grilled by Beckford's lawyer about the TV show "Cold Justice" and the meeting they had with the family together.

"Here, you interview them again, in a group knowing that their witnesses," Beckford's attorney asked.

Towell answered, "Yes sir, that's correct and they're family."

The attorney then shot back, "You take responsibility for this, right?"

Towell then said, "I don't think it was a mistake. I don't know that there's any responsibility to take here, sir."

Robyn Light specializes in victim assistance and told the jury that Beckford claimed his wife's death had little impact on their two boys because she had been inappropriately touching their oldest son.

"He said that both of the boys had maybe one tear for their mother and the next day they wanted to go to school, and that they were continuing to keep their grades up, and their rooms were cleaner than they'd ever been," Light testified.

However, Debbie's father remembers Beckford's unusual behavior at her funeral.

Prosecutors asked if Beckford was emotional or sad at the services and Carl replied, "Not that I could see at all."

The defense then asked to postpone cross examination of Debbie's father until Monday. The trial is expected to last at least two more weeks.

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