WALLA WALLA -- A first-degree murder charge was filed this morning in Walla Walla County Superior Court against a man police say gunned down a law enforcement informant last June.
Daniel D. Dodd, 43, of Walla Walla is accused of the premeditated killing of Kevin Myrick, who was shot in the face about 10:20 p.m. June 12 while working on his fiancee's vehicle outside his residence at 1123 S. Third Ave.
Myrick died the following day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Dodd was arrested Thursday on investigation of the homicide and bail was set the following day at $1 million. He already was incarcerated at the Walla Walla County Jail on unrelated matters.
If Dodd is convicted of the murder charge, he could be ordered to serve more than 36 years in prison.
Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle could have chosen to charge Dodd with first-degree aggravated murder, which on conviction would have resulted in a prison sentence of life without parole. The prosecution also could have asked for the death penalty.
Officials said Myrick was a potential witness in a drug case against Dodd's girlfriend. And one possible aggravating factor listed under state law is that the victim was a "prospective, current, or former witness in an adjudicative proceeding."
Nagle said in an interview today an aggravated-murder charge still is possible. "But before we charge an aggravator, we want to make sure that there's more-than-sufficient evidence to prove the underlying charge," he explained.
Myrick was an informant for the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office who had made a number of controlled drug buys, including one from Dodd's girlfriend, Tina L. Taylor, 42, officials said. She was arrested March 1, 2011, for delivery of hydrocodone and Myrick was a prospective witness against her, according to a police report filed in court.
While she was in jail, officers had been monitoring phone calls between her and Dodd.
"Taylor was desperate to have something done to help her from potentially facing years in prison if she (pled) guilty or was found guilty," the police report says.
"Dodd never said on the phone he was going to do anything, but due to the desperation in her voice during the calls" he became a potential suspect after Myrick's death.
At the time, Taylor's trial was set to begin later that month.
Dodd was arrested June 16 for unrelated, outstanding warrants and in a police interview regarding Myrick's killing, denied having anything to do with it.
But on July 11, Dodd briefly escaped from a jail work crew van and acknowledged to officials afterward that part of the reason he ran was he was concerned he would be charged with Myrick's homicide, according to the police report.
Despite Myrick's death, Taylor was sentenced Aug. 1 to more than eight years in prison after pleading guilty mid-trial June 28 to two counts of delivery of hydrocodone within 1,000 feet of a school bus route stop.
During the murder investigation, police learned that Dodd's roommate had lent him a .357-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver about four days before the killing. Such a gun is consistent with one that will fire a .38-caliber slug that was found at the homicide scene.
Dodd had returned the borrowed gun to the roommate, who then reportedly gave it to another man who threw it into the Snake River under the bridge at Hood Park. After that man showed police the location Tuesday, Columbia Basin Drive Rescue recovered a revolver matching the suspected murder weapon.
Dodd's record includes felony convictions for possessing stolen property, burglary and a drug offense dating back to 1989.
He also has a long history of committing criminal driving offenses that were adjudicated in Walla Walla County District Court.