SEATTLE – The Lewis County prosecutor said Thursday there isn’t enough evidence to seek charges against the husband and stepson of a former Washington state trooper who died in 1998, despite the recent findings of an inquest jury.
Ronda Reynolds’ death was originally ruled a suicide, but her mother spent a decade pursuing the case and trying to clear her daughter’s name. An investigation led to the inquest, and a jury last week ruled her death a homicide.
But prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said most of the testimony and evidence offered at the inquest was hearsay and conjecture, which wouldn’t be admissible if the trooper’s husband, Ronald A. Reynolds, and stepson, Jonathan A. Reynolds, faced a criminal trial.
“I can’t go forward,” Meyer said during a news conference in the Lewis County Law and Justice Center, the Daily News of Longview reported. “I have to have substantial evidence to convict.”
Ronda Reynolds was in the process of breaking up with her husband when she was found dead from a gunshot wound on Dec. 16, 1998. Her husband told investigators he found his wife’s body that morning under an electric blanket in their walk-in closet off the bedroom of their Toledo home, about 105 miles south of Seattle. He told authorities he didn’t hear the gunshot and wasn’t involved in the death.
Meyer said he would consider changing his decision if new evidence comes to light.
Ronald Reynolds, an elementary school principal, has been placed on administrative leave.
The former trooper’s mother, Barbara Thompson, of Spokane, said she was disappointed in the decision but not surprised.
“I’m OK,” she said. “I’m ready to live my life for me.”
Even though Thompson would like to see an arrest and conviction in the case, she said the inquest jury’s ruling is “a very big moral victory.”
Also, the Lewis County coroner was expected to announce today that he’s changing her daughter’s death certificate from “undetermined” to “homicide.” That will be another victory, Thompson said.