Gary Stoddard found guilty of murder - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Gary Stoddard found guilty of murder

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Gary Stoddard was found guilty of the murder of Heather Cassel in March 2013 Gary Stoddard was found guilty of the murder of Heather Cassel in March 2013
20-year-old Heather Cassel 20-year-old Heather Cassel
Stoddard takes the stand during his trial Stoddard takes the stand during his trial
SPOKANE, Wash. -

It took a jury less than 3 hours to convict Gary Stoddard of murder, kidnapping and a weapons charge on Wednesday.


16 months ago when Stoddard admitted to the murder, it seemed police had all the evidence they needed, but Stoddard claimed he lied in a cover up to protect his nephew. However Stoddard and his attorneys claim that Stoddard's nephew, Jonathan Ritchey, is the real killer.

Ritchey has already served one year in jail for rendering criminal assistance in the murder. 

In closing arguments on Wednesday, Stoddard's attorney said Stoddard decided to confess to the murder because he believed he had terminal pancreatic cancer and would die anyway before a trial. Stoddard also said his nephew admitted to murdering Cassel after a night of drinking.

Prosecutors said Stoddard's story simply didn't add up, and after three hours of deliberation, a jury agreed and handed in the guilty verdict. 

Despite the verdict, Judge Eitzen commended Stoddard's defense team, saying it was one of the best defenses she had ever seen. 

Stoddard will be sentenced later this summer. 



A jury found Gary Stoddard guilty of murdering Heather Cassel in March 2013.

Stoddard initially confessed to the murder, but then recanted his confession, saying he was protect his nephew, Jonathan Ritchey, who he says is the real killer. 

 The jury also found Stoddard guilty of kidnapping. 

This story is developing. Check back for updates. 

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