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Jackson family copes as murder suspects await trial

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kriston Peterman-Dunya
Occasionally, Kai Dunya will pick up one of his toys.

"My dad got me this," he'll say. Or, "My mom bought me this."

That's about the most the 7-year-old boy will say about his parents these days, according to his grandfather, Gene Peterman.

Kai hasn't seen either of them in nearly a month and has been staying with his grandparents in Jackson for the past few weeks.

He'll never see his mother again. She's in a family plot at Lorimier Cemetery in Cape Girardeau. His father, Keayn Dunya, sits in a jail in a Seattle suburb 1,800 miles away, awaiting trial for putting her there.

"Most of the time he's pretty good," Peterman said Tuesday of his grandson. "He has his problems adjusting. But I think he's getting along."

Since the death of their daughter, the Peterman family is trying to stay focused on Kai, who starts second grade next week in the Jackson School District. They're fixing up his room. They take him to counseling once a week. They're scheduling dental and doctor checkups. They hope to adopt the little boy at some point.

And when murder the trial begins, Peterman said they don't intend to go. He doesn't see the point.

"A person is either guilty or innocent," said Peterman, a longtime Cape Girardeau schoolteacher. "That's up to a jury to say and I've never been one for having family sit in the courtroom trying to make a point."

Keayn Dunya, and his girlfriend, Kara Buchanan, pleaded not guilty July 22 in a Whatcom County, Wash., courtroom in the July 3 shooting of Dunya's estranged wife, Kriston Peterman-Dunya, formerly of Cape Girardeau. Prosecutors and defense lawyers say a trial for both defendants has been set for Sept. 12, but they don't anticipate that it will happen then. Much of the forensic evidence is still being analyzed, said Dunya's defense lawyer Thomas Fryer of Bellingham, Wash. At this point, he said, he's not sure exactly when the trial will take place.

Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney David McEachran said, however, that he's ready to make his case that Dunya -- who also used to live in Cape Girardeau with Kriston -- was the trigger man in Kriston's death. Dunya and Buchanan have both been charged with first-degree murder and are being held on $1 million bond.

"I certainly believe the proper charges have been filed," McEachran said. "It was done with premeditation, there was an intent to kill and someone was killed. I believe in these charges."

After missing a day of work, Peterman-Dunya, 32, was found dead in her Bellingham apartment after a concerned co-worker went to check on her July 5. In a voice mail to police after the body was found, Buchanan made a frantic call to police saying that she killed Peterman-Dunya and that by the time they located Buchanan she would be dead. Police found her on a beach, with slit wrists, though the wounds were not critical.

But surveillance video taken from Peterman-Dunya's Bellingham, Wash., apartment shows a man Keayn Dunya's size and race exiting a Toyota Avalon just before 5 a.m. July 3. The security tapes show a man wearing a coat and carrying a long-barreled shotgun in his right hand.

A shotgun and ammunition were found in Buchanan's home.

Prosecutors have suggested for a motive that Dunya and Peterman-Dunya had been separated and were about to go through a custody battle for Kai at the time of the shooting.

The trial lingers in the distance for Peterman's family. They're trying not to dwell on the trial, though Gene Peterman said the evidence certainly suggests to him that Dunya killed his daughter.

"The truth of the matter is what did he do to his son?" Peterman said. "Most every day I think about something my daughter said or did. That's the way it's going to be when you lose a child. It's a hole in your heart that never heals."



Pertinent address:

601 E. Holly St., Bellingham, Wash.

Jackson, MO

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