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Murder suspect’s niece in court

Tue., March 26, 2013

The family of a woman charged with first-degree assault believes their daughter is being targeted by prosecutors because she is the niece of a suspected killer.

Rhyllie L. Stoddard, 20, appeared Monday before Superior Court Judge James Triplet on allegations that she pointed a gun at the head of a teen who had stopped at her mobile home to help in the aftermath of a fight. “It’s not her fault. She just had five teeth knocked out. We are definitely being victimized,” said her mother, Annette Stoddard. “She’s never been in trouble.”

Rhyllie Stoddard’s father, Stanley Stoddard, is the brother of 45-year-old Gary L. Stoddard, who along with 23-year-old Jonathan J.L. Ritchey are charged with killing 20-year-old Heather Cassel on March 11.

Deputies arrested Rhyllie Stoddard on Friday after she called 911 claiming she had been beaten by Steven E. Mulnix, 29.

Mulnix faced charges Monday that include being a felon in possession of a firearm, domestic violence, malicious mischief and resisting arrest. He remains jailed on $25,000 bond.

Sheriff’s spokesman Craig Chamberlin has said that a deputy was investigating a natural death at the trailer park at 2201 N. Craig Road when Rhyllie Stoddard made her emergency call.

On the phone, Mulnix could be heard saying he would “shoot it out” with any deputies who arrived. He then left the home and was later arrested running across a nearby field.

When a 16-year-old boy went to Rhyllie Stoddard’s home to see if anyone needed help, she opened the door and pointed a .22-caliber pistol at the boy’s head, according to court records.

“She thought it was Steven. She answered the door prepared to defend herself from Steven,” Annette Stoddard said, noting her daughter has no felony convictions.

Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mary Doran asked for a $75,000 bond, but Triplet agreed with defense arguments to lower it to $10,000.

“The real concern in this matter is the allegation that you pointed a handgun at a 16- or 17-year-old,” Triplet said.

Rhyllie Stoddard’s stepfather, William Armstrong, said he believes Dorn asked for the high bond only because she’s related to Gary Stoddard.

The bond “was because her uncle is in jail for murder,” he said.

Cassel’s body was found at an apartment complex next to Spokane Falls Community College, where Rhyllie Stoddard is a student.

“She needs to get out,” Annettte Stoddard said. “That is the only thing that is positive in her life. She needs to go to school.”

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