Newman Lake murder suspect pleads not guilty

Nicholas Holden in courtUPDATE:

The man facing second degree murder charges in the beating death of his girlfriend on Thanksgiving Day in Newman Lake has plead not guilty.

Nicholas Holden, 29, was arraigned in court Tuesday. His bond was set at $500,000. Holden's pre-trial hearing has been set for February 15th. His trial has been set for March 5th.

30-year-old Tina Stewart, a mother of two who also cared for her niece and nephew, was found beaten to death after on Thanksgiving Day. Many members of Stewart's family were in court for the arraignment.

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Tina StewartCourt documents made available Monday are shedding more light on what happened at a home in Newman Lake where a woman was found dead on Friday. Nicholas Holden, 29, was arrested Friday and charged with 2nd murder in the death of his girlfriend, who was found dead Friday morning.

According to court documents, medics were called to a home in Newman Lake around 8:30 a.m. for a call of a female with an unknown medical issue. Once on scene, responding fire crews discovered a woman dead in the house and called Spokane police officers to investigate. Detectives were also called to the home. 

When detectives arrived they found Nicholas Holden detained in a responding deputy's patrol car, according to the documents. Detectives learned that firefighters had attempted life-saving measures on the woman but were not successful. While working to save the woman, the firefighter told detectives she noticed trauma on the woman. When the firefighter asked Holden how the woman came to be injured, Holden responded, "We got into it last night. It was bad," according to the court documents. 

The woman was identified as Holden's girlfriend, 30-year-old Tina L. Stewart. Detectives observed Stewart's injuries, including bruises and scratches, were consistent with being beaten. The documents also say Holden had injuries to his hands. Deputies believe these injuries were consistent with committing an assault.

The court documents say detectives interviewed the homeowner, Holden's father. He told detectives that the family was celebrating Thanksgiving the night before, and said he told Nicholas and Tina to stay at his house because they were too drunk to get home.

Holden's father told detectives he let Nicholas know how to turn on the jacuzzi and then went to bed with the TV on around 11 p.m. According to the documents, he told detectives he woke up at some point during the night he woke up and heard noise but couldn't be sure if it was arguing, laughter or something else. 

When the father woke up in the morning around 8 a.m., he found Holden outside in the driveway talking on the phone. The father told detectives that Holden had called his mother before dialing 911.

Detectives also interviewed Nicholas Holden after he waived his constitutional rights.

Holden told detectives that he and Stewart had gotten into an argument after his father had gone to bed which escalated to a physical fight in the upstairs bedroom of the house, but moved through all levels of the home before they eventually ended up in the basement. According to the documents, Holden told detectives Tina threw items at him, slapped him and threatened to go get a knife during the fight.

The documents say Holden shoved Stewart down on the bed, kicked her multiple times and punched her in the face. 

The couple eventually calmed down and passed out together on the basement floor. Nicholas woke up at around 4 a.m., according to the documents, and found blood and vomit coming from Stewart's mouth and nose. He told detectives she was cool to the touch and unresponsive, but he went back to sleep.  When he woke up again about two hours later, he found his girlfriend was still unresponsive. with more blood and vomit on her face. He wiped it away and went to sleep again.

 He woke up for the last time around 8 a.m. He told detectives when Stewart still wasn't responsive, he "started panicking" and called his mother, then called 911.

Following the interview, Holden was arrested Friday evening and transported to Spokane County Jail.

He made his first court appearance on Monday. He is being held on $1 million bond.  

(story: Nichole Mischke, KHQ Right Now Reporter, KHQ.com; photos: KHQ.com)

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