Jury hears opening statements in Tester murder trial

Jury hears opening statements in Tester murder trial
John Radavich

A jury heard opening arguments Tuesday in the trial of John A. Radavich, accused of killing Bob Tester in 2016.

Radavich, 24, is charged with first degree murder for Tester’s death in September of that year. The south Spokane County man was killed overnight while in his home with his eight-year-old daughter. She told investigators she woke up to hear her father screaming. She later called her grandparents, who called 911.

Tester was the nephew of Jon Tester, the senior United States Senator from Montana.

During the investigation, detectives learned that Tester had been dating a 17-year-old girl. The teenager had previously dated John Radavich and, according to court documents, reached out to him after alleged abuse by Tester.

In the state’s opening statement, prosecutor Richard Whaley told the jury the evidence provided by witnesses and investigators would show that Radavich was guilty of premeditated murder. He cited the medical examiner’s report, which concluded Tester experienced 40 blunt force wounds and 20 sharp wounds, in addition to internal injuries. The splitting maul involved in Tester’s detah was used by both attorneys in opening statements.

Radavich’s defense attorney, Douglas Pierce, said he and his client would not dispute the “bigger picture” but claimed the evidence would lead the jury to a different conclusion.

Pierce said Radavich was acting in self-defense when Tester was killed, claiming that the defendant had gone to Tester’s home to confront him about the alleged abuse of the 17-year-old girl when Tester became violent. He described the incident as “a brutal fight that Bob Tester started.”

The state’s first witness was a longtime friend of Radavich’s who received a phone call from him on Christmas Day 2016. The friend, who lived in Texas at that time, recorded the conversation through an app he told the court he kept on his phone for work purposes.

On the recording, which was played for the jury Wednesday, Radavich said a girl he cared about was being abused by her current boyfriend. He said at one point he “finally said I had enough,” and that he “took a blade” and “removed him from the equation.”

He told the friend to look up “Bob Tester Spokane” online and he would see. He also described getting rid of the clothing he was wearing that night and the “knight’s sword” he had brought with him.

The friend contacted law enforcement a few days later. Radavich was arrested in early January 2017.