Testimony: Informant made numerous buys before death

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WALLA WALLA — The defense in the murder trial of Daniel D. Dodd pointed out Friday that victim Kevin Myrick helped law enforcement by buying drugs from a number of people during the time he was a confidential informant for the Sheriff’s Office.

Under cross-examination by Dodd’s attorney, Michael de Grasse, sheriff’s Sgt. Gary Bolster testified that Myrick bought drugs 18 times from 13 individuals — six of whom were convicted.

Two of the buys were from Dodd’s girlfriend, Tina Taylor, who sold drugs to Myrick in November and December 2010.

Bolster acknowledged that Myrick also bought drugs from the mother of a man who had threatened Myrick. But the man was in jail in another county when Myrick was shot and killed.

Some of the suspects who sold drugs to Myrick were, themselves, given an opportunity to become confidential informants and were not prosecuted.

Myrick became an informant for the Sheriff’s Office in October 2010 and made his last controlled buy on May 4, 2011, about a month before he died. Bolster characterized him as probably one of the “better-producing informants” he’s worked with over the years.

De Grasse asked Bolster, in a community this size, how “confidential” informants can remain.

“Whether people find out if someone is a confidential informant, obviously they do on some occasions,” Bolster said. “On others, they don’t.”

The prosecution also called Donald Cummings, currently of Springdale, Wash., to the witness stand Friday.

At the time of Myrick’s death, Cummings was living in Kennewick and was a friend of Dodd’s roommate, Clayton Sibbett.

Sibbett reportedly had loaned Dodd a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver a few days before Myrick was killed. Dodd returned the gun to Sibbett shortly after the fatal shooting. Then Sibbett gave it to Cummings as part of an unrelated transaction.

Cummings testified that sometime later, Sibbett told him he “might want to get rid of that gun.”

Cummings added he thought the gun may have been stolen. So when the two men were at Hood Park, “I threw it out in the (Snake River) under the bridge,” Cummings told the jury.

After authorities learned what had transpired, they contacted Cummings, who on March 6 of this year showed them where he had thrown the weapon.

A volunteer with Columbia Basin Dive Rescue, John Pielli, testified Friday he recovered the gun in the water between a couple of boulders. The weapon reportedly had been in the water about eight months.

It was revealed in court that Cummings has been charged in federal court with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in an unrelated case and could get special consideration by testifying in Dodd’s trial.

But Cummings said he hasn’t been promised anything.

Other prosecution witnesses Friday included experts from the Washington State Crime Laboratory in Cheney.

Testimony revealed that Myrick’s DNA was found on a bullet located at the crime scene. The bullet apparently had exited Myrick’s body.

But the jury heard that the bullet could not be conclusively identified or eliminated as having been fired from the revolver recovered from the Snake River.

Dodd’s trial will resume Wednesday.


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 Dodd’s roommate, Clayton Sibbett, had loaned him a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum 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 Sibbett, who then gave it to a friend, Donald Cummings, about three or four days later. Cummings ultimately threw the gun into the Snake River under the bridge at Hood Park. After Cummings 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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