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Murder trial underway for Naches man accused of shooting wife in 1997

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YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- One of the biggest murder trials in Yakima County is now underway.

Witnesses took the stand Thursday morning in the murder case against Barrett Bailey, also known as Barry Beckford, who is accused of killing his wife in 1997.

The cold case received national attention after an investigation by the cable TV show "Cold Justice" in 2015, and it's a trial authorities have long been waiting for.

Twenty years later, justice may be served as the murder case against Barry Beckford goes to trial.

The 1997 shooting death of Beckford's wife Deborah Bailey drew a cloud of suspicion.

RELATED: Arrested man a longtime suspect in wife's murder

Prosecutor Steve Jackson shared details of the crime scene with the jury.

"It's a murder trial, I say that right up front, and there's blood in murder trials," said Jackson.

Graphic images show Bailey slumped in her car along the Naches-Wenas grade, shot four times in the head.

But with no gun, motive, or witnesses, it's a case the defense said is based on circumstantial evidence.

Prosecutors argue it wasn't a robbery, with Bailey's window rolled down in the dead of winter, her emergency brake on, and her purse in the back seat.

Instead, they said it was a cold and calculated attack.

RELATED: Longtime murder suspect facing more charges

Two teens driving by that fateful February night recall seeing the car but no one around.

"I slowed down to see if there was anybody that may need help, and I turned my high beams on," said Ryan Bonsen.

Their testimony helped narrow the time frame to about 12:30 a.m.

"[The car] was not completely off the road and totally out of the lane," said Stacey Wilson. "You kind of had to swerve around it."

Authorities also testified, including former Yakima County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) lieutenant David Thompson, who broke the news to Beckford and the victim's parents. He said they were distraught.

"[Beckford] began to cry and he embraced both of the Smothermans," said Thompson.

But Thompson said he was shocked by what Beckford said next.

"He was talking about Deborah's cocaine problem, and the cartels, and the Mexican mafia, and that she owed money," said Thompson.

A drug habit Bailey's parents don't believe the 32-year-old former pageant queen had.

Authorities also said Beckford immediately told his two young sons their mom was "shot to death."

"I was alarmed by that response to his children," said Thompson.

But for both sides in the case, analyzing the crime scene and evidence is the most crucial part, as they sift through a sordid tale to uncover the truth of a murder two decades old.

Beckford's trial is expected to last five weeks as more witnesses take the stand. He was arrested in northern Idaho for the murder in 2015 and is currently being held in the Yakima jail on $1 million bond.

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