Trial opens in slaying of informant

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WALLA WALLA — A jury has been selected in the first-degree murder trial of Daniel D. Dodd, who is accused of killing a confidential law enforcement informant who had bought drugs from Dodd’s girlfriend.

The four-man eight-woman panel was sworn in Tuesday afternoon in Superior Court at the County Courthouse to hear what’s expected to be several days of testimony before going behind closed doors to deliberate Dodd’s fate.

In an opening statement, Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle outlined evidence he believes proves Dodd murdered Kevin Myrick in June of last year.

Defense attorney Michael de Grasse reserved his opening statement until later in the trial, after the prosecution presents its case.

Nagle told the jury that after Dodd’s girlfriend, Tina Taylor, was arrested in March 2011 for delivering hydrocodone, she spoke with Dodd from a monitored jail telephone and “pleaded with Daniel to do something about her plight because she didn’t want to go to prison.”

Dodd borrowed a gun from a friend in early June of that year, Nagle said. “He told the friend he wanted to borrow the gun to take a guy out because the guy was taking Tina out.”

About 10:20 p.m. on June 12, 2011, while Myrick was working on the engine of his girlfriend’s vehicle outside his home, “Daniel Dodd went up to Kevin Myrick and shot him in the face,” then jumped over a back fence and ran off, Nagle told the jury.

Neither Myrick’s girlfriend, Kristina Devaney, nor an independent witness who saw a person running out of an alley could identify the assailant.

Dodd returned the gun to his friend after the murder occurred, according to Nagle. “Daniel Dodd advised that the gun needed to be discarded because it had been used. All he said was, ‘It’s done.”

Nagle also told jury members that records from Verizon Wireless show Daniel Dodd’s cell phone was in the area of Myrick’s home the night he was shot. Dodd claimed he was nowhere around, but acknowledged having his phone that day.

After Dodd was arrested June 16, 2011, on unrelated warrants, he first denied having anything to do with Myrick’s murder. But he later told Detective Steve Harris he wanted to see the police report. Then, Dodd said, he would confess to the murder of Kevin Myrick if Harris would recommend a lenient sentence for Taylor, according to Nagle’s opening statement.

Harris declined the request, Nagle said.

Dodd, who earlier appeared in court with shoulder-length hair and bushy beard, was wearing street clothes, was clean-shaven and sporting a shorter, conventional haircut for his first day of trial.

TRIAL AT A GLANCE

Defendant:

Daniel D. Dodd, 43.

Murder victim:

Kevin Myrick, 24, who was shot in the face about 10:20 p.m. June 12, 2011, while working on his girlfriend’s vehicle outside his residence at 1123 S. Third Ave. He died the next day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Superior Court charges:

First-degree murder, including a firearm enhancement that would add five years to a sentence. Dodd also is accused of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. (Dodd is not allowed to possess a gun because he was convicted in 1989 of second-degree burglary.) If convicted of the charges, he would face more than four decades in prison.

The trial began Tuesday and is expected to last several days.

Information and allegations relating to the case: 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. She was arrested March 1, 2011, for delivery of hydrocodone and Myrick was a prospective witness against her.

When Dodd allegedly killed Myrick to eliminate him as a prospective witness, Taylor’s trial was set to begin later that month. She ended up pleading guilty and was sentenced to more than eight years in prison.

During the murder investigation, police learned that a friend of Dodd had lent him a .357-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver about four days before Myrick was killed. Such a gun is consistent with one that will fire a .38-caliber slug that apparently had exited Myrick’s body and was found under a bush at the homicide scene.

A few hours after the murder occurred, Dodd returned the borrowed gun to his friend, who then reportedly gave it to another man about three or four days later. That man ultimately threw the gun into the Snake River under the bridge at Hood Park after he found out Dodd had said the gun had been used. After the man who threw the gun away showed police the location on March 6 of this year, Columbia Basin Dive Rescue recovered a revolver matching the suspected murder weapon.

Dodd — who had been incarcerated on unrelated warrants since June 16, 2011 — was charged March 12 with Myrick’s murder and remains in the County Jail.

An examination by the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab of the bullet found at the crime scene was inconclusive as to whether it had been fired by the gun that was recovered. But the gun couldn’t be ruled out as the murder weapon.

Dodd has denied having anything to do with Myrick’s death and said he was at his home on Wooden Road the night Myrick was killed.

However, investigators determined that his cell phone received a voice mail at 10:15 that night. “The cell phone tower transmitting the call is located on South Third (Avenue) in Walla Walla, and encompasses the area of 1123 S. Third Ave,” according to a police report.

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