Both Men Arrested For Murder Are Telling Different Stories - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Both Men Arrested For Murder Are Telling Different Stories

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James Bonham and Michael Bullock were arrested and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the death of 47-year-old Donald Kuest who was found in the Spokane River on November 22, 2013. James Bonham and Michael Bullock were arrested and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the death of 47-year-old Donald Kuest who was found in the Spokane River on November 22, 2013.
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SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. -

James Bonham and Michael Bullock were arrested and charged with first-degree Murder and first-degree Robbery in the death of 47-year-old Donald Kuest who was found in the Spokane River on November 22, 2013.

Both men were friends with Donald Kuest and in court documents, they both admit to seeing him the night of the murder, but have different stories about what happened.

“I knew in my heart that something had happened, especially since he hated the cold and to be drowned in the river, there's no way he would go in the water like that, no way,” said Stacey Gilbert who was a roommate of Donald Kuest’s for a few months before he disappeared.

In court documents, Bonham and Bullock accuse each other of murdering Kuest. Both men say they were with Kuest in his car driving around Spokane Valley the night of the murder. Bonham admitted to detectives that he punched Kuest in the face while they were in the car, but from there, each suspect's story is a little different.

Court documents read: “ Bullock told Detective Drapeau that on about 11-11-13, he was unsure of the exact date, he was with Don Kuest in Don Kuest’s car drinking heavily. Bullock said that he had already taken Don Kuest’s cell phone and was using it himself. Michael Bullock and Don Kuest drove to Chontae Lockett’s residence where Bullock bought a quantity of Methamphetamine paid for by trading Don Kuest’s shotgun to Chontae Lockett. When they left Chontae Lockett’s residents Bullock drove the car, with Kuest as the passenger, to the gas station at Francis and Nevada where a mutual friend named James Bonham was working. Bonham got into the car and drove it while Bullock used the Methamphetamine. They drove around the city and county of Spokane drinking and taking clothing form the clothing donation bins until they ended up in the parking lot of the Walmart in the Spokane Valley. Bullock went inside the store to steal items, but was being watched too closely by security so he returned to the car. Bullock said that James Bonham and Don Kuest did not go into the store. Bullock said, at some point in the journey, James Bonham became angry at Don Kuest and reached over the front seat and struck Don Kuest several times in the face. When they finished at the Walmart Bullock told Bonham that he wanted to go to the bathroom so Bonham drove Kuest’s car, with Kuest in the back seat, to Sullivan Park where Bullock got out to go to the bathroom. Bonham told Bullock that he was going to drive Kuest to his brother’s house and would be back. Bonham left Sullivan Park with Don Kuest passed out and beaten up in the back seat of the car. About 20 minutes later Bonham came back to Sullivan Park in Don Kuest’s vehicle without Don Kuest in it. Bonham was soaking wet. Bonham said that Kuest let him borrow the car for a few days. Bonham drove Bullock up to Chontae Lockett’s residence where Bullock traded Don Kuest’s cellular phone for more Methamphetamine from Chontae Lockett. Bullock further told Detective Drapeau that about two days later James Bonham still had Don Kuest’s vehicle. Bullock met Bonham in the parking lot of the gas station at Francis and Nevada. They were drinking beer together and Bonham was melancholy. Bullock asked him what was the matter and Bonham admitted “beating” Don Kuest to death and “throwing his body” in the river.”

However, James Bonham’s story is a little different.

Court documents go on to say: “Bonham told Detectives Drapeau and Elliott that he had been with Don Kuest and Michael Bullock in Don Kuest’s car on about 11-11-13. Bonham was drinking, Kuest was wasted drunk, and Bullock was under the influence of Meth. Bonham got mad at Kuest while they were driving around and punched Kuest in the face. They drove to a residence and spoke to a woman associated with Bullock that Bonham was reluctant to name. The woman gave permission for Bullock to take care of the matter. Bullock told Bonham that he was going to “off” Don Kuest. They drove to the Walmart in the Spokane Valley and directly after they left the Walmart, they drove to a location Bonham picked out, where Bonham used to have a transient camp. This was east of Sullivan and just south of the river in a small turn just off Flora Pit Road. They stopped the car and Bonham got out. Bonham saw Kuest from the back seat of the car and begin beating on him and dragging him toward the river. Bonham said that he walked away and did not see what happened next but knows that Bullock put Don in the river. Bonham said that Bullock most likely did this because he wanted Don’s car.”

From there court documents also say that Bonham and Bullock traded Kuest’s Oldsmobile for a Honda. Kuest’s car was later found with three different people who all had outstanding felony warrants. One man and two women were arrested and transported to the Valley Precinct.

Although exactly what happened is still unclear, those who knew Kuest are thankful someone will finally be held responsible for his murder.

“I knew for a fact in my heart, so it's nice to know that they finally caught somebody,” Gilbert said. “He deserves closure.”

In court Friday, bail was set at $500,000 for both Bullock and Bonham. The two will be back in court March 18th, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. for an arraignment.

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