Dodd guilty of murder

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WALLA WALLA — Daniel D. Dodd was convicted late Thursday afternoon of murdering confidential drug informant Kevin Myrick in June 2011.

The eight-woman four-man jury at Dodd’s Superior Court trial found him guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Dodd is not allowed to have a gun because of a prior burglary conviction.

As the premeditated-murder verdict was read in court at 5:50 p.m., Dodd jerked his head down and up slightly. Otherwise he looked straight ahead and displayed no emotion as he also learned he will face a firearm enhancement and was convicted of unlawful possession of the weapon.

The jury reached its unanimous decisions following a little more than three hours of deliberations that began at 2:10 p.m.

Including the five-year enhancement, Dodd, 43, faces up to about 35 years in prison when he’s sentenced after a presentence investigation is completed.

As the verdicts were read, Myrick’s mother, Deborah Parks, sat surrounded by family and supporters, tears streaming down her face.

Later, outside the courtroom, she gave credit to law enforcement and prosecutors.

“I believe that justice has finally been served,” she said. “These guys have worked hard day and night. I have a lot of thanks and gratitude for everyone who’s worked on this case.”

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gabriel Acosta said in an interview, “The state is satisfied that the evidence presented was sufficient for the jury verdict, and we thank the jury and law enforcement for their hard work.”

Defense attorney Michael de Grasse told the Union-Bulletin, “We’re disappointed,” adding he didn’t know if Dodd would appeal.

Dodd shot Myrick in the face about 10:20 p.m. on June 12, 2011, while Myrick was working on his girlfriend’s vehicle in the driveway of his residence at 1123 S. Third Ave. Myrick, 24, died the next day.

Officials said Dodd killed Myrick to prevent him from testifying against Dodd’s girlfriend, Tina Taylor, at her upcoming trial. Myrick was a confidential informant for the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office and Taylor had sold him prescription drugs.

Before the jury began deliberations Thursday, Acosta and de Grasse presented their closing arguments in the trial that began Nov. 6.

The case is “like a jigsaw puzzle,” Acosta told the jury.

“You put the pieces together — they fit.”

Acosta argued Dodd had a motive and opportunity. He possessed a weapon that could have fired a bullet found at the murder scene. He was there — or at least his cellphone was in the vicinity — just before the fatal shooting. And a witness described a fleeing suspect as having long hair, as Dodd did at the time.

“There’s a lot of coincidence here,” Acosta said, later adding, “Mr. Myrick did not deserve this death.”

De Grasse countered in his closing argument: “We simply don’t have the little pieces to fit together” to convict Dodd.

De Grasse said there is no evidence connecting Dodd with a gun that shot Myrick, nothing to show Dodd planned the murder and no proof that Dodd had his cellphone when cell tower records show it was in the area of the crime scene.

Witnesses involved with methamphetamine who testified against Dodd were given special consideration by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, de Grasse pointed out.

And he added the theory that Dodd was just waiting outside Myrick’s residence hoping he would come out late on a Sunday evening doesn’t make sense. De Grasse suggested Myrick had an appointment with someone else and “the deal was to take Kevin Myrick out.”

“The evidence is more than doubtful to any reasonable person,” de Grasse argued, ultimately in vain.

“I plead with you to bring back a verdict of not guilty.”

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