Witnesses at trial unable to ID man's killer

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WALLA WALLA — Two people at or near the scene the night Kevin Myrick was gunned down testified Wednesday they can’t identify the shooter.

Manuel Ramirez, 21, was walking along Cherokee Street, south of Myrick’s home at 1123 S. Third Ave., about 10:20 p.m. on June 12, 2011.

“I heard a big ol’ loud noise,” he told the jury at the murder trial of Daniel D. Dodd.

“It was like a boom,” Ramirez said.

“I didn’t think it was nothin’. I was just walkin’ up the street, minding my own business.”

About 10 seconds later, Ramirez saw a man running out of an alley behind Myrick’s home, from the direction of the loud sound.

Ramirez could give the jury only a vague description of the man. Ramirez said he appeared to be wearing a black sweater with a design on the back, characterized his hair at a length below the ears — about chin level — and “kinda looked like he was hiding something” by holding his right hand in front of his body.

The man ran east on Cherokee and Ramirez heard a female voice scream.

Ramirez then went to scene of the shooting and encountered Myrick, who couldn’t talk. “I tried to see where the blood was coming from,” Ramirez told the jury.

Later, police Detective Christina Ruchert testified she was on patrol the night Myrick was shot. When she arrived outside his residence at 10:26 p.m., “He was walking around, kind of staggering,” she said.

He had something like a blood-soaked T-shirt up by his mouth and appeared to be trying to talk, but couldn’t.

“There was so much blood on him, I couldn’t really tell where it was coming from,” Ruchert said.

When Myrick was shot, he was in his driveway, working on the vehicle of his girlfriend, Kristina Devaney.

Devaney was in the vehicle and saw someone assault Myrick. She said the person was dressed in black, but told the jury Wednesday she couldn’t identify who it was.

The assailant went over a small metal fence into a neighbor’s back yard, according to Devaney, presumably climbed over a six-foot wooden fence into the back alley and is believed to be the man Ramirez saw running to Cherokee.

Under cross-examination of Ramirez by defense attorney Michael de Grasse, Ramirez acknowledged he didn’t see anyone get shot.

And although Dodd’s hair at the time was about the length described by Ramirez of the man he saw running from the alley, Ramirez testified he believed the man was about the same size as he — 5 feet 11 inches tall.

Dodd reportedly is 5 feet 6 inches tall.


TRIAL AT A GLANCE

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Daniel Dodd leaves the courtroom after his first appearance in court for the murder of Kevin A. Myrick on June 12, 2011.

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 in the driveway of 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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