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Trial begins for Cheney-area man accused of murdering his wife with medication-laced ice cream


Last updated 3/10/2020 at 8:34pm

SPOKANE – Jury selection and initial proceedings began Monday (March 9) in the murder trial of a Cheney-area man who allegedly poisoned his wife with pain-medication laced ice cream.

David L. Pettis, 58, has pled not guilty in Spokane Superior Court to charges originally filed in October 2018 but dropped in December and then refiled in June 2019.

On June 25, 2018, Pettis called police to report his wife, 64-year-old Peggy Pettis was “blue and wasn’t breathing.” Responders arrived at the house in the 21400 block of South Beckley Lane near Tyler but didn’t see any signs of trauma and administered CPR for 40 minutes before pronouncing her deceased at the home.

When questioned by police, Pettis said his wife had taken prescription pain medication and drank alcohol while he was asleep. When he woke up, he found her in their bedroom not breathing.

A family member contacted law enforcement several days later to report they suspected David Pettis may have been responsible for his wife’s death. The relative believed this partly because Pettis was having an affair, according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office news release at the time, and detectives confirmed that Pettis “unsuccessfully attempted to start a romantic relationship” with a childhood friend.

Police questioned Pettis, who said his wife would take three hydrocodone pills for pain that were ground up and put in ice cream because she had a hard time swallowing them. A toxicology report indicated Peggy Pettis had hydrocodone, possibly prescribed to David Pettis to treat a shoulder injury, trazodone and Benadryl in her system, but no alcohol.

Pettis was also listed as the sole beneficiary of a life insurance policy his wife had taken out three days prior to her death. According to reports, David Pettis contacted the Medical Examiner’s office upset about the amount of time it was taking to produce the autopsy report, attempting to speed the process up in order to collect the life insurance policy money needed to pay for funeral expenses.

In December 2018, prosecuting attorney Sharon Hedlund dropped the murder charges against David Pettis because of a lack of evidence. The charges were subsequently refiled in June 2019 after prosecutors said they had found new evidence, stating in court documents that they were waiting for evidence delayed “due to third-party compliance with search warrant requests.”

Since December 2018, Pettis has been living in Oklahoma and commuting to work in Arkansas, but agreed to return to Spokane to face the murder charges.

John McCallum can be reached at


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