WALLA WALLA — After again proclaiming his innocence, Daniel D. Dodd was led from a courtroom at the County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon to a future that could confine him in prison for the rest of his life. Dodd, who will turn 44 Tuesday, looked straight ahead as Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht sentenced him to serve 35 years and one month for the June 2011 murder of confidential drug informant Kevin Myrick.
The sentence is the maximum allowed under state guidelines.
Before it was imposed, a defiant Dodd told Schacht: “I did not shoot Kevin Myrick. I had no motive and nothing to gain.”
He called the prosecution’s presumption he did so to protect his girlfriend, Tina Taylor, from a drug conviction “preposterous.” And he lashed out at what he claims is insufficient evidence and lack of thorough law enforcement investigation of other leads in the case.
Myrick’s brother, Roger Wetter, urged Schacht to punish Dodd “to the fullest extreme.”
“This man has no remorse for what he’s done,” Wetter said, adding that because of Dodd’s vengeance and lack of respect for human life, he took Myrick away from beloved family members, including a young daughter.
Later, in the hallway, Wetter said even the maximum prison term isn’t enough.
“It can never be enough,” Wetter said.
The sentence was recommended by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gabriel Acosta. It is the high end of the standard range of 27 years and seven months to 35 years and one month that Dodd faced, including a five-year firearm enhancement.
Dodd was given credit for the 249 days he’s served in the County Jail.
He also was placed on at least three years of community custody, a form of probation, upon release and ordered to pay nearly $70,000 in restitution, various court costs and fees.
His attorney, Michael de Grasse, said after the 15-minute hearing he assumes Dodd will appeal.
After a trial that lasted several days, a jury on Nov. 15 found Dodd guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm because he was not allowed to have a gun due to a prior burglary conviction.
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 Taylor, who had been arrested for delivery of hydrocodone.
Taylor had sold Myrick prescription drugs while he was an informant for the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office. Despite his death, Taylor pleaded guilty and was sentenced to more than eight years in prison.
Although no one identified Dodd as Myrick’s killer, evidence presented at his trial revealed he possessed a gun that could have fired a bullet that apparently exited Myrick’s body. Also, a cellphone Dodd was known to use was in the vicinity of Myrick’s residence just before he was shot, according to cell tower records. But Dodd testified he didn’t kill Myrick and said he was in the Clyde area at the time.
De Grasse suggested someone could have temporarily borrowed Dodd’s cellphone from his vehicle where he kept it and theorized Myrick could have been killed by an unspecified person with whom he had an appointment.
In a presentence investigation, Community Corrections Officer Chris Leyendecker wrote that Dodd’s life seems “to have spiraled downward the deeper he immersed himself into the drug world.”
Dodd started using methamphetamine and has attempted suicide at least three times, Leyendecker wrote, adding Dodd “seems to have resigned himself to spending the remainder of his life in prison.”
After Thursday’s sentencing, Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle reflected on the senselessness of Myrick’s death.
“Our feeling was the whole goal behind (Dodd) killing Kevin Myrick was to keep him from testifying against Tina Taylor. We convicted her anyway.
“This just shows how stupid people involved in drugs can be.”
By Terry McConn
As of Friday, December 28, 2012