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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Killer gets life after contradictory verdict

A Stevens County man who murdered a man he was already accused of assaulting will spend the rest of his life in prison under a sentence imposed Wednesday.

A jury convicted Christopher H. Devlin, 57, of aggravated first-degree murder last month for the May 2008 slaying of Daniel Heily, who was shot to death a day before he was testify again Devlin in an assault case.

But the jury ruled Devlin was not armed with a firearm - a contradiction that Spokane County Superior Judge Jerome Leveque said may affect the case upon appeal.

"Whether or not the verdict is going to survive challenges, I don't know," Leveque said.

Defense lawyer Mark Vovos said Wednesday that he intends to appeal.

Heily's family spoke at the sentencing, describing Heily as a loving man and calling Devlin a "psychopath," "thug," "despicable individual" and "tyrannical plague."

The only sentences for aggravated murder in Washington are life in prison or the death penalty. Leveque ruled out the death penalty in February because prosecutors withheld from defense lawyers information about where the murder was committed.

Devlin had no prior criminal record. He remains in Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Past coverage:

Aug. 18: Jury convicts Devlin in Stevens County slaying

Aug. 11: Hoskins doesn't testify; defense rests

July 26: Trial opens in murder of crime witness

Feb. 3: Prosecutor's mix up takes death penalty off the table

Oct. 31, 2009: County balks at case transfer

May 18, 2008: Homicide victim was Chattaroy man

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.