Closing arguments heard in Coombes murder trial

Attorneys presented closing argument in the case of a Spokane homicide suspect who tattooed a drawing of the murder weapon on his hip.

Michael Coombes is accused of shooting a man to death back in 2007 but he’s getting a new trial this week because his conviction was overturned.

One thing his jury won’t have the benefit of knowing is that Coombes actually pleaded guilty to the murder of William “Red” Nichols back in 2008. However Coombes was not told that he could not earn any time off for good behavior during the first 20 years of his sentence and so he had to be prosecuted here all over again.

Friday prosecutors told the jury Coombes really didn’t have a good reason to commit murder; in fact detectives were surprised that he admitted killing Nichols in the first few hours after his arrest.

“This man, right here, Michael Coombes, took a gun and shot a bullet into the head of William Nichols,” deputy prosecutor Steve Garvin said.

“When asked why he shot Red, Mr. Coombes said quote, ‘He threatened my nephew and you don’t [EXPLETIVE] with family.”

Jeffrey Compton, Coombes’ public defender, took that thought one step further saying not only is the prosecution’s motive implausible but the state has no evidence Coombes fired the fatal shot.

“No one claims to have witnessed Mike shoot Red. No one claims to have seen Michael Coombes in the vicinity at the time he was shot,” Compton said.

However prosecutors say a bullet taken from the victim’s body matches the gun found in Coombes pocket the day he was arrested and that he even had a tattoo “on his body of a .38 Smith and Wesson,” Garvin said.

“That shows a little bit about the link he must feel to this particular weapon,” he added.

Joselle Jurtz, Nichols’ sister, says this second murder trial opened up old wounds but wants Coombes to face justice.

“To me it was a bunch of young people who wanted to see what it would be like to kill somebody,” she said.

Coombes was originally sentenced to 27 years as part of his guilty plea, however if he’s found guilty at the conclusion of his second trial it’s likely he’ll face even more time in prison.