Spanaway man pleads not guilty to family’s deaths


TACOMA (AP) — A 40-year-old Spanaway house painter charged in the shooting deaths of his wife and 11-year-old daughter had told officers that he killed his wife to keep her from learning he had lied about their dire financial situation, prosecutors said.

Dean Holmes said he killed his daughter so she wouldn’t have to face her mother’s death and her father’s imprisonment, prosecutors alleged in court documents. He then placed her body next to her mother’s in the master bedroom, tried to clean the blood from the home then drove around aimlessly before turning himself in early Wednesday, court documents said.

The man told investigators he repeatedly held his .38-caliber revolver to his own head, but couldn’t pull the trigger, prosecutors said.

Holmes pleaded not guilty Thursday to two counts of aggravated murder. If convicted, he’ll face either a life in prison sentence without parole or the death penalty, although prosecutors have not decided whether to seek it.

Holmes was ordered held without bail. The name of his defense counsel was not immediately available.

Pierce County sheriff’s officers found the bodies of 41-year-old Kristi Holmes and Violet Holmes when they went to the family home after Holmes contacted authorities.

Holmes shot his wife four times as she slept early Tuesday because “he could not bear to have her again discover his many deceptions, believing she would leave him,” court documents said, adding she moved out in December after learning he had been spending beyond his means and lying about it. She returned home a few months later.

Holmes’ painting company appeared to be failing, prosecutors said.

He had promised to move the family into a more affordable home and even packed their belongings into boxes. However, prosecutors say there was no new home.

“Holmes said even that was an elaborate ruse on his part,” prosecutors said.

Authorities allege that the daughter and a friend were asleep in the living room at the time Holmes shot his wife. Noise from a fan apparently covered the sound of gunshots.

He drove both girls to the friend’s house and left the friend there, then pulled over and shot his daughter multiple times through an open rear window as she slept in the back seat, court documents said.

Holmes drove to a fast-food restaurant and ordered food with his daughter’s body lying in the backseat, authorities said.

Jerry McNulty, who was married to Holmes’ sister before her death, told reporters Thursday that Dean Holmes was “just a great guy, nice man, kind soul.”

“If I made a list of anyone I thought would do this, he’d be at the bottom of it,” McNulty said.