Prosecutors now believe the two men accused of a double murder in a home near Pilot Butte in 2020 were involved in a murder-for-hire scheme.
Kenneth Wayne “Ken” Atkinson, 57, and Nathan Shane Detroit II, 31, appeared Monday in Deschutes County Circuit Court to face a new indictment and a new charge. The co-defendants now stand accused of first-degree murder under the theory Atkinson paid his nephew Detroit to kill Atkinson’s brother and the brother’s fiancee.
On Oct. 1, the pair was arrested at their respective homes in a coordinated law enforcement effort, more than a year after Ray Atkinson Jr. and Natasha “Tasha” Newby were found dead in the home on NE 12th Street in Bend.
The home belonged for more than five decades to the Atkinsons’ father, Ray Atkinsons Sr., who died in 2019 without a will. Over the next year, the sons feuded in court for control of the father’s $400,000 estate, according to court records.
The bodies of Atkinson Jr. and Newby were found by worried friends Aug. 15, 2020.
Investigators long suspected Atkinson Jr.’s brother, Ken, was responsible, motivated to obtain a financial interest in their late father’s estate, and that he had assistance from another person.
But officials have said they only recently received evidence of Detroit’s involvement, without specifying what the evidence is.
The co-defendants are being held without bail at the Deschutes County jail.
They made their first court appearance Oct. 4.
Four days later, the state presented its case to a grand jury, calling 26 witnesses to testify and demonstrating the extensive scope of the criminal investigation. Witnesses included a number of law enforcement officials, as well as friends and relatives of the victims and co-defendants.
On Monday, Ken Atkinson appeared in court by video wearing a black face mask and hunter orange sweatshirt. A former prison guard with the Nevada Department of Corrections, he has no prior criminal convictions in Oregon.
Detroit wore a navy jail smock and pants. He has numerous convictions on his record dating to 2013, though none for violent offenses.
Ken Atkinson and Detroit are both charged with four counts of first-degree murder and two of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
The co-defendants have been assigned local public defenders. Detroit is represented by Dylan Potter. Ken Atkinson is represented by Shawn Kollie.
Potter and Kollie declined to comment.
The case is not eligible for the death penalty because none of the eligibility requirements are present in the case, said Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel.
Dave Newby, father of Tasha, attended the hearing remotely from his home in Mississippi. He said he’d be comfortable with a sentence of life in prison. “Death is too easy.”