OLYMPIA — The husband and stepson of a former state trooper said today they are not responsible for her death 13 years ago, disputing the conclusion of an inquest jury and publicly describing their recollections for the first time.
In a lengthy news conference, Ron and Jonathan Reynolds said the accusations against them have been wrecking their lives and hurting their family. They were supported by four other family members who also vowed they were innocent.
Ron Reynolds said that he and his late wife, Ronda, were planning to separate but remained amicable. Ronda Reynolds, who graduated from Cheney High School in 1983 and whose mother lives in Spokane, had been depressed in the hours before her death, said Ron Reynolds, adding that he had been working to calm her down.
He said he woke the next day to find her dead in a closet with a gun.
“I still loved her and I wouldn’t have wanted anything to happen to her,” Ron Reynolds said. He said he was speaking out for the first time because of the accusations leveled against him had damaged his family and threatened his job as an elementary school principal in Toledo.
An inquest jury last month that Ronda Reynolds’ 1998 death was a homicide, not a suicide as initially believed. The jury also determined that the Reynolds men were responsible.
Rick Cordes, an attorney representing the Reynolds men, said the inquest was based on hearsay and flawed evidence that would not stand up in a criminal hearing. It was formed by a coroner, who has the power under state law to lead such an inquiry.
“That inquest was a sham,” Cordes said.
The coroner issued arrest warrants for the men, and they made a brief court appearance before being released because the county prosecutor said there’s not enough evidence to charge them criminally.
Lewis County prosecutor Jonathan Meyer attended and quietly watched the news conference, but he declined comment when it was over.
The former trooper’s mother, Barbara Thompson, has crusaded to clear her name for years. She has been disappointed by the decision not to criminally charge the men, but she has called the inquest determination a victory.
Thompson did not return a call seeking comment today.