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Man claims self-defense in dog trainer’s death

Wed., Oct. 13, 2010

Lead defense attorney John Henry Brown, right, submits a document for examination to Michiel Oakes, who took the stand Tuesday  in Mount Vernon, Wash.  (Associated Press)
Lead defense attorney John Henry Brown, right, submits a document for examination to Michiel Oakes, who took the stand Tuesday in Mount Vernon, Wash. (Associated Press)

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – A bodyguard charged with killing a dog trainer whose clients included some of Seattle’s most famous residents told jurors Tuesday that he acted in self-defense after the trainer repeatedly confronted him.

Michiel Oakes is on trial for first-degree murder in the death of Mark Stover, the ex-husband of Oakes’ girlfriend.

Oakes testified that he met several times with Stover before the shooting, in unsuccessful attempts to placate Stover’s obsessive demand for wedding photos that Stover believed his ex-wife had.

Oakes told jurors that Stover ordered him to show up at Stover’s home on the morning of Oct. 28, 2009, with the photos in hand. Oakes said when he showed up without the photos, Stover became enraged.

The dog trainer told Oakes to wait in a basement washroom, then took his protection dog outside and came back with a revolver in hand, Oakes said.

Oakes, a slight 5-foot-6 bodyguard who said he has trained police officers in hand-to-hand combat, said Stover fired as Oakes lunged to disarm him – and in the process, both men got shot.

Oakes said he was saved by the bullet-resistant vest he was wearing, but Stover collapsed and died. He said he dumped the body and the gun in the sea from a dilapidated dock behind a nearby tribal casino.

Though one of his attorneys said in his opening statement that Oakes killed Stover, Oakes never said that directly on the witness stand.

“He fell – he, um, fell, and I was left holding the gun,” Oakes testified. He demonstrated the maneuver he said he used to disarm Stover, grabbing his much taller and heavier attorney, Corbin Volluz, by the hand and slamming him to the floor as astonished jurors and spectators watched.

Stover was a dog trainer whose clients included members of Pearl Jam and Nirvana and Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz.

Clients described him as kind and extremely gifted, but Stover had a difficult time with his 2007 divorce. He was convicted of stalking his ex-wife in late 2008.



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