Vancouver woman pleads not guilty to murder attempt

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: October 5, 2012, 5:19 PM

 

A Vancouver woman accused of trying to shoot her husband when he requested a divorce pleaded not guilty Friday to first-degree attempted murder and felony harassment.

Gayle Bethke, 60, was arraigned on the charges in Clark County Superior Court. Judge Scott Collier set trial for Dec. 17. She is in the Clark County Jail on $750,000 bail.

Prosecutors said Bethke’s husband of nine years told her he wanted a divorce the night of Sept. 21, after which she retrieved a .380 semiautomatic pistol, jumped onto the bed where her husband was lying and pointed the gun at his head, according to court documents.

As she squeezed the trigger, Roger Bethke, 41, managed to wrestle the gun away before the gun could fire. A struggle ensued, in which Gayle Bethke kept threatening to kill him, according to Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Nugent. Her husband pushed her to the floor and she left the house in the 14600 block of Northeast 49th Circle.

Later, Gayle Bethke left two voicemail messages for her grown daughter, apologizing “for trying to kill Roger,” Nugent has said.

Police apprehended Gayle Bethke on Sept. 22 following a pursuit into Skamania County.

Court documents indicate she is a recovering alcoholic with a history of mental illness. Gayle Bethke has a pint-of-vodka-a-day habit and is currently detoxing, those documents state.

Asked whether Gayle Bethke will undergo a mental evaluation for any potential defenses, defense attorney Tom Phelan said the case was in the beginning stages and he couldn’t comment on specifics, except to say: “These are things that will obviously be looked at.”

Laura McVicker:http://twitter.com/col_courts; http://facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.