A Stevens County jury ruled today that Christopher H. Devlin is guilty of aggravated first-degree murder for the May 2008 slaying of 52-year-old Daniel Heily, whose bullet-riddled body was found behind a Deer Park liquor store.
The jury deliberated three days before convicting Devlin, 57. Because Heily was a state’s witness, Devlin faces only one possible sentence – life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“I’m disappointed with the decision,” co-defense attorney Mark Vovos said. “There certainly will be an appeal in this case.”
The jury found Devlin guilty of premeditated first-degree murder, but did not support a weapons enhancement that charged Devlin had used a gun in the commission of a felony.
“I think it’s sort of interesting that Mr. Devlin was not guilty of using a firearm. (Heily) had six shots in him … but the jury found (Devlin) wasn’t armed with a firearm at the time,” Vovos said. “Go figure that out.”
The case began when Heily told police that Devlin broke into Heily’s Spokane County home and assaulted him in 2007. That felony assault trial was set to begin on May 14, 2008, but Heily never showed up to testify.
Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives searched for Heily and located him on May 16, 2008, stuffed under the seat of his pickup, which was parked behind a liquor store. He suffered six gunshot wounds.
Detectives arrested Devlin and Carl A. Hoskins, who identified Devlin as Heily’s killer, according to court records. But Hoskins never testified in the trial even though prosecutors gave him a deal to avoid first-degree murder charges in exchange for his testimony.
Hoskins was released from jail last August after satisfying the 27-month sentence as part of the deal. It’s not clear whether that deal remains in place now that he wasn’t called to testify.
Deputy Spokane County prosecutors Larry Steinmetz and Dale Nagy weren’t immediately available for comment.
Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque rejected a request by Vovos and co-defense attorney Roger Hunko to inform the jury that prosecutors chose not to call Hoskins – who was the only person investigators said witnessed the killing.
Steinmetz implied in court last week that he was holding Hoskins back to rebut any potential testimony from Devlin. But since Devlin never took the stand, Hoskins was never called.
“That was a big issue in the trial,” Vovos said. “We wanted to be able to tell the jury about the deal (Hoskins) had. It’s a procedural, strategic matter that has consequences. I suppose it will have to be dealt with before an appellate court.”